Over the past month we've been using Paul's blessing at the end of 1 Corinthians to end our services.
It's interesting but I haven't really seen or heard it used before as a blessing in public worship, but as I thought about it, I actually like the sentiment and theology that it has.
It picks up the hope and prayer that we have for each other.. that we may know the grace of the Lord Jesus with us in our lives as we go from public worship to serving God through the week. God's prevenient grace shown in his provision and creation, and his redeeming grace in Jesus life death and resurrection, God's continuing grace as we know his presence through the Holy Spirit's indwelling, Grace that looks to a future fulfilment...'having confidence that he who has begun a good work in us can be trusted to bring it to fruition on the day of Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 1:6)
While the second verse is Paul speaking, or writing, it does sum up our hope as Christians, that people may know the love of the Lord Jesus in their lives because of the love that they experience from us. Our love of the Lord is outworked in our love for one another. A love in Christ which is also missional, which is (I think) wonderfully picked up in the image I have been using with the blessing... an open hand offering Christ to others.
It took people a couple of weeks to get used to saying it to one another... I think for me as well as others you actually had to step out from behind liturgical words and step into the picture yourself... yes it can still be saying words... but It actually calls us to voice our blessing and our commitment to one another in Christ, and we are not used to doing that.
AS a church our vision is that we are called 'to be a authentic, vibrant, sustainable community, growing as followers of Jesus, and inspiring others to join us on that journey" and this blessing picks up the elements of this vision very well.
... and yes we do use the three fold sung amen...