What does it mean to bless something? Why would one even bother to bless a bag? Is there anything different between a blessed and an unblessed backpack?

In some ways, nothing is different. The bag, in this case, is still what it has always been and will continue to be. However, in other ways, there has been a definitive change; something has happened; something is profoundly different. 

The thing to remember, I think, is that the point in blessing a backpack, or anything else for that matter, is not the object of the blessing itself, or not solely, anyways. A blessing, after all, is not a magic spell. The point of a blessing is us. The point of a blessing is relationship. The point of a blessing is, in some ways, the blessing itself.

Because when we bless something, we take a moment to set it apart, in thanksgiving, to try to really see it with God’s eyes. We take a moment to reflect upon the object, setting an intention for its use, and our relationship with it, and how that might fit in with God’s larger dream for the world. When we bless something, we ask for God’s help in this right use – this right relationship. When we bless something, we ask God’s favour upon it, upon us, and that that relationship may in turn be a blessing to others.

In many Christian traditions, individuals are raised up and given special authority to bless on behalf of the wider community – the Church – priests, ministers and other ordained leaders. However, we all have the ability, and perhaps even responsibility, to bless. We can all take a moment to ask for God’s favour, to set apart, to give thanks, to set an intention, to consider our relationships and how they might fit into God’s dream for the world.  

Thanks be to God!