The Ragamuffin Gospel – Chapter 6

Amadeus

Ch 6 – Grazie, Signore

It’s been tough for me to summarize these chapters because I find myself wanting to underline the entire thing. Each chapter has a ton of illustrations and sub-points, and without reading them the main point doesn’t really make much sense. So it’s a deep book and difficult to summarize briefly.

This chapter really hit me though, for a number of reasons that have something to do with my experience in the church.

Only my closest friends know this about me, but I’ve really struggled with accepting the “church” as it is. Growing up I was involved in a great church, but then I went to college and studied youth ministry and began to question for the first time what I had known. For whatever reason, I don’t think I felt the freedom to question it growing up. I was just told, “This is the way it is; believe it.” I’m talking about very black and white issues, like the world was created in a literal 24 hours a day, 7 days to the week kind of thing.

So in college, these issues I started to challenge. And it honestly separated me from the majority. After college I volunteered for a year-ish in youth ministry at a church in Phoenix and I felt the separation growing. Things I heard just didn’t sit well with me. These black and white issues continued to put a bad taste in my mouth for the church.

Soon after, God put me in a place that started to change all that. Though I’m still learning, I found my voice and a peace about the church.

I hope this isn’t too judgmental to say, but if the church would’ve taught me growing up what Brennan Manning is communicating to me now through this book, I don’t think that bad taste would’ve been there all along; I think I would’ve found my voice a lot sooner.

“To evangelize a person is to say to him or her, You, too, are loved by God in the Lord Jesus. And not only say it but to really think it and relate it to the man or woman so they can sense it. This is what it means to announce the Good News. But that becomes possible only by offering the person your friendship — a friendship that is real, unselfish, without condescension, full of confidence, and profound esteem.” p124

In my experience, honestly, the church has lacked that.

He ends the chapter with this story, which I think summarizes it well:

Amadeus was a remarkable film centered on two powerful and contrasting figures: Antonio Salieri, court composer to the Austrian emperor, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a brash and conceited young genius. ‘Someone described his life as wine, women and song. And he didn’t sing much.’ The limited, uninspired Salieri lives with a raging jealousy for the limitless, God-given talent of Mozart. Yet after every laborious score that he writes, Salieri whispers, ‘Grazie, Signore.’ Thank you, Lord. This song of Salieri lies at the heart of our response to the graciousness of God and the gospel of grace.

Grazie, Signore, for Your lips twisted in love to accommodate my sinful self; for judging me not by my shabby good deeds but by Your love that is Your gift to me; for Your unbearable forgiveness and infinite patience with me; for other people who have greater gifts than mine; and for the honesty to acknowledge that I am a ragamuffin. When the final curtain falls and You summon me home, may my last whispered word on earth be the wholehearted cry, ‘Grazie, Signore.'” p124-125

Brennan has words that I think we all need to read. I can’t recommend it enough.

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