The practice of giving blessings is an important one theologically and for our community life together. In the act of blessing-giving, we remind each other of God’s presence as well as affirming the Divine Spark that is present in each of us. When blessing becomes a way of life in our churches, being people of blessing becomes a way of life in all that we do.
Blessing & Uncertain Times
Over my years of ministry, I’ve found that the communal act of blessing is especially important in uncertain times. The world doesn’t need more anxious people, but it does need more people of peace. When we practice choosing blessing instead of frustration, anger or worry, we learn to be present to the needs and cares of others while still maintaining a sense of calm and self-efficacy.
Using a Blessing Video in Worship
During this time of online or physically distanced worship, keeping the practice of blessing as a central part of worship requires some creativity. One blessing ritual that was especially powerful was a community video used during our Christmas Eve service. I share it here with credit and thanks to my colleague in ministry, Rev. Sarah Verasco, who coordinated this particular ritual. What you’ll end up with is a short video of church members sharing their blessings for one another. When I shared it at a recent workshop, many attendees noted that it could be especially poignant for Easter.
Decide Who To Include
Begin by deciding who you’d like to invite to participate in the video. If you’re in a smaller congregation, your invitation may include everyone. In a larger congregation, you can invite particular groups, perhaps your church leadership, the children of the congregation, or some of your fellowship or education groups. In our case, we recorded families with children saying, “Merry Christmas!” while our older members gave a blessing of their choosing.
Provide A Clear Invitation
Once you’ve decided who will participate, invite them to think of a blessing they’d like to share with the rest of the congregation. Your invitation could be something like this, “We know that this past year has been hard and there is still a lot of uncertainty. The holidays can be especially hard. Since we can’t be together in person, we’re hoping you’ll help by recording a short video of yourself giving a blessing for the rest of the congregation.” If the language of blessing is newer to your congregation, you can provide a couple examples. “You might say something like, ‘May God be with you,’ or ‘Light of Christ go before you,’ or ‘May you know the joy of Easter.’ ”
For our Christmas Eve blessing video, we (the church pastors), made appointments to visit members who were participating in the blessing video. Those who were able came to their porches or doorways to say their blessing and we recorded it on our phones. I have done similar things by having people record on their own and email their clips to me.
Edit the Video
Once you have all the clips, use a video editor to combine them into one video, or involve a volunteer in the process. I use Movie Maker or Video Editor, the default movie tools on my home and work computers. iMovie is simple and easy to use, and many phones now have video apps as well. The beauty of these clips is that they don’t need a lot of editing.
Our “Merry Christmas” and blessing videos were incorporated into the end of our worship service, so that they framed the traditional benediction. It was touching for our congregation to see each other, and the blessings themselves were heartfelt and powerful.
You can see a clip of the blessings at ameliadress.com/easter-blessing-video.