You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. [Deuteronomy 28:2-6 (NLT)]
When praying for the Church one recent Sunday, we asked our Creator God to bless wild animals and family pets, prairies and kitchen gardens, beaches and sandboxes, mountains and hearths. While I’m used to asking God for spiritual blessings, to bless people and even activities (such as a ministry), I’m not as used to asking Him to bless physical things (and certainly not sandboxes and beaches).
While people may present their pets for a special blessing of the animals, I’ve never thought to ask for God’s blessing on creatures such as the squirrel, panther, skunk, or alligator. I frequently thank God for the beauty of His wildflowers but have never asked Him to bless the prairie displaying those flowers and, when saying grace, I ask Him to bless our food and those eating it but I haven’t thought to ask Him to bless the farmer or the garden that grew that food. I often asked God’s blessing on my children while they dug in their sandbox or played at the shore but I didn’t ask Him to bless either the sandbox or beach. When gazing at the Grand Tetons, in awe of God’s power and majesty, I thanked Him for His magnificent mountains. It didn’t occur to me that I could ask Him to bless those peaks and I’ve never asked Him to bless the slate on my fireplace hearth or the granite on my counters.
Ministers and priests often ask blessings on sacramental objects like baptismal water, bread, wine, and even wedding rings, but I’ve not heard them ask God’s blessing on the reservoir, wheat field, grape arbor or gold mine that produced those things. Yet, asking blessings on things is not so odd. When I asked God to bless my brother-in-law, I didn’t know that the wings he proudly wore on his Navy uniform had been blessed in a special ceremony when he graduated from fight school. An annual Blessing of the Fleet has been a tradition for boaters, sailors, fishermen, and the Navy for generations. The Roman Catholic Church has specific rituals for the blessing of things designated for sacred purposes, such as vestments or a chalice, and also for those designated for ordinary use, such as a cornerstone, houses, schools, and hospitals. Whenever we sing “God Bless America,” we ask God to bless our nation and I suppose we can ask for God’s blessing on anything, as long as it isn’t evil or would lead to sin. Nevertheless, I seriously doubt that God blessed any of the assault rifles brought to a ceremony last February that was sponsored by the Sanctuary Church and Rod of Iron Ministries (offshoot of the Unification Church).
God is the source of all good things and, in that Sunday’s prayer, I think we were asking Him to shower His goodness on all of His creation so that it would sing with joy. We were asking for His divine care and the restoration and protection of the world in which we live. We asked God to reveal Himself in His creation and, as we asked for His blessings on it, we offered Him our praise and grateful hearts. Most of all, the words of that prayer reflected the love that both God and His Church have for all of creation. They also served as a vivid reminder of the obligation and responsibility we have to care for all that has been given to us.