Tuesday, April 16, 2013

But For The Grace

We are all G/d's children.

 There is an old saw: "There, but for the Grace of G/d, go I." 

The usual accepted meaning is that there are, for all but the select few, always those who are worse off: in material wealth or physical or spiritual health. 

 What I'd rather think is that, as we have been granted that sufficiency of that Grace, it is beholden on us to pass it forward - if we received it once, whether that Grace will be replenished or not is immaterial. 

Recently, some members of the Episcopal congregation where I am welcomed worked, as part of their outreach and witnessing, assisting the regular members of the Worcester Fellowship on their Sunday lunch and worship, held on Worcester Common ("Worship at 1 PM Sundays, Rain or Shine"). 

This fellowship group gives lunch, socks, fruit and bread to anyone who comes, poor, "genteel" or homeless, no questions asked. Followed by a non-specific Christian service, with no requirement to participate, listen or even stay. The only requirement is that, if you hunger, you partake.  Either of the bag lunch or the service.  Or both.   Wherever your hunger is.

For our congregation, it was a "field trip" for the candidates for Confirmation and those of us considering reaffirmation of our Baptismal covenant. I've helped in such occasions before, but for for quite a while, and usually in a much more secular context. 

Among the persons the fellowship serves are the gamut of what our modern society either ignores, lets slip through the strands of the "safety net" or outright rejects. I've heard, again and again, that it's "their own fault," or "their own decision" to be in the straits they are. 

"They're homeless by choice."  
"He's just too lazy to get a job"
"She's just crazy"
"If she's a runaway she can always just swallow her pride and go back home"
"If she can't work 'cause she can't afford child-care she shouldn't have had those kids"
"It's not *my* fault he went to prison and now can't find work"

 And if you hear it often enough, you begin to believe, and you are willing to harden your heart. After all, we can't save everybody, now can we? There are just so many of them.


Once we see these people, how can we, any of us, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian or atheist, not help? 

The man who received his seven miracles that changed his life, the woman who was afraid that she didn't "deserve" to have a pastry while in line for a sandwich, or the father with his deaf daughter who couldn't contain herself when offered a second doughnut hole?

How can we not at least offer that help, as best we can? 

The despair is that we, as individuals, can make such a small difference. 


As individuals we don't have to work alone.  Together we can work miracles.  Yeah, they may be small, itty-bitty miracles, but get enough small ones and maybe the light gets a little brighter for the rest.

Many people come to working with the people we should remember through their churches, and move to political awareness or action from that springboard.  I kind of got it backwards.  My upbringing as a "left behind" Roman Catholic (and extremely "lapsed" as well) informed my choices as a "progressive" after I grew out of the childhood of "conservatism," and my re-entry to the active Christian community was that progressive bent helping me to find the spirituality, and recognition of faith again.

But.  But.

This is arguably the richest nation in the world.  How do we even tolerate that programs like soup kitchens and food banks or bag lunches on the Common are needed?

Oh, right.  I forgot.  "It's their own fault."

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