Monday, June 15, 2015

On the Benediction: Reflections on 2 Corinthians 13.14

* One of the occasional meditations I write for our church bulletin...

Sometimes it is good to start at the end.  At the end of our worship service there is a “benediction.”  A benediction is simply a prayerful blessing.  As the service is ended and we are about to go out into the rest of life we receive this prayerful blessing.  I have grown to love and use the words of 2 Corinthians 13.14—“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”  Here a few things I love about this passage:

It is Trinitarian—all the members of the Trinity are mentioned.  This reminds me that no aspect of God is withheld from blessing his people.  God in the fullness of who he is blesses his people.  There is no competition or disagreement in the Godhead.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all committed to the gospel grace of his people.

It is focused on gospel grace.  The blessing speaks of grace, love, and fellowship—all of this flowing from God to us!  We are a people of the gospel and these gospel realities are not just for the beginning of the Christian life.  They are needed to live the Christian life—everyday and always!  This blessing is one way we keep the gospel central in our lives and in the life of our church.

May I suggest a simple way to receive this benediction?  Whenever I am on the receiving end of the benediction from a minister I simply extend my hands outward in a posture of receiving a gift.  As the words are spoken I receive the words, often silently saying “thank you” to God.  In this way I affirm the gospel and receive it afresh.

I have grown to love this benediction.  It is short but powerful.  It can be spoken in a few seconds but the truths are majestic enough to meditate upon for a lifetime.  Grace, love, and fellowship from the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit—blessings indeed!