Charge and Blessing

Chaplain Leigh Ann Min, M.Div., BCC
Walker Baptist Medical Center

My dad, a Baptist preacher’s kid, described the style of worship I regularly attend on Sundays as “high church.” I couldn’t tell what he really thought about the scripted “call and response” dialogue with the congregation, the unison-read prayer of confession and affirmation of faith and the “charge and blessing” at the close of the service. It was certainly different than his family of origin’s faith tradition’s worship style and I suspect different for most readers of our Baptist Net devotion postings. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you a particularly meaningful “charge and blessing” found in the Book of Common Worship.[1] Each time I hear this liturgy, I feel empowered and entrusted to attempt to do what it demands:

Go out into the world in peace;

have courage;

hold on to what is good;

return no one evil for evil;

strengthen the fainthearted;

support  the weak, and help the suffering;

honor all people;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This liturgy is referring to the words of the Apostle Paul, a man who was transformed by God from a persecutor of Jesus’ followers to an evangelist of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  (See I Cor. 16:13; 2 Tim. 2:1; Eph. 6:10; I Thess. 5:13-22; and I Peter 2:17). Paul’s closing remarks in his letter “to the church of the Thessalonians” are instructing church members on how to live as they await the Lord’s return. The emotional emphasis is one of urgency and importance.

I sense the same kind of urgency as I serve as chaplain in the hospital setting. I am keenly aware of the finality of human life. There is no birth without death. And since life is a precious gift, it matters how we live the moments, days, and years in-between.

For me, this “charge” (above) and “blessing” (below) help remind me of God’s presence, helps keep me focused on important matters and encourages me to help others as I love and serve the Lord. I hope they will encourage you today in your hospital ministry.

Prayer: May “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV) Amen.

[1] Book of Common Worship, Prepared by The Theology and Worship Ministry Unit for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Published by WJK Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky.

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