The benediction

BY: Lawrence Darmani

How do you sign off a radio talk show? Apparently, those concluding remarks require some talking skills.

How about a church service how do you sign off? For a church service to be properly signed off, the benediction is what is used.

Now, is there any connection between signing off a radio talk show and signing off a church service? The straightforward answer is no.

If no, then why in the world does this particular veteran, award-winning radio presenter often sign off his highly acclaimed talk show with the benediction – the Priestly Blessing?

And, as if that were not surprising enough for a radio talk show, he even precedes his show with the powerful prayer of the arch-bishop – the prayer that rocks the kingdom of Satan every morning when the talk show master takes his seat.

You are right – I am talking about my friend Kwami Sefa Kayi, who, in a rather humble move, requests that when we stop to say a prayer, we say one for him too. I sometimes imagine 10 million people praying for one man every morning!

And while you are pondering over all this, let me tell you about my rendezvous with the benediction.

In church, when the time comes, the minister in his flowing gown steps forward from his seat. With his arms stretched out toward the congregation, he says, “Now the closing prayer and the benediction.”

I cherish this moment, not only because it signifies the end of the service, but also because there is something about the benediction that gives me the kicks. And I’m referring to the Priestly Blessing.

Blessing

There are several benedictions, but the one that excites me most is the Priestly Blessing recorded in Numbers 6:24-26, which Kwami Sefa Kayi quotes to conclude his talk show.

So the minister steps forward. When all is silent, with our palms opened in readiness to receive divine blessing, he delivers my favourite benediction flawlessly –
“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up his face towards you and give you his peace.”

God asked Moses to instruct Aaron the priest to pronounce this Priestly Blessing on the people in order to put God’s name on the people for the Lord to bless them (Numbers 6:27).

Scripture encourages us to talk about God, seek to know him, declare his greatness, and draw close to him – but never to use his name in vain.

As I listen to every word of this timeless benediction, I accept and appropriate it for myself. Although the minister is blessing the entire congregation, I receive it personally.

“The Lord bless you and keep you!” When the Lord blesses me, he keeps me as well. He keeps me from stumbling and falling, and he preserves my life.

In a country where people curse others with reckless abandon, I certainly need God’s blessing to neutralise such curses. So I whisper in faith, “Amen!”

Then the minister says, “The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you!” Again, I take it personally. Imagine me walking through the valley of the shadow of this dark world and having the bright face of the Almighty God shine on me like sunray!

When God’s face shines upon us, we know we are in good hands, for he would be gracious to us. “Grace” is one of the most spoken words worldwide. Ask anyone, “How are you?” and you are sure to hear, “By grace!”

Grace

Indeed, grace is the unmerited favour that God bestows on us. It is only by grace that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With eyes still closed and palms opened to receive from God, I hear the minister conclude, “The Lord lift up his countenance towards you and give you his peace.”

The word “countenance” simply means “face,” and it amazes me that the Priestly Blessing mentions the face of God twice. When our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, it is great blessing to have God turn his face towards us in order to protect us and give us his peace.

To re-echo our need for peace and God’s readiness to provide it, the Lord Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27).

The priest’s “Amen” and the congregation’s “Amen” blend to conclude the benediction – till next Sunday.

During the week, however, if Kwami Sefa Kayi moderates his talk show, hopefully he would assume a minister’s role and pronounce the Priestly Blessing on his listeners. If he does, receive it personally.

The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.

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