Monday, February 6, 2012

on receiving grace and casseroles

                Sometimes I wonder if I actually listen to what I am saying.  I stand there, with you, and I confess that I am “by nature sinful and unclean,” and I pray “Lord, have mercy.”  I stand before God with only my sins to offer, and I can do nothing but receive His grace. I beg. He gives. Ho hum.

                Then I leave church with my children in tow, including one very naughty little boy, and somebody offers to help us home. “No thanks,” I smile, “we’re doing just fine.”  It seems like the right thing to say, even though I am practically limping from the bruise on my leg that he just gave me.  He frees his hand from mine, and runs away.  I wonder if people can hear my blood boiling, but I keep walking, and keep smiling.

                 I do not want to be a charity case.  I have my life under control, for the most part, really I do.  Yes, I need God, just like you do, but let’s not take it too far, now.  I’ll open my hands to receive the free gift of salvation, but a ride home? A casserole?  That’s just too much!
                Why do I think like this? Why do I squirm when help is offered? Why do I refuse to ask when help is needed?  
                I remember when seizures invaded, and everything was sickness and worry and the threat of death.  I remember when I was empty, and everyone was needy, and I could not help because I was needy, too.  I had no choice but to accept help:  help from God, and help from people. I racked up debt after debt of kindness that I can never repay.
                Then, I saw it clearly:  I am a charity case. 
                I am needy.
                At His mercy. 
                But He always has mercy on me. He strengthens me through His Word and Sacraments, and sometimes (grace upon grace!) He helps me in very practical ways through His flesh and blood children. 
                Jesus is God in the flesh, and He shed his blood for me, for my salvation.  Every other gift I receive is another drop of His love from this fountain.  It is not necessary to keep track of the casserole debts.  It is only necessary to be His child.  As His child, I am learning to keep my hands open, to look for and receive His gifts of all kinds.
                And sometimes, I get to be the one that gives the casserole.

Heavenly Father,
You have promised never to leave us or forsake us.  Thank you God, for keeping that promise to us.  Thank you for Your life-giving Word and sacrament. Thank you for the church, Your Body, that is Your hand to embrace those who are suffering.  

When we are in need, help us to make our needs known to each other.  

Keep us from proud self-reliance, from living with closed hands and refusing to receive your practical gifts.  Thank you for being a God who pours out love on all of us charity cases.  Fill us to overflowing, that we may in turn share grace upon grace with our fellow Christians in need.
In Jesus’ name,


  1. I am a charity case.

    How often I forget that.

  2. I, too, am a charity case, and I recognize that need is, in part, for a season, and in part, forever. Because we are all weak and in need. Of something. And I know the best thing I can do when help is offered is to graciously accept it, and then, when the season is sunshiney again, pay it forward.

  3. Maybe we Christians need a "charity case" support group. "Hi, my name is Emily, and I'm a charity case." Might help to say it out loud together.

    Oh wait, the church has already thought of that!
    "I confess that I am by nature sinful and unclean...."


  4. kate: absolutely! I am learning to love the sunshiney seasons when I am capable of paying it forward more and more!

  5. So hard to be needy...I find it much easier to give. I am definitely a work in progress!

  6. "Every other gift I receive is another drop of His love from this fountain." That is just lovely. so lovely. It made my day to read this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Julie @ pushing forward with grace through thee angel project.


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