The train arrived at St James Station at 9.30 am. Like so many other Sydney people, I got off the train, slowly carrying my luggage. (I had just flown in from Melbourne.)
I walked into an elevator with three other people.
‘Please press the button, otherwise we will all stay inside the elevator until morning tea,’ I heard a friendly woman’s voice, prompting me to press the button.
‘Oops… You are right. I forgot to press it.’ We smiled at each other.
Once we were out from the elevator, the woman asked me ‘Are you lost?’
‘Oh, I am looking for directions to Pitt Street,’ I replied.
‘I’ll show you the way,’ she said.
We then walked and had an interesting conversation about her experience riding the train and how people do not want to have a conversation with the person next to them. We talked about life in the big city where people feel lost and alone.
This five-minute conversation reminded me of the concept ‘making space for grace’ – two strangers sharing their life experiences.
For me, her willingness to lead me to the place I was going was an act of grace. She offered me her ‘space’ of time by inviting me to join her journey.
Making space for grace is an awareness of grace in our day-to-day life. By doing so we recognise God’s gracious acts in humanity.
Take another example. The story of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7: 24-30, the Lectionary reading for Sunday 6 September. The woman’s faith and persistence changes Jesus’ approach from ‘monocultural’ to ‘cross cultural’, from serving Jews to serving all people. This story reminds us how easily our thinking divides people based on gender, culture, ritual, tradition, socioeconomic status, language or other traits.
The story of the Syrophoenician woman pushes us to think differently, about how we respond to what separates us. The woman’s great faith cuts through Jesus’ initial indifference.
Similarly, making space for grace means cutting through our own indifference and preconceptions and embracing the diversity around us.
The Uniting Church in Australia has committed to the ongoing journey of living out our faith and lives cross culturally. To do this I believe we must all be more intentional in the way we make space for each other.
This is by no means an easy thing. It takes courage, patience and humility to construct and reconstruct our theological, biblical, ministerial and pastoral ways of thinking.
But when we do, I am confident it will allow us to think more creatively and imaginatively to meet these challenges and whatever lies ahead of us.