Liturgy for Fall

Welcome to our Liturgy for Fall. The Fall is generally a time for harvest. It’s a season full of familiar rhythms and expectancy that comes after the hard work of plowing, sowing, and planting we’ve done in Spring. In turn, Fall is generally an occasion for thanksgiving; a season filled with gratitude to God for His faithfulness in providing the harvest that will help us endure the dark, dreary Winter ahead.

But, for many of us, this Fall doesn’t feel very familiar or expectant. After a Spring full of totally different and incredibly challenging work - a season when we had to pivot our plans for plowing and planting - it feels like the incessant rain of 2020 has washed away all of the seeds we’ve sown. Over the last six months, there has been so much happening in our world, and many of us are entering the Fall feeling discouraged, exhausted, and uncertain, knowing we will not be able to reap the harvest we’ve anticipated or longed for.

We know this season will not be “normal.” It will not have the rhythms and bounty it’s always had. And yet, even as the leaves change colors and wither to the ground, there is still life bursting forth all around us.

Even when the land seems desolate, we trust that our God is bringing forth new life in the midst of all that feels dead.

So, today, we’re inviting you to pause - to pause to acknowledge grief and celebrate life. You’re invited to consider the things you’ve had to let go of as well as the things you’re stepping into moving forward. Because there has certainly been so much to grieve in this season, and yet there are still things growing and new things God is inviting you to step into. 

Below you’ll find the “Liturgy for Fall." We invite you to do this practice on your own, with your household, or with your chosen family. Our intention is for this practice to feel grounded and embodied. Employ all your senses as you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel each movement. In an effort to truly be present with God, yourself, and one another, we invite you to set aside anything that might distract you - your phone, screens, dishes, clutter - and lean into the practices with childlike wonder. If you're feeling restless or navigating shorter attention spans, consider setting a timer for each movement. A set timeframe might help adults and children alike engage more fully in each movement.

We’ve included a few special aspects to our liturgy. They are as follows:

Entering and Exiting the Space:

Our hope is this will be a time set apart to meet with Jesus. One way we can lean deeply into these moments is by marking the beginning and the end of this time with a tangible act that sets it apart as sacred. We recommend striking a match and lighting a candle. Other options include: dimming the lights, closing a door, or going outside. At the end of the Liturgy, you’re invited to exit the space with another tangible act (i.e.: extinguishing the candle, turning on the lights, opening the door, or going back inside).

Reading and Responding to God’s Word:

In lieu of a sermon this week, take time to engage with God’s Word by reading the selected passage several times, following these steps:

  1. Read Psalm 42:1-5 aloud from your own Bible. As you hear the words, let them sink into your spirit. Hear them fresh and new this morning.
  2. Take a deep breath and then exhale
  3. Reread Psalm 42:1-5 and listen for a word or phrase that stands out to you. (Read the passage aloud for a third time, if helpful)
  4. Draw a picture of the word or phrase that stands out to you, using any medium you have on hand (pen, pencil, crayon, marker, scrap paper, journal, printer paper, canvas, etc.). Draw what you heard. If it is helpful for you and/or your family, set a time limit, but don’t rush. This is a reflective and creative exercise, do not worry about or concern yourself with your level of artistic ability
  5. Share your creation. If you are doing this practice with someone, take turns describing your drawing. Listen well to the person sharing and only respond with words of affirmation (“thank you for sharing”). After the Liturgy is over, we would encourage you to mail your drawing with a description to someone as a means to further the sharing and to help remind us that even though we are apart, we are still connected. (If physical mail is not feasible, feel free to text or email a picture)

Breath Prayer:

We have given you a “breath prayer”. Breath prayer is an ancient Christian prayer practice. It is a very short prayer of praise or petition, just four to eight syllables. The first phrase is generally an invocation of God’s name, spoken as you inhale. The second phrase, usually a need or request, is spoken as you exhale.

The breath prayer is usually said quietly and repeated several times. Some people sing it; others chant it. We’ve provided a prayer for you to use, if that’s helpful. Take your time with the breath prayer.

Liturgy for Fall

Enter the Space
Strike a match and light the candle

Doxology
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him, above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Amen

Reading and Responding to God’s Word
Psalm 42:1-5
(Instructions above)

Breath Prayer
“Loving God, my hope is in You”

Exiting the Space
Extinguish the candle

Nature Activity:

As a followup to the liturgy, at some point this week try to find a time to be outside in nature. If possible, go for a walk, or take time to just sit outdoors. In an effort to truly be present, we invite you to set aside anything that might distract you and lean into this activity with wonder and intentionality. 

Continue the practice of acknowledging grief while celebrating life by noticing the way nature holds both of these truths in balance. Leaves might be falling off of the trees, grass might be changing colors, and flowers might be withering; however, juniper, fir, and pine trees keep their foliage, sparrows, cardinals, and wrens go on flying, and racoons, deer, and squirrels continue to run and jump. New growth and continued life are a reality, even in the midst of the reality of things dying. 

At some point during your outdoor excursion, try to find a leaf that is brown and another that is green. Hold both next to one another and say this short prayer: “Father, I am holding both grief and joy in this season. Thank you for being with me.” Take the leaves home to be sketched or photographed, or simply return the leaves to the ground and continue your time outside.