13 May 2012

On Benedictions

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude vv. 24,25

For today's churches, benedictions are merely a signal to dismiss worshipers, very much like a school bell signaling the end of class hours. In our church, after the pastor utters the benediction for that Sunday, the choir will lead the people to sing The Lord Bless You and Keep You. I have been part of our church choir for 5 years already. It is a marvel how God, through the Holy Spirit, continually remind me that I am still a work in progress. Recently, this is one of His lessons for me.

It has been a habit for me to play the C Major chord after the pastor's benediction. I sing the alto line of The Lord Bless You and Keep You with my eyes on the lyrics projected in front. "Good day to everyone and may you all have a blessed week." Turn off the Clavinova. Bring the pieces inside the music room. Chat with some people. For years, this has been my worship dismissal habit.

One Sunday, I did not play the C Major chord, Ate Nikki did. That was when realizations dawned on me.
  1. When I do play the C Major chord, I was so worried to play the wrong chord that I wasn't able to listen to the benediction of the pastor.
  2. I stared wide-eyed to the pastor as he said, "Now, receive the blessing of the Lord" before he said the benediction. I haven't heard it before!!!or I was too busy with myself.
  3. The pastors always quote benedictions from the Bible. It's His Word! True enough, His Word does not go out in vain.
  4. Thus, it is UNIQUELY for His children.
  5. I treat benedictions as a habit. A normal occurence.
  6. I am so ignorant.

Benedictions are not only heard inside churches. It can be anywhere! The latest, famous benediction is from the book-turned-movie Hunger Games. Before a tribute goes to the Hunger Games, the announcer will shout:
May the odds be ever in your favor!

The odds? What are the odds? They are very hard to guess. They cannot be determined. Odds change. And yes, this fallen world put their lives to the ODDS.

Shame on me. I remember the odds being in our favor more than God being faithful. Wonderful benedictions such as those from Jude and Hebrews came from the Word of God and not from some mortal, sinful men. Why do I regard Biblical benedictions as nothing but mere words? With this shame, I asked God to forgive me for being ignorant about His Word and His promises. It also made me search myself. A C Major chord can receive an approving nod from the choir or the pastor, but does the hand that play it receive the blessing of the Lord?

From that day on, it is ultimately about God. I made myself a worshiper from the announcements to the last note of The Lord Bless You and Keep You. I play the C Major chord with much conviction and I sing with a ring of gratitude in my voice. Also, with the benediction in mind, I can always remind myself throughout the week that Christ Jesus clothed me with His righteousness, presenting me blameless before the presence of the Holy God. The Holy Spirit, my Divine Helper, will help me not to stumble into temptation. The triune God is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I can even share this wonderful truth to others. It can also be an encouragement to someone who is going through hard times. I have yet to find out its other purposes in my life as a Christian.

So, may the odds be ever in your favor?

As for me, may praises be ever to my faithful Savior!

For a list of benedictions, click here.

"Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work."
II Thessalonians 2: 16,17

May you find meaning in those Words. :)

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