As we come to the end of our worship service, the pastor stands up, raises his arms, and pronounces the benediction. But what is it that's happening then? Is the benediction just the sign or indication that the service is done and we have permission to leave? Is it simply some ritual that the church has done for so many years that we just keep doing it? Or, is there something more?
Of course the answer is that there is more! The benediction is literally a "good word"–it is a blessing. More, it is God's blessing to his people as we prepare to be sent out into mission in every moment of our lives. The benediction is God's promise to us that he will be with us and that he will use us to bless others as he has blessed us. With the benediction our corporate worship service comes to a close, but we are blessed by God to begin in our mission in the world.
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Numbers 6: 22-27
22The Lord said to Moses, 23“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24“ ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.