We Gather Together
Musical Prelude: selected piano pieces, performed by April Li
Promise of Divine Welcome
Invocation: Sing to the Maker
All of creation, sing to the Maker,
sing a new song of jubilant praise.
God who has sung us, still is among us,
let us give thanks in the song we raise.
Call to Worship:
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
~ John Muir, from The Mountains of California
Lighting of the Christ Candle
Listening in the Light of Reconciliation
Opening Hymn: The Hills Are Alive (Rodgers & Hammerstein)
The hills are alive with the sound of music,
With songs they have sung for a thousand years.
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music;
My heart wants to sing every song it hears.
My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees.
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze.
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
Stones on its way.
To sing through the night
like a lark who is learning to pray.
I go to the hills when my heart is lonely;
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before.
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music,
And I’ll sing once more.
from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars,
sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows
— then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest,
and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,
— then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest,
you too should rest in reason and move in passion.
Music: performed by April Li
God Calls and We Respond to the Word
Reading: Psalm 121, with sung response:
Our help is in the name of God
who made heaven and earth.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where will I look for help?
My help comes from God,
who has made heaven and earth.
God will not let your foot stumble;
the One who protects Israel will not slumber.
The One who protects you
will neither slumber nor sleep. R
It is God who protects you,
your defence at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
God will protect you from all evil,
God will protect your life.
God will protect your going and coming,
now and forever. R
In the Beginning: The Giant Pan Gu and the Goddess Nu Wa, China 3rd century CE
Hymn: Higher Ground
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining ev’ry day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith, on heaven’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground. R
I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.” R
Prayers of the People
Blessing of the Land, from Common Prayer, A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
|God of the Universe, you made the heavens and the earth,
|so we do not call our home merely “planet earth.”
|We call it your creation, a divine mystery,
|a gift from your most blessed hand.
|The world itself is your miracle.
|Bread and vegetables from earth are thus also from heaven.
|Help us to see in our daily bread your presence.
|Upon this land may your stars rain down their blessed dust.
|May you send rain and sunshine upon our garden and us.
|Grant us the humility to touch the humus,
|that we might become more human,
|that we might mend our rift from your creation,
|that we might then know the sacredness of the gift of life,
|that we might truly experience life from your hand.
|For you planted humanity in a garden
|and began our resurrection in a garden.
|Our blessed memory and hope lie in a garden.
|Thanks be to God,
|who made the world teeming with variety,
|of things on the earth, above the earth, and under the earth.
|Thanks be to God
|for the many kinds of plants, trees, and fruits that we celebrate.
|For the centipedes, ants, and worms, for the mice, marmots, and bats,
|for the cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers,
|we rejoice that we find ourselves eclipsed by the magnitude
|of generosity and mystery.
|Thanks be to God. Amen.
Closing Hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful, VU 291
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: in love God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,each little bird that sings,
God made their glowing colours, God made their tiny wings.
The purple-headed mountains, the river running by,
the sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky. R
The rocky mountain splendour, the lone wolf’s haunting call,
the great lakes and the prairies, the forest in the fall.
God gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell
how great is God our maker, who has made all things well. R
Poem: mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
by Shih Shu (ca. 1660 – 1740), translation by James H. Sanford
mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
an upwelling spring whispers subtle tales
pine breezes stir the fire beneath my tea
bamboo shadows soak deep into my robe
I grind my ink: clouds scraping across the crags
copy out a verse: birds settling on branches
as the world rolls right on by
its every turn tracing out non-action
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.