I often wondered why there is a blessing/benediction pronouncement on the church at the end of worship gatherings in the evangelical-protestant churches I’ve fellowshipped with and worshiped alongside of. I often here either the Aaronic benediction of Numbers 6:24-27 or the Apostolic benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14.
My answer was that it was an impartation of God’s grace and mercy of the gospel from the worship gathering prayed (in a sense) for the people. Blessings are prayers from a person, to God, for another. Yet unlike prayer, it is not addressed to God but to the person receiving the blessing. It is a calling down of blessing. I was influenced by John Piper in his book Future Grace, to think of the grace from the meeting that has been experienced prayed to stay on the congregation as they depart and go there separate ways. That is why, he proposes, the New Testament letters end with something along the lines of “grace be with you.”
Here is John Frame‘s answer I read today, which was insightful and clarifying:
In the blessing, God identifies the people as his own, placing his own name upon them, and promises anew the blessings of the gospel. Scripture nowhere commands the church to use these formulas in public worship. Nevertheless, their content is biblical; indeed, they amount simply to additional Scripture readings. Further, it is certainly appropriate for God’s people, when gathered in the name of Christ, to receive a blessing that identifies them as God’s own (Worship in Spirit and Truth, 94-95).
(Side Note: A member of the church and I are reading through this book, Worship in Spirit and Truth, and found it very insightful and easy to read and helpful in growing my individual worship as well as encouraging and praying for our churches corporate worship to be more biblical).