Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Cor. 13:11-13)
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At the end of both Morning and Evening Prayer, we have a choice of several concluding sentences. In the economy of the Prayer Book, the first option printed is usually preferred (as when the rubrics say “stand or kneel” they are suggesting we “stand”).
So the most familiar closing words of the Daily Office are these: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.”
What I find so intriguing is that we end our daily worship not with a pious proclamation of our goodness, but with the same appeal for unity that Paul prayed for the fractious church in Corinth. It’s as if we should sigh like he probably did: “Oh, for God’s sake, be gracious like Jesus, and share the love of God, and get along in the Spirit, wouldya?”
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Bonus trivia points: Who else noticed that in the NRSV Bible the last verse of 2 Corinthians is 13:13, but in the Book of Common Prayer, the closing sentence is noted as “2 Corinthians 13:14” (BCP 102)? Turns out the KJV Bible numbers the last verse as 14. I’ll have to dig a little and see if I can find out why the NRSV only goes to 13.
And before you send your cards and letters, folks, remember that verse numbers are artificial constructs not present in the biblical manuscripts. But still, it’s a little puzzle.