Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Psalm 103:1:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

You know, it's the smallest words in the Bible that cause all the trouble.


All that is within me? Really? That's the thing that trips many of us up. After all, who knows better than us what's in there, and how quick we are to point out that some of "what's in there" is rather icky.

It reminds me of the surface incongruity in the opening line of the Reconciliation of a Penitent on page 447 of the Book of Common Prayer:

"Bless me, for I have sinned."

On the surface, it sounds like we are saying, "Hey, God! Bless my screw-up, would ya?"

But let's pull up the cover and look under that, shall we?

I keep thinking about the creation story in the book of Genesis. God did this, and God did that, and these "this and that's" are followed with statements that these creations were good. But in the very beginning of the story, he makes Light, calls it good, then he separates it...and there's a resounding "no comment." The darkness? It was always there all along.

But when I read that over and over, I get this feeling that maybe God wasn't so sure he'd rather have figured out a way to get the darkness and light to simply coexist, rather than separate them. Maybe God had a nagging suspicion that separating light from dark was going to cause trouble in the minds of created beings. But on the other hand, maybe since the darkness had always been there, God didn't give it a second thought. Maybe in the divine mind they were not truly separable.

So in that sense, maybe sin isn't as separating as we make it out to be in the human mind.

So much of contemporary Christian thought is rooted in the that sin is a form of "separation from God." Yet in the ancient Orthodox tradition, sin is more often defined as "misuse of creation." The Genesis story tells us that creation, overall, is a good thing. God's going "Wow! This is really good!" all over the place.

It really changes the dynamics when we start thinking of all those things we commonly view as sin--lying, cheating, stealing, shame, embarrassment, guilt, doubt, anger, rage, fear, etc. etc. etc.--actually have their roots in creation. Yet creation is good. So if there's any "separation" going on, it is our choice to separate. God's only desire is to bless all that God created.

So in that sense, our sins and our virtues cannot be separated, because they all are derived from the same holy stuff--creation. We are asking in the forgiveness of sin for us to simply "use creation better." But all of what composes us, is worthy of blessing. In that light, bringing our sins forward to God should not be something we should shy away from or feel ashamed. We should welcome the opportunity to allow "creation stuff" to be put to a better use.

Bless it, Lord. All of it.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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