i am coming up on the 2nd anniversary of my appointment to trinity church in duncanville. it is such a wonderful place, with dedicated people and a powerful understanding of what it means to be a community. one characteristic of that community that i had some difficulty adjusting to was a tradition started a couple of pastors ago: blessings for individuals at the end of the service.

in a new appointment it is expected that the pastor and church will learn to adjust to one another. the pastor may be uncomfortable with certain practices, may want to reorder some things, etc. but what i learned when we went to denison in '03 is that it is not only unreasonable for me to change everything in a worship service-- it is downright arrogant to expect everyone else to adapt to what makes me comfortable.

so when i came to trinity two decembers ago i heard about these blessings: people with birthdays, surgeries, anniversaries, etc. come to the front when the invitation is given, and the pastor prays a personal prayer for them. this scared the devil out of me. i have never been comfortable praying in public, and on my first couple of sundays here come all these strangers expecting a blessing!!! arrgh!! panic attack! i had more than one conversation in my office about these blessings, how important they were. i was so close to dropping them altogether. but it was one of those valued traditions, and i adapted to the needs of the community. i am glad i did. after a couple of months i knew people better, and now almost every sunday people come for blessings, i do them, and they are very grateful and complimentary.

but there are still times when it is difficult-- like last sunday. one thing i started to do was invite others to come forward and lay hands on the person receiving the blessing (family, sunday school class members, etc.). so a woman comes down for a birthday, and her husband and daughter come too. the daughter is a college student who worships with us when she's in town. she also had a birthday i learned, and i just said, "you want a blessing too? sure let's do it!" so i tried to bless them both at the same time and it was a disaster. not knowing the young woman so well, i got her and her mom confused, sheesh. that was five days ago, and even after having conversations with everyone involved, i still feel bad about it.

the thing is, God always hears our prayers. in fact, Jesus told us God knows our prayers before we even speak. in this case, what that means is that even though i messed up the words to the blessing for both women, God knew what was on my heart for them. God recognized them as his own precious daughters, and through this imperfect pastor and the hands of others, blessed them anyway. God saw the laying on of hands of others, saw other heads bowed, and was pleased that the community loved and embraced these women-- many who probably did not know them at all. everyone who participated was blessed. and i, and my weakness, had nothing to do with it.

i can only say "thanks be to God!" for the blessings that come through botched blessings!


Anonymous said…
"thanks be to God" for your sharing your thoughts and experiences!