While grumbling, fault-finding, and name calling are so commonplace, it seems like good words, well wishes and blessings are in short supply. We are starved for an unceasing, free-flowing benediction from the mouths of every religious leader, governmental representative, media personality, teacher, and employer. In fact, each and every one of us needs to stop the malediction (Latin; evil speaking) once and for all. It poses a real threat to the future and well-being of our world.
I remember being a boy at First Presbyterian Church in Danville, Illinois struggling through sermons, anticipating the Charge and Benediction. I was thinking more about the cavalry charge from a western movie than a mission call from the alter. When the benediction blessing came saying; "May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" to me it meant we were set free. Charge! My mother could hardly restrain me as my suit jacket ripped off in mid-flight to the car. There was still time to play a game of kick the can when we got home. Then it was off to my grandparents for Sunday dinner.
We can bring a message of hope and joy where we might have inflicted damage and beaten others down in the past.
My childhood memory, if somewhat irreverent, holds authenticity about benediction. There should be joy and even some exuberance with every good word we utter. And if we care about what's going to happen in these troubled times, spreading good words must become a top priority. The old people used to tell us 'If you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything at all.' True benediction takes that adage a step further. It incorporates the old Presbyterian mission charge by challenging us to bless each other continuously. There is no room left for negativity. We just can't afford it anymore.