"The Lord bless you and keep you." Recall again the words of Jesus in the parable of the sheep and the goats: "Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom." The blessing that God speaks to us in the Benediction prepares us for that final summons. Throughout the Divine Service, God is forming us in his likeness as he establishes in us a deeper and more lasting faith toward him and a persistent and steadfast love for one another.
"The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you." In their reports of Jesus' Transfiguration, the evangelists tell us that Jesus shone more brightly than the sun, prompting Peter to say, "Lord, it is good for us to be here." In heaven we will have the same response because it will be good--very good--to be in the presence of the Light of the world. For the moment, we see only dimly, but then we will see face to face. Still, it is good to be here even now, in this heaven on earth that we call worship, for already here God showers us with his grace.
"The Lord lift up his countenance on you and give you peace." We Christians are truly blessed in that God does not hide his face from us. In all other religions there is ultimately doubt as to their gods' attitudes toward them. How can it be otherwise, given that their gods are the creation of their own imaginations? But ours is the creator of heaven and earth. To be sure, he is a stern judge who holds the sinner accountable. But in the person of his only Son, we see our Father's true nature, his fatherly heart of love. That is the countenance that he lifts up toward us in his holy Word and Sacraments as he reveals his mercy and grace.
Where the Lord blesses and makes his face shine and lifts up his gracious countenance on us, there is peace. Not the peace of this world, but peace between God and his faithful people. We know that peace because even now, in Word and Sacraments, we have Jesus and all his benefits. And in heaven we will rest in his eternal peace.
Reposted from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod website.