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Liturgy: Hello autumn, Goodbye summer

Geraldine Martin  |  16 March 2017

Autumn has a very different personality from summer. This season is sometimes called the Fall especially in the Northern Hemisphere. This is not because the leaves fall, but because this is the season when the Earth slowly falls away from the sun and the light rays are less. Joyce Rupp tells us, 'To temper the necessary disrobing of the glory of summer, autumn dons a coat of many colors, for beauty softens departure.'  The coats of the animals begin to thicken in readiness for winter. Leaves begin to fall and dance across the streets and parks.

It is also harvest time. We are invited to gather the fruits of the earth. Oranges and grapes ripen and become sweet and juicy. Plump pumpkins show their readiness for picking. Potatoes and peanuts which are buried in the earth become ready for digging up. This is the time we can celebrate the food for humankind and all creatures great and small.  

As one by one the leaves fall and let go, a precious emptiness appears in the trees. The beauty of the branches can be seen.  We see more stars through the branches. So, although some things disappear we can see other things more clearly.

We can do the same with our lives. If we can let go of an unhealthy relationship we can perhaps receive new people into our lives. This could be a time that we surrender some of our possessions, things that we should have got rid of a long time ago. We could be especially kind to elderly people who are having trouble accepting the ageing process, or a family member or friend who is facing changes in the seasons of their life.  

(The paragraphs above could be read to the group to introduce the liturgy).

Setting the scene

This prayer could take place indoors or outdoors but explain to those presents that this has become a sacred space for the time of the prayer. Students could sit in a circle around a cloth (in an autumn colour) or around a table with a cloth. In the center of the circle place a basket in which students will put a leaf that they bring with them. If this is too difficult, collect a basket of leaves (enough so that each student can have a leaf). Also have a lighted candle and the Bible in the space as well. If you want some music when students come into the room, you could play I love the Autumn Days’, by Orban Jolana. 

Opening Prayer

Reader: Harvester God, as autumn light ripens the grain, ripen to our souls.

As brown leaves fall and grain is stored,

help us to leave behind summer’s ways

and go forward in deepening compassion

to find something new.  

Reader: In the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Easter during autumn. We do not have the budding of plants into new life as they do in the Northern Hemisphere. We take this opportunity to reflect on death or loss in the falling leaves and the shortening nights.

Reader:  An excerpt from the story, 'A hullo from a goodbye'  

‘We kids used to wait for the school bus on the reserve at the corner of our rural road. There were a number of gum trees and a great area for playing. Sometimes we built cubby houses while we waited for the bus to come. One day men from the Council cut down a tree that was too close to the edge of the road. All the dead wood was put in a heap. One morning we used the branches and sticks to build a cubby house. Soon after this morning the long summer holidays started and we forgot all about the cubby house. Some months later I walked back to the same spot and the dead branch stuck in the ground to support one end of the cubby had sprouted leaves. It was alive! It is many years since the dead branch came to life. For all I know the tree is still alive.' - Tony Densley

Reader: A reading from the Gospel of Mark 6: 26-29.

Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle because the harvest has come. 

The Gospel of the Lord.

All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ. 

Reader: Today is the day our God has made!

Let’s be happy and rejoice in it.

Blessed are we when we come in the name of God!

Blessed are you from the house of God.

God has given us light;  God has given us this festive day.

Let us lay our leaves on the altar and praise God!

We thank you God, because you are so good. 

Your compassion and love go on and on forever. 

(Adapted from Ps 118:24-29)

Students each get-up and lay their leaves on the altar or in the basket provided.  

Reader: Reflection on leaves

In the springtime, when the buds first come out and certain trees explode with pink and white, it delights our spirit to know that the cold winter months are behind us. 

In the summer, when trees are filled with leaves, we can stand beneath a tree, look up, and not even see the sun because of all the leaves – thick, full and green.

Then in the autumn, the trees change again. They burst with brilliant shades of orange, yellow, red and even purple. They seem to be most alive and beautiful right before they fall off and die.

During the winter we see the bare skeletons of trees. They almost seem to shiver in the cold, as the chilling wind howls and blows right through them.

But, the leaves keep coming back. And every year their arrival in the spring and their departure in the autumn is announced with vibrant colour and excitement. 

Like leaves, our hellos and goodbyes are usually marked with colour and excitement.

Think of someone you care about whom you haven’t seen for a long time. Isn’t it wonderful when you finally see them again? Isn’t it difficult when they go?  We always want to be there to say goodbye and share another hug, because the goodbye is the last thing we will share with them before that next hello.

Even the hellos and goodbyes of a regular school day are significant. If you see one of your friends in the morning and don’t get a 'hello', you may feel left out. If one of your friends sees you leaving in the afternoon and doesn't even wave goodbye, you may feel hurt or ignored. Hellos and goodbyes are important and so is the time of the seasons.

Thanksgiving Prayers

Reader: Creator God, from whom all good things come, we thank you for your presence towards us and recall your generosity towards us. 

We thank you for the life you have given us and the world in which we live. Lord hear us.

All: Lord graciously hear us.

Reader: We thank you for harvest’s boundless store and earth’s fruits which sustain and gladden us.  Lord hear us.

All: Lord graciously hear us.

Reader: We thank you for comforts, homes and friends and the power of compassion.Lord hear us.

All: Lord graciously hear us.

Reader: We thank you for our parents and grandparents especially those entering retirement. It is a goodbye to one life but a hello to a whole new life. Let them rejoice in this.  Lord hear us.

All: Lord graciously hear us. 


Reader: Fascinating God, whose marvellous imagination created leaves that grow and change colour and delight us through the seasons, be with us today.  

Thank you for this beautiful time together. Bless us all as we go about doing your work, in between our hellos and good-byes. 


Extinguish the candle reminding us of the days that are getting shorter and the light is getting less but that the light will always return in the spring. 

You could play the song 'Autumn Leaves’ by Ed Sheeran as students leave.  


Rupp, Joyce and Wiederkehr, Macrina, The Circle of lIfe – The Heart’s Journey through the Seasons. Ave Maria Press 2005.    






Topic tags: buildingpeace, healthycommunitylife, australianidentity

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