I am sure that many of you have been witness to the Rite 13 Ceremony practiced by our congregation, most recently in mid-August 2016. This Rite 13 ceremony is an important event in congregational life — much more than meets the eye is going on, because it is playing the role of a rite of passage. In 1967, Cornell University Professor of Anthropology Victor Turner wrote “Rites of passage are found in all societies but tend to reach their maximal expression in small-scale, relatively stable and relatively cyclical societies, where change is bound up with biological and meteorological rhythms and recurrences rather that with technological innovations” (Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols). Essentially Turner was saying that in societies that are more bound to the advancements of their technology, the power that rites of passage have is more than likely diminished. I sadly think that Turner is right, and that we are potentially worse off because of it. I also think that this challenge gives us an opportunity as the Body of Christ to live and grow together, especially given the nature of the life of the church.
As the Body of Christ, we live out our lives and our faith in very cyclical ways. Easter is based upon the cycles of the moon, the church lives according to a repetitive pattern with its own times and seasons, and we celebrate the great cycle of life. A part of our celebration of life together is the Rite 13 Ceremony. It is a time when we come together to recognize, in a formal way as a worshipping body, the transitions that are happening to the youth of our church. Our youth enter into the ceremony in one state of being and literally over the course of the ceremony move into a new place and a new state of being. The ceremony acknowledges that they are moving from one stage in the cycle of life, childhood, into a new stage in the cycle, being a young adult. This is the opportunity of the Rite 13 Ceremony — to show that we care about those in our midst, wherever they are in life, in real tangible ways. May we continue to find places and ways to walk this path of life together. Amen.
—Stuart Salvatierra, Director of Youth Ministry