Blessings

As my wife and I sat looking out at the heavy snow this past weekend I thought what great blessings God had made in my life. At that moment the blessings I counted very dear were those of shelter and the necessities of life–food, water, clothing, etc.  But then the Lord brought me another thought–what are the blessings He was giving to the least and the last in our society? How was He blessing those who were living in tents or taking a day or two in the cold weather shelter?  If I’m so blessed, what are their blessings?

And then the answer came to me (no doubt from Him).  We are their blessings.  God is blessing those who are the weakest in our society with people who can care for them in the midst of their poverty, illness and trials.  God has blessed the poor with people who are not poor.  He has blessed the least with those who have the most.  We are His gift to those who never receive gifts.

But we are only a blessing to these folks when we actually do something to help them.  Otherwise we are just a potential blessing, one willed by God but ignored by those He has chosen to be His tools in the world.

The Bible is full of statements about God’s desire for His people to aid the poor who live amongst them.  It is in the Old Testament and it is in the New Testament.  It is in the Law, and it is in the Gospel.  It is taught by Jesus and preached by Paul.  If you take out every verse in the Bible in which God proclaims His concern for the welfare of the poor–well, we’d have a much thinner Bible.

So how are we to be God’s blessing to the poor?  Well, there are all sorts of possibilities.  We can give money to organizations that work with people in need.  We can volunteer to work with those organizations.  We can support government programs designed to help those who need help the most.  We can advocate for the poor in our conversations with friends and others.  And, most importantly, we can pray.

Now I know lots of people would question whether praying was the most important thing we could do.  Just a few weeks ago major news outlets and politicians were mocking calls to pray for the victims of a shooting in California.  But prayer is absolutely essential for any effort to bless the least, last and lost of this world.

One of the most important servants of the poorest of the poor, the most wretched in our society was a woman named Dorothy Day.  Many people wanted to come and work with her at her mission center in Hell’s Kitchen in New York.  When they arrived they found they were expected to go to church every morning and be part of a prayer group every day.  Many walked away from that work because they could not understand what Dorothy Day understood so well–if God is not in the work, the work will not prosper.

So be a blessing, friends.  Be a blessing as God meant us all to be.  And if you see me not being a blessing–well, call me on it because I have the same mission as you do.

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goodnewsforabadworld

I'm a Lutheran pastor at St. Paul's Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, Md. I hope this blog will speak to the hearts of people about the free gift of God in Christ Jesus which is for sinners like me.

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