Here in the village we worship every, single day. As one (of many) who watches over our shared worship life, this can be a daunting daily rhythm However, this week with my daughter experiencing some much needed healing, and the valley literally singing with the colors of autumn, I am feeling lighter and inspired and hopeful.
Once a week our nightly worship is called "Prayer Around the Cross" (if you go to the Holden Village website you'll see one of the rotating pictures on the front page is of this worship service). We write a script that creates a conversation around scripture, prayer, music, silence and contemporary writings. It is a frame that holds the beautiful picture of prayer and community and lights shining in the darkness.
Prayer Around the Cross
L1: May God be with you. C: And also with you.
L2: Welcome to Prayer Around the Cross. Tonight we will spend our worship time in quiet intercessory prayer. This means we are offering our singing, our silence, our breathing, sometimes our tears, and even our whole bodies in prayer to God. We will be praying for ourselves and for each other, for our beloved earth, and all its inhabitants.
L1: During our worship the room will be quite dark, inviting silence and stillness. The music during our prayer is simple and quickly learned: our singing is a way of breathing prayer to God.
CHANT: Kindle a Flame p. 20
the cantor can speak the words while the piano plays through the chant, the cantor then sings the chant one time alone and the congregation joins in for one or two repitions of the chant
L1: The late mountain air tells the story of seasons change. The crisp, cool worship space brings us together to huddle, to share warmth, to anticipate the crisp, cool days ahead.
L2: The turning of trees and the vibrant colours on the mountain side paint a scene of beauty and wonder, the brilliant Holy Spirit-Artist inspiring and impressing all creation that dares to stop and watch the artist at work.
L1: With chill in our bodies and the whirling of change in the air, we gather as a community to pray, to huddle together, to whisper with the Holy Spirit-Artist among us now.
CHANT: Kindle a Flame p. 20
All sing the chant through one or two times.
L2: The ushering in of this season means we look at the aging earth, put to sleep for the season and the fragility of life is staring back at us. Does the onset of autumn bring fears of death and decay? Does the onset of autumn bring the thrill of winter and change?
L1: We praise God who brings us each season, yet each season is a time for marking the movement of our lives – placing us where we have always been, in the cycles of creation, in the story of the earth.
L2: Poet Carl Sandberg wrote of the beauty and despair that autumn brings us way when he wrote,
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
not one lasts.
CHANT: Kindle a Flame p. 20
L1: Another poet sings the wonder of a Creator who nourishes the creation, season after season. The turning to autumn is not only for turning and sleeping, but a gateway for joy. Season after season the crafted earth and the people of God are brought together to shout and sing for joy. From Psalm 65
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
CHANT: Kindle A Flame p. 20
(all sing the chant repetitively while 2 people light the single taper candles in the boxes and bowls)
L2: Sandberg’s poem rightly mourns the loss of beauty and life that once was, yet he languishes with no hope or acknowledgment of the coming seasons. How often we cling to what we know, what was beautiful was vibrant and full of life…
L1: How often we place our hope in the past or present and disregard the future God holds out in front of us. Yes, the beautiful things pass away, yes the life we know will leave us as well. Yet, the most beautiful of all, the Love of God, will remain. The coming season will usher in a new way of experiencing the Love of the Creator, the new stroke of the Holy Spirit-Artist will awaken us again to new beauty, new life, new season.
L2: For if we live we live to the Lord, and if we die we die to the Lord. So then whether we live, or whether we die, we are God’s.[i] We belong to the Creator, we are again brought to gaze at the beauty of God in the new season.
L1: When our chanting begins again, you are invited to come to the cross and pray. If you would like to pray alone, come to one of the boxes. If you would like to pray with the support and presence of others, come to one of the bowls.
L2: Light a candle, lighting the way for the coming season, experiencing the warmth one small beacon of hope can bring to a whole people. Come when you feel drawn.
The musicians lead the 3-4 chants as the community moves through prolonged time of prayer. May the Spirit guide your repetitions of the music and as you come to the end of one piece, another chant or piece of music should follow. This section typically lasts anywhere from 8-15 minutes.
Kindle a Flame p.20
Pacem in Terris p.33
Though the Earth Shall Change p. 42
If We Live, We Live to the Lord p.16[ii]
L2: Let us pray…Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for your love that gathers up and heals all creation with the Love of God. To you we turn, in you we live. Amen.[iii]
L1: Those who wish to remain in silence for prayer are welcome to stay.
When you leave, please leave quietly. Go in peace and serve the Living God.