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From the Pastor's Desk

November 2019

 

 

Receive the Benediction

 

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, '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.”                Numbers 6:22-27

           

In Genesis 32 we are told the story of Jacob wreastling with God.  In verse 26 of that chapter, after a long night of battle, we read, "And [God] said to Jacob, 'Let me go, for the day has broken.'  But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'"  There God blessed Jacob by giving him a new name, Israel, which means "He strives with God."

Each week as we gather on Sunday for the divine service, we come to actively worship our Lord in various ways; through the songs we sing, the offerings we give, the confessions we make, the Word we hear, the prayers we pray, and the fellowship we share.  How would God have us conclude such a time as this?  Slightly modifying Jacob's demand from Genesis 32, God would say to us, "I will not let you go unless [I] bless [you]."

According to the dictionary the word "benediction" means, "To utter or bestow a blessings."  Thus, as we conclude the divine service and exit into the world, we see that God's desire is to first lay His blessing upon us.  (1) This blessing consists of reminding us that His grace is for us each day; that He has striven against our sin and put it to death at the cross.  "The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you."

(2)  This blessing also consists of us knowing that God will show favor to His children; that He has turned His face toward us and grants to us the peace of Christ.  "The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

Finally (3) this blessing consists of God putting His name on those of faith and marking us as His own.  In Genesis 32, Jacob was blessed with a new name, Israel.  At the conclusion of our divine service we are also blessed with a new name, but his name is far greater than what Jacob received.  This is the name of the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - who created us, loved us, died for us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us and the whole Christian Church on earth.

Therefore, taken together as a whole, as we enter to worship, we remember God's grace poured out upon us in baptism.  We do this by beginning in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Now, at the end of the divine service, as we prepare to go back into the world, we do so by faith in Christ and again being reminded of our baptism; that we have been blessed by and bear the name of the Triune God.  "So shall [you] put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."

Pastor Gideon

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