Back in my California days, I was sitting and chatting with one of our pastors. It was a conversation where we'd moved out of planning something and into talking about what was really going on in us personally as we were following God. Seemingly out of the blue, she asked me, "What does it mean to bless God?" An answer came in a flash, "I guess it's the opposite of cursing God." As I recall, we both did that "Hmm" thing together. It was impactful to recognize the contrast between blessing and cursing. These ideas have remained with me and have shown up randomly again and again.
Here recently, I've observed we live in a world with a huge range in its capacity to curse God. It goes from very aggressive, even violent curses to passive aggressive side-jabs. People who don't believe in God and don't trust God seem to feel lots of freedom to curse Him. Acknowledging that has left me to wonder what redemptive possibilities there are for those that desire to bless God. Oh! What a great after dinner table question!
This past weekend I experienced a new way this could look. My current pastors decided to do a different kind of service on Sunday, January 1st. It had an intro, a three-part movement, and closing. The movements were each guided by a scripture that was read, a short teaching offered and then an invitation was given for all to participate then and there in a related action.
The third movement was centered around blessing. Eleven or so leaders circled the back perimeter of the room and the people seated were invited to approach those leaders and ask for a blessing. Several types of blessings were offered as options. One of the stated hopes was that the people would feel cared for as they received these blessings directly from Scripture. In addition, there was a desire for people to be inspired to bless others around them in their everyday coming and going lives. In the moments that led up to that portion of the service a deep sense of joy and privilege began to well up in me. That only increased as I offered God's words of blessing and hope to those who came to be blessed. As if all of that wasn't enough, I was deeply touched by one returning to me and offering to pray a blessing over me. Beautiful. Hopeful. Kind. Glorious even.
Since Sunday, I have also reflected on the grief I've felt related to how comfortable the wider culture has become with cursing one another. I don't believe we take our attitudes and words towards one another seriously. I don't think we desire to understand or respect their potential consequences. I don't think we realize how much power lies within the intentions of our words. I believe harsh words can corrupt our own souls and place barriers between us and those we speak of or to. It seems the damage created will require love in order for those barriers to be broken back down.
And then there is the Kingdom of God to ponder. We are created and loved by a blessing God. It's one of the first things that God wanted to reveal about Himself. It's one of the first things He asked us to be with one another. It's a part of His essence to commit to blessing all people and with extraordinary abundance those with faith in Him. I've come to believe that we bless God when we thank Him for blessings received. And this week I've come to believe we bless Him when we freely bless others. I think He actually digs it when we turn out to be like Him. Can you see His face lighting up with joy?!
As I bring all these things together, I've become hopeful that blessing God and blessing others can really stand out and give us a "shot in hell", so to speak, of bolts of glorious light breaking through. I want so badly for the source of blessing to be noticed, wondered about and maybe even recognized.
What if Christians had a reputation for being these crazy generous people that go around blessing others all the time? And God wound up with that reputation too. What if?
In light of all these things, may the Lord bless and keep you in 2017. May He make His face to shine right down on ya. May He be gracious to you and grant you His peace. With love, Cheri