This week was rough and that made this message rough as well… but I got through it. Our scripture is from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 and Psalm 31. You can watch the worship service here and if you want you can just fast forward to the message around 10:59. I’ll post the transcript below.
Bless To Me
The Struggling Times: Facing Illness, Loss, and Grief
Today’s topic is very timely and relevant. Struggling Times – facing illness, loss, and grief. That pretty much sums up 2020… don’t ya think? It’s been a hard year and for this series we’ve been trying to find blessings in the middle of it. I know sometimes, that hasn’t seemed too easy, has it? But today we will are going to look for blessings, not in spite of our circumstances but because of them… wish me luck!
Would you please pray with me?
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Now I don’t know about you but these months of social distancing has been full of ups and downs… One minute I’m enjoying the extra time at home and the next I’m completely depressed wondering if this will ever end!
I have been enjoying this series though as it encourages me and pushes me to not focus on the negatives but to look more closely and see where I can find blessings.
It’s not been easy has it? For some of us there have been illnesses on top of everything, for some grief over the loss of our loved ones, for others the isolation has been really difficult.
Then we throw the civil unrest on top of it. The protests and counter protests, the obvious racism, the lies coming from everywhere, the hate, the violence, the poverty, the loss. Quite honestly, it can be overwhelming if we let ourselves dwell in it.
I had a day this week where I got totally caught up in it. It wore me down. I was full of sorrow and grief. I was weary from the world. I just wanted to sit and cry and I did sit with the grief for a bit… ok for at least half the day. But finally, I had to pull myself out of it. First I sat down and picked up the pen so to speak and wrote. I wrote it all out and shared it on my blog. I let the weariness engulf me and my writing and then I sat down and with our book, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings by Beth A. Richardson and reread this week’s chapter. I read of the trials of her grandfather and how he lived with them and through them and then I read her blessing poetry on grief, on pain, on illness and loss and it felt soothing to my soul.
It’s okay to be in the moment with your feelings, to let yourself feel them. That’s why we have them! But we can’t dwell in them. It can be hard but we can be in it while also fully seeing what’s in it. The full spectrum of light.
Finding blessing in the midst of all this isn’t easy. Finding blessings not in spite of theses circumstances but instead because of them. What? That sounds a bit crazy but I think it’s totally possible. We just might to have try really hard…
Let’s see… where can I find blessings that are because of the pandemic… Well, I have really gotten to know some of you so much better! Seems strange to say with all the social distancing but with all of our Zoom meetings and phone calls, texts, emails, I really have! I feel that our friendships have grown, not just with me but you guys with each other!
We started out of necessity our online ministry and we are reaching people we wouldn’t have reached before the pandemic.
I feel that in some ways, this climate we are experiencing here in the US whether it’s political, societal, church related and so on we are seeing some uniting going on… we are beginning to see people come together to join hands against injustices and wrongdoings.
We are seeing people step up to help their neighbors. I have been amazed at how not only do we as a church work to keep our little pantry and blessing boxes full but the community has reached out and helped us! We see a personal desire to help those in need and it is beautiful.
The pandemic is terrible. It truly is. So many lives lost, so many grieving, so many still trying to heal and new people getting sick every day. Please don’t think I’m saying that this pandemic is a blessing. It is not but blessing can be found because of it.
Families are spending more time together. Parents are having an opportunity to get to know their kids in a completely different way. Kids are getting to know their parents better. Conversations are happening around the dinner table again.
These acts of violence against people of color, these protests, these out in the open moments of racism and oppression, have opened even more conversations. They have begun to lift the veil from over the eyes of many of us who for too long have hidden beneath it, refusing to see systemic racism. And again, people of all persuasions are coming together to try to put a stop to it. Finally.
Honestly, this is just like what Mr. Rogers’ mother told him. When you see scary things, look for the helpers. The helpers might not always be who we think they should be but they are always there. That’s where we should be, that WHO we should be, as Christians, as followers of The Way, as disciples of Christ we should be the helpers, we should be the blessings. As I said last week, sometimes we are God’s answer to someone else’s prayer.
Blessings in the struggles are sometimes hard to find, hard to feel but we are not alone. We are here to help each other. We are here to remind one another and help point out the simple blessings in the little things… the flowers, the sun, the pen, the paintbrush, the colored pencil, the whisk, the fabric, the yarn, the smile, the note card, the email, the text, puppy dog kisses, the child’s laugh. Blessings are all around us even in the struggles. We just need to open hearts and minds to receive them. Amen.