The theological understanding of the word ‘Blessed” often comes with some baggage. There are biblical stories that support the idea of a god that blesses and curses us. This god blesses us with riches and good health and can curse us with sickness and death. Many Christians claim this “prosperity gospel” with the assurance that if I am “good enough” or have enough faith, I too will be blessed with “stuff” – riches, good health – that will make me happy. But I find this idea of God, as some kind of cosmic Santa Claus, quite limiting and warped.
I wanted to start this blog by stating, ‘I feel blessed’. But I wanted to explain a bit more what I mean by that. I see blessing as a recognition of God’s love and beauty in the world. Because God is love, I don’t believe that God curses us. When we take the time to acknowledge that God is behind the good and the lovely, we begin to be blessed. And then, we too can be a blessing to others. Sort of like celebrating Thanksgiving. But more often than once a year.
Approx. 6 years ago, a 15 year old girl joined our household. Janika was a student from Germany planning to attend Westgate for the school year and needed a place to stay. Since we had room in our house and lived close to school, we were happy to have her stay with us. Little did we know how this relationship would unfold.
Janika fit right in and became part of the family. And when her parents and sister came for a visit at the end of the school year, we enjoyed their company and made some new friends. Three years later, we were able to visit the family back in Germany and enjoyed some lovely days of hiking and visiting.
Little did we know that this volunteer opportunity in Ludwigshafen would bring us back to within 30 km of the Janika’s family. But, in the time between visits, the patriarch of the family (Wolfgang) had been diagnosed with cancer and we attended his funeral in October. A blessing? His death – of course not. But, the love of friends, family and church that surrounded the family has been (and continues to be) a blessing for Janika’s mother Ulli and the rest of the family.
This time at Friedenshaus has truly blessed us as well. We have seen God’s beauty at work in the lives of so many people. We have been able to take time to savour the experiences here, through talking and blogging. Reflecting on the beauty in life is truly a blessing. And through that, we too can be a blessing to others. Being grateful allows us to be gracious to others. Blessed indeed!
German Word of the Week: der Wein (the wine). During our visit with Ulli Kramm in Grünstadt, we were able to experience the wonder of wine country living. There is such a rich tradition of wine growing in so many areas of Germany. Each region is proud of its history and its wine. We enjoyed a cool “Weinschorle” (white wine mixed with sparkling water) during a hot day of hiking among the local vineyards. Talk about a blessing!