Last weekend I attended (virtually) the consecration of Deaconess Sara Manning, youth director and member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. It has been a privilege to get to know and serve with Sara on the board of Luther Heights Bible Camp for several years.
As I listened to Sara take her deaconess vows and sang along to hymns with more than 70 people watching the service on Zoom from around the world, I felt uplifted by the ceremony and renewed. Watching another person profess their faith and make a commitment to share God’s love is profound. Like all emotions, hope and joy are contagious—even over the Internet. I felt happier the rest of the day with a kind of quiet peace in my heart.
The isolation imposed on us by the pandemic and quarantine makes it hard to share experiences of joy with others outside our immediate families. Instead, we often are left with the barrage of intense, difficult, and painful emotions that come at us through news and social media. It’s no wonder that many days, despite my best efforts, I must fight anxiety and fear.
At the end of Sara’s consecration, there was a sending prayer followed by a Franciscan Blessing which I had never heard before. The blessing offered a new way of looking at the trials we are currently experiencing.
I love how this blessing turns the idea of tribulation on its head. That it embraces discomfort, anger, and tears as blessings—gifts—to help us become the people God needs us to be in the world. I think there is so much wisdom here, but it’s hard to accept as we are experiencing these emotions. Yet without the gifts of discomfort and anger, complacency and indifference gain traction. Likewise, without the gift of tears, we might not experience the compassion that, with God’s help, leads to action.
My favorite blessing, though, is the final one, in which we ask God to make us foolish enough to believe the status quo can be changed. Foolish enough not only to believe it, but to set about changing it regardless of what others think. When I consider faith-filled people in my life who make a difference in the world and remember people who have changed the course of history for the better, it’s true that often the world saw them, at least initially, as foolish.
So here’s the prayer I’d like to offer today:
Let us pray...
Dear God, help me transform the discomfort, anger, and tears I experience into actions that share your love with others whenever I can. Please give me a good dose of foolishness to act in such a way that brings your love and light into the world. Help me remember that, with you as my guide, all things are possible.