Blessed to Be a Blessing
- Understand that the whole worship service culminates in a blessing from God.
- Sense how being blessed inspires us to be a blessing to others.
- Identify ways that we can bless others this week.
At the end of the worship service, the minister gives the blessing. He or she may do this with hands outstretched or uplifted. The people may receive the blessing with heads bowed or hands extended outward. What is a blessing, and what does it mean?
Actually, the first blessing comes in the creation story. After he created the first man and woman, "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number . . .'" (Gen. 1:28). When God called Abraham, he blessed him and promised to make from him a great nation, then added, "You will be a blessing . . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen. 12:2-3).
The traditional blessing still used by churches today comes from the book of Numbers. It is often called the Aaronic blessing because it was instituted by God and given to Aaron, the first high priest of Israel. God said, "This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: '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'" (6:23-26).
Luke tells us that Jesus, when he was about to ascend to heaven, stretched out his hands and with his final words blessed the disciples. We don't know exactly what he said, but perhaps they were those wonderful words given to Aaron.
The blessing comes at the end of the worship service; it's the final word spoken from God to his people. Usually we hear it from the ordained representative of God, like the pastor. What a wonderful way for God to send us off after an assembly of covenant renewal! In Scripture we also see many examples of other people speaking (unofficially, but meaningfully) words of divine blessing to each other. This still happens today, as parents bless their children or people say to each other, "God bless you."
God's blessing to us confirms that God has accepted us and welcomed us into a relationship with him. God's blessing is a kind of promise that he will be good to us and give us good things. That doesn't mean that we will always have a perfect life. But we can know that God will be with us and is always working for our good.
The story of Abraham reminds us that God's blessing is not meant to come just to us, but to flow through us: "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Just like God's forgiveness leads us forgive others, God's blessing leads us to be a blessing to others. Through God's goodness to us, we can show goodness to the world.
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