“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” – Numbers 6:22-26
Now that was one busy weekend! I believe I need a couple of days to relax; but we all know that’s not going to happen.
What I enjoyed the most – or, more accurately, what touched me the most – was the deep sense of purpose and joy that seemed to undergird everything. From both of our worship experiences, to my adult-ed class, to the dinner Rebekah and I hosted for the new class of elders and deacons.
A Good Word – Benediction:
The main idea I want to convey this morning is best expressed in the title of Rebekah’s message Sunday morning. She preached on “Benediction” and I can’t think of a better frame for talking about how we are called to live as redeemed people in the day-to-day world.
“Benediction” means, literally, “a good word.” Bene translates as “well” (good is actually bonum). Diction is speaking. Word translates sermo. So a benediction could be understood as a good word, good speaking – a well sermon.
Elder Jay Joyner set the stage beautifully with the children by talking about the power of good words, kind words, encouraging words. At 11:15 worship he had the children follow him around the sanctuary, stand in front of groups of people, and say things like, “The Lord bless you!” or, “May God’s face shine on you!” “God’s peace be on you.”
The effect was powerful. A crowd of small children smiling and telling you – at the tops of their voices – that they want you to know and understand how much the God they love and trust loves you too.
Benediction is an invitation to live!
In her message Rebekah pointed out that benediction is not so much the end of something (like a “dismissal”) as it is an invitation to go out into the world and take the blessing with us. Not just take the words of benediction but to actually BE a benediction.
When Rebekah and I were married her father – Rev. Robert D. Alexander – did a homily around the idea of benediction. Our lives together were intended from the outset to be benediction to the world: to each other, our family, our church communities, our friends, our workplaces – wherever the people we are and are becoming is in evidence.
I only write (books, articles, devotions, this blog…) in order to pass on this good word of encouragement and promise to as many people as possible. I want the truth about the gospel of love, light, grace, mercy, kindness, and promise to be made evident simply because Rebekah and I are a Living Benediction.
So, friends, on this Monday, let’s set the week on a good trajectory by living as “walking around” examples of this good word:
May you live as a blessing from God; may God’s face shine on you and God’s light shine through you; may your soul be infused with the graciousness of God’s goodness and mercy; and may God’s face turn toward you, lighting your countenance and so filling you with peace that others receive this benediction too. – DEREK