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Blessing of the Hands

Before coming to Eden, I served in the UCC National Offices with the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries. One of my major responsibilities in that position was to create and administer leadership development programs for executives and board members in our UCC-related health and human service institutions.

I met many interesting, talented, and dedicated people in my former role, and I learned invaluable lessons that most pastors are never taught. I was also exposed to a liturgy called “Blessing of the Hands.” One might have thought that a pastor would have learned about this liturgy in seminary, but that was not the case.

Instead, I learned about it from a group of nurses who created the first one. None of them had been to seminary; yet all of them understood their vocation as ministry, and they understood—better than most clergy—how faith-values relate to the work of medical and social work staff, office personnel, and custodians and landscapers.

Their blessing liturgy was first offered in a hospital in Chicago. The practice soon spread to other institutions. Today this liturgy (and variations of it) is offered on an annual basis in numerous faith-based health and human service institutions. No one is required to attend, and yet these services are packed. Why?

The answer is simple: most people long to make a difference in the lives of others. Most people want to do the work that God created them to do, and most need ways to discern and affirm how they show up at the intersections of heaven and earth.

In an effort to affirm these good intentions in all of us, and as an expression of our Stewardship Committee’s theme this year, “Many Hands,” on Sunday, May 18, we will dedicate our gifts of time, talent and treasure in support of God’s mission through Eden Church. We will also ask God’s blessing on our hands, which give and receive these gifts.

Pastor Arlene