Numbers 6:24-26 – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Devotion: The congregation gathered their coats, gloves, bulletins, and children in a hurry. The Christmas Eve service went longer than most planned. Worshippers rushed to get out the door as they wondered if their roasts were burning in the oven, if they had run out of time to open presents, and if family were still waiting on them to arrive for the party. As the saints squeezed by one another, as politely as possible, the minister shouted, “Don’t leave without a blessing!” It was too late. Only a handful of people stopped, bowed their heads, and received the name of the Lord. Most hurried out of the building to their cars which were covered in snow.
The benediction, or final blessing, is more than the announced end of the service. It is the final act of worship: God places the Divine name on the People of God. This act is both an express of adoption, affection and protection. A few churches have given up this sacred act. Yet, it is important for the People of God because God instructed religious leaders to invoke the name of God upon worshippers as they depart the presence of the Almighty One.
God instructed Moses to tell Aaron, the High Priest, to bless the people at the close of worship services – a reoccurring act of faith. The words of blessing were specific: “The Lord bless…the Lord make his face to shine upon you…The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, etc.” The naming of God brought distinct blessing: the divine presence of God’s shining face, the gracious concern of God for the People of God in compassion and favor, the lifting up of God’s countenance (i.e., face, look of approval, etc. ) signifying affection, and the granting of peaceful wellbeing.
God promised: if Aaron and his descendants were obedient to put God’s name on the Israelites, God would bless them. God guaranteed the People significant divine favor. Who wants to miss a blessing from God, today?
Aaron was instructed by God to use the name, “The Lord,” three times in his Aaronic (priestly) blessing. Is this a coincidence for Trinitarian Christians? Not at all! God revealed the divine self in these instructions: All of God blessing all of the People of God. God held nothing back in reserve for those who worship in Spirit and Truth.
Today, is it appropriate for orthodox Christians to insert the revealed name of God into Aaron’s priestly blessing to make it’s Trinitarian nature more obvious: The Creator bless you and keep you; the Savior make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Holy Spirit lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace”? Don’t miss God’s blessing!
Prayer: God our Father, Son and Spirit, we bless your name for you have not withheld yourself to us through your name and blessings. Bless every person who worships you in the Spirit of truth as we lift high the name of Jesus. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Benediction and Blessing,” page 123, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.