Sunday, May 31, 2015

Benedictions and Blessings--Received and Offered

I've received and shared some untypical blessings and benedictions.

Today, the Rev. Sheila Richards, a visitor from South Dakota to our little urban congregation, shared with me this blessing. This blessing, titled "Bishop White's Benediction" on the paper she gave me, intentionally contrasts with the traditional peace blessing of Numbers 6:24-26:

May the Lord torment you,
May the Lord disturb you,
May the Lord keep before you the faces of the despised, rejected, lonely and oppressed.

May the Lord give you strength and courage and compassion to make this a better world,
and may you do your very best to make this a better city, a better state, a better world.

And after you have done your best,
may the Lord grant you peace.

Bishop White's Benediction reminds me of a similar blessing Brennan Manning received and passed along:

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. 

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. 

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”

Here are some other "Blessings" I have posted on Indybikehiker across the years:

Benedicere (by Ken Sehested)
The Wonder of Our Loved Ones (original)
The Field: A Blessing (from Celtic Daily Prayer)
Just You (from Celtic Daily Prayer)
With What We've Been Given (original)
Belfast to Boston (God's Rifle)
Certain and Uncertain (original)
It Would Have Been Enough
A Prayer for the House We Receive (original)

John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Saturday, May 23, 2015


My poem for the celebration of Christian Pentecost

How shall we celebrate
this occasion called Pentecost,
when the Holy Spirit poured out
upon the church?

Shall we decorate it
with props and pageants
and trinkets and trivia?

Shall we pine for the past,
longing to have experienced
its original wonders?

Shall we yearn for tomorrow,
praying to reproduce
its manifestations?

Shall we sing ourselves into
a frenzy and call our delirium
Spirit baptism?

Shall we preach Holy Spirit
doctrine until we think
more orthodoxly?

How shall we celebrate
this day on which the Spirit
of Truth descended?

Let us celebrate
with open hearts,
with sharpened minds,
with yielded and God-hungry lives,
with expectation of the unexpected
and surprising grace
which challenges our choices
and turns our world
upside down with love.

Graphic is "Pentecost: Fire and Breath" by Jan Richardson from The Painted Prayerbook