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“Bless” - May 12, 2020

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
  the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
  the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

In my pastoral visiting in hospitals and other care facilities, I will sometimes reach that difficult moment of realizing that this current visit may be the last one I will have with a person.  On those occasions, I will often use the words of Numbers 6 as the last word, raising a hand over the person in a manner similar to how a Sunday worship service is concluded.

It is an ancient word that goes back to the times of Moses and Aaron.  The covenant name of God (indicated in English by “the LORD”) is used three times.  Each line of the blessing comes in two parts and in the original language each successive line becomes longer by two words, communicating a progressively stronger blessing.  God tells Moses that this was his way of putting his name on his people, reminding them foundationally to whom they belong.

In all our circumstances, the last word to us is always a word of blessing and belonging.  In the New Testament that last word is the Word become flesh who came to live among us, Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

            Today may Jesus turn his face toward you and give you Easter peace.

PRAYER ENCOURAGEMENT: Lord, help us to realize that the last word on all things is your desire to bless and keep your people and your creation. Lord, bless us. Keep us. Turn your face toward us. Shine upon us.  Be gracious to us.  Give us peace. In the name of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 **Recently, a few people have passed along to me versions of this blessing in song.  Here are two illustrations, simply click on either or both.