• Benediction

    While many congregations conclude the worship service with a closing hymn or song, the true end of the service is the Benediction. This makes perfect sense. We begin the service in the name of God as we speak the Invocation. And we end the service in the name of God as He blesses us in the Benediction. 
    The words of the Benediction are drawn from the Scriptures, particularly from Numbers 6:24-26. But look at the verses before and after the blessing. 
    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
     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.
     “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” 
    This is how the priests (which Aaron is in charge of) are to bless and put God's name upon God's people. Notice LORD is in all caps here. This is God's divine name, Yahweh, being placed on the people. 
    Our lives as Christians begin in God's name in Baptism. Our worship services begin in God's name in the Invocation. Our worship services end with God's name being placed upon us in this Benediction. And our lives as Christians end in God's name too. This is one of the prayers I will pray at a burial or a funeral.
    May God the Father who created this body; may God the + Son, who by His blood redeemed this body; may God the Holy Spirit, who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be His temple, keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh.
    The name of our God begins, blesses, ends, and brings us through all of life. From baptism to burial and beyond, God's name reigns over us.
    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Invocation

    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
    This is how worship services begin in our congregation: in the name of the Triune God without commas, with the sign of the cross.
    This is also the way Christian life begins as we are baptized into the name of that same Triune God without commas, with water and the Word of God.
    Some pastors, priests, or ministers add the words "We begin..." to this invocation. Personally, I choose not to do that. "We begin..." is not how you invoke a name. 
    In the days when kings and queens, emperors and pharaohs ruled the world, their names were invoked to show the authority by which a task was done.
    One place we see a true invocation in our contemporary culture is in George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. Here are the words Ned Stark uses to execute the Night's Watch deserter, Will.
    "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm, I, Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, sentence you to die."  
    As we come before the Lord of the universe in worship, we do so by His own authority and in His own name, a Triune name without commas. It is an official act, a formal act, a solemn act. It does not require the words "we begin..." for the words themselves are a beginning, a notice. They move us into a new time, a new act. 
    In this name many official acts occur. We are baptized in this name. We are forgiven in this name. We are blessed in this name. We are confirmed in this name. We are married in this name. We are sent on new adventures in this name. We are installed in various roles in our congregations in this name. We are commended to the Lord for death in this name. We are buried in this name.
    From first to last, beginning to end, the name of the Triune God is placed upon us again and again without commas but with authority. 
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