In the bulb there is a flower;
in the seed an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise:
butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until it’s season,
something God alone can see.
The days are shorter, it’s cold outside, and there’s snow and ice on the ground. Yet, in my office there’s a bulb that has decided to bloom. It stands tall, in defiance of all the weather concerns outside. It currently has two blooms, with two buds yet to open. It brings hope and joy to me and all who see it. When I wrote last month’s article. I hoped that I would be able to share a photo of a bloom. Well, here it is! Thanks again for this wonderful gift that was presented to me and the church staff.
In ministry, and my own life, I have seen the need for reminders of who we are and whose we are. We all face challenges. None of us can get through this life alone. We need each other and we need God.
We all have our favorite seasons, our own joys and sorrows. Created in the image of God, we are each unique. One thing unites us, we are all God’s beloved.
On the first Sunday after the Epiphany this year, we heard the story of the baptism of Jesus. Focusing on the latter portion of Matthew 3:17, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” we renewed our own baptismal promises, and then gathered at the font to hear the words, “Remember your baptism and know that God loves you.”
I believe that remembering that we are baptized Christians, that we are named and claimed by God, is foundational to understanding our identity. At least, it does for me. Knowing I’m a child of God helps me to make better choices in life.
One time, after I had invited children to gather for a Children’s Moment, a boy came forward. Everything about his body language said that he didn’t want to be there. When he got to me, he made it clear to be that he didn’t want to be there and used words I don’t ever hear in a sanctuary. Immediately, I could feel my blood pressure rising. I wanted to make an example of him and send that boy back to his mother to have his mouth washed out with soap.
Then, I looked down at my white robe – a symbol of my baptism. I was reminded that I, along with that child, were named and claimed by God. Immediately, calm washed over me. I smiled at the child and told him that he was welcome to join us or, if he preferred, he could return to his seat. He stayed and the Children’s Moment went on without the congregation becoming aware of the incident.
A friend of mine introduced me to the poetry of Steve Garnaas-Holmes. The more I read his work, the more I appreciate it. In the spirit of remembering who and whose we are, I offer this poem by Garnaas Holmes titled, Beloved:
Jesus has taken you into himself;
this is your blessing.
The heavens – the divine heart of all being –
are open to you.
You are divine in nature,
having been created by God in love.
God’s Spirit is in you.
It is who you are.
You are God’s child, offspring of God,
emanation of the Holy One.
You are the Beloved.
This is the first and hardest learning
of the spiritual life:
to let yourself be the Beloved.
With you God is delighted . . .
Go, then, and do justice and practice mercy,
knowing you are blessed and sheltered,
healed and forgiven,
and empowered to do so.
You are God’s beloved,
in whom God is delighted.