At the close of the weekend worship gatherings at Lakeside Church I sometimes deliver magic words:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
And be gracious unto you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
And give you his peace.
OK, they’re not magic—not in some hocus-pocus way. But I watch them do magic things. I watch them bring tears to people’s eyes. I watch when people receive them as if they really were receiving a blessing.
And that’s what makes them magic: they really are a blessing.
Jesus said people would be blessed for certain things in this life. Those who are poor in spirit would be blessed. Those who mourned would be blessed. So would the meek, and the hungry for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart and the peacemakers. Blessed.
The word Jesus used is the Greek word makarios. When we say it means blessed, it doesn’t help much because we don’t know what blessing really means in this postmodern world. But the word simply means happy. Someone who is blessed is happy.
When I watch the faces of the people who receive this end-of-the-service blessing, what I see is happiness. To receive that blessing makes them happy—in a really good way.
I think for some people they happily receive this blessing because they heard it growing up. The happiness comes from returning to the faith-filled days of childhood. That is a great reason to be happy, to feel blessed.
For other people the happiness comes because they hear the words and receive them, welcome them, as a literal blessing from God. The words came from God in the first place. In Numbers 6:22-27 God told Moses to tell Aaron and his sons (Israel’s priests) to use these words when they wanted to bless people. He said that when the priests did this they would be putting God’s name on the Israelites and God would indeed bless them.
Every time I use this blessing—it’s a benediction really—I am putting God’s name on his people. When they get that, they know his blessing is coming.
I wonder what would happen if we lived in God’s blessing, if we lived with God’s benediction on our lives? What would be different if we knew we carried God’s name with us? Would we live differently? Would we think about ourselves differently?
Oh wait, don’t people who follow Jesus carry the name of Christ with them? God has given us his blessing in the person of his Son. When we live by faith in him, we carry God’s name every day.
It may not be magic. But it comes with life-giving power.