This is a prayer from the Iona community. It is a responsive benediction that is best led (in my opinion) not from the pulpit, lectern, font, or table but in the very midst of the people with confidence, conviction, and clarity.* The cross, we will take it. The bread, we will break it. The pain, we will bear it. The joy, we will share it. The Gospel, we will live it. The love, we will give it. The light, we will cherish it. The darkness, God shall perish it!
This is a prayer that I first experienced at a worship service at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I have used this as the responsive benediction for most of the Sundays that I have been preaching at Silver Creek Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia. I love this prayer for many reasons. First and foremost, like any good liturgy, the language is rhythmic, poetic and yet very easy to grasp. The responsive nature of the benediction gives a sense of shared responsibility among the congregation. It is almost as if the one presiding and the congregation are making a promise to themselves or, perhaps more accurately, are keeping a promise already made to them by God. As this prayer is uttered as we prepare to follow the Word into the world, this prayer empowers us by reminding us that it is our job to cherish the light and it is God’s job to perish the darkness!
*worship spaces differ greatly. For some communities, the table and font are the central focal point with the congregation gathered around them. If so, this prayer would best be done from that location. If not, care should be taken that the physical location of this liturgy is intimate!