Grace upon grace

From [Jesus Christ’s] fullness we have all received grace upon grace. John 1.16

I love this verse…especially on days when I have a hard time seeing any grace at all. Even though Lutherans talk about grace all the time, I’m not sure we understand it. “We are saved by grace through faith.” It is most certainly true. Yet sometimes I think we just pretend we know what grace is all about. I know grace is a theologically weighty concept. Whole books have been written about God’s grace. But on some days concepts are too weighty to grasp. Yet I keep returning with love to the words “grace upon grace.” They are more playful music than dogma.

Not long ago I was moving books around. A friend placed book upon book in my arms, one by one. Each book added it’s own unique weight, while my shoulders drooped more and more, and my arms felt like they were being stretched to the ground. If I were to be kneeling while the tall stack of books was being piled on, I could never have stood up.

What if Christ’s grace upon grace is the exact opposite of all that? What if with each grace that we receive throughout the day, we also become lighter and lighter, maybe not the helium balloon kind of lighter (although that is a wonderfully funny mind picture), but the heart-kind of lighter, so that by the evening we have become so light of heart with each grace upon grace of our heavenly Father that we are simply laughing? Is that too outrageous a picture? I’m trying to offset the hard fact that I fixate more on the weights than the lightness of God’s grace upon grace.

So what graces were we blessed to be lightened by today? What grace upon grace from God? Just when I thought I was sinking in weights, the question begs me remember: a friend’s phone call telling me something God is doing. A quiet hour of greeting neighbors while painting the porch. (I’m beginning to feel lighter.) My husband’s wise words about patience because things take time. Breakfast conversation with my dearest daughter before taking her to the train station. (I’m having a harder time now remembering what was weighing me down.) The goldfinch playing in my potted fire-dragon begonia beside my front door. God’s promise: “I am the good shepherd.”

And finally this evening I now know I have been lifted up by grace upon grace upon grace…Theology has taken on flesh and I am ready to give thanks.


  1. Would that it were so.

  2. With so many books, it takes a while.

  3. It is His grace which helps keep the theives away.

  4. Amen. Let it be so, brother.