My worlds collided again — journalist by day, seminarian by night and weekend — in the coolest way yet Friday:
I had the privilege of offering the blessing for the two newest houses built by Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity. Congratulations to Kesha Pena and family, and to Carlo and Gabriela Garcia and family. The new homebuyers took up their residences in the Las Rosas neighborhood at SE 25 and Durland.
House blessing? Well, yes. I'm a student at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, pursuing a Master of Divinity. The past year I've been in supervised ministry with my church, Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, 3901 NW 63, and the past semester with the church as well as Central Oklahoma Habitat.
“It's probably one of the most important things we do at our house dedications — is to see that our families and their houses receive this very important blessing at this time,” Central Oklahoma Habitat CEO Ann Felton Gilliland said.
So, yes. What a privilege! I thought I'd share it with you here.
I first want to thank Habitat for letting me participate the past few months. It has truly, truly changed — broadened — my perspective on what ministry can be, and on what ecumenical ministry can be. So, thank you for that. I also have to thank The Oklahoman. I'm the real estate editor for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com, and I have to thank them for their flexibility in letting me do this as part of my seminary education and training.
Now, I grew up in a church tradition where when people prayed they shot from the hip. We all learned to shoot the gospel gun at a young age. And I could wing it, but I don't want to. I want something with a little vintage to it.
Someone wrote these prayers in faith. They were preserved in faith; they were printed and published faithfully. And so I want to repeat them faithfully, because they are a part of the great cloud of witnesses that came before and come with us in Christ. First, I'm going to issue a call. And this is from the United Church of Christ “Book of Worship.”
People of God,
look about and see the faces of those
we know and love —
neighbors and friends,
sisters and brothers —
a community of kindred hearts.
People of God,
Look about and see the faces
Of those we hardly know —
Strangers, sojourners, forgotten friends,
The ones who need an outstretched hand.
People of God,
Look about and see all the images of God assembled here.
In me, in you, in each of us,
God's spirit shines for all to see.
People of God, come,
Let us pray.
Would you join me in prayer? And this prayer is from (“Chalice Worship”), the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) equivalent of the UCC's “Book of Worship”:
Good Lord, just as you were pleased to relax
in the home of Martha and Mary,
abide also, we pray, in these homes.
Bestow upon them an atmosphere of Christian love
where your presence can be found, your word made known,
your will accepted, and your purpose worked out.
O God, make the doors of these houses
wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship;
narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife.
Make their thresholds smooth enough to be no stumbling blocks to children
or to straying feet,
but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter's power.
God, make the doors of these homes gateways to thy eternal kingdom.