We conclude our series on The Narrative Commentary to the Divine Service by John Pless with what he says about the conclusion of the service:
POST-COMMUNION CANTICLE, PRAYER
Having received the Lord’s Body and Blood for our salvation, like Simeon who held in his arms the Savior of the world, we go in peace and joy singing Simeon’s Song from St. Luke, Chapter 2. Another song of thanksgiving based on 1 Chronicles 16:8-10 may be used instead. Before we leave the Lord’s Table, we give thanks, asking that the salutary gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood would have its way in our lives, strengthening us in faith toward God and fervent love toward one another. The Sacrament draws us outside of ourselves to live in Christ by faith and for the neighbor by love.
The Name of the Lord is the beginning and the end of the Divine Service. We are now marked with the Lord’s Name in the Benediction-that word of God’s Blessing from Numbers 6 in which He favors us with His grace and peace. With the Lord’s Name given us in Holy Baptism we were drawn together. Now with that same Name, He sends us back into the world, to the places of our various callings to live by the mercy we have received as living sacrifices to the praise of His glory and the good of our neighbor. To this benediction you add your Amen, declaring blessing received.
Notice how many allusions there are to the doctrine of vocation. I have heard Prof. Pless explain elsewhere that the closing prayer about “faith in You and in fervent love towards one another,” which was Luther’s phrasing, is a direct reference to vocation. At the close of the liturgy, in which we find forgiveness for our sins and grow in our faith, we are sent back out into our various callings to live out that faith “in love and service to our neighbors.”