Have you ever sensed that you were part of a holy moment, that you were standing on holy ground? For Moses it came during a routine day on the job, when the monotony was broken by a bush engulfed in flames that didn’t burn. For me it came on a quiet night when I witnessed a bedtime routine between a mother and her children.
I babysat enough to know the typical routine many Christians have of praying, reading a Bible story, and sometimes singing a song before the final tuck in and lights out. But this mother did something different; she blessed each one of her children, touching their face and then their forehead as she recited a version of Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you…”
It was an honor to witness such a holy moment. And it made me think differently about blessing. After all, this woman wasn’t ordained, and yet she had blessed her children. Was she allowed to do that? The answer seemed clear—Scripture is full of examples of these kinds of blessings. Every parent should be able to bless their children (or anyone else) and be encouraged to do so! That night I decided that if I ever had a child, I would share a blessing too.
A blessing is the most precious gift that we can give. When we bless our children, at least two very important things happen. First, we remind our kids of God’s presence. Our blessing assures them that God is with us and cares about the ordinary tasks of our days; even the unpleasant routines like going to bed. God doesn’t just live at church—God is with us all the time, even watching over us as we sleep.
Second, we remind our kids who they are. They are God’s children! They are loved by God and are called to be his people too. Their baptismal identity isn’t just for church; it is for every day of their lives! They are God’s children when they lay down to sleep at night and when they wake up and stretch in the morning.
These days I sing Michael Card’s “Barocha” to my daughter, and then touch her forehead as I speak a blessing. I end by signing the cross—a symbol that’s meaningful because it is a reminder of baptism and a link to Ash Wednesday. The last thing I do is tell her that I love her and God loves her.
I used to do this every night, but then she started acting silly and it became an unholy game! So now we do it on occasion; sometimes I initiate the blessing, often she asks for it. For me, it’s a comforting reminder that my daughter belongs to God and he holds her close. I believe it brings her comfort too.
I am eager to learn of other ways and times to bless her. As she gets older I pray that this ritual will deepen in meaning for her, that she’ll see the connection between the blessing we say at home and the blessing pronounced at church—at her baptism, on Ash Wednesday, and at the end of every worship service. Faith formation takes time; it takes traditions like these that grow in meaning as we grow. It takes small holy moments from which to build.
First Published in Nurture by Faith Alive.