I prayed for inspiration on the subject of blessings. I was so successful in my prayer, and God was so generous with me, that I had pages and pages of notes about blessings. It was hard to pick and choose what to share with you today. There are so many facets to what we consider to be blessings – like joy, healing, grace, and gratitude.
In the movie “White Christmas” Bing Crosby sings “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep.”
We know on some level that we have many blessings, and that when we become aware of them, or count them, the natural response is to feel gratitude, a feeling that dispels our worries. But are our blessings the good countable “things” in our lives – things we are grateful for? That may be one aspect of blessings, but there is more to it.
In David Spangler’s book “Blessing: The Art and the Practice,” he describes blessing as an invocation of the presence and power of the sacred. He encourages all of us, both clergy and layman, to experience the rewards of being a conduit for God’s blessings. We can bless through a kind word, a prayer, a ritual, a gesture, an embrace, or a gift – but the blessing is the sacred space that is experienced rather than the outward visible sign that helped convey the blessing.
A blessing is more than something you like or a kindness. A blessing is that which lifts us toward experiencing our spiritual nature. It brings Spirit into the picture. It gets us in touch with the essence qualities of God – like wholeness and perfection.
When I first felt inspired to speak to you about this subject, a phrase “circular blessing” came to mind. It can become clear that every blessing has the potential to bless both the giver and receiver of any blessing.
We pray that our blessings have a positive effect on those we are blessing. Yet we, too, are reaping great benefit from being a blesser!
On a psychological level, when we bless, we are thinking good thoughts. Good thoughts feel good. We open our minds to something better or greater, which gives us hope for a happier future. Positive thoughts naturally have a positive impact on our mind and our body.
On a spiritual level, we are opening to God’s Good flowing through us outward into the world. We become joined with the brotherhood of God’s people. Blessings are a way of re-membering God’s family.
Many of us have had the joy of sharing blessings through prayers of the people. We’ve prayed for one another, especially those on our weekly prayer list, asking for God’s healing blessings for our extended church family. When we pray for another’s health and well-being, there is a range of experiences that we can have. My focus today is on the connection we can feel when we are extending blessings from a place of spiritual connection.
An image that comes to mind is a hose that has the potential to spray water onto a garden. My word of blessing is like turning the tap that allows the water to flow through the hose. The hose gets to feel the water flowing through it while the garden receives the benefit of the sprayed water. In the same way, any blessing I invoke flows through me, touching and cleansing me in the process. The water and the blessing are not mine. I am just the channel through which it flows when I am willing to turn the tap. That is the experience of “circular blessing.”
On the other hand, if I speak the words of a blessing while feeling separate and vulnerable, it is as if the hose is not attached to the water source. Nothing flows through it. As St. Paul writes in I Corinthians 13, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
The power of the blessing is in staying connected to our Source, to our Creator, and allowing the Divine Presence to flow through my heart, mind, and soul.
The power of “circular blessing” is in remembering to connect to the Father’s Love that heals and transforms. That’s the Good News. I am not responsible for creating the blessing. My job is to invite God’s blessing and allow it to do its work.
The one who blesses from a state of communion with God is the voice for God in that moment. We are the hands and feet of God in the world, and we are invited to be the conduit for God’s blessings in any environment or circumstance.
What do we choose moment by moment? Do we extend blessings, or judge and complain? Do we just say “God bless you” when someone sneezes?
When I sneeze and you say “God bless you” where is your focus of attention? Are you present with me? affirming my health? wondering if I have a contagious cold or just an allergy? or maybe you just said it out of reflex and your mind was a million miles away, not really present with me or divinity.
Where your attention is when you say “God bless you” does make a difference. Maybe the next time you say it, there will be an extra dose of God’s Presence in your mind.
Most of us don’t speak blessings on a regular basis, but we can begin to exercise our blessing muscles.
We can choose to feel gratitude and give praise for the blessings in our lives while remembering the Source of our Good.
We can speak a blessing before meals, giving thanks for the abundance and variety of our nourishment.
We can enjoy the blessing of our freedom.
We can notice the miracles that flow from being a blesser instead of a complainer.
We can bless those who seem sad, confused, or lost from a place of peace in our own lives.
We can bless through mercy, kindness, compassion, beauty, and humor.
A deep spiritual blessing, in full openness to God’s Unconditional Love, can crack the heart wide open. Instead of my individual desire to wish another well, there is no “other”, just another part of myself seen through God’s eyes. Divine Wholeness is a healing balm that can be experienced by giving blessings.
In the Beatitudes (today’s Gospel reading of Matthew 5:3-12) Jesus speaks of people normally thought to be in disfavor. He pronounces them blessed because He tells us that God’s Healing Presence is available to all His Children. He teaches us that we, even in our brokeness, are due to receive an abundant life in God’s kingdom, regardless of our status or circumstances.
Blessing is a holy act that any Child of God can do, not just Jesus. It is our spiritual duty to remember that. We can and should bless by offering God’s blessing silently or aloud. Silent blessings are powerful, too, shining the Love of God into the world.
Imagine the willingness to practice blessing people, animals, plants, trees, organizations, and circumstances throughout the day. The more we would do that, the deeper our experience of communion with the Divine would be. God, the Source of all blessings, would be in our mind and heart, showering blessings upon us.
All things made by God are His children. Bless them all. Feel the healing power of “circular blessing.” There is a spiritual principle that what you give comes back to you. Give blessings, and you will receive blessings.
Practice makes perfect. Bless often. Hold God’s Hand, and ask for His Help to Bless with His Eternal Unconditional Love. With God’s help we are His Blessing in the world.
My message today is to bring awareness to the benefit of blessing, both giving and receiving.
We come to church to be reminded of our spiritual nature. Be willing to allow your spiritual nature to expand and express through the practice of blessing.
My prayer for each of you is that your heart fully opens to receive Spirit’s richest blessings of unconditional love and divine communion.
I recently came upon an excerpt from the book, The Gentle Art of Blessing by Pierre Pradervand. I find Pradervand’s “Gentle Art of Blessing” to be a marvelous description of the power of blessing and its impact on the person who is doing the blessing. I would like to share it with you now. Click here to read it now.
Jill Sabin Carol is the founding minister of Agape Interfaith Ministries, serving churches with sermons, workshops, and spiritual education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, is certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), is a Religious Science Practitioner (combines psychotherapeutic counseling, spiritual coaching, and healing prayer), and facilitates study groups in Philadelphia, PA, and Moorestown, NJ. Publisher of the Self-Empowerment newsletter, Jill is a Certified Teacher of The Voice for Love and teaches The Voice for Love 5-Step Process to individuals and groups. Website: www.AgapeInterfaith.org