Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Pre-Sabbatical Prayers and Blessings

On Sunday, we not only had an interactive art project with a manger and cloth strips; we also decorated gingerbread between services.

And then, we did this:

That's our pastor in the middle with the blue stole over his white robe.  We offered a prayer of blessing and protection before he left for his month-long sabbatical.

He's actually here through Christmas Eve, but it made more sense to do the blessing on a less hectic Sunday.

We've blessed him before, so it wasn't completely unfamiliar.  Before his sabbatical a few years ago, I led the prayer on Christmas morning, and we sent him on his way.  I led the prayer this year too.

This year, we also invited his spouse to come forward.  As part of the sabbatical, they will take a trip to Israel, and so we also included prayers for their protection.

I prayed that our pastor be able to experience rest and rejuvenation.  I prayed that the congregation left behind also have that gift.  My voice wavered a bit--how much do I yearn for rejuvenation!

I like that we're a congregation that prays in many ways.  If I'm being honest, I also like the fact that we pray at orderly times--no one is slain in the spirit and praying in tongues at our church.  But I also like that our congregation will come forward to lay on hands, if everyone is comfortable with that--which is part of the prelude to prayer time that I included.   We are a church that is careful with touching and boundaries--I think it's a crucial part of being an institution these days.

This morning, I'm offering similar prayers for us all:  let 2018 be a year of rejuvenation.  There's work to be done, and so many of us are so tired.  Let us get some crucial rest--but let us use that rest to do the hard work of restoration.

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