Pockets of Grace

Finding Grace in Moments of God’s Love

The priest at St. George’s this morning brought up two very timely points…timely for me as well as for some loved ones; he pointed out that we Christians tend to dwell on our failings and work ourselves over with feelings of unworthiness.  (Moi?)  He also pointed out that we should focus on the moments of God’s love, which I am calling Pockets of Grace.

The New Testament reading, this morning, was from the book of Acts, the story of the frightened jailer who feared severe punishment for allowing his prisoners, Paul and Silas, to escape.  The jailer was poised to commit suicide when Paul cried out from the darkness, “Do not harm yourself, for we are here.”  The jailer was so overwhelmed with gratitude and impressed with their grace, he immediately asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

I will not divulge the details because it involves someone’s personal life, but I am helping a loved one who is overcome with guilt because of his inability to do what he feels he must…what he feels would be expected of him…but he cannot live up to his own expectations due to physical limitations and illness.  He is overcome with shame, feelings of failure, and self-judgement.  I related to him the story of Paul, Silas, and the Jailer.  I told him to close his eyes, get an image of Jesus, put all of his issues into a bucket and lay it at the feet of Jesus…and to not pick it up again.  Then I related that life is hard and his inability to do what he expected of himself was unreasonable and that his situation and limits are fully understood by everyone involved; Jesus did not want him to feel bad about himself:  “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”

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This morning we sang a hymn that relates (so much better than I did last night) how the battle between good and evil is won:

Who is this that comes in glory,
with the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
he has gained the victory.
he who on the cross did suffer,
he who from the grave arose,
he has vanquished sin and Satan,
he by death has spoiled his foes.

He has vanquished sin and Satan.  (Hear that, Satan?  Hear that, those of you whose only power is in frightening and disheartening others?  Back Off.) †

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For the past few Sundays, I have been jolted by familiar and well-worn words from The Great Thanksgiving, part of The Holy Communion:

          …and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, You, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ

I will simply say, that describes the past 18 months of my life.

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Finally, during communion, St. George’s sings one of a handful of hymns; the one sung this morning I can not sing.  I don’t know why.  For some reason my voice, usually prominent, falters…it cracks, and I weep, deeply.  It is as if my soul were crying for someone; I just don’t know whom.  I have my suspicions, and a few people came to mind as I cried this morning, including the guilt-stricken soul I mentioned, above.

The shame is, I love the hymn.  I look forward to it and think, “this time I am going to nail it.”  And, I don’t…I can’t.  You know the hymn.  Here are the lyrics:

I am the bread of life
He who comes to me shall not hunger
He who believes in me shall not thirst
No one can come to me
Unless the father beckons
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

The bread that I will give
Is my flesh for the life of the world
And if you eat of this bread
You shall live forever
You shall live forever
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

Unless you eat
Of the flesh of the Son of Man
And drink of his blood,
And drink of his blood,
You shall not have life within you.
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

I am the resurrection, I am the life
If you believe in me
Even though you die
You shall live forever.
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

Yes, lord I believe
That you are the Christ
The son of God
Who has come into the world.
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

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After all this, I am spent…but resting in the Grace of God.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

and thank you, Diane.

[The image at the top is a photo of the four roses I got for Mother’s Day, one rose for each of my four children (two human, one canine, one feline.)]

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