To the Blessed People of Great Plains Conference,
A member of my hometown church and close friend of the family sent Maye and me $250 every month for four years while I attended seminary. The check would arrive within the first three days of each month. That financial gift made it possible for me to work a part-time job so I could focus on my seminary studies and finish within four years. It has been 20 years since I finished seminary, and my friend has never asked me for anything in return. When I asked him why he financially supported my family and me throughout school, he said he was blessed and wanted to pass on that blessing to me so I, in turn, could be a blessing to others. He also said that he experienced Christ’s grace as he blessed us.
As I reflect on this particular blessing and the many other ways, others have blessed me and my family in life, I am reminded of how life-giving and transformative a blessing given or received can be. Blessed is one of the Lord’s most natural and treasured characteristics. Blessed, or the Hebrew term hesed, is challenging to define because it encompasses acts of love, kindness, mercy, and grace. A blessing is an act that benefits someone without any expectations of reciprocity.
I have written my goals and resolutions for the new year on paper ever since I was a sophomore in high school. And, rest assured that I am writing down my goals and resolutions for 2018. There are many goals and resolutions we will strive for in this new year individually, as families, organizations, businesses, as local churches, as the United Methodist Church, and as the universal Church. One goal or resolution I will add to my list for 2018 is to “Bless someone today with an act that demonstrates Christ’s love, kindness, mercy, and grace.
At the end of each day, I seek to have the name of a person or group of people in mind when I answer my daily self-examination question: Who did I bless today?
George Shuler and Ira Wilson capture the transformative power and difference blessing others makes when they wrote the lyrics and music to the beautiful Christian song, “Make Me a Blessing.”
1 Out in the highways and byways of life, many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife making the sorrowing glad. R
R: Make me a blessing, out of my life May Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray, make me a blessing to someone today.
2 Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love; Tell of His power to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove true ev'ry moment you live. R
3 Give as was given to you in your need; Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed; Unto your mission be true. R
This 2018, as an abundantly blessed people, let us resolve to bless others as we have been blessed by Christ. Together, we’ll change the world, one act love, kindness, mercy and grace at a time.
Que Dios les Bendiga.
Have a Blessed New Year,
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.