By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
“BLESSED TO BLESS”
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29
The ‘him’ in this Bible verse is Thomas the disciple. A disciple of Jesus. He doesn’t show up much at all in the scriptures and when he does, he always seems like the odd man out. Not present. Making demands. Asking questions to which he won’t like the answer. He’s often called ‘doubting Thomas’ as just before this pronouncement from Jesus, he was the one with reservations about Jesus’ resurrection. We all know him. He is us. But he really needs to be called ‘believing Thomas” as he did come to know that Jesus was raised from the dead. It’s the proof we all need that the end of the story is rarely the end of the story and stories with disappointing endings have yet another ending helping us make sense of the stories behind us. Wow. Faith matters. It does.
But, here’s what’s really important. When people read this story of Thomas, the focus points to Thomas’ doubt. Jesus points to blessedness. Thomas was blessed because he saw and believed. Jesus announced people would be blessed in their believing even though they have not seen.
Jesus was talking about you and me.
Have you ever asked someone how they are, and their reply was, “I’m blessed.” I hear that more now in the last 10 years than all the years of my life before. Blessed? Of course. To bless? That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Blessed to bless. Jesus’ way. God’s ancient way… from the very beginning. It’s built into the Hebrew word for ‘bless’ and the three letters that form it. From the earliest chapters of Genesis all the way to the end of the Holy Bible the word ‘bless’ or references to it has over 500 appearances… showing up in the first two chapters of Genesis three times.
And here’s the thing about the word, ‘bless.’ The three Hebrew consonants or symbols are B, R and K… pronounced Bu-RaK or Ba-RaKH with a quirky kuh kind of ending. And each of the letters have their own meaning. The B is in the shape of a tent or a house. The Hebrew people were nomadic, as their life was always about tenting and finally settling into homes over time. The R looks like a stick figure… a man in those days whose role was to provide leadership and safety for all those dwelled in those tents and houses. And the last letter… the K looks a lot like our letter C… the shape of an open hand or palm by which blessing was both received from God and shared with God’s world. B-R-K… blessed to bless. There’s more to the story than meets the eye.
So, in Genesis chapters one and two God offers three blessings. One, God creates the animals and blesses them and says, ‘be fruitful and multiply as you are free to roam about the country’ (my paraphrase). Then God creates the man and the woman and blesses them and calls them the crown of the creation and says to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply… you are the caretakers of this earth.’ Whoah! God has blessed us by giving us THE EARTH… not to take advantage of but to use and care for… for the sake of the generations. And, thirdly, God blesses the Sabbath day and sets it aside for all of God’s people to “bless God back” in song, prayer, praise and thanksgiving for all that God has blessed us with. It’s relational, eh?
St. Augustine wrote long ago, “God is far more ready to bestow on us blessings than we are to receive them.” Oh. My wife says it this way… “people who feel blessed by God are quicker to share their blessings with others.” Open hands receive and share. When our hands are clenched, we can no longer receive or share. Blessed to bless. Now more than ever in this ‘whirled’ of ours. Faith matters.
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church located at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. Your comments and/or questions are always welcomed to [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi.