Those words usually come in the reverse order – invocations and benedictions. An invocation is a prayer offered at the beginning of something where we are asking that our hearts may be full and open to receive the presence of God in this particular gathering. In simple terms, it is a way of saying “Good morning God!” Benedictions come at the end and they are blessings spoken over our departing. “Go with God.”
I thought of these prayers as we pulled away from Georgia Southern University last Friday afternoon. We spent a muggy but otherwise mild day moving our youngest son into his college residence. It really does not take that long to move in a freshman. There are relatively few positions to have to transport since his new “home” comes furnished. In some ways we were the ones dragging this chore out, but it was apparent after just a couple of hours that it was time to go. His friends had arrived and they were making plans for the evening and weekend before the inevitable first class on Monday morning. After a quick hug and kiss we shared with him the ubiquitous parting many parents give on similar occasions. They went something like, “We are proud of you…have fun…but not too much fun…if you need us call us…here’s a little spending money…be careful…remember that we love you.”
Driving away felt like a benediction, a blessing over his new journey and our new journey as empty-nesters. And yet it was an invocation too. We are saying goodbye to one part of our life and hello to another. In both benedictions and invocations we need the blessings as we depart into the new journey as well as the assurance that God goes with us into the waiting future.
We practice this in church because we live this in life: benedictions and invocations; invocations and benedictions. Sometimes a minister speaks it; sometimes a friend shares it; sometimes a family member lives it. It is a genuinely good life to have those moments and embrace them as they are claiming God’s presence or pleading for God’s guidance.
Sweet and sacred is the life when we are able to mark these beginnings and endings with prayers of presence and blessing. I remain grateful to share a bit of this journey with you.
Blessed and blessings,