From the stars we come
And little stars we make:
Here is our Easter flame
Burning and bright
Brightest in the darkness
Indeed, removing the darkness,
A glow to radiate light and love
Back across the universe.
Light the chalice
Some words from Langston Hughes, followed by a brief piece of related music.
In time of silver rain
Puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads
In time of silver rain
Lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth
New leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,
In time of silver rain
Music short: In Time of Silver Rain [produced via Musescore from Singing the Living Tradition 060, Boston: Beacon Press]
Except when a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.
As the earth brings forth her bud, and the garden causes the things sown in it to spring forth, so will come righteousness and praise to come among all peoples and nations.
The souls of the righteous are in good hands, and so shall no evil touch them any more. So when this mortal shall have put on the memory of immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.
All and everyone, with hearts and minds open to the lessons of this season, when all of nature prophesies to humankind, let us rejoice in that Christian and Pagan gospel which interprets the prophecy of nature, and celebrate with gladness the triumph of life not death, of Spiritual continuance through all outward change. Let us answer the manifold lessons around us with newness of life in ourselves, that so, casting off the works of darkness to put on the armour of light, and led by the hope that is full of ethical immortality, we may press forward in glad and faithful service unto that world in which there is fulness of joy and life.
Infinite and gracious God, who gathers life and immortality into Being itself, we would draw near to you in grateful love - as giving the fountain of our individual beings. Apart from Being there is no life and only from Being comes death. You send forth your breath, the earth awakens, and all nature's voices lift up their responses. Send your Spirit into our hearts, that we also may praise with joyful lips, and all that is within us bless the holy name. On this day which testifies of the memory of the soul to outlast the changes of earth, and to rise victorious over the bondage of the end, may such immortal being hear the call and feel its meaning. Help us, we pray, to rise from the death of sin, in the likeness and might of him who assures us, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: I live and you shall also live.'
To the Name above all names, we are gathered in place here with sorrow for what we have done that we should not have done, and for having not done what we should have done. Each week we are clumsy and may even be deliberate, and here is an opportunity by which we can say sorry.
And we are thankful for what has been so beneficial, those small and larger events that visit us and bring forth a smile and warm glow within. How often do we see a pleasant serendipity in what takes place, either to others or ourselves? There is much to be grateful for.
And in this spirit of both sorrow and thankfulness, we can give praise for life, and for the very life of life, as it rests in Being itself, and so here, gathered in this place, we give praise for what is, in the end, good. We say Yes; we indeed say Yes to life.
I presume Celia Midgley wrote this poem after visiting the ex-Todmorden Unitarian Church. She calls it: On Going Back to my Home Church, Now a Heritage Centre.
Time spent on the dead is not time wasted.
Time spent is not time thrown away.
The past is key to our own birth and living,
the key to our own living and rebirth.
An empty church is not a church unpeopled.
An empty church is not a church unloved.
Its door unlocked resounds down ailes of memory,
echoing steps to an altar stone of hope.
The stout unjudging pillars part a welcome.
Marble-cool they stroke this fevered head.
Tears in the angeled font wash children's faces
and Jesus bids me shine like yesterday.
A pilgrimage is not to make an ending.
A pilgrimage is not to bury the past,
but seek it, meet it, know it and accept it
and grateful cherish every love and loss.
Give us the grace to receive our nurturers,
builders and teachers who helped find our song.
Give us to love the place and our beginnings,
always and ever the same for going back.
We praise our universe and magnify our small place in with it. Galaxies and solar systems are full of majesty and glory.
Blessed be this expanse for ever, for it has placed and made its conscious people.
Within it we know our low estate, and we are tellers of our stories from old.
We have been in darkness and the shadow of death, and the light of greater knowledge has been hidden.
When the earth so changed to become the abode of humanity, we must portion our days with wisdom and mercy.
This earth is in our hands for our years, and our record bears witness.
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
We shall not die, but live now, and declare the evolved as our home.
Sing, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth; for the former things have passed away, and all things have become new.
The ideal person has climbed no heights, nor is made perfect through character building.
In suffering humanity can the fulness of the Spirit dwell; and of this fulness we may all partake.
Christ lightness is Christ likeness, not exclusively but received universally.
Here we locate the world, bearing witness to the truth.
And every one that is of the truth hears a similar voice.
Perhaps it needs faithfulness unto death, even that handed out by those who know not what they do.
This way one can receive the crown of the eternal moment.
We are no more strangers and exiles, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of Being itself.
In humanity there is but one family, there and here; one living communion of the seen and unseen.
Not long will we be tested: shall we seek the being of Being in these courts below; and such will respond to these our faltering lips.
Our forebears have been called to higher praise, and gathered to their parents must all children be.
We therefore pray that our humanity continues in this pattern.
May it be numbered with the saints in glory ever forward.
Let the dead and living praise their situation, above and below; indeed let all the generations give thanks.
Let the humanity be glorified to rise up to dwell with highest Being in the heavens.
Blessed be the One cause and end who underlines the victory.
And within whose Spirit we can become the people of God.
Blessed be the dawn of this ongoing light.
The soul does not stay within the grave: the soul is the path of life.
That life, this presence, is fullness and joy; at its heart are joys and pleasures for the moment we call eternity.
The heartbeat of the churches and synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras are all around us.
And we are but a few of the beating hearts.
We pray for people of faith
That they may come to see the way ahead,
Enduring with trust the attachments of suffering,
Taking the bypass or going through it,
Seeking the better way and freeing themselves -
To build a future of victory of life over death.
We pray for the world, and especially for peace,
For today many are caught up in conflict.
All they want is representation and self-determination
But the powers would crucify them.
Many seek and have found the better way:
The peaceful way that is a firmer foundation for the future.
Let those in rough circumstances, and trapped,
Find resolution soon at least.
We pray for those we know who are sick and who may drink from the well of life...
We think, as Celia did, of those who have been here before, that an empty church is not empty.