GENESIS 14: 17-20 What does it mean to be blessed? Why does it matter?

Fairy stories. Well there are always three sons, aren’t there? And they’re dirt poor, so one by one they go off on a quest to make their fortunes. Widowed Mum makes an oaten bannock (sounds delicious!) for each of them before they leave. Actually, she makes two: and they have to choose one: “the big one with my curse, or the small one with my blessing”. The two elder boys go for big plus curse, because they’re hearty practical types who know that you need supplies if you’re going on a quest……and they duly come to horrible but well-deserved ends. The despised youngest son opts for small plus blessing (as we all somehow know he should) and in the end – long story short - gets to marry the princess. Result.

Leaving aside whether a curse in this situation is something of a parental over-reaction to the kids leaving home (most of the parents I know seem to intend to hold a party!), isn’t it interesting that we all seem to know instinctively that the blessing is the most important part of the deal? Why do we think that? After all, what we all learn at school is that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.


That is after all a fairy story: but I was talking the other day to someone who used to be a military chaplain. And he told me about the time he was asked to bless something a bit different. You know those big Chinook helicopters? Well ultimately the rotors at the top, which keep the whole thing up in the air, are hold on solely by what the engineers call “the Jesus nut”. There is a single point on which everyone’s safety depends…..and why is it called the Jesus nut? Well because if it shears off, or gives way, the only thing you have left is prayer. They were big strong lads who “weren’t religious, Padre”, but the helicopter had just come back from a major service, and….. could he bless the Jesus nut for them? So of course he did.

You won’t be surprised to know that there’s a lot of blessing in the Bible. We heard about one this morning: Melchizedek, king of Salem and High Priest, brings out bread and wine for Abraham, and blesses him in the name of God Most High. Does that sound familiar? Here we are, in the presence of bread and wine, and at the end of the service everyone will be blessed in the name of the Most High God.

What I want to draw out this morning is that we have a tendency either to receive communion or to say we will “just” receive a blessing. Of course that’s completely wrong: there’s nothing “just” about a blessing, and if that’s what you want to do when we’re all invited to come to the Lord’s table, you jolly well do that. It doesn’t make you some kind of second class citizen. The blessing of the Lord is well worth having in its own right.

But why? I can’t promise it’ll make you popular, clever or glamorous. It won’t give you a perfect life, where nothing ever goes wrong. It won’t protect you from all the bad stuff. It won’t even give you a wet nose and a shiny coat (which may be bad news for all the dogs I blessed at the pet service in September). But it concentrates the mind and frees the soul to be consciously in the presence of God. Even the way we do it – heads bowed, perhaps kneeling – is a physical language we never otherwise use in modern life. We are vulnerable, we are humble, we are just here.

And like so much else to do with God, it’s about relationship, it’s about love and it’s about trust. It’s not, in the end, what one person does to another: it’s what we do for one another. Melchizedek has a second blessing….”blessed be God Most High”. Isn’t that astonishing….that we can bless God? He doesn’t need our blessing of course – he’s God – but what he wants with us is that fellowship, that much maligned phrase we’ve all got used to and yet are cynical about, I can’t think why: “we’re all in this together”. But when it comes to God, we ARE all in this together. And that in itself may be blessing enough, when God’s involved.

Please, when we come to receive communion, please, come to be blessed: either in the taking of the body and blood, or directly in yourself. Receive the blessing of the Most High God. And give Him yours.