God spoke the world into existence and it was good.
But when God formed humanity in the Divine image no words were spoken. A breath, an energy, a spirit was imbued directly into them.
A blessing was offered to this life. The blessing was not for beauty or strength. The blessing was not for power or wealth. The blessing offered responsibility and restrictions. The blessing offered inclusivity and belonging.
When James Madison, in 1776, wrote, “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it,…” he understood those responsibilities. He continued, “…(this) can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence;..” A reminder that power is ultimately with the Architect of the World, and no wealth is preeminent to the gift of life. “…and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience;…” This completed for an emerging nation the connection to the emergence of humanity itself.
We come together to protect that breath that transfers from one Divine image to another. Breath that is altered too often with words that create distrust and distance. Words that manipulate a blessing to fear and fear to hate. Words that encourage violence instead of protection. Words then carve out separations and forge narrow passages. Words that warp the sparks of creation.
In Genesis, Jacob and Esau meet after 20 years of separation and enmity. Jacob, now called Yisrael, had fled in fear from a hate born of a stolen blessing. Jacob approaches his brother and offers a gift to Esau saying, “…seeing your face is like seeing the face of God” (Gen 33:10).
Dear God, We turn to you, the Designer of all we have, all we share and all we are pledged to protect. We seek that connection, that kinship to all of creation that began with Your words. We ask for wisdom, strength and endurance to remember that we all descend from a single blood line from those first beings, a single human heritage, the heritage of a Divine image in each person. We implore you to bring soon, a time when every individual, each community and all of humanity act and interact, with all our differences acknowledged, as if in each encounter, we are blessed with ‘seeing the face of God’. We long for that day. For then, peace will reign on earth as in heaven.