(One of the goals of Brothers of John the Steadfast is to train the Brothers in good practice and theology. This article is one in a series that teaches about the liturgy. This is the final installation of the service, you may review other installations at http://SteadfastLutherans.org/liturgy.)
These articles were initially intended to be put into bulletins or read during the service to educate the laity on the different parts of the service. They were therefore purposefully made short.
Notes on the Liturgy #22 — Benediction
The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The LORD look upon you with favor and give you peace.
This is the Benediction that concludes the Divine Service (LSB pp. 166, 183, 202, 212, and 218). Benediction literally means “to speak well of” or “to speak good upon” and from that we get its common meaning “to bless.”
These are God’s words of good fortune to His people. In Numbers 6:22-27, the Lord gave this Benediction to the priesthood. God commanded Aaron and his sons to speak this blessing over the people of Israel. Because of Martin Luther, the Aaronic blessing was brought to the Christian church and is most often used in the worship services of Lutheran congregations (L. Reed).
It has been said, “No finer or more spiritual word in the vocabulary of devotion could be found with which to conclude the service than the word ‘peace’.” (L. Reed) What is God’s will toward the church? What is His disposition towards me personally? The Benediction tells me that the heart of God is to prosper and bless His people through a relationship with the Almighty. There it is sinner: God’s disposition towards you in Christ is most pleasant. God speaks to you, the individual, in these words. In the Hebrew of Numbers 6, in the German and Jacobean English of our former hymnals, this is made clearer by the language used – “The LORD bless thee (you-singular) and keep thee (you-singular).” In contrast to the general words of absolution spoken over the congregation (you-plural) at the beginning of the service, these words of benediction spoken over the entire group are spoken to you (singular). Having received the Body and Blood given and shed “for you (plural),” the blessing of the shed Blood of the Lamb is proclaimed to you (singular).
The Benediction also instructs us as to the source of our well being. Three times over it is the LORD (YHWH) that speaks. Three blessings are given in emphasis. The New Testament further reveals that three persons come to bless us — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, as we started the service with the Invocation of the Trinity, we depart in peace by the blessing of the same.
These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited. Thanks to Pastor Michael Mohr for improvements to this segment.