May 4th “Prayers of Blessing”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Here is a blessing from Ireland:

“May the road rise to meet you.  May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and,

until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  Amen.”

Blessings are a kind of prayer that are spoken to God, but said for the benefit of someone else.  You can think of it as the opposite of a biblical curse.  Instead of asking God to bring a person pain and ruin, you are asking God to bring a person health, faith, and other good things.

Jesus repeatedly tells us to bless and not to curse.   He even goes to the extreme that we are to pray for people who do evil to us so they might repent and come to God. In Matthew 5, Jesus says, “ Love your enemies and bless those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  We do not defend or approve of evil action, but we hope for their repentance and ultimate reconciliation.

[Skip this following paragraph if your are reading this letter aloud].

Pardon the terrible language, but the curse “damn” is short for “may God condemn you to hell.”   It is a sin to say because it is a command to God that a person should suffer forever.  It breaks the command of taking the Lord’s name in vain (that is, for selfish purposes), and it denies all the teachings of Jesus.

So instead of cursing others, we bless everyone.  First, we bless them with words.  Next, we bless them by sharing the spiritual and material blessings God has given us.

Many cultures, including ours, has been in the habit of starting and ending conversations with blessings, but these blessings often lose their meaning from over use.  The most common blessings translate as “May peace be with you” and “May God go with you.”

The word “hello” is not a blessing and started out as a polite form of “hey you,” but “goodbye” started out as “God be with ye.”   Some Spanish speakers may know “Vaya Con Dios) means “go with God” and adios is a contraction of “(go) with God.”  The biblical word “Shalom” (peace be with you) was a blessing used both at the beginning and end of conversations.  Even the Hawaiian word “aloha” means “May love, peace, and compassion be yours.”

It turns out that the oldest written copy of any biblical text was imprinted into a tiny silver scroll that had been worn in an amulet around a believer’s neck .  It was the blessing from the book of Numbers , chapter six, “The Lord bless you and keep you;  the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

In this time of trouble and uncertainty, let’s be clear in our blessings of each other.  See if you can work the words “May God Bless You” into an email, a text, or a conversation. Or be more specific, “May God give you comfort, peace, and love,” or “May God light your way, or “May God bring you joy.”

I’d like to end with a blessing that was written by Teresa of Avila, about 450 years ago:

“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

May The Lord Bless You,

Pastor Rick