I’ll be somewhere in the house when I hear one of the family sneeze. Without exception after the sneeze has occurred I will hear Jeffrey’s voice as he calls out the reply. “Bless you.” Jeffrey is a disabled man who has lived with us for several years. It doesn’t matter what he is doing or what part of the house he is in, he never misses the opportunity to call out, “Bless you.” It has become a characteristic or habit that is now a part of his life. I don’t even think he makes a conscious effort to do it. For Jeffrey, if someone is going to sneeze and he is anywhere around them, at least close enough for him to hear it, it is as automatic as breathing. Even if it is a perfect stranger he will offer them a, “Bless you.” During the time period where today’s reading takes place, we can see the importance of the giving and receiving of blessings. Jacob, although through deception, was eager to receive a blessing from his father Isaac. And now Jacob, who is now called Israel, is eager to be able to give blessings to his sons and grandsons before he dies. So today in our reading we see blessings being spoken over Israel’s family.
The whole concept of giving blessings to our family or even others is somewhat foreign to us. But I am convinced that it would be a good thing to resurrect. All of us need to have blessing spoken into our lives. These blessings from family members especially, but also from others lift our spirits and spur us on in life. They make our lives better.
But beyond the blessings we receive from others, today we need to consider our role of being the ones who initiate blessing into the lives of those people who are around us. This is the place where Jeffrey’s statements of “Bless you” can speak to all of us. What would happen if all of us began being alert to the opportunities that God brings our way to bless others? In our reading today these blessings came as one was approaching their death. What if we didn’t wait? What if blessing people became as natural as breathing? Just like Jeffrey never misses an opportunity to offer a “Bless you,” what if we were determined to never miss an opportunity to speak blessing into someone’s life? I think God would be pleased. Not only that, I think He would bring people our way who instead of needing a critic (there are already too many of these in the world), He would bring people who desperately need to be blessed.
So with thanks to Jeffrey for another, LESSON FROM JEFFREY, I say to you from the bottom of my heart may God richly bless you today. May He be extra close to you in your going out and your coming in. May His face shine upon your life and today may the Lord fill you with His strength and joy.