Why a Benediction?
At the conclusion of our morning worship the pastor typically has everyone rise to receive the benediction. Some people raise their hands. Some close their eyes. The pastor says a few words, then everyone begins to leave. Why do we end our service like this? What is a benediction and why do we always include it?
Benedictions have been around for a long time. The Apostle Paul typically ends his letters with a final “Grace and peace to you” signifying the end of his writing. However, our traditional benediction goes all the way back to the establishment of the nation of Israel under Moses. In Number 6:23 the Lord tells Moses to have Aaron and his sons bless Israel in a certain way. This is where the word “benediction” comes from. It roughly means to speak a blessing, just as Aaron was to do when he said,
“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.”
When our pastor pronounces the benediction he is speaking the blessing of the Lord into our hearts. Often people symbolize receiving that blessing by extending their hands as you would to receive a gift. This is a picture of the blessings we receive from the Lord and it reminds us of His faithful care as we leave to worship and serve in our daily lives.