Live long and prosper

Live long and prosper.

If you are familiar with those words, you might be envisioning the corresponding hand gesture. It’s the Vulcan salute, made famous by Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. The salute is so well-known it has its own emoji. As renown as Star Trek is, though, Mr. Spock’s unusual finger movement has other origins. It’s widely accepted Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Mr. Spock, borrowed the salute from his Jewish heritage.

Whereas Mr. Spock used one hand, Jewish priests used both. It’s the same gesture, but both hands connect at the thumbs. For both Spock and the priests, the gesture and the blessing go hand in hand. Spock’s blessing was for long life and prosperity. The priests’ offered something similar.

Theirs was a three-fold blessing offered every morning after the Temple sacrifice. It was the same blessing each day, prescribed by God. Besides the command given in Numbers 6, I’ve learned the reason priests would offer the blessing was because the words came straight from God. So, the priests were offering the faithful a blessing that God originated and sustained.

Jewish tradition suggests God’s presence would shine through the priest’s fingers. Maybe that’s a stained-glass window parallel. Light shines through biblical depictions captured in a window and illuminates God’s truth and presence. That even connects to the second part of the blessing as well.

But first, the blessing is for, well, blessings. Sustenance and all that is needed to live a blessed life.

Think of Jesus when he says that God our heavenly Father knows we need these things and will add them unto us. In Jesus’ case, that is the assurance of those who seek first God’s kingdom. The priests offered a similar assurance. As you are faithful to God’s wisdom, you can expect blessings in life.

The second part of the blessing seems to suggest God’s presence is evident through you. If God’s face shines upon you, others can see. That means you become a blessing to those you encounter.

Finally, the priestly blessing affirms that God’s way will lead you to peace. And when you have peace, you make peace.

There’s one more part of the blessing that is important. It’s just after the words the priest were to use. God says, “So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

If I read that correctly, God says the priests will stamp God’s name upon the people. Then God will bless them.

Bless who?

The people? They already received the blessing.

I wonder if God is promising to bless the priests.

I love leading a congregation in those words after confession: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. But I also love hearing the congregation lead me in that affirmation, too.

Could that be a lesson we take from the priestly blessing? We are a part of the priesthood of all believers. As such, shouldn’t we have a blessing to share to those around us? Shouldn’t we seek to bless people with God’s peace?

As we do, we have the confidence God blesses us in return. The blessings perpetuate through God’s grace.

Glory to God. Amen.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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