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Ladder to the Light: Blessing

5 Pentecost, Proper 7

20 Jun 2021

Last week I spoke of the first rung: faith. This week we approach the rung of blessing.

I often thought we have a perverted view of what it means to be blessed and more so what it means to be a blessing to others. How many of us say, “Bless you” when someone sneezes? I have been told, and read, that it was to keep one’s soul from escaping the body. I think that is far from anything God meant when he blessed Abram and Sarai or when Jesus preached the beatitudes.

Blessing means to some folk the equivalent of entitlement. I have all of these things and all of these privileges because I am who I am; I am very special. You can fill in all sorts of things for the “because I am” part. I am white, live in the United States, am smart, part of the right ethnic group, live in the right place, etc. The term blessing is confused with deserving. Giving to others what has been given to you is not really part of their equation. A number of politicians and business executives could easily be placed in that category of blessing. Those who are blessed and then all of the rest.

There are people who, no matter what, never feel blessed. I have seen my share. Some are sociopaths, others stuck in a world where they are unable to find anything good. Either they think they deserve everything and it never comes their way, or they thing they deserve nothing (and of course it never comes their way.)

Finally comes the idea that you yourself are a blessing and that you lead a life that is a blessing to yourself and others. I think that Jesus was pushing us in that direction.

You are worth something; in fact you are worth everything. Remember that Jesus gave up his life for you. That should tell you something about blessing.

I sense, though, that blessing comes to us through the Holy Spirit and our ability and willingness to recognize the role she plays in our lives. The people I see who know they are blessed and live that kind of life have developed an intimate relationship with the Spirit. Bishop Charleston says that when we are touched by the Spirit we are transformed; I can think of no better word that just that: transformation. Until we connect with her we do not really have a Trinitarian faith, but rather an incomplete connection to the Holy. In the spiritual tradition of the Dine, or Navaho, healing ceremonies help one enter the Blessingway. Where could there be a better path than one where you sense your own blessing and become a blessing to and for others?

If the Holy Spirit becomes your guide, you can let go of so much that binds you to the hurts you have experienced. What has been done has been done; let it be. Then you can step out and, not forgetting the past but not being bound by it, you can use your wisdom to join in the making of a new creation. In that sense blessing is all about letting go rather than grabbing on to more.

I give thanks everyday for the material blessings that have been given me and for the many in tangible blessings such has health and friends and family. But I find I easily become stuck if that is where I stop. Blessing is mine to give and it is yours to give.

Life exists only in the moment; that does not mean I live with no concern about the future or attention to the past, but I live in this moment only. If truly God, as the Holy Spirit, is with me then I live eternally in each moment. I am free and you too are free and if free we can then be the blessing we are meant to be for each other.

There is a culture war now that places a fear of truth and a complete telling of our nation’s history as tantamount to treason. Why did Jesus say the truth will set you free? Because to be a blessing to ourselves and each other and rid ourselves of this vile hatred that only destroys, we must confront the entire past of our nation. That does not deny that what is done is done; but it does open up the possibility of understanding and of forgiveness.

I heard Mary Francis Berry say that teaching about Junteenth and what was proclaimed shows us what could have been and shows us that history did not have to be what it was. And if the past could have been different, we can make the present and the future different and better for all.

Steven Charleston puts it this way. “the Blessingway is a symbol for the second rung on the ladder because it embodies a moment of transformation. It tells us that what we believe can change us physically. In other words, the Spirit’s presence is not only real, but transformative. Blessing is the conduit - the channel - through which the Spirit’s sacred energy enters our lives.” And by it we are healed.

Each time we celebrate the Eucharist we become intimate with the Holy Spirit and we receive again the blessing of the Spirit. It seems strange to me that “official” blessings are the province of clergy, for I genuinely believe we are all a blessing to one another.

The Spirit is always there, waiting for you. Whether you come from a place of sorrow of one of joy, she is there. And if you open your eyes you will seen her; let her take you to a place of blessing and climb the Ladder to the Light.

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