God Bless You: Spring 2024

God Bless You: Spring 2024

Do you remember the story of Isaac and his twin sons, Esau and Jacob? As he was approaching death, Isaac planned to give his blessing to his elder son, Esau. But Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, believed the blessing should be placed on the younger son, Jacob, instead.  So, they tricked Isaac—who was old and blind—into giving his blessing to Jacob.

Much could be written about this episode, but what has always struck me about the story is that everyone—Isaac, Esau, Jacob and Rebekah—understood and accepted the fact that this blessing had power. It wasn’t just some empty words. As one author writes, the blessing communicated “life, strength and authority.” Through these words, Jacob “was made blessed.” And because the blessing had this kind of power, it couldn’t be undone.

I think about this truth every time I am privileged to offer the blessing at the end of our worship services. I recognize that, through the words I speak, I am both announcing something that is true—that God loves you and wants to bless you—and bringing that truth into existence by saying it out loud.

Does that sound mysterious or strange, or even magical? If so, I’m not sure why it should be so surprising.

After all, we all understand intuitively that words have power. Has anyone ever said to you: “I believe in you,” or “You can do it,” or “I’m proud of you,” or “I love you”? Words like these have the power to change us—to help us see ourselves in a new light, to understand ourselves differently, to recognize our potential in a new way.

The opposite is also true, of course. Has anyone ever said: “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why are you so dumb?” or “You’ll never amount to anything”? Again, those kinds of words have tremendous power—to limit us, to defeat us, and to make us stop believing in ourselves.

It’s good to reflect on this truth. It’s good to be reminded that what we say does, in fact, have the power to either bless or curse others. And it’s important for us as Christians to do what we can to focus on the former, and to limit the latter.

But if we’re going to do that, first we need to actually hear and believe and trust that we ourselves have been blessed by a God who loves us. In a world filled with the noise of all kinds of messages that make this difficult to hear, it’s important that we are reminded of this again and again and again. So, today, please hear these words, which are filled with truth, with beauty, and yes, with power:

Beloved, you are God’s own: holy, washed, renewed.
God bless you and keep you,
shower you with mercy,
fill you with courage,
and give you peace.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Blessedly Yours,

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