So every year I have someone to say goodbye to here on staff. I hate that! But it is what it is and I have learned how to say “goodbye” while looking forward to the day when there are no more goodbyes!
I remember when I first met you. I actually heard you first! Your contagious laugh and your enthusiasm rang out from Joel’s office and I was excited to meet the person that came with the voice! Our friendship was soon to be a blessing for me as we shared ideas, meals, prayers and our hearts. It was not long until we realized we have many common interests: we both are Biola grads, we love lettering, we root for the Dodgers, and we don’t like the idea of driving a bus (among other things)! Then we had the privilege of watching the sunrise over the lowest place on earth and walking the streets of Jerusalem together. What an amazing memory to be traveling partners and “roomies” in the Holy Land!
Even though it is not the pattern at EvFree, for many years the churches I have been part of have included a tradition at the end of each worship service called a benediction. Sometimes it was a prayer, sometimes it was a blessing with eyes open and the pastor’s hand raised over the congregation similar to what the Old Testament priests were instructed to do (Lev. 9:22).
Anyway, the value and importance of benedictions for me is huge! Pronouncing a blessing over a gathering as a means of dismissal is more that just specially crafted words that boost one’s spirit. A benediction is a way to show that God really is the blesser. In Numbers 6:27 it says, “Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in My name, I myself will bless them.” When sending God’s people forth, a benediction tells believers that God has not only made His presence known to them while they are gathered for worship, but that He will care for them and sustain them as they go – no matter what the task is to come. Even more, it seals the time the people have spent together in worship and service.
So, at the end of this amazing 2 and a half years of worship and service side by side, I send you forth with this benediction, knowing that God will continue to make His presence known to you and Jordan – until we meet again!
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you
May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
May your past be a pleasant memory
May your future be filled with delight and mystery
May your today be filled with amazing moments
That fill your cup to overflowing contentment and joy.
Never forget that “Whenever there is an ending, there is also a beginning. And there is always hope!”