Last Sunday morning, we had a ‘Blessing of the Writers’ at The Big Table. If you’ve never heard of one of those, fret not – neither had we. But we figured that if you could have a ‘Blessing of the Fleet‘ or a ‘Blessing of the Pets’ in different traditions, then surely conferring a blessing on a bunch of writers seeking to encourage people in Jesus seems not only reasonable but appropriate and necessary.
Of the dozen or so that forms our writing collective, nine of us received prayer, blessing and encouragement in a moment that was low on ceremony and high on intent. Those who couldn’t make it because they live outside of Perth or were serving their church community were also encouraged with prayer.
Writing is a curious process. Primarily a solitary pursuit, it often demands deep vulnerability and introspection which, at some point, is thrust into a public arena. That transition can be quite conflicting. We hope that people will read what we’ve written – the intent is to encourage others, so that was always the hope. There’s another part of us, though, that flinches from that light, hoping few notice that you’ve just exposed yourself before an unsuspecting, largely unknown group of readers.
Hence the blessing and hence the collective. Writers who write outside of a vacuum will continually need the fuel of encouragement, affirmation, and the assurance that at least a handful of people are picking up what they’re putting down. I know I do. Not necessarily because I’m deeply insecure, but because writing in this sort of forum drags you to places of exposure and revelation. To be covered and encouraged by the blessing of others in Jesus’ name is to shoot the most potent strain of adrenaline – a strain both life-giving and inspirational.
As we say somewhere on this website, “we write not because we have achieved mastery over something, but because we’re willing to drag our wrestle into the arena. Dragging these things into the light doesn’t reveal our perfection; in many ways, it allows all the flaws to be seen with greater clarity so the journey of strenuous wholeness can continue.”
So, kicking off our year with a blessing made all kinds of sense. Part of the etymology of the term “to bless” is “to add strength to another’s arm”. When we bless one another in Jesus’ name, we build them up and remind them of their sure foundation. We encourage. Not with hot air, but with healthy deposits of courage.
Mark Twain said that he ‘could live for two months on one good compliment’. That’s an extremely good compliment, but a word of encouragement can be like oxygen for the soul; it strengthens the arm of another.
I sat in a meeting a little while back and saw someone mercilessly mock the idea of another. While I’m thankful that others rushed to scaffold the discouragement, what I witnessed was breath being kicked out of another. I don’t think it was the intent of the mocker, but it was the visible result.
This is un-blessing; it withdraws, and it weakens the arm of another leaving them less equipped, less sure, and with less courage to complete the work ahead of them.
The beautiful and scary thing is that we get to choose whether we are a blesser or an un-blesser; an arm-strengthener or an arm-weakener.
Last Sunday was an overt declaration and invocation of blessing but each of us, each day, have opportunities to talk up or down. Or to remain silent, doing neither.
As followers of Jesus, we want to be increasingly intentional in cultivating the Rhythm of Blessing in and around us, recognising that as beneficiaries of God’s outrageous gift of grace in Jesus, we have had extravagant blessing lavished upon us. We pattern Jesus’ rhythm when we seek to bless and be a blessing to others.
Sunday was a small, intentional expression of that rhythm in action and it tasted good. Like honey on the lips and oxygen to the soul.