From the summer of 2011…
This morning found your pastor in the First Presbyterian Church, Bryan, kitchen preparing breakfast for fifty (not five thousand!). I was joined by our own Nelis Potgieter and a friend of ours, Dan Kiniry, who coordinates breakfasts for the men gathered along Highway 21 awaiting day labor. As we cooked breakfast tacos of seasoned jalapeños and onions with eggs and refried beans, Dan and I shared some of our favorite “tongue-in-cheek” sayings of charismatic Christianity. “I’ve been blessed by the best, so I don’t worry ‘bout the rest!” “I’m too anointed to be disappointed!” “I’m too blessed to be stressed!” Volleying these phrases back and forth, Dan and I laughed with the morning’s delirium in part because of the silliness of those comical alliterations, but also because of the comfort and joy behind them.
Why do those sayings bring comfort and joy? Why do they uplift my spirit? Because they often and consistently come from people dealing with life’s most relentless challenges. The social worker says that he has been blessed by the best, so he doesn’t worry about the rest. The pastor preparing words for her third funeral service in a week says that she’s too anointed to be disappointed. Visiting someone in the hospital, I asked the woman behind the information desk, “And how are you this morning?” “Oh, I’m blessed!” As if it were a borderline offense for me to have even asked. That kind of confidence, enthusiasm and energy puts marrow on the bones of the psalmist’s words that echo the same reliance on God’s help through the centuries: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? ‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27). Indeed, those who struggle through the challenges of life and rise up again and again to say vibrantly, “I am blessed,” are the voices of God that give us the Divine shot in the arm we need to make it through this day and the next day and the next day. We thank God for them and their resilient posture.
The men gathered on Highway 21 hoping for a day’s labor are blessings, as well. They are the voices of God on the margins of society; the voices of God in our midst. As I poured a cup of cold orange juice for a man in his fifties sitting on a street corner, I joked with him that the breakfast tacos were “made with love” (¡Hecho con amor!). He laughed and said, “Dios bendiga” (God bless). Yes, God bless. God bless him. God bless me. God bless us. And although this day might bring me calamity and strife, worry and doubt, confusion and insecurity, it’s alright, because I’m too blessed to be stressed. Amen.