During a recent class I shared the following Bible verse, James 1:19,
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
I was using it as a centering activity in the style of Lectio Davina. We slowly read the verse, then asked everyone to share what word, phrase or feeling stood out for each of them. Next we spent some time in silence pondering the verse and its meaning for us. This is an amazing way to get up close and personal with scripture. Whenever I hear scripture shared in this way, I always hear or feel something that I know was meant just for me and me alone. This time was no different. When I heard the verse read, “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger”, It had an important message – the importance of being an active listener and guarding one’s emotions. That is a great lesson for all of us. That is not what stood out for me. What stood out for me was one word, one specific word, a word that, when I focused on it, gave me a feeling of acceptance and peace. This word led to a rush of thoughts and feelings. The word was, beloved. B-e-l-o-v-e-d.
James, the author of this scripture, addressed those that he sent this letter to, the people of the early church, as - his beloved. He was writing to reprimand them, sharing his feelings about the importance to let go of the hypocrisy and bad behaviors that were happening at the time. He called them all as his beloved. What a way to open a letter. The word just jumped in my mind, I grabbed hold of it with a strong desire. I want to be beloved. I want to feel beloved, and I want to call those around me beloved. In the NRSV Bible the word beloved is used over 130 times. In Song of Solomon 1:16 “Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely”. Daniel 9:23 “I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved.” Daniel 10:19 “He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. “ Matthew and Mark both share: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved,”…And the list goes on. In the dictionary it is defined as:
Adjective - greatly loved; dear to the heart. Noun - a person who is greatly loved.
The idea that I am a person greatly loved seems simply amazing to me. For it to be God’s word calling me beloved is even more amazing to me. It is just what I need to hear. I am beloved. For the last two months, a lot of people in my life have shared how busy and overwhelmed they are with life right now. I am no different. We are all starting up with fall schedules, and getting ready for a run of holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent and the biggest of all Christmas. We all have the demands of life coming at us from all sides. There are days that I am not sure that I can continue at the pace that I am living. Then I heard beloved. It made me pause and take a breath. I stopped and focused on the fact that I am beloved. When my children are demanding my time, I think, “it is ok” I am beloved. When my husband is frustrated with me because he can not find a clean shirt, I think about what is important, "beloved" and I forge ahead with a lift in my mood. It does not stop there. If I am beloved, so are those around me. I must remember this. I need to share this wonderful peace with those who are in my life. When my brother calls for the umpteenth time just to check in, I stop and think, he just needs me to listen, so I listen, because he is my beloved. When a friend stops me to complain about her life, I stop and think, she needs me to be here for her, she is my beloved. When someone is standing in the street asking for money, I need to remember, they are important they are beloved. So this is what I want to share with you. Blessings, for you my beloved, and never ever forget who you are, a person who is greatly and unconditionally loved.