With real sadness I heard that Brennan Manning died yesterday. One of the greatest contemplative writers of our generation, and a wonderful mixed up enigma of a man.
After fighting with the US Marines in Korea, he became a Franciscan Priest, spent time in France and Spain, even living as a hermit in a cave near Zaragoza for 6 months! Returning to the States, his honest admission of alcoholism emerged through writing which betrayed a breathtaking understanding of the grace of Father God and His 'Abba' heart for us.
All of Manning's books are worth reading, some over again and again. His ability to cut us to the heart, strip away our pretences and leave us alone with a God who still accepts us is stunning. My favourite, 'The Ragamuffin Gospel - Good news for the bedraggled, beat-up and burned out',is as good as it gets. In tribute to a great writer and exceptional man, I can do no better than give you a flavour of his heart, which will always lead you to Abba's heart.
“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last 'trick', whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.
'But how?' we ask.
Then the voice says, 'They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'
There they are. There 'we'are - the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out. Died 12 April 2013