From the Executive Director, Dr. Brian Autry
My wife, our three children, and I pulled up in our minivan to the entrance of one of the national parks. As I was paying our entrance fee to the park ranger, my son sneezed. I responded, “God bless you.” The park ranger heard me and asked what I had said. I repeated, “God bless you,” to him. He looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign language. He said he’d heard people say things like, “gesundheit” but never, “God bless you.”
According to National Geographic, the response of “God bless you” started with a plague. “In Rome during the plague of 590, Pope Gregory I ordered unceasing prayer for divine intercession. Part of his command was that anyone sneezing be blessed immediately (“God bless you”), since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague.”[i] The park ranger’s “gesundheit” is a German expression wishing someone good health, “formed by a combination of gesund (“healthy”) and -heit (“-hood”).”[ii]
Why share that bit of trivia and experience with you? Because it occurs to me that as followers of Christ, we need to do more than just say, “God bless you,” and we certainly need to do more than simply wish people good health. Don’t just say, “God bless you.” Let’s actually seek to be used by God as a blessing to others.
SBC of Virginia churches are being used by God in many ways to bless others. For example, churches are mobilizing for Disaster Relief; ministering in local schools; hosting block parties; teaching English as a second language; and sending teams to minister around the world. This past November, we mobilized for an effort we named Bless Petersburg. This year, we’ll mobilize for a similar effort called Bless Portsmouth.
As we seek not to just say but show “God bless you,” SBC of Virginia is mobilizing churches for compassion ministries. Opportunities abound for churches to mobilize right where they are to bless others. Not only do we have the opportunity to bless others, we have the responsibility to bless others.
“Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices” (Heb. 13:15-16, CSB). The world needs more than a passing, “Gesundheit!” Let’s show and tell others about the blessings of God found only through the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t just say, “God bless you”—show it too.
For more information and support in mobilizing as a church, contact email@example.com.
[i] Patrick, Bethanne Kelly; Thompson, John Milliken (2009). An Uncommon History of Common Things. National Geographic. p. 74.
[ii] Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Subscribe to the Proclaimer for Free
Not yet receiving the Proclaimer? The print version of the magazine mails three times a year, and there is no cost to readers. Why not sign up now?