People move. When faith communities have the opportunity to bless a new home with prayer and food and welcome is it an occasion often remembered for years by young and older. Two resources follow. The first is a house blessing service in the Indonesian tradition from Rev. Sandra Pontoh of Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ in Madbury, New Hampshire. As you read these beautiful words, please hold in your prayers all from this community who face deportation in the next three months. Pray for an opening of heart of authorities and courage in the midst of persecution.
Following Sandra’s resource is a wonderful house blessing by Digby Hannah from East St. Kilda, Austrailia. Digby asks this question: During the past few years there have been many members of our inner city church community who, for one reason or another, have moved house. In years gone by, these major changes have occurred almost unnoticed and certainly uncelebrated by the church community. How could this happen? and answers it this way … The difficulty is that in the aftermath of moving house few people find that they have the energy to do anything but barely survive … As a compromise we established the tradition of delivering a bunch of flowers with a note of blessing to people as they moved into their new house or flat. Some were subsequently able to host a ‘house blessing’ and some were not. At least this milestone never passed unnoticed. Trust me –You will want to read to the end!
Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ – House warming Service
Hymn: “Bila Yesus Berada” (When Jesus in the midst of our family)
Call to Worship
One: When you are in the midst of us, O Lord
All: we are filled with joy.
One: When you are in the midst of us, O Lord
All: we are filled with calmness.
One: When you are in the midst of our household, O Lord
All: we are filled with peace.
Edgard: When you are in my life, I feel safe to walk toward my future.
Family: Please be with us and hold our family in your hands, O Lord.
One: This thanksgiving fellowship is held in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Hymn: “Tuhan Allah NamaMu” (God the Lord is your Name)
Prayer of Confession
One: Home is the place where we can rest secure.
All: The place where parents and children share love and care.
One: Where family can unite in prayer and thanksgiving.
All: Where family can reconcile and forgive one another.
Family: That is our dream and hope for this home, O Lord.
One: But we must confess that we often fill our homes with anger and profanity.
All: We fill them with so much discord that love, care and forgiveness are pushed out the door.
One: O gracious Lord, forgive us and let this house be the house of prayer
and thanksgiving for those who live here.
Assurance of Pardon
One: Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. You show me the path of life. In your presence there is
fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Ps 16:9,11
Reading Scripture and Message: Matthew 3:13-17
Charge and Benediction
One: Go in peace, the people of God.
Share your love and forgive one another.
May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the
Holy Spirit be with you all.”
All: Amen, amen, amen
A simple ritual for the celebration of moving house from Australia
If possible it is certainly good to combine this ritual with a ‘housewarming’ whereby friends are invited to share a common meal. If this is achieved, then a Eucharist could be included as part of the meal.
Sprinkling of water in each room of the house: A bowl of water is placed at the centre of the gathered group. The leader explains what a rich symbol is water:
Water is the basis of our very survival. We are fortunate to live in houses in which the availability of water is taken for granted. Three quarters of the world’s population do not enjoy this luxury – or should it be this right? Let this bowl of water remind us of those who lack the basic necessities of life such as food , water and shelter. Water satisfies our physical thirst. Jesus offered ‘living water’ to the Samaritan woman at the well. ‘Those who drink this water’ he said ‘will never again thirst, for it will become a spring of living water gushing up to eternal life’. Let this bowl of water remind us of the spiritual life that comes with knowing Jesus. We also consume water in the bathroom and laundry. All our fancy soaps and detergents would be useless without the water that cleanses our bodies, clothes and floors. Jesus’ living water cleanses out hearts, enabling us to forgive and be forgiven, bringing peace to a household. Let this bowl of water remind us of the forgiveness and inner cleansing that comes with knowing Jesus. There are taps also in the back yard. With these we water plants. Without water there is no growth. Let this bowl of water remind us of the growth our inner lives experience through knowing Jesus. We will sprinkle water in each room of the house and, as we do, will say prayers of blessing.
Different people may be allocated to say the blessing for the different rooms around the house. Some may add spontaneous prayers of their own – though these would be best kept brief. In some rooms there will not be space for more that a few people.
Dining room: This is the womb of the house. May Jesus be always present, eating and drinking. May this be a place of nutritious meals, good conversation and hospitality.
Kitchen: Let enticing aromas emerge from this kitchen. May they be produced with love and received with appreciation. May people queue to help with the dishes.
Bathroom: May the shower run only for three minutes, the mirror never admit wrinkles and the scales deliver good news.
Lounge: Let this be a place for retreat, prayer, reading of good books, and the sharing of wine and conversation.
Bedrooms: May sleep be peaceful and refreshing. (You may add: May those who sleep here never be too old for stories and bedside prayers … or may love be wild and satisfying but not audible beyond the passage.)
Laundry: Let those who labour here labour cheerfully. May everyone in this house know how to operate the washing machine.
Front Porch: May all who arrive here be warmly welcomed.