May God be gracious to us and bless us.
When we began a new church, we faced hundreds of choices about church behaviors and traditions. What do we keep and what do we leave behind? Knowing that some churches were judgmental, we wanted to leave that behind, focusing instead on God’s grace. We appreciated traditional organ music but decided that our context called for guitars and amplifiers. For three years I wore a formal suit, but on a 115–degree day it seemed good to leave that behind too.
We knew that some churches called for believing a doctrinal code before people could belong. We decided to let people belong first and to “try on” the Christian faith as a way to help them believe.
Eighteen years later we see that some decisions were wise; others less so. Our first worship services ended with a prayer. Then someone would say, “We’ll see you next week.” Benedictions felt too stiff and formal. But later we realized we need a blessing each week. If nothing else happens in a worship service, if the music is off key and the sermon boring, it’s enough of a gift to have God’s blessing pronounced on us.
During worship we hear how God’s grace through Jesus puts away our sin. We can walk with God without fear of punishment. And in the blessing God lets us know that things between us are all right. God loves us.
“May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.” May all of our life be unending praise to you. “God, our God, blesses us” so that others may praise him. Amen
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