Bless you. Blessings from God. My blessings. Sometimes I wonder what to expect or hope for when I read “Blessed are those…” or even when I say to others, “God bless you.”
I sometimes say things without really thinking about the impact on the hearer. Whether I am teasing, defending myself, hinting at my needs, dropping a few love dollops, or inserting something that is supposed to sound righteous, I bluster on.
This is not always my way of talking. At work, I must think clinically about every word I say both to clients and to staff. Words, I know, are powerful for healing, confronting, and developing insight in others. A phrase turned at the right time can tip the cart of a burdened soul weighed down with a load of angry stones. A barely flickering light can brighten with just a whisper of assurance. This intensity of purpose with words comes from training and experience in the seriousness of dialogue. Heck, it comes from the trials and errors of living with sensitive people.
How is it then, that I twirl this little word, blessings, around and throw it into the air as if by doing so magic dust sprinkles down on us all – turning into dollar bills for one person, a cure for cancer to another, restored relationships for some, a dolly for Suzie and a wagon for Tommy…hmmmm.
Or do I sometimes punctuate the end of my sentence with “blessings to you” simply because the closure is my way of saying, “See, I’m not afraid to say I’m a Christian.” I’ve often felt that way when I sign the obligatory card at the retirement party or tag the baby shower gift for an unsaved friend.
But what do I really want my blessings to mean when handing out this little word, bless? What did Christ mean to say when he sat down and spoke line after line beginning with “Blessed are those who…”? What are God’s blessings? How are they ours to keep or ours to give to others? Can I truly give what is God’s to someone else?
My heart says that I want others to experience the delights of knowing the deep love and personal care God has shown me. My head, however, says that I may only have an inkling of what those blessings are that Christ so lavishly dishes out. Blessings can be defined as the divine favor of God; to bless can mean to wish happiness and good fortune; blessed can mean consecrated, holy;” bless us” can be a plea to God for protection. The origin of our English word, bless, comes from the word ‘bledsian’ which means, “God bathe you in blood.” What depth and mystery there is in defining this often tossed about word that truly has the power to bind us to Christ in His sacrificial act of love. So my New Year blessing to you comes from the traditional Jewish priest’s prayer:
May the Lord bless you and guard you.
May the Lord make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift up His face unto you and give you peace.