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KEEPING THE FAITH | Benediction is more than just getting the last word

We can and should conclude our personal encounters with others with a benediction. Speaking good things into the lives of others is a powerful ministry.
RevLewisMacklin032020
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

On many occasions, I have been requested to provide the benediction at the conclusion of an event. 

Dorothy, my wife, believes I am well suited for such assignments because they are aligned with my innate nature to always get the last word in.

A benediction is a short prayer of appealing to God’s divine for help, blessing and guidance. It is often presented at an assembly as the gathering is concluding. While it is often a short, concise expression that gives assurance or promise, please do not underestimate the power of the benediction. 

The word “benediction” finds its origin in Latin and literally means: “bene,” to be well; and “dicere,” to speak or proclaim. In essence, we are speaking goodness into the atmosphere! As beneficiaries of God’s goodness, this closing prayer sends us off with a sense of hopefulness and renewal. 

Even as we depart and venture to our various destinations, we are collectively asking God to bless and protect us in our travels and forthcoming assignments. 

Every time I say a benediction over the fellowship, I realize that I am not leading them in prayer, but blessing them for their spiritual encouragement and engagement. I am often amazed when people depart before the conclusion of a service without receiving the benediction.  

Don’t walk out without your blessing. It is also an opportunity for reflection. It really is not a time to grab your coat, keys and belongings while preparing for a quick exit. 

One of the most well-known benedictions in the Bible is one that God gave to Moses to tell Aaron to speak to Israel. It was given for reassurance to the nation as the Law of God was being presented and the Tabernacle of the Lord was being dedicated. Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

However, I do not believe that benedictions are reserved or limited to formal gatherings. In fact, we can and should conclude our personal encounters with others with a benediction. Speaking good things into the lives of others is a powerful ministry. Remember, the power of life and death resides within the tongue.  We need to choose carefully when speaking what we are giving life to and what we are destroying,   

Truthfully, at some point, we have experienced being the target of words that wounded us. Conversely, we may have even used words that were hurtful to others. The intent and the results were the same: to create a weight and to discourage us. 

Not long ago, someone discouraged me with their words, however later on the very same day another person spoke a promising word which provided tremendous encouragement. I am fully convinced that we all need to invoke the power of benediction! 

Consider making it a practice to share a sincere parting word that is good, truthful and honest. Life is indeed a vapor. I would want my last words shared with others to be a blessing and not a curse. 

I Need You To Survive, a beautiful benediction in a song recorded by Bishop Hezekiah Walker in response to the 9/11 terrorist act, speaks to our need for each other. Its lyrics challenge us to consider the value and worth of everyone we encounter.   

I need you, you need me.
We're all a part of God's body.
Stand with me, agree with me.
We're all a part of God's body.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, you pray for me.
I won't harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

 

At the conclusion of Jude 1:24-25 there is a benediction offered that addresses the people who were being called to persevere in their faith: “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. AMEN.” 

The benediction is more than a conclusion or summation of the events that just concluded. Rather it should be recognized as a commissioning experience to go forth with confidence to keep the faith!

— Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II is the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department and coordinator of the Mahoning Valley African American Male Wellness Walk. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of 5 children and 6 grandchildren.




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