Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ritual of Farewell

Here was our ritual of farewell for Intern Extraordinaire, again adapted from a similar ritual found in the United Church of Christ's Book of Worship:

Opening Words
Our church family is constantly changing. People come and go. Babies are born. Children grow up. People commit themselves to one another. Loved ones and friends among us come to the end of their lives. Individuals move into our community and church life. Others leave us, moving away to new places, new experiences, and new opportunities.
It is important and right that we recognize these times of passage, of endings and beginnings. Today we share the time of farewell with a friend who is leaving.

Ritual of Parting
Pastor: This past fall, our congregation welcomed Intern Extraordinaire as a pastoral intern, inviting her to share her gifts with us, to help to lead us, and to grow in skills and faith. She has done so with grace and wisdom. But now it is time to say good-bye, to release her from her pastoral obligations and to bless her as she seeks a call in the United Church of Christ.

I.E.: I thank you all for the love, kindness and support you have shown me over the past year. I am grateful for the ways my leadership has been accepted. I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. As I leave, I carry with me all that I have learned here.

Congregation: We receive your thankfulness, offer forgiveness, and accept that you go now to serve another congregation. We express our gratitude for your time among us. We ask your forgiveness for our mistakes. Your influence on our faith and faithfulness will not leave us with your departure.

I.E.: I forgive you and accept your gratitude, trusting that our time together and our parting are pleasing to God.

Moderator: Do you, the members and friends of First Congregational United Church of Christ of Red Oak release Intern Extraordinaire from the duties of pastoral intern?

Congregation: We do, with the help of God.

Moderator: Do you offer your encouragement for her ministry as it unfolds in new ways?

Congregation: We do, with the help of God.

Moderator: Do you, Intern Extraordinaire, release this local church from turning to you and depending on you?

I.E.: I do, with the help of God.

Moderator: Do you offer your encouragement for the continued ministry here?

I.E.: I do, with the help of God.

Prayer of Blessing
God, in whom we find everlasting love and trustworthy care, help each one of us to keep faith in the future that rests in your arms. The time we have shared with Intern Extraordinaire saw our laughter and tears, hopes and disappointments, learning and growing. Guide us as we hold these cherished memories but move in new and different directions. Let your Spirit guide Intern Extraordinaire as she moves to new and unknown places, and let your Spirit also guide us as we move forward in our own journey as a faith community. Help us to hope for the time when we are all completely one with you and with each other, as Jesus our Savior so taught and lived. Amen.

Presenting of Gifts
We presented Intern Extraordinaire with a gorgeous green stole, to remind her that she was with us for an extraordinary time in our mutual lives, but that we hoped she would remember us in the ordinary seasons of her ministry. (For those who don't know, in the Christian Church's liturgical tradition, green is the color used during the season of "ordinary time" - between Pentecost and Advent, with the Sundays between Epiphany and Lent also counting as "ordinary Sundays." Ordinary Time takes up the majority of the church year.) Also, it looked really good on her!

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