Sunday, January 07, 2007

All These People, This Cross of Oil

This was not an ordinary ordinary Sunday.

For a number of years, it has been a tradition in our church on the first Sunday of the new year, to offer, as a part of the worship service, a time of anointing with oil.

Please do not be scared. This is not hocus pocus, or Benny Hinn strangeness. No people falling down. Just the chance to have the cross marked on your forehead in oil, and for a fellow sinner to pray with and for you - for guidance, or help, or wisdom, or need, as we face the new year. Together. And then, to head forth, into the city, into the world.

Today, I had the privilege of being one who makes that cross with oil and to stand beside, and to pray. I am so ill equipped for this, my feet are of such clay. This is an sacred honor and a privilege. As the oil is administered, we say, "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen."

And oh, the people who came.

The prestigious seminary graduate, who lost a dream of a lifetime vocation in a specific ministry - and who is now seeing light at the end of a dark tunnel of wondering about the future.

The introverted young office worker, who really wants to become more of an extrovert in this new year. To really love all the people around him, each day, in a new and real way, with God's help.

The ex-convict, who is just now piecing his life together, after years of bad choices and terrible circumstances. He would like to start over, to make a new life, and he wants to figure out how he can serve God in the midst of all this.

The teenager who has been through two brain cancer surgeries, and stood today before me as a reminder of many things; healing, the fragile nature of our time on this planet, of tenacity, of hope, and of God's creation and care for each of us.

The couple who are sensing a complete change in their young married life, from the safety of stable professional jobs, toward the fear of change associated with new careers in film writing - together. They want to understand what this means, and how God is calling them.

And for my daughter, who asked for prayer for understanding for choosing a new school when she reaches high school age.

What a remarkable collection of our little corner of the Kingdom.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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