This week’s recommended texts have to do with journeying and blessing. I explored some of these texts with a small, multicultural Mennonite congregation last Sunday. The group included a Colombian refugee, a French Canadian ex-offender who was undergoing chemo, immigrants from Ukraine, Rwanda and Congo and a handful of well settled Russian Mennonites who were first and second generation Canadians. The theme of experiencing God’s blessings and accompaniment on our diverse journey experiences was clearly made to measure for this group. We began with Psalm 121, a psalm that was originally crafted to encourage faith and confidence in worshippers travelling through hills that were filled with danger and temptations. I was moved by the stories the group shared about being encouraged by god on their various journeys.
As we moved on to the next text, Genesis 12: 1-4, we identified with Abram and Sarai as they encountered God who challenged them to leave behind all that was familiar so God could moves the from barrenness toward fertility on all kinds of levels. We were pleased to discover the literal meaning of the Hebrew word used for bless in this text is to kneel down with a deeper meaning of giving something of value to another.” This led us to reflect on the implications of God being willing to kneel down as part of calling out a people of blessing. How did this connect to Jesus kneeling before his disciples to wash their feet as one of his last lessons to them about how they were to live as his followers?
In the blessing which Abram receives, God wants Abram to be a blessing to “all the families of the world.” If God’s act of blessing was connected to kneeling down to give something of value, then God’s people have an example of inspiring humility to emulate.
It is good to remember that the blessings, the things of enduring value that we receive from our God are given to us so that God’s blessings flow through us into the world.
This foundational call of Abram story for Jews, Muslims, and Christians is such a rich blessing. Being blessed with the call to bless others, gives our lives purpose, direction, and joy as well as helping us witness and share God’s blessing with others.
If you doubt this for a minute, just examine the lives of people who live to bless others. I did. I saw it in the people I worshipped with last Sunday. I see it running like a golden thread through God’s big story. I want to nurture that thread in my little part of that story. Blessing truly involves offering something of value to another, whatever journey we are on.