Over the last three weeks I have had the opportunity to celebrate three new grandchildren born into this world that I will, however long I have to live, have the opportunity to love and pass along the blessings of God to their lives.
It's not easy to live "blessed".
"On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"),
and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
Luke 2:21-32 (NIV)
I may be a few days early in re-accounting the story of Jesus' presentation at the temple, but I read that passage and discover all over again the word "Blessing". Certainly, I am blessed in life, and even in death, in Jesus. That is one of the clear statements of Simeon to us. But, I am also struck by the power of blessing...of being blessed by other's words, and by blessing others with my own words.
At the end of 2009, I have been reading Henri Nouwen's "Life of the Beloved". It is the type of book that I need to pick up every once in a while and allow the words to bathe over my soul. He talks about this extensively in chapter 2. What struck me today in both scripture and his book was the words he wrote about blessing:
"...the characteristic of the blessed ones is that wherever they go, they always speak words of blessing. It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth, when you yourself are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses....no one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations, or blaming. There is so much of that taking place around us all of the time...The voice that calls us the beloved will give us words to bless others and reveal to them that they are no less blessed than we."
Jesus said "blessed are you..." and reminded us of the many ways we are blessed apart from the way humans around us perceive a life that is blessed.
I am blessed...in more ways than I can possibly recount. Yet, at the end of 2009, I want to live in the knowledge of those "blessed are you" things and give them back as thanksgiving to God.