The Benediction

A dictionary defines "benediction" as "an expression of blessing, prayer, or kind wishes; a solemn or affectionate invocation of happiness." The benediction, then, is not so much a parting injunction, as the pronouncement of a simple, affectionate blessing.

Turning to sacred history we find that the benediction has played an important part in religious customs, as if inspired thought were ever seeking to lift consciousness to the realization that man is blessed of the Father. The patriarchs not only asked God's blessing, but also returned thanks to God for "his wonderful works to the children of men." Every manifestation of divine power, protection, and help became an opportunity for the offering up of thanksgiving in the form of a benediction. The Psalms abound in beautiful examples of this. David sang: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." In Numbers we read that God commanded Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons to bless the children of Israel, thus: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace"—a brief but beautiful benediction.

Our Master began his Sermon on the Mount with words of blessing, and closed his ministry, according to the Gospel of Luke, by pronouncing a benediction on his disciples. And Christ Jesus' simple act of blessing the little children carried with it a profound lesson for all.

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May 18, 1929

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