Many people have asked me about my concluding words whenever I celebrate Eucharist on Sunday mornings. Folks wish to know from where I got them, and whether they can get a copy of them. These “concluding words” make up that part of the Eucharist I (and other clergy) call “the blessing” – the pronouncement of God's love and favor to one or more persons – and it falls after the post-communion prayer and before the dismissal. Interesting note if you are a liturgy nerd like me, “the blessing” is mandatory when Eucharistic Prayer Rite I is celebrated, but is optional under the rubrics for the Eucharistic Prayer Rite II liturgies. Nevertheless, I have never taken part of or celebrated any Eucharist in which the priest does not end the service with a Blessing.
To be real honest, I don’t remember where or how I came across this blessing. Most likely, I came across it on social media – maybe in a religious “meme.” Whatever its origins, I found it, liked it, printed and cut it out, and taped it in my prayer book (although I truly can’t recall how or when it ended up there). What I do recall is that during my first ordination retreat at Cathedral Ridge – a retreat the Bishop has for all of those persons being ordained to either the deaconate and priesthood – Bishop Rob told those being ordained to the priesthood, that we should find one “go-to” blessing – one through which the Spirit truly speaks to us – the one we keep in our back pocket. Of course, this made all of us start to scramble and look through the varied blessing Apps on our smartphones (yes, there is an App for that as well) to see which we should use at our ordination.
It has taken me 2½ years to find such a blessing – one that speaks to my heart and through which the Spirit speaks to the people who hear it – and this is that blessing for me. To give credit where credit is due, through the majesty that is all things Google, I have learned that the first two sentences of the blessing comes from Henri-Frédéric Amiel, a Swiss moral philosopher, poet, and critic who lived from 1821 to 1881. Someone in the church took and appropriated Mssr. Amiel’s (as many in the church are so want to do) and crafted it into a blessing. I have done the same, taking Mssr. Amiel’s words, added my own twist and revisions, and now share it with you.
Before I do, however, I want to share what a blessing it has been for me to have been given the opportunity to serve with you as your Associate Priest here at Holy Comforter. I was blessed to have been called to Holy Comforter fresh out of seminary – green as green could be. And yet, you welcomed me with loving, open arms, and for that I am forever grateful. You are all – each and every one of you – a shining light in this world – the face of our incarnate Christ – and most importantly, beloved children of our loving and living God. I have learned so much from each and every one of you (from the youngest to the oldest) in what seems now to be my brief time here. Most of all, and for which I am most eternally grateful, you have taught me what it means to love and be loved, which in the end, is what we are all called to do. Perhaps this is the reason this blessing speaks to my heart.
And so, as we all get ready to turn the page in the next chapter of our lives, and without any further ado, I give each and every one of you my blessing:
Beloved, life is short,
and we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who
make the journey with us.
So… make haste to be kind,
and swift to love,
knowing that you yourselves are loved.
And the blessing of God,
who made us,
who loves us,
and who travels with us,
be with you now and remain with you forever.
Much love to you all,