In 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Paul writes: Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
This passage is coupled with the Great Commission when we worship on Holy Trinity Sunday. The festival of the Holy Trinity celebrates the wonder of relationship with God. God – who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – includes us in the story of life. God – who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier – accompanies as we journey through life. Our God includes and accompanies us so that we may know love and live by it.
Saint Augustine asked: “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of (humanity). That is what love looks like.”
We often use Paul’s words as a greeting or a benediction: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. It reminds us of our own present-day commission to love God and neighbor – to know God embraces us through relationship.
I recently read a rewrite of Paul’s words by 16 year old Chris Davey, who was asked to give the benediction in his church. He said:
When you leave this place today: We challenge you to speak. To speak up for what you believe is right. To speak up for what is not easy. We challenge you to listen. We challenge you to let yourself fail, only to raise yourself to new levels of success. We challenge you to be unafraid to talk about Jesus. We challenge you to stop trying to impress others, and start trying to impress God. We challenge you to do the unpopular thing. We challenge you to be a rebel. We challenge you to be unabashed in affection. We challenge you to humble yourself. We challenge you to allow yourself to be humbled. We challenge you to avoid the path of least resistance. We challenge you not to await opportunity, but to find purpose and mission and to chart a course that your potential demands. We challenge you to find joy despite difficult circumstances. We challenge you to believe without seeing. We challenge you to respond with grace. We challenge you to live life better than you ever have before. Go into the world today with God’s grace!
May this be your benediction each day as you go into a world so desperately in need of The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. As you do, it will make all the difference.
– Pastor Hill