And [Israel] blessed Joseph saying, ‘The God in whose ways my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd from my birth to this day — The Angel who has redeemed me from all harm — Bless the lads. In them may my name be recalled, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they be teeming multitudes upon the earth.’
I am a fan of blessing, in fact it has been a topic of conversation in this blog a few times before (most notably here and here). Yet, each time I encounter blessing in scripture it grabs my attention and this time it has been no exception.
What struck me this time in the many blessings found in Genesis is that its speakers meant what they said. They believed that somehow the divine would respond and support their speaking and ritual action.
Those who are blessed are indeed blessed and those who are cursed or whose blessing is not ultimate (see Esau’s “blessing” here) are in trouble.
Blessings serve as a way to invoke the divine to become active in the lives of human beings. Do we mean what we say when we bless today?
When we invoke the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of baptism or communion? When we call down the Spirit to bless those who are taking the covenants of marriage or ordination? When we bless the everyday lives of people, their homes, their fields, their new beginnings?
Maybe we have become to advanced and have left little room for mystery. Maybe we have left little room for the possibility that the Spirit does still break into history and makes good on our broken words, weak songs, and timid invocations of the holy.
I think we need more blessing, more invocation, more proclamation that the God we serve cares about life, humanity and the world. More proclamation that in blessing we acknowledge that what God has created is holy!