Thursday, August 04, 2011

Blessing Things

We've been doing a lot of blessing lately at our church.

We bless bread and grape juice every communion Sunday. We blessed a baby earlier this spring. During children's time on a recent Sunday, we learned to pray St. Patrick's Breastplate (with hand motions!). This is an ancient prayer, and we prayed it to remember that God is all around us, and blesses us wherever we are, whatever we are doing. We blessed bicycles and riders and volunteers in worship in late July, as we sent a team of dedicated folks off to ACT9, Wisconsin's AIDS Ride. At the end of August, we're blessing backpacks and school supplies, students and teachers. At the beginning of October, close to the Feast Day of St. Francis, we'll be blessing animals.

Blessing something invokes our sense of God's presence in that place, and offers reassurance to the one prayed for that God is there. It's a reminder that holiness erupts, even into the brokenness that is all around us. Rachel Naomi Remen writes, "When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world." Blessing is doing the work of Christ, making God's presence real for one another, and declaring to our neighbor that they are loved.

We seek blessings because of the relationship between us, because we have care and compassion for one another. We don't have to have any special qualifications to bless one another. Our Reformation forebears reminded us that we are all priests; we are all holy; we are not only empowered to be in direct relationship with the Holy, but also have the privilege and responsibility of doing so. Take a minute today to bless those around you. People, animals, things... As Barbara Brown Taylor tells us in An Altar in the World, "Celebrate your own priesthood"!

A Prayer for the Riders, offered in worship at McFarland UCC in July 2011:

God preserve you from all trouble; God to keep you safe.
God to watch over your going out and your coming in,
From the first moment of the first day,
Until you join the joyful throng at the end of your journey.

O God, we find your presence wherever we go.

We ask your blessing upon these bicycles,
For those who travel upon them,
For those who minister alongside them.
For those who feed the riders,
And for those who offer a drink of cool water
no less refreshing than water dipped from a well in the desert.
For those who heal, for those who encourage,
For those whose spirits join the ride, even when their bodies cannot,
We seek a blessing.

Surround them with your loving care;
Protect them from every danger,
Wrap them in the arms of a supportive community
committed to creating goodness upon the earth,
and bring them in safety to all their journeys’ end.

And let the people of God say, Amen.

Adapted from the Pastor's Blog at

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