Benediction

reachinghands

At the Pentecostal church where I grew up, we didn’t have benedictions at the end of service. The practice of benediction came into my life when I became a Presbyterian, and I’ve loved it from the beginning. I loved singing “The Lord bless you and keep you” at the end of every RUF large group in college. I love that a blessing is the last thing I hear as I leave church. Recently I’ve noticed some people at church holding their hands out for the benediction, and I’ve started doing it too. It’s an outward expression of what’s already in my heart. I feel my need for every smidgen of that blessing.

My pastor chooses great benedictions, and my favorite is from Romans 15:13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Depending on the day, different aspects of that verse stand out to me. Last Sunday I had a new insight: trusting in God is meant to be a positive experience that brings about joy and peace. Trusting in God is supposed to increase your hope, not deplete it. I must have taken that for granted at some point, but over the years my outlook has changed. I trust God in a passive sort of way to take care of my daily needs. But actively trusting God with my future has come to mean a kind of resignation to His continual nos, a chipping away at my hope. I have to trust that His denials of certain things are for the best. Or for His glory, anyway, and I’m supposed to care about that more than my own happiness. All the nos may be paving the way for some really fantastic yeses, but it seems unwise to count on it. Meanwhile, our true hope of heaven is so far away. Joy, hope, and peace are definitely present in my life, but under this perception of trusting God, they’re not thriving like they could be. So I’m praying for better understanding.

On another note, after writing this post about blessing and failure, I started paying attention to how I use the word “blessed.” In modern usage, it seems to set up a dichotomy that those who receive things we typically consider “good” are blessed, and those who don’t are not. But Jesus disagreed. Instead of excluding the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the persecuted, He called them blessed. That comforts and grounds me. So when I’m thankful for the gift of my friends, my health, a delicious meal, or a beautiful day, I’m just saying I’m thankful. Because, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I do not think “blessed” means what we think it means.

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister’s iced tea.

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3 Responses to Benediction

  1. I love this, Brenda:

    “Instead of excluding the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the persecuted, He called them blessed. That comforts and grounds me.”

    Me, too!

  2. I love this post. I love those moments of insight that help us understand God and His will a little more deeply or clearly.

  3. Carol says:

    Ooh, that last paragraph really got me! I’ll be thinking about that for the next several days, I’m sure.

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