May 12, 2015
Anytime a blessing is needed, there’s some sort of danger being recognized. Think about all the questions people ask when you announce you're getting married. Some ask, “Are you sure?” “How long have you known each other?” There is a spiritual and emotional risk that is part of committing yourself to another person.
Maybe it's the blessing for a child that comes at a baptism and recognizes the need for the protection and love from God, family and community.
During a baptism for adults, one of the questions asked is, “Do you promise, by the grace of God, to be Christ’s disciples, to follow in the way of the our Savior, to resist oppression and evil, to show love and justice, and to witness to the work and word of Jesus Christ as best you are able?” Who doesn’t need a blessing for that?
I’ve been asked to give asked to give a blessing for this sanctuary which means I have to talk a bit about warnings, too.
The name of this place is a “sanctuary;” it's supposed to be a place of safety – a place where people can be protected.
It’s a place we come to rest, learn, recommit and then be sent out of to do God's work in the world; a world that is not safe, especially if we're living a full and faithful life.
This is a place filled with symbols and elements that point toward that idea.
The music isn't to keep us here; it’s more like a soundtrack that will refresh us and set a tone to help us be faithful people.
The table brings us together only to send us out and welcome more people to the table; people who might not always want to be invited and, sometimes, people we might not want to invite.
The baptismal font is a place of covenants made that extend well beyond these doors and, when lived in to, change the world.
In the United Church of Christ we believe in freedom of the pulpit which means that what is said in the pulpit may not always be agreed with but it is never censored. Good preaching will not always make you comfortable but it will help you think about being more faithful.
This place of beauty, safety and sanctuary that so many have given so much to help create is important only to the degree to which this place provides sanctuary for those who need it and inspires commitments and covenants among those who worship here as we are sent out.
This may be a place of beauty, safety and sanctuary but it is calling us to live lives that are far from safe. Those warnings first, this place and this moment needs a blessing. Let us bless it together using these words from the UCC Book of Worship.
For the worship of God in prayer and praise, for the preaching of the Word, for the celebration of the holy sacraments, We ask for God's blessing on this sanctuary.
For the comfort of those who mourn, for the help of those who are perplexed, for the guidance of those who seek strength, We ask for God's blessing on this Sanctuary.
For the support and nurture of families, for the guidance of children, for the calling of youth to a life of service, We ask for God's blessing on this Sanctuary.
For guarding against evil, for fostering faithfulness, for promoting peace and justice in all the earth, We ask for God's blessing on this sanctuary.
For the opening of minds to your truth, for the care of the needy, for the giving of hope and courage, We ask for God's blessing on this sanctuary. For the unity of all believers in Christ, for the carrying of the gospel for the furtherance of the unity of all people, We ask for God's blessing on this sanctuary.
For the consecration of life and service, in grateful remembrance of those who have gone before us, and in gratitude for our life together in this church, We ask for God's blessing on this sanctuary.
We dedicate this sanctuary to the glory of God, to the honor of Jesus Christ, and to the praise of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God!
O God of all creation, we give thanks for the calling to be your church and for the power you give us to fulfill our calling. We are people with a past full of assurance and future full of hope.
Today we dedicate this sanctuary to you. May the meaning of this place live on in us so that each time we use it, we may be reminded of your holy presence. May we pass on to our children and to our children's children the significance of this sanctuary so that their journey of faith may be enhanced. To You be the power and the glory forever. Amen. –Rev. Mike Denton, PNCUCC Conference Minister