Benediction: Blessing at End of a Religious Service
According to the dictionary, a benediction is a short invocation for divine help, blessing, and guidance, usually at the end of worship service.
The Latin prefix "bene" means "good" or "well" as in benefit, beneficial, benefactor and benevolence. That's why some churches have a "benevolence fund."
The word "diction" means the pronouncement of words.
Therefore, a benediction is a blessing pronounced on the congregation at the end of a service. There are many benedictions in the Bible a church leader can use, or they can create one of their own that builds off of the existing ones.
Reasons To Stay in Church For Benediction
The benediction is a short prayer said at the end of a church service. The purpose of a benediction is to for the pastor or church leader to pronounce a blessing of God on the congregation and to ask for guidance in the days to come. A benediction is an official dismissal.
The benediction is just as much a part of the worship service as the sermon and hymns and other things. Therefore, unless it is an emergency, everyone should remain until the blessing has been pronounced.
If a person does not stay for the benediction, he will not get the final blessing of the service. If someone leaves before the benediction, the word will not be sealed in his heart and several adverse things could happen, according to "The Parable of the Sower" in Matthew 13:19-23 about the seeds that have been sown.
The words of God that had just been preached are seeds. When anyone hears the message and doesn't stay until it is sealed, several things might happen.
- The evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart as it is sown along the path.
- Other seeds fall on rocky ground, and the plants are scorched and withered because they have no root. They last only a short time.
- The seeds might fall among the thorns that choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Paul's Three-Part Benediction
The benediction found in 2 Corinthians 13:14 is one of the most widely known benedictions in the Bible. Paul's benediction comes at the end of his second letter to the Corinthians.
Paul invoked the blessings of all three members of the Trinity.
- The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
- The love of God the Father
- The fellowship of the Holy Spirit
One would think the love of God the Father should come first, but Paul chose to say that the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” first. The only way one can come to the love of the Father is through the Lord Jesus Christ, according to John 14:6.
The third part is the blessing of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit that unites all believers into one body, known as the church.
According to the three-part benediction, anyone who has the fellowship of the Holy Spirit also has the grace of Christ first and the love of God second.
Aaron's Six-Part Benediction
Moses' brother, Aaron, gave the Israelites a benediction that's found in the Book of Numbers. It is one of the great blessings in the Old Testament. A lot of pastors use this benediction at the end of their worship service.
Aaron's benediction consists of six blessings.
- May the Lord bless you
- And keep you.
- May the Lord smile upon you
- And be gracious unto you.
- May the Lord show His favor to you
- And give you peace.
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. And may God give you His peace in your going out and in your coming in, in your lying down and in your rising up, in your labor and in your leisure, in your laughter and in your tears . . . Until you come to stand before Jesus in that day in which there is no sunset and no dawning. Amen.— Dr. Robert H. Schuller's Benediction
The first part of Dr. Robert H. Schuller's famous benediction is based on Aaron's benediction found in Numbers 6:24-26. Then he continues in his own way by adding all dimensions of how peace can be in a person's life, such as going out and coming in, lying down and raising up, in labor and in leisure, in laughter and in tears.
At the end of the benediction, Dr. Schuller gives the finality of peace when he says, "Until you come to stand before Jesus in that day in which there is no sunset and no dawning. Amen."
Unless it is an emergency, NEVER leave a religious service until after the benediction.
Why People Waited For Zechariah's Benediction
While in the temple, the angel Gabriel told the priest Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son in their old age, but he could not believe it. Therefore, God took his voice away until after John the Baptist was born.
In Luke 1:21, the people waited for Zechariah and wondered why he stayed so long in the temple. They were waiting for the benediction which included a blessing for them. Zechariah could not speak. However, he made signs to them.
Some pastors like to start off with a biblical benediction and add their own words based on a key point from the sermon he has just preached. This is the last opportunity for the congregation to be reminded of the sermon as he leaves the church.
Hands are usually raised by the leader and members of the congregation as an indication of receiving the blessing.