But my favorite part was when one of our new members got up and shared what brought him to the church. He shared how the building is lovely and the stained glass windows are magnificent, yet these things are not what brought him to the church. He talked about how the church had filled a 10-year hole in his life and what a wonderful journey he and his wife were experiencing. He then led us in a litany of consecration, talking about how our lives and not just our building needed to be consecrated.
We responded with the litany of consecration, inspired by the congregation of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa when they consecrated their building in 2003. There are a few lines of this liturgy that stand out to me:
For a church that shall be a renewing, cleansing, and empowering partner in the community, seeking to serve and befriend the hurting, the lost, and the broken.
For a church with an open door for all people: rich and poor, housed and homeless, old and young, red and yellow, black and white, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, those filled with faith and those who have not yet been gifted with faith.
For a church that shall gather the children in its arms and hold them close to Christ, that they may grow up in Christ and never be lost from the fold.
After each of these lines, we repeated the words, "We consecrate ourselves today."
What powerful words! Can you imagine a congregation that is truly a partner with and in the community, seeking to serve all who are hurting, lost or broken? Can you imagine a church where all people are welcome? Can you imagine a church that holds children - all children - those who are wanted and those who are neglected, those who were conceived in love and those who were conceived and surprised the parents - where all children are gathered and held, empowered with the ways of Christ?
I get a glimpse of this kind of place every time I enter the doors of Mount Vernon Place. While we still have a long ways to go, I gain a glimpse of the Kingdom at hand almost every time I gather with the people who call Mount Vernon Place home. There is a rich history of prophetic proclamation in this place. The journey now continues, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this congregation.
Come and use us, Lord. Thanks be to God!