Receiving with Grace

No one is ever useless to God. No one who can pray is ever useless. There are many people to perform the needed activities, but too few to take the time for prayer. I suppose the hardest thing about being an invalid, about being “useless,” is that it is much harder to receive help than to give it. It is much harder to be still than to be active. That is why it is important to learn how to be a gracious receiver as well as a gracious giver.

Two or Ninety Two, Anna Mow

On a pretty regular basis, I find myself celebrating Eucharist in a nursing care center or perhaps an assisted living facility. I also have the privilege of bringing Holy Communion to people who are either hospitalized or home-bound for one reason or another. I enjoy this part of ministry, as tough as it can be at times. What makes it tough? It’s not that this ministry is physically demanding, to be sure.

Rather, it’s a type of ‘work’ that is not work at all. It involves simply being with someone who is in a time of uncertainty. There are unknowns in life – those situations that we have no control over, despite our best efforts. However, being with someone living with a terminal illness, or listening to a story of lost abilities, memory or skills as a part of journey of aging, or being with loved ones and family members as they are saying “Goodbye, thank-you and I love you” to someone while I offer Eucharist or anointing or both, calls forth a sense of powerlessness and emptiness.

Make no mistake about it – receiving is tough. I very much prefer to be the one giving. It makes me feel good to give, to serve, to offer assistance. It is not nearly so easy to ask for these things for myself. I pray for the grace to be a good receiver of God’s grace, help from others, and care and support when I need it (whether I know or admit it or not!).

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