Reflection by Marge Kilkelly
First Parish Church in Brunswick
September 17, 2023
I realize that many of my friends are not involved in religion, and some have been injured by religion. I understand that. However, for me, it is a critical part of my life- so this is the trigger warning –
Sunday I had the opportunity to attend the First Parish Church in Brunswick- in my role as a member of the Maine Council of Churches Board. First Parish generously donates to the work of the Council and spending time chatting with parishioners about our work is a wonderful opportunity.
However, more than that, I was totally taken by Pastor Allen’s sermon on the Beatitudes. It is always a difficult reading and I have struggled to understand it. Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, and who hunger for justice…I have personally been in all those dark places.. Often, it was my faith that supported me through the most difficult times- but I seldom saw those as blessings.
Paster Allen put it in context by reminding us that Jesus said these words while he was with the poor, those who mourned, and those in pain.. His context was revealing to me and I was transported to a hillside with others listening to the prophet. I was almost one of those invisible people who heard these words directly and felt ‘seen’ for the very first time. The experience of being seen, acknowledged, and raised up- not because of their suffering but because of who we are – and that we are all valued.
The work of the Maine Council of Churches is based on Love Your Neighbor…not some, not just the ones like you, not just the ones you agree with- Just simply Love Your Neighbor. On that hillside, so many years ago- there were neighbors and they heard and felt the love of God- our job is to carry that love forward..
Few sermons have left me pondering for days- but this one has and will. As I thought about it more- the truth of his words for me gave clarity to the fact that God is with me- when I have been at my deepest, the darkest time I have felt the presence of God more profoundly than any other time. I was ‘seen’ by god and I am grateful. The sermon begins at 16:45 in the service.
Marge L. Kilkelly