There’s a fabulous party happening right now, with people I would really like to spend more time with. I wanted to go, I really did, but as Susan Cain says of introverts, “they have may strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas.” And so, after a fabulous social engagement last night, tonight I chose to stay home in my pajamas and watch Monsieur Lazhar, and prep for Children’s Church.
As I read through the lesson, I was drawn to the last page. To the blessing, a benediction. In recent years, I’ve come to love benedictions. I drink them in, and think about them days later. They come to mind in the strangest of places, like the checkout line at the grocery store or along I-29 as I drive to school.
I’m certain it wasn’t always that way. I grew up in a church that held services twice a Sunday, morning and night. Each and every service I attended ended with a benediction, which as a child held no special power other than the promise that church was finally over and we could go home (a pious child I was, clearly).
I’m not sure when it changed, perhaps when I started attending churches with less liturgy, but at some point I came to love the benediction. Trained to do so as a child, I bow my head, and there’s something powerful about someone pronouncing a blessing over you.
In thinking about why, I think it’s because it’s one of the few times during a church service where we are simply being…resting in God, not doing anything or saying anything, but simply being in His presence, and ever growing into it. I’m sure there are theologians or scholars who could be more eloquent about the purpose of a benediction, but in my mind is not quite an invitation but also not a command…it’s somewhere in between. It seems to me that it is God saying something like “Here you are, and here is my knowledge about you as my child.”
Which is maybe why I love a good benediction…on those days you don’t feel quite worthy, or just aren’t really sure where you stand, it’s a blessing to stand in God’s presence, and remember whose you are.