On Faith: To be blessed
Lately, I've found myself thinking about the term "blessing."
Some may say that is not surprising, since this is November and we are getting to ready celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, a time that focuses on blessing.
That is true enough, but it is not Thanksgiving that brings the term to mind. No, it is the other November holiday that causes me to ponder the idea of blessing: Veterans Day.
In one respect, it is easy, I hope, to understand why the term comes to mind. We have been blessed to have women and men serve in the most trying of times, to go to war, to preserve our freedoms and advance the ideals on which our country is established.
These "honored dead," who "gave the last full measure of devotion," as Abraham Lincoln famously said, are those we remember. As we recall them to mind, we are called to remember that we have been blessed by their devotion and sacrifice.
Yet, there is another reason why the term "blessing" comes to mind. The sacrifice made by our veterans has strong echoes of our Christian faith. Those familiar with Christianity will instantly recognize this echo since at the core of our faith is the sacrifice that Jesus makes to set us free.
Yet, that is not the only echo we hear. In Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, he ties the remembrance of the "honored dead" to a call to continue in the work of preserving the union.
This turn within that famous address, from remembering to a call for action, is a turn we find within our faith and brings us back to blessing.
For the Christian, to be blessed is never to be an end in and of itself. While there are some who try to sell our faith as a gospel to get what you want, a major theme of the biblical story is the proclamation of God blessing us so that we will be a blessing to others.
From Genesis 12, where God tells Abram and Sarai they will be blessed and in turn will be a blessing to the world, to Galatians 3:14, where we are told the blessing of Abram flows to us through Christ, the message is clear: We have been called to be a blessing to others.
This is our call to action, as it were, to not simply accept the blessings we've received as a gift to be enjoyed for ourselves, but rather as one that is meant to be shared.
As we move from the remembering and honoring of our veterans to the celebration of Thanksgiving, we have a profound opportunity to ponder the blessings we've been given. And, as we reflect on those blessings, let us also ponder how we are to be a blessing.
This call can take many forms, but allow me to make one suggestion: As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday take some time to consider the people on your path. The holiday is not always a joyous time to gather with others; it can be a challenge for some who do not have family or friends to be with or may be homebound.
Remembering how God has blessed you, reach out to someone and share an encouraging word, spend some time or find some other way to bless. In doing so, we live out the calling that has been upon us since the beginning of our faith, a call from the Lord from whom all good blessings flow.
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.