I remember reading The Ragamuffin Gospel many years ago, not too long after I became a Christian. Manning's words certainly spoke to my heart about the furious love of the Father, and what an honest search for faith could look like.
I hear echoes of Ragamuffin throughout the church today -- in movements such as People of the Second Chance and various recovery ministries, along with the scores of ordinary Christians who strongly identified with Manning's words and stories.
It's taken many years, though, for me to appreciate more fully his references to Henri Nouwen, Teresa of Avila, Flannery O'Connor, and Jurgen Moltmann. I'm thankful the chance to revisit Ragamuffin, having served in various pastoral ministries for the last 12 years or so, to take in truths such as, "The tilted halo of the saved sinner is worn loosely and with easy grace."
In many ways, Manning's hurt is more real to me now, and God's relentless grace perhaps even more deeply felt. It has taken those years of ministry in the local church to experience Nowen's words, "The greater part of God's work in the world may go unnoticed."
The chapter, "The Scandal of Grace: Fifteen Years Later" eloquently contniues the story of those stunned, restored, and compelled by grace.