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
Last month I mentioned in my newsletter article the history and meaning of the altar in our worship. The use of the altar in Christian worship has become a time-honored tradition. As with all things we do as we celebrate, it is because Jesus Christ is the very center of our lives and all our worship!
This month I wish to explore what is called the Salutation. The Salutation is another time-honored tradition in our worship. It is one of the oldest portions of the historic liturgy dating back to at least the third century and perhaps earlier in church history. We also have biblical record of its use in older forms. The Salutation is essentially an ancient greeting and blessing of and 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 wish for the Lord’s presence. It is a statement of the reality of God’s presence for his people. In our worship together this greeting and blessing begins as the pastor positions himself behind the altar, then extends his hands saying, “The Lord be with you.” This is followed by the response of the congregation, “And also with you.” An older form of the congregational response is, “And with your spirit.” This response is more specific to the inner person in its reference to the “spirit,” and may also be a reference to the Holy Spirit given the ordained to serve God’s church in ministry.
In the time-honored and biblical tradition of the Salutation we speak of what the Lord wishes for us to receive. As we gather for worship each week we are reminded of our God’s promise for his people. Then by faith we receive the one who is with us always until the end of the age! The Lord be with you!