My Word of the Week: Benediction

benediction – noun | bene·dic·tion | \ˌbe-nə-ˈdik-shən\

: a prayer that asks for God’s blessing

NOTE: This week marks my last week as an editor for The High Calling. Along with a dozen or so other editors, I have served as a part-time contractor with The High Calling since 2011. As the organization moves in a new direction, we also move on to new things in our lives. I wrote the following as a “goodbye” to the High Calling community.

As I was growing up, the churches I attended didn’t call the part at the end of the service a benediction. In fact, they didn’t even offer a benediction. Usually there was an altar call, a prayer, some announcements, maybe a song, and then we left. We knew the drill. We knew what we were supposed to do when we left.

I don’t remember what church (or denomination, for that matter) I was attending when I was first introduced to this special blessing at the end of the service, but I began to look forward to those closing words that would send me on my way each week. In part, I liked the benediction because it sounded like poetry snuck in on unsuspecting parishioners. I would listen to hear the language of Paul, the New Testament’s most prolific writer of benedictions. Our new pastor, who has been at our church just a few weeks, invites us to hold out our hands palms upward, as if we are about to receive something, while the benediction is pronounced. As I walk out of the sanctuary, I feel the blessing resting softly on my soul.

“Philosophically, then, benedictions have properties not possessed by other kinds of speech,” writes seminary professor Dr. Douglas Groothuis on his blog. “The act of pronouncing a benediction invokes a future in which goodness dwells. Beyond wishing, it commends goodness to the one receiving it.”

The words spoken in benediction aren’t ordinary words. They have the power to bless: both for the giver and the receiver. “The benediction is an act of faith,” writes Pastor Lee Eclov. “These words must be pronounced by someone who is confident that they are true.”


As the emphasis shifts at the High Calling, and I, along with many others, leave my editorial role, I have many things I could say: favorite articles to recommend, moments together by the Frio to recount, lessons learned to share. I could reiterate our organizing belief that all work matters to God. I could tell you about circumstances only God could have orchestrated to lead me to this little community on the web.

But when my time there is over, the work will continue, and just as importantly, your work will continue, too. You have children to raise and companies to lead and tractors to drive and books to write. Your work at school and at the office and at home will continue. And the people you minister to and employ and feed and teach—well, they are still counting on you. I have a few of them counting on me, too. I want that work we do to be filled with goodness. I want YOU to be filled with goodness.

So, instead of “goodbye” I offer these words of benediction, a blessing for all of God’s goodness to rest in you:

The Lord bless your heart and mind, as you come to know the heart and mind of Christ. The Lord bless your work and your rest, as you remember Christ’s work and rest for you. The Lord bless your hands and feet, as you become the hands and feet of Christ to others.

And finally, from Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.

Photo by Cindy Snider Re, via Flickr, used with permission. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.


Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • reply michelle ortega ,

    Thank you for this beautiful blessing and your wise words for moving forward. We tend to see our endeavors as permanent stops, but seldom does life unfold that way. I am moved by your confidence in those promises to receive them in faith!

    • reply Diana Trautwein ,

      Beautiful, Charity. Can’t think of a better way to say good-bye . . . for a while. It’s been a blessed experience for so many of us, that is for sure.

      • reply Darcy Wiley ,

        I love the benedictions our pastor gives at the end of our services. I’d like to do more of that on school mornings with my kids too, if we can slow our morning pace enough to take a breath before they head out the door!

        I’ve been so out of the loop I hadn’t heard the news about the transition with The High Calling. What a wonderful community that has been for you…and for me through you and Ann. The High Calling has been such an intelligent, thoughtful place on the web. I’m interested to hear about the new direction for THC and for you. I’ve missed you!

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          reply Charity Singleton Craig ,

          Darcy – What a good idea to send your children out each morning with a benediction. I think that’s a wonderful idea.

          About the High Calling, the Foundation behind the High Calling has made the decision to direct their resources toward initiatives that have more face-to-face contact with people, like their camps and retreat centers. The High Calling will continue on, but with just a couple of full-time staff. The 15 or so contracted editors are being let go. There will still be some content there, but not the weekly acquired thematic content. Also, the social media channels will be pared back some, too.

          I’ve missed you, too. I hope we can get together again soon.

        • reply Mary Geisen ,

          Thank you for this beautiful reminder of benediction. I did attend a church growing up that had benediction at the end and your description of something that benefits both the giver and the receiver just really touched a place in my heart. My word this week has been “retired”. It has been a journey in wrapping my brain around my new role as a retired teacher and what that means for me right now. I can’t say I have gotten very far in this process but it has really hit home this week as all my teacher friends started the school year. Thanks for your words and for asking about our “one words” each week.

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            reply Charity Singleton Craig ,

            Mary – I love hearing about your word of the week, and how you are thinking deeply about this new stage in your life. Like all transitions, I suspect this one will have both good and bad attached to it. I’m sure you will feel each of these coming in waves, especially in these early days. And thanks for your thoughts about benediction. I think I am one of the first to hold my hands out each week at the end of our Sunday service, maybe because I long for blessing. Have a good day!

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