In a blessing for Pentecost Sunday, Jan Richardson offers a fitting word for the church. She reminds us that the blessing of Pentecost is not for us alone, and that it would be foolish to try to carry it by ourselves. It requires a community, and so she encourages us to assemble with an unlikely collection of people:
To bear this blessing,
you must first take yourself
to a place where everyone
does not look like you
or think like you,
a place where they do not
believe precisely as you believe,
where their thoughts
and ideas and gestures
are not exact echoes
of your own.
Those words will be in my sermon for Pentecost Sunday, which is also Confirmation Sunday in our congregation. They come from Richardson’s marvelous book called Circle of Grace: A Book of blessings for the Seasons. (Be sure to check out her blog to see the evocative words and images she offers. Her gifts are beyond amazing.)
While I hope you will seek out the full blessing, I was particularly drawn to three images as I thought of our Confirmation Class. But they sure fit my life as well:
- She is brutally honest about what we carry with us when we gather as the church: Our sorrow. Our grief. Our fear. Our weariness. Our pain. Our ache over the world’s brokenness.
- And yet, she remains hopeful about what can happen when we gather. That’s why she encourages the church to keep showing up. To watch and to wait. To maintain our ability to be surprised by what God can do.
- For she remains convinced that God will do for us what God has done for those who have gathered before. For when we gather, we encounter “the grace that scorches us,” and we might just sense deep in our bones that this is the reason we were made:
for this ache
that finally opens us,
for this struggle,
that scorches us
toward one another
the blazing day.
Scorched by grace. I love the sound of that.
Can you think of a finer gift to offer our Confirmation Class?
Or the church?
Or the world?