[#pictureLent] March 14: BLESSING

By Rev. Dr. Marcus A.L. Freeman, III
Director of Leadership Vitality, Rio Texas Conference, UMC
San Antonio, Texas

First, read Psalm 128:5-6

During an anniversary celebration of a church I once served, a family placed a congratulatory ad in the church’s anniversary booklet that displayed a photograph of family members representing five living generations of their family. The photo included the great-great grandmother and grandfather, their daughters who were themselves great grandmothers, several of the children of these daughters with their children surrounding them, and a young great-granddaughter was holding her newborn baby son. Also fascinating was that in this ad, the family recognized the great-great-grandmother’s parents who were founding members of this church. They were celebrating the blessing of family throughout the life of the church. 

Not only were the successions of grandparents of the family able to experience the blessing of beholding their succeeding grandchildren, and not only would the descending children have the treasure of this pictorial moment with their precious foreparents. But the collective generations of this family share a unique Christian heritage through membership in this church from its very inception. There were undoubtedly some disappointments and let-downs over the years for both the family and the congregation. But for generations, this family helped to sustain the church and the church helped to sustain the family.  

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Psalm 128:5-6 draws a connection between the assurance of blessing for those who dwell in Zion and the promise that they will see their children’s children. This association affirms and highlights the sometimes-overlooked blessing that Christian life adds to value systems, meaningful shared experiences, and mutual appreciation that strengthens the bond and enriches the lives of families. 

This promised blessing in a sense extends to our spiritual kinship as members of Christ’s Universal church. For as we continue to order our lives in the Christian Faith and labor for the kingdom’s fruitfulness in the world, we have the promise of blessing to see our spiritual offspring as they come into the knowledge of Christ and possess the treasure of life more abundantly as it is experienced now and in the life of the world to come.

Prayer For The Day: God of all generations, as we count our blessings on this day, help us remember to especially be thankful for the blessings of our biological as well as our spiritual families as we live and serve together in your kingdom. We offer this prayer in Christ’s name. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1. What are some ways that you have seen yours or other families blessed by their lives and involvement in the church? 
2. What are some ways that the church can be more intentional about ministries with families? What difference could this make?  
3. In what ways could it be helpful for the church to place more emphasis on the role it could have in building up the collective Christian family? What kind of impact could this have?