“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Most folks at St. Stephen’s should be familiar with this blessing, it is used often at the end of the services on Sunday. I wonder how many of you know this is from the book of Numbers in the Hebrew Scriptures? One of the most well-known blessings is centuries old - a blessing that has blessed countless people throughout the ages.
In his chapter titled “To Retrieve the Lost Art of Blessing,” John O’Donohue writes “the beauty of the world is the first witness to blessing. In a land without blessing, no beauty can dwell.”* The world is full of blessings and, in fact, we are part of that blessing. Further, John explores how we too can bless things all around us...including each other.
As a pastor, I find that blessing people during a service is a very important and powerful moment. Asking God to bring a blessing on a person is recognizing the innate beauty that God bestowed upon them in their creation. To ask God’s blessing is to acknowledge the divine image in the person you are blessing. To ask God’s blessing on nature or anything is to acknowledge the divine beauty of God’s work. The beauty of the world is, indeed, the first witness of blessing. When God looked around in the first days of creation and declared the world “good,” the created world was thus blessed.
So how then do we bless each other?
We do so by first recognizing that we are all beautifully blessed by God the way we are...then we utter the words of a blessing such as the one from Numbers. Or perhaps one such as this Gaelic blessing:
“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
Or perhaps this one:
“The peace of God be in your heart
The grace of God be in your words
The love of God be in your hands
The joy of God be in your soul
and in the song that your life sings.”
Whatever the blessing may be, may you know that God blesses you each and everyday.
Yours in Christ,
*To Bless the Space Between Us; A Book of Blessings. John O’Donohue