Vicar's Bit August 2019

Bless you: Curate’s bit Revd Steve Godsell

 

Summer is here and although for many this is a glorious time of year, for a few it is a period of sneezing, snuffling and sore eyes. With two hay fever sufferers in our family, there is hardly a day without a chorus of ‘Bless you!!’ echoing from different parts of the house; probably the last thing one would wish to hear whilst recovering from a rather sudden and noisy nasal explosion. This tradition of blessing someone post sneeze has several reputed origins, the most mundane and believable is that Pope Gregory I encouraged it, at a time when a simple cough or sneeze could indicate the onset of plague; God’s blessing being called upon the person for their good health.

 

Blessing someone is nothing new and dates back to early biblical time,  in Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy it is mentioned that Moses’ brother, Aaron, and other priests blessed the Israelites. This priestly blessing is performed in the Jewish tradition by the Kohanim (Priest) who joins both his hands by the thumbs, separating the first and second figures from the third and forth of each hand, and raises them above the people, blessing them. Interestingly, a very young Leonard Nimoy observed this and later adapted a single handed version in to the ‘Vulcan’ greeting when he played Spock in the TV and film series, ‘Startrek’. The blessing has also featured in music with the composers Bernstein, Rutter and Bloch, among many, composing variations of the words used.

 

So why is this blessing worth mentioning at this time, other than to acknowledge the suffering of those with hay fever? This time of year, across the country, there are many who will have attended Cathedrals to watch a Bishop ordain new Anglican Priests. There is a point in the service when the Bishop lays his hands on each ordinand and prays, ‘May they declare your blessing to your people’. This simple sentence is a powerful reminder that, as a newly ordained priest,  this blessing which I am charged to declare, is deeply embedded in scripture and tradition, but even more so, it is God’s blessing for His people; it is a special grace between each one of His created beings and God.

 

So as this summer proceeds, may I declare to you, ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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