Go In Pieces



One of the most beautiful parts of every worship service I lead happens at the end.  

Many folks may agree that the most beautiful part of every church service is the end, but I digress. 

What I'm referring to is what is known as the Benediction or the "sending" part of the worship service. The Benediction is the "last word" people hear before leaving the Sanctuary.  

Every pastor I know has a preferred way of offering a benediction to their congregation, the words they've come to love that send the people out into the world with a blessing. 

I have one that I use, and I have employed it for at least the last fifteen years. 
"Go out into this world in peace, and go knowing that the God who sends you out into this world does not send you alone.  This God goes before you, is behind you, is all around you and in you."
Then I recite the Aaronic blessing from the book of Numbers: 
"May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you. May the Lord be kind and gracious to you, and give you peace."  
I rather like this blessing.  It reminds the people that they aren't being sent out aimlessly or without the presence of a God who loves them.  

But there's this benediction that I have been reading and thinking about for a few years now, one that I read in a book of poetry by Padraig O'Tuama. 

It's probably one of the most brutally honest benedictions I've ever read. It's a strangely beautiful and challenging blessing that acknowledges the complex realities of life with a defiant kind of hope: 
The task is ended. 
Go in pieces. 

Our faith has been rear-ended 
certainty amended
and something might be mended 
that we didn't know was torn. 

And we are fire. 
Bright, burning fire, 
turning from the higher places
from which we fell, 

emptying ourselves into the 
hell
in which we'll find
our loving, and beloved
brother 
mother 
sister
father
friend

And so friends, the task is ended. 
Go in pieces
to see and feel your world. 

I think the words that resonate with me so profoundly are the ones that are repeated at the beginning and the end: 

"The task is ended/Go in pieces." 

What I love about this is the honesty and the imagery it brings up for me.  Sometimes, the words "go in peace" might not be what we need to hear.  Instead, we might need to know that we are being broken apart. 

And not broken apart to be left that way, but broken apart enough to let the light in to dispel our own darkness and let that light shine for others. 

Sometimes, we need to "go in pieces" because that's the only way to "see and feel" the world and the people around us.  We need to have our armor shattered, our barriers broken down, and our walls breached.  

So, friends, this task has ended. 

Go in pieces.  

See and feel.

Let your brokenness be how you experience the Divine within and without you.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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