Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Halverson Benediction

References: "Halverson Benediction" by E. Stanley Ott, www.buildingoneanother.org, e-Volume 5, No. 34, 8/22/2006

Keyword: missional, worship

Dick Halverson, who encouraged me to begin the “Building One Another” letter, was a spiritual mentor who had a profound impact on my life and ministry.

When Dick was Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, he graciously preached to the congregation I am serving. On the way back to the airport, I asked him, “Dick, what was the most significant thing you did at Fourth Presbyterian Church that brought vitality and spiritual strength to that congregation?” The question seemed to embarrass him a bit and finally he spoke. I was expecting him to say his preaching or his church staff or some church program but I didn’t anticipate his answer. Quietly he said, “I think it was my benediction.”

His benediction! I thought, “Of course!” I had heard it countless times. After all that happened in any given church service with music and singing and sharing and preaching, the last thing you heard were his words:

Wherever you go, God is sending you, wherever you are, God has put you there; He has a purpose in your being there. Christ who indwells you has something He wants to do through you where you are. Believe this and go in His grace and love and power. Richard C. Halverson

I often use this benediction. It has a wonderful way of helping people see themselves as sent - as God’s missional people into our world.

The term “missional” refers to the identity and activity of the people of God who are sent by God to engage their world on behalf of the mission of our loving God. Our Lord does indeed have a purpose and a place for you. There is something he wants to do through you. Believe it and go in his grace and love and power.

2 comments:

JF said...

What would you think of a pastor who uses this every week, but never gives credit to Rev. Halverson for writing it? -Anon.

Pastor Jim said...

Optimally, I believe the pastor should give credit where credit is due.

If a pastor does not give credit, it is not necessarily an integrity issue. For example, I have used benedictions from Scripture without citing my source. I also have used prayers out of the Book of Common Prayer without citing the source. I assume that members know that I am using such sources. Perhaps that is too strong of an assumption.

However, I would never knowingly claim to be an author of something written by someone else. One Sunday, I used a portion of the "Breastplate of St. Patrick" as a benediction. I thought that the prayer was famous enough that people would know that I was quoting the saint from Ireland. When people asked me, I was quick to tell them that the prayer was written by someone else.

If this situation concerns you, I would honestly talk to the pastor about it directly. Only then will you know if it is an accident, sloppy work or an integrity problem.