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What makes worship, a rite or a moment sacred?

I attended a recent ordination. 

My beloved became the Rev. Lauren Cannon in a service that was rich and full. 

mike denton
Conference MInister Mike Denton

This was the first ordination and installation I’d attended in years where I didn’t have an official role of some sort due to my conference position. 

Others from our conference and from Lauren’s home conference, the Illinois Conference, asked the questions and said the words I normally get to say. 

I sat in the pew, sang the hymns, said the words, and made the promises.  Family, friends and colleagues gathered in person, in spirit and in memory. 

This day had been on the horizon for a while.  At the same time it seemed both unreal and deeply real at the exact same time.  It was a good, good day.

These rites and liturgies are always an interesting mix of things. 

Whether an ordination, installation, wedding, baptism or funeral the day itself has its own sort of weight.  There is so much work in the planning of the day that getting through it all really feels like the completion of something. 

For those planning the day, there really isn’t much more to do once the service starts but adjust and adapt along the way to the small unanticipated or spontaneous pieces that emerge. 

Part of the joy at the end of the service is simply because its done.

Completion is far from the final word.  The service itself is a recognition of what’s begining, too. 

These rites in the life of the church are not just about what we’re being gifted with, but also about some of what we’re letting go. 










When someone is ordained, he/she is not only being trusted with leadership and pastoral roles in the Church, but are also letting go of the autonomy they had as a church member and agreeing to be accountable to “the faith and order of the United Church of Christ.” 

When someone is baptized, the person or the parents of the person are committing to accept both the joys and struggles of being faithful and to allow themselves to be supported by and in relationship with members of a faith community. 

These rites and rituals are full of what we let go and what we are given.

Every time of worship—whether its one of those more occasional rites and liturgies or Sunday morning worship—can have some of that in it.  That’s the hope, really. 

It is this bridge time where our week’s come with us; all the joys, the sorrows, the struggles and the celebrations. 

It’s a time for us to remember what’s important and recommit to prioritize our weeks around those most important things that God puts in front of us. 

It is a time to mark completions and beginnings and the sometimes uncomfortable places in between.

Although what the pastor might bring is important, what we all bring collectively is still more important. 

What we bring, what we share, what we offer, what we let go, what we ask for, what we promise and how we recognize or seek out God in that moment is what makes that moment sacred. 

Bringing all that is not always easy.  Things get in the way but, with some exceptions, those are things we’ve brought, too, and can’t or aren’t ready to let go of, yet.

What do you bring to worship this week?


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News Copyright © December 2014



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