by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters e-newsletter, 11/14/13

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The blessing marks this season. Families gather around the table for holidays and, at some point, someone asks, "Who is going to say the blessing?" Maybe in your family the youngest members say the blessing, offering their first words on behalf of the entire family. Maybe in your family it is the elder patriarch or matriarch who offers grace at the table. As the family parson, I am always on call for these moments, never off the clock in ministry, you know. But, being the family parson doesn't mean that I am afforded any slack.
 
Each year after I pronounce the "Amen," I look to see my mother's face. With the simple lift of the brow, I know whether or not the blessing has passed muster. Mother likes her prayers to be as sturdy and nourishing as the family feast. If I, for the sake of brevity and the grumbles of the gathered relative, offer a short blessing, then my efforts are met with a noticeable huff. "I want you to know how to pronounce a blessing, Jake," she says.
 
Mother knows best, you know. I, we, should know how to pronounce a blessing. Not so much the art of public prayer, but the ability to name and note the blessings in our midst. Marylyn Robinson captures well the nature of blessing in her novel, "Gilead." Blessing, she writes, doesn't make something sacred...to bless something is to acknowledge that the sacred is already present.
 
Consider your blessings this season. What do you need to name and note? Consider the way that we get to participate in the sacred in this place. How can you help nurture the blessing that is Highland Hills Baptist Church? This Sunday, we bless the budget. I know, sometimes it is hard to think about the holiness of the budget. But think of it this way, the budget embodies our plans for mission and ministry. The budget is a moral document. As we recognize the sacred promise of our life together, it is embodied in this simple budget. Help me pronounce a blessing this morning, as we note and name the work that we are called to do and the people we are called to be.