Geography of Grace posits that grace like water flows downhill. The stories of finding God in the hardest, poorest, and most oppressed places gripped Geography of Grace posits that grace like water flows downhill. The stories of finding God in the hardest, poorest, and most oppressed places gripped me. I am trying to process what this stirring in my soul means for me. Why has this book wrecked me?
For one thing, I must repent for the insulated life I have sought. I remember discussing with Abba Basil Irenaeus the hallmark of new monasticism: setting up in the abandon places of the empire. I remarked that didn’t seem like a mark of our order as we valued beautiful things. Wow. How uncomfortable that statement makes me now. Since feeling the call to move to Detroit, I have been drawn more and more to the scarred and desolate places in spite of my aesthetics. Father, may I find true beauty in your face and grace in those places.
I think another thing that stirs in me is facing how to act in the face of these things. The authors talk about asking beautiful questions and asset based ministry. I think I am left struggling with how do I put these things into my context? How do I engage, even find, the depressed places where grace is pooling? Certainly my developing relationships with some of the homeless and struggling in the neighborhood provides some of that.
I found reading Geography of Grace timely. With the transitions at Courage Church I found myself longing to be in ministry in a more traditional way, a leader in the church gathered. I have been confused why God would persistently and increasingly shut me out of that familiar kind of ministry for the last few years. The authors’ experience ministering as part of the church scattered gives me a window into where God is positioning me.
How do I live missionally? What exactly is our mission? The authors encourage me to resist the easy answers to that question, and instead look for where grace is flowing, like a cartographer mapping the contours of terrain. I am suddenly reminded that the authors have a process for mapping the hurt, the hope and the heart.
Sacramental Discernment Street Psalms members pray with their “eyes open,” learning to map the geography of God’s grace in a particular place. Our mapping process includes three basic exercises that pay attention to the hurt and the hope of a particular city/community as well as the heart of God. The three exercises include:
Mapping the Hurt: e.g. “Moment of Blessing” – a public liturgy for victims of violent homicide.
Mapping the Hope: e.g. “Signs of Hope Tours” – Identify, visit and encourage key ministries/business/organizations that are signs of hope serving high-risk youth and families.
Mapping the Heart: e.g. “Prayer Table” – Our communities host and participate in an open and inclusive table for leaders to pray for the city.
In this I am reminded of the way the Spirit directed me down the street in time to participate in the prayer vigil for Noodlez a young man gunned down during the Cinco de Mayo parade last year.
Also my drive to be a part of the various expressions of faith and encourage what is going on in my neighborhood seems to be mapping the hope for our community.
I have also felt recently a desire to step up my prayer game. It seems my Beloved is eager to reveal his heart to me. Take me to the depths, outside my comfort zone – into the waves and chaos of the sea of humanity....more