Worship is a blessing.
The word blessing, if we reduce it to its Hebrew form, is Berakhah. It was, at one time, the main form of prayer in synagogue worship, which set the pattern for worship in the early church. Numbers 6: 23-27, is often called “The Lord’s Prayer of the Old Testament”. It says:
âThe Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine
on you, and be indulgent to yourself.
May the Lord lift up his face
on you and give you peace.
The great theologian Matthew Henry actually exegetes this prayer as being Trinitarian in its foreshadowing: The Lord is mentioned three times. The first time for protection, connoting God the Father. The second time around, his face was gracious, which would indicate the incarnate Christ showing us mercy on the cross. The last line is a “blessing of peace” which can be easily compared to the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus at his baptism.
Whether you agree or disagree with Matthew Henry, these thirty-six words have been recited, set to music, even spoken at table in Jewish and Christian settings an inestimable number of times. But that’s not the only blessing. In fact, Christianity.com identifies twenty-eight blessings from the New Testament alone.
There are many reasons why blessings pronounced are important, now more than ever:
First, it takes us back to our heritage of worship. Blessings have been around as long as believers. Our order of worship follows from this. In fact, the Berakhah in Jewish worship would have even more significance later because it would become the service of the table in the Christian framework.
Second, it gives finality to any time believers are gathered. A blessing is a very strong signal of the end (or the beginning) of something spiritually important. When I have traveled to foreign countries, I have found the blessing at the table for a moment of love. The host of the table stands up and makes gentle remarks to those who are seated to make them feel at home, at ease and valued.
But more importantly, Americans in the 21st century need blessed people in their lives. In this world of polarization, attitudes and conflict, men and women of open blessing are needed. Perhaps in this simple act a person operating in the power of Christ can bring our thinking back to civility, kindness, and meekness.
As you think about your worship services in your church, give a blessing. As a devotee, this can be by greeting someone with âThe peace of the Lord be with youâ instead of âHow are youâ. As a worshiper, perhaps praying for a blessing, when called to pray publicly.
As a pastor or worship leader, be sure to ask for a blessing for your people before they leave. Help them have confidence, peace and understanding. With twenty-eight in the New Testament alone, you have a half-year reserve. Remember that our people need it, they cry out loudly, as the chorus of Daniel Whittle’s old hymn exclaims:
âRains of blessing, rains of blessing that we need:
The drops of mercy fall around us, but for the showers we plead.â