“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27
This passage from Numbers is a frequent benediction in so many congregations. This morning for some reason I stop and listen to the words. We are giving God human characteristics. Using human terms and feelings for God, as you know, is a big word with rolling syllabuses called anthropomorphism. Sometimes this is our only way to express what we would like to say about God. It has its traps, but it can on occasion give us the tiniest glimpses of the magnitude of the love and care we receive from God.
How wonderful to pray that God’s face will be directed to us and even more so, God’s face will shine on us and we will receive God’s Grace. We are asking God to look directly at us, look us right in the eye and give us peace. We are indeed asking for a connection, a blessing, an ancient blessing that was given to the Hebrews and now to us many centuries later.
I love knowing that the ancient Hebrews were just people like us, asking for a blessing, a relationship, calling on God to look directly at us and to bring us peace.
What is the face of God? Is it the horizon, the stars, the oceans, the forests, the moon as far as we can see? Is it the solar system, the planets Mars and Jupiter, or is it a multitude of solar systems and beyond? We are full circle back to the word solar which pertains to the sun, a brightness that shines above all others for us. Yet, we know that the brightness of our sun pales in face of the love of our God that shines on sunny and dark days and nights.