The ones blessing

Often people say God is the Only One Who Saves and Who blesses. Many trinitarians therefore also say the Jesus must be God because Jesus is the Saviour. First of all they do forget that many people can save other people, animals and plants, though those firefighters, surgeons, medics, animal protectors are not God. Secondly they also forget that in many religious institutions there are priests who are accepted to give blessings and to give forgiveness of sins.

Several people may question then the role of the priest when he can do nothing in the Name of God. Others may ask

If the priest who delivers blessing to the people isn’t the ultimate source of that blessing, what is her/his role?
And what does conveying or sharing blessings with or to another person even mean?

A pair of teachings, both found in Midrash Tanhuma, aim to answer the first question.

It does not suit My dignity that I should have to bless My creatures [Myself]. Rather, I am handing the blessings over to Abraham and to his progeny, and so, whosoever they bless, I will back up his blessing, as it is written: “and be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) [Midrash Tanhuma, V’zot ha’Berakha 1]

When we read between the lines of the Torah we also may find how God requires Abraham to take care for God’s People and to make sure they can be blessed. In the set apart Scriptures we also do find requests from god to bring over blessings to others.

And it came to pass, [on the day that Moses had made an end of setting up the tabernacle] – the Holy One, blessed be He, said, “In this world, I commanded Aaron and his sons to bless them, but in the future, I, in My glory, will bless them, as it is written, ‘YHWH bless thee out of Zion; even He that made heaven and earth.’” (Psalm 134:3) [Midrash Tanhuma, Naso 18]

Similarly, Midrash Tanhuma explains the role of the priest.

“In this way you shall bless” (Numbers 6:23) – Speak [amor] to them [using the ‘full’ spelling, i.e. with a vav], thus meaning: Say to them, to the priests, that just because I have told you to bless the people Israel, this does not imply that you may bless them begrudgingly or hastily [b’angaria u’v’vehilut]; rather, you should bless them wholeheartedly, so that the blessings have power for them; and thus is it written amor lahem, using the ‘full’ spelling. [Tanhuma Buber, Naso 18]

“Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: The Eternal bless you and protect you! The Eternal deal kindly and graciously with you! The Eternal bestow [divine] favor upon you and grant you peace!” (Numbers 6:23–26 TMC-E)

In pronouncing God’s favour on the people, we also find in several writings that the priest was to use a formula or blessing. Also do we find that the Elohim shall bless those who bless;

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will pronounce doom on those who curse you; through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.””
(Genesis 12:3 TMC-E)

In the past people made use of that opportunity to bless others.

“‘Bring me game and make me tasty dishes, that I may eat—and [then] bless you before the Eternal before my death.’”
(Genesis 27:7 TMC-E)

“Let peoples serve you, nations bow down to you. Be a ruler to your brothers, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed; may those who bless you be blessed.””
(Genesis 27:29 TMC-E)

“bestowing this blessing upon Rebekah: “Sister, may you become thousands of myriads; may your descendants take possession of the gates of their foes!” Rebekah and her servant girls got up and mounted the camels and followed the man, as the slave took Rebekah and went off.”
(Genesis 24:60–61 TMC-E)

Like in ancient time children asked their parents blessing, those responsible of others still should give blessings to those which they should protect. At the same time we too should ask our parents and God the Father their blessings.

“When Esau heard his father’s words, he broke into an exceedingly loud and bitter howl and said to his father, “Bless me! Me too, Father!””
(Genesis 27:34 TMC-E)

“And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” He [Jacob] said, “Bring them to me, pray, that I may bless them.””
(Genesis 48:9 TMC-E)

In those text we also read that people could bow down for others, this not meaning that they would worship that person. Lots of trinitarians say because Jesus did not resist when a person bowed his head before Christ that this meant that Jesus wanted to be honoured as the God and did not refuse that people worshipped him. But the bowing down before some one has not to mean that one worships that person. It is a matter of showing respect.

 

By facing one another and desiring goodness for one another with a full heart, we get to bring a bit of Divine goodness into the world. Priests had to be and still should be partners with God to draw down goodness. Lots of people forget that in this present age all believers in God are all priests.

To bless one another is to increase the flow of love and compassion in the world. No wonder birkat kohanim is (perhaps) our oldest and most beloved prayer!

“And may God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and numerous, so that you become a host of peoples,”
(Genesis 28:3 TMC-E)

That you may go out into the world blessing others!

Be safe and take care of yourself and others,
Being blessed and blessing in the Name of God, so that the Name of the elohim be mentioned and He will come to you and bless you.

“Make for Me an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you.”
(Exodus 20:21 TMC-E)

 

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Related

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  2. The Wise Father’s Possession
  3. Pray Faith Filled Solutions!
  4. Tuesday: Morning Prayer
  5. As to the Lord
  6. God Rejoices Over You!
  7. His Voice
  8. The Power of Blessing: 24 Word Blessing Birthed A Nation

2019 A New Year of Prayer

Prayer is so simple. It’s like opening a door and slipping into the presence of God. It’s about having a conversation with Him, sharing our thoughts, our worries, our joys, our thankfulness.

So why do we (why do I) find it so difficult sometimes?

We know from Scripture that an active prayer life is essential to our spiritual health, as individuals and as a church, and the start of a new year seems like a good time to think about ways in which we can sharpen our focus on prayer together.

There’s a general feeling that since some ecclesiae stopped holding regular prayer meetings they have lost a bit of that focus. Though it is good to know that various suggestions were made by their Arranging Committees, looking for ways to develop the prayer life of their community, and one was that they would have a monthly prayer theme which they can centre their prayers around, both as an ecclesia and in their private prayers.

That requires someone to manage/lead/coordinate. But the first thing to say is that this is should always also a community initiative and, if it’s to be relevant and inspiring to everyone, the ideas, the input and the energy need to come from everyone,
young and old.

We at this site shall also some thoughts but you too may let us know how you think we can improve our prayer life, and also what, or who, you would like us to pray for, week on week.

Paul says in Colossians,

“Continue steadfast in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”,

and giving thanks in prayer is as important as petitioning. Our monthly themes should encompass both. One idea already suggested for a January theme is to remember those who are homeless. This is the worst time of the year to be on the streets, or to be a refugee without a home; news reports are telling us daily about migrants who are desperate enough to risk embarking on small boats to cross the busiest shipping lane in the world.

Over Christmas most of us have most been enjoying the warmth of food and family, so it would be a good time to thank God for those blessings and also to remember those who don’t possess such things, who are out in the cold, physically and metaphorically.

We can pray for COG, for the Food Bank and West Berkshire Homeless and the work we do with them; our praying should then prompt us to even more generous giving to those in need.

A monthly theme like this is a good start. As we focus more and more on prayer, who knows where else this will lead us? It’s an exciting prospect.

Matthew 6 10 (2).jpg

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Related

  1. Being Vulnerable.
  2. Banging On The Lifeless Door
  3. Conversation
  4. Making a Spiritual Connection
  5. A Simple Invitation: A Lesson Learned this Advent Season
  6. Not What I Expected
  7. The Listener
  8. One-on-one with God
  9. Are You Praying Too Much?
  10. When Should We Pray?

An anarchistic reading of the Bible (2)—Creation and what follows

Whilst there may certainly be nothing sacred or “God-ordained” about the modern nation-state, lots of people do claim the connection of their state with the God of their Christian faith. Lots of those claiming to be Christian do not notice they themselves made themselves an own faith which in many cases has gone far away from the leader Christ Jesus his teachings. Even worse many of the conservative Christians and extreme right people have twisted so much the biblical teachings they do not see straight any more.

Lots of people in the so called democratic countries would like to build up their country to what they call to be a free nation, though they want to put a lot of limitations to whom may enter and to what others may believe.
A very good example of such deformation of the mind is the United States of America where there are some citizens who are totally convinced that it is their own home country, not recognising they themselves came from immigrants, thinking their laws should be build on their restricted view of the Bible, ignoring in a certain way the idea of freedom of the Pilgrims who founded their country.

Americans, convinced that the only state they have does not belong to the original locals, redskins or Indians, neither that it belongs to the Divine Creator, are convinced only they can work, according to their measures, to make ‘their state’ the most just and life-enhancing state it can be.
They are also convinced they should also work against their state as strongly as possible when it is unjust and undermines life. Though they often forget which measures or rules they would consider to be the just, righteous and most right to choose for.

Perhaps they can use an anarchist critique of the state and an anarchist affirmation of the human capacity for self-organizing to help to resist the undermining and, even more, to help them as they seek to construct a well-functioning society.

But most of all I would advice those who call themselves Christian to take up again the Bible and to go through it thoroughly.
All people interested in building up a community which can leave together in peace,is better to take up the manual given by the Supreme Writer and Divine Creator of all.

We can approach the Bible as a storybook and see it as providing a loosely coherent message, amidst a great deal of diversity, but than we shall miss out a lot of wisdom provide in it and would not be able so much to see our own stupidities and the stupidities of our governments who do not want to learn from the past, having the past repeating over and over again.

When we look at the Bereshith, the book of the Beginnings brings us the evolution of all things. Lots of conservative Christians do want to take its writing as a literal presentation from day to day, but it was never intended to be so. Moses neither the Client to write, wanted to present humanity with a factual historical scientist into depth account of what happened throughout the years of this universe.
The very beginning of the Bible provides much important information about the Bible as a whole, about the cosmology of the whole, about the character of the God seen to be central to the entire story, and about the relationships between humankind and this God.

Those people taking up the Bible, the infallible Word of God, should remember that the tale told in that Book of books, is to bring us knowledge about our own beings, our own self, how and why we are and how humanity develops.

In this Best-seller of all times, the One giving His Voice, the One Who asked to have His Words written down, This Creator God speaks of His Creation, which includes not only the human beings (male and female) being created in His own image, but also all the things He gave under dominion of those human beings (plants and animals). Though man could make use of it and could give it names, it has made a mess of it, and has done dishonour to the Creator of it. Too many have forgotten that humanity is commissioned to care for the rest of creation as God’s stewards. This is one of the good reasons lots of people should again or for the first time start reading the Bible to find out what their position on this planet is and what they have as task to do to come to a nice good peaceable world.

The Bible tells us what went wrong in the past and how the relationship between God and man became troubled. We do have to find ways to restore that relationship between God and humanity which is not one of domination, command-and-obedience. Yes it is rather a relationship of like with like. God has given several man of God to lead us and to show us the right way to develop. The prophet and master rabbi Jeshua (Jesus Christ) is the most important one to follow. after so much time that the people still did not come to understand the Torah, Jesus came to clarify it once again and to show the Way to God. though Jesus is the Way, he did not want to do his own will nor wants us to do only his will, neither to make him God or to worship him. He wants us to worship and to pray to the same God he prayed to, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, Who is also the God of him (Jesus) and his disciples.

We are told to put on the armour of Christ and to become like Jesus, and to put on the armour of God becoming one with God like Jesus is one with God. Though God is the Most High and even Jesus could not do anything without his heavenly Father, we also shall never be able to do anything without God allowing it to happen. But we are given the words of Christ and the words of the other prophets to help us to find the right way, trying to transform ourselves by the teachings of the master teacher and by the words of the very different books brought together in the Canonical Bible.

We as humans created in the image of God are also by that Creator asked to be like God. And, perhaps even more importantly, the picture here is that all humanity shares in this divine image — kingly, perhaps, but in a strongly egalitarian sense. As well, human beings are given power and responsibility.

The biggest problem is we all are responsible for our own choice and for our own actions. There is nobody else to blame for what we ourselves decide to follow.
It is up to us to take up the Book of books, to believe in it and to follow up freely its advice and wisdom.

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To remember:

to avoid the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17) =  restriction >  arbitrary rule from a dominating God intended to prevent human enlightenment? => Such an interpretation contradict much of the surrounding story + much of what follows in the Bible.

restriction = symbolizing innate human limitations.

human beings seek to know + use that knowledge to dominate creation => will devolve into power struggles and develop hierarchies

To avoid such a dynamic =>  to step back from desiring too much “knowledge,” to accept limits, and recognize to live in trust.

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“temptation” to violate restriction = too strong => Adam and Eve break the close connection between themselves and God.

coming from human side — after they eat the forbidden fruit, God still seeks to hang around with them in the Garden

humans hide from God (3:8) = they become ashamed of their nakedness.

consequences of this turn toward disharmony = establishment of “enmity” between Adam and Eve (3:15) and of Adam as “ruler” over Eve (3:16).

Not God’s will

new tensions and struggles = characterize human life.

rest of story = God’s work among humanity to overcome this “enmity” and proclivity toward “rulership.”

“fall”= affirmation of fundamental character of human peaceableness and responsiveness to God = complicated by human freedom.

God gives humanity potential to turn away as a key part of basic loving nature of the relationships +> turning away has consequences.

fatalistic interpretation has underwritten power politics over the centuries — the “fallenness” of humanity used as an excuse for a politics of centralized, coercive power.

human proclivity to exercise power in dominating ways = target in story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.  = inclination to centralize human power and to create a “oneness” that serves centralized power.

“scattering” Babel-dwellers (3:4, 8, 9), God seeks to create the conditions for a different kind of oneness — human unity respecting diversity, decentralizing power, based on mutual respect.

rest of the Bible’s story describes long, tenuous process of such a oneness being established.

human beings being gifted through God’s Spirit to connect despite their differences in languages, points to the type of oneness God endorses.

God’s healing strategy

genealogy that will connect Noah with the founding of God’s chosen people, we meet the human founders of the Hebrew peoplehood.

God creates something new out of barreness + promises descendants, beyond counting, and the agents of blessing for “all the families of the earth” (12:3).

important intervention of God = vocation God gives Abram, Sarai, and their descendants = God’s response to what happened in Eden, the story of the Flood, and the Tower of Babel => God will bring healing, but it will be patient, non-coercive, based on love and not on domination.

Founding ancestor of God’s chosen people = far from being a king or powerful ruler.

God’s work to bring healing to creation = not linked with territoriality => no geographical kingdom and no human king.

The method for doing God’s work in the world is “blessing” and this work is intended to encompass “all the families of the earth.”

We will have to follow the rest of the story to understand better the political implications of this starting point. But we should notice right away the combination of a lack of state-centeredness and the optimism about the possibilities of this “blessing” spreading widely without domination.

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Additional readings:

  1. What is life?
  2. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures
  3. Men of faith
  4. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #1 Christian Reform
  5. Right to be in the surroundings
  6. Creator and Blogger God 2 Image and likeness
  7. Creator and Blogger God 5 Things to tell
  8. God wants to be gracious to you
  9. The giving and protecting God
  10. Testify of the things heard
  11. I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late !
  12. A secret to be revealed
  13. Humility and the Fear of the Lord
  14. No fear in love
  15. If you want to go far in life
  16. Being of good courage running the race
  17. Wisdom lies deep
  18. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies
  19. God should be your hope
  20. Your New Job Description — Bless!
  21. Count your blessings
  22. There can only be hope when there is a will to be and say “I am”

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    Americans teaching that pride is a much-desired quality.

    “American Pride”: it’s on the airwaves; it’s taught in the schools; it’s preached from the pulpits.

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    Here is a humorous video about those interesting experiences.

  • Muslim Americans Insist Students Were Killed Because of Faith (voanews.com)
    The Obama Administration released a statement late Friday about the killing of three Muslim students this week in North Carolina. In the statement US president Barack Obama said “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.” American Muslim leaders agree and are urging authorities to label the shooting deaths a hate crime. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
  • Akin Osuntokun: The winner takes all election (dailypost.ng)
    Politics is inherently conflict-ridden with a dual and contradictory potential to either serve as a conflict resolution mechanism or generate a momentum for the escalation of conflict to crisis and ultimately to catastrophe.

    The election of Barack Obama, the first African-American, to the office of the President of the United States of America (USA) is unique and indicative in several respects. It was a veritable indication of how far America has gone in functional socio-political integration and positive adaptation of social diversity. Yet it equally brought in its wake the manifestation of the negative potential of politics to serve as a predictor and harbinger of conflict and crisis.

  • United States Corporation & The united, “States of America” . . use this to help people understand! It is very important information! ~J (gunnygbb2.wordpress.com)
    This film explains the difference between the, “united States of America” which is a Republic, created by the people, and for the protections and freedoms of the people; and, a corporation called “The United States Of America”, which is a Corporation of the “District of Columbia”; Titled, “The United States Of America” this corporation was founded in 1871″.

Thinking Pacifism

Ted Grimsrud—February 2, 2015

This is the second in a series of posts.

In this survey of some biblical themes looked at from an anarchistic angle, I will not be real precise in my use of “anarchistic.” I’ll be talking about a sensibility more than a full-fledged political philosophy. The key “anarchistic” motifs I will focus on will be a strong suspicion toward centralized social power, especially kingdoms and empires, and an optimism about human possibilities for self-organizing and decentralized social power.

And I will be reading the Bible in fairly naïve and straightforward ways. I approach the Bible as a storybook and see it as providing a loosely coherent message, amidst a great deal of diversity. I will focus more on the loose coherence than the diversity—largely due to a desire to find usable guidance in the Bible. At the same time, in reading the Bible more as…

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