Way of Love– Bless
The Rev. Deacon Lisa Kirby
24 February 2019
“Bless the Lord, my soul.
And Bless God’s Holy Name
Bless the Lord my Soul
Who leads me into life.
How do We bless the Lord?
The Way of Love speaks of ‘Bless’ this way: “Share faith and unselfishly give and serve. Freely have you received freely give. Jesus called his disciples to give, forgive, teach and heal in his name.”
Our Gospel reading today says “ Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you, be merciful, forgive and you will be forgiven.”
We are talking less about what the priest does from the altar at the end of the Eucharist than about what happens after the dismissal, so it’s connected to that GO we talked about two weeks ago. It’s about action.
We use the word bless in a lot of situations, not always positively. In this neck of the woods “well, bless her heart” may not be as generous as it sounds.
I’ve read that blessing requires specificity, such as when we voluntarily and intentionally enter another person’s pain.
Let’s look at how Jesus went about blessing. A great deal of his healing and comforting came when he was doing something else and got interrupted. He stopped what he was doing and changed his focus.
If we are open to the call to bless, we must prepare to be willing to be “interrupted”, as Jesus was, not pass it off til a more convenient time.
Remember the line in one form of the Confession where we seek forgiveness for things done and things left undone? When have I failed to be a blessing when the opportunity was right in front of me…when have I turned and walked away because I was too busy, too afraid or felt inadequate?
Our class on dealing with aging and dementia points out that dealing with those who suffer is hard, and for me it might be just too easy to avoid. It’s painful. But Jesus did not avoid pain in order to be the ultimate blessing. It is his excruciating death that exemplifies the lengths he was willing to go to be a blessing. Sometimes I don’t seem to even be able to stop and listen attentively for 3 minutes, but it’s a practice we can develop ‘with God’s help’.
What about our role in that forgiveness aspect? That’s part of blessing. The Lord’s Prayer:
forgive us our trespasses, sins, debts, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
What if God only forgave us to the extent that we forgive others. I know God forgives me
time and time again, but what about my part of the equation? And interestingly, my
unwillingness to forgive, in the long run, tends to hurt me more than anyone else. I nurture
resentments and grudges if I don’t forgive. We say in recovery that resentment is like
drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Our Gospel says we are called to
forgive, because, thank God, we are forgiven.
Let’s take that a step further. We talk about our blessings, how blessed we are.
What if we were only blessed by God to the extent to which we are a blessing to others?
Our Gospel says, “What credit is it to you if love those who love you?” Or what is the point of
only loving the loveable?
God loved me at my most unlovable when in the throes of my alcoholism I was running
roughshod through the lives of the people I loved.
Can I love the unlovable? How am I at loving, and hence being a blessing, to the unwashed,
the “other”, those with whom I disagree to the depths of my being. Here’s the thing, you will
never look into the eyes of someone who is not loved by God.
To be a blessing, we must look into the eyes of even those who would hate us and look for
the spark of God there. Dorothy Day once said: “I really only love God as much as the person
I love the least.”
That fact is that we are blessed that we might be a blessing to other, in as great a measure as
At the end of the day can we ask the questions Henri Nouwen asks
“Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?”
That is the question. What is our answer to be?