Two years ago (almost to the day), a dear friend of mine passed away. Michael Spencer (or, the “Internet Monk” as he was more widely known) encouraged me for years with his blog writing critiquing the wider church with both wisdom and bite (the site is being continued by one of his good friends and avid readers). He died of cancer, and in that death, the Church lost a great man. His one published book, Mere Churchianity, was published several months later. It’s a great summary of his life and thought. I highly encourage anyone to get it.
While he was still living, I wrote on this site about how he influenced and affected me. I also wrote this piece for Patrol Magazine after he died (I still remember the tears blurring my vision as I typed that up).
Anyway, another dear blogging friend, Lore Ferguson, is going on sabbatical from her own amazing blog and asked me to write a guest post on–of all topics–grace. I told a couple of my friends this the other night, and one of them said, “Wow! That’s you favorite topic!” It certainly doesn’t feel that way.
As I was thinking through that, I was reminded of the best thing I’ve ever read on grace, and I wanted to share it with you all. It’s an essay by Michael Spencer. I cried through this piece as well (a lot of crying in this post. Hmm…). It was the inspiration for the sermon I delivered at my church’s prison ministry that later was turned into a five-part series on this blog called “Holy Week & the Scandal of Grace“.
I want to give you the link to the article, an extended quote, and then the end of his piece that I adapted as a benediction at the end of the sermon. Enjoy. And grab some coffee. And some tissues.
Link: Our Problem with Grace: Sweat. Hand-wringing. “Yes, but…”
[photo by David Schrott]
Well, this week’s Patrol article was interesting for me to write. This past week, Michael Spencer, also known as “The Internet Monk“, died from cancer. I had no idea how much it would affect me. Really, for the past few months, I hadn’t even been keeping up with his site. In fact, a good friend was the one that told me Spencer had died — I didn’t even read it on the site.
But it really has messed with me. When you read my article, know that just writing it and getting it out there was part of my healing process. I really am okay, especially now that I’ve put my struggles and frustrations into words. As Spencer says in the email exchange I wrote about:
Some people live the Christian life in the mode of happy clappy. Others live it in lamentation. Disturbance. Some of those write it out to process it. That’s me.
That’s me as well. And this article was how I processed his death. Here’s the link:
“Gone Too Soon: An Email Exchange with Michael Spencer” — Patrol Magazine
Art by Julia Meolgrana
If you have about an hour or so, I wanted to plug several articles and a sermon. The sermon is from Matt Chandler. It is a message he gave during a chapel service at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. There is both audio and video available. The message is walking through Hebrews Chapter 11 and into 12 to show what the Christian life is meant to consist of. This message blew me away. It’s about 40 minutes long, and I was almost crying at work by the end. It is a call to see the Fallenness of this world, the Beauty of its Savior, and our need to repent.
The main article I want to push now is an editorial from Patrol Magazine, a frequent subject and inspiration for posts on this blog. These weekly editorials are becoming a highlight of my week. They are always scathing critiques on Christian culture, but are written so intelligently, thoughtfully, and comprehensively, one cannot help but notice the dearth of such quality writing elsewhere in the Christian world. This particular editorial is about how Evangelicalism is dead — not only as a term, but as a movement altogether. Here’s a taste:
I found this at the site of Michael Spencer (a.k.a. The Internet Monk). This guy is having an increasing amount of influence and inspiration on my thinking as a Christian in this world. You find him at The Internet Monk. Anyway, I love this piece of art and the poem.
Crayon & pencil drawing by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO. Copyright 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey
My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve,
Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.
The former things have passed away,
Our God has brought us to a New Day.
See, I am with Child,
Through whom all will be reconciled.
O Eve! My sister, my friend,
We will rejoice together
Life without end.
— Sr. Columba Guare copyright© 2005 Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey
This was found by Michael Spencer at Inside Catholic.