Living Into Rituals of Hope
I am grateful for the ways that we mark the seasons of the church year and the seasons of our lives with rituals. This past week, on the day that we remember the Baptism of our Lord, we baptized three new members into our parish family: Owen, Bennett, and Roman. Baptism is a rite that is full of meaning, and the truth is that I get chills every time we proclaim over someone that they are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.
I love weddings almost as much as I love baptisms, and this week, our lessons are full of references to weddings and marriages. Isaiah uses the image of a groom rejoicing over a bride to provide an illustration of the extent to which God rejoices over us. And Jesus performs the first miracle of his ministry at a wedding, turning jars full of water into (very good) wine. We’ve celebrated a few weddings in our community recently with a few more on the horizon.
We have also held our fair share of memorial services in the past several months, remembering those people whom we love but see no longer and giving thanks for their lives and legacies. My favorite part of our Burial liturgy—a beautiful line that brings tears to my eyes every time—comes in the Eucharistic prayer: For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens.
What all of these rituals have in common—in fact, what most of our rites and liturgies have in common—is that they are forward looking. We look at new life in Christ and proclaim purpose and belonging. We share in the joy and expectation of the marriage that follows the rite we call a wedding. And even at the end of this life, we look with anticipation to the life of the world to come. We are a forward-looking people, brimming with hope that life is more than just what we see with our eyes. We look to what is possible and speak life into that reality.
Hope comes from many places, but one of them is community. When we gather, one of the things that we experience is that the hope we feel individually multiplies in community. I know that I have been strengthened by the hope that we share in worship, Bible study, and fellowship. So if you’re in need of some hope today, join us. Participate in a study. Worship with us, in person or online. And if you have hope to spare, show up and share it with others.
The Rev. Dr. Perry M. Pauley
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona