Thank you for reading my blog this week. Your participation in our ministry by reading and occasionally telling me how my writings have affected your life and spiritual journey have been a real blessing to me.
May God bless you and your life this day, so that you may grow stronger in our Lord Jesus.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
— Ephesians 1:2
The apostle Paul began most of his letters with a blessing and prayer for his audience leading me to wonder how the world might change if we were to follow this practice, blessing our listeners at the beginning of each conversation. Such blessings might be generic, as some of the recipients would be unknown when the blessing was written. For example, I do not know who all is reading this blog, and since it may be available for years to come, you might be reading this entry after a current reader shared it with you perhaps months or even years after I wrote these words.
Which leads to questions about the sincerity of the blessing. Are blessings offered so easily valued by the recipient? Or conversely, when a blessing is offered before the giver meets the recipient, is a blessing so offered valued by the giver? At what point do freely offered blessings get lost in the blizzard of advertising we receive each day.
Some three-hundred years after Paul, Augustine of Hippo had written blessings for Caesar; blessings universally expected, but widely recognized as lies. Yet the blessings in Paul’s letters differ from such banal pro forma fluff for he uses the rest of his letter to give depth and substance to the divine blessings he lists at the beginning of this letters.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
— Ephesians 1:3-4
On the other hand, if the blessings are sincerely offered and openly received, perhaps the communication that follows will have greater honesty and usefulness.
Below you can hear (most) of my sermon from Sunday, July 12th.
Robert Shaw, Pastor