Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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Please read Revelation 4 in your Bible.
One Wednesday evening some time ago, I was teaching the confirmands (7th graders) about the meaning of Baptism. As the lecture came to its conclusion, I told the class that we would be going into the church to gather around the font, and that once we got there I would give them a blessing by making the sign of the cross on their foreheads. One girl's hand shot up in the air, "I'm not going to do that! No way. Not me!" "Well," I replied, "why don't you just try it." (Seventh graders distrust anything new.) "Aw, do I have to?" she whined. "No, you don't have to, but you do have to stand in the circle with the rest of us," I conceded. She was relieved, "Oh, good."
We left the classroom and went into the church where we gathered around the font. One by one I started blessing the students. Dipping my hand in the water and making the sign of the cross on their foreheads, I would say their name and "Child of God, you have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. You are God's precious child, forgiven, held, and accepted." The 20 or so students standing there were completely silent each receiving his or her blessing in turn.
When I finished blessing the class, the reluctant girl bounded forward and cried out, "Bless me too! Bless me too!" She put her hand to her forehead and held back her bangs. I blessed her as we both broadly smiled receiving the grace of the moment. What changed her mind? Why did she want to be blessed? Pat Keifert in Welcoming the Stranger would say that by everyone participating in the blessing "liturgical space" had been created and she was made to feel comfortable. She knew it would be all right.
We do many weird things in worship that we wouldn't normally do because of liturgical space. We confess our sins. We listen as people read out loud to us. We sing in front of people. We listen to someone speak even though there won't be a test afterwards. We might hug a complete stranger, drink out of the same cup, eat a little piece of bread and call it a meal, and pray out loud.
Worship lifts us into a different reality-into God's reality-perhaps only briefly, but we are lifted out of the reality of this world long enough so that we can be attentive to God and the Holy Spirit can be attentive to us. I truly believe we need that. We need to see the world from God's perspective of unconditional love. We need to set aside our noisy lives and hear God's story. We need to place our lives in the center of the one in whom we live and move and have our being, God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Pray that God through worship will lift you out of the harsh reality of this world into God's loving embrace so that you might bring that love to others.