20200829PreparedService

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Contents

Preparation

You will need:

  • 3 seeds per participant
  • dish filled with soil
  • complex mechanism which can be actuated such as a gear box (perhaps made of Lego)
  • two beakers (one half filled with water)
  • a candle
  • matches
  • a bell or signing bowl
  • a candle snuff

Check-in

Leader: Who would like to share?

The participants briefly update each other on how they're doing and what's going on in their lives.

Opening Ritual

We gather to mark the passing of a week
To align our hearts as one.

(Light the Sol Candle)

Wilderness ... still ... wilderness ...
And then ... <gasp> ... civilization!
People. Warm-blooded. Social. Tool-users. Talking.
Nations coalesce.
In the fertile lands, cities are born.
And for every city ... there is a story!

(Open book sign)

Cities grew out of farming, the first massive division of labour

(plant 3 seeds in a straight row in a dish of soil)

Making Scientists and Priests possible
Allowing Artisans to evolve into Industry

(Turn gears)

Cities were fertilized by religion,
Beliefs that bind bands into cities
Beliefs that infuse cities with community

(ASL sign for belief but modified: [1] instead of clasping your own hand at the end of the sign, clasp those of the people next to you (or reach toward the screen to 'clasp' those in other locations on Skype)

Then came science!

(Pour water from one beaker to another)

The practice of seeking truth through experience.
The upward spiral of knowledge

(The ASL sign for knowledge: right hand open, fingers together palm down, tab above right brow twice [2] Then sweep the hand through an upward spiral until arm is extended directly up.)

Finally, democracy emerged!

(Ballot stuffing motion as in ASL for VOTE: [3])

Making striving for their self-chosen destinies,
Freely available to all living citizens.

(ASL for Freedom like in Spirit of Life)

Farming. Religion. Science. Freedom.
From Wilderness ... Civilization!

The Reading

Let us imagine

Saul and his bodyguard are trying to retreat before the army of the Philistines. They are greatly outnumbered and it is clear that they are unlikely to live out the hour. Philistine archers appear on a hill nearby and rain arrows down on them (1 Samuel 31 3). His Israelite soldiers are falling all around Saul. (1 Samuel 31 1) He sees his three sons fall (1 Samuel 31 2) and then he himself is struck by an arrow (1 Samuel 15 3) in the thigh. Blood sprays forth from the wound and Saul knows he only has moments. "God has forsaken me!" he cries as the arrows continue to rain down from the sky. He turns to his armour-bearer who has stayed loyally with him through the long battle. But his armour-bearer has been replaced by a woman, a green and blue woman. She raises her hands palms apart and all becomes quiet. Time is stopped. Arrows hang in the air; soldiers pause in mid-cry and swords stop in mid-swing.

"Who are you?" Saul asks as the woman smiles at him.

"I am Gaia, Greek Goddess of the Earth, Metaphor for all Living things taken together as One Being." the woman replies smiling again.

"I am a follower of Yahweh, I will not forsake Him, leave me!" Saul yells.

"I am a follower of Yahweh also. Sophia will tell you that Yahweh is the Personification of the Deterministic Nature of the Universe. Another name for him is UltraPyros[1], the God of Creation, the metaphor for the beginning of all, the metaphor for the great outpouring of energy that was the beginning of all, and the metaphor for all of the Thermodynamic information[2] in the universe; he is all knowing. And because thermodynamic information is the inverse of Entropy, which is also the ability to do work, he is also the metaphor for all possible work that can be done in the universe; he is all powerful. He is the source of all possibilities[3], all creativity; he is the Cosmic creator." Gaia almost swoons as she speaks of UltraPyros, "You need not fear forsaking UltraPyros by following me, for I am a part of him just as you are a part of me.[4]"

"Has Yahweh sent you to save me?" Saul asks bowing uncertainly.

"Yes and no. The whole of UltraPyros isn't focused on saving you, Saul." Gaia laughs, "Even the whole of the Body of All Life, my whole self, is not focused on saving you. The Philistines are part of me, part of UltraPyros, and they are focused on quite the opposite. But metaphorically, I am here to understand you and the stories about you and to pass that understanding on to those who are troubled by your story. By passing a deeper understanding of you on to those who will come many centuries in the future, I will create for you a kind of immortality or at least multi-millennial long life. That is all the saving I can give you, are you willing to accept that."

"I was turning to my armour-bearer to ask him to slay me that I might not be slayed by dirty heathens.(1 Samuel 31 4)" Saul replies, "I am ready to accept this."

Gaia reaches up and takes an arrow which is hanging in the air temporally stopped, "The Philistines have delivered to us the very thing I need to save you, an arrow made of pure metaphorium out of which I can make a backwards sundial." She holds the arrow pointing straight up but with its fletching just above the soil and green energy passes from her to the arrow. Little roots sprout from among the fletching and reach down into the soil and quickly grow hard and strong and so the arrow becomes a tiny tower pointing straight up and the roots spread out covering the surface of the soil with the markings of a sundial, all radial lines and hours. Gaia reaches down and takes hold of the shadow of the arrow tip where it points to mid afternoon and spins it backwards. It spins round and round the sundial and the sky flickers as the days unwind until is slows to a stop many months before.

Saul finds himself in his council chamber with Samuel. He recognizes the day; it is the day that Samuel told him of God's word that he lead an army against the Amalekites. The only difference is that this time there is a Sundial in the council chamber, a shadow showing the time, even though there is no Sun coming into the room to make the shadow, and also Gaia is standing by his side. And sure enough, Samuel is speaking, "go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." (1 Samuel 15 3)

Saul thinks about all that followed from that day. He says, "And if I kill everything that breaths in that city of the Amalekites, then I will stay in the Lord's favour?"[5]

And Samuel says, "The Lord favours those who obey him."

And Saul nods thinking, "This time I will not fail, and God will keep me in his favour."

But Gaia is there standing in his mind and she says, "Who is speaking to you?"

And Saul replies to her inside his mind, "God is speaking to me."

And Gaia questions him again, "The whole of UltraPyros or just a small part of him with separate interests?"

And Saul looks at Samuel again and doubt enters his mind.

Gaia continues, "Samuel is a shaman[6] and you are a Big Man [7] and shamans and Big Men have always fought even as they cooperated. The shaman has wisdom and his wisdom is important in guiding the tribe toward success and prosperity. The Big Man has strength and his strength is useful in carrying the tribe toward success and prosperity. But sometimes Big Men spend more time using their strength to maintain their position than to carry the tribe and sometimes shamans spend more time using their wisdom to maintain their own positions than to guide the tribe. The shamans of your tribe have long pretended to have special abilities that enable them to speak to UltraPyros directly. They use this pretense in order to ensure that their wisdom is listened to, but it is only a pretense. Samuel fears you. He used his influence to make you King because he thought he could use you, but he overdid it. He gave the people so strong an impression of UltraPyros's favouring you that they began to think of you as a prophet.[8] When Samuel understood that he had gone too far, he began to undermine you. He said to your people, 'You have rejected your God and asked for a king.'[9] And now he is setting you up for failure in the hope that he can replace you. If you try to kill everyone, every living thing, then something will escape and if nothing escapes then he will still say that something escaped and he will say that in your pride, you did not try hard enough to follow God's orders and nothing will change. He will say that God has rejected you and he will work to replace you with one he can control, a young nothing of a man, and David will still become King."

And Saul sees that what she says is true and he becomes angry and faces down Samuel, "You do not speak the word of God, God would never ask me to kill infants or children or pregnant women. You are making this up in order to control me. You are filled with an evil blood lust. You are a war hawk who would bring calamity upon Israel for his own gain! Guards, take him and chain him up in the deepest dungeon. He blasphemes against God." And the guards take Samuel away.

And Saul turns to Gaia and says, "Now I will be saved. What else must I do to save myself? How else can I ensure that my people prosper?"

And Gaia smiles sadly and says, "War impoverishes all. You could have made peace with your neighbours and outlawed hate against groups of people. You could have taught your people that no one is evil, but that everyone, if tempted by greed or led astray by ignorance, can commit evil acts. You could have taught your people to avoid evil acts by remaining conscious of the distinction between acts and people. You could have taught them to recognize that demonizing the other is just a way to manipulate people into committing atrocities. You could have taught them to value Life above all else."

And Saul eagerly says, "I will do that!"

But Gaia looks sad and says, "It is what could have been. But this is merely an illusion brought about with metaphorium. History cannot be changed and what you did, you did. Yahweh determined what you would do, and you cannot change the will of Yahweh. But he did not determine what you did as part of some kind of Omnibenevolent plan. He is merely the Personification the unthinking Deterministic Nature of the Universe. You died in battle at the hands of the Philistines with whom you had made war. But through this story you will live on in the minds of all who read it and, through you, some will learn to question rather than to obey blindly and some shamans will be blocked from using their roles for personal gain and some Big Men will kept in check and slowly peace will grow and war will become rarer. But now it is time to end the illusion."

And Saul says, "Thank you Gaia for showing me what could have been. It is a bitter lesson, but it is always better to know than to be in ignorance."

And so, the story of Saul ends.

Silent contemplation

Leader: Please join me for seven minutes of silence while we contemplate ...

(Service Leader rings the bell)

(silence)

(Service Leader rings the bell again at the end of the seven minutes)

Discussion

Leader: Who would like to share?

The participants take turns talking about what they were thinking about during the contemplation.

Reading of the SolSeed Creed

Please respond to the portions of the Creed highlighted in bold in unison:

Life is precious.
It has always been precious,
it will always be precious.
Life exuberant
bursting through boundaries
to flower and spread
creates the conditions for more Life,
in an Upward Spiral
of ever-growing possibilities.
As you are alive, and I am alive,
and in kinship with all other beings
who call Terra home,
we are Gaia --
the body of all Life.
The Destiny of Gaia
is to take root and flower amongst the stars --
to give birth to a family of living worlds.
As intelligent sparks of Gaia,
we are called to express her excellent nature,
we are called to attend the Great Birthing.
We who answer this call
dedicate ourselves to Gaia,
We join together
in a community of practice
to align our words and actions
with our highest aspirations.
Through awesome experiences
of cosmic, biological, and cultural creativity,
we awaken within ourselves and others
the Cosmic Religious Feeling
that ignites wonder,
fosters compassion, and
inspires invention.
Our three sacred duties are to
embrace Passion,
cultivate Empathy, and
pursue Wisdom,
So that our being honors Gaia
and our striving hastens the Great Birthing.
Passion drives us.
Without Passion
Empathy and Wisdom are lethargic.
I pledge to stoke the fire in my belly,
to compassionately care for my inner elephant ---
to really be me, Happy in the Sun!
Empathy is transcendent.
Without Empathy,
Passion and Wisdom are evil.
I pledge to love others as I love myself,
to consider their needs as if they were my own --
to Grow Ours, not just Get Mine!
Wisdom is effective.
Without Wisdom,
Passion and Empathy are reckless.
I pledge to train my elephant through regular practice,
to stand ready to transform my worldview in the face of new evidence --
to cultivate sound instincts.
Through Passion, Empathy, and Wisdom
we have come to know that:
We are Gaia's People --
children of the Earth and Sun,
awakened by starlight,
growing,
nurturing,
discovering --
We Bring Life!

Closing Words

Leader: We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community or the fires of commitment ... these we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

Leader extinguishes the candle with the Candle Snuff

Leader: May your week be blessed with life and love. Blessed be.

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