|The Church of the Holy Ghost in Heidelberg, Germany|
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 shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.'"
These words have echoed throughout my life and have brought me much comfort knowing that my mother imparted a blessing to me each time she wrote to me. It was a reflection not only of God's protecting and keeping power for my life, but also a demonstration of my mother's trust in the Lord.
In the same way, when we come to the conclusion of a worship service, I look forward to the benediction (the good word of blessing) which the pastor gives to the congregation. How sad that some people slip out before they hear this good word from God. After all, we all need a blessing as we leave the community of believers to go, once again, into the busy work day world during the week.
Throughout the Bible, we see many situations where believers receive God's blessings. The benediction is given to embolden, encourage, instruct or remind a believer of the grace they have received because of Christ's work on their behalf. Some examples include: public worship and celebrations of the Lord's work in redeeming His people (Leviticus 9:22; Numbers 6:23-26; 2 Chronicles 30:27); on momentous occasions when the Lord is pleased or when a great works for the Lord are about to begin ( I Kings 5:8, Genesis 24:60 at the betrothal of Isacc and Rebekah, Ruth 4:11-12); in the answering of prayer (I Samuel 1:17-18, 2:20); at the time of parting from one another (Deuteronomy 33 and Luke 24:50); and at the end of many of the epistles in the New Testament where instruction and communication has been given. These are some examples of where we see the blessing being imparted.
Perhaps one of the most often used benedictions comes from Paul's epistle to the Church at Corinth. It is found at the end of his second letter (2 Corinthians 13:14): "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." What a blessing we receive from the Trinitarian Godhead! We are reminded of the grace of Christ which sets us free from the bondage of sin, the unconditional love of God which brought to us salvation and the abiding fellowship of the Holy Spirit to live within us guiding us daily. This good word is a short sermon in itself. In fact, we need to meditate on this during the week.
Whether meal blessings, benedictions at the conclusion of a service or a blessing written at the end of a letter or card, God has provided a means for us to remind one another of His grace. At coming worship services, take note of the benediction. Receive this good word from God and consider it as you go out into your activities. Pass the blessing on to others by living in the love of Christ. Likewise, impart the blessing to your children even as my mother did for me. It is life changing to hear the words of blessing imparted to us from God. By the blood of Christ we have been redeemed and by the blood of Christ we have received all of God's blessings and benefits. Let us live as children of blessing and pass on His blessing as we serve others. Selah!
|In a church garden on Anna Maria Island|