For the last several weeks we have been looking at each part of worship and considering how we can “mission” that element of the service. From being called together to confession of sin, from hearing God’s Word and responding with what we believe, we have discussed how each part relates to social justice and the command that Jesus gives us to “love our neighbor.”
Typically the end of our services includes some kind of Charge and Benediction. Often a pastor leads it by coming out to the center of the room, raising her hands, and gives some final words to the congregation. This part of worship reminds us that God sends us out into the world, and blesses us for that journey with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit goes with us.
What are the places God is calling your congregation to go? What message does God give us to share in those places?
Here’s an exercise you can do with your youth to “mission” this part of worship. Ask your pastor(s) for a few standard charges and benedictions that they say, or that are found in the Book of Common Worship. Choose one and re-work it to be specific to your local context and situation. How might you share this new benediction with the congregation? Here’s how one might sound if we were doing this exercise here in Asheville, NC…
“Go out into Asheville in faith. Don’t be scared, but be brave. Hang on to the things you know to be right. Don’t disrespect any neighbor, even if they disrespect you. Give strength and comfort to the patients at the Haywood Respite who need a friend, and the folks at A Hope Day Center who feel they don’t have a future. Love everybody, from Livingston Heights to Pisgah View Apartments. from the mansions of Biltmore Forrest to under the bridges downtown, being joyful about the hope and possibilities that the Holy Spirit gives each one of us, because God’s grace, mercy, and peace is promised to us all, no matter what.”
We hope this blog series has been helpful to you and your youth group. May God continue blessing you and your church, so you might in turn be a blessing to others!