GRACE is the love that takes us by surprise. It's the help we hadn't counted on, the kindness we didn't think we deserved. And maybe we don't, but it's there anyway,and this is how we survive most of our disasters.

NOW, DON'T IMAGINE that grace will take care of everything. Even though God forgives, our loved ones do not forget. Things stay sticky for a while. Nor do second chances come cheaply, as we find when we confess to those we have wronged. Grace comes at a tremendous price.

IN MARRIAGE we do become "one flesh," as Jesus said, we do surrender our separate selves to become one person, and this person has been given life by God. Before we kill it, we should think about the consequences. Love is the basic power of the universe. We must not treat it casually.

WHEN WE SET our minds on the needs of others, it's impossible for us to be divided, and even in our churches the wolf and lamb, the calf and the lion, can lie down together. … The kingdom comes in fractions, but it comes. God's will is done on earth when his people set their minds on the needs of others. That's all it takes to provide a meetinghouse of friends.

HEAVEN, as other people have imagined it, does not hold a lot of charms for me. I cringe at the thought of little cherubs strumming harps and ogling each other sexlessly, or walking around on streets of gold for an eternity. … We were made for love, and as pure souls free of wasting bodies, with all the time in the world, maybe we could really know and love each other.

THERE IS STILL ROOM enough for wild animals and people to coexist, but there is no room for carelessness.

MAYBE LOVE, which on earth is made precious by our mortality, finds its full worth in immortality. Maybe that's what heaven is.

EASTER IS all about surprise. … [Jesus] didn't come back as an angel. He didn't come back with wings. He didn't come back as an eagle, or a dove, or a lion, or a god 20 feet high. He came back as himself—as an ordinary, obscure man—because that was the point of the Incarnation in the first place.

STUBBORNNESS is not the same as faithfulness.

JESUS SAID, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." He was talking not about a hobby, but a life's work. You can see the kingdom come up if you're willing to get your hands dirty and spend some time on your knees.

All quotes are from Lawrence Wood, One Hundred Tons of Ice and Other Gospel Stories (Westminster John Knox Press, 2003).

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