July 2012 Letter

 

Blessing

 

A couple of years ago I took a carol service for a school in one of our villages, and as usual the last item on the service sheet was ‘Blessing’. As we waited for the service to start, I heard one of the children whisper to another, ‘What’s a blessing?’ It struck me as such a good question that I changed my little sermon on the spot.

 

‘Blessed’ is such a powerful word; it connects with something deep inside us; and yet perhaps because of this power it is a very difficult word to define. Jesus uses it in that famous passage, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. Matthew 5:3-10 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake” and so on.

 

In one of the most well known modern translations, trying to find a word that would be more easily understood, they translated it as ‘Happy’ – but that misses the deeper sense of the original word. ‘Happy are those who mourn’ is either a paradox or just plain wrong; but ‘Blessed are those who mourn’ is saying that even in our deepest sadness - indeed perhaps especially at the worst times of our lives – God’s Blessing rests on us and can be called on as a deep source of strength and comfort. A Blessing is more than just a hope or even a prayer that a person or a situation may be happy, or blessed by God. It is a recognition that God is already blessing that person or situation; that through his Holy Spirit, God is already out and active in the world, inspiring love, bringing reconciliation and comfort; bringing people together in families that will reflect his own love for us his children; drawing peo-ple into that love. A Blessing is a central part of all church weddings and funerals and most church services finish with a Blessing as we leave to carry God’s love into our everyday lives. A baptism is a very special service of Blessing; or children can be brought to church for a Blessing even if parents feel that baptism is best kept for later in their lives. New or troubled homes and business ventures can be blessed; marriages can be blessed on significant anniversaries or after weathering problems when a new start is felt to be needed. Civil weddings can be blessed in church, or the rings blessed before a civil ceremony. Traditionally on Rogation days, the farms in a parish are blessed, often during a walk around the parish. Sometimes items like crosses, Bibles and prayer-books which are to be given as gifts on special occasions are brought to church to be blessed.

 

Blessing belongs to God, and so there is never any charge for a Blessing. Of course, if you want your civil wedding blessed with a full-scale church service, there are charges for the practical side of that just as there would be for a church wedding, but the Blessing itself is always free. There is no charge for any Blessing that takes place as part of a normal Sunday service, though you may well want to make a private ‘thank offering’ towards the work of the church. For informal Blessings off church premises such as home Blessings, it is also usual to make some kind of ‘thank offering’, but that is between yourself and God and the vicar does not need to know what you have decided to give.

 

If this has made you think of the ways in which your life is already blessed by God, why not take a moment to say ‘thank you’ in prayer. Or perhaps you are wondering if some kind of formal or informal Blessing might be right for some person or situation in your life, why not contact me by phone, letter or email to ask further questions.

 

And may the Blessing of God Almighty, Father Son and Holy Spirit, rest on us all, now and always. Amen.

 

Rev’d Karen Spray 01392 877400 church@revdkaren.org.uk

 


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