Friday Five – Celebrating the Seasons 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?
Yes, I believe that ritual serves to connect us to the larger community and, in Christian tradition, to the promises of God that offer consolation, hope, and purpose.

2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
We have our own liturgy/rite connected to the baptismal journey for those who are graduating from high school. It is not a baccalaureate so much; more of a celebration of this milestone. As we affirm our baptism, we also have the seniors and their parents gather at the communion rail for prayer. Firs, the students kneel, with the parents placing their hands on their son or daughter’s shoulders. The presider offers a prayer tries to express the parents’ feelings at this moment: awe at the years that have passed, hope for the future, gratitude for the privilege of being entrusted with this young person’s life, confession for the times they’ve fallen short. Then the parents kneel, the students place their hands on their parents’ shoulders, and a prayer from the students’ perspective is spoken. We share the Eucharist, and then we have a dinner together and present gifts to the students.

This year, I need to find someone to help lead this liturgy…because our older son Music Man and we will be among those participating.

3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
I will have to think about this one…

4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?
I think the closest connection we sometimes make around our neck of the woods is with the neo-pagan celebration of Super Bowl Sunday (tongue firmly implanted in cheek.) Here in the US, at least where I live, there isn’t a great deal of awareness or interest in the ancients. But sometimes the nationalistic overtones present a challenge for us.

5. Celebrating is important; what and where would your ideal celebration be?
Word and Sacrament, followed by a great meal, music, and dancing. It could be anywhere, but I am especially fond of anything that happens near the water.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Auntie Knickers
    May 01, 2009 @ 06:55:00

    Great play and beautiful, beautiful lilacs! I’m somewhere North of somewhere, so we just have forsythia and something else I don’t know for flowering shrubs. But lilacs will come!


  2. revhipchick
    May 01, 2009 @ 07:36:00

    wonderful play! i love your ideal celebration, especially near the water. i don’t think i was “tracking” quite right cuz my first thought was a family celebration on a beach but for whatever reason that didn’t seem like a good answer but now i know it would have been fine!i love your church’s celebration for the graduates and having a prayer from their point of view. lovely!


  3. RevDrKate
    May 01, 2009 @ 08:11:00

    Giggling at number 4. And agreeing with hipchich on the ideal. Congrats on the grad boy!


  4. Sally
    May 01, 2009 @ 09:05:00

    Love tht High Schoolers ritual/ lirutgy, that is so powerful, and hightlights for me the importance of family celebration/ involvement.Great play.


  5. Diane
    May 01, 2009 @ 09:11:00

    we do the same thing for graduates! we have it at a sunday morning worship service, and then have lunch after the service for everyone.


  6. karlajean
    May 01, 2009 @ 10:00:00

    what a beautiful graduation ritual. I thought your comment on the nationalistic stuff was provactive and thoughtful. Thank you fo rthat. and oh. lilacs. oh. I want a lilac bush so much!


  7. ElastiGirl
    May 01, 2009 @ 10:30:00

    great play – love the hs grad service.


  8. Deb
    May 01, 2009 @ 11:14:00

    holy cow… I’m puddling up just READING your graduation ritual…


  9. Sophia
    May 01, 2009 @ 11:15:00

    Oh, the graduation ritual sounds so powerful. What a wonderful gift for the parents and teens!


  10. Purple
    May 01, 2009 @ 14:18:00

    Oh the lilacs are so lovely. I think I can smell them where I am at. I too am caught by picturing the graduation ritual…and you will get to be a part of that this year. Congratulation.


  11. mompriest
    May 01, 2009 @ 17:54:00

    wonderful….Super Bowl for sure…and the graduation ritual – wonderful!


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