Benedictions

When closing our time of worship together each Sunday, I love to offer the benediction. It is a word derived from Latin that simply means ‘speak well’ or ‘good word.’  With my hands outstretched I speak words that invite the people now leaving the service to walk with God and the Lord to grant them His blessings. It may look like a ritual but it is a deeply meaningful moment for me. The writers of the New Testament liked benedictions, too. 

Jude closes his little letter with this blessing: “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 24-25, NIV)  I could soak my mind and heart in those words for a long time!  God is sufficient for our needs, completely able to keep us on our feet and steady in faith until we arrive in His eternal house. And we can anticipate showing up, not fearfully, but joyfully.  Jude celebrates the greatness of God shown us in the face of Jesus.  Good stuff, right?

Peter speaks his word with confidence: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11, NIV)   That apostle who bumbled and stumbled in his days with Jesus loved the knowledge that grace was his. God loved him (and us!) not because we are good, smart, or flawless but because He is full of grace.  Peter reminds us of what he knew – God finds us in our weakness and makes us strong.  I wonder if he remembers his tears of regret after he denied Christ and the moment of his restoration on a beach in Galilee when His Lord asked: “Peter, do you love me more than these?”  I think he did.

Paul closes the letter to the Romans with beautiful and powerful words: “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27, NIV)  He tells those Christians living at the center of Rome, a godless place that worshipped power and wealth, that the Gospel is their hope, that God has shown them a Way that is for ‘’all nations.”  God will keep you from wavering, from being diverted by worldly deceptions, he says.  What a word for us, in this godless time. We are established, not by our buildings, our seminaries, our organizations. We are grounded in the Gospel of Christ and the truth of the Word. What a blessing.

One of the most familiar benedictions in the Bible is ancient:  “The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“‘The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”” (Numbers 6:22-27, NIV)  “Bless and Keep!”  Do you pray that for your brothers and sisters? Do you ask Him to enrich their lives with His Presence, to look on them with favor?  I do.  The priests spoke the Holy Name of God over the people, a reinforcement of their identity –  “God’s People.” 

I close with my favorite benediction, from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus. As you read it, personalize this prayer.  Let the words become ‘living words’ for you, accepting the blessings that are spoken in them. They are wonderful, good, and true. The word from the Word: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV)  Those words make me weep as they are a powerful statement of Christ’s love and power at work for me – for you.

Be blessed and bless others today.

________________

The Blessing

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make his face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn his
Face toward you
And give you peace

Amen

May his favor
Be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family
And your children
And their children
And their children

May his presence
Go before you
And behind you
And beside you
All around you
And within you
He is with you
He is with you

In the morning
In the evening
In your coming
And your going
In your weeping
And rejoicing
He is for you
He is for you

He is for you
He is for you

Chris Brown | Cody Carnes | Kari Jobe | Steven Furtick

© 2020 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Kari Jobe Carnes Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Worship Together Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

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