[Note: This is a modified version of a guided meditation that I did for the 2015 Annual Meeting. I invite you to try it out as a tool to close one year and begin another year in the life of our congregation.]
I invite you to move your focus to yourself for a few minutes. Close your eyes. Take at look at the interior landscape of your life. Take a deep breath. Slowly release it. Place your chest, neck and head in a straight line, your feet flat on the floor, and let your arms and hands fall loosely onto your lap. Let your breathing take its natural course.
Become aware of areas of tension in your body. Become aware of the feeling rumbling around inside of them. You don’t need to do anything with those feelings, just note that they are there, and may affect how you feel during the day.
Become aware of how you feel about yourself in this moment. There is nothing to do or change about yourself in this moment. Simply become aware of how you see yourself.
Pay attention to any baggage you might have brought with you into this moment, concerns that weigh heavily on the heart, or responsibilities left uncompleted. Since we can do nothing about these concerns in this moment, I invite you to put them in a package and send them away, send them to God, or just let them go. Take a few seconds to allow yourself to do this.
Once those are gone, I invite you to give yourselves the gift of being totally present for this moment and to be open to those around you and to what ever this moment brings you.
Now, I invite you see yourself through the eyes of God, with eyes of compassion and love. Regardless of what feelings you have rumbling around inside you or your self-image, at this very moment God delights in your being, in your being made in God’s Image. You are unique in this universe, and God’s love flows through the universe to care for you and support you.
Who you are is God’s gift to you. Who you become is your gift to God.
Through your involvement in this holy congregation, you are connected to Eternity. There is nothing that can separate you from this great love. Just sit for a few moments and enjoy this peaceful moment.
Become aware of your place in this holy congregation, the roles you play, the ways in which you connect.
Think back to one year ago. What has changed in your relationship to the congregation since last year? What do you want your relationship to this congregation to be like in one year from today?
All of the work that goes into the life of this holy congregation is also holy. No matter how great or how small, how obviously sacred or how seemingly mundane, each task is holy. All those who perform those tasks bring holiness upon themselves.
“And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the Eternal has commanded.”
What is the skill, the gift that you come with to the work of this holy congregation?
“And everyone who excelled in ability and everyone whose spirit moved him came, bringing to the Eternal their offering for the work of the Tent of Meeting and for all its service and for the sacral vestments. Men and women, all whose hearts moved them, all who would make an elevation offering…”
What role do you play in this holy congregation’s work?
“Thus the Israelites, all the men and women whose hearts moved them to bring anything for the work that the Eternal, through Moses, had commanded to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to the Eternal.”
What moves your heart to act freely, and without any expectation of recompense?
“Moses then called Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skilled person whom the Eternal had endowed with skill, everyone who excelled in ability, to undertake the task and carry it out.”
What tasks have your undertaken in the past year? How have you carried it out?
“Just as the Eternal had commanded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the work. And when Moses saw that they had performed all the tasks — as the Eternal had commanded, so they had done — Moses blessed them.”
Think back on all that you have seen happen in this congregation, and for all that you have done for this congregation in the past year.
“All the tasks” The word “all” comes to include even the work that fell short, whether it was you or someone else. At times, there is a feeling of disconnect, frustration, disappointment.
Looking forward into the coming year, what can you do for yourself about those moments of falling short? What can you do for someone else who is had a falling short experience?
This is the close of the year. All the tasks from this year are now done.
Imagine in this moment, that Moses comes to you, and offers you a blessing, both for the work done this past year, and for the work yet to be done in the year to come. What blessing does Moses offer you?
Take a deep breath as you take in the words of the blessing. Slowly release the breath.
Begin to move your feet, and legs, and arms, and hands. When you are ready open your eyes, and know that you and your fellow congregants are engaged in this holy work together.
May God bless you and give you protection.
May God’s face shone upon you and show you grace.
May God lift up God’s face to you and grant you peace.