Story in the Ceremony - the Last Chapter

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

--Luke 1:26-28

We have shared in a miniseries on the message and the meaning of the actions made in the service of worship. For God’s people of faith there is story in the ceremony! We explored how we first begin before our God in humble stance. We bow low, falling to our knees to confess. Then we respond by rising to praise!

What follows is then an intimate moment in the middle of our service. There with our Lord we share at the table he has set! After the Lord blesses and distributes his gifts to us for the forgiveness of our sins and strengthening of faith, we conclude the service of worship with what has historically been called the Post Communion. This portion concludes the intimate moment of the Sacrament with an intimate exchange!

This exchange is what is called the Salutation. The Salutation is one of the oldest portions of the historic liturgy. The Salutation is essentially an ancient greeting and blessing for the people of God. One of the more well-known uses of it is at the visit of the angel to Mary, the mother of our Lord with his announcement, “O favored one, the Lord is with you!” This ancient statement is so much more than a mere well wish. It is a statement of the reality of God’s presence for all his people!

In our worship together this greeting and blessing recognizes that the Lord is indeed with us all! At the time when the Post Communion begins the pastor states, “The Lord be with you.” This is followed by the response, “And with your spirit.” This is an ancient form of the congregational response, specific to the inner person in its reference to the “spirit.” St. Paul often shared words such as these as a concluding blessing in his letters.

After this exchange we then share in praise in the form of a prayer of thanksgiving together with song. For God’s people of faith there is story in the ceremony, a story that will ultimately be fulfilled in that last chapter as we enter God’s presence in glory!

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