When God is Born Again

Tonya Boyd-Canon

“Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the Earth! Sing to the Lord. Bless God’s name! Share the news of God’s saving work every single day!” Psalm 96:1-2

“The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.’” Luke 2:9-10

“The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen, it turned out exactly the way they’d been told! Luke 2:20 The Message

When God is born again in your life, you might not see an angel. You might not hear angelic messages, or see the Lord’s glory. But then again, you might, if you keep your eyes and ears open.

The angels rarely come as we might expect. They usually come in simple ways, so simple that we could miss them. So how do people experience angels bringing messages from God? By staying awake in the present moment.

Mr. Baltimore only has one leg. He walks with a crutch, lives on the streets of New Orleans every day, and yet he has an amazingly radiant smile and resilient mood. Our dirty and dangerous streets don’t seem to be able to defeat him.

On the Tuesday before Christmas he was finishing his meal at Mt. Zion when he asked one of the church ladies to call me over. He shook my hand and said, “I just wanted to see your face. It always does something for me.”

“That’s weird,” I said as I patted his shoulder, “because seeing you really does something for me.” We both meant it. We beamed at each other. And that was it. I moved on.

Yesterday I heard more of his testimony. He is aware that the loss of his leg, and many other losses, give him good reason to complain and be negative about his life. But he said he has chosen to focus on the good, even when there are actually more bad things going on.

Mr. Baltimore said he has been focusing on the blessings pouring into his life in this new year. He gave an example of helping a man with a ride to Walmart. In exchange the man had given him twenty dollars, then the man saw he had a bald tire on his car and so the man paid forty dollars for a better tire to be put on his car. His stories blessed me. And telling the stories seemed to bless him.

According to Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a wise physician and author who counsels cancer patients, “A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship in which both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and strengthen what is whole in one another.”[1]

I agree with Dr. Remen that there is mutuality in blessings. And taking it one step further, I think Mr. Baltimore and I became angels of God Tuesday. We relayed God’s message of “good news” to each other by essentially saying, “Seeing you makes my heart glad.” Isn’t this God’s good news? “No matter what you have done, and no matter what has happened to you, you are worthy of my love and acceptance.”

Exchanging such heart-felt, angelic blessings is a way we can change the world. We let God be born again in us by receiving and relaying the good news. And that can even be done as simply as by exchanging smiles that radiate the good news.

The psalmist says “Share the news of God’s saving work every day!” To me, Dr. Remen is saying we can do that by receiving and giving blessings. When God is born again, blessings flow between us, and this is how the world is changed. May we see, and be, angels this day.

[1] Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings, 6.

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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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2 Responses to When God is Born Again

  1. Phil Head says:

    Thank you again William. You always keep me on my toes.

    • soulcare4u says:

      Thanks for saying that Phil. Though the one I am about to write is about how I screwed up a visit before that when I offered the opposite of loving-kindness. Kind of like, as humans, we win some and lose some.

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