Tag Archives: Blessing

Advent: Blessing

When my mom was most active in researching her ancestry my husband said he thought his paternal grandfather must have been an outlaw of some sort.  He knew his grandfather’s name but had never heard stories about the man.  None.  Not a single one.  Which led my beloved to believe his father’s father was best forgotten.  Mom took it as a challenge. Now we know grandpa probably ran a dairy in Oklahoma City and likely came from a family with a long history in Pennsylvania.

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My beloved working on a genealogical fan chart for my mom.  12/21/12.  Photo: TLClark.

I wonder if Jesus heard stories about his grandparents.  Surely he didn’t know all those names recorded in Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-38.  Fourteen generations times three in Matthew (see Matthew 1:17); a somewhat longer list in Luke.  The lists agree – mostly – for the generations from Father Abraham to the great King David.  After that, not much at all; from the name of David’s son in Jesus’ direct lineage to the name of Jesus’ grandfather (aka Joseph’s dad) the lists are quite different.

Does it matter?  Does it matter that there is a Zerubbable in one list and a Zadok is in the other?  I don’t think so.  Do we need to get them to line up – to harmonize them?  Definitely not.  The authors had their own agendas.*

Jesus is the son of David, the famous though flawed, best and beloved of Israel’s kings.  Things had definitely gone downhill since his rule.  As the book of Matthew begins, there’s a hint and a hope that Jesus, as part of that royal lineage, will bring about all that a kingdom is to be.

Jesus is also son of Abraham.  (Sing along if you know it: “Father Abraham had many sons…”.)  The first thing I remember about Abraham is that he was blessed to be a blessing (see Genesis 12:1-3)  Think about that for a moment.  Blessed to be a blessing.  Jesus, too, was blessed to be a blessing.

Have you counted your blessings lately?  The people that bring (or have brought) hope, love and joy into your life.  The big things we cannot live without – like breath and water.  The mundane but necessary – food, clothing, and shelter.  The little things that we too often take for granted.

How might you be a blessing today?  It could be something simple, perhaps eye contact and a smile to everyone you pass by.  It could cost a little or a lot, say a few dollars in a Salvation Army Red Kettle or generous check written to your favorite non-profit charity.  It might be a gift of time spent with one who is lonely or a hand-written note sent through the old-fashioned mail.  I hope you’ll use your imagination and act with kindness.

We are blessed.  And we are called to bless others.

Until next time, Teressa

p.s.  I was going to say something about the fact Luke’s genealogy ends with “[Jesus was] son of Adam, son of God.” But that felt like a sermon.  And I wanted to stay with the idea of blessing.

*I’ll tell you some of what comes to mind from my seminary days as well as sermon and Bible study prep over the years.  I could pull out the commentaries, do a little reading, and write about each author’s purpose.  But I’m not that interested – at least not today.

If you are interested, I recommend The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).  It’s accessible, solid scholarship on the New Testament in one volume for those who want to know more but don’t want an entire library of commentaries.

Thanksgiving Sunday Pastoral Prayer

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I’ll be preaching in a small country church tomorrow – country as you can only get there via gravel road, small as in maybe 50 total members with an average worship attendance of 15 or 20.  I’ve met a few of them in person and talked to two others on the phone (the organist and the one printing the bulletin).  In other words, I don’t know them so the pastoral prayer will be somewhat generic.  But it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving and gratitude is never out of season.  Please join me in prayer.

PASTORAL PRAYER

Turning to God in prayer, I invite you to take a slow, deep breath.  In the silence, count your blessings and give thanks.  (silence)

Creator of Life, Giver of all good gifts,  having paused to count our blessings, we are amazed.  Thank-you.

Thank-you for the breath of life, the gift of birthdays, and for all who bear your image – the people around us, neighbors and strangers, nearby and far away; infants and children; teens and young adults;  those in the middle years of life; and those living their last days.

Thank-you for family and friends, for partners and encouragers in life’s journey.

Thank-you for love and laughter and even the tears that remind us of the most important thing:  we are all beloved – beloved by others, beloved by you.

Thank-you for land and sunshine and rain, for orchards and gardens and grain.

Thank-you for providing all that we need – food and drink, clothing and shelter, music and art, poetry and prose, rest and play and so much more.

Thank-you for the curious and the brave, for the imaginative and the practical, for hard workers and gentle spirits, for all who make your world – this earth – a good place to call home.

We are grateful to trust you with the concerns of our hearts and so we pray

for the people on the prayer chain…

for all dealing physical and mental illness and for those who love them…

for refugees fleeing for their lives, for immigrants seeking to survive, for individuals everywhere dreaming of a way to thrive…

for communities reeling from disaster – wildfire and tornado, flood and famine, hurricane and earthquake…

Holy One, send healing, send hope, send wisdom.  Use us as answers to our prayers.

We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Welcomed

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While Elrond lived there, it was said “His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking, best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.”  – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

My beloved  and I are on a road trip.  We spent three nights, two days with parents a week and a half ago.  We arrived at their home again yesterday.

Their friends call it the party house.  It’s just right for gatherings from four to twenty-four or maybe more.  Help yourself to food and drink.  If they know your preferences, the fridge and pantry will be stocked:  peanut butter, M&Ms, yogurt, tea, diet coke.

They freely share the password for high speed wifi and offer unlimited access to the washing machine and dryer.  Dad is glad to have you play in the wood shop with him.  Mom is eager to have you spend time in the quilting room with her.

Much love.  Good food.  Laughter.  Stories.  Pinochle (a card game).  Sleep.

We are blessed.

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“On Your Left”

Over the din of traffic on 36th St., I heard, “On your left.”  Instinctively, I stepped to the right.

When I heard “on your left” a few days ago I started to the left then quickly went right, laughing at myself.  Which is left?  Where do I go?

If you ride or walk on the bike trails in central Iowa you know “on your left” is both good manners and a bit of a warning.  It means “I’m behind you and will pass on your left.”  It could also mean “watch out, here I come.”

Last week it was a preschooler, prompted by his mom.  “On your left,” he hollered from quite a ways back.  “You should wait until you’re a little closer,” his mom called out to him.  I turned to see how far back they were and smiled.  The little boy was pedaling mightily until he got close.  I said “thank you” as he rode by a little close for my comfort – after all it’s hard to pedal, steer straight, and look at the woman walking to your right.

It was teenager this morning.  Probably not quite old enough to drive, making her way wherever she was going via bicycle.  “Thank-you,” I smiled as she rode by on my left.  Still pedaling forward, she looked back with a blessing, “have a great rest of your day!”

I will.  And hope you do too.