Saturday, 8 September 2012

Praying the beginning

In preparing a service of worship for Sunday morning with the theme 'New Beginnings', I wanted to be able to offer a prayer for all those who are making a new start in some area of their life.

I'm currently exploring the work of Tess Ward, and her prayers for life's beginnings and endings, so looked in her excellent book 'Alternative Pastoral Prayers' for some help.

I was able to use parts of Tess's prayers for Coming of Age, Moving to a New Area and Retirement(!) in order to put together the following blessing:

N, as you set out on your journey
into this new beginning,
may God make clear the roads before you,
and greet you with kindness when you arrive.

May the adventure of this new beginning
call you to what needs to be left behind,
and the wild Warmth of the Spirit cherish within you all that should stay.

May this new beginning excite your heart and challenge you towards new frontiers.
May this adventure fit the rhythms of your soul,
drawing from you new ideas and a vision that will inspire.
May this new beginning be worthy of the energy of your heart and the light of your thought.
May your those you meet on your journey find in you Christ's love and understanding.

Go bravely, and greet each new horizon with trust and gratitude
and may God bless you on your journey,
and may the grace of the Spirit be upon you.

Tess, if you read this, I hope you don't mind my borrowing shoots and leaves from the lovely, life-giving plants you have grown! It is said that there are no new ideas...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

September endings and beginnings

As I went into the garden a couple of mornings ago, I noticed that the brambles reaching in over the fence were full of ripening blackberries. It was about ten to seven, and all was still and quiet. This sign from nature prompted me to realise that the season is changing. There was something in the way the light fell, something in the temperature of the air, that spoke of the end of summer, and of the first dawning of autumn.

I always feel a sense of excitement at that first realisation that the one season is giving way to another; a sense of awe at the rhythm of the earth which is beating whilst you and I are occupied with the concerns of day-to-day living. There is something at work which is greater, older, more patient than ourselves. The blackberries were a small miracle which spoke of the energy of the earth, of its generosity and of its continuity.

The month of September is a gateway from one way of living to another. With the arrival of September, we realise that the carefree months of the summer are over, and that any plans we had for that season must now be put aside until next year, God willing. Although the leaves are still on the trees, the days are shortening, the sun's power is waning and our thoughts turn from adventure and travel to the securities of hearth and home. Our spirits are warmed less by the sun and more by the ripening and gathering of fruits and seeds.

But with every ending, there is also a beginning. September is the time for new voyages and horizons as the school year begins, young women and men set sail for university, college or employment. Young children leave the nest of home to learn to use their wings at nursery and playgroup.

In this season of letting go and turning inwards there is an opportunity for us to embrace new elements in our spiritual lives. What must we let go of in order to further ripen our relationship with God? What seeds do we need to plant into our spirits during these quieter months, so that new life may spring up with the new shoots of spring time?

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