The other day I got a hesitant request from a Court Streeter who has just moved into a new home. “Pastor,” she said, “I’d like to have you come and say a blessing for my new home, but I’m worried that you’ll think that’s weird. Do Methodists do that? Do you bless stuff?” “Of course!” I told her - “Blessing stuff is one of my favorite things!”
The idea of giving blessings goes back to a time long before the Christian faith. In one of the earliest stories in the Bible, God says to a man named Abram, “I will bless you, and…you will be a blessing… In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” When God said, “I will bless you,” God meant that God would watch over Abram, walk beside Abram, lend assistance and protection to Abram. When God said, “You will be a blessing,” God meant that Abram was to watch over others, to walk beside them, to lend assistance and protection to them. From the very beginning of the Bible story, we find that blessings are a powerful way of thinking about our relationship with God. God blesses us, that we might bless others.
Blessings became an important part of Jewish identity. Our Jewish friends say dozens of blessings each day. There are blessings for different parts of the day, blessings for each meal, blessings for lighting candles. Interestingly, our Jewish friends don’t begin a meal by saying, “God bless this food.” Instead, they begin each meal by saying, “God, we bless you and thank you for this food.” Blessings for our Jewish friends are a way of saying thanks and giving praise to God the source of every good thing.
I went to the Court Streeter’s new house, and we made our way through the home, saying a blessing for every room. I blessed the kitchen, and prayed that it would be a place of sustenance and fellowship. I blessed the back porch, and prayed that it would be a place of rest and meditation. We came to the bathroom, and the Court Streeter said, “Surely you won’t say a blessing for the bathroom?” “Why not?” I asked. “We believe that God is present everywhere, and God can work through every thing!”
Today’s festivities will include lots of blessings. We will bless backpacks, students, and teachers. We will bless babies and teenagers. We will bless water and new members. We will bless barbecue and ice cream. We will bless God, and we will bless you. All of these blessings are a way of remembering the God who is the source of every blessing. Each blessing is a way of giving thanks, and a way of saying to God, “Thank you for being in our lives - we need you!”
Your servant in Christ,