Monday, January 20
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
The Presbytery of Tampa Bay
As the presbytery shifts from a largely administrative identity to a more relational purpose, the quality and authenticity of our relationships is crucial. Because we have been called together as God’s people, and because God has done wonderful things for, in, and through us, we intend to celebrate, honor, and pursue relationships centered in Jesus Christ.
On the Seventh Day is a mission and ministry of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay that gathers presbyters on the seventh day of every month for the Christian practice of prayer, followed by the fellowship of a shared meal. Typically, 40–50 presbyters from the 72 congregations of the presbytery come together every month to pray, with that prayer taking a variety of forms. One month we pray in the style of Taizé. Another month we are led in healing prayer. We have hosted prayer experiences focused solely on our need for confession and forgiveness, and on one occasion we prayed together using the book Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth. In January the Christian educators of the presbytery led prayer for Epiphany and engaged participants in blessing our churches through a chalking ceremony.
Knowing each other well provides us with an opportunity to experience God’s grace and to notice how together we might work for God’s kingdom here and now as a presbytery. Our prayers and relationships can push us beyond our comfort zones, as we pledge to pursue our connection to God while we care for each other and welcome others to join us in the journey of faith.
—staff of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay
Let us join in prayer for:
Nancy Kahaian, transitional executive presbyter
Charles Willard, stated clerk
Joe Nixon, bookkeeper
Ann Marie Fizzano, office manager
Let us pray
Wonderful God, thank you for the relationships we enjoy with you and with one another. May our purposeful times of prayer and fellowship bear the good fruit of your Holy Spirit, that we would be strengthened in our life together and nurtured in our love for you. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.
We received this information on a chalking ceremony from Leslee Kirkconnell who was involved with the Epiphany Prayer Service for the Presbytery of Tampa Bay. Greetings! A chalking ceremony comes from the Catholic tradition, although it’s been adapted for a wide variety of denominations. I first did one when serving in Gainesville, Florida, probably 10 years ago or so. It is an Epiphany celebration and we had a tradition of an Epiphany whole-church celebration in Sunday School and this fit the bill one year. It was originally intended to be a home/family event, although many churches do it as well. Basically it is a blessing ceremony where a group walks to different doors of the church (outside) and write in chalk (for example - 20 C M B 14 – whatever the year is ‘frames’ it) and then have a prayer for that particular door. When we designed it for the presbytery, we modified it to include praying for all the churches. Here’s one website that gives information: http://www.gbod.org/lead-your-church/sundays-after-epiphany/resource/an-epiphany-blessing-of-homes-and-chalking-the-door She also sent a pdf that was the basis for the ceremony. Let me know if you would like a copy.
What is a "chalking ceremony?"