Daniel 7.1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1.11-23; Luke 6.20-31
God’s blessings are everywhere in Scripture. They are a deep part of the story of God and God’s people. Today, we hear the author of the gospel of Luke share Jesus’ sayings known as the beatitudes. In this gospel, these words are spoken to the newly called disciples. These words are a call to discipleship, a call to how we should be in the world. They place God firmly with those who are poor, not spiritually poor but literally, materially, financially poor. In this short passage, there are deeply profound words about standing with the poor, about how and who we should be in God’s world.
But that’s not all the beatitudes do. They are calling us back to the power of blessing and being blessed. So what is a blessing? The greek word for blessed means something “Oh, how fortunate.” A blessing from God is God rejoicing in us, God’s children, and voicing fondest hopes for us.
The very first blessing in Scripture comes to Adam and Eve, in the midst of the joyous new creation - “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1.28) God’s blessings are meant to be spread throughout all creation!
Blessings were rained down upon Abraham and Sarah and their family. God said “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing!” Abraham and Sarah were elderly and infertile. Into the midst of impossible and hopeless situations, God speaks blessings.
In the time of the prophet Jeremiah, things were not good. Political uncertainty, war and exile were the stories of the day. And yet Jeremiah brings a word of hope in the form of a blessing from God “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
A future with hope is the blessing that God gave the Israelites then and that God speaks to us now. This hope for the future is not about a life on earth where we get the things that make life easy, or that we live without pain. The hope for the future that comes from God is about the life that goes beyond this earth. It comes from knowing whose we are, and that no matter what pain may come our way, no matter what we are lacking, no matter who wins elections, God rejoices in us and blesses us. God’s blessings may be seen in earthly ways, but in the end are about eternal things. God’s blessings are promises of resurrection, a future where all are restored, where pain and crying are no more.
Our God is not simply in the business of saving us, our God is in the business of blessing us. And we can be in the business of blessing each other.
Throughout history, and in the life of Christianity, blessings have been common. We don’t see them as much today, but perhaps it’s time for a resurgence of blessings. During Sunday School and Confirmation, we practice the faith 5 every week. It’s a devotional practice designed for families at the end of the day, but certainly a powerful practice for us on Sunday mornings. We share our highs and lows of the week, we read a piece of scripture together, we talk about how those two things connect, we pray together, and then we bless each other. This final step may be the most powerful of all. The physical act of tracing a cross on someone’s hand or forehead and speaking words of blessing can be deeply powerful.
A blessing is more than just wishful thinking, words have the power to change realities and usher in new realities. We we feel blessed, we feel love, value and hope coursing through our veins and hearts. Imagine what happens to a child when they hear every night from their parents “God loves you, and so do I.” Or as has been powerful in families where children struggle with behavior or trauma, a parent could bless with the words: “Nothing you can say or do will ever make us stop loving you.” Rich Melheim, designer of the Faith5 says, “If prayer is love on wings, blessing is grace on wings.”
It seems appropriate to be lifting up blessing as we remember all the saints today. We can picture the crosses traced on the foreheads of Alessandra, Colby, Kennedy, Olivia, Denise, Christina, William and Olivia. And we remember the cross of dust placed on the coffins of those we love so dearly. Our loves ones, new and old, here and far away, are some of the deepest blessings of our lives. God works through them to say “Oh, how fortunate.”
Through God’s blessings and promises, we are connected to those who have gone before us and those who are yet to arrive. God’s blessing names and claims us as a part of something larger than ourselves. Paul writes passionately about it today - we are adopted into the family of God.
So no matter what, God’s blessing is for you and me. God’s blessing is not dependent on what we have done right or wrong. God’s blessing, like God’s future, is far bigger than what’s happening here, it’s far better than the best we can do here, and it’s not going anywhere. God’s love for us will NEVER fail. We are God’s family, and as we drift off to sleep tonight, on All Saints Sunday, I hope you hear Gods’ blessing: Nothing you can say or do will every make me stop loving you, for I am the resurrection and the life. Rejoice and be glad!