Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Welcoming the new year

This is a picture of the Advent wreath in our home.

I know, it isn’t 2009 yet – but it is the beginning of the new church year. This year, since we are still new in our ministry and just getting settled into our home, we decided to celebrate the beginning of Advent with an unusual event. We invited the members of the congregation’s call committee – now our mutual ministry committee – and their spouses to our home for a service of house blessing.

This small group gathered Sunday afternoon and we moved together from room to room, bearing a candle and a cross, taking turns praying not just for Ray and me as the residents of the house, but for those who will be welcomed into our home as guests, and for the many blessings we all often take for granted.

Thanksgiving and Advent seemed to meld beautifully as we prayed gratefully for peaceful rest, for refreshing water, and nourishing food. We prayed for the places in our home where study and chores like laundry take place. We prayed for creation found just outside our doors and windows. We even prayed for our beloved dog, Smokey, who attentively stood nearby during this prayer, then sat down quietly as we said amen!

And no, this wasn’t a rite we made up. This is a set of prayers that existed before, but have recently been updated in the new Pastoral Care book published by Augsburg Fortress. It was a very powerful experience to welcome others into our home and invite them to pray for us, our home, and our loved ones. It truly provided an opportunity for us to give thanks for our call to ministry in this place, for the comforts of our new home, for the joys of new relationships, and for the opportunities which lie ahead.

All in all, a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of a new year!

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