In Catechesis

The scorching heat and sand of the desert wasteland became more bearable than staying with Sarai, her mistress, whom she fled. As she found respite in a spring of water, the Lord found her. And He talked with her. An afflicted and distressed runaway servant sits in the wilderness conversing with God.

After their exchange, Hagar overflows with praise to the God whom she has now seen. In her exaltation she does not choose to acclaim Him as the God who is merciful, faithful, just, or compassionate—though she could have. Hagar chooses the verb “seeing” to extol God — He is the God who sees.

At the close of the Divine Service we join with Hagar in her praise and exalt the God who has seen us. The Lord has turned His face toward us and sees us. The Lord has seen us in our affliction by sin, death, and the Devil. He has seen and does not turn His face away from us, but rather turns it towards us in Christ.

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” — Numbers 6:22–27

As the Divine Service concludes, we recieve the benediction and are dismissed with the Lord’s Name upon us. The Lord who has seen us will be with us. He will not turn His back on us, but will continue to be gracious to us and look on us not as sinners, but as Baptized children.

We leave in the same way we began, by the Lord putting His Name on us. Norman Nagel expresses the significance of this when he writes, “When the Lord puts his name on something, he marks it as his own…Where his name is located, he is committed by that name to see to its good. Such good the benediction draws out of his name and bestows.”

The Lord is the God who sees me, who Baptized me and made me His own. He is the God who forgives, who blesses and sanctifies. He is the God who sees sinners and does not turn away. The Lord is the God who sees and provides, who feeds His children at His table that He might wash away their sins and draw them to Himself again and again.

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