God Bless You…

The act of “Blessing” is not just Old Testament. The book of Hebrews is full of the greater blessing the less. The New Testament also speaks of man’s duty to bless God (think Zacharais, Simeon, and even Mary).

But perhaps the greatest blessing is found in Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation.”

On that last day the Lord will seperate the blessed of the Father from the cursed. While the curse brings eternal death, the blessed will enjoy life eternal in the Kingdom of God.

Never fails – I love it when God shows me a tangible lesson on His character. As I typed the above, an older lady one booth over sneezed. Even though a stranger, I was quick to offer her “God Bless You”.

Is that more a mark of courtesy or spiritual maturity to be quick to say to a fellow sneezer – “God Bless You”?

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“The custom of saying “God bless you” after a sneeze was begun literally as a blessing. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) ascended to the Papacy just in time for the start of the plague (his successor succumbed to it). Gregory (who also invented the ever-popular Gregorian chant) called for litanies, processions and unceasing prayer for God’s help and intercession. Columns marched through the streets chanting, “Kyrie Eleison” (Greek for “Lord have mercy”). When someone sneezed, they were immediately blessed (“God bless you!”) in the hope that they would not subsequently develop the plague. All that prayer apparently worked, judging by how quickly the plague of 590 AD diminished.

The connection of sneezing to the plague is not the first association of sneezing with death. According to Man, Myth, and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, many cultures, even some in Europe, believe that sneezing expels the soul–the “breath of life”–from the body. That doesn’t seem too far-fetched when you realize that sneezing can send tiny particles speeding out of your nose at up to 100 miles per hour!

We know today, of course, that when you sneeze, your heart doesn’t stop, nor will your eyes pop out if you can keep them open, nor does your soul get expelled. What does get expelled are hundreds upon thousands of microscopic germs. The current advice when you sneeze is to cover your mouth with your arm rather than your hand. That way, all those germs won’t be on your hands when you touch the countless things you’re going to touch in the course of the day.

There are many superstitions regarding sneezing. Here are some of my favorites.

Sneeze on Monday for health,
Sneeze on Tuesday for wealth,
Sneeze on Wednesday for a letter,
Sneeze on Thursday for something better,
Sneeze on Friday for sorrow,
Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow,
Sneeze on Sunday, safety seek.

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a letter
Four for a boy.
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret, never to be told.

And lastly, a sneeze before breakfast is a sign that you will hear exciting news before the end of the day.” – The above from StraightDope.com.

Father, today may we live out the truth that we are blessed to bless others….

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