Below is the blessing I gave to the Skillman congregation on New Year's eve...
Throughout the history of God's people there are accounts of a blessing being given to mark times of transition. As I look at some of these blessings, many are accompanied by a charge. As the Israelites were about to enter into the promised land, and Moses was about to hand over the mantle of leadership to Joshua, he recounted their journey, charged them to remain faithful, and then blessed them.
This seems to be God's intent as recorded in Genesis 18 - "Should I hide my plan from Abraham?" the LORD asked. "For Abraham will become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the LORD and do what is right and just. Then I will do for him all that I have promised."
Centuries later, the prophet Micah reiterated a similar charge to God's people - He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God?
A few hundred years later, as Jesus was nearing the end of his ministry on earth he elaborated on what it means to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before God - The King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
"Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'
This morning, as we acknowledge the transition from one year to the next, my charge to you is to feed the hungry, shelter the stranger, visit the sick and those who are in prison - to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God.
And then may your land be blessed by the Lord with the choice gift of rain from the heavens, and water from beneath the earth; with the riches that grow in the sun, and the bounty produced each month; with the finest crops of the ancient mountains, and the abundance from the everlasting hills; with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of the one who appeared in the burning bush. May the Lord bless you and keep you; May His face shine upon you and give you peace.