Rituals can fuel the imaginations and lives of people who feel compelled to change the world.
Wedgewood adapts some of the historic rituals of the church and has created some new rituals, not for the sake of creativity or to meet the worship and ritual preferences of Wedgewoodians, but rather to help us be who God needs us to be and who the world needs us to be.
Rituals do not have to be boring. And rituals do not have to be done the same way every time.
Rituals can be an important part of empowerment, healing, discernment, and the formation of a prophetic community. Rituals also are an opportunity for us to enact the kingdom of God in worship and prepare us not only to pray thy kingdom come on earth but actually contribute to the building of that kingdom.
Share with the congregation the meaning of one of your tattoos. Often, a tattoo represents a very important part of a person's personality and journey.
There are no perfect people (contrary to the way certain Christians think of themselves). At Wedgewood, we don't want any "perfect people" messing up our record. On the other hand, we find some people from the past and some individuals in the present who inspire us to be more than who we are. We call such people a "Saint and a Sinner."
Wedgewood's Saint and Sinner ritual, which is done the first Sunday of each month, is inspired by Martin Luther, the Great Reformer, who teaches us we are simultaneously a saint and a sinner.
Wedgewood's Saints and Sinners have ranged from Mother Teresa to Lady Gaga to Fidel Castro to Prince to Gregory of Nyssa.
We do the Saint and Sinner ritual so we can learn to change the world as others have done before us.
The Lord's Table
Anointing with Oil
People come forward to be anointed with oil. The ritual can mean various things depending on the needs of the person being anointed. Some Wedgewoodians are anointed as a way of praying for their own healing or ability to deal with their life and body. Other Wedgewoodians are anointed as a way of praying for the healing of the world or loved ones and/or their ability of loved ones to deal with their life and body. Still others are anointed as a way of seeking guidance or empowerment.
The oil used is purchased from Thistle Farms, which has natural home and body products handmade by women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.
LIGHTING OF CANDLES
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:5)
One Sunday each month Wedgewoodians are invited to light candles. As we light a candle we commit ourselves to be a light in the darkness, we remember deceased loved ones, we remember the darkness of the world and the darkness of our lives and the lives of others.
We find lighting candles particularly helpful during Advent, Christmas, and Easter.
RITUAL OF RELEASE
Deciding when we can do no more, when it is better to move on, or admitting we do not have control over certain matters is no easy realization or decision. The ritual of release helps us release what needs to be released.
BAPTISM/DEDICATION OF CHILDREN
Wedgewood does not repeat the mistake of churches in the past and present arguing over the meaning of Baptism. For us, Baptism has many meanings. If you want to be baptized by immersion we will do the ritual with immersion. If you want to be baptized by sprinkling we will celebrate that decision. We baptize children or dedicate them, according to your preference. Either way, we pledge to help you teach your child about the love of God.
Some of the early churches baptized congregants in octagonal baptismal pools, representing what they called the eighth day of creation, believing baptism was a signifier of God's continuing creation in the life of the person being baptized. That's one of the many meanings of baptism about which Wedgewoodians get excited.
About 20 years ago a person near death with HIV called Co-Pastor Chris requesting baptism in a private ceremony. Private baptisms went against Chris's belief that baptism is a communal act; however, Chris quickly decided a theology of love superseded any other theological thoughts so he asked the individual what mode of baptism they wanted, while informing the person the stairs to Wedgewood's baptismal pool were steep. Despite the warning, the person with HIV wanted to be immersed.
On the morning of the baptism, he did not have enough energy to walk, much less to climb stairs to the baptismal pool. So the private baptism ceremony incorporated sprinkling, despite hundreds of gallons of water being in the baptismal pool.
Eight years later Co-Pastor Chris was in the church's kitchen helping prepare Easter breakfast when a "stranger" appeared asking to see Chris. It was the person who had been baptized years ago. He looked great. That Easter there was much to celebrate.
That's the way we approach baptism at Wedgewood.
LIBATION: REMEMBRANCE OF ANCESTORS
We are who we are, in part, because of those who have come before us. In our Libation Ritual we pour water from a pitcher and say the names of ancestors as a way of thanking God for those who have formed us and been with us in our times of need.
A PART OF MY STORY/Speak your truth
Wedgewoodians are invited to share "A Part of My Story" and/or to speak their truth. One of the ways we seek to heal the world and ourselves is through sharing parts of our personal story. The sharing of stories also serves to underscore we are an imperfect beloved community with inspiring people who have our share of woundedness.
LEFT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP
Early in our worship services we practice what we call the Left Hand of Fellowship, which is in contrast to what some people call The Right Hand of Fellowship.
Extending a hand in fellowship is a greeting ritual. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians (2:9) writes that three disciples of Jesus "gave me and Barnabas their right hands of fellowship." Wedgewood, though, extends a left hand of fellowship as a way of recognizing that left-handed people have throughout history experienced discrimination, even though they were born left-handed, similar to the way human beings are born with a skin pigmentation, sexual orientation and a gender identity. Also, we recognize that “handedness” is not binary. There are some people who do not fit the category of right handed or left handed.
We started the Left Hand of Fellowship ritual upon learning from Rev. Dr. Nancy Ledins, the first Roman Catholic transgender priest (1979), that early in her life people tried to change her from being left handed to being right handed. Only her paternal great-grandfather, Papa John, accepted Nancy as she was. Papa John would invite Nancy into his work shed, hand her some nails to straighten and put a hammer in her left hand.
Every Sunday we read this litany at the beginning of our worship service.
One: We are all welcome here.
Many: Welcome to a church that works for peace, justice, equality, and care of
One: An extravagant welcome to you regardless of your gender identification
or sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic situation, physical and mental
challenges, doubting or believing, being depressed or full of joy.
Many: We are a community of curious and creative spiritual seekers, striving to
learn and embody the Way of Jesus and other religious leaders.
One: Like Jesus, we focus on the plundered and the marginalized, as we try to
address the major issues of our day.
Many: One of the ways we seek to heal the world and ourselves is through
sharing parts of our personal story.
All: We are all welcome here.
PRACTICE OF SILENCE
Life is hard.
In the midst of whatever is happening in our life the practice of silence helps connect us to God, to our self, and to others.
In silence, we may find inner resources which previously we have not known or experienced.
Of course, a small time of silence during worship is not expected to replace an individual's personal practice of silence. It, however, can be a catalyst for that practice and a reminder of the importance of silence in the midst of all the noise in our lives.
Practicing silence is not about how long a person can be silent. And practicing silence has nothing to do with being pious.
Wedgewood welcomes and celebrates children of all ages in our worship service. If Wedgewood children make noises during our practice of silence or during any part of our worship service we count ourselves as richly blessed by the presence of our children. No parent should ever worry or be anxious about their child making any noise.
CALL TO WORSHIP WITH GONG/TIBETAN TINGSHA BELLS/TIBETAN SINGING BOWL, SHOFAR
Wedgewoodians, in unison, recite Psalm 23, one of the most beloved Psalms.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Wedgewoodians pray the prayers Jesus taught us to pray, aware that some do not have daily bread and that we are called to work for the kingdom of God on earth. We also pray the Lord's Prayer aware Matthew and Luke present two very different versions of The Lord's Prayer. Our hunch is rich people do no like the version in which debts are to be forgiven.
Wedgwood blesses everybody, every thing, and particularly enjoys blessing pets. The power of blessing cannot be underestimated. Some people never get the blessings they so desperately want. And, the journey can be a rocky one. It's nice knowing there is a faith community cheering you on and wishing you the best.