What is a blessing?
The clue comes to us in the Latin root of the word which is Bene Dicere – to speak well of you. To be blessed by God is to hear and know that in God’s sight you are loved, affirmed, cherished.
In knowing we are loved we know security and warmth, comfort and in knowing and accepting this blessing we have the freedom and courage to simply be ourselves within the security that comes from being loved to go and live fully.
As recipients of God’s love, people who know God’s blessing – because we are an incarnational, enfleshed religion – not just a religion of words and ideas but a religion of action – our response will be as far as we are able to be a blessing to others – to pass that blessing on – to our biological families and the greater family of the church, and to all humanity. To affirm, to encourage, to accept, to take delight in someone is a non-exploitative way for who they are and what they do.
But the reality is that for all too many people, they have lived their entire lives unblessed. They have never heard or experienced anyone ever taking a pure delight in them just for who they are. They hear it neither from others or from God. When they do, they are transformed. – they are set free to be themselves, because love is transformative. As John says in his gospel “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”
For me the greatest sadness of all is that many Christians themselves remain unblessed and therefore unable to know and accept God’s love and unable to pass it on either. Religion for them is an intellectual affair, simply a series of doctrines and creeds to be believed.
On the day of his baptism – Jesus heard these words of blessing that transformed his life and started his ministry to be a blessing to others.
“You are my son, the beloved. With you I am well pleased”.
This blessing is not reserved for one man in one time and one place. To hear and know this blessing – to know that it applies to you is the beating heart of the Christian faith. Christianity would never have happened without it. To hear these words spoken to you and know they are meant for you is the whole meaning of the phrase “born again”. Jesus himself was re-born that day and says to us as he said to Nicodemus – “You must be born again”. That terribly misused phrase, hijacked by fundamentalist literalists, is meant for us all. It is normative for being a Christian. It means hearing those words and knowing they are meant for you. A direct blessing from God to you.
At the end of every service I pronounce God’s blessing on all people present, but one of my greatest fears is that the words just fall on stony ground.
Why am I an ordained priest at all? What is my function? Thinking about this deeply I suggest that my whole ministry and any priest’s ministry is an exercise in passing on what Jesus knew and making sure that you know that you are all children of God. That you are loved, you are secure, you are free.
Close your eyes and hear these words of God spoken to you directly and clasp them close to your heart and let them transform you.
Whoever you are, hear these words of God directly to your heart. “You are my child, the beloved, with you I am well pleased”
“You are my child the beloved, with you I am well pleased”.
Hold these words close to you, remember them, know them to be true, and like Jesus, you now know the truth and you can let the truth set you free.
Know you are blessed so that you can be a blessing to others.