Monday, January 29, 2007

Reminders from Galatians

I had the honor of offering the "right hand of fellowship" at an ordination on Sunday, except we renamed it "welcome to ministry."

This section of an ordination is from the Christian tradition. The term “right hand of fellowship” comes from the book of Galatians, 2:9. Paul explains that he and Barnabas have been given the “right hand of fellowship” by three of Jesus’ disciples who have “perceived the grace that have been given to me.” They are to go to the Gentiles and the uncircumcised and preach the gospel.

I couldn’t help but wonder aloud what Paul and Barnabas would think some 2000 years later about a left handed Jewish UU minister sexologist woman (me!) offering the hand of fellowship to an out, UU minister woman of Indian heritage.

But perhaps we’d be surprised. Perhaps Paul would revel that his later words in Galatians 3:28 -- that in the promise that there would be no longer Jew or Greek, no longer slave or free, no longer male and female -- were coming closer to fruition in the world. I love the promise of that passage -- that one day, there will be a world where personal integrity will trump neat binary classifications.

It echoes part of the hymn that usually closes UU ordinations:

"Wake now, my conscience, with justice thy guide;
Join with all people whose rights are denied.
Take not for granted a privileged place;
God's love embraces the whole human race."

May it be so.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMEN Sister!

PeaceBang said...

But what a shame that they felt the need to rename this beautiful tradition-- from something that resonates with ancient power to something so generic and tepid.

Rev. Debra W. Haffner said...

Peacebang, it was my idea...as a left handed woman, there is just something about the right hand of fellowship that didn't sit with me!

ps Congratulations on the blog awards!