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Caring Liturgies

Caring Liturgies

by Susan Marie Smith


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Caregiving practices in churches often center around listening and giving counsel, making referrals, and creating support groups for specific needs. In Caring Liturgies, Susan Marie Smith proposes that Christian ritual is both a method and a means for helping people through liminal times of transition and uncertainty, even vulnerability and fear. It teaches readers to recognize the ritual needs of fellow Christians and thus create post-baptismal rites of passage and healing that might strengthen and support them in the fulfillment of their ministries.

The book extends the usefulness of denominational "occasional services" books and other resources by suggesting ways to build a rite around a central symbolic action, pointing out issues of ritual honesty and ethics, and identifying skills and attributes necessary to preparing and leading a rite. Numerous narrative examples help to flesh out the principles and illustrate the key argument: that rituals are necessary means to enable human growth and maturity, both through times of suffering and times of transition, and that ritual-making leaders are central to the ongoing health of the church.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780800697365
Publisher: 1517 Media
Publication date: 08/01/2012
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.00(d)

About the Author

Susan Marie Smith, an Episcopal priest and teacher of liturgy, ritual, and preaching, is rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Bexley, Ohio. She received her PhD in liturgy and ritual at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, and is author of Christian Ritualizing and the Baptismal Process: Liturgical Explorations toward a Realized Baptismal Ecclesiology (2011).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. Workship as Ritual: Understanding and Claiming Ethical Christian Ritual 1

What is "Ritual"? 1

Four Attributes of Ritual Practice 4

Reasons to Create Caring Liturgies 9

1 Creative Rites: Assessing Pastoral Ritual Need 19

Joanie's Story 22

The Problem of Resistance 24

Resistance as a Dilemma between Theology and Experience 27

Ritual Creativity: Solving Dilemmas through the Third Way 34

Resistance as Unrecognized Vulnerability and the Need for Empathy 36

2 Ritual Midwives: Planning and Leading Ritual 43

Engaging a Caring, Competent Community for Ritual Planning 43

Four Attributes Necessary for Ritual Planning 46

Roles Necessary to Planning a Ritual 51

Roles Necessary to Conducting a Ritual 53

Speaking or Acting "On Behalf Of" 59

3 Metaphors and Symbols: Linking a Person's Story to the Christian Story 65

Arriving at a "Defining Metaphor" 66

How Metaphor Works 69

Entering the World of the Metaphor 71

From Metaphor to Symbol 75

From Symbol to Sacrament: The Sacramental Principle 77

Using Symbols Sacramentally 79

People as Symbols 81

Effective Symbols: Symbolic Rupture 84

Using Symbols Ethically 86

4 Ritual Honesty: Holding Truthful Tension 89

Five Aspects of Ritual Honesty 89

1 A Ritual Sets a Dominant Feeling-Tone 91

2 Acommodating a Wide Range of Feelings and Thoughts 93

3 Ritual Symbols Must Be True 99

4 Ritual Involves Everyone Present 101

5 Allowing the Creative Tension of Opposites to Abide Together 103

5 Holy Sacrifice: Mediating the Labor Pains of Change 109

A Brief Christian Midrash on Sacrifice 111

Labor as an Expression and Integration of Holy Sacrifice 115

6 The Paschal Mystery: The Crux of Caring Ritual 123

Centerpiece of Christian Living: The Paschal Mystery of Christ 124

1 Paschal Mystery as Ritual Spirituality of Baptism 128

2 Paschal Mystery as Lens Through Which to See Life 132

3 Paschal Mystery as Both Call and Commitment of the Baptized 133

4 Death to New Life as the Critical Criterion 135

Conclusion 138

Notes 139

Index 147

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