Receiving Blessing

God blesses us and – hopefully – we recognize it and thank Him for it. But that daily direct blessing without which we cannot live is not what I’m writing about.

Rather I’m writing about when someone else – a person – pronounces a blessing on us. It may be in a grand ancestral context such as Isaac blessing Jacob or Jacob blessing Joseph’s sons. It may be a priest pronouncing a corporate blessing at the end of a worship service. Or it may be a reflexive “God bless you” after we sneeze. In all cases, a blessing is pronounced on us and we choose to receive that blessing. And maybe we respond by saying “thank you” or “amen” or even “from your lips to God’s ears.”

On Sunday I asked for a birthday blessing from my rector – the Reverend Christine Faulstich – during the service. She said “Good and gracious God, we thank you for Bear as he celebrates another year of life. Be with him in the coming year as he continues to learn and to grow and help him always to know how much you love him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

I replied “Amen.” and so received her blessing.

But there are other times we are “blessed” as well.

God bless you.
God love you. God love us all.
God love you. Semper Fi.

These are three blessings pronounced in the last several days when I’ve rolled down my window and handed a few dollars to someone on a street corner. I have often wondered at this sort of blessing. I am giving to them but they are blessing me? Is it because they have nothing else to give? What about Hebrews 7:7 (And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.)? My conundrum is cleared up by Matthew 25:31-40:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

So what we do for others, we do for God. And when we are blessed by those others, we are blessed by God. Whether those we give to bless us (which seems to happen more often than not) or not, God knows what we have done. So when we are blessed by them, we are blessed by Him. When we receive their blessing, we receive His blessing. We hear in the voice of the person blessing us the voice of our Lord and there is no doubt that the lesser is blessed by the greater.

Thanks be to God.


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