At the conclusion of worship, before the Pastor says his blessing, consider having a Lay person read an introduction to this very special blessing. As parishioners, we hear this so often that we tend to forget its importance and meaning. Its helpful every now and then to reminded of “why we do the things we do in worship.”
One of the great miracles of life is that God pays attention to us – each one of us. In a moment Pastor is going to announce that the very God that we’ve been worshiping and singing songs to all morning, will turn His face toward us, to make His face shine on us and to give us peace. If you think about it, to turn your face toward someone is to give that person your whole-hearted and undivided attention. This is God basically telling us that we matter to Him and that we are important to Him. It is not the casual listening of a preoccupied mind. It’s God saying to us: “I have nothing else that I’d rather do, nowhere else I’d rather be. I’m fully devoted to being with you– right now, in this house of worship, and after having heard you worship me.” In Pastor’s blessing, this is the kind of attention that our Creator God lavishes on us.
But it gets even better than this. God not only turns his face towards us but He lets His glorious and holy face shine on us. This shinning face is an image of delight. It is the face of a proud parent beaming while a child plays her first piano recital. It is the radiant face of a bride as she walks the isle to her groom. We can turn our face and pay attention to anyone, with little effort. But our faces shine, and gleams, and grows radiant only in the presence of those we love most deeply. And this, says the Benediction, is how God loves us, and how God pays attention to us.
Can we top this “attention” and this “love?” Yes, it goes one step further. God gives us peace, the type of peace that transcends our understanding. The peace with God that comes from Christ and what He accomplished for us on the cross, as well as the peace in our souls to know we are right with God because of Jesus. The type of peace that makes us children of God and brothers and sisters with each other. We have found peace, because He is our peace.
So get ready people: it’s about to happen. This awesome God is about to give you His undivided attention and make His face shine on you, and give you his peace. Let’s listen now as Pastor lifts his arms in praise of this incredible God and bestows on each one of us God’s abundant blessings.
Credits: Some of the above text comes from the book “Love Beyond Reason” by John Ortberg.