“Behold, I have received a command to bless; when God has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.” – Numbers 23:20
A new study is out, from the Pew Study Research Center for Religion and Public Life, those data analysts so skilled at setting the hands of Protestants wringing. It notified us of a trend we were already aware of, if we were paying any attention: that market share among mainline coreligionists is dropping, and the fastest-growing religious demographic in America is: people with no religion at all.
Here’s the thing: there are so many people who need what our churches have to offer them that I honestly can’t believe we are still wringing our hands over the data. What if we did more blessing with our hands, and less wringing?
There are so many people hungry for good news and good liturgy and radical community, people who want to learn how to pray, and who need places where they can bring their whole selves in, with their doubts and their heresies and their spiritual wounds.
They come like what we used to call bag ladies, and they need to unpack everything and make a big mess all over the floor and figure out what to keep and what to toss away.
Can we give folks space to do this, come and fall apart, come and unpack their baggage all over the floor, and rest a while? Can we raise our magic God-given hands and bless their mess, bless their baggage and their brokenness, their track marks and their tearstains, and remind them that, right now even, they are shining like the sun?
Great Blesser, Your poet Marge Piercy told us, “Bless whatever you can with eyes and hands and tongue. If you can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.” Amen.
Molly Baskette is senior minister of First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA. She is the author of Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead and Yours Can Too, and the just-published Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession.