What a gift it has been to see many of you in person, in worship. My gratitude for the many people who make worship a reality week to week overflows: our housekeeping and maintenance staff, the ushers, the audio and visual technicians, the musicians and singers, the lay readers, the pastors and Christian formation leaders and each person whose presence in person or online brings our assembly of praise to fruition. Whenever we are gathered Jesus promises to be in the midst of us and I have felt keenly His presence in this place. What a miracle! What a blessing!
In recognition of God’s grace and mercy chasing us down, we are going to have a summer worship series on blessings. Our summer of blessings will explore what it means that God blesses us. We will start on Sunday, July 4, with the Priestly Blessing from Numbers and celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We will consider the myriad blessings of creation that we experience with every breath and think about the gift and call of being chosen by God. We’ll wonder together what it means to be held by God, even, or perhaps especially, in those seasons that push us past our limits and test us mightily. We will contrast what the world sees as #blessed with what the Bible says about being favored by God. I pray this will be an opportunity for us to remember that we are blessed to be a blessing, to give thanks for the God’s grace and rejoice in the countless ways we are upheld by the love of Jesus Christ all the days of our lives.
At the end of every worship service there is the benediction, the good word, where the pastor’s raised hands declare God’s blessing upon the congregation. It is humbling to be in a position to enact that remarkable truth every Sunday. It is moving to look out and see the faces of those God so loves. That is the moment in worship when the unity won for us in Christ feels most tangible to me. Every time I raise my hands to offer the benediction, I know God calls ordinary, flawed people to proclaim remarkable, miraculous, powerful, divine truths. I feel in my bones how blessed I am to be in this household of God with you. Blessed to be entrusted with proclaiming the gospel. Blessed to be declared forgiven, and made a new creation, again and again. Blessed to be saved by grace. Blessed to participate in the work of the kingdom. Blessed to, well, be a blessing, I hope.
I hope your summer is one of countless blessings. I look forward to praising God for some of them with you on Sunday mornings starting July 4.
It is fitting that I end this note with a blessing:
May the love of the Lord Jesus Christ draw us to himself; May the power of the Lord Jesus Christ strengthen us in his service; May the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ fill our souls; and may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always.