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[a] upon you and give you peace.
The worship service is just about ended. One last item is left to be done. The pastor blesses the congregation with the words of the Benediction.
More than just a “blessing”, however, these words are powerful and deep in meaning and purpose.
The previous devotions in this series on the classical liturgy are:
Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer
Part 15 – “Our Father”
Part 16 – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Part 17 – “Thy Kingdom Come”
Part 18 – “Daily Bread”
Part 19 – “Keep Us From Evil”
Part 20 – “Amen and Amen!”
Part 21 – Preface and Proper Preface
Part 22 – Sanctus
Part 23 – The Lord’s Supper
Part 24 – Agnus Dei
Part 25 – Nunc Dimittus
Israel was traveling back and forth across the Sinai Peninsula for decades now.
But they still remember the day Moses came down from Sinai with the Law of the Lord Almighty.
And they still were worshiping the Lord Almighty as they had been instructed.
They would gather at the Tabernacle.
Their sacrifices would be made by the priests.
They would hear the Word of the Lord.
At the end, Aaron would stand up and face them. He would raise his hands and speak the words of blessing that the Lord Almighty prescribed for the blessing.
Today, we hear these words at the end of the liturgy. After singing hymns, hearing God’s Word read, hearing the sermon, and receiving the Sacrament of the Altar, the pastor raises his hands just as Aaron did 3,400 years ago, and pronounces the Benediction.
The word “benediction” comes from the Latin word for “to speak well” or “to speak a good (thing).”
The words of the Benediction in the liturgy are taken from Numbers 6:24-26.
The reason they are to be spoken is given in verse 27:
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
We explored the “name” of God in the devotion on the Invocation.
God wants to bless us and God will bless us.
And at the end of the worship service – when we are about to enter into the “mission field” we need God’s blessing.
We are called by Christ to make disciples of all nations. All nations are “out there” – outside the church doors. They may even be at our own doorstep!
But not only do we need God’s blessing, we especially need His presence!
And Jesus promises this as well:
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
“I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
When the Benediction is pronounced at the end of the worship service, God’s blessing, God’s name, God’s presence, and all the power that go with all that are given to us and we take them out into the world when we leave the sanctuary.