For our Children | Moral Values | Weddings | Recent Services | Ministries | Calendar | Contact us | Home page | For Visitors | Donate | News

Congregation of Unitarian Universalists

Celebration of the Spring Equinox

Is Nature your Spiritual Home?

En Español

    This is a day which was created for us; Let us be thankful for it.
      Let us be thankful for the capacity to hear, to see. to think;
        It is a time to celebrate the gifts of life, to share religious community,
          To affirm our moral values, to gain stringth, courage and comfort,
            And to be challenged to create a better world.
              Let us be especially grateful for the ties of love that give meaning,
                Dignity, and worth to the life we live each day.

    Lighting the Chalice:

      We are gathered here this morning to celebrate the spring equinox - the first day of Spring. On that day there is an equal amount of light and darkness. The forces of death and life, summer and winter, light and dark are equally balanced. Now the light is increasing, each day will be a little longer until we reach the summer solstice. This celebration, this ritual comes from the Celtic Tradition, Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles. Pagan is a misunderstood word which comes from the latin refering to people who lived in the country, the rural areas and were not able to get to the great temples of Rome. These people lived in the far north where winters were long, dark and cold. Here in Puerto Rico the ground does not thaw because it never froze , nor the seeds sprout because we have spring and summer all year, but baby animals will be born. Today we celebrate this season of rebirth.

    Prayer: ( followed by a moment of meditation)

      Great Spirit as you make the earth blossom once more, bless our lives with good food, good friends, loving family and opportunities to grow and to learn. As we grow and change let us remember everything born must also die, even great mountains are ground down by time and will one day disappear. Teach to let go of old ways we have outgrown so we can make way for the new. Spirit of spring fill our lives with warm sunshine so we can dance, and share and grow. Let us pray.

    Invocation of the Four Directions:

      East: Welcome East, the power of air, of dawn, of Spring, of new beginnings. We welcome your return with your fresh breezes and flowers bursting forth. Let our imaginations soar like the eagle. Inspire our thoughts as we dream of a bright future and plant the seeds of hope.
      South: Welcome South, the power of fire and summer. Bring back the strength of the sun, but temper it with life giving rain. Help us to put our dreams for a better world into action. Give us strength and courage like the lion.
      West: Welcome West, the power of water and evening. We are grateful for cool evenings and rains that keep our land green and help seeds to grow. We are grateful for loving families and the time we share with them each day.
      North: Welcome North, Power of the Earth, winter and midnight. As we wake from our winter dreams and burst forth into spring, keepus grounded in the earth. Help us remember to walk gently on the earth and treat her with kindness, for she is our mother.

    Joys and Concerns: (We throw a small stone into this bowl filled with water, to symbolize our thoughts, which move in circular rings eternally, like concentric waves.)

      We invite you to share your joys and concerns since our last meeting

    Story for All Ages:  (the children go to Religious Education at the end of the story and the adults sing "Spirit of Life" )

    Hymn:   # 123  (STLT)   "Spitit of Life"   by Carolyn McDade (adapted)

      Spirit of Life, come unto us,
        Sing in our hearts all the stirrings of compassion.
          Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
            Move in our hands, giving life the shape of justice.
              Roots hold us close; wings set us free;
                Spirit of Life, come to us, come to me.

    First Reading:

      Many celebrations, ancient and modern have taken place at this time of year. The common theme of all of them is that during the three nights of darkness between the last moon and the new moon is a time of death or exile, usually a descent of the goddess or god into the underworld for this period of three days. This is such a popular theme among religions that mythologists refer to it as "the harrowing of Hell". Victory of a god of light (or life, rebirth, resurrection) over the powers of darkness (death).
      On the first full moon after the equinox the Jewish People celebrate Passover which commemorates a time when the people of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt. Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday, after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. In ancient Sumeria (present day Iraq) people celebrated the return of Dumuzi from the underworld. In ancient Greece it was the return of Persephone. For the Romans this was the beginning of the new year. Rebirth and deliverance are common themes in all of these holidays. This is a joyful time of year, a time of new beginnings. It is time for the solar festival we call Vernal Equinox when the light and dark are in balance. This is the point in the year when fire and water combine to fertilize the soil and re-animate all life on Earth - the Earth is awakening from a long period of sleep.

    *Hymn:    STLT 61  Lo, the Earth Awakes Again     

      1. Lo, the earth awakes again Alleluia!
        From the winter's bond and pain. Alleluia!
          Bring we leaf and flower and spray, Alleluia!
            To adorn this happy day, Alleluia!
      2. Once again the word comes true, Alleluia!
        All the earth shall be made new. Alleluia!
          Now the dark, cold days are o'er, Alleluia!
            Sping and gladness are before. Alleluia!
      3. Change, then, mourning into praise, Alleluia!
        And, for dirges, anthems raise. Alleluia!
          How our spirits soar and sing, Alleluia!
            How our hearts leap with the spring! Alleluia!

    *Second Reading:

      We'll build a land where we bind up the broken.
      We'll build a land where the captives go free,
      Where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning.
      Oh, we'll build a promised land that can be.
      Come build a land where the mantles of praises
      Resound from spirits once faint and once weak;
      Where like oaks of righteousness stand her people.
      Oh, come build a land, my people we seek.
      Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
      Anointed by God, may then create peace:
      Where justice shall roll down like waters,
      And peace like an ever flowing stream.

    Discussion Theme: (Copyright: First Unitarian Church San José)

      Is Nature your spiritual home?
      There are many traditions of the Vernal Equinox. It is a time of renewal, both in Nature and in the Home. "Spring Cleaning, is more than just a traditional activity, it removes any negative energy accumulated over the dark winter months and prepares our homes for the positive growing energy of spring and summer. This day was also the time when promises were made between lovers for the Handfasting Ceremony that would come at Midsummer. In a very real sense the ceremony was an expression of hope and trust in the new lives that would blossom in the warmth of summer.

      How do you feel about Spring and its traditions?

      Do you feel a deep sense of peace and belonging and wonder in the midst of nature, in a forest, by the ocean, or on a mountain top? Are you speechless with awe when you look up at the sky on a clear moonless night and see the Milky Way strewn with stars as thick as grains of sand in the desert?

      Do you think Spring is a time of new beginnings ?

      When you see breakers crashing on a rocky shore, or hear wind rustling in bamboo leaves, are you uplifted by the energy and creativity of existence?
      Is this enough for your religious and spiritual life?

    Closing Circle of Hands: "Invocation to Deméter" Copyright 1996 by Wayne Farmer, Kernersville, NC

      O Deméter, you who have suffered much,
        Yet still bring forth the golden grain
          To nourish all who depend upon it
            Even though the future is unknowable
              And every new day may bring joy or tragedy;
      Help me to sow new seed
        Knowing that without the sowing
          All is surely barren
            And that the beauty of one flowering tree
              Can outshine all the failures of past and future.
      Redirect my sorrow and fear
        Into energy that strengthens my work
          And increases its chances for success.
      I become one with you
        And blend my hope with your sorrow.

    Wayne Farmer

    *Hymn:    Go now in Peace     

      Go now in Peace, Go now in Peace,
        May the Love of God surround you
          Everywhere, everywhere, You may go

    *Stand as you are willing or able