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Lenten Devotions: St. Benedict the African

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.


April 4, 2014

"We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed ............daily bread
We are blessed ...... blessed
be the blessing
Oh with every breath .....blessed
Take our hands and our footsteps ...........blessed
We are blessed to be the blessing

Blessed are those who mourn they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek they will inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunger for justice for God will use their hands
Blessed are the merciful mercy will be there dance
Blessed are the pure in heart they will see the Lord
Blessed are those who live in Peace they are children of the Word
Blessed are you who walk through the fire and suffer for the road God shows you,
Through everything give thanks and sing for the Love of God that holds you

We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed ............daily bread
We are blessed ......blessed

—Lyrics from "Blessed to Be the Blessing," by Peter Mayer

I must say that I am not really acquainted with St. Benedict the African, who died on this day in 1589. I saw his name on the calendar for today and checked him out via various websites, specifically church websites. He was born to Ethiopian parents who converted to Christianity. He endured racial discrimination. I encourage you to do some research of your own to find out more about this saint. How cool it is for people to look at the family tree of saints and see folks who look like them? How wonderful it is for all of us to realize that God calls and has called people from every place and time?

Peter wrote the song "Blessed to be the Blessing" to celebrate the work and ministry of our congregation and an intern (now Pastor Jessica Harris Daum), who created a day of service for us where we canceled church on Sunday in order to serve the community.

Our tag line is, "Worship is canceled; join the service!" This year we are praying that 1000 people will take part in this wonderful event on June 1, 2014.

So, Peter takes the theme that God said to Abraham and Sarah that "they were blessed to be a blessing" (Genesis 12). In turn, we have adopted that theme to be our motivation for doing what we do: "We are blessed to be a blessing."

Benedict the African, often referred to as Benedict the Moor, was blessed; but when you read about his life, you realize he was often "cursed," allegedly because of the color of his skin. But, when you think about it, that rationale or idea of causation is really blaming the victim. One must deconstruct the situation and come to the conclusion he was "cursed" by others because they didn't realize or understand that he was blessed, just as they were blessed. Rather, the sin of racism distorted how people saw each other. Consequently, there were insults and condemnation.

We are "blessed to be a blessing."

Take that blessing, that wisdom, that attitude to heart today.

Photo: Statue of Saint Benedict the Moor, in the front of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Benedict, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil. (Wikimedia Commons)


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