Some years ago, when I was serving my first appointment and hosting the District Superintendent at my second Charge Conference, a member of the congregation took the floor of the Conference to make an angry speech. He did not care much for the changes that were being proposed and he announced that after his family had been supporting the church continuously for 87 years, he would be leaving and taking his family with him. His teary-eyed teen-aged daughters reluctantly got up at his insistence to leave the Charge Conference with him as he walked out.
As this man was making his way to the door, the D.S. spoke up. He invited him not to leave, told him that we would all respect his opinion if he did, and expressed his sorrow that he could not see fit to move into a future that God had seemed to bless for this congregation. As my member moved to the door, the D.S. pronounced a word of grace. “Blessings on you,” he said.
Over time, the man came back to the church, reinvolved himself in the life of our community, became a steadfast friend and supporter for the remainder of my time in that parish, and continued on as a leader and member until his death some ten years later. To this day, I believe that was possible because of the grace of my District Superintendent and his word of blessing.
Blessings are gifts to us. They perform what they say. They make us something other than what we are. Simply by one person saying the phrase “God bless you” to another person, God does, in fact, bless.
Jesus understood that better than anyone. Matthew tells us (Matthew 5:1-12) that Jesus went up a mountain to teach and the mountain became a place of blessing and, thus, a place of transformed lives. “Blessed are…” Jesus said eight times and, each time he said it, people became something more than what they were. They became blessed children of God.
This Sunday, we’ll talk about those blessings as we go “up to the mountains.” We’ll read the Beatitudes again, consider what kind of blessings they hold for us and for the world, and then gather at the table to receive the blessings of the Lord. I’ll be blessed to see you there.