The congregation prays that the Peace of the Lord, which we have heard about and are about to receive, will never leave us and will comfort and strengthen us forever. As the pastor and elders commune one another, the congregation sings the Agnus Dei, the “Lamb of God.” These words of praise come from John the Baptist when he saw Jesus as the Messiah and Savior. We recognize the same Lamb of God among us in the bread and wine. We pray that He will have mercy on us, hear our prayers, and grant us His peace.
Then comes the time we’ve been waiting for and building up to—Reception of the holy meal. People meet their God; earth is joined to heaven, Jesus is present with His body and blood. We commune with each other here, we are directly connected to the living God, and we are in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and in heaven above.
After the last ones have communed, we sing a Song of Praise to God. One of these songs speaks of our responsibility to share Jesus with others as one way to say thanks to Him for His gifts. The other, the Nunc Dimmitis, “Lord, now let depart,” comes from the words of Simeon in the temple as he held the baby Jesus in his arms. We too have seen our salvation, Christ Jesus. We reflect His light to all people, we tell everyone what He has done. As we prepare to depart the worship service, we do so with that as our goal, having been filled again with the very power of God.
From there the service moves rapidly to a close. As we do with every meal, we give thanks to God for His gifts. Finally we take into our lives the Benediction of God, the Lord’s good word of blessing. He desires to go with us and bless our work and rest and pleasure. We live our lives in unity with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Aaron, first high priest of God’s Old Testament people, did, so now the pastor speaks the great blessings of God Himself. With the sign of the cross of Jesus, the signature of our Savior is stamped upon our worship and we are again reminded of the baptismal covenant. The response is Amen—“Yes, Lord, let it be so.” From beginning to end the emphasis has been on the presence and work of the Triune God.
Having experienced the splendor of God’s greatness, grace, and glory through the liturgy, we leave strengthened to continue our worship of God in our daily lives. And the Closing Hymn sends us on our way—Go in peace, serve the Lord, thanks be to God!