Verbal Blessings

Philippians 4:4-7

This year I’ve often found myself thinking about blessings. Not material blessings or even the blessings of relationships. What I’ve been pondering is the practice of giving someone a verbal blessing. I suppose that offering another person a blessing is considered weird, or at best something that only ministers do. When we think about sharing a blessing, particularly in American culture, what do we think of? Is it giving a gift, imparting some wisdom, wishing well-being, or even typing #blessed at the bottom of photos or messages? I think back to my childhood dinners at home when we would offer a blessing for the meal every night.

While giving verbal blessings is a spiritual practice that is unfamiliar to many of us, giving blessings is abundant throughout Scripture. God blesses God’s followers, like Abraham, Hagar, and David. Jesus rattles off a list of blessings in the beatitudes. Writers of the epistles often give blessings to the communities to whom they are writing. That’s what seems to be happening in the fourth chapter of Philippians.

What I love about the blessings in Scripture is they get to the very core and heart of the person or community. The individuals who offer blessings offer personal ones. They have paid attention to who the people they bless are and what they struggle with. They know what they hope for them. The verbal blessing within this text includes the command to rejoice, an encouragement to be gentle and not worrisome, and a reminder that the peace that surpasses understanding will be with them. In this blessing alone I learn a lot about the church at Philippi because the writer pays enough attention to name their strengths, growing edges, and ways that God is present with them.

Consider

Who in your life needs a verbal blessing? How would you word it to them?

Pray

Lord, teach me to give verbal blessings. Help me know what to say, and when and how to say it. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 27.3 of Reflections.

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