The Pillar of Cloud Has Lifted

On Sunday, December 8, the congregation that I serve – Living Word Lutheran Church – held it’s final worship service in a space that we have rented for nearly 10 year. On Sunday, December 15, we begin a new chapter of worship and ministry in our newly purchased building. It was a bitter sweet day for us but we are excited to see what God is going to do through us. And so, as we closed worship on Sunday, I led the congregation in the following prayer/blessing/benediction that I wrote for the occasion. To God be the glory!


Psalm 122:1 (ESV) ~ I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

For nearly 10 years, Living Word has been echoing that sentiment – joyfully coming into this building to worship God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. This has been our house of the Lord – our place of worship. Joyfully we came here to hear the Word of God. Among other things: baptisms were done to the glory of God, men and women were joined together in marriage, people confirmed their faith, families and friends mourned – with hope – the death of loved ones. We enjoyed meals together, watched our children present the Christmas story, we met together to discuss and debate issues but always with respect and we gifted the community with the Living Last Supper a number of times. So many memories with much laughter and tears. This place has meant a lot to so many people. And even though we are excited to begin this next chapter of our lives in Graham, we sadly say goodbye to nearly 10 years together in this house of the Lord. We’ve been glad to enter here, but now we are glad to enter a new house next week. Please join me as we pray and bless this place:

Holy and awesome God, ten years ago, this congregation embarked on an unknown adventure of faith. Faithful men and women followed You into a brand-new mission field. Very quickly You gifted this congregation with this place to worship. For that we thank and praise You. Now You have said it is time to move and thus we follow You boldly and faithfully. Whatever congregation moves in here next; may You bless them mightily as You have blessed us. Bless their pastors and leaders. Bless their ministry. Oh God, we give You thanks for the many Meridian Habitat staff people that have hosted us over the years. Bless the staff that work here as they serve as hosts to others. Thank You for the opportunity to get to know them. And now, oh God, I ask that Your Spirit continue to move in this place as it has moved among us for 10 years. Yes, this is a secular building and location, but it has been holy ground for us. Thank You, God, for the memories here and the memories yet to be formed in Graham. And now, as the pillar of cloud lifts from this holy place this day, we pack up and follow You. Bless our journey, as You have done for 10 years, that You and You alone are glorified. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray, Amen.

And now, for the final time in this place, receive this Benediction:

As a pillar of cloud and fire led the Israelites by day and night through the wilderness without fail, may the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in through your wilderness. As their resources and strength never failed know that God will never fail you. As God fought for them, know that God fights for you. As God brought them into the Promised Land, know that through faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter His Promised Kingdom. As God remained faithful to them, Go in peace knowing God will always be faithful to you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Benediction ~ Promised Kingdom

Another benediction that I plan to debut on Sunday…

As a pillar of cloud and fire led the Israelites by day and night through the wilderness without fail, may the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in through your wilderness. As their resources and strength never failed know that God will never fail you. As God fought for them, know that God fights for you. As God brought them into the Promised Land, know that through faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter His Promised Kingdom. As God remained faithful to them, Go in peace knowing God will always be faithful to you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Benediction

At the end of our morning worship, I typically offer the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. It is one I have heard and known for as long as I can remember – and it is beautiful, because, well, it’s the Word of God.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

I have heard other benedictions that I have liked. I have even made some up on the fly when my brain seemingly stopped working and I forgot Numbers 6. Whatever the case, my goal is to bless the people into the mission field as they glorify God.

The following benediction is something I wrote for worship this morning. It is nothing fancy, just something in which I want to bless my congregation and you. To God be the glory!


May you know the love of God that embraces;
the grace of God that frees;
the mercy of God that heals;
the peace of God that comforts;
the power of God that strengthens;
and the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ that brings you home.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

May You Know

May you know the peace of God raining down on you –
soaking every part of your being and causing you to drip with compassion and kindness.

May you know the love of God embracing you –
squeezing out every insecurity that weighs you down to which your heart clings.

May you know the grace of God coursing through you –
bringing healing to your sin-stained soul through the forgiveness of your sins.

May you know the power of God guarding you against every attack of the evil one –
sheltering you in the Rock that is Him and defending you with His might.

May you know the family of God receiving you as you are –
bringing you to repentance as you advance in holiness to the glory of God.

May you know the joy of God rejoicing in His salvation that reconciles creation –
worshiping Him and singing his praises with all the saints forever and ever.

May your know the hope of the resurrection that is yours through faith in Jesus Christ –
giving you courage in the face of death and fortitude through the taunts of Satan.

Oh sinner, may you know God the Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!

A Child’s Nighttime Blessing

Good night my sweet child,
Rest your weary head.
May the Lord bless and keep you.
May the Lord grant you peace.
You are my sweet child and I love you dear, but you are a child of God and He loves you even more.
I cannot always see you but Jesus is always near.
So rest my sweet child and dream good dreams – may they be filled with joy.
And one more thing, as you drift off to your sleepy land,
Your Daddy in heaven has defeated the one who would harm you.
So do not fear the darkness for Jesus is your nightlight.
So good night my sweet child and rest.
You are in good hands.

A Confirmation Blessing

The following is a confirmation blessing I wrote in honor of my niece, Meara, who is professing her faith today. I had the privilege of baptizing her in 2004 (my second ever baptism) and now I am here in Minnesota to be part of her big day. I pray that God may work in her heart to bring glory to his name through her life.


Today you profess your faith,
In Jesus Christ our Lord.
May your light shine ever bright,
With him you are adored.

Stand firm and never back down,
Though Satan push against.
For God is your strong fortress,
Through Jesus he’s dispensed.

You are His beloved child,
Forever in His arms.
So don’t ever fear or fret,
With Him will come no harm.

So proclaim your faith boldly,
And never be ashamed.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
You are forever claimed.

First Day of School Prayer

Father God,
a new year of school is here and students are returning to the classroom.
So much excitement.
So much apprehension.
Please hear my prayer as our kids resume.
There will be reading and writing and arithmetic too.
Spelling, science and all things new.
There will be friends and lunch and games galore.
There will be all of that and so much more.
Routines will be changing.
Schedules will get busy.
Sometimes all of this can make one feel dizzy.
So, Father God, hear my prayer,
and bless our children here and there.
Bless their teachers.
Bless their year.
Guide them so they will not fear.
Keep them safe, Lord, every busload.
Bless all drivers who share the road.
Bless our children here and now.
May this year cause them to say “Wow!”
Amen 🙂