In good times or bad, clergy and other people of faith may occasionally say a few well-chosen words to invoke God's favor, or merely to express thanks for life’s graces. This week’s clergy discuss blessings that have special meaning for them.
Rabbi Mendy Goldberg
Lubavitch of the East End, Coram
Many prayers show gratitude and give thanks to the Almighty for the good bestowed upon us. From the simplest things in life, which we at times may take for granted, to great miracles — all of these blessings are something to be cherished, and are worthy of taking time to thank God for.
There is one blessing, however, that is also a reminder of our task in this world, regardless of race, creed or religion. That is the blessing of the rainbow. When a rainbow appears in the sky, the sages tell us to say, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to his covenant, and keeps his promise.”
After the flood, God promised Noah that never again would there be a deluge that would destroy the world. A rainbow is a reminder of this covenant, which God made with Noah, his descendants and all living creatures. The rainbow blessing serves as a reminder to all humankind to follow the Seven Noahide universal laws to make this world a better place. It reminds us of why we were put here in the first place, and of God’s faith in humanity to fulfill that mission.
The Rev. William McBride
Religious director, Interfaith Community Religious Education Program, Brookville Multifaith Campus
Reflecting on my favorite blessing is like choosing a favorite child. After all, every blessing is a blessing.
The one I have chosen to ponder is a blessing bestowed by my Grandpa Duffy every time we left his home. Grandpa's sending ritual defines the essence of a blessing — gestures and words invoking a beautiful way to face life. With cherry-flavored pipe smoke rising like incense to the heavens, he eyed all in the place and offered these memorable words: "Goodbye! Good luck! God bless you!" Clutching a pack of Beeman's wintergreen gum given by Grandpa, we left his presence with a mission to chew over what faced us and savor whatever sweetness it held. All of us were moved by a faithful leader who believed in us. Wherever I find myself, Grandpa's sending words of belief stick with me. But more than the words, it’s the way he beheld us and our future.
Even though his grandson left the priesthood to marry a Jewish cantor — my wife and I wrote "Oy Father," a play about the experience that will be performed on June 26 at Brookville Church — I treasure this blessing and its power to invoke a beautiful way to face life.
The Rev. Wendy C. Modeste
Pastor, United Methodist Church of Bay Shore
My favorite blessing comes from Numbers 6:24-26: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace."
As my dad lay in a hospital bed weeks before his passing in 2018, this was the blessing he would pray over and over as I stood at his bedside. When I say this blessing, I am reminded of God's protection and my dad's final prayer over my life.
During the past two years, as COVID-19 ravaged our cities, nation and world, I would pronounce the same blessing over my church "family." Its focus is on God, who does the blessing. God guards and protects the people and gives them peace. The blessing is an encouragement to people that God's unconditional love remains steadfast despite the uncertainty of the COVID virus. God is gracious and merciful to all people and empathizes with our grief and sorrow.
May God's blessing always be the abiding presence with us in all of life's challenges.