As my wife and I were walking home from a Sunday morning worship service led by our student pastor, we mused over the blessing. It was not the words he spoke, because he spoke them very well. Nor was it that the blessing was unbiblical, because it came from Numbers 6. Rather, we observed that there was no physical, outward enunciation of that blessing. As my wife and I clasped each other’s hand and lifted our free hands to receive the blessing, we received the spoken Word without experiencing the physical dimension of raised arms granting the blessing.
We wondered about the practice of the Christian Reformed Church not to permit student pastors, ordained elders, or others with a license to exhort to raise their hands when providing a blessing to the congregation. We asked ourselves if the CRC was right in maintaining such a practice, since the blessing is intended to enhance the congregation’s understanding of God’s love and care for them as they enter into a new week.
Are we just as blessed by an unordained person who offers a blessing without outstretched arms?
Does the congregation understand this practice of the CRC? Are we just as blessed by an unordained person who offers a blessing without outstretched arms (or arm)? We wondered if there was any thought by either the congregation or the student pastor that perhaps the congregation is not receiving a full blessing the way God or church practice intended the congregation to have when such a blessing is offered. Is a congregation missing something of God’s blessing during a pastoral vacancy when a student pastor, ordained elder, or someone with a license to exhort is ministering to them?
This is not a salvation issue, nor is it an issue we raise to cause divisions in the church. It is simply an observation of something my wife and I feel could be better addressed. We feel very blessed to have a student pastor who ministers to us on Sundays through the prayers he offers for us as a congregation, through the solid, biblically based sermons he preaches, and through the spoken words of God’s blessing he offers. But we would also like to know that our student pastor, ordained elders, or others with a license to exhort can bless us fully with lifted arms before we leave the sanctuary.
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Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Tell A Better Story
- ‘Rebirth’ for a Wisconsin Church
- Book review: A Church Called Tov, by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight