Friday, August 10, 2012 — Week of Proper 13, Year Two
Laurence, Deacon, and Martyr at Rome, 258
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 979)
Psalms 88 (morning) 91, 92 (evening)
Judges 9:1-16, 19-21
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
One of the most ubiquitous forms of prayer in the Jewish tradition is the berakhah. (I’ve seen it spelled various ways.) It is a prayer of blessing. It is a prayer in a spirit of thanksgiving that expresses wonder at how blessed God is. Many of our Christian prayers, including our eucharisitic prayer, are based on the form of Jewish berakhah. Those prayers typically begin by blessing God and then praising God through thanksgiving. “Blessed are you, O Lord, sovereign of the universe, for you give us wine to gladden our hearts.” That is a common berakhah blessing prayer over the wine.
In Jewish tradition, to bless something is to give thanks for it. To thank God for something is to acknowledge God as its source. The blessing is also a form of consecration. For anything that is blessed is consecrated. In the Eucharist, we bless bread and wine with the prayer we call the “Great Thanksgiving,” and the bread and wine is consecrated. Something which is consecrated is made holy and set aside to be used for God’s purposes. So to pray a blessing is to receive something with thanks to God — which makes it holy. It is an abundant process.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ first miracle is to turn water into wine at a wedding feast where the wine has given out. It is a sign of his work. Through Jesus, the ordinary water becomes deep and sparkling wine that gladdens the heart. The party can continue. The celebration is blessed. The bridegroom who would have been publicly humiliated is rescued and the whole community is able to rejoice is social happiness. “Blessed are you, O Lord, sovereign of the universe, for you give us wine to gladden our hearts.”
How can I take this day and bless it?
First, I can give thanks to God and acknowledge God as the source of the miracle of this day. The thin dark has become deep and sparkling light that gladdens the heart. By blessing God, thanking God for this moment and this day, the day is consecrated, made holy, set aside for God’s purposes.
And what are God’s purposes? It usually has something to do with abundant life. The party continues. The celebration is blessed. The broken is being healed and the whole community is enabled to rejoice together.
To bless anything is to make it holy. The characteristic stance of creature to the creator is to stand in thanskgiving. To bless life with thankfulness is to make it abundant — to turn water into wine.