First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church


Blessing God for Blessing Us

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Ephesians 1:3

Bless you! It’s easy to say – an automatic response to a sneeze, or a slightly cheesy way of saying thanks. Some react with an even briefer exclamation – just ‘Bless!’ – when touched by ‘sweetness’.

The first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a breathless outpouring of praise and prayer about being blessed. It has very few full stops and to get the full flavour you need to read it out loud very fast. It must have tested the abilities of the scribe taking down Paul’s passionate paragraphs.

Are you blessed? It’s a word that has recently seen a revival thanks to social media, particularly Instagram – #Blessed is attached to a whole variety of posts.

What do you count as your blessings? Health, wealth, family, a partner who loves you, children? A job you love, the opportunity to travel, a warm sunny day in summer? The freedom of technology – instant communication, instant music, instant film? And then, of course, there is food and wine, books and conversation… Are you blessed?

Apart from the opportunity to travel, Paul would not, by these measures, be called blessed. He was in prison, having travelled hundreds of miles on foot, sometimes hungry, thrown out of towns with a mob howling at him, beaten up. Writing to small groups of believers, some of whom were slaves and most of whom were poor, he doesn’t begin this letter with the hard things, with an attempt to bring consolation and sympathy from one unfortunate to some others. He begins with praise, not just praise because God is God, but grateful passionate praise for all the blessings God has showered on him and on all Christians.

Absorbed with work, home, money, weather, anxieties about relationships, shopping, we forget that we are shining examples of the wholly blessed. We are chosen, adopted, loved, redeemed, forgiven, destined for heaven, marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit – and it all comes through Jesus. Ten times in the first fourteen verses Paul uses the phrase, ‘in Christ’, or ‘in him’. In Christ, we are blessed beyond all human blessing, and blessed forever.

Margaret Killingray