We Gather Together
Promise of Divine Welcome
Invocation: As Longs the Deer
As longs the deer for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you.
As the dry land thirsts for gentle rains,
I thirst for the living God.
Call to Worship
The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry (b. 1934)
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild thing
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
Listening in the Light of Reconciliation
Opening Hymn: Before the Earth Had Yet Begun, VU 301
Before the earth had yet begun
its journey round the burning sun,
before a seed of life had stirred,
there sounded God’s creating Word.
In that bright dawning of the world,
ere ocean surged or wind unfurled,
the vaults of heaven with praises rang,
the morning stars together sang.
Thus when creation’s God did take
the clay of earth our form to make,
God willed that to our race belong
the gifts of music, word, and song.
For mind can never comprehend,
our noblest words can but pretend
to grasp God’s glory; praise alone
is our companion by that throne.
I Believe in All that Has Never Yet Been Spoken
by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.
Hymn: Like a Healing Stream, MV 144
Like a healing stream in a barren desert,
Spirit water bringing life to dusty earth,
God is trickling through our lives
as in a dream unfolding,
promising revival and rebirth
like a healing stream
Like a river strong with a restless current,
Spirit water rushing on to distant shore,
God is carving out a channel
in a new direction,
calling for an end to hate and war
like a river strong.
Like a mighty sea reaching far horizons,
Spirit water with a love both deep and wide,
God is working in our hearts
to shape a new tomorrow:
God will always challenge and provide!
Like a mighty sea, like a river strong,
like a gentle rain, like a healing stream.
God Calls and We Respond to the Word
Reading: Genesis 1: 1-8
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
An Introduction to Creation Stories: Babylon, Enuma Elish 12th century BCE
Hymn: Out of Deep, Unordered Waters, VU 453
Out of deep, unordered water
God created land and life;
world of bird and beast, and later,
twosome people, husband, wife.
There is water in the river
bringing life to tree and plant.
Let creation praise its giver:
there is water in the font.
Water on the human forehead,
birthmark of the love of God,
is the sign of death and rising;
through the sea there runs a road. R
Standing round the font reminds us
of the Hebrews’ climb ashore.
Life is hallowed by the knowledge:
God has been this way before. R
Prayers of the People
A Prayer for Creation, Celebrate God’s Presence
Creator of the land, the water, and the sky,
come and renew the face of the whole earth.
Giver of life, we are the sons and daughters, the children of your holy breath;
give us new awareness of our role in the world of your making.
Saviour of the world,
touch us in the power of your new creation,
that we might hold in reverence the creation you have given.
God of sparrows and wildflowers,
open our eyes
to the inter-connectedness of all things.
Weave us into our rightful place in your great design.
strengthen the will of people everywhere
to appreciate your creation,
and to seek to live in deep and caring harmony within it.
So may the whole earth be truly blessed
by our hard work and joyful living,
by your presence and ours. Amen.
Closing Hymn: We Cannot Own the Sunlit Sky, MV 143
We cannot own the sunlit sky,
the moon, the wildflow’rs growing,
for we are part of all that is
within life’s river flowing.
With open hands receive and share
the gifts of God’s creation,
that all may have abundant life
in ev’ry earthly nation.
God calls humanity to join
as partners in creating
a future free from want or fear,
life’s goodness celebrating,
that new world beckons from afar,
invites our shared endeavour,
that all may have abundant life
and peace endure forever.
A Water Blessing
One: Blessed are you, O God,
All: for your Spirit hovered over the primordial deep
and caused oceans, seas, and rivers to be formed.
One: Blessed are you, O God,
All: for you filled the waters with all manner of living things.
One: Bless our boats, our canoes, our kayaks, and our tubes;
bless the sea that it might teem with abundant life this year.
bless all who move upon the face of the waters and dive into its depths.
All: May we rejoice in the waters’ beauty and power;
may all who go down to the sea in ships
find safety from its perils.
One: Bless all who wait on shore
and at home until loved ones return.
All: May Christ who calmed the storm,
and filled the nets of his disciples,
be with us all. Amen.
Song: May God’s Sheltering Wings, MV 214
May God’s sheltering wings,
God’s gathering wings protect you.
May God’s nurturing arms,
God’s cradling arms sustain you,
and hold you in God’s love, and hold you in God’s love.