February 26, 2009

A Blessing in the Sighs

"The LORD bless you and keep you," the famous benediction goes, "the LORD make his face shine upon you." That's a classic, to be sure, calling to mind Father Mulcahy's observation that it's hard to go wrong when you've got good material. But I really like another, less well-known blessing established for our use throughout the church age: "May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!"

You'll recall that Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh ("For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house") and his second son Ephraim ("For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction"). Thus, in this blessing, "one is asking God to cause one's negative past to be forgotten and his future to be fruitful," one commentator says.

This morning 40-year-old Susie and her 42-year-old husband were blessed to see and hear the heartbeat of a baby who's roughly half the size of my fingernail. Six-year-old Jack Henry, with a tip of the hat to Isaac's nonagenarian mommy, helpfully informed Susie: "I bet you're the second-oldest person ever to have a baby."

Providentially, the sermon on Sunday was on Psalm 127, which teaches us that children are a blessing: "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward."

"It is no small gift of God for a man to be renewed in his posterity," Calvin says, "for God then gives him new strength, that he who otherwise would straightway decay, may begin as it were to live a second time."