Rites and Rituals Make Blessings Tangible

Written by Rev. Gayle Pope. Posted in The Seed

God Bless Our Home

Growing up Catholic, I was exposed to a variety of rites and rituals that were part of our faith formation. Holy Communion and Baptism, of course, but also saying the rosary, blessing ourselves with holy water upon entering the church, ashes on Ash Wednesday, throat blessing on St. Blaise Day, crowning the Mary statue on May 1. We “played Mass” using Necco candies as wafers and made little altars in our bedroom using an upside down shoe box covered with tissue paper, on top of which would be a little statue of Mary or Jesus, surrounded by birthday candles standing in tiny empty spools of thread.

What these rites and rituals have in common is that they involve us bodily in expressing our faith and receiving God’s grace. We move, participate and use elements that can be seen, touched, tasted, heard and smelled. They also involve hearing God’s Word proclaimed and trusting in God’s promises. Rites and rituals push us to set aside doubts about whether the combination of words, actions and things actually have any real effect on anything. We are invited to simply participate and experience the movement of the Spirit.

Here are some rites and rituals that we already practice or that are available for the asking! 

Prayer Shawl Blessings

We bless prayer shawls and blankets during services, but when we give them away, we try to bring a group of people together to lay a hand on the shawl or blanket and pray for the person to receive it. Recipients of these blankets get a genuine sense of God’s peace and presence when they use them. (I know this first hand!)

House Blessings

I have done a few house blessings and am more than willing to do more. There is a neat ritual for this that involves going from room to room, reading and scripture and saying a prayer for the typical activities in that place.

Pet Blessings

Pet blessing services are typically done on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4. The Mutual Ministry Team has asked that we have a Pet Blessing this year, which I plan to do outside the church the evening of Thursday, Oct. 4.

Healing Services

We have had one formal congregation service of healing since I have been here, and another one is planned for September. But healing prayer, including anointing with oil, is available any time. Just call or stop by my office. I am thinking about setting aside some times for healing prayer in the Chapel.

Other Occasions

We often do blessings and sendings for people moving or going on missions. Rituals can be created to help with grief, making life transitions, letting go, etc. Symbolic actions using tangible items, combined with Scripture, prayer and conversation help us process feelings and turn to Christ. If you are interested, I’m ready and willing to serve!

The Journey “In His Steps” continues through Lent to Easter Midweek Services

Written by Rev. Gayle Pope. Posted in The Seed

Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. (preceded by supper at 5:30)


  “When Jesus Calmed the Storm” – Jim Dunn will reflect on Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus wakes up in the boat and calms the storm Questions for reflection: Do I have faith in Jesus to calm the storms in my life? How do I bring the calm of knowing Christ to the storms in someone else’s life?


“When Jesus Healed the Sick” – Martha Rapp will reflect on Mark 6:53-56 when “even those who touch the fringe of Jesus’ garment are healed.” Questions for reflection: Does Jesus still heal today? How does Jesus’ healing come through me?


“When Jesus Took the Cup” – Pastor Jim Trutwin will reflect on Mark 14:17-39, the Last Supper and Garden of Gethsemane. Questions for reflection: How is the cup of the new covenant – the cup of salvation – related to the cup of suffering Jesus drank? What does it mean to drink the cup? How does my own suffering unite me with Christ?

Palm Sunday, March 25, 9:30 a.m.: Our service begins in the Fellowship Hall as we process with palms into the Sanctuary. Our choir has a brand new anthem, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and the Passion according to Mark will be read.

Maundy Thursday, March 29, 7 p.m.: A traditional service including individual absolution with the laying on of hands, a foot washing ritual, congregation communing one another, stripping of the altar as Psalm 22 is chanted, and departing in silence.

Maundy Thursday to Good Friday Prayer Vigil in our New Chapel: Something new this year. From the close of Maundy Thursday worship to the opening of Good Friday worship, we are inviting people to sign up for 30-minute slots in a 23-hour prayer vigil in our new Resurrection Chapel. Various guided prayer materials will be provided for those who wish to use them. This is a time to walk meditatively with Christ “In His Steps” through his suffering and death, and to pray for self, others and the world. Sign-up sheets will be posted in the narthex. You are welcome to take more than one slot if you wish to stay longer.

Good Friday, March 30, 7 p.m.: Several ancient Good Friday traditions are incorporated in this solemn Tenebrae service, which features the gradual extinguishing of candles after each of seven readings from the Passion according to John. Tenebrae is a Latin word that means “darkness” or “shadows.” A rugged cross will be carried into the sanctuary and the service will close with veneration of the cross.

Easter Sunday, April 1, 9:30 a.m.: We will unpack the Alleluia and participate in a joyful celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection, followed by Easter Brunch to benefit our missionary sponsorship endeavor.