Image Description: A pile of magnets with various words on them.
Public domain image.

During this season, I’ve been listening to the daily Advent podcasts of Blue Ocean Faith, a congregation in Ann Arbor. They are really lovely. Each one ends with the same benediction:

“Go in peace. Wash your hands. Love your neighbor. You are not alone.”

Those are four helpful phrases for this season.

When we come to expect a particular benediction, it can take on greater meaning. It serves as a reminder that we belong to a relationship or a community. We might also find ourselves repeating it as a reminder or as comfort.

Before he died, my chosen Dad and I had a benediction we’d say at the end of our phone calls. He’d start with..

“Now remember, you’re loved as strange as you are.”

And I’d say,

“And you’re loved as strange as you are.”

This was said playfully with affection. I smile even as I type that.

Lately, when I’ve ended worship services or reflection groups on Zoom — religious or not, just a sense of depth in community — I’ve found myself saying this:

“There’s a love you can’t lose. So you might as well live it.”

That sounds so matter of fact when I type it on a blog. Or it reads like a phrase resignation. But if you can imagine an inflection of a joyful discovery that sounds warm instead of cheesy, that gets close to it.

I enjoy saying it.

Benedictions are Belonging.

Renee Roederer

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