Scripture Reading—Ephesians 6:21-24
Upon reading this short passage, you might conclude that there’s not much of substance here. These are just the closing words of the Letter to the Ephesians. Such things are mere formalities, right? Just a way of bringing a message to a close, correct? But are the endings of correspondence whether by e-mail, text, tweet, or phone important? We’re affected by the way messages and conversations end. We look for clues from what people say and how they say it. Don’t you feel terrible when a conversation ends in anger? Or with some hint of doubt about whether the person is well, or happy? Or wondering whether your relationship with that person is on solid footing? Christians have a way of ending their conversations and correspondence. It’s called “benediction.” We ask for God’s blessing and presence upon the people we’ve been talking with. And that’s how this letter ends. The writer wants the readers to know that he is sending a messenger named Tychicus who will tell them how he is really doing. And then he offers a benediction, a blessing that is not just perfunctory, but a way of expressing the hope that that the whole community will know God’s peace, love, and be filled with faith, all of which are gifts given in abundance by the God of Jesus. He wants them to know God’s grace and he acknowledges their undying love for Jesus Christ, regardless of whatever other disagreements or conflicts may have been discussed in the letter. A word of blessing—a benediction. It’s a powerful form of speech. How would our relationships with others be different if we took care to think about how we ended our conversations and communications? Could anything be more uplifting, positive, or fruitful than reminding someone of all the good we see in them and all the blessings we hope for them? Our benedictions don’t have to be overly theological or verbose, but reminding others, even those with whom we disagree or experience conflict, that we see good in them and want God’s best for them could be one thing that changes the whole tone of our relationships with each other.
Thought for the day: Offering a benediction—simple, heartfelt, and in our own words—for another when we part may be just the thing that prepares the way for love to deepen or healing to occur. Parting words have power!
Prayer: O God, help me to be mindful of the power of words to hurt and heal, bless and curse. Help me to learn the art of speaking words of blessing to others—those I love deeply, as well as those with whom I experience conflict and disagreement. Amen.