20210710PreparedService

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Contents

Preparation

You will need:

  • A Representation of a plant which can be used like a mask
  • A Single Cut Flower for each Person attending
  • 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

The fifth Liturgical Season runs from the summer solstice to mid summer (approximately August 4th) and covers the rise of intelligence. What are the major advances during this period. Warm blooded-ness, social interaction, tool use, language?

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

(Light the Sol candle)

Instinct ... still ... instinct ...
And then ... <gasp> ... a spark!
Amidst the growing diversity of SolSeed,
a new attribute emerges,

(hold a picture of a plant on cardboard (or other representation of a plant(s)) in front of your face and then rise up from behind it and look around expressing surprise, awe and/or curiosity)

In the lush green forests, minds are born.
And for every mind ... there is a story!

(open a book motion)

So many stories...
Our stories begin with warm blood, endothermy,
The constancy that lets delicate brain cells flower!

(use prayer hands to hold a flower to your forehead)

Next comes society, groups living together.
Both a shaper of behaviour
and the environment in which behaviour can be taught.

(Everyone hold hands. If there is a connection via Skype then each person or group can reach toward the screen (one person from each end of the chain for groups) and imagine taking the hands of the other people on Skype.)

Then comes tool use!
The sharp teeth and claws we needn't grow.
The hands with which we reach for the stars!

(Make the sign-language sign for rocket ship , then raise your arm high, keeping your fingers pointed up. As your hand reaches zenith open it and change it to a grasping motion)

(Everyone say these words together)

Finally, humans begin to speak!
Turning knowledge into a shareable resource,
freely available to all learning children.
Warm blood. Society. Tools. Speech.
From instinct ... a spark!

The Reading

Let us imagine

You are riding your elephant as it swims across a vast ocean. In the distance, you see what is perhaps a vessel or a small island. Curiosity draws your elephant toward it, but you must wait a long time as your Elephant crosses a great distance before you can see any details. When finally, you are close enough you can see that there is a small barren island in front of huge arch which emerges from the water. Through the arch you see a lot of greenery, but you are approaching from an angle and you can also see that behind the arch there is nothing but open water, like the arch is a portal to someplace else.

As you get closer still, you see that there are a few people on the barren island. As you come closer you see that at the highest point on the island, one figure is sitting upon a golden throne. Around the throne stand an odd group of person-like beings, persons with animal heads or wings or carrying farm implements or weapons. They are bathed in an eerie blue light and you soon realize that the blue light is coming from the gaggle of little girls in white robes gathered around them. They are surrounded by Sophia.

Sophia cries out in her unison-voice, "Elohim, I am trying to understand Your true nature."

Your elephant watches in fascination, climbing onto an underwater ledge that extends beyond the island.

"We are the Gods of the Canaanites," says the god on the golden throne, "I am El, the chief god and these are my children, the Elohim. Only Yahweh has abandoned me and fathered his own religion."

Through the archway you see Yahweh handing the commandment tablets to Moses. Your elephant sees that the island is starting to slide toward the water. She slides her back under a rocky protrusion and steadies the whole island. Bracing her feet against the underwater ledge.

Sophia replies to El, "Yet I believe you are more than myth. You symbolize something important. I am trying to find a concept for you to personify which will give meaning to your story."

A gigantic turtle head emerges from the water ahead of the island and you realize that you are standing on the turtle's shell. Your elephant is standing on the shell of a turtle holding up a flat world topped by gods. There is something familiar about the scenario, but you are too distracted by the fact that Gods are arguing, and giant turtles are nearby, and Your elephant appears to be holding up the world. It all seems a bit much.

The Elohim reply to Sophia with their own unison-voice, "We created humanity in the first verses of the Torah. We deserve not to be mostly forgotten."

The turtle changes direction causing currents to swirl around the island. The island shifts on its foundations again and your elephant struggles to hold it in place. You try to have faith in her strength as the island nudges you in the back.

Sophia replies to the Elohim, "You were not forgotten right away. There are traces, mentions of the Elohim all through the Bible."

You notice a man in ornate robes digging soil from the island and casting it out over the water. He has obviously been digging for a while and has made a sizeable dent in the coast.

Then El replies, "But the priests worked over centuries to hide us from the people of Isra El. They were named the people who struggled against El, Isra El, and yet they managed to forget me, me whom they were named for."

You notice that the man is not working alone. Other ornate robes and other shovels are deepening fiords and ravines in the sides of the island casting soil across the waters.

Sophia replies again to El, "Why and how did this happen?"

El replies, "The priests symbolized as Moses, led the people of the land away from me when he forbid them to worship my other children. Each of my children was the patron saint of a tribe descended from the people of Canaan. Yahweh was one such child. But the priests feared that the Isra El would be recruited away one small group at a time and that the tribe would cease to be. They were caught in a struggle for believers and land with the other tribes and they were losing. So first the priests demanded that the Isra El give priority in their worship to Yahweh, that they have no other god before Yahweh. Then they demanded that the Isra El worship no other god at all. Then they claimed that we never existed. And then they edited the ancient scripture and removed almost any mention of us, covering over the remaining mentions with interpretation. El, they said, was another of Yahweh's names. The plural Elohim, they said, was a sign of respect for Yahweh akin to the royal "We". Now we wander the ocean of forgotten stories."

As the sun shines down into the water you see that there are old outcrops on the turtle's shell and that the island used to cover the whole shell, but it has eroded back. An old broken shovel lying on the turtle shell embedded in an outcrop of soil stuck to the shell catches your eye. The foundation of the island shifts some more as your elephant questions why she is shoring it up.

"Forgotten stories," one Sophia whispers in awe, "How many forgotten stories must there be? Prehistory was so much longer than history. A million cultures must have lived and died before any written word was written which was preserved to today."

Through the arch you see a band of Neandertal climbing a hill at the top of which is a shrine.

"Yes, " another Sophia replies, "We have been cut off from those stories but the ever-growing attempt to keep the faith, to enshrine the newer stories, the Taker stories, with truth. But the story of the Elohim is like a representative link to those older Participant stories."

Through the arch you see an early hominid trapped in the high branches of a spindly savannah tree, three panthers climbing through the branches toward him.

"I am the true god, my children are the true pantheon, we rule the world and my followers are the chosen people." El cries.

Your elephant is shocked by the sudden outburst from the father god and momentarily loses hold on the island. It begins the slide, in the ever swirling current, toward the edge of the turtle shell.

The first Sophia says, "The story of the Elohim was not a Participant story. It was a Taker Story, just an older Taker story than the Yahweh story. But you are right, the Elohim story is still a link to the older stories, the hint that there were other stories buried and forgotten in the depth of time."

Through the arch you see a very ancient stone monument with a statue of El at the top gilded with gold. At the base of the monument is a painting of men running from a sabre-toothed tiger.

The Sophia's speak in unison again as the island accelerates toward the edge of the turtle shell. The men in ornate robes panic and throw down their shovels heading for higher ground, "You are older than the Trinity. You are the forgotten older past which the Priests tried to erase. The Priests from 2500 years ago and their writings are considered ancient and revered for their age. But, in the Great Story, the Grand Flow of Deep Time, The Priests and their monotheism are just a recent tale. The true grandeur belongs to you and things older yet than you. To be truly ancient and meaningful, a story must be connected to Deep Time, to time beyond primitive human reckoning. Not just hundreds or thousands of years but tens of thousands and tens of millions and 10s of billions of years. That is the true ancient scripture of the universe, written in the rocks and written in the stars, the original Word which tells us the Greatest Story. You are the personification of our connection to those stories, our search for them and our loss of them as information becomes more and more scrambled in the entropic future."

As the Sophia's speak you catch a last glimpse through the arch of a sauropod thundering across a dry grassland before the island slides finally into the sea. The Sophia's hop onto the hemi-spherical turtle shell and your elephant and you cling to it as the island, the portal, the Elohim and the priests are swallowed by the water.

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.
Gaia's bursting through boundaries is a painful and joyful process.
It is the pain of Earth giving rebirth to herself.
It is the joy of a myriad new possibilities emerging.
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 Rebirthing and 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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