Starting in the 11th century the Book of Common Prayer and later the first American Prayer Book of the 17th century include a rite for the reintroduction of a woman who has given birth into church life and society. Commonly called ‘The Churching of Women’ this service was an important social occasion: the mother and her midwife, surrounded by the woman’s friends would wait at the door of the church and participate in a liturgical processional re-entering the church, led by the priest and celebrating the healthy passage for mother and child through the challenges of the birth process. Although mainly a female occasion of thanksgiving and solidarity, the rite was designed to be performed during worship with the whole congregation.
This week we conclude with the final verses of James, the lone Wisdom book in the New Testament (Chapter 5: 13-20)
Join us this Sunday as we breathe new life into a Christian rite from the Middle Ages — The Churching of Women — and celebrate Teresha and Mandy and their recent birth into motherhood.
This week we dust off this centuries old practice to acknowledge the journey that Mandy and Chris and Teresha and Damon have travelled through pregnancy, birth and the first tender weeks of new parenthood. The Churching liturgy dovetails beautifully with the lectionary passage from James which talks about the importance of ministering to each other in through our tender spots, moments of deep joy or suffering, such as the birth of a baby, losing a parent, illness etc. In fact, James suggests that such simple acts of compassion are really sacred work-a kind of living body prayer for the body of Christ. Join us tonight and Sunday as we explore the means through which we create our life together as a community.
“Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.” (James 3:13)