One of the first questions we were asked to discuss was our earliest memories of prayer. Although I was brought up in Christian family, I don’t remember us saying grace. What I do remember is that my parents’ parting words on tucking me up in bed were “Goodnight, God bless”. One of my sisters still says “God Bless” to me on the phone, when she is saying goodbye. As the more observant of you will have noticed, “God bless” is my sign-off on most things, including every week at the end of Pastor’s Posting. I had completely forgotten where that came from until last night. I am grateful that my parents taught me so many things. My mother taught me to read before I went to school. She taught me using a children’s poetry book, which I still have, and can recite some of the poems even now. She loved language and poetry, and perhaps would have studied English Literature had her life opportunities been different. She would take me for walks and teach me the names of the trees and flowers. My father took me swimming and taught me to ride my bike. I still remember some of the silly jokes he told me.
Some of what my parents taught me I have discarded, or times have changed and so the wisdom they offered is now not relevant. It pleases me to think that their loving night-time blessing is now part of my adult life, decades after they died. We never know if what we say or do will stick with other people. Some of us have the experience of trying to unlearn painful, cruel or untrue things that people have said to us. Some of us have had that rather lovely experience of someone coming up to us and saying “You said this, and because of that…..” telling us a really positive thing. When this happens to me, I often can’t remember what I said that the person quotes back at me. They heard something in what I said, and it inspired them to make a positive change in their lives. I can’t take the credit for that change, so maybe the Holy Spirit was at play, opening the heart to hear what was needed and giving the person courage to change. I hope you hear what you need this week.