Time to Get Ready for All Saints Day

Many hands make light work

Many hands have gone before

All Saints Day is November 1st but many churches will celebrate on Sunday November 3rd. Remembering those who impact our lives, those who have gone before and those who are still with us is an important part of our faith.

The Episcopal Church website explains:

We step aside from the flow of the propers and celebrate all the saints. We stop. We notice, We are surrounded by a flock of witnesses in our midst – many who have gone before us, some we are just now releasing, and still more with a full life ahead of them.

I love the Anglican tradition of renewing our baptismal vows on this day. Reminding ourselves of the journey we have taken personally is a good place to start in remembering the saints of God. In this tradition, all baptized Christians, living and dead known and unknown are considered saints of God. This means everyone including ourselves.

So as you get ready for All Saints Day think about your own faith journey. Remember the faithfulness of God in your past. Notice the movement of God in the present. Think about your hopes and dreams for the future. Get ready to celebrate all that you are as a saint of God.

But don’t stop there. This is a special day for celebrating. Here are some suggestions:

St Aidan’s Episcopal church on Camano Island where we worshipped yesterday is planning a special “remembering” table that will be set up in the nave. The congregation is invited to bring photos or small memorabilia of dear ones who have gone before us and place them on the table. During the worship on All Saint’s Day there will be a special blessing of the photos and memories.

Hold an All Saints’ Day party – a great alternative to Halloween. Get everyone to dress as their favourite saint, or to bring a picture of this saint. During the festivities get everyone to share a story about their saint and the impact he or she has had on their lives. Or you might like to get participants to guess who each person represents.

Plan a family heritage party. Invite people to do some work beforehand researching their family history and particularly the Christian saints who were a part of it.  Ask them to bring photos and stories to share.  Finish with a time of prayer for all those that have gone before us.

Several years ago when my youngest brother went to Greece where my father comes from he found out that it is possible that our family name Aroney comes from the name Aaron and that our family probably originated in Jerusalem many centuries ago.  It is probable that one of the reason they began the journey out of Jerusalem first to Constantinople then to Rhodes and finally to the tiny island of Kithera at the bottom of the Peloponnese mountains is because they became Christians.  There are a number of Greek orthodox priests in my father’s family history and my Aunt Mary was a very devout Greek Orthodox Christian.   I know less about my mother’s family history but would love to find out where her family too has had profound encounters with God.

Plan an All Saints Day pilgrimage. Again this might require some before time research.  Explore the Christian heritage of your community.  Where did the first Christians come from?  How did they interact with the native peoples?  Where was the first church established?  Who were some of the early Christians who impacted your community.  Plan a pilgrimage walk to the site of the first Christian community and if possible have a time of prayer and possibly even a eucharistic celebration to remember those who have gone before.

What are your ideas for celebrating All Saints Day this year? It is a great alternative to Halloween and we would love to hear what you are doing.

Here are some other posts I have written on All Saints Day that you might enjoy.

Coming Home for All Saints Day

Freeing the Saints from Their Hallmark Holidays

Surrounded by Prophetic Voices – Clouds of Witnesses that Call Us Out of Numbness

A Prayer for All Saints Eve

 

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Scratch Liturgy

Creativity here we come

No this is not about getting rid of liturgy – this a very creative idea from my friends Chrissie and Gerard Kelly at Bless in France is about a collaborative effort in creating liturgy

scratch a collaborative liturgy with your friends or small group…

1. Write a communal refrain to speak out together. For example,

‘this is our story. this is our song. praising our Saviour. all the day long’

2. Come up with a one-line framework for people to ‘scratch’ around. For example,

‘Because He is (something), I am (something)’

3. On a flip chart or live projection write out numbers 1 to 5 followed by the communal refrain. Followed by numbers 6 to 10 and the refrain again and so on.

4. Invite participants to take it in turn ‘scratching’ a one-line prayer using your framework

5. Read the scratch liturgy aloud together

Example scratch liturgies can be found here and here.

Celtic Retreat – Morning Liturgy

a.children.1.6

CELTIC RETREAT MORNING GATHERING

[Three Readers are needed for this liturgy.]

A Vision of the New : Revelation 21v1-5

ONE: Then I saw

a new heaven and a new earth;

for the first “heaven” and the first “earth” had passed away,

and the “sea” was no more.

TWO: And I saw

the holy city, the new Jerusalem,

coming down out of heaven from God,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

THREE: And I heard

a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.

He will dwell with them;

they will be his peoples,

and God himself will be with them;

he will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more,

for the first things have passed away.”

ONE: And the one who was seated on the throne said,

“See, I am making all things new.”

Call to Worship – Peruvian Gloria

Peruvian Chant

Invocation

ONE: The Maker of Heaven and Earth is with us

Glory to the Maker of Heaven and Earth

TWO: The Son of Mary is with us

Glory to the Son of Mary

THREE: The wild and wonderful Spirit is with us

Glory to the wild and wonderful Spirit

ONE/TWO/THREE: We gather in the name of the Holy Three

Amen!

Introduction

ONE: When author Paulo Coehlo wrote, “a ship is safest in port, but that’s not what ships were made for”, he wasn’t the first to say it, and he definitely wasn’t the first to feel it, because deep down we all know that we were made for more than simply a lifetime of playing it safe. Deep down we all know that we were made for a lifetime of adventure and mission and the invigorating, yet terrifying risk of the open and unknown sea of God’s new future.

TWO: And this brings us to this weekend’s patron saint.  Brendan was a 6th century Irish monk.  He is probably best known for his heroic voyage to find the mythic Isle of the Blessed. The stories about his sail across the uncharted Atlantic Ocean in a small wooden craft with 14 other monks became some of the most popular and enduring medieval legends.  In modern terms, St. Brendan was likely clinically disturbed in his obsession with finding this new thing to which God was calling him.  He was willing to risk everything.

THREE: Certainly God is doing something new here on this land that is so pregnant with possibility.  After years of dreaming and hoping, we can finally see posts rising out of the ground; a framework growing into what’s to come.  Certainly God is doing something new within you.  In the words of the prophet, “God is about to do something.  Something you’ve never seen, heard or thought of before.  Can you see it yet?”  Or do you need to be disturbed first?

Prayer of Sir Francis Drake

ONE: Let us pray with the words of English sea captain Sir Francis Drake:

Disturb us, Lord,

When we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

TWO: Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

THREE: Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Amen.

Chant : All Things New

All things new

 

The Prophetic Voice : Isaiah 42v5-9

TWO: This is what God says, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people upon it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,

I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,

a light to the nations,

to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

I am the Lord, that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to idols.

See, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth,

I tell you of them.”

Listening SIlence

THREE: In this nature sanctuary let us take time to listen for the still soft voice of God.  [2 minutes silence]

Dressing the Altar

a.eucharist.1.10

THREE: What is the new direction, undiscovered future, the holy voyage that God is calling you to? – Think of all the things you might leave behind for this new land? – Think of all the risks that might be involved in setting sail? – Think of those who might be in the same boat with you.

– Think of the calling that wont stop calling you.

Keep these questions within you as you walk.  Search for an object in nature that might be a symbol of your setting sail.  Bring it back to set on the altar as we begin our day (10 minutes to walk and find an object.

 

Song: Be Thou My Vision

 

An invitation to Lectio Divina.

 

God something new is emerging,

Something new is being birthed,

In our lives, in our world and through our faith.

God may we journey with patience and hope towards your newness,

Willing to walk on paths unknown,

That you have marked out with loving care.

May we wait in trust and not fear for your new world,

For the justice and peace and freedom that has been promised,

For those things hoped for and not yet seen.

Knowing that the journey belongs to you

And our future is in your hands.

 

Chant : All Things New

Resources for Pentecost 2013

Pentecost icon via Wikimedia

Each year I like to post a new list of resources for special days in the lectionary. Today’s list is an updated resource list for Pentecost.

This is the day when we celebrate:.

  1. The coming of the Holy Spirit and the infilling of Jesus’ disciples with the power to go out and change the world
  2. The great multi cultural gathering that we catch a glimpse of as we watch the spirit fall and suddenly everyone is able to understand each other – not all speaking the same language but able to understand each other in their own languages.  Acts 2:11.
  3. Pentecost is traditionally the time that many churches pray for the peace of our world in which at times there seems to be so little cross cultural understanding.

Last year’s resources focused on visual resources and Christian art that give us images of Jesus from different cultural perspectives.

This year’s list provides some of the best sites I have found from around the world with resources for Pentecost. I would love to expand this list so if you know of other resources that you think should be added and help us to think creatively about this important celebration please let me know.

From Australia & New Zealand

The Billabong

Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources

From Bosco Peters in New Zealand

From South Africa

Sacredise.com always produces wonderful resources

From U.K

Jonny Baker always provides great resources in his worship tricks. You check out the general list for pentecost here.

I particularly like this link to a great Pentecost meditation by Mark Berry.

From Canada

Re-worship  always provides excellent resources and this Pentecost list is no exception

From U.S.

The Text This Week has some of the most comprehensive resource lists around. Their pentecost list is well worth visiting.

Another good list is Resources from the Calvin Institute

And for a short meditation I enjoyed this video by Franklyn Shaefer

From U.S.

A beautiful Pentecost poem from Outside the Box

 

A Prayer for Pentecost 2013

I have adapted the following prayer from one I wrote a few years ago for Pentecost. Enjoy.

God, your Spirit fell like tongues of fire,

The seal of your ownership is on us,

You have breathed your Holy Spirit into our hearts.

(Pause to invite the Holy Spirit into your day’s activities)

God, your spirit fell like tongues of fire. 

It filled those who were empty,

It empowered those who were weary.

God, your spirit fell like tongues of fire. 

It brought together those who were divided,

It reassured those who were afraid.

God, your spirit fell like tongues of fire. 

By its power we can walk together as one,

By its power we can find strength to share.

God, your spirit fell like tongues of fire.

By its power we can find freedom in loving each other,

By its power we can find life in you. 

 

Read scriptures for Day of Pentecost from daily lectionary 

 

Eternal Spirit

Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all.

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echoes through

the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples

of the earth!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom

sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and forever.

Amen.

(This version of the Lord’s prayer from New Zealand Prayer book) 

God, thank you for your spirit breaking down barriers within and without

Barriers that distort our ability to lead a life fully integrated with you and your ways

Forgive us for the times we have deliberately resisted the Spirit’s work

Life giving spirit, God’s advocate and guide, have mercy on us.

Forgive us God for the barriers we create within ourselves,

Barriers that resist your healing work and prevent us moving toward wholeness.

Forgive our self-centerdness, our anger, our fear of change, our lack of trust in your love.

Life giving spirit, God’s advocate and guide, have mercy on us.

Forgive us God, for the barriers we create between us and you,

Barriers that separate us from your love and the assurance of your salvation.

Forgive our busyness, our independence, our desire to go our own way.

Life giving spirit, God’s advocate and guide, have mercy on us.

Forgive us God, for the barriers we create between us and each other,

Barriers that separate us from neighbours near and far and inhibit mutual love and care.

Forgive our resentment of others, our love of control, our indifference to the poor.

Life giving spirit, God’s advocate and guide, have mercy on us.

Forgive us God, for the barriers we create between us and your beautiful creation,

Barriers that abuse your world and deny our responsibility as stewards.

Forgive our greed, our misuse of resources, our pollution of the environment.

Life giving spirit, God’s advocate and guide, have mercy on us.

God, by the power of your spirit, free us and break down these barriers.

Turn us away from the bondage of a life lived for ourselves and our own desires,

May your spirit guide us into the freedom of life lived for you and your purposes.

Life giving spirit, God’s advocate and guide, have mercy on us.

 

Glorious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

We go into this day knowing your Spirit dwells within us.

May your Counselor make us wise and help us understand what it means to know you.

May the Spirit’s fire ignite our hearts so that we understand the hope of being chosen by God.

May we discover the glorious blessings we share together with all God’s people.

 

God we go into this day knowing it is you who makes us stand firm in Christ

We are filled with your Spirit,

We are anointed to serve,

We go out to bring resurrection life.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, this day and forever.

Amen

 

Ascension Day is Coming – Celebrate the New Creation.

This ivory depiction of the Ascension was produced in Rome or Milan around 4th Century. vi Wikimedia

This ivory depiction of the Ascension was produced in Rome or Milan around 4th Century. vi Wikimedia Commons

Ascension Day is coming May 9th. In my last year’s post: Ascension Day is Coming – Do You Know What it Means?, I listed a number of resources for Ascension Day. This is not a celebration I grew up with and until recently I did not know that this is not just a celebration of the ascension of Christ, it is also a celebration of the new creation that God brought into being through the ascension of Jesus.  So this year I thought I would focus on Jesus as gardener of the new creation in my reflection.

This imagery is very special to me. As a keen gardener  I am intrigued by the concept of Jesus as the gardener of the new creation a concept which grows more powerful for me each year as I continue to garden and reflect on the God who is revealed as I do so. I wrote about this on Good Friday this year but as we approach Ascension Day thought that it was good to reflect on this imagery again,

From The Drogo Sacramentary a Carolingian illuminated manuscript on vellum of c.850, vis wikimedia Commons

From The Drogo Sacramentary a Carolingian illuminated manuscript on vellum of c.850, vis wikimedia Commons

Some theologians think that the whole theme of the Gospel of John is that of new creation. Most of the book of  John (chapters 12-20) takes place during one week in the life of Christ. John concentrates on themes. One theme is that Christ will redeem all of Creation (not just souls) through Re-Creation. In many ways Jesus death was like the planting of a seed (Unless a seed is planted in the soil and dies it remains alone, but its death will produce many new seeds, a plentiful harvest of new lives (Jn 12:24).  And then in John 20:15 we read: “she thought he was the gardener”  Why did it matter that Mary Magdalene thought that Jesus was the gardener?

The gospel of John begins with the words “In the beginning”. This immediately harkens us to the book of Genesis which opens with the same words. John then lays out a series of events in the life of Christ that mirror the Seven Days of Creation.  Read more

In the beginning God planted a garden – the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8).  In the beginning of the new creation brought into being by the resurrection and ascension of Christ, God now in the form of the risen Christ, is once more seen as a gardener.  The hope and promise of these words which we so often skim over is incredible.  As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”

The new has come – On Good Friday Christ was planted in a garden – his mortal remains were placed in a garden tomb just as we plant seeds in the ground. On Ascension day we celebrate the hope that planting foreshadowed. All around me seeds have sprung into life. New creation has indeed begun and we in its birth the promise of many lives renewed, restored and bearing fruit.

A couple of years ago Good Friday and Earth Day coincided and I wrote the following liturgy which seems to me to be very appropriate as we celebrate this new creation

God all of created life is groaning waiting for the future God has prepared for us,
We hope for the day on which all you have made will be rescued from death and decay,
We wait for the redemption of our bodies and the restoration of our world.

In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited – yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!

It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail. And it is plain, too, that we who have a foretaste of the Spirit are in a state of painful tension, while we wait for that redemption of our bodies which will mean that at last we have realised our full sonship in him. We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something that we haven’t yet got. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience. (Romans 8:18 – 25 (Phillips Translation)

God in this season of hope and promise bless the earth rich and fertile with life
God in this season of planting and growth, bless the seed we plant and nurture
As it falls into the ground to grow may we remember your body broken for us

Unless a seed is planted in the soil and dies it remains alone
But its death will produce many new seeds,
a plentiful harvest of new lives (Jn 12:24 NLT)

God as we sprinkle our gardens with the water that gives life,
May we remember lands that are parched and those that are flooded,
May we remember Christ that your life blood was poured out for us,
You were hung upon a tree and crucified,
So that together with all your creation we might be liberated into freedom.

Open up O heavens and pour out your righteousness
Let the earth open wide
So salvation and righteousness can sprout up together (Is 45:8 NLT)

As we watch for the first sprouts of new creation
We remember your resurrection promise,
A new world is breaking into ours with abundance and wholeness

Look I am making all things new…
On each side of the river grew a tree of life
Bearing twelve crops of fruit with a fresh crop each month
The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations (Rev 21:5; 22:2 NLT)

Jesus our hope lies not in your death but in your resurrection,
Not in your dying but in your rising again,
We wait in hope for your promise to be fulfilled,
Death is conquered, resurrection has begun,
May your healing be revealed in our bodies,
May your healing power be seen throughout the earth,
May we all participate together in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.  “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”  She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”   She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”  “Mary!” Jesus said.  She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).  “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.  (John 20: 11 – 18 NLT)

Hallelujah, Christ is risen
You who are the gardener of the new creation,
Cultivate the new seeds that have sprung into life,
Bring growth, bring blossom, bring fruit,
May your new creation flourish in us, through us around us,
So that all the world may say together,
Christ is risen he is indeed Hallelujah.

Amen

Sunday Morning Liturgy For Celtic Retreat

Decorated Altar, Celtic retreat 2012

Decorated Altar, Celtic retreat 2012

Our annual Celtic retreat is over, one of the best we have ever had. Jeff Johnson’s beautiful chants and music are still with me as I unpack and prepare for the coming week. Those of us who stayed through the weekend finished out time together with this liturgy.

As this day begins Christ be with us,

Be in our hearts and in our minds,

Be in our souls and in our spirits,

Be in our thoughts and in our desires.

As this day begins Christ walk beside us,

Show us the love only you can give,

Show us the light only you can provide,

Show us the wholeness only you can reveal.

As this day begins Christ surround us,

Circle us with your presence,

Keep protection near and danger far,

Bring us the assurance of your love.

Pause for a time of silent reflection on the glory of God.

Lord, let us walk into this day

Your light before us, 

Your shield behind us, 

Your friends beside us.

Lord, let us walk into this week

Your life before us,

Your strength behind us,

Your love around us.

Lord, let us walk from this place,

Your wisdom before us,

Your truth behind us,

Your breath within us.

Lord, let us walk into the world,

Gratitude in our hearts,

Thanksgiving on our lips,

Joy in our spirits.

Lord, let us walk into your loving presence,

In the name of the One who loves us,

In the name of the One who cares,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One in Three, Three in One.

Psalm 145

I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.

I will praise you every day;
yes, I will praise you forever.

Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.

I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.

Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

The Lord is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.

All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will praise you.

They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
they will give examples of your power.

They will tell about your mighty deeds
and about the majesty and glory of your reign.

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.

The Lord always keeps his promises;
he is gracious in all he does.

The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.

When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.

The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.

He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

The Lord protects all those who love him,
but he destroys the wicked.

I will praise the Lord,
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever.

Time of sharing – What are you are grateful for this morning?

Eternal Spirit

Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all. loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echoes through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the earth!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, spare us, from the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever.  Amen.

Time of Prayer

(The Rising)

Let us go forth,

In the goodness of our merciful Father,

In the gentleness of our brother Jesus,

In the radiance of the Holy Spirit,

In the faith of the apostles,

In the joyful praise of the angels,

In the holiness of the saints,

In the courage of the martyrs.

Let us go forth,

In the wisdom of our all-seeing Father,

In the patience of our all-loving brother,

In the truth of the all-knowing Spirit,

In the learning of the apostles

In the gracious guidance of the angels,

In the patience of the saints,

In the self control of the martyrs,

Such is the path for all servants of Christ,

The path from death to eternal life,

Amen