There is something wonderful about observing rites in your spiritual practice. This morning I participated as a Lumen in the first of four rites that our Catechesis class will participate in as we become more integrated members of the St John’s Lutheran congregation. This morning our Luminaria class participated in the Rite of Welcome.
The Rite of Welcome began with us knocking on the doors to the sanctuary at the appointed time. We processed to the front of the sanctuary with our companions (assigned sponsors). Much like a baptism we answered questions, as did our companions and then the congregation. The final chapter of the rite invited us to fill the center aisle where our companions gave us three gifts: the sign of the cross, a Bible, and a blessing (with the rest of the congregation). It was very significant. We all then joined the service for worship.
It is an intentional way of making disciples of Jesus Christ. As often happens the liturgical verses that come up on the calendar are often very fitting to the situation. We read Luke 14: 25-33 about counting the cost of discipleship as part of our regular class activity (Lectio Divina) where we study and discuss the verses for the next week. I have not often thought about the cost of following Jesus since I became a friend of Jesus at age 13. I will meditate on this throughout the week.
Most churches offer a few classes or a Saturday workshop before baptism, affirming baptism and membership. St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento has a program that begins in mid-August and meets almost every Sunday until mid-December. It is part of a movement of offering adults a process of becoming one with Christ and his church. Sometimes referred to Catechumenate. Our pastoral team and lay leaders are working to help us understand how God is working in our lives and how we can exercise our gifts in the church and be a part of the community of faith.
The other rites include: the rite of enrollment, the rite of baptism (or affirmation of baptism), and the rite of vocation. I am experiencing the benefits of a more formal profession of faith. Just in the rite of welcome I feel more a part of the life of church. I have moved from being a visitor, even a regular visitor, to something more committed and integrated.