This is a prayer from the Iona community. It is a responsive benediction that is best led (in my opinion) not from the pulpit, lectern, font, or table but in the very midst of the people with confidence, conviction, and clarity.*
The cross, we will take it.
The bread, we will break it.
The pain, we will bear it.
The joy, we will share it.
The Gospel, we will live it.
The love, we will give it.
The light, we will cherish it.
The darkness, God shall perish it!
This is a prayer that I first experienced at a worship service at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I have used this as the responsive benediction for most of the Sundays that I have been preaching at Silver Creek Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia. I love this prayer for many reasons. First and foremost, like any good liturgy, the language is rhythmic, poetic and yet very easy to grasp. The responsive nature of the benediction gives a sense of shared responsibility among the congregation. It is almost as if the one presiding and the congregation are making a promise to themselves or, perhaps more accurately, are keeping a promise already made to them by God. As this prayer is uttered as we prepare to follow the Word into the world, this prayer empowers us by reminding us that it is our job to cherish the light and it is God’s job to perish the darkness!
*worship spaces differ greatly. For some communities, the table and font are the central focal point with the congregation gathered around them. If so, this prayer would best be done from that location. If not, care should be taken that the physical location of this liturgy is intimate!
The following is a benediction from the United Church of Christ.
Before this week ends, the Palm branches will be drying on the roadside.
The joyful crowd will become an angry mob,
and Jesus will replace robes of victory with a crown of thorns.
So then, go in the knowledge that whatever comes to you in this week,
you are held in the hand of God, hugged tight, held close,
and may God, the Three-in One,
bless you, uphold you and give you strength for the journey ahead. Amen.
The following benediction is from the United Church of Christ.
Go forth to live boldly,
as if death has no power over you.
Live as if your lives count for something–because they do.
God calls us in abundant love
to serve something greater than our own finite lives,
a greater cause for which we would even lay down our lives, as Jesus did.
For just as death on a tree could not stop the Christ,
so our lives in service to God become larger than ourselves,
part of the ever in-breaking realm of God—
that realm of justice and truth,
of enough for all and not too much for any one.
Go in peace, to love, to serve, and to proclaim:
One: Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Many: Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Filed under Easter, Liturgy
From Feasting on the Word – Worship Compansion, edited by Kimberly Bracken Long.
May the mercy of God ground us,
the love of Christ take root in us,
and the Holy Spirit grow in us,
that we may be ready for the coming of the kingdom.
Leader: Go from this mountain, you people of God.
All: We go with the wisdom of God’s Word.
Leader: Go from this mountain, you sisters in Christ.
Women: We will go and follow the Lord.
Leader: Go from this mountain, you brothers in Christ.
Men: We will go and follow the King.
Leader: Go from this mountain, you young ones in Christ.
Youth: We will go and follow the Holy One.
Leader: Go from this mountain, and go forth in the Spirit.
All: We will go for Christ shows the way.
And as you go from this mountain, you Sisters and Brothers in Christ, go with the assurance that the God who creates you, who redeems you, and who sustains you goes with you from this place to wherever the path may lead. Amen.