Worship in Word & Deed

2 Corinthians 13:14 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

This is the primary standard traditional benediction that closes the Daily Office.  We often cross ourselves when we say or hear these words.  Roughly speaking, the grace part is when we touch our heads, the love part is when we touch our torsos, and the fellowship part is when we touch our shoulders.  When we’re physically lazy, so to speak, we don’t go very far down our torsos – in fact, I often touch in line with my heart.  Last night I realized a beautifully simply thing: the words and the gestures match!

  1. The grace of Jesus is what allows us to believe, have faith, and be saved.  Regardless of Calvinist/Arminian debates, the prevenient grace of God is our starting point.  It is fundamental to our belief; and is only possible because of Jesus.
  2. The love of God (especially from the Father) can only be realized in light of that grace.  Loving God is our only appropriate response to that grace.  Even if our sins defy the grace in which we live, God’s love is constant, as should also be ours.
  3. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is where and how that love is lived and worked out.  That faith must lead to love, and that love must be expressed or proved; that is fellowship.  We thus love God in deed as well as in word, for a theory is not certainly a fact until it is proven and tried.

So the devotional value here is two-fold.  First, when we hear these words, we can realize that this is not just a nice farewell address, but a real benediction – a good word – from God to us.  It’s a little summary of the entire Christian life of salvation.  And secondly, we gain yet another layer of meaning to the physical gestures of crossing ourselves: not only is it an invocation of the Trinity, but also a physical mnemonic for our relationship with the Triune God.

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About Fr. Brench

I'm a Priest in the Anglican Diocese in New England interested in spiritual formation, theology, and the growth of God's Kingdom.
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