As a child, I remember the ending of each Sabbath worship service came with a benediction and blessing. Everyone seemed to have their eyes closed after the final hymn - except me. I would watch as the preacher blessed us by raising his hand over the congregation and recited a well worn script.
Now I find myself in this position. We’ve largely dispensed with the hand raising, but at the end of every service I find myself wanting desperately to connect the power of God with His departing people - and I too have a script. And I often go one of two ways, or… sometimes two of two ways...
The first part is of my own creation - well as much as anything I ever say in the pulpit is part of my own creation. I ask God to be with His people until we meet again, “on another Sabbath day for worship and fellowship”. In this, I acknowledge our constant need to gather and so do not ask God for his help beyond the next time we’ll be together to ask for his help. After all, this salvation and living with Jesus is all about the relationships, and its hard to have good relationships when we never meet.
The second part is from Numbers 6.24 & 25. Here God tells Moses what to tell Aaron to say when blessing the people - and it is beautiful.
24 ‘May the Lord bless you, and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’
I’ve used this under so many sad, trying, testing and yes, even hopeful circumstances. And when I say it, I cling to the promise that comes in verse 27:
“Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.”
May you all be blessed.