This Sunday we continued our mini-Via theme of AHSCKNYE, which stands for Advent, Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years and Epiphany. We celebrate all of these traditions at Jubilee! Circle, recognizing the depth and the breadth of the spiritual expressions of humanity. Below is an excerpt from the Dec. 17, 2017 sermon celebrating the miracle of blessing, along with a link to the sermon audio.
Proverbs 11:25-30: The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed
Mark 1:1-8: I am sending my messenger
ACIM, Chapter 4: Salvation is a collaborative venture
Song used in the sermon: Blessed – Lucinda Williams
Being raised in the Southern Baptist church, one of the hymns we sang over and over again went like this (sing along if you know it): “Count your blessings name them one by one; count your blessings see what God has done; Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your many blessings see what God has done.”
It’s one of the old hymns I still sing to myself now and then, because the advice is good, but often we never get below a surface enjoyment of the song’s message. Oh, yeah, we counted our blessings – a roof over our head, four square meals on the table a day, a car to get to work, a place to go to work (though I was never thankful for my toilet back then like am now). But, we never stopped to think more deeply about any of those blessings and how they came into our lives.
The hymn gives us a clue, of course, saying that those blessings come from God, but most often, those God-given blessings arrive in our lives through other human beings – who, like John, are those God-embodying messengers. Think about it.
I’m thankful for my house – but a lot of people contributed to that blessing. There was a developer who bought the land, a company that graded the land, workers who installed water, electric and gas. Somebody laid the foundation, another drew out the blueprints and a whole crew descended on the property to build the house. The house is built with materials that other people had to fashion out of metal, plastic, chemicals … and trees. And who made those trees? Well, someone planted a seed in soil that had been tilled and made ready by someone else, and this God-infused universe caused sun to shine on that sapling and rain to fall … “count your blessings, name them one by one …”
Everywhere we look, blessings and miracles … and they’re all a communal activity. A Course in Miracles tells us that “salvation is a collaborative venture.” We cannot save this world, Jubilants, unless we do it together. “God will come to you,” the Course says, “only as you will give Him to your brothers. Learn first of them and you will be ready to hear God. That is because the function of Love is one.”
This is why the Course tells us that gratitude toward everyone around us, friend and foe alike, is the only way to overcome our belief that we are separate from one another. When we live our lives in gratitude for everyone we meet, know or hear about, then, the Course says we can come to see everyone and everything as a blessing. When we can recognize the holy in, through and around all people and events, we will not only enjoy blessings, we will become blessings.
“Love does not conquer all things,” the Course reminds us, “but it does set all things right.” This is why we must remember that all blessings are communal. Nobody is blessed by themselves or for themselves. Perhaps one of the best ways to count our blessings, then, is not by what comes to us, but what comes through us – how we are being a blessing to others. Instead of seeing what God has done FOR us, as the song instructs, seeing how God has blessed the world THROUGH us instead, can be a powerful reminder of who we really are.
We are not here to just enjoy the blessings we count that have come to us. We are here to be blessings – to be channels of gratitude that blesses each person, each creature, each tree and blade of grass, not so we can conquer any countervailing force in this world – but so that all things are set right. That means through our gratitude, we can become messengers of God, blessing the world with the love we allow to flow through us and in turn being blessed by everyone we encounter. Breathe deeply.