Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
According to Merriam-Webster, a benediction means:
- the invocation of a blessing, especially: the short blessing with which public worship is concluded;
- something that promotes goodness or well-being
At the end of each Sunday service, we offer a benediction – sometimes calling it the “charge and blessing” – because we are trying to incorporate both of these definitions: bringing something to a conclusion and encouraging something good to follow.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words of scripture to the Christians in Rome – a fledgling group of converts that he had not met, but still wanted to bless. And so he wrote to them his most articulate and complete treatise about what it means to be a follower of Christ, including the powerful assertion that nothing in life or death will separate us from the love we have in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 8)
Even Christians who attend worship every single week spend only one percent of their waking hours “in church.” For the other ninety-nine percent, we need to know that God continues to fill us up and that the Holy Spirit continues to energize us. Why? Because this is where our hope comes from; it comes from God.
And so, friends, know that you have been blessed and charged: blessed even by those who you do not know but wish you well, and charged by God who forms and re-forms us to find, encourage, support and defend goodness.