Known collectively in our family as “the Quads,” all participated in the worship service.
At the end of the service, Charlie rose to give the benediction. In my own youth, the benediction meant, “look around you and pick up any stray items and personal belongings; you are preparing to depart and go home to change your clothing so you can go to grandma’s for lunch.”
A benediction, by theological context, is a declaration of a blessing, a word of encouragement to send the participants into the week ahead of them. Though brief, a benediction verbalizes good words that bestow a blessing at the conclusion of a service.
Charlie began his benediction by quoting Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter five, verses 14 through 16, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put in on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
Then Charlie added, “And so, in the same way, go out into the world as disciples of Jesus Christ. Be the light to a world that is all too often darkened.
“Follow God, and trust in Him. For he has chosen each and every one of us to be special in His eyes.
“Be the beacon of hope to those who suffer. Because God has a plan for you. And he sent His one and only son, Jesus Christ to die for every one of us.
“Go with peace, humility, understanding, and above all, compassion. And the people of God said together, ‘Amen.’
“Peace be with you.”
With credit appropriated to Charles, I’ve used that benediction with my own congregation in Jackson, Missouri. I like it, and it is a blessing of good words written well.
Even apart from concluding our worship services, I ponder those four words, peace, humility, understanding, and compassion. They’re sobering words which measure my own thoughts and conduct as I navigate my appointed rounds in a mundane world that is sadly, all too often darkened. They represent attitudes packed with action, desperately needed in our world of division, dissension, and discord.
Each attitude, uniquely powerful in their own right, collectively becomes a quadruple, preemptory strike against the pervasive, prevailing powers that “doth seek to work us woe.”