Autumn Worship

Planning for Worship from September through November
 
"The earliest Christians, knowing significantly more hunger than most of us in North America today, had a number of names for the gathering they shared around the meal eaten in the name of Christ.  One of the classic and enduring names by which these often-hungry people came to know their gathering for worship was simply eucharist, which translates thanksgiving.  This disposition of thanksgiving was understood as being so much a part of the Christian meal that it could become simply the name by which the gathering was known.
When we share in the bread of holy communion, with what we might call its ecological or economic proposal, we are certainly sharing in food.  But we are also sharing in the land that produces such food."
    --from A Watered Garden by Ben Stewart, pgs 66, 68


The Season of Creation
This website has many resources dedicated to celebrating the four week Season of Creation, traditionally in the weeks leading up to St. Francis Day at the start of October.  We focus on God as creator and the wonders of creation, all designed to help us love creation as God does and commit ourselves to care for it and rejoice in it. 
 

Blessing of the Animals
Celebrate Saint Francis Day, October 4, with a blessing of the animals (including human animals). See liturgy and sermon resources.
Catholic Climate Covenant also puts together annual resources for celebrating the Feast of St. Francis.  Follow this link to download the materials for this year, called "Dial Down the Heat: Cultivate the Common Good for our Common Home."

 
(Eco-)Reformation Day
Preach the Good News to all creation! Take this opportunity to reflect on the reformation that the church needs in order to address the ecological issues of creation we face today.
Click here to be linked to Reformation materials in our Occasional Services section.
Also see "A Lutheran Theology of Creation: Foundations for a New Reformation" article by David Rhoads proposing an Eco-Reformation for the church, our theologies, and our practices.
NEW Norman Habel recently shared with us the 3rd volume of his "Habel Hymns."  Especially appropriate for Reformation Day celebrations, the theme for this set is "Songs in Support of the Eco-Reformation & On-going Earth-Care."  You'll find hymns celebrating evolution, cosmic connections, and an eco-version of Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress" re-envisioned as "A Mighty Wonder is Our Earth."  Click here to download.


All Saints Sunday
For All Saints Sunday, notice how in the Northern Hemisphere we've set this festival at the end of the long (green, Time after Pentecost) growing season.  Hymns like Come, Ye Thankful People, Come and even the liturgical piece Let the Vineyards Be Fruitful, Lord call us to envision ourselves as the crop God is tending, with the saints at rest in God's promise finally as the harvest brought into the barn.  Our lives grow and bear fruit amid the mission "fields," then we rest in God's safe protection.

Further, if our model is following the example of "the saints," we might find it worthy to emulate the praise of the birds' song or deciduous trees' glorious colors, or to share our fruits extravagantly like the apple tree.

Besides thinking of creation as a model for saintly service, as your congregation remembers the dearly departed in celebrations of All Saints, envision ways to hold faithfully the deaths of other creatures.  The observation, hoping for redemption in Christ, could find opportunity to recall pets who have died, cherished trees that have been cut down, open spaces that have been built on, and more.  Here is a sample litany to use.
 

Thanksgiving
Taken from "God's Earth, Our Home," produced by the National Council of Churches of Christ.

For services of Thanksgiving in the United Church of Canada, click here. Download and adapt for use in the US Thanksgiving.

A Confession of Faith for Thanksgiving, based on Luther's Small Catechism.
 

Harvest Festival
This time of year presents a great opportunity to express gratitude for the harvest throughout your country and the world, for the produce of the community garden at your church, and for the food you have grown at home.
For now, we suggest you visit
 http://www.faithandworship.com/harvest_thanksgiving_liturgy_prayers.htm.  At this responsible website devoted to harvest celebration worship you will find good information about “harvest” along with example liturgies (scroll down the home page to the bottom). 
You might also look at resources for Land Sunday in the Season of Creation.
 Another interesting resource is the documentary "Dirt: The Movie."



Stewardship 
In many congregations, fall is the time of stewardship planning, by which we typically mean making pledges and budgeting and financial preparations for the coming year.  Notice, as well, the stewarding preparations of the world around you.  Bears gain weight preparing to hibernate.  Squirrels store acorns.  Trees have accumulated sugars all year long in photosynthesis; while they appear to rest dormant after losing leaves, a closer look reveals next year's buds already at the end of twigs.  And even those dead leaves are compost and adding to new life for soil for future growth.