RevGal Friday 5: Seasons and Rituals of Life

Sally writes
It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating
on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last
week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer.

The BBC web-site tells us that:
Beltane is a Celtic
word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival
that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming
year.Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring
time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a
fruitful year for their families and fields.Beltane rituals would often include
courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and
lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and
marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.

Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my
eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is
a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and
in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.
I believe that we
live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real
celebration, and marking the passages of life;

1. Are ritual markings of birth marriage and death important to you?
I love rituals but unfortunately I cannot say that I've participated much in rituals for birth, marriage, and death. Yes, there are the baptisms/blessings, marriages, and funerals but for whatever reasons they do not fully represent or embrace what I consider rituals. Perhaps that is because they vary so much, there might be one or two pieces that are the same.
2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
This past year one of our members was voted Sheriff and officially starting the job on Jan. 1. The Sunday before we blessed him at church and while looking for materials I came across John Wesley's Covenent Renewal Service (UMC BOW 288-294). It is often used on New Year's Eve or Day but can be used at any time of the year. We used it as part of our service the Sunday before Jan. 1. I loved it. One of the focal points is Wesley's Covenent Prayer which I love:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou
wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or
brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all
things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy
pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and
Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the
covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
Oh, there are many I'd love to work on! Loss of a pregnancy, divorce, pre and/or post abortion, a ritual for birth you'd do in the hospital or home right after the birth, the celebration of beginning and ending the teen years, a better ritual for the celebration of life/death and ressurrection/funerals, onset of menstration and menopause.
4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how? I think many of our festivals in the church are already connected to ancient and pagan festivals whether we admit to it or not. I think there is richness in many of these ancient festivals but I'm not ready to begin incorporating them into churchlife. As an aside, my daughter's best friend went to a neo-pagan celebration of another friend's onset of menstration. Part of that included the girl wearing a white dress and her guests "painting" her with their hands dipped in red paint. I'm torn between this been over the top or wonderful. They had red-velvet cake and everything centered on red. Interesting if nothing else!
5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?
Hmmm...that is an extraordinarily difficult question. My ideal celebration for our 15th wedding anniversary would be for Joel and I to be whale watching in Alaska. My ideal celebration for each of my girls' 16th birthdays would be to take them each to NYC and do things specific to their interests--visiting the art museums for my artist and taking an art class, taking my writer to the main branch of the NYC library and absorb all of those writers who have gone before us and write at least one story/poem while we are there, for my drama queen taking her to an acting class and a show. Those are just a few ideas I have for wonderful celebrations.


RevDrKate said…
Great play. Cool blessing of your sheriff person. I also love your thoughts on taking the 16 yo's on the trip...that rocks!
Sally said…
Wesley provided us with some great resources didn't he, my bit of liturgy is Methodist too.
Rev Honey said…
great play...I vote over the top on the party your daughter went to...Alaska trip sounds wonderful!
Sue said…
Nice play. I love the annual Wesley recitation. We do it at our church, but I'm the first minister there who has even introduced it. I keep telling my folks: We're part Methodist, how could we NOT do this???

word verification: thediv
karlajean said…
hmmm. the red party. wonderful and weird and I have to vote over the top, too. but, how great it is to celebrate rather than dread it, you know?

you are a Very. Cool. Mom.

a friend of mine created a worship service for people who lost a pregnancy and who had abortions. it was quite moving.

thank you for your play.
zorra said…
Do you know the book Women-Church by Rosemary Radford Ruether? It includes a number of rituals and rites such as healing from rape, healing after abortion or miscarriage,a naming celebration, puberty rite, etc. Also see Birthings and Blessings II by Ricciuti and Mitchell. (I assume there's a Birthings and Blessings I, but I've never seen it.)
Sophia said…
I love the family celebrations you dream of and hope they come to pass!
Kim in KCK said…
Good play! The rituals for daily passages is the topic of Susan's book if she ever finishes it. I think it's close.
Have you read the book "The Red Tent"? It is excellent, and one I think you would enjoy. I can lend it to you if you haven't read it.
I vote over the top on the girls' party, too, but you know what a prude I am.
Deb said…
I've participated in the Wesleyan Covenant when I teamed on Emmaus teams.

A very powerful prayer...
Purple said…
A ritual for those who are entering the golden years of their life would be great...both male and female.
MaineCelt said…
Mary may be your homegirl, but Wesley is my homeboy!

Wonderful post. All of it.
mompriest said…
I love the blessings of the sheriff and the ways you'd like to honor your wedding anniversary and the 16th birthday of each of your girls...very cool!

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