June 30, 2013  — Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Roy Nelson


Every once in a while I get an e-mail ending with the word "Blessings..." and the sender's name. That simple word always touches me because in its meaning is a gift that says "God be with you," or "I care about you," or "I am thinking about you and sending a wish for good things in your life." We had a neighbour across the street in Arizona who as we were parting after a conversation would always say, "Remember Roy, God loves you." That was a blessing in disguise. I suppose each of those blessings held a measure of agape love.

It is easy to take our blessings for granted. We are enjoying their gifts constantly in our daily living. Like the air around us and our ability to breathe it. We don't thnk about its gift. But we would if suddenly we could not breathe or there were not any more air. Think for a moment about the blessings we receive through God's generosity and love.

This week end we celebrate Canada Day. Our country is 146 years young. How blessed we are to live in this land where we enjoy the five basic freedoms— the freedom of assembly, the freedom of association, the freedom of expression, the freedom of religion and the fredom of information. Easy to take these for granted until we witness and consider their deprivation to the people in the Middle East, parts of Africa, China, Russia, and Argentina. Truly we are blessed. But with every freedom comes an equal amount of responsibility. The responsibility to care for and nurture its gift.

God has blessed us with this planet earth. Yet in many ways too many of us take its bounties for granted. Last week David spoke of Elijah in terms of "a man of steel", a man of courage, a man with foresight and deep convictions. Alas, Elijah was a prophet in his own land and as Jesus said, "a prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home." In a simpler translation, "a prophet has no honour in his or her own country."

To-day we need the personification of Elijah and Elisha more than ever before. Fortunately we have people like Maude Barlow the champion for the right to water who recognizes the global water crisis and David Suzuki, the champion in Environmental protection. Let me add one more in the hope that his voice will also be heard. This is Stephen Lewis who decries the loss of respect for canada in world circles as demonstrated by our lost seat on the security council. The character of Canada has changed, not because of our expanding multiculturalism but because we have lost the the grace and wisdom of statesmanship in our leaders. If we are to continue to enjoy the blessings of this planet and the richness of the canadian lifestyle we need to look long and hard at the cost to our children and their children and those in the future if we allow this blessing to be destroyed by the single motive of corporate greed to maximixe bottom line profit and woo questionable international associations.

Elijah sought out a place of refuge to take shelter and safety from his days of anguish and weariness—a place to find solace because he just had enough. We would rue the day if that mindset took hold of those who champion the value and sanctity of this blue planet, the place we call home. When the astronaughts look out the window of their space capsule and the windows of the international space station they view the planet earth and to them it is home. Viewed from outside its earthly boundaries they see the totality of its magnificance and its blessing for all life.

What makes a prophet a prophet. It is an ingrained wisdom with insight into the future in relationship to the present. It is a gift, a blessing, a directive from their creator. We should heed our prophets.

But let me not dwell too long on that theme but look to further blessings. Jesus knew the value and meaning of true blessings. Often reflections on his sermon on the mount dwell on the miracle of the loaves and fishes but there is another message there, a deeper wisdom for the church and all who call themselves christian. I refer to The Beatitudes:

There is no substitute for the feeling that comes from being blessed. Each one of us has our own perspective on blessings but I have to agree with Maslow's heirarchy of needs which can be construed as blessings:

So count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done. Some of us will remember:

"when I am weary and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
and I go to sleep counting my blessings

Shalom and blessings.