Saturday, 30 March 2013

Welcoming and blessing

When I was thinking about this year's Easter Day Eucharist, I felt that the words that the Church of England had provided for the welcoming of the Easter candle and for the blessing of the Easter garden were, well, very 'dry'. There was plenty of lofty language, but very little sense of the beauty of light, or of the freshness of the garden.

And so, I decided to write my own words. I tried to create a sense of joy, wonder and promise - three things which I find in the mystery of the Easter story. I hope I have achieved this. See for yourself:

Welcoming the Easter Candle

Praise to you, O Christ, Light of the Earth,
breaking into the darkness of our night in the rays of Spring's dawn,
bringing vision and joy, warmth and peace.

Bless us who welcome this Easter candle.
May it be to us a sign of our enlightening,
and of our re-awakening to new life on this Easter morn.
As we receive its holy flame
may we also receive Christ, the Flame of Love and Life,
into our hearts and into our lives.

The Blessing of the Easter Garden

Blessed be you, Jesus, O Holy Gardener, risen with the Sun,
as you come softly into the garden
to surprise us with the good news
that the winter of death is over
and the Spring of new life is come.

And bless, we pray, this Easter Garden,
a living picture of our thankfulness to you
and a symbol of our hopes for new growth within our lives.
As Mary came to seek you in the garden
in the promise of early morning,
may we seek your coming in the dawning of this new season.
As Mary turned to ask where her Lord had been laid,
may we eagerly seek your presence in our lives.
As Mary thrilled to hear you speak her name,
may we respond with joy when we hear your voice whispering to our spirit.

Bless us as we take a new path this day,
and lift our eyes to see you as our companion on the way.


I will find out tomorrow morning what effect these words have. In the meantime, I wish you a blessed Easter. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Calling the Spring

On Sunday, we celebrated the Spring Equinox at Forest Church where the theme was 'Christ the Gardener'. It was a beautiful ritual, and throughout it was the idea that Christ comes to bring new life in his role as the gardener in John's gospel.

And particularly moving was the element where we were invited to call up the Spring from the depths of the Earth and to draw down energy and warmth from the Sun, making ourselves into the place of connection between Earth and Sun. The ritual leader said:

We begin by drawing the energy up from the earth... Feel your feet connecting with the cold earth and, like a tree, send your roots deep, deep down, to where the spring has started to uncoil...

...Breathe in deeply, and draw the energy of spring... up through your feet and into your whole body. With each out-breath hold that heat in the body...

Extend your sense upwards to the distant sun... Draw down the warmth of spring into the cold earth beneath you, through that connection you have established in your mind and in your body...

This was a very profound moment for me: that I could be a co-creator in the birthing of the new season of the year, and that I was a part of the coming of Spring. It was not just happening around me - it was happening through me.

There was also a link to yoga practice in the drawing-up of energy into the body through the feet, as we do when we stand in Mountain Pose or Tree Pose. In this part of the practice I am always reminded that I am part of the tapestry of creation, and that I may grow by learning from the ways of creation. The mountain and the tree are my teachers.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Figs, apples, trees

This Sunday I'm all into trees in my sermon. And, as we have the reading of the fig-tree in the vineyard (which has become the apple tree in the translation below!) I wanted to use that theme with my folks at church this Sunday.

Matthew's gospel, chapter 13 verses 6-9:

Then Jesus told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’

“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”

Here is the final part of my sermon:

...Who is the gardener? Is this Jesus, coming to give us one more chance, to pick us up after we have fallen, to speak words of encouragement when we have failed to hit the mark and to set us on our way again? It seems likely that it is Jesus, for the gospel story is full of occasions when someone is given a second chance by Jesus. The key, it seems, is what we do with the second chance we are given - and the third, and the fourth and the fiftieth. Will we bear fruit? Will we strive to live up to our calling? Will we make the most of the opportunity to be who God calls us to be, acknowledging and valuing our differences and our individuality, and celebrating that in others? 

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