LECTIONARY PASSAGE: Genesis 12: 1-4a
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.
It means “to be a blessing”, parshas lech lecha. This passage begins what is often called the Patriarchal history of Genesis. All of a sudden the camera zooms into a single family of nomads in a small town in Mesopotamia and, finally, to a single individual. This is where the history of Israel begins. The truth is, Abram never saw his future. And yet his response shaped it. Abram is chosen to be the one through whom God’s blessing is showered upon the whole world. But in order for this to happen, Abram is told to leave what he knows, to in effect sever ties and go to a new place. (We at this point immediately jump to what that would mean for us–to leave our home, our family, our life. What, we imagine, a great act of faith!) But remember that Abram’s family was nomadic. They probably didn’t really have a concept of home anyway. And there really wasn’t a family, to speak of—Abram had probably long ago outlived his parents and he had no children. So what was he leaving? Maybe God was calling him away from hopelessness and loneliness and finally showing him purpose, showing him home.
And the Lord promises that Abram will not be alone. And, more than that, God promises blessing. No longer is this just one person or one family; it is the conduit to God showering blessing throughout the world.
Abram is called to be a blessing, the Hebrew Parshas Lech Lecha. It becomes an integral part of the Genesis story and is used eighty-eight times in the book. A blessing is a gift. It involves every sphere of existence. It is more than what we 21st century hearers have allowed it to be. It is not payment for a life well-lived. “Being blessed” is being recreated. (For Abram, this meant moving from a life of nomadic purposelessness to being the “father of a great nation” and, thousands of years later, the patriarch of three world religions.) It takes time. I think to be a blessing means that one enters the story. God calls, God promises, and God walks with us. That is how God is revealed. But the blessing doesn’t come and the blessing doesn’t continue unless one enters the story. God calls, God promises, and God blesses.
Blessing is one of the ways that God makes the presence of God known here and now. (Joan Chittister)
So, go and be a blessing!
Grace and Peace,