#Lent14 — A Challenge to Bless

As we have done in previous Lent and Advent seasons, we are again blogging our way through the Lenten Lectionary Texts.  In this season, our prayer is that we will bless and inspire you in your walk between the Now and Not-Yet of the Kingdom.  We pray that our meditations will be life-giving to you in your journey.

A reading from the Book of Genesis.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all families of earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him.

Genesis 12:1-4 (ESV)

This is the Word of The Lord.

This is a tough passage for me to write about.  There are so many directions that I want to go, yet knowing that if I go all of them then this blog post would turn into a small book.

I could talk about how Abram is called to go to another country.  How that relates to the call that we have to leave family and home in order to take the message of the gospel of the Kingdom to far-flung corners of the world.  How it is everyone’s responsibility to answer the call to go.

Perhaps, I could draw parallels between Abram taking Lot along with him.  How it was the culturally appropriate thing to do, but really served to weigh Abram down in the process.  When God calls us to go, it often requires us to do things that are out of our cultural comfort zones.  Even though something might be culturally appropriate in our home culture, it might be a weight for us to take with us into another.

I could talk about how in these few verses we are presented with the whole gospel–we are blessed to be a blessing.  The whole of our existing is to be pouring the blessing we have received back out onto those whom we meet.

Yet, what I want to talk about is the idea of blessing.

Blessings are statements that give life and serve to call out of people those gifts and callings that God has given you.  Blessings position the recipient to live out the bottom half–“…to be a blessing”–of the whole gospel.

One of our favorite things that we find in the culture of Central Asia are blessings.  They are deeply imbedded in use language and culture.

For instance, in Turkey (and there are forms of these in other Central Asian cultures) as you are walking along the road and you see someone working, you say, “Kolay Gelsin” which means, “May your work come easy.”

Or, when your served food or drink the server will say “Afiyet Olsun”–equivalent to Bon Appetit–and your reply is “Elinize Sağlık” which means, “Health to your hands.”

When you arrive at someone’s home or place of business they will say, “Hoş Gelmisiniz”–“The blessing has arrived.”  You reply, “Hoş Böldük”–“The blessing is already here.”

It’s a beautiful part of the culture.  It’s one of the places where we see the Kingdom of God in the people and culture.  See, imbedded within each person on the planet are pieces–DNA–of the Kingdom.  All humankind is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  We are the Imago Dei.   As God’s image-bearers, whether we follow God or not, we have pieces of that Kingdom DNA inherent within us.  So, when we go to a new place or meet new people, one of the first things we do is seek out those pieces of the Kingdom that already exist.  These then become the foundations from which the Gospel of the Kingdom can be proclaimed.

The culture of blessing is something that I believe we are lacking in the western church.  We have all but regulated the phrase “Bless you” to a sneeze response instead of a calling out of God’s graces in a person.  It’s time we change that.

I challenge you over this week to bless people.  Bless them to know the Father.  Bless them to know the path to which they are called.  Bless them to have ears to hear His voice.  Bless them to be the person that they are created to be.  Bless them in their coming and going.

When you put your kids to bed, bless them.  Husbands, bless your wives.  Wives, bless your husbands.  Bless your co-workers.  Bless your enemies.  Bless the barista at Starbucks.

Get into a habit of blessing.  Make it a part of your being–after all, you are the Imago Dei (God’s mirror image).  It is in your DNA.  I bless you to be a blesser!

Go deeper than “God bless you.”  Ask God to tell you what He wants to say to that person through you.  And, then, say it.  Speak life over them.  Call them into their God-given destiny–into the person that God created them to be.

Over each of you, I pray the blessing (my paraphrase) that the Levites prayed over the people of Israel and that has been prayed over people for thousands of years (Numbers 6:24-26):

May the LORD bless–impart life to you so that you can walk out your God-given destiny–you.

May the LORD keep–hold you in the palm of His hand surrounding you on all sides: above, below, to the left, to the right, in front and in back–you.

May the LORD turn His face–look at you in the eyes as if you are the only one on the planet–to shine on you.

May the LORD be gracious–kind, full of mercy, abounding in love, and grace (prevenient, justifying, sanctifying) giving–to you.

May the LORD give you peace–not an absence of conflict, but Shalom (nothing missing, nothing broken).

Praying at First Presbyterian in El Paso, Texas.

Praying at First Presbyterian in El Paso, Texas.

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