Brett Favre, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, announced his retirement this week. At a news conference yesterday his simple explanation for the move was that he was tired. At thirty-eight and possessing graying hair, Favre and his family have been through multiple tragedies and upheavals in the last few years, but he kept on playing, even the day after his father died.

Having given more to the game than most and played the game with more joy than anyone, Favre had a right to his reasons and wanted his loyal fans to hear those reasons from him, not filtered through the media, which has been known to have quite vivid imaginations regarding the facts at times. Favre was emotional during the hour broadcast from Lambeau Field, home of the Packers and all they have accomplished. It seemed he embodied every uphill battle and triumph the team had delivered to the people of Wisconsin during his sixteen seasons.

What was quite wonderful, and rather poignant, was that of all the records that Favre holds - most yards passing, most starts, most passes completed among them - he claimed none solely for himself. He believes everything he did was a team effort and the whole team deserved credit for what are labeled publicly as his achievements. And what matters most to him is that he is leaving at the top of his game by his own standards, not anyone else's.

That said, Brett Favre is the first to tell you his is not perfect. His battles with prescription drug dependency and alcohol abuse are well-known and almost cost him his marriage and family.

But between the public hero and the private man who struggled to work through his issues to reemerge in wholeness and health lies grace. In this respect Brett Favre, Jesus and the rest of us have grace in common.

Grace is one of those words that gets tossed around like a Frisbee at a church social, so for the record, my dictionary and I are defining grace as, " unmerited favor or generous courtesy granted." Take your pick. Either way, grace is something we cherish when we are the recipients and something we have a lot to learn about offering up more often. So I think it is important to take the time to say that we may not be as familiar with how grace functions as we may pride ourselves.

With that settled, please know that I am not calling Brett Favre a messiah in any way, shape or form, nor do I believe he had a messiah complex. I don't think Jesus did either. Jesus lived His life with humility, kindness, faith and a complete boldness that was unheard of in His time and unmatched in our own. His public ministry, marked by frequent run-ins with religious authorities and filled with conflict, also contained instances of insightful teaching, miraculous healings and speaking events that drew crowds simply by word of mouth. The level of warmth and acceptance He felt for the marginalized people of His culture - women, children, tax collectors, prostitutes - drew controversy, but didn't distract Him from His work and did little to damage His image with the general population. People loved Him for who He was and what He brought to their lives: hope.

Meanwhile, scripture tells us that Jesus did struggle with this work He was called to do, and even more so, the brutal end he foresaw for His own life. Frustration with the disciples is evident. They can't be blamed for not quite getting the full depth of Jesus' thoughts and ideas. We have barely scratched the surface of that ourselves and we possess two thousand years of hindsight. I am fairly sure Jesus didn't blame them either. Having grown up in the Temple, Jesus also never left his faith behind to pursue or create a new religion. He understood, better than most, the power religious institutions can have over people. So even in his verbal scuffles with Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees He knew they were trying to preserve a history and a people which had known more slavery than freedom, while He was pointing the way to a newly-defined freedom in God's love. Crowds followed Him day and night, hardly giving Him any opportunity for sleep, let alone personal reflection and prayer, but for these and the many people who were never able to grasp what Jesus was offering them, Jesus only had mercy and compassion.

And yet, in all that he thought, said and did, He didn't take credit for His knowledge, insight, teaching or preaching abilities, but always pointed back to God as His Sources of being. It may have been easier to smile and say, "Thank you," but He didn't. We remember Him today as One with authority, but also great humility. We remember Him as a man of grace, a man who gave unmerited favor and generous courtesy to those least deserving and those most in need of its transformative power.

And so, we are back to Brett Favre, expressing humility in the face of great opportunity to take all the credit, smile and say, "Thank you." Instead he chose the grace of shared experience, shared victory and shared credit with the people who helped him make it all possible. He chose grace, giving favor to those who had not asked him for it. He offered generous courtesy when no one would have faulted him for doing otherwise. He chose grace.

We too have the opportunity to express humility in the face of opportunities to take all the credit, smile and say, "Thank you." But instead, we can choose to extend grace to others at times when unmerited, unearned favor or generous courtesy may take some effort on our part. The effort is worth it, particularly when we may be blessed with grace we have not merited or earned, or have generous courtesy extended at a time when someone else makes the effort for us.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting