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And finally ...

Nearly all church services, including in the Army, finish with some sort of benediction – a final blessing before the service concludes. For many corps officers, it’s generally just a short prayer to close the service, while others like to read a verse of Scripture.

Some officers have a favourite benediction that they pronounce at the end of every service. As a young man, I served under an officer who used a well-known prayer from Numbers 6 at the end of every service, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee …” and so on.

I’ve been thinking about other benedictions we could use to conclude a Sunday meeting, and maybe you could suggest one of the following to your corps officers.

The Porky Pig benediction is possibly a little irreverent but seems fitting. Imagine it: you finish singing the closing song, the officer gets up and reminds you of the main challenge or theme of the morning and then says a short prayer before concluding with – “Thee-a-thee-a-thee-a-thee-a-thee-a-thee-that’s all folks!”

Another option would be ‘Joliet’ Jake Blues’ closing words as The Blues Brothers concluded their gig at Bob’s Country Bunker: “Well, folks, it’s time to call it a night … You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

For a real memorable finish, you could then move straight into your final vocal – “Move ‘em on, head ‘em up, head ‘em up, move ‘em on, move ‘em on, head ‘em up, Rawhide!”

Perhaps you prefer something from an older, gentler time; maybe the classic farewell from ‘The Sound of Music’. I’m sure you can picture it now: As the Sunday meeting draws to a close, the officer suddenly starts waving to you and singing: “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodnight,/ I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.” He dances in a little circle and adds some verses until he sits at the foot of the lectern and sings: “The sun has gone to bed and so must I,/ So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye”, and the whole congregation could wave and sing “Goodbye” as the officer exits stage left.

Personally, I’m a big Beatles fan, so I’m thinking of finishing with the last line from the last song of the last studio album made by The Beatles. I’d say a little prayer concluding with, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”, and I’d add an “amen”. No one particularly knows what that lyric means, but it sure sounds deep and meaningful. Even Paul McCartney, who wrote the lyrics, said he was just trying to write a couplet that sounded Shakespearian. Nevertheless, it sounds like something you could say at the end of a church service. In fact, you’d probably have people asking for the Bible reference for that verse!

Perhaps officers could just close with the last words of social theorist and philosopher Karl Marx, who passed away in 1883, saying to those gathered around his bed: “Go on, get out – last words are for fools who have not yet said enough!”

I guess as long as you add an ‘amen’, that might work.

– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos


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