Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Honoring of Ancestors

Here's an instance of the first worship idea in the "Examples" section of the book, "Honoring our Ancestors" (p. 195). This took place at the Confluence Korean Music & Worship conference at Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, Georgia) in July 2012. Pastor and artist Timothy Chon of Michigan created the setting.

We imagined it several different ways before hitting upon the idea of concentric circles as a kind of "cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) consisting of not only our ancestors' names but also those of men and women from the Bible, both in ancient Israel and in the early church. The tables form a "tau" cross. The clear bowl contains water symbolizing the renewal of our baptisms; and the top table holds the Scriptures and the elements for Communion.

During this segment of the worship service, we invited individuals to come stand up front with the name of the ancestor they wished to honor. "I'd like to honor ____________, who was my ___________." Very many were parents and grandparents who had sacrificed much for family and for the work of Christ. These shares never fail to move me.

One aspect that needs improving is the close of each individual's share. In theory he or she holds up the name and says, "I honor _____________" and then everyone responds, "We honor_______________." But in practice folks often forget to say this, or forget to say the name, so the response stumbles too. Perhaps the presider should sense when each person is wrapping up and ask, "Whom do you honor?" so the person can respond, "I honor _________" Other ideas?

(Per the description in the book, another way to do this is to simply have an attractive bowl for people to place the names in. At the end the presider can lift up the bowl with a prayer of dedication. "Lord, we give you thanks for these ancestors...give us the grace to bring honor to you and to them with our lives...give us the grace to live for you so that future generations may honor you through our lives...")

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