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wise-men-1Today is the eve of Epiphany, a day celebrating the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world, and especially to religious outsiders and seekers. It also marks the one-year anniversary of this blog, in which I have endeavored to share a word of grace, hope, and peace with my readers. My posts have included prayers, poems, portions of sermons, and other reflections on spirituality and the life of faith from a progressive Christian perspective.

Pastoral ministry is demanding. Most of the time I feel as though I’m way behind in doing what needs to be done to strengthen the church I serve and help people become more faithful and fruitful in ministry to the world. So my posts have sometimes been few and far between. Still I value those who read, and especially those who trouble themselves to make a comment or offer feedback.

For me the most important qualities of Christian disciples are humility, compassion, a desire to serve humankind, and a heart for all God’s children. Beliefs and theologies can vary. Religions and traditions can vary. If you are convinced that every human being is a child of God and you want to bring people together to build a shared humanity and strengthen the common good, then I don’t care if you are an atheist, an agnostic, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Sikh, a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew! Please, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, for the sake of the natural world and all its creatures, and for the sake of our future on this planet, let us work together to make a better world.

I am a Christian pastor, but I have great admiration and respect for people of all faiths and people of no faith, because I have been around long enough to understand that religious beliefs don’t always make people more compassionate or kind or loving. Sometimes, in fact, religious beliefs just inoculate people into thinking they don’t need to change or embolden them to be boisterous in their condemnation of those who think differently than they do. Sometimes religious beliefs make people less tolerant, less trusting, less loving, and (to be honest) a pain in the neck. Still I believe in the power of love to transform the world.

On this twelfth day of Christmas and Epiphany Eve, I share a poem I wrote ten years ago.

What Gift Can We Bring?

No one dare boast of her place in God’s Kingdom.
No one dare brag of his place in God’s Realm.
We are but children reborn of our Mother,
And in the arms of our Father beheld.

Still, in this season we sing out God’s glory —
We who have come to experience God’s grace.
Still, in this time when a star shines out brightly —
We come rejoicing, and look on Love’s face.

How is it that we can sing when we’re lonely?
How is it that we can stand while afraid?
How is it that we still love the Old Story
Of all creation made new and reclaimed?

We are not brighter or richer or stronger,
We are not privileged alone to know Love.
We are with all of God’s children together
Graced by the Christ here on earth and above.

What can we bring to the Child born among us?
What can we offer our Savior and King?
All that we are is a gift we’ve been given —
Our grateful hearts the best gift we can bring.

Words (c) 2002 Mark Lloyd Richardson

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