First Person

Worth the wait: The rare blessing of a benediction

As a child in church, I sat through the organ hymns and incomprehensible sermons, my scrawny backside squirming on the hard pew. I followed the order of worship in the bulletin, mentally checking off each item. My eyes were on the prize: the benediction. I loved the benediction because it meant that the service was over. I could get up, talk to my friends, and then go to Grandpa’s house for lunch.

As a pastor, I still love the benediction. I won’t lie: it’s still partly because it signals the end of worship and an impending meal. But that’s no longer the only reason. I realize now how unique these words of blessing are in a world where words swirl around us all the time—words spoken and sung and written, words from the mouths of friends and strangers and people on television, words on pages and billboards and screens.

Many of these words are aimed at getting us to do things. Advertisements want us to buy products; spouses want us to take out the trash. Other words give us information. Probably too much information—about the stock market and the latest police shooting and political instability in the Middle East and the recent celebrity wedding. Some of it we want to know; some of it we should know; some of it just takes up valuable psychic space.