The story went something like this . . .
”I was a young boy playing in the field behind my house. Suddenly, the clouds opened up and a voice from heaven spoke and said, ‘You are my beloved child—you are special.’ Immediately, I felt an incredible sense of importance. And then, just as quickly, the clouds opened up again, and the voice spoke again, saying, ‘Just so you know, all are God’s beloved and ALL are special.’”
Such incredible importance—for such a fleeting moment! And such a poignant message. Our biblical narrative assures us that we are created in the image of God, that we are gifted by the Holy Spirit and called to use our gifts for God’s mission of the Beloved Community. At Confirmation Services, Services of New Ministry, and on many other occasions, I find myself reinforcing this message of who we are, whose we are, and what we are called to. During these services, I also find it important to emphasize that each of us is uniquely created with a gifted nature. We are unique, not special.
The term ‘special’ connotes that one is better than, whereas the term ‘unique’ uplifts one’s particularities. When we cast ourselves in the ‘special’ category, we tend to live as if we should be provided certain privileges. Uniqueness, on the other had, affirms that our God continues to create a beautiful tapestry within creation. Each of us are unique threads in that tapestry, and each of us adds to its beauty.
On the rare occasion when God speaks about Jesus, God is consistent and clear: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (MT 17:5). Beloved, well pleased, listen to him—I believe God calls us to own that about ourselves, and believe that about all others who are a part of God’s creation as well.