Almost every Sunday our worship service ends with the same benediction. It is printed on the back of the bulletin and with these words we are sent out into the world to serve God. Frequently people say how much the benediction means to them. They might not know the story behind it.
Stan Ott wrote of a conversation that he had with a pastor who had served a church for 23 years in the Washington D.C. area before becoming the chaplain for the U.S. Senate. (During this man’s pastorate a group of women prayed for opportunities to study Scripture in and around our nation’s capital and the first Community Bible Study began meeting at that church.) Ott asked Richard Halverson about what brought vitality and spiritual strength to the Bethesda congregation. He expected to hear something about his preaching or some church program but didn’t anticipate this answer. “I think it was my benediction.” Halverson wrote these parting words and used them almost every Sunday.
“You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you there. Wherever you are, God has put you there. He has a purpose in your being there. Christ, who indwells you, has something He wants to do through you, wherever you are. Believe this, and go in His grace, and love, and power.”
Ott began to encourage ministers at his Vital Church Institute seminars to feel free to use Halverson’s words, saying “I often use this benediction. It has a wonderful way of helping people see themselves as sent – as God’s missional people into our world. The term ‘missional’ refers to the identity and activity of the people of God who are sent by God to engage their world on behalf of the mission of our loving God.”
It is reminiscent of Jesus’ prayer to the Father for his disciples. “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18)
There is nothing quite like living each day with a sense of purpose, especially if it is a divine one. Who might cross your path today? Are they inconveniences or divine appointments? We all need to remind ourselves to be aware of opportunities to serve. This week let us start each day with a prayer like “Lord, please show me where and to whom I can show your love today.”