Ritual of Blessing & Litany of Commitment – Thandiwe Dale-Ferguson, USA

This ritual draws together a faith community in a renewal and affirmation of gifts and talents.
It includes readings, a litany and the laying on of hands.
Romans 12:4-8, First Peter 4:8-11, Matthew 20:25-28

Opening words

Jesus came among us as a servant and calls us to faith and a life of loving service to our neighbor. God anointed Miriam and Deborah, Stephen and Philip, Phoebe and Priscilla, calling them to faithful service. The apostle Paul, recognizing the diversity of gifts within the Church said, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same spirit gives, them. There are different abilities to perform service, but the same creator gives everyone the ability for particular service. The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.”

A reading from Romans 12:4-8

Just as each of our bodies has several parts and each part has a separate function, so all of us in union with Christ form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other. Our gifts differ according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophecy, then use it as your faith suggests; if administration, then use it for administration; if teaching, then use it for teaching. Let the preachers deliver sermons, the almsgivers give freely, the officials be diligent, and those who do works of mercy do them cheerfully.

A reading from First Peter 4:8-11

Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

A reading from Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus called the disciples to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A Responsive litany of commitment

God calls each of us according to our gifts, to serve those in need, to seek justice for the oppressed and disenfranchised, to care for the earth and all the creatures that inhabit it, and through our words and action to bring God’s love and peace too all creation.

Will you, as servants of God in community with one another accept this call?
We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.

Will you give faithful witness in the world that God’s love may be known in all you do?
We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.

Will you proclaim the good news of God’s everlasting love through your words and deeds?
We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.

Will you work to serve all people, the stranger, the immigrant, the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the sick, the afflicted; people of all ages, class, creed, and orientation, following the example of Jesus?
We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.

Will you strive to work for the just and proper use of God’s creation that we may free the world from poverty and famine and move towards justice and peace in all the earth?
We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.

Will you guide, encourage, challenge and support one another, and in all things strive to live together in the peace and unity of Christ?
We will, and we ask God to help and guide us.

As there are many members in one body,
So we, though many, are one body in Christ.

Where two or three are gathered in my name,
There am I in the midst of them.

Let us each encourage one another to live a life worthy of the calling each of us has received, being humble and gentle, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.
Let us pursue justice and peace for mutual upbuilding.

Laying on of Hands

I invite you now to form a circle, all facing the same direction, and to put your hands upon the head or shoulders of the person in front of you in the circle. Thus we create physical links representing the deep roots of our connectedness through God. In the moment that follows, I invite you to silently or out loud lift up the person in front of you in prayer, praying for their work and invoking God’s presence in his/her life.

(A time of silence/spoken prayer – 1-3 minutes)

Closing Prayer

Gracious God, as you have called workers to various tasks in the world and in your church, so you have called each of us, with unique experiences and gifts, to serve you. Fill us with wisdom and patience, with love, with faithfulness and hope, and with courage and compassion. We ask you to rekindle the gift of your spirit in each of us remembering that you have given us not a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and humility. May we with gladness join as a community that as individuals and as a whole supports one another, serves our neighbors in need, and works for a just and peaceful world for all of your creation. Amen.

First used at the Chapel Service opening Autumn Term at Bond Chapel, University of Chicago Divinity School, October 2009

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