Reading: by the Rev. Rebecca Parker, President, Starr King School for the Ministry
Your gifts—whatever you discover them to be—
can be used to bless or curse the world.
The mind’s power,
The strength of the hands,
The reaches of the heart,
The gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting
Any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
Bind up wounds,
Welcome the stranger,
Praise what is sacred,
Do the work of justice
Or offer love.
Any of these can draw down the prison door,
Abandon the poor,
Obscure what is holy,
Comply with injustice
Or withhold love.
You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?
Choose to bless the world.
The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude
To search for the sources of power and grace;
Native wisdom, healing, and liberation.
More, the choice will draw you into community,
The endeavor shared,
The heritage passed on,
The companionship of struggle,
The importance of keeping faith,
The life of ritual and praise,
The comfort of human friendship,
The company of earth
The chorus of life welcoming you.
None of us alone can save the world.
Together—that is another possibility waiting.
The choice to bless the world is more than act of will,
A moving forward into the world
With the intention to do good.
It is an act of recognition,
A confession of surprise,
A grateful acknowledgment
That in the midst of a broken world
Unspeakable beauty, grace and mystery abide.
There is an embrace of kindness,
That encompasses all life,
And while there is injustice, anesthetization, or evil
There moves a holy disturbance,
A benevolent rage,
A revolutionary love
Protesting, urging insisting
That which is sacred will not be defiled.
Those who bless the world live their life
As a gesture of thanks
For this beauty
And this rage.
I grabbed this from a service online at the First Parish UU Church in Chelmsford, MA by Rev. Ellen Rowse Spero. It reminded me of a feeling that I must commit in the next month to opposing Alberto Gonzales for Attorniey General and organizing opposition to the war in Iraq as its anniversary approaches.
Here is how Rev. Spero finishes her sermon:
It is a tough task to say "yes", to bless the world in the face such brokenness and fear and even horror. How can we have any effect? I believe we can by seeing how we bless the world in large and small ways everyday, by connecting the way we live our lives with our faith. We do this by raising our children to be thoughtful and compassionate beings; by taking part in a walk to raise money a just cause; by working to save some of the wilderness for conservation or finding homes for orphaned dogs; by creating gardens as sacred spaces; by organizing food drives for the Open Pantry and gift packages for U.S. soldiers overseas; by coming here and participating fully and enthusiastically in the life of this community of faith…These are just some of the ways I know that the members here, including our newest members, have chosen to bless the world. And all of us gathered here are here because at some level, as religious liberals, we trust that we can bless the world through the living of our lives.
I believe ultimately that this is what is means to be a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, to be a religious liberal in a Unitarian Universalist context: to commit to choosing to use our gifts to bless the world, this messy, broken, beautiful world, with the hope and the faith that together, we can make a difference, that, together, we can discern that still small voice that calls us to say yes, yes, I will. Amidst the shouting and the violence of our times, people want to hear the message of a hopeful faith. We need to stand up and counted as people of faith so the people who need us can see we are here.