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You are winning

May 19, 2008

by Pastor Paul Marggraf, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Delano

At the church you attend, your pastors most likely speak the benediction at the end of the worship service with their hands upraised, almost as if they are under arrest or signaling a touchdown.

The benediction, or blessing, which ends our church services is, in a small way, a reenactment of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The Bible tells us that our Lord left this earth with his hands uplifted in blessing (Luke 24:51-51).

But like many of the symbols of the church, the pastor’s practice of raising his hands to proclaim a blessing has a connection to more than one event in Bible history. The blessing which ends the worship service is not only a reminder of the ascension of Jesus; it is also a reminder of how God gave his people victory over their enemies.

Long ago, God defended the people of Israel in a rather curious way. He allowed the Israelite army to defeat the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his hands in blessing. But the instant Moses lowered his hands, the tide of the battle turned in favor of the enemy (you might want to read the story for yourself in Exodus 17).

To ensure victory, Moses needed the help of Aaron and Hur. These two men propped up Moses’ hands until the Amalekites were finished off.

So, when your pastor raises his hands to speak the blessing, God is holding before your eyes a victory signal. He reminds you that you are winning!

No matter what personal losses you may be suffering at the time – loss of health, loss of income, loss of a friend or relative – the act of blessing reminds you that you are winning.

The most important battle of your life, the battle for your eternal salvation, has already been won for you by Jesus. And with each passing day, you draw closer to that time when you will enter our Lord’s rest from battle. You are winning!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.