My middle daughter, Charissa, recently became a new bride. It was a joy and a privilege to both walk her down the aisle, and officiate the wedding. It was, obviously, not just another wedding ceremony for me. Because of this I did not want my words to be a typical kind of wedding message. So, instead, I chose to give the new couple a marriage blessing. In fact, the experience of focusing on a blessing rather than a standard kind of marriage message has helped me rethink how to go about doing weddings in general.
Giving a blessing is a very important part of Holy Scripture; you can find it running through the entirety of the Bible. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, he placed a man and a woman together in the garden. Everything was perfect. There was a free and unhindered relationship with God and with each other. But paradise was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, believing that God was somehow holding out on them by telling them not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The world was plunged into sin, and a relational separation happened between humans and God. The effects of that act of disobedience were terrible, and eventually led to a flood overtaking the entire world. It seemed perhaps all was lost forever. But God, who is rich in mercy, whose very nature is described as love, took the initiative in reclaiming that severed relationship. What he did was to choose Abraham as a person to bless, and to, in turn, be a blessing. We read in the book of Genesis these words from God to Abraham:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The rest of Scripture details an unfolding drama of redemption in which God, by sheer grace, goes out of his way to reconcile himself with his estranged creatures. Those efforts culminated in Jesus Christ coming to this earth, living a holy life, suffering and dying a cruel death on cross, rising from the dead, and ascending to heaven so that we can experience forgiveness from our broken and twisted way of doing things and reconnect with God. One of the New Testament writers has said: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
I was overwhelmed by how many people I met whom my daughter Charissa and her new husband Alex have been a blessing to already in their young lives – people who had been spiritually lost and are now lovers of Jesus. It has all been possible because God in Christ first blessed them.
Just as God blessed Abraham because he wanted to love his created beings, I had the opportunity to bless a new couple just because I love them. As I read the blessing to them, I watched the power of loving words touch Charissa and Alex. We also have the chance to speak words of blessing into the lives of people every day – words of affirmation and love, words of hope and a special future, words of goodness and grace. In a world where sarcasm, words that tear down, and a neglect of gracious words exists in families and even churches all around us, we can take the initiative to speak into the lives of others in a way that can truly transform people from the inside-out.
Here is a portion of the blessing I gave, and perhaps you will think of incorporating words of blessing into your ministry as well:
May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make his face to shine upon you. May God answer you on those days when life crashes around you. May the Name of Jesus put you out of harm’s reach. May God continually send reinforcements from heaven, and give you fresh strength from the Holy Spirit. May your marriage together be a living offering to God, holy and pleasing to him. May God give you the desires of your heart, and make all your plans succeed. When you overcome the hardships of life, your parents plan to raise the roof, and lead the celebration. May the LORD grant all your requests. May the LORD bless your marriage, and help you keep the vows you have made together.
In your church, whom are those who need to experience a blessing through a hug? Who needs to hear words of affirmation? Who feels hopeless and needs to hear you give them words of a special future? How can you communicate that you are committed to helping others be successful in the Christian life?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with us all.