Sunday, May 16, 2010

God's Blessings, class of 2010

The Blessing Ceremony's Background StoryBy Ted Mallory
Many years ago, while my wife Bethany and I were teaching at Los Angeles Lutheran Jr/Sr High School in Sylmar, California the faculty wanted to customize the school's baccalaureate service. Bethany was the "Spiritual Life Director" (she taught 7-8 grade Religion, and coordinated Chapels as well as other prayer and service events and student-ministry groups). We looked into a book by Christian authors and family counselors Gary Smalley and John Trent called The Blessing. The authors believe that a blessing has three major components, a statement that the recipient is valued, physical touch, and a pronouncement of God's providence over the recipient's future. We tried to incorporate these into our ceremony.

Ten years ago, when we moved back to small town Iowa, the Pastor L.C. Gebhardt and Elders asked us to serve as Youth Counselors, leading the church's high school youth group (Lutheran Youth Fellowship, LYF) and accompany the group to the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans that year. When we had our second daughter, I more or less became the youth counselor while Bethany took care of our girls. 

The Elders decided that St. John Lutheran, Charter Oak would have a "contemporary" worship service every fifth Sunday. At the time they felt that the Youth should lead contemporary service. I had the privilege of writing/arranging many of these and our youth-led Easter Sunrise services for a few years until Rev. Gebhardt retired and the vacancy pastor wasn't comfortable with laity involvement, or youth leadership, not to mention contemporary worship. Eventually school and family life led me to step down as LYF leader. Currently I am officially the high school Bible Class instructor, unfortunately not many teenagers like to attend Bible Class on Sunday mornings.

Before Gebhardt's retirement, a long-time member of St. John, Lynn Hoffman- herself a retired Lutheran School teacher (and one of those responsible for our now defunct preschool, Noah's Ark) wanted to do something to make the baccalaureate service at St. John, Charter Oak. I adapted what we had done at LALHS to something that could be incorporated as part of a worship service, rather than the entire service itself. St. John still uses this Blessing Ceremony every year at graduation time.

I wanted to make it available here for any schools or churches to use, free of charge. Really, it's a collaboration with my wife and our former colleagues and "standing on the shoulders of giants" like Smalley and Trent- consequently, I'm not looking for all kinds of credit, attention, or money for it, thus it is uncopyrighted. My hope is that by using it, you will be blessing the Seniors in your life and sending them out into the world with the knowledge that God goes with them.

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