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Wednesday Wondering - April 17, 2024


Scripture

Isaiah 49: 9a, 15 - 16

9 saying to the prisoners, “Come out,”


    to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

15 Can a woman forget her nursing child


    or show no compassion for the child of her womb?


Even these might forget,


    yet I will not forget you.

16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;


    your walls are continually before me.


Matthew 5: 14 - 16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.


Reflection

I have been wondering this past little while about how we identify ourselves and how these understandings of our identity affect how we see ourselves in the world. In many ways we are identified and take on roles around those identities. We often identify ourselves with our primary relationships, whether that be husband, wife, partner, father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, or any other familial title. In some ways each of these comes with their own set of expectations and responsibilities. In many cases these are imposed upon us by how society believes we must act as we find ourselves within each of these identities. But if I really think about it, this is not the only way that society imposes specific roles and identities upon each of us. There are many different ways, from our work, to our gender, to our community involvement, even our friends will place identity expectations upon each of us. As I have been pondering this I have wondered how do we find ourselves in the midst of all of the expectations, expected identities, that we each navigate in our lives. What does it mean to truly find ourselves? Do we actually have to find ourselves, or is there something else that might be even more productive?


The readings that I chose for today speak to this idea that we have been created, as we are, not necessarily as the world sees us. In being created to be who were actually are, not who the world says we need to be, we have been created in light, to be light, to bring light to the world. Writer, illustrator, speaker, and teacher, Emily McDowell, speaks to this idea of finding oneself in the following way, “‘Finding Yourself.’ is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. ‘Finding Yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.” To be who you were created to be, and not who the world tells you you have to be, that is what I believe God wants for all of us.


Now that is not to say that when we take on specific roles they are always negative, it is to say that those roles we take must always allow us the space to be who we truly were created to be, rather than demanding that we change to fit those roles. This has been a very challenging lesson for me to learn. I was raised with many expectations about who I needed to be in the world and in living into those expectations I found that I was not being true to who I understood myself to be, so I hid that part of me. It became easier, in the world, to put on the mask of expectations and live as the world demanded than to make waves and be authentically me. Yet, in doing so I know that the light of who I was, was dimmed. How often have we dimmed our lives, who we truly were, so that the world might accept us, or so that the world might not deal with our uniqueness? We each have been created as individuals, as unique and wonderful creations of light and love. Our scriptures today remind us that we were created in all our uniqueness and as such when we live into who we understand ourselves to be, we become light in the world and the world needs all the light it can get at the moment. So let us all reclaim who we are and if we have reclaimed who we are, let us celebrate who we are, and shine for the world to see. Let it be so, amen.


Prayer

God of infinite diversity and love, help us to live as you created us to live. Let us shine as you created us to shine. We ask for the courage to reclaim ourselves from so many imposed expectations that society imposes on us. We ask for the wisdom to discern what is truly us and what we have built in ourselves to hid and protect ourselves. We ask that you guide into being more fully us and show us how to shine for the world to see. We ask this all in the name of the one to who came bringing light, your son, Jesus. Amen. 


Peace and blessings,


Rev. Patrick Woodbeck

Gordon-King Memorial United/ The Big Red Church

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