Graced Living

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 — Tuesday in Easter Week

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 958)

Psalms 103 (morning) // 111, 114 (evening)

Isaiah 30:18-21

Acts 2:36-47

John 14:15-31

A few verses above the passage from Isaiah is a wonderful phrase that has found its way into our Book of Common Prayer in the collect for Quiet Confidence (p. 832). Isaiah writes “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Within that expectant waiting, Isaiah says that God “will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”

I love the picture Isaiah paints of God’s gracious presence. “When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” It really does happen like that. When we walk with expectant trust, observing from an internal restful stillness and quiet, we sense a subtle, intuitive nudge. God draws us toward or away. But it’s quiet, and easy to miss (or dismiss), especially if we are headstrong and already know what we want to do (like Hezekiah to whom Isaiah is lecturing).

Jesus offers similar teaching in today’s reading from John. He has simplified all of the commandments — Love. And he makes it personal. “Love me.” To love Jesus is to be drawn into the very life of the Trinity — to abide in God and to have God’s Spirit, the Advocate, abide in us. When the source of our motivation is love, then we are abiding.

I like that word “abide.” It has a restful sense, yet it is the place where authentic action has its beginning. Starting from that awareness that we abide in love (which is to abide in the very life of God), Jesus invites us to act out of his new commandment to love. What follows is peace.

The Jesuits have always said that peace is the marker of the presence of God’s will. More than any other Christian tradition, the Jesuits have studied the disciplines of discernment. What shall we do? What is God’s will for us? How can we do that which glorifies God? The marker of following God’s will is peace. A deep, consoling peace. It’s not the kind of peace that is just the absence of conflict. Sometimes that’s more like avoidance. No, this is the kind of peace that can be present in the midst of conflict and threat. Peace is the fruit of our acts when we abide in love.

So, from today’s readings we get a picture for graced living. Begin with returning and rest, quietness and confidence. Waiting expectantly. Grounded in love. Abiding in love. Looking and listening, “your ears shall hear a word behind you saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.'”

It will be some form of the commandment to love. Does the command or intuition carry with it a patina of peace? If so, act with confidence.

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