Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd

                        Venice, Florida 

 
 
 

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
             Venice, Florida 

 

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God Bless You

God Bless You

by Fr. Joe Hudson on June 6, 2020

“Achoo!” – “God bless you!”

We hear this response frequently by someone nearby after we sneeze. This offering of a blessing may come from a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, or even a perfect stranger. When a family sits down for a holiday meal, someone will often be asked to offer “the blessing.” The idea of blessing seems to be unconsciously and consciously embedded in western culture.

As we continue this week to explore the way of Jesus – the Way of Love, we are going to explore this concept of blessing. Where did it originate? Why is a blessing of value? For those of us in the western world, the idea of a blessing is deeply embedded within our religious traditions. For centuries within the Roman Catholic Church, priests were called upon to offer various blessings to the faithful.

Our concept of blessing in the west, dates back to its origins in the east. We need to look back to the fertile crescent in the time before the common era, to the time of Abraham. In Genesis 12 we read these words: “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” We are told here that God would bless Abraham, who in turn would be a blessing to many others. Elsewhere in scripture we read that God blessed the seventh day of creation, God blessed Noah and his sons, God blessed Isaac, and God blessed the people of Israel.

We see God, humanity, and angels all offering blessings, and God, humanity, animals, and inanimate objects receiving a blessing. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible tells us that to bless “can mean to bestow goodness or favor or to greet, congratulate, thank, make peace, worship, or praise.”

Under the new covenant, we observe Jesus often engaging in the act of offering a blessing. The most well known and valued of Jesus blessings was over the eucharist. We read in Matthew’s gospel: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’” We also see Jesus blessing his disciples. “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” Jesus also calls his disciples to be purveyors of blessing. The most challenging, and quite frankly shocking, of Jesus requirements regarding blessing is found in Luke’s gospel. Jesus says: “bless those who curse you.” In this radical statement we see Jesus telling his disciples to go about dolling out blessings with great liberality and abandon – telling his followers to spread this most precious and powerful of gifts without consideration to the worthiness of the recipient.

As we walk day by day in the way of Jesus – in the Way of Love, we will draw up cool deep drafts of living, loving water from the Spirit of God. As we do so, our hearts will bubble up like an artesian spring of love. As it does, we will begin to pour out blessings with abandon, and without consideration to the worthiness or unworthiness of each recipient.

May you know God’s favor and the blessings that God has poured into your life with abandon. May you as well, pour out blessings on others with abandon!

Fr. Joe+
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