The idea behind “Create in Me” is to get us talking about worship. As you read this month’s reflection by Jeanne Ahlers on gardening, we offer a few questions for you to consider and explore with your worship community:
In what ways do you look to worship to help you grow?
What would change if you believed your involvement in worship blessed others?
How can we share the fruit of worship—like produce from a garden—with those who need it?
Here are two poems that were shared as part of the “Create in Me” project. In responding to the New Hymnal Exploratory survey, many of you asked about creating new liturgies. Using these poems and suggested scriptures and hymns, we are going to do just that. The first poem, “The Song of Spring” by Jeanne Ahlers follows the transition from winter to spring to the Easter proclamation of resurrection hope, carrying us forward to the Pentecostal witness of renewal and re-creation.
Look for ways to split the poem into a responsive reading. Consider hymns and spiritual songs that use similar imagery or language. Where would it work or be helpful to insert singing? What scripture is being drawn on here? This could begin as a prayer of invocation and call to worship. It might also serve as a prayer of dedication for a community mission garden.
This second poem, “Beneath the Lovely Tree” by Cookie Knauss of Schoeneck Moravian Church in Nazareth, Pa., immediately transported me to the story of Jesus and Nathaniel from John 1:35 – 51, and that mysterious fig tree under which Jesus had observed Nathaniel resting.
With appreciation for the sharing of these wonderful, worshipful words, think about ways they might enrich a worship experience. What biblical stories and teachings do they evoke for you: the priestly prayer of Christ from John 17, the sheltering branches of a mustard tree (Matthew 13:31, 32), or the nation-healing, river-spanning tree of life growing in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1-5)? What songs come to mind: “I Shall Not Be Moved” or “The Trees of the Field”?
Our belief is that worship and liturgy come naturally to everyone. We celebrate and magnify the things we value and cherish all day every day. By our words and actions, through the gifts of our creativity, care and commitment, we open up the treasure of our hearts. It is our hope that by looking at worship from a number of fresh and perhaps unexpected points of view, we might be encouraged in our work together to declare the mighty works of God.
In the hope and practice of Pentecost,
Brian Dixon is pastor of Lake Auburn Moravian Church in Victoria, Minn.
The Song of Spring
by Jeanne Ahler
A Liturgy from “The Song of Spring”
One: As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky, the sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.
All: The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground. The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.
Possible hymns/verses: “This is My Father’s World” #456 MBW or “What Colors God Has Made” #466 MBW
One: Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds, bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old, the dead, the paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.
All: Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet, her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children. Such is the entrance of spring – God’s glorious garden.
You could continue here with creation-themed hymns/verses, or maybe transition to songs that focus on the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church: “Breath of God, O Life-Giving Spirit” #499 MBW or “We Are Your People” #514 MBW
One: We helpers rejoice,
All: wanting nothing more than to feel the living soil in our hands. The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them, and tell them that it’s time, it’s time to begin anew.
One: They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.
All: The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good, just as God intended. For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited to sing harmony.
Conclude the liturgy with a hymn or verses from one of the hymns you have used above. It might also be effective to incorporate a scriptural refrain as a response, some phrase that worshipers can return to repeatedly, as a special point of focus or emphasis. If you were working with Pentecost themes, here is one possible spoken refrain from the Book of Acts:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Beneath the Lovely Tree
by Cookie Knauss