I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention to Sunday’s service. I think the sermon went something like, “Be your true self as you were created in God’s image,” but I don’t remember details. I was tired and a little bit cold. And mostly my brain was honing in on the mountain of schoolwork that awaited me at home. But then, as I flipped through my hymnal in preparation for our closing tune, Rev. Peter Carey read off this blessing:
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships so that we may live deep within our hearts. Amen.
May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.
May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.
May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.
Suddenly I was present. “Read it again,” I wanted to say. I wished to hear it spoken once more in Rev. Peter’s powerful voice. I wanted someone to shower me with those true and honest words.
This blessing, as they often do, came at the perfect time. Here on the East Coast, we’re staring down Hurricane Sandy. And nation-wide, Election Tuesday is but a week away. Keeping in mind the impending consequences of both events, this Four-fold Benedictine Blessing asks God for some unusual things: discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness.
Wait a second… discomfort?
Discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships.
Anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people.
Tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war.
Foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world.
This blessing, above all, calls us to be better citizens of this world. It asks us to open our eyes to what’s happening not only in our backyard but also half of a world away. In the context of this week, I think it says, “Shed tears for those suffering the wrath of the storm.” For many, it might mean a day off of work or school, but for many others it means destruction and devastation.
In the context of the Election, this blessing asks us to think about the candidates who will do the most to fight injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of people. The answer might not be easy, and indeed it shouldn’t be… but that does not mean that we accept the half-truths, the sound bites, or the pithy ads. Fight for the full-truth, as messy and complex as it may be.
And lastly, it asks God for the foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in the world. So vote! It may be a secular act, but it is one that can be driven by faith. And when I cast my ballot on November 6th, I will do so with this blessing in mind.
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