May 23, 2017

Beloved of God

May 23, 2017
Beloved of God

Daily Reading
1 Peter 3:8-12
Psalm 93
This week’s sermon text: James 4:13-17

Field Notes
Repay evil and abuse with a blessing! I’m busy right now thinking of how to ‘get back at you’ or ‘what I should have said’! What do you mean, repay evil and abuse with a blessing?

Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, wrote in “Life of the Beloved,” “to give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s belovedness…. To give a blessing creates the reality of what it speaks.” Really? As I am feeling angry or wounded, I am to breathe, stop, dig deep, and see the offender as a child of God? Our scripture says a similar thing, “seek peace and pursue it.” Have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Suppose someone spreads a rumor about you that is unkind (ugly, actually) and not true. When you hear the rumor repeated, at first all you can do is to bite your tongue, count to ten, breathe deeply and step away. The space between reaction and response is prayer for yourself and for the person who has hurt you. And in prayer you are encouraged to seek a blessing.

Nouwen writes, “For me, personally, prayer becomes more and more a way to listen to the blessing… the real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self indulgent, but in practice, it is a hard discipline…to gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear a voice of blessing – that demands real effort.”

Questions for the Field

  • Why does the text preach blessing rather than retaliation?
  • What situation can you remember or imagine when blessing created new understanding and possibilities? How so?

Family Field Talk

  • Remember a time when you felt wronged; both the details of the situation and the feelings you experienced. Close your eyes. Imagine the blessing you would give to the person(s) who wronged you.

Prayer Guide
Create in me a forgiving heart, O Lord, a heart that sees first how beloved each person is. Help me to see myself as you made and blessed me. Give me good words to extend to the other so that blessing is shared. For Jesus’ sake, amen.