It is our task to be a blessing

Helena's rainbow over Trinity.jpg

Three days ago, on the 25th of November, Helena posted this picture of a rainbow over Trinity on her facebook page.

Ten days ago the Education and Outreach Ministry talked about the tragedy of terrorism in Paris and we talked about the Belko Peace Lecture for 2016.  Sarah spoke of a David Brooks editorial where he mentioned Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ newest book, “Not in God’s Name:  Confronting Religious Violence.”  Nancy and I each ordered the book.  Rabbi Sacks proclaims, “Abraham (Gen 18:25) sought to be true to his faith and a blessing to others regardless of their faith.  That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of the Abrahamic faith.  It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief.  It is our task to be a blessing to the world.

And the day before that, Jan Richardson, announced the availability of her newest book, “Circle of Grace:  A Book of Blessings for the Seasons.”  I ordered it.

Shimmering died flowers by the roadside at the 45th parallel - November 28, 2015.jpg

Based on the text from Luke that we’ll hear about tomorrow at Trinity:  “She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth,” (Luke 1:40) Jan wrote this blessing:

 

A BLESSING CALLED SANCTUARY

 

You hardly knew

how hungry you were

to be gathered in,

to receive the welcome,

that invited you to enter

entirely –

nothing of you

found foreign or strange,

nothing of your life

that you were asked

to leave behind

or to carry in silence

or in shame.

 

Tentative steps

became settling in,

leaning into the blessing

that enfolded you,

taking your place

in the circle

that stunned you

with its unimagined grace.

 

You begin to breathe again,

to move without fear,

to speak with abandon

the words you carried

in your bones.

that echoed in your being.

 

You learned to sing.

 

But the deal with this blessing

is that it will not leave you alone,

will not let you linger

in safety,

in stasis.

 

The time will come

when this blessing

will ask you to leave,

not because it has tired of you

but because it desires for you

to become the sanctuary

that you have found –

to speak your word

into the world,

to tell what you have heard

with your own ears,

seen with your own eyes,

known in your own heart:

 

that you are beloved,

precious child of God,

beautiful to behold,*

and you are welcome

and more than welcome

here.

 

*Thanks to the Rev. Janet Wolf and the congregation of Hobson United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, for the story in which these words – “beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold” – were offered to help transform the life of a member of their community.  The story appears in “The Upper Room Disciplines 1999 (Nashville:  The Upper Room).”

Our task is to be a blessing, a beloved blessing, to the world! 

Tomorrow, we begin Advent.

Trinity Church of the UCC sign - Nov 28, 2015.jpg

It is my hope we will be a beloved blessing during these four+ weeks of lighting candles, singing songs, hearing scripture, and experiencing stories.  Each week we will have the opportunity to sing and sing as we savor something of those who people the stories of Jesus’ birth and childhood as found in chapters 1 & 2 of Matthew and Luke.

What is the meaning of these stories for us?

Tomorrow we will hear from Gabriel, Mary, and Elizabeth.  (Thank you Jim, Terry, and Ann.)

On December 6 we will hear from Zechariah and Joseph.

On December 15 we will hear from a soldier, a villager, and a shepherd.

On December 22 we will hear from Simeon, Anna, and from Mary and Joseph together.

On Christmas Eve at 7:00 we will light the Christ Candle, worship with a traditional service of lessons and carols, and then light our own candles from the light of the Christ Candle as we sing Silent Night and head out into the world to be that light for those most in need.

On December 29 we will hear from the Magi.

Chapters 1&2 in Matthew and Luke, say Borg and Crossan in their book “The First Christmas.” are “parabolic overtures” for each of these two very different Gospels.  Their stories about the birth and childhood of Jesus are neither fact nor fable.  They are parable.  And, they are preview, an opening summary statement about each of their full Gospels.  These beginning chapters of Matthew and Luke tell stories that “speak to our lives as individuals.  They are about light in our darkness, the fulfillment of our deepest yearnings, and the birth of Christ within us.  They are about us – our hopes and fears.  And they are about a different kind of world.  God’s dream for us is not simply peace of mind, but peace on earth.

Advent 2015 has been set for me with rainbows and books, people and stories, scripture and carol, God’s promises and passion.

Tomorrow we begin the journey.

What will be born in us?

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2 Comments

  1. So many books to explore! I’m especially looking forward to learning more about Rabbi Sack’s book. It seems to offer some comfort and potential actions at a time when so many of us are bewildered by the violence that is becoming commonplace in our world.

    Reply

  2. Me too. He says is religion is perceived as part of the problem, than it must also form part of the solution . . . what will be born in us?

    Reply

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