“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.” vss. 1-2
We typically end worship services with some sort of benediction, a prayer that God’s blessings of grace and peace would rest upon us as we go out into the world. It’s an old tradition, one that stretches back to the very beginning of our life together as God’s people, way back even, to Israel’s wilderness wanderings. The psalmist uses a form of that Aaronic blessing as he asks that God would continue to make his face shine on Israel, not just for her own sake, but for the sake of all nations. That’s an important caveat, one that remains in effect for us. Often we’re glad to ask for continued prosperity in our lives, both as individuals and as a nation, but we often forget that if we are blessed, it’s not just for us, but for the sake of the world. We can never become so parochial in our thinking that we begin to believe that we are the center of God’s world. The world’s bounty is intended for all its citizens, not just those in our family or in our country. How sad it is when we who have been picked to share blessings begin instead to hoard them! May those words of benediction that we hear as we leave worship be a continual reminder of our call to be a blessing to all those we encounter, both in our neighborhoods and around the world.
Thought for the Day: How do I understand American exceptionalism?