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Rites of Passage

Yesterday (Friday) was a day (and then some) full of celebrating Rites of Passage of one type or another.

In the morning was the Requiem for the Care Receiver I had visited as a Stephen Minister until he died.  I was happy to learn so much more about him during his daughter's eulogy, but it did sadden me just a bit that I had not befriended him sooner.  But it gladdened my heart that such a brave and gentle man had touched so many lives in obvious and profound ways.  I appreciated that they properly thanked God for my time with him, rather than me directly.  It was only through God's Grace that I could minister to him in any way, and God most definitely deserves credit for having abided with me to give me any grace to be with him and his family.  Al now dances in heaven and will wait patiently for others to join him there.  When my time comes, I hope and pray he is there to usher me in and show me around.

Following that service and the inurnment afterward, I returned to the church for another rite of passage opportunity with some of the young men and woman of Grace Church.  During this church school year, I have offered my time and presence as an adult sponsor to these new teenagers in our parish.  As part of the Journey to Adulthood (J2A) curriculum we use, they are referred to as "Rite-13".  On Sunday using a special liturgy, we will celebrate their transformation from childhood to manhood or womanhood for that is given, not earned.  The initiation of young people into new life stages implies handing on knowledge, wisdom and experience.  In much the way it is popular to say "it takes a village to raise a child", it requires a faith community to fulfill their promise made at a child's baptism to "do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ".    

The Sunday School teachers and afternoon sponsors joined together to host a lovely dinner for these young people and their parents.  After dinner and before the walk-through of the Sunday morning liturgy, everyone was invited to introduce themselves: Parents offered a recollection of what it was like to be a 13-year old teenager, and the Rite-13ers shared a hope of who they might be or what they might be doing when they are their parent's age.  For me, it was interesting to share that while Chrissie and I have no children of our own, that night I was there with one of our nieces (another afternoon sponsor who is also part of the church staff responsible for children's ministries) and one of our god-daughters (a teenager).  There was a lot of hope and faith, and some fear and trepidation shared.  But we all laughed together.  After practicing the liturgy, the parents were dismissed and three 'grups' (one of the teachers, my niece and I) stayed with the eight young people for a lock-in at the church.  Suffice it to say, what happens in a lock-in, stays at the lock-in, so no secrets will be given here.  It was fun and enlightening.  I love these people.

Rites of Passage.  As I continue my walk in this life, trying to better understand where God is calling me, and into what He would have me do, I find I am encouraged.  The final blessing in the Rite-13 ceremony says it all for me:

"You have been armed by Almighty God with both the imagination of childhood and the strength and creative power of manhood (womanhood); now you must journey forth to gain the skills you will need to assume full responsibility as an adult.  May Almighty God fill you with courage, wisdom and joy.  May Jesus Christ, your strong companion and never-failing friend, make you strong in faith and defend you on every side,  May the Holy Spirit guide you in truth and peace.  And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, rest upon you this day and for evermore.  AMEN."