For most of my life, I thought I could earn my way to God; if I tried hard enough, I could keep God from being mad at me and he’d leave me alone. Then I could take care of the rest of my life. For a long time, it worked; I had a lot of things that I took “pride” in: a great job, a big house, and a cool car. I knew I was a sinner, but I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t as bad as other people I knew; I led my life as a “good enough person”.
Everything changed with my cancer diagnosis in 2006. I became dependent upon others for physical, emotional, and spiritual support. For the first time, I became totally dependent upon God, admitting that I am a sinner, and as a human, not worthy of God’s love. But, He has called me to be His child and with that comes unlimited grace.
I enjoy how we celebrate Eucharist at every service at my church, St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville. We walk forward and then we open our hands to receive the bread. The bread is given to us; we don’t take it. The gesture is symbolic of God’s love for us. He gives it freely to us; we don’t take it from Him. We need only to take one step towards Him and His love is ours.
A friend has been asked to join a new ministry at his church. It is a wonderful opportunity for him to train with 9 other people over a 3 month period as a Stephen Minister, a group of lay caregivers who provide one-on-one Christian care to the bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, separated, divorced, unemployed, relocated, and others facing a crisis or life challenge. My friend was describing his feeling of unworthiness at the invitation to join this ministry. He hadn’t “earned” his way into the group but someone noticed his devotion to Christ and spiritual gifts and nominated him.
“But I’m not worthy,” was his lament to me.
“You are right, you aren’t worthy. You are called,” was my quick reply.
I pray that we realize that we are all sinners and we can never do enough to earn God’s love. Instead, we are already called as His children and freely receive His love, grace and mercy.
“…Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31)
(Includes excerpts from a sermon by Rev. Sarah Kerr at The TABLE service on September 25, 2011).
Blessings, my friend,