In my neighborhood, you were known by your family’s name and reputation. My oldest brother was great at everything–three years was not enough time to erase his greatness from the memories of teachers and church leaders. I often wondered how long I would be stuck in his shadow, when people would begin to see me for me. Still, it was a safe place to try my wings and to make mistakes. I learned surprising things about myself, things I was good at and things I had to grow into.
On Pentecost Sunday, my pastor asked me to read the first lesson, which was filled with words like Mesopotamia and Cappacdocia. Yes! Of all the youth in our congregation, he chose me. My pastor saw my potential, and this was the test. It was time for me to step out of my brother’s shadow and take my place as a worship leader in my congregation.
Our rites of passage are the benchmarks and mile markers for what God so patiently reveals over time. Whether formal or informal, these rituals tell us that we are ready and capable of navigating the curves ahead on our life’s journey.
This message is adapted from Living from the Heart of God: A journal for life’s stages, published by Women of the ELCA in 2007.