What’s the Good Word
Being the pastor of a small congregation, I’ve been tasked with putting together the Sunday bulletin. I will look at various websites that have liturgies available for use and I usually can find the call to worship, the invocation, and the confession. But there is one part of the worship service that I always have trouble finding: the benediction.
I ultimately do find benedictions, but they are few and far between. When I do find them, more often than not they seem to not be written as well as other parts of the worship service. Benedictions seem to be the red-headed stepchild of the liturgy.
When I was looking for articles about this topic, I noticed that many of the sources came from the evangelical tradition. So far, I’ve found few from more mainline traditions writing about the importance of the benediction. I’m not sure why that is.
I used to think that the benediction was a way to remind people to go into the world doing God’s work. That’s important as the congregation leaves to enter the “mission field” that is our everyday lives. But that’s really a charge to the congregation and not a benediction. Because what a benediction really is if we look at the word’s Latin origins is a good word or a blessing. When a pastor gives a benediction, they are giving the gathered community a blessing as they head out into the world.
The most famous benediction is what has been called the Aaronic blessing found in Numbers. You might be surprised to find that you already know it:
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.
We might look at these words as a throwaway line that is said at the end of a worship service, but the Aaronic blessing or any blessing can help people remember who they are and whose they are. Writing in Christianity Today, pastor Lee Eclov likens the blessing to a birthright that reminds us that we are children of God. He said the following:
A birthday is the perfect occasion because the Aaronic blessing is our birthright. When we are born again and adopted by God through Christ, these privileges become our possession. They come with the…