The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
At the close of the service in many churches, the priest or pastor calls on God's blessing and guidance for the departing congregation. Today's scripture is the oldest known benediction given to Moses by God for the priests to say over the children of Israel.
When we come together to worship, we are coming into his presence. Without people inside -- the people are the church -- it is an empty building. As we sing, pray, worship, and receive communion, responding to God's grace, we are nourished by his presence. Our spiritual batteries become recharged, and we are renewed. When we leave, we carry the Holy Spirit with us into the world. This parting prayer is a reminder that God goes with us. He cares for us, blesses us, and grants us peace.
While those times of communal worship are vitally important, it is equally critical to maintain our personal relationship with God. As God turns his face upon us, we, in turn, must keep our faces turned upon him and give thanks.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for your many blessings. Thank you for the feeling of your presence when we come together, and thank you for the Holy Spirit that empowers us. Please help to keep our faces always turned towards you and witness your amazing grace to others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.