The following is a reflection post from my Vocation Matters class at Phillips this spring. We were prompted to think about holding the authority to bless, and how that felt.
The idea of “blessing” someone is somewhat unsettling to me. I think this is for several reasons. First, I’m not entirely sure what it means to “bless” someone. The dictionary defines it as to “pronounce words in a religious rite, to confer or invoke divine favor upon; ask God to look favorably on.” In the Christian context, I suppose that means to lay hands on or pray for somebody in their presence.
But this brings means to my second reason for being unsettled. My personal theology balks at this idea of asking God to “Favor” someone or something in a particular instance. I don’t see God as a being that picks out certain people for “Special” favor. I think God looks with favor on all people at all times, but that bad things happen, not because of God, but because of the nature of an ordered, rational universe and our own imperfect knowledge.
So what can I do with this idea of blessing? Obviously, as clergy, I am going to be entrusted with the authority to pronounce blessing, and expected by my congregants to exercise that authority in some way. Perhaps what I said above can be a starting place: God looks with favor on all people at all times. I think we forget that, especially when times are hard, or we are anticipating something hard, or new, or scary. As a clergy, as someone ordained to be God’s representative to the church, a blessing can be a reminder of this ever-present blessing and love of God to people who need to be reminded. And I don’t think we can hear enough that God does love us, that we have purpose and favor in our lives. In this sense, being an agent of blessing really speaks to me.