Pastoral Ponderings November 2022
As Christians, we frequently use the word blessing. We often speak of God’s blessings. As many of you know, I usually end my e-mails and other correspondence with the salutation of “blessings.” As a pastor, I lay my hands on young children at the communion rail and offer them a blessing. I have done something similar at dozens of confirmation services as I lay my hands on a confirmand’s head and offer a prayer similar to the one, we say for a child at their baptism. During a Christian healing service, when a word of blessing…a word of grace and power…is offered through prayer and the anointing of oil, participants discover that God’s grasp on their lives is more powerful than the grip of any ailment that may afflict us.
It has been six months since my installation as your pastor. On that day, Pastor Barb Streed blessed me by laying her hands on my head and offering a prayer for our ministry together here at St. Paul’s. It sent shivers up and down my spine. I felt those same shivers at my ordination and every one of my installation services.
Like many “theological” words, we use the word “blessing” a lot, but do we really understand what it means?
Blessings are powerful. To bless another person involves more than sharing some vague expression of goodwill, though we often do that when we bless someone who sneezes. The act of blessing actually transfers a portion of our soul’s energy and vitality into the soul of another. Maybe that explains the shivers I experience.
Blessing another person can feel awkward and uncomfortable. We’re not used to formal blessings outside of the church. However, we frequently bless others in our daily lives. When we bid someone “goodbye”, we send them off with an abbreviated version of the blessing, “God be with you”. Kissing our spouse or our children is a form of blessing them.
Of course, all blessings find their source in God, and God makes it clear that the blessings aren’t to end with the person who receives them. God wants us to be conduits of blessing, not reservoirs. God doesn’t bless us just for our own good. Instead, God blesses us for the benefit of others. So, as Christians, we don’t spend time counting our blessings. Instead, we give thanks and share them. That was the motivation behind the veggie table at church this summer. God blessed some of us with a bounty from our gardens…more than we could use. So, instead of hoarding our blessings of abundant produce, we took the opportunity to share them with those without a garden.
Blessing is a sweet spot with God that never ends. We can’t seek it out or make it happen. Blessings just come, steadily and persistently, day after day.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, may God bless each and every one of you today…and always.
We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.
Neal A. Maxwell
- Pastoral Ponderings November 2022
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