In one day I received first from Beverley Osborn a light-hearted rhyme celebrating the return of spring to Stewart Island, found at the southern tip of the south island of New Zealand/Aotearoa. she writes this:
I also received a happy email from Matthew Stevens who so often sends south to the United States concerns of First Nations Canada which never make it to our news. He recently has taken on a church in his retirement and, yes, here are suddenly calls to worship and gathering prayers. They are as autumn as autumn can be — one for World Communion Sunday and another for Canadian Thanksgiving (October 12), and the third, well … calling us out of delusion … for me that does not always have a season.
So here are Matthew’s prayers (and pictures of him with his grandson Tiberius), Beverley’s poem and I close with a prayer of Matthew’s again from several years ago that my congregation always begins the autumn season by praying. It’s one that is included in the book Gifts in Open Hands — More Worship Resources for the Global Community (Pilgrim Press, 2011) which is the book that I wanted to share when I began this blog.
Autumn Calls Us to Worship
Called Out of The Fog to Worship: (Responsive)
We know that Autumn has arrived, not because of the calendar, but rather by the billowing Fall Fog.
Out on the river the deep mournful notes of fog horns resonate and reverberate as the lake-boats ply their trade toward the ocean.
Lady Autumn wrapped in her gentle fog mantelet, teases us with just glimpses of the dawning sun.
Now you see rays refracted through a wafting prism, and then just as hastily they’ve disappeared again.
In time the warmth of the sun will triumph in this contest, and perhaps we’ll be blessed with an Indian Summer day.
Lady Autumn will dazzle us with her myriad palette of colour extravagantly brushed across weald and thicket.
Then both the land and the water will be of one temperature, and the snugginess of a sweater will be ever so inviting.
How good it is to be alive in this vibrant season of rekindled energy, and join with brothers and sisters in worshipping our Creator.
Our Gathering Prayer: (Unison Prayer)
(With apologies based on some writings of Rev. Philip Garside)
Loving God of Autumn, hear now our call to you, for we’ve gathered in your presence, to celebrate World-Wide Communion. We’ve come from many places, speaking and thinking differently, but in you we are united one whole, strong family.
So help us heed your call to service and follow lovingly. May we be compassionate people, alive in you and free. May the Way that Christ has taught us, and the power of your Word, set a fire burning in us for justice and for love. Help us live and speak the forgiveness your people long to hear.
Called From Delusion to Worship: (Responsive)
Autumn can be such a liar!
Ah yes, but a beguiling and enthralling liar, tempting us with golden days, but frequently fetching down slashing rains.
Autumn likes to play the poser!
Claiming all the harvest as the work of her own hand, when in truth her chilly grasp but ripened Summer’s growth.
Watch and you’ll see that Autumn is a cynic!
Encouraging a sallow lad down the fall-fair midway, but placing the giant Teddy-bear just beyond his pitching arm.
To those who love Autumn she is so demanding!
Teaching that all the things in life worth the having only come to those who are dedicated and prompt.
Autumn brings us full circle back to G’zhem-mnidoo’s embrace!
With poignant previews of what is yet to come, and the comforting hug of a doeskin shirt.
Our Gathering Prayer: (Unison Prayer)
Loving Creator, Autumn may try to deceive us with her beguiling ways, but we know with certainty that we can count upon changelessness of your grace. Undeserved as we so routinely prove to be, your grace washes over us with cleansing forgiveness. How can we keep from praising!
Just as Autumn’s nippiness set a brisk pace for our walk to church, cue us to be more aware of the opportunities you grant us to share your Grace. Strip us of our smug self-righteousness, and make this time of worship an opportunity of renewed commitment to simply following your path. AMEN
Autumn, you are not Thanksgiving!
You tart yourself out in the earthy orange hue of pumpkins and the crispy red of apples but you’re not thankful.
Autumn, you are brash and love nothing better than to taunt us!
But without the snap of your chilly fingers the harvest could not ripen.
Autumn, you are a paradoxical and mysterious lover!
Offering a warm blush upon the cheek, and then without remorse acting the impudent and deceitful coquette.
Autumn, despite it all, you are a welcomed and well-loved friend!
Reminding us all to take nothing for granted and give thanks for Creator’s grace.
On this Autumn morn let us come together as Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
Let us welcome the stranger in our midst, and share Creator’s harvest of blessings.
Our Gathering Prayer: (Unison Prayer)
Oh yes, Loving Creator, we know all about what we’re NOT! We’re NOT very reliable – we’re NOT overly generous in our sharing – and we’re certainly NOT much good at showing Thanksgiving for all we’ve received! Simply put, we’re NOT the people you call us to be.
But, we’re also NOT without our redeeming ways, and we’re NOT beyond learning from our past errors. That’s a big part of what worship is for us – a chance to relearn the teachings and renounce our arrogance. In this time we’ve set aside together, help us learn yet again that thankfulness is justice, that honest sharing is equality, that love is essential to humanity’s future, and that equanimity of spirit is the salvation of all Creation. AMEN
bursting of buds,
sprouting of seeds,
leaping of lambs,
beauty of blossom,
fragrance of freesias,
carpet of colour;
The tui is an endemic passerine bird of New Zealand. It is one of the largest members of the diverse honeyeater family. The name tui is from the Maori language name tūī and is the species’ formal common name. Scientific name is Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae.
A Gathering Prayer On A First Autumn Morning
Oh yes, I felt it this morning! It actually caused me to turn back into my home for a sweater, and a secret tingle of delight when I had slipped it on. Autumn is most definitely here again with morning air that is sharp, clearing idle thoughts from my head. For that I am thankful.
It’s time to check the wood pile, and split more for the coming cold weather. I’ve been meaning to do that, but those hot summer days called me to less strenuous activities. Time to also find the spade again, and dig up the mounds of badakaan (potatoes) tucked under the soil. We should have a good supply, and for that too I’m thankful, Generous Creator.
This is the season, G’zhem-mnidoo (Creator God), for which you save your best colours and hues. The sugar maples are already subjects of your artistry, and on a nearby hill one has burst overnight into a fiery red. By the creek the rose hip have grown fat, and once touched with gentle frost they’ll be ready to pluck. It’s a busy time, for the bright red apples also call to be picked. It feels good to gather in the autumn bounty, and for that I am thankful.
Our four-legged brothers and sisters sensed the coming of autumn long before us, and they have been busy filling their hidden cachés for some time. Just the other day I stopped to watch brother amik (beaver) rebuilding part of his lodge. He and I seem to compete for the most suitable poles – and he generally wins. That I accept, but I’m not really thankful.
Many of our winged relations will soon venture to their southern homes. They bulk-up with all the nourishment they’ll need to sustain their long journey. A wedge of nikag (literally “goose”, locally “Canada Goose”) noisily practice formation flying, and the young learn they still need to strengthen if they are to pace their elder’s flight. For the bagwajanoomin (wild rice) in the marshlands, both they and I will be thankful.
This is also the season for thoughts of transition, for one day it will be our time to cross-over to be with our ancestors and you, G’zhem-mnidoo. Do you ever wonder why your sentient creatures are so reluctant to consider their crossing-over? Do you sometimes ponder the acceptance of the nikag to their journey, and hesitancy of humans to affirm your presence throughout the cycle of life?
We come together in the circle of our church, a little more pensive then on other Sabbath mornings. We have been taught that part of Sabbath derives from “peace”, and so perhaps today would be a good time for all of us to make our peace with all others. In our worship may you hear in our words and songs our commitment to be in harmony with your plan for our mortal existence.
Chii-miigwech, (literally: “great/many thanks”, but also stands in place of “Amen”), G’zhem-mnidoo.