Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Liturgy for the Festival of the Christian Home: A Blessing for All People and All Families

Since beginning pastoral ministry in 2003, it has always been my tradition to celebrate, not just Mother's Day, but "Festival of the Christian Home," which is a beautiful way to consider the inclusiveness of this particular day. This is a United Methodist term, and our tradition believes that we can use this as an opportunity to strengthen our homes as a place for living justly, celebrating the fullness of our creation as individuals and families of all compositions. 

It has always been true - from Biblical times until today - that families have had a variety of ways in which they are expressed. Many of us have dear and close relationships with our families of origin, but so many of us do not. In light of that, we have found ways to create families of choice, form covenant relationships with spouses and partners, and become loving and caring people to children of all ages. 

This Sunday at Laguna Beach United Methodist Church, we will offer a Blessing of Families liturgy, in which we, as individuals, couples, families of choice and families with children, are invited to come forward to be anointed and blessed. This ritual serves a dual purpose, both to honor the people who have mothered and loved us, as well as to honor the many ways in which we have created our families. I wrote this liturgy in 2008 for use at Saint Mark United Methodist Church, as a way to recognize the covenant relationships that existed, but had never had the opportunity of being blessed or recognized in the church. 

I pray that you will bring those dear to you to our service of worship, so that we can celebrate this special day together. 


Fathering God, you have searched us and known us. You know when we lie down and when we rise up; you discern our thoughts from far away.

Mothering God, it was you who formed our inward parts, you who knit us together in our mother’s womb. We praise you, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Holy Son, you have come into the world as the Word made flesh and dwelling among us, as a constant and abiding reminder that God is always with us, even to the ends of the earth. You are the light that has shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Creating Spirit: Where can we go that you are not with us? If we ascend to heaven, you are there. If we make our bed in the depths, you are there. If we perceive the darkness overwhelming us, we know that even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. You hem us in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon us. When we come to the end, you are still with us.

Let us pray:
Loving God, in your wisdom you have created us and given us many gifts.  Today, we thank you for all that we mean to each other and to our friends and families.  We thank you for the love that has brought us to this time and place, and for your love which abides to tie us all together. Where you are, O God, there is love. Amen.


God, in your wisdom and love, you have created us and called us good. You have created us in your image, and blessed us as men and women. Today we celebrate the joy that we have found in relationship with one another. As you have created us and called us good, so have you said that it is not good that we should be alone, so you have given us helpers as partners. You have given us choice in who we build our relationships with, and we are able to say to one another, as Ruth said to Naomi:
          Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge;
          your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

Let us pray:
God, your strength is sufficient for us all. We have committed ourselves one to the other in your presence, so we pray that you will continue to be with us in the unfolding of our future.  Give us strength and courage in times of difficulty, wisdom and love in times of opportunity and challenge, and the sharing of joy in times of happiness and success.  May we continue to grow in your love; through the power of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Incarnate Christ: You have modelled to us what it is to be in relationship with one another. You have broken bread with the weary, comforted the lonely, healed the sick, and wept with friends. We see in your witness what it means to love one another as God has loved us. We thank you for calling us friends, because you have made known to us everything that you have heard from our Father in heaven. Thank you for sharing in relationship with us as equals, and help us to continue to love our friends as you have loved us. Bless us as we form relationships with one another that, as we speak, our souls will be bound up in one another, so that we may love our friends as our own souls, just as Jonathan loved David.

Let us Pray:
God of friends and families, we are linked together in a community of friendship and support.  We pray for one another. We remember those who cannot be with us today. May we all continue to share in your gifts of love, strength, courage and wisdom, and to know your joy.  Give us growing understanding, sympathy with each other's difficulties, patience with each other's faults, and grace to walk in your ways. Amen.

Creator Spirit: You have worked in us to make us open to loving one another in selfless and life-giving ways. For some of us this means the responsibility and joy of raising children. For these lives, which have touched us and blessed us, we thank you. Today we bring to you our children in order that they may be blessed as Christ blessed the children of his day saying, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” And he took them up in his arms and blessed them. Help us to bless them as they have blessed us.

Let us pray:
Loving God: We come today carrying children and youth in our hearts – the children we brought into this world, the children we parent, our grandchildren, nieces, nephews, Godchildren, mentees, the children we care for in our work, and the children we speak out for in our witness. Lord, help us not to be so preoccupied with our purposes that we fail to hear their voices or see their special vision of truth. Keep us with them, ready to listen and to love even as you have loved us, your grown-up and sometimes wayward children. Amen.


  And now, with the confidence of the children of God, let us pray:

  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.


All are welcome to come forward to be anointed individually. If you like, you may come as an individual, or with your spouse or partner, children, or with friends and family of choice.

1 comment:

Harry Harkins said...

I am really hesitant to post this, lest I be perceived as negative. But when I was living in Atlanta and an active member of St. Mark UMC, I never came forward to be anointed during this service. As a (then) single person, it just didn't feel right to come forward during a service devoted to (all types of) families, even though single people were explicitly welcomed. It's probably just my own "stuff," but at least for me, the feeling was real. Just wanted to share something I still remember.

I love St. Mark and love Mandy. For some reason, this was an issue for me. Now I've said it, and let's move on.