To signify the blessing of this hour upon the Rev. Paul Daniel’s ministry in relationship to this gathered community, we will now have the laying on of hands ritual.
Paul, please come up here. Over a wonderful lunch several months ago we talked about your hopes for this time. That it would evoke the energy of blessing, but not in one direction alone. We talked about how we wanted the blessing to flow into your personal ministry but to flow back outwards, as well—to infuse the congregation that has called you with purpose and strength, in service to the Larger Life.
So now I invite all participants in the installation ceremony, as well as all clergy, to come forward and lay their hands on you now. Let these hands which we extend become conveyers and channellers of that which is older than recorded time and younger than the newest second. Let them be hands which shared warmth and wisdom a thousand years ago and will do so still, a thousand years into the future. Let the timeless energy of healing and hope flow into your ministry.
And now I invite the rest of the gathered community to form concentric circles around Paul. Please stand in body or in spirit. Let those who are nearest step forward and lay their hands upon the installation service participants, and then for people farther back, to lay their hands upon the shoulders of the people in front of them, until this entire place is linked in a pattern of caring and mutual goodwill. Let all of us be conveyers and channellers of that which is older than recorded time and younger than the newest second. Creativity. Generosity. Compassion. Healing. Hope that led this congregation to make a risky decision to engage new ministry even as there were fears that there wouldn’t be enough money to afford it. Hope alive, even after years of shakiness and difficulty. Let our hands be conduits of this kind of timeless energy which, as Unitarian Universalists, we give many names: Spirit of Life, Goddess, Tao, Interdependent Web of All Existence, God. Let us feel this in our hands and in our bodies—this mysterious source of ever-present grace—as it gathers and grows. Let us attend to this mystery, helped by our silent breathing together….
And now, I would ask everyone to continue standing, but to drop your hands to your sides, and turn around. Let’s do that now. Here’s where we turn the flow of energy outwards, from Paul to the congregation and world.
Paul, you told me that this installation service is not just about you but what you and the congregation resolve to do together, in service to a larger mission of changing lives. You spoke passionately about your pride in this congregation, its new sense of direction. So now I want you to place your hands upon the shoulder of someone in front of you, and say out loud, “Let us bless the world.”
Here’s the instruction for everyone else—don’t start until I say GO. Let each person place their hands upon someone in front of them, and in the exact moment he or she makes contact, say, “Let us bless the world,” and then be silent. Ready? Now GO.
And now, everyone together, say, “Let us bless the world.”
May the hands of this place convey and channel that which is older than recorded time and younger than the newest second. Paul, this moment in history needs you, and it needs this congregation as well. Be a blessing to each other, so you can magnify blessing in the larger world.
You may now be seated. The ancient ritual of the laying on of hands is at an end. We have felt that which is timeless in our hands and our bodies. We have felt, in us, the energy and joy that are ready to break forth to make a new world.
And so may it be.