Tag Archives: blessing

The Sky is Always Blue

The Sky is Always Blue

I’ve lived in some very polluted cities around the world.

Often times, the sky would be hazy with dust and smog. And even when the air was relatively clear, thick clouds would regularly blanket the entire metropolis.

So when a “blue sky day” occurred, it was something that was celebrated indeed!

After many years of living with clouds, I just came to a realization.

Every day is a blue sky day.

Whether we can see it or not, the sky is always blue.

Sometimes there are clouds in the way, but the truth remains: just beyond them, the most brilliant azure color waits to be acknowledged and enjoyed.

IMG_1751_edited-1Today was a cloudy day. Cotton wool stretched across the entire view from my window, but every once in a while, a small fissure appeared revealing the blue beneath. A reminder that an “overcast” day is simply that: one which is covering the reality, but not one that has replaced it. The daytime sky is never dark; only the clouds that intervene between us and it make it seem so.

Today was a cloudy day in other ways as well. Receiving the news from friends of hardship ahead brought a bit of grey into our world. The light is a little harder to perceive and enjoy. The blessing of God seems a little more subtle and farther removed.

But it’s still there.

No matter how many clouds pile up, nor how long they remain, the sky is always blue. The truth of reality does not change, will not change. The Light of the world never grows dim; it just gets shrouded from our eyes from time to time.

And it’s at those moments that we must yet believe that it is still there.

Sometimes, we’re graced with reminders. Little fissures in the wet blankets of life allow us to peer through, to see beyond our immediate circumstances, calling us back to the truth of what always lies beyond, whether we can see it or not.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Life


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Speak Peace

I’m new to the Anglican church.

Although I grew up in a “high church” setting (hymn- & organ-based music, use of liturgy, corporate prayers, etc.), each denomination has its own particulars…as well as its own vocabulary.

Vicar. Rector. Curate. Priest in charge. Reader. Deacon. Diocese. Benefice. Parish. I don’t think I’m very much closer to sorting them all out now compared to a year ago when I first began to attend.

Sitting with our Rector the other day, he was trying to explain some of the differences to me, and I noted that there were a few activities that only ordained Priests/Vicars/Rectors could perform as part of the corporate worship service. Leading the Eucharist (Communion, the Lord’s Supper) was one of them–which I expected.

But there was another one that caught me off guard.

During each service, the Priest speaks a blessing of peace over the congregation, which usually includes the words, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” To which we reply, “And also with you.”

Some people might take umbrage to the idea that ordained clergy appear to have a monopoly on speaking blessings of peace on people. But I don’t think that’s the intent.

Rather, there is an acknowledgement that speaking blessings is a sacred act, an important rite, a powerful engagement. In the same way that we don’t offer communion wafers at movie theaters (unless of course you attend one of those churches that meets in a movie theater), we don’t cast around the blessing of God’s peace either. Rather, it is with intentionality that we offer and receive this blessing.

The Bible talks about Jesus sending people out to do ministry in various communities, and one of the main activities they are to engage in is to speak peace upon arriving at a house. If the residents are welcoming, the blessing of peace remains; but if they reject the ministers, their blessing “returns to them.” After that, they might eventually leave the town, wiping off the dust from their feet as a token of their unwelcome.

Peculiar–their peace returns to them when it is not received. Apparently, Jesus saw the speaking of peace as a very significant activity, a way to tell something fairly instantly about those that you might encounter. Do they welcome a greeting of peace, or do they rebuff it? Do they accept those who “come in peace,” or do they ignore?

Peace is significant, and one of the ways that the Anglican church seems to capture that is by restricting the speaking of this blessing to those who have had some formal training, some ordination as being a proper leader in the Faith.

This doesn’t discourage me from desiring to bless others…I don’t feel it’s taboo for me since I’m not an ordained clergyman. But it does cause me to consider the gravity of the words I might share with others.

We might all benefit from speaking words of peace to one another, but it goes far beyond the throwing up of two fingers in that all-too-familiar “peace sign.” It goes beyond t-shirt slogans like, “Make peace, not war.” And it even goes beyond catchy jingles that ask us to “give peace a chance.”

Far more profoundly, we can look someone in the eye and speak peace to them, uttering words of divine blessing as we ask our heavenly Father to impart to them something that often doesn’t make sense, is far beyond human understanding, and yet so very tell-tale and vital.

During the worship service, after the Rector speaks the words of peace to us, he then invites us to share a sign of God’s peace with those around us. For me, that’s a kiss for my wife and a handshake to everyone within arm’s length…as well as to several who are even beyond my reach! It’s proof that the church isn’t just reinforcing some elitist hierarchy by limiting the speaking of peace to a priestly duty. Rather, he leads us–as a shepherd should–and then empowers us to speak peace to those around us.

Amen. Let it be so.

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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Prayer


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Bless the Food?

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let Thy gifts to us be blessed. Amen.

I grew up with this daily mealtime prayer, and there’s one thing I particularly like about it.

In addition to the relational invitation to God, it focuses on the blessing of those gathered around.

This contrasts a bit with my later experience. As I mixed with people from a variety of denominational backgrounds, I began to hear more of an emphasis on praying to bless the food. I would hear phrases like, “Bless this food to our bodies,” accompanied by jokes of chastisement toward those who had taken a bite before the food had been blessed. Who knew what nasty things they ingested in their pre-blessed mouthfuls!

I also personally received some cheerful jeering from my peers as my mealtime custom was often to pray for everything but the food. Those that expected a consecration of the consumables poked at me that I forgot the main reason why we were praying: to bless the food.

Do I want to be healthy and avoid sickness as a result of eating? Sure, I do–especially with the kinds of places that I’ve traveled to! But that’s not my main concern. While nutrition is on the menu, I see a much more significant opportunity to express gratitude to God–as we realize our dependency upon Him for even the basic necessities of life–and also to ask for blessing on those who are gathered together to eat. God may bless them through food and sustenance, but I hope that He does even more in other ways as well!

Food is a secondary element, a physical gateway to a spiritual reality of thanksgiving toward God and the welfare of others. In this way, every meal can have a sacramental quality to it. Why put the food at the forefront? Why seek the blessing of the food when we can seek the blessing of the people who are eating the food?

Perhaps some hope that by blessing the food they might lower the caloric content, transmute the bad fats into good ones, or ensure that weight-gain will be warded off, but whatever words are spoken, let’s keep the people–and the Provider–at the focal point of our feasts. Bless the food if you like, but bless those who prepared it, those who partake of it, and give thanks to the One who produced it.


Posted by on June 22, 2013 in Life, Prayer


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