Christmas is a wonderful, magical time of year. Its awe and wonder capture the hearts of young and old alike. It is a time when we remember that our Lord left the glory of heaven and stepped into time as a little baby born in Bethlehem’s humble manger.
Such is the sentiment of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as of the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the living Word that changed the course of history that first Christmas. He is the good word I want to encourage you to bring into our conversations as we gather with our children and grandchildren at our Christmas celebrations. The power of words cannot be underestimated, for they can be used positively and negatively. James 3:9-10a teaches, “We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth.”
I want to invite you to consider how you can give your family members a positive word this Christmas. I want to challenge you to unleash the power of a spoken blessing. What is a blessing? To bless literally means “to speak well of another; to be endowed with divine favour or protection.” The etymology of the word is enlightening. The Latin root gives us benediction (to speak well of), the Greek means eulogize, and the Hebrew root means to bow the knee in worship. It is Christmas and like the shepherds and wisemen, let us once again bow the knee in worship of the divine Word born in Bethlehem. God is the source of all our blessings, who at the beginning of human history blessed the first family and said, “…Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, and the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) At Christ’s baptism, the Father said, “…This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) God the Father set a precedent and gave us a powerful example of how to bless others.
We must distinguish between a spoken blessing and prayers we give to God for our family. Prayer is directionally vertical when we look to God above and ask for His blessings upon our family. A spoken blessing is horizontal in which we address others on behalf of God. It is sourced in the character of God. As I speak for God to others, I must do it in a godly manner. It challenges me to be authentic.
What does a spoken blessing look like? Cavin Harper mentions three important ingredients that should be in the mix of a meaningful and well-spoken blessing in his book, Courageous Grandparenting.
First, you should give an affirmation of high value. Let your grandchild know they are special and identify a specific trait and how you value that trait. Help them understand that they are a treasured and loved image-bearer of God. Their value is not based on how they perform.
Second, picture a special future of success and accomplishment based on God’s purposes for their lives. Say something like “I believe in you; God believes in you; you have value and purpose; you are loved.”
Third, dedicate yourself to an ongoing active commitment. This active commitment is more than words. It is a demonstration of your determination to stay connected and a refuge in their time of need.
Spoken blessings are not a guarantee that everything is going to turn out as we hoped. But it is an act of faith in God expressing our trust in the grace of God that blessed our lives and the belief that God will do the same for our grandchildren.
So, take us up on our challenge to share the good word this Christmas by speaking or writing a blessing to your children, grandchildren, parents, or someone who has been a spiritual mentor and role model in your life. And, please remember to encourage us by sharing your story of blessing in the comment section.