Upon the Occasion of the Installation of Rev. Mary Alice Birdwhistell as Highland’s 17th Pastor
Inspired by Mary Alice’s benediction, her favorite phrases, and Highland’s Hymn (“Look You Saints, the Cloud of Witness” written by John Dickson)
May God’s Love Surround You
When the way twists and turns, surprising you with the unexpected, worry not, Pastor Mary Alice. You are moving through your days surrounded by the Family of God in this place. You take brave steps alongside fellow travelers, moving as one with our God, as those of old. Whether preaching to empty pews, greeting the church behind a mask, or working alone in your office, you are encircled, encompassed, surrounded. With you, before you, behind you, beneath you, God’s love is ever present, ever near, ever real.
May Christ’s Mercy Astound You
When the way grows tedious and tiresome, wearing you down, prepare yourself, Pastor Mary Alice. Great Surprises are God’s specialty. We know this for sure: when One Body moves surrounded by God’s love, we are always on the verge of stumbling onto Christ’s Mercy which changes how, what, and who we see. As the sun rises with each day, so, too, does God, the Great Surpriser, sow in us seeds whose fruit will feed generations to come. For all the unknown beauty yet to be revealed, the stories yet to be lived, we sound the trumpets as you lead us in taking big brave steps, following the Author of our faith.
May the Spirit Abound in You
When the way reveals unmet needs and hungry crowds, get creative, Pastor Mary Alice. The Spirit’s abounding has been at work since time began, nurturing gifts within the Family of God that, when invited to share, can feed a world in need. Spend your days calling out the gifts you see within us. Set aside the scarcity that strangles and lead us on the journey, swift of foot and brave of soul. Live with wide-open eyes that can see the Spirit at work, transforming our loaves and fish into a story our grandchildren will pass on to the next generation – for stories of courage, surprise, and love are the ones that endure the longest.
With the cloud of witnesses gathered ‘round this sacred place, we bless Pastor Mary Alice.
We rise as one to take brave steps forward as the family of God,
Surrounded by God’s love, Astounded by Christ’s mercy, and Abounding in the Spirit.