Benediction

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-- to the glory and praise of God.

Paul to the Philippians 1:3-11

Several people have asked if I would write down the benediction that I often give at the end of services. It is not original to me. I served a church in Montana for 3 years and one of the members gave it to me to use at a funeral service. Her pastor had heard it from Richard Halverson, former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. Where he received it I do not know. But, when I first read it for that outdoor funeral service in little Cooke City, Montana it struck a chord. The occasion of the service was tragic – two prominent members in town had voluntarily headed up a mountain to put in a radio tower to give the city better reception. The jeep somehow lost traction and rolled down the side of a steep cliff and both men died. I knew them well. I was the only pastor in town and in a community that small, everyone attended. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was 26. A whole community was mourning. And yet, even then as I read those words, “wherever you are, God has put you there; He has a purpose in your being there,” I knew that these were truths that we needed to hear. I knew they were truths that I needed to hear.

A Benedicton is a closing. It declares truths about God and about us. It is the last thing we hear each Sunday as we go out into a hurting and battered world. The beauty about truth is that it is true whether we feel it in the moment or not. It is not a suggestion or a hunch. It is a declaration.

Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there; he has a purpose in your being there. Christ, who indwells you, has something he wants to do through you, where you are. Believe this; and go in his love and his grace and his power. Amen

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