Jul. 23, 2018.

By Assistant Minister Rev. Sarah Caine.

I’m driving back home from my first battle assembly, talking with my father, and I come to a toll booth. Now, I don’t have an E-ZPass, so toll booths mean a brief exchange with whomever is inside the booth. I warn my father that I’m going to chat with the worker for a moment, but I’m not prepared for what happens next.

I’m still in my uniform, and when I hand over my debit card the worker waves it off. “I’ll take care of this for you. Thank you for your service.”

No, I want to say, there are others who have done so much more. It feels like I’m still playing dress-up. This is my first time wearing this. I don’t deserve your thanks. I haven’t earned your respect, your gratitude, your grace.

Instead, I say “Thank you” while I look him in the eyes and nod. I return to my phone conversation as I roll southward, feeling the weight of the uniform, my promises to the people who make up the country that has fallen short of the words I swore to protect. Trying not to cry while sharing with my father the joy of being with my soldiers over the weekend.

This feeling of undeserved grace was a theme of the weekend. From the stranger who paid for my mini Blizzard at Dairy Queen, the salutes from soldiers, the “ma’am”s I knew to expect but still felt slightly rattled by. I don’t get to choose when grace is given to me, so I must be gracious in my life. None of us gets to choose when grace will befall us, many of us may feel undeserving in the face of generosity and love. But this is the blessing and the lesson of it. The calling to live into grace.

UUs believe in a faith of action, of deeds. This doesn’t mean we get to neglect recognizing the subtle blessings of life. We are constantly called to pay it forward, however we are able. We are constantly called to live into that grace, deserved or not, because we come from a Universalist heritage of love and salvation, however we interpret that in our modern context. We do not get to choose how it manifests all the time, so we must choose to bless the world with what grace we can – recognizing we are all deserving.