Finding a Fitting Finale

The closing words can make or break the whole worship service. Like the final sentence in a novel or scene in a movie, the closing prayer in some circles or the blessing in others determines the mood worshipers take from the experience.

Some sendings jolt the congregation. Take the time the assistant minister slipped into the service late and sat in the back. His office was near enough so that just as the pastor called on him for the closing prayer, he heard his phone ring. He automatically prayed: "Hello, Lord. This is Pastor Mike. May I help you?"

On the other hand, when things have fallen short during the service, a prayer may redeem the situation. A preoccupied mother sat with little expression of interest through worship I once led. The closing prayer reflected my rather mediocre sermon on the woman touching the hem of Jesus' robe: "We thank you for people here who have allowed themselves to be touched by anxious and troubled persons and, like our Lord, have felt power go from themselves ...

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