Reading: Romans 15:4-14
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name’;
and again he says,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’;
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him’;
and again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.
When I read this passage from Romans, it reminded me of a benediction. Especially verse 13 where it says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The benediction at the end of the service is like a hug and a pep-talk as you leave the building to be the living and breathing church body to the world. It is one of my favorite parts of the church service, and I always enjoy when I am in a Lutheran church service and here the familiar words:
“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.”
I have placed one of my favorite songs at the end of my field worship playlist as a benediction because it also feels like that hug and pep-talk given at the end of a church service. It is appropriately titled Benediction and is by Josh Garrels. I was at a loss of how to describe him as a musician and surprisingly Wikipedia hit the nail on the head: “his music combines traditional folk music with other musical elements and the nontraditional exploration of Christian themes.” This song opens with, “May all of your days shine brightly. And your nights blessed with peace.” I recommend you take a listen:
Dear Lord, thank you for blessing and keeping us, and always showing us grace. May your light shine through us, and may we extend that grace to everyone we meet.