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Liturgy: Rebirth

Geraldine Martin |  24 August 2016

When the season of spring comes around again, light and life seems to return to the world. Suddenly our days are longer, there is more sunlight, the dawns are earlier and the sunsets are later. As Joyce Rupp says in her book Circle of Life, ‘Earth sails along in her faithful rotation. With each cycle, she leans in closer to the light and heat of the life-giving sun’.  

What seemed to be dead begins to stir to life. The earth seems to spring to life. We humans seem to receive a new surge of activity after the slow pace of winter. We have to be careful of the swooping birds in our parks as they begin to protect their nests and their young. We begin to hear the mating calls of the birds. Delicate green shoots from daffodils, hyacinths appear and the fruit trees and other flowering trees sway in the spring breezes, almost showing off their delicate flowers. The drab earth is beginning to burst into colour again. In the Northern hemisphere spring comes around the time of the Resurrection but this does not mean we, in the Southern hemisphere, should not celebrate’ Resurrection’ and ‘New Life’ in September. This is the time to savour hope and to trust in what the future holds. This is a good time to acknowledge God as the source of all life and to celebrate as a faith community.

Setting the scene

The room that you are having the liturgy in needs to be decorated with lights, spring flowers, pictures and colour to help create an ambience for a meaningful celebration. This could also be held outside in a garden that may have a sprinkling of spring flowers around.  

Items and support needed:

1. Lump of clay

2. Chimes

3. Bowl of water

4. Lighted candle

5. Four students to bring in symbols of the elements of creation: earth, air, water, and fire.

6. Four students to read the explanation of the symbols.

7. Instrumental music to be played as students bring in the symbols and set them up on the altar or table in the front of the room.

Opening Prayer

Reader:

Days of heavy clouds stifling the sunlight,

The world burdened by greyness and gloom,

All: Open our Eyes, Lord, to the coming of your light lifting the burden of darkness from our lives.

Reader:

Chillness that seeps deep into bones hearts and spirits rigid with frost,

Souls wrapped up against coldness and loneliness,

All: Open our souls, Lord, to the warmth of your compassion, melting the hardness that keeps us from you and from each other.

Reader: Going back in time our ancestors and the original people of this land had a deep respect for the elements of creation: earth, air, water and fire.  

We invite you to relax and allow the ancient elements of creation – the earth, air, water and fire to encircle us, gracing us with their wisdom, connecting us to each other and to the whole community of life that is our universe.

Instrumental music is now played throughout the bringing in of the symbols. 

Reader:  We celebrate the gift of the earth.

Student 1: Carries in a piece of clay and sets it down on the altar or table.

Reader: Every part of this earth is sacred. From ancient times the earth has been portrayed as feminine. Humankind experiences the earth as life-giving, nourishing, rhythmic and fertile.  

We are invited to walk quietly and gently on the earth and read her wisdom in every leaf, flower, rock and field and care for her with tender respect.  

Reader: We celebrate the gift of air.

Student 2: Brings in a set of chimes and continues to hold them while the reader explains the meaning of them.  

Reader: Air is invisible and all pervasive. Without air we die. It sustains every living plant and creature. It sculpts every rock into strange and beautiful shapes.

All of us share the same breath. Air is the breath of life.  

Student 2: Flicks the chimes to peel out and places them or hangs them in the sacred space.  

Reader: We celebrate the gift of water.

Student 3: Brings in the bowl or jug of water.

Reader: Life began in water. Science tells us that life emerged in the oceans about 4 billion years ago. Life came ashore about 650 million years ago and it brought water with it in the cells of every living creature. Our own bodies are 70% water. Water is vital. It is more precious than gold, more valuable than oil and any other mineral substance. Water is the most potent symbol of life. 

Reader: We celebrate the gift of fire.

Student 4: Brings in the lighted candle and places it on the altar or table.  

Reader: Fire has held mystery since the beginning of time. Fire evokes a sense of life, unpredictability and sparkle. We recognize the sun, creation’s source of energy and life and we are in awe of its power to warm the death of winter into spring’s green life.  

Each season has its own particular beauty and symbolism but spring speaks forecefully of light, newness and rebirth. We rejoice in this new life as we praise and thank God who is the giver of all life.

Hymn: 'How Great thou art'

Verse: O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,

Consider all the worlds Thy hand have made;

I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power thoughout the universe displayed.

Chorus:  Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee,

How great hou art, How great thou art.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,

How great thou art, How great thou art!

Verse: When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.

When I look down, from lofty mountains grandeur

And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Chorus:  Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee,

How great hou art, How great thou art.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,

How great thou art, How great thou art!

 

Scripture reading: Matthew 6:25-33

Do Not Worry

Reader: A reading from the book of Matthew 6:25-33

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

The Gospel of the Lord.

All:  Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflection on the Gospel

During the reflection on the Gospel, leaders can play Mendelssohn's 'Spring Song: Songs without words'.  

Prayers of the faithful

Reader: As the heavens are telling your glory, O God, and all creation is singing your praise, hear our humble prayers, O Lord.  

Reader: That we will see in the beauty of spring, new life, and God’s promise to always care for us, we pray …

All: For the promise of rebirth in our lives and the lives of others.

Reader:  For all those who bring beauty to our world, especially growers, gardeners and florists, we pray …

All: For the promise of rebirth in their lives and the lives of others.

Reader:  For all those who raise and grow food for our tables and for those who provide us with clothes, we pray …

All: For the promise of rebirth in their lives and the lives of others.  

Reader:  That we may take time to appreciate the beauty and wonders of all creation around us and be good stewards of it, we pray …

All: For the promise of rebirth in our lives and the lives of others.  

Reader: O Lord of the flowers and birds of the air, let us always give praise and honour, joy and thanksgiving to You for all your gifts.  Hear our prayers and answer them as You know best for us.  

Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Blessing:  

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand. 

                                - Old Irish Blessing

 

Rupp, Joyce & Wiederkehr, Macrina, Circle of Life, Sorin Books, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2005. 

 

Photo: Nana B AgyeiCreative Commons License

 

Topic tags: ourrelationshipwithgod, thecatholictradition, scriptureandjesus, prayer, liturgyandthesacraments

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