We stood in a quiet circle around the room and waited.
He placed his hand on his daughter’s head, and he spoke over her ancient words — the very same ones the LORD spoke to Moses, that he might speak to Aaron and his sons, that they in turn might heap the riches of God’s gracious favor on His children.
y’barekká YHWH vyish’m’réka
May the LORD bless you and keep you, he began. And she looked up at her daddy as he added the prayer of his own heart.
May the LORD grant you a good year. May you be healthy and happy. May He help you learn well and grow up to be strong. May He make you obedient and joyful. May He protect you from any physical harm or illness. May He protect your heart from pain and may He protect your soul from spiritual attack.
ya’ér YHWH panáyv eléyka viyhunnéka
May the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, he continued, God’s own blessing pouring over his firstborn and filling the room like the glory of the midday sun.
May the LORD reveal Himself to you, even in your earliest years. May you know even today that His presence holds the fullness of joy. May He make you His child. May you find yourself always under the shadow of the cross, your sins forgiven, Christ’s blood covering you with grace. May your life be utterly and completely His.
yissá’ YHWH panáyv eléyka vyasém l’ká shalóm
May the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace, he said, and she played and squealed her joy, secure in the love of good parents who hold her in the safest possible place, before the throne of the living God.
May the LORD be your dearest friend throughout life. May He be kind to you and discipline you gently. May His presence be the source of your peace throughout life and a refuge in times of trial. Whatever happens, may you hold fast to Him, and be hidden under the shadow of His wing, knowing His love for you in Jesus Christ.
Now and always, may the Father bless you richly in His Son through His Holy Spirit. Amen.
Thus he blessed his firstborn, and we added our Amen to his.
And then we partied.
Naomi opened presents.
And basked in the loving attention of a room full of aunties, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers singing happiness to her.
blew out watched her daddy blow out the candle.
And tasted her first piece of cake. (She liked it.)
Then, after a quick bath, she played with new toys and colorful gift bags, and posed for pictures. And when I loaded these images onto my computer and saw this next shot, I realized for the thousand thousandth time what a gift children are.
We bless them in the Name of the Lord, and the Shalom, it’s multiplied back to us in countless gifts bestowed by our Father through these tiny, trusting hands. Gifts that teach us to fear, that keep us on our knees, that fill our hearts so full of love, we think they might explode.
Gifts that lead us to lay down our lives for the sake of another, and in so doing, to become more and more like Christ.
And the ancient words still speak, generation to generation. And God still responds,
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Amen. Grant it, Lord Jesus.
* * *
Giving thanks in community for (#493 – 504)
a son become a husband become a father
yellow cake with chocolate icing
hard but good conversations
bottomless well of grace
one year with Naomi
Ruby Redbird Shiner Bock