Pool of Blessing
August 1, 2011In the company of friends and fellow travelers, Jesus was always renewed and refreshed for the work and the journey ahead. He would go to the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus, break bread and fellowship with trusted companions in the way. As I offered a prayer of blessing in a similar setting last night, I was a bit overcome thinking of how full of thanksgiving Jesus surely was as he gathered with those whom he trusted and loved and gave thanks for a meal. I sit in worship nearly every Sunday, and have as both a lay person and a clergy person for the last sixty some years. I love worship. I love the prayers and the music. I love the sound of singing in the church and the Communion that is so much a part of my experience. The ecstatic expression of joy and hope in the great company of the faithful is inspiring and encouraging. It bolsters me and recharges me for action in the world. But there is something about Bethany that calls me to a deeper place. First century disciples knew that gathering, breaking bread, praying together, and going forth from there with good news was essential to sharing the gospel. They shared all things in common and held each other to the task of serving others in the name of their leader, Jesus. They stood in the pool of blessing that was Christ shared among them in intimate, honest, and authentic ways. They prayed the prayers of the faith they had grown up with and held one another accountable for the treasure of good news they bore to the world. Last night, after a bounteous meal and some good wine, a few of the faithful gathered to pray about what it would mean to be a group of disciples who gathered on a regular basis to pray, worship, fellowship, and offer ourselves in ministry to the world. We discerned that a twice a month gathering would be both do-able and agreeable, that we would begin with food and fellowship and study together for a while before ending with night prayer. In the Methodist tradition, such accountability groups were normative until about 1908 when Class Meetings were dropped and the church began its decline. Somewhere along the way, the church lost its vision to make covenant accountability a less important value than even the Rotary Club does. And we in the church wonder why we are failing to be relevant in the world! As our gathering last night wound down in Night Prayer, Christ in the silence was palpable. Christ was among us and we were standing in the pool of blessing with all the faithful of the ages who have said, "Yes, Lord. I will follow you." God has been on my mind in such powerful ways since my retirement. As I continue to discern God's ongoing will for my life, I know that a resting place in the pool of blessing will refresh and renew me for the next passage. May God be glorified in all things! Amen.