By Adam White
What is your favorite part of a worship service?
Is it the Call to Worship? Is it Prayers of the People? The Sermon? Or maybe the Children’s Message?
For me, it is the Benediction. Maybe it is because I work as a minister at a church. Perhaps it is because I know that it is the last part of the service! But the real reason why I love the Benediction is how it wraps up the entire ethos of the service into one simple line. If you miss other parts of the service, you can still get the main idea of what is going on by listening to the Benediction.
And yet, the Benediction does not connote the end of worship. In fact, it may be seen as the beginning of putting that experience of worship into action, into service around our communities and through our relationships.
Over the past seven weeks we have been discussing the importance of having discussions with one another, as sacred human being to sacred human being, that can be difficult to navigate. And here we are, looking to sum it up and embody what we have prayerfully discussed into actionable service.
We are rooted in grace in a plethora of ways…
We receive grace through establishing a foundation by setting the table to welcome one another in relationship, not just conversation. As a result, we prepare ourselves to enter into deeper conversations.
Grace meets us as we walk into brave and safe spaces. We come seeking to care for and know ourselves better. This creates room where we can then engage more presently and openly with another person.
Grace is active and held in the covenant we have with God, self, and neighbor. We know that as people we will not always agree, but the journey in sharing our perspectives while maintaining healthy boundaries can carry us to recognizing a clearer image of God at work in the world. Of God at work in others.
When we encounter other people in such a sacred covenant, particularly people who think, talk, vote, and live differently than us, we are invited to share in a grace that surpasses our differences. This is the grace of Christ in our midst, bringing us closer together as fellow sisters and brothers of one body.
As we encounter one another in these spaces, difficult conversations, and everyday experiences, we recognize the grace that is imprinted in us mutually. Grace creates room for us to see ourselves in others, in spite of the potential variances of socio-economic, educational, political, or theological understandings we carry.
When we see a grace-filled mutuality in our sisters and brothers, we then can take the step of committing to grace. We commit to opening our eyes, our mouths, and arms to embrace the unexpected gift of grace that surfaces within our neighbors, a signifier of God’s divine love towards us.
Finally, we stand collectively, not forgetting that we each are different, but choose intentionally to receive the grace that God extends us to go forth into the world as a diverse community that seeks to encounter grace. Why? Because we are rooted in it.
Go forth sisters and brothers, being moved by the Holy Spirit to covenant together in the richness and transformative grace that roots us in Jesus Christ. Amen.