Monday, July 27, 2015

Sending forth to Seminary

One of the members of St. Paul's Salt Lake City, Brian Rallison, is leaving for seminary (VTS).

We decided to "send him forth" from St. Paul's:  acknowledging his formation here within this congregation, and publicly stating that this relationship is not ending, but changing.

I looked through every resource I have, and found nothing to liturgically do this.

So naturally, I made something up!  My commentary on the liturgy (right after the Confession and Absolution, but before the Peace) is in red:


Kurt begins, calling up Diane Gooch and Rhonda Dossett along with Rev. Christine

Starts with a few words… (about the changing, not ending, of our relationship to Brian)

Then Kurt invites Christine to say a few words about Brian’s journey and a prayer
(I asked Christine to speak, since I have only been here since February, and missed much of Brian's journey.  She did a wonderful job.)

Christine says her words, and then says:

“This is a collective prayer for all of us, adapted from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude”:

God, we have no idea where we are going. We do not see the road ahead of us. We cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves, and the fact that we think that we are following your will does not mean that we are actually doing so. But we believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And we hope we have that desire in all that we do. We hope that we will never do anything apart from that desire. And we know that if we do this you will lead us by the right road though we may know nothing about it. Therefore we will trust you always though we may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. We will not fear, for you are ever with us, and you will never leave me to face our perils alone.” 
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude p. 83

(This Merton prayer has become a favorite, thanks to The Rev. Canon Matthew Stockard who introduced me to it at CREDO.  The plural version is actually used in the book Listening Hearts:  Discerning Call in Community, by Suzanne Farnham, Joseph Gill, Taylor McLean and Susan Ward.)

Then Kurt invites the four of us to place our hands on Brian’s shoulders:

You have arrived to this moment by living fully into what God has created. There is no other path to this moment than the past. Learn and grow from what has transpired. 
The Lord Jesus continues to be your strength: it is through his vulnerable way that you find and seek the Holy. 
And now, as you go forward to seminary, be open to what the Holy Spirit has in store: whether or not it matches your vision of what you believe will come. 
And may God’s blessing be upon you, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, now and forever.  AMEN.

Each person says to Brian:
"God goes with you.”

and then Kurt invites the Peace.