Last weekend I had the honor of participating in a church member’s daughter’s quinceañera in our chapel. It was an especially meaningful service as I had baptized her and her sisters just two years ago at Worship on Wednesdays at Community Crossroads.
If you are not familiar with a quinceañera, it is the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday and marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. The worship service recalls God’s faithfulness in the life of the honoree and celebrates the commitment of the girl to her faith and to God. It is such a beautiful moment of blessing by the girl’s family, friends, church family and God.
This lovely public ritual of blessing made me think about other times in which we ritualize blessing through the course of our lives. We celebrate God’s blessing at baptisms. If a person marries, we pray God’s blessing on a couple at a wedding. At a funeral or memorial service, we thank God for the blessing of the deceased and all in them that demonstrated God’s presence and love.
If you think about it, we have relatively few opportunities to be intentional about blessing one another and ritualizing our gratitude for a person’s life and impact upon our own. At First Pres, in our worship liturgy we celebrate those who have birthdays in each month, and that is one way of both giving thanks for someone’s life and also asking God’s blessing upon it. It is a way of marking time by dramatizing our gratitude for the goodness of life and for the presence of God in the ordinary.
Whatever way we may ritualize blessing in our worship and in the ordinary (sending a card to tell someone that God blesses them and they bless us; passing the peace), blessings are important to us as God’s covenant community. First, rituals of blessing communicate what we believe (we are created in the image of God and blessed as “very good”). Second, rituals of blessings communicate that we belong to God in life and death and that we belong to a community of God’s people. And rituals of blessing help us become what God intends for us: namely, God’s beloved children. We become what God believes about us.
We forget this all the time – it’s why we tear up at baptisms and cry at weddings. We forget the belovedness of our lives and God’s rich and deep blessing upon them. In whatever place you are in life, may you remember this sacred truth and may you use your life to bless others, too.
Peace and Blessings,