GOD’S LOVE AND FAVOR

Live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always. Amen. – Blessing attributed to Saint Clare
 
The Episcopal Church is always up for offering a Blessing; a pronouncement God’s love and favor.
 
Of course, we bless the bread and wine on Sundays to be for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Offerings of time, talent, and treasure are also blessed on the altar. After receiving Holy Communion, the gathered people are then blessed and sent forth into the world to bear peace and love. The blessing of God’s love and favor are claimed unabashedly – with the hope that we might truly believe and internalize just how beloved we are in the eyes of our Creator.
 
The church also blesses during moments of life transition. We bless women in pregnancy, along with anyone who is expecting a child, whether by adoption or happenstance. We visit the hospital to offer a blessing for a newborn. The church is often invited to come to bless a new home, with the priest going around to each room to offer particular prayers for that space. In Holy Baptism, the water is blessed. In Holy Matrimony, the wedding rings are blessed before they are exchanged, and then the couple is blessed as they take vows of lifelong commitment. In burial rites, the body is blessed before it is committed back to the earth. We bless during these pivotal times of life because we believe that God is always at work in the midst of change.
 
Blessings are also a part of pastoral life in community. As a person seeks to confess and receive absolution, whether from things done or left undone, they are blessed. Oil is blessed to anoint the sick for healing, whether they suffer in mind, body, or spirit.
 
Saint Francis of Assisi is most widely known for praising all creatures as sisters and brothers of God. As such, during his feast day in early October, many Christian communities will offer a “Blessing of the Animals,” inviting all creatures great and small. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City is famous for parading elephants, camels, and giraffes into the church for this special occasion of blessing.
 
Many faith communities have caught on to blessing backpacks to kick off the school year. Others bless school supplies. When new spaces are constructed, such as the Gries Center for Arts and Sciences three years ago, they are blessed. Meals are blessed. So are rosaries, along with other sacred objects.
 
Monday was a special day of blessing in the life of Berkeley Preparatory School. Our 9th annual Wrap-In took place, as hundreds of gifts were delivered to campus. These generous offerings will be hand-delivered to children and migrant families of Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) on December 15th. But before that delivery, we gathered to bless these gifts. And to understand how God’s love and favor is at work whenever we give of ourselves.
 
As our Holiday Convocation came to a close on Monday, I invited our whole community to stand. With a grateful heart, I offered the same blessing below that Aaron offered God’s people in the Book of Numbers. May you also receive it. And know that God loves and favors you, each step of the way.
 
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
-          Numbers 6:24-26
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Founded in 1960, Berkeley is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory day school located in Tampa, FL, for boys and girls in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. Approximately 1,380 students gather here from the greater Tampa Bay area to form ONE Berkeley.