The Divine Service – The Salutation, Benedicamus, and Benediction

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We have come to the final portion of the Divine Service. After praying the Collect of Thanksgiving, the pastor and congregation, for the third time, exchange the Salutation.

P: The Lord be with you.

C: And with your spirit.

As at the other times, this is not just a “holy hello,” but a blessing to each other as the Lord’s gracious presence is shared between the congregation and the pastor.

The Benedicamus is quoted from Psalm 145:10:

P: Let us bless the Lord.

C: Thanks be to God.

It may seem rather odd that the pastor would encourage the congregation to bless the Lord and the congregation respond with a word of thanksgiving, but if we look at the original Hebrew of the word translated “bless” we find that it could also be translated “praise” or “glorify.” After having received Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, it is only natural for us to respond with words of thanks, even while repeating the words He has given to us (Ps. 145:10) back to Him. What parent doesn’t love to hear his child cheerfully say, “Yes, thank you, Dad, for the new phone. I will call you like you asked”? This is essentially what we are doing when we pray His words back to Him.

The Divine Service concludes with a very important blessing called the “Aaronic Benediction.” It is called this because in Numbers 6:22-27, the Lord commands Moses to tell his brother Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel, along with his sons saying, “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

‘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 countenance upon you, And give you peace.’

“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

As we started the Divine Service with the Invocation, calling upon the Triune God, so we close with the name of the Triune God put upon us. We see, even in this Old Testament blessing, one Lord, yet referenced three times. Consider also the particular work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as Creator/Preserver, Redeemer, and Sanctifier respectively. The Father blesses and keeps. The Son appears to us in the person of Jesus Christ, earning peace for us on the cross. And the Holy Spirit continues to show us Jesus’ gracious appearance through Word and Sacraments, bringing to us today the peace of forgiveness won by Jesus so long ago.

The congregation then closes out the Divine Service with a three-fold “Amen.” That is, “yes, yes, so let it be.” And so the Lord, sends us on our way, refreshed and strengthened for the troubles and trials we are to face once again in the world, confident that if He doesn’t take us sooner, we can return to His presence next week for the same rest and refreshment amid His forgiving Word and Sacraments. 

Rev. Gullixson is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church at 162 Sneden Street. The Divine Service begins at 9:30 AM every Sunday. To speak with Pastor Gullixson, please call (760) 873-6589.