In Houston, Texas, Liturgical Artist Mary Button helped a congregation create an art project for the installation of a pastor in a redeveloping church community, St. James/Santiago Apostol Lutheran Church. The project allowed each participant to decorate a small, individual cross within a larger cross.
Here is the benediction we have been using the last couple of weeks at Theophilus:
We have been washed in the Word,
We have been nourished at God’s table,
We are sent forth as agents in God’s Kingdom
To love and serve our neighbors.
Go in peace and live the church.
This benediction clearly outlines the order of service that is concluding (Gathering – Word – Meal – Sending). It reminds you of everything we’ve just experienced:
- We’ve heard portions of God’s Word read and the Gospel proclaimed in the message
- I borrowed the phrase “washed in the word” from Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
- “Washing” also reminds us of our baptism and our inheritance as God’s children
- We’ve celebrated the Eucharistic feast at God’s table (where all are welcome), a foretaste of the eternal banquet that Christ presides over
- With the conclusion of this benediction we are sent forth to work in God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of light
- What does work in God’s Kingdom practically look like? Loving and serving our neighbors.
- We’re reminded that as we leave our liturgy, we don’t just return to normal life and self-centered thoughts/actions. We are launched out as missionary vessels to witness to God’s purposes and redemption of the world.
- We are sent in peace. We have peace with God through Christ, and we are sent with the ministry of reconciliation, bringing more people peace.
- “Live the church” is a little phrase that we end every benediction with. I borrowed it from Vox Veniae. The church isn’t a building or a social club. It’s the living/breathing Body of Christ, and it needs to be lived out in the world.