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Benediction

There are moments you remember, moments that are burned in your psyche like a watercolor tattoo.

The moment I found A Deeper Story is one of those moments.

Sarah Bessey’s Incarnation post had gone viral, so viral that it was even being shared amongst my mainline clergy friends. The Internet was a different place back in 2011. Evangelicals didn’t talk to mainline Christians. I had a handful of evangelical friends on Facebook, but they were people I’d known since high school. People who believed different things – about God, about sex, about church – didn’t read each other’s blogs or listen to each other’s music. They certainly didn’t pray for or with one another.

I didn’t trust evangelicals. On a purely theoretical level, I knew that they were my sisters and brothers in Christ. But I didn’t really think we were in the same family. Part of that was defensive; I’d been told time and again that my faith was insufficient, my theology unorthodox, my ordination illegitimate. I was tired of arguing with different Christians, and since it seemed that was the only way different Christians engaged with one another, I was done.

And then I read Incarnation. After I’d dried my tears, I kept reading. I read the entire archives of A Deeper Story, more or less. I was transfixed. Here were Christians who were all over the spectrum, hanging out in the same space, swapping stories. The sacredness of the space didn’t depend on everyone agreeing on a single version of the Christian story. The sacredness of the space was generated by the telling of countless Christian stories.

This website changed me. It changed me even before I was invited to bring my own stories to this sacred space.

God, what a joy and honor it has been.

Tell your stories, friends. Clear your throat, swallow your fear, and speak your truth. Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission; the Holy Spirit already has.

In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy.

Your young will see visions.

Your elders will dream dreams.

Even upon my servants, men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will prophesy.

But in the liturgy of storytelling, it isn’t enough to tell your story. Open your ears, close your mouth, and listen to your brothers and sisters speak their truths.

Happy are your eyes because they see. Happy are your ears because they hear.

Nish, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On Sunday mornings, after I preach, I send the people forth with words of Benediction. It seems the right way to bid farewell here, too. So now, with tears in my eyes as I type:

May the love of God surround you, the grace of Christ transform you, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be your guide as you go from this place in peace, to love and to serve.

Amen.

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