For about the last five years, I have ended nearly every worship gathering that I have had the pleasure of leading by doing a Benediction.
May the LORD bless you and keep you
May the LORD cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you
May the LORD lift His countenance upon you and give you peace.
And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all now and forevermore.
This benediction is simply the Priestly Blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 with 2 Corinthians 13:14 added to the end of it. I have always enjoyed putting these two Scriptures together as the Blessing of Numbers 6 is focused on the Yahweh, the true and living God. Those capital letters show that LORD is God’s personal name, in the Hebrew, YHWH. By adding 2 Corinthians 13:14 to it, we get the full Biblical revelation of who YHWH is: Father, Son and Spirit, the blessed and glorious triune God.
It is simply the speaking forth of two Scriptures. But for some reason there is tremendous power and comfort in hearing the God’s blessing proclaimed on and over a group of people. In many ways, this speaking of blessing is a lost art in post-liturgical Protestantism, as this practice is often not the norm. We often forget that words are creative (both in Genesis 1 and James 2). Yes, we believe in the priesthood of all believers, but there is also something powerful and special when the pastor of a congregation will stand in the midst of the assembly and pronounce God’s blessing.
It is my hope and prayer that we will all grab hold of the tremendous opportunity to pronounce blessing upon people. I pray that pastors would bless their congregations publicly and often in Jesus’ name. Would to God that husbands will share the benediction with their wives and vice versa. Would to God that parents would share it with their children. Would to God that brothers would bless their sisters and vice versa. That employers would bless their employees and the employees would return suit. That blessing would be proclaimed across party lines, denominational lines, socio-economic lines, across international boundaries and unto the ends of the earth.