“The love Christ Jesus gave/ Be filling every heart for me,/ The love Christ Jesus gave/ Filling me for everyone.”- Traditional Scottish blessing, Nineteenth Century
In Chapter 1 (“Blessing in the Beginning”) of Given: The Forgotten Meaning and Practice of Blessing, author Tina Boesch relates a conversation she had with a Turkish friend while living in Istanbul. Since Tina’s sister had given birth recently, the Turkish friend expressed concern about saying the right thing in English. In a matter-of-fact manner, Tina responded, “We say, ‘Congratulations.’ ”
As a result, Tina’s friend furrowed her brow and observed that the word congratulations isn’t a blessing. Because that word, with its Latin roots and Middle English pedigree, means that I share your joy, I give thanks with you. Therefore, the word only references a present feeling. In addition, it fails to reach forward into the future – into the grace you hope to see unfold.
Most noteworthy, congratulations doesn’t invite God’s presence into our lives as we express what we hope He’ll accomplish in the coming days. The author explains:
“The future is the province of blessing. Blessings are prayers with the horizon in view. The communicate the good that I long to see realized in your life, and they acknowledge, implicitly, that God alone is capable of accomplishing that good. Blessings carry us from the present moment into the future grace.”
Finally, Tina comments on a biblical blessing where the words carry a powerful resonance – Peace be with you. Jesus’ disciples cowered together in a locked room, immobilized by fear. Yet, Jesus spoke these words to them: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you (John 20:21, NIV).”
In the next blog, Tina explains how to avoid draining a blessing of its significance.
Today’s question: What Bible verses instill and sustain the love Christ Jesus gave? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Drained of its significance – blessing reduced to a trite phrase”