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Blessing in the Sending

Many people—our worship planning team, our parish administrator and bulletin proofreaders, our music director, our altar guild, our tech team, and I—spend good energy planning weekly worship. When everything comes together well—so that the hymns resonate with the readings, the instrumental music reaches where words can’t, the sermon makes sense, and the sound system cooperates—the whole is much more than the sum of the parts and our careful preparation is satisfying.

So, it’s something that my favorite part of worship this past Sunday was unplanned and unexpected. Just before the final benediction, we offered a prayer of blessing for a family as one parent prepared to return to full-time out-of-the-home work after several months of family leave following the birth of their youngest child. We prayed that the rhythms and schedules that had become comfortable and life-giving over the winter would flex and bend to accommodate new patterns and new responsibilities and we prayed for the well-being of each family member in this season of growth.  

If you were with us on Sunday morning in the sanctuary, you probably noticed the emotion in my voice as I prayed these blessings aloud. I remember bringing our newborn daughters home and finding new ways of adjusting and flourishing as our family grew. Some of those memories flashed through my mind Sunday morning when I realized this family in worship was on the cusp of similar changes. It is a gift to accompany each other through the transitions and milestones that comprise a life. Church community is at its best when we do this accompanying well.

We call the final portion of our worship “Sending.” The idea is that we’re sent out into the world beyond the church doors to continue doing God’s work and sharing God’s love. Some weeks it’s enough to know we’re sent out with blessing, encouragement, and the support of loving community as we prepare for the week ahead. 

This coming week is the holiest in the Christian year as we contemplate the days that began with joyful procession of palms and ended at the cross and empty tomb. Come, be part of the community at St. Stephen’s as we accompany each other through these sacred days and experience God’s life-giving love together.

In Christ,

Pastor Sue


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