Bishop John Shelby Spong
June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021

Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology.
We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed!

Celebrating the Cosmos Liturgy

 

 
INTRODUCTION TO THE LITURGY

This presentation is a celebration of the cosmos and its processes.  Why?  We are living in a time not only of the meltdown of glaciers but also of  ideological systems.

  1. The meltdown of the concept of the mythic metaphysical god in the sky who intervenes in order to set aside the laws of the cosmos.
  2. The meltdown of the so-called eternal verity in art and ethics which we created and placed up in the sky pretending that they had some supernatural origin.
  3. The meltdown of the claim that the free market economic system is the only effective way that human beings can organise their social life.

In the face of all this it seems to me that there is only one set of non anthropocentric principles and that is the laws of the cosmos.  An example of this is that the cosmos favours cooperation over competition e.g. the cooperation of the elements of hydrogen and oxygen to form water and of uni-cellular organisms to form multi-cellular organisms.

William L Wallace

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
WELLCOME
Each person says to their neighbors:
I greet that of the Cosmos within you
 
ORIENTATION TO THE COSMOS AND ITS PROCESSES
Click here for PDF with pictures showing the extent of the Cosmos and illustrating the following process:

  1. Creation and Destruction. (The flaring forth and a black hole)
  2. Attraction and Repulsion. (Scattering and gathering)
  3. The rhythm of light and darkness and light within darkness
  4. Holding together. (The web of dark matter)
  5. Emptiness and Fullness
  6. Consumption and Conservation. (Placing limits on extremes)
  7. Consistency and Variation.

SONG:

ALL:      COME, JOIN THE COSMIC FAMILY
(Click here for Audio

(Click here for Score)
(Tune: Lasst Uns Erfreuen – set to the tune,  “All Creatures of Our God and King ” is to be found in most hymn-books.)

1. Come, join the cosmic family,
Come praise Creation’s Deity,
O praise God, Alleluia!
Dear brother sun with golden beam,
And sister moon with softer gleam,
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2. Our brother wind, who is so strong,
Who moves the clouds that sail along,
O  praise God, Alleluia!
May breaking dawn with praises ring,
And sister night your glories sing,
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3. O sister water, pure and clear,
Make music for your God to hear,
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Dear brother fire both strong and bright,
Whose dancing gives us warmth and light:
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

4. And dearest sister, Mother Earth,
Source of all nurture and each birth:
O praise God, Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that on you grow,
Let them God’s glory also show,
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

5. For life and for our final breath
Which comes as friendly sister death,
O praise God, Alleluia!
When death is viewed as mystery’s care.
Love conquers every strangest fear:
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

6. Let all things their creator bless,
And worship God in humbleness,
O praise God, Alleluia!
Praise God the Process, God the Life
and praise the Mystery, ever One,
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

(Text amended to reflect more fully
“The Canticle of the Sun” of St Francis)
 
AFFIRMATION of the fundamental goodness of each person.
We are all children of the Cosmos with our own
particular element of the divine mystery.
 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of our failures and
our misuse of other people and of the planet.
A time of reflection, and a call to change what we
can and accept what we cannot change.
 
WISDOM READINGS:
Each followed by a time for reflection.
 
A poem by Ruth Dallas, a New Zealand poet.
 
DEEP IN THE HILLS
Once I thought the land I had loved and known
Lay curled in my inmost self; musing alone
In the quiet room I unfolded the folded sea,
Unlocked the forest and the lonely tree,
Hill and mountain valley beach and stone,
All these, I said, are here and exist in me.
 
But now I know it is I who exist in the land,
My inmost self is blown like a grain of sand
Along the windy beach and is only free
To wander among the mountains, enter the tree,
To turn again the sea-worn stone in my hand,
Because these things exist outside of me.
O far from the quiet room my spirit fills
The familiar valleys, is folded deep in the hills.
 
Mechtild of Magdeburg said “The day of my
spiritual awakening was when I saw
and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.
 
Nicholas of Cusa said

“Divinity is the enfolding of the universe
and the universe is the unfolding of divinity,”

“Divinity is in all things
in such a way that all things are in divinity,”
 
An eastern sage said “ When my house burnt
down I could see the stars at night!”
 
Robert T Weston said “Out of the stars have we come……..
Mystery hidden in mystery, back through all time.”
 
Edward Harrison said “Beyond all systems stands the Universe in a cloud of unknowing and ‘he will be more learned, the more he comes to know himself for ignorant’”.
 
Rabbi Joseph Gelberman tells the following story

“A great philosopher came to Jerusalem and stopped
a little child on the street. ‘Son I’ll give you a gold
coin if you tell me where God is’
The child looked up at the tall stranger and replied
‘Mister, I’ll give you two gold coins if you tell me where God is not.”
 
Where duality is transcended peace reigns. This is the Dharma’s ultimate truth.
Maxims of Master Han Shan Te’Ch’ing,
 
One thing, all things:
move among and intermingle,
without distinction………..
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.
Verses On The Faith Mind By Seng  T’san, Third Zen Patriarch
 
Hazrat Ali the Sufi mystic said “You thought yourself
apart, small; whereas in you there is a Universe
(that is) the greatest.”
 
Brian Swimme (Cosmologist) says “To examine the nature and structure of a child’s hand is to examine all twenty billion years of cosmic creativity back to the fireball explosion at the beginning of things.”
 
IMMERSION IN AND THANKSGIVING FOR THE PROCESSES OF THE COSMOS:

    • The process of Creation and Destruction
    • The process of Attraction and Repulsion
    • The process of Emptiness and Fullness
    • The process of Consumption and Conservation.
    • The process of Consistency and Variation

 
CHANT: THE COSMOS IN ALL ITS WONDER
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 
The Cosmos in all its wonder
Sings a magic song
 
The Sun and the Moon and all the stars
Join the cosmic song
 
The ice and the rain, the snow and fog
Join the cosmic song
 
The Fire and the Wind, the Earth & Sky
Join the cosmic song

The plants and the creatures, birds & fish
Join the cosmic song

Our beating heart and our rhythmic breath
Join the cosmic song
 
With all of the other parts we now
Join the cosmic choir.
 
A LITANY OF LETTING GO as we seek to sense
our connections with the reality that lies
beneath the surface, from which we are alienated
by our illusions.
 
X3 In the Letting Go we find Life
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 
           For deeper than the striving is the flowing
           Deeper than the searching is the knowing
           And deeper than the grieving is the mystery
           In which darkness and light are one.
 
SYMBOLIC ACTION AND REFLECTION
We use what we can see and feel to discern our connection with all
that is.
 
THE FIRE
See the Fire and imagine its warmth.
Look at the flame and reflect on the origin of the Cosmos in its
flaring forth which is our original birthing …
Remember that without the fire there would be no life
and that the fire that lights the heart is that same fire.
 
From a Maori poem: “Let the hand tremble gently
for the fire appears.”
 
The strangely warmed heart is the nursery of a new world.
 
George Fredrick Hegel (Philosopher) said “Of this I am certain,
nothing great was ever accomplished without passion.”
 
Don Miguel Ruiz said: “Love is the opposite of fear.
Love is that fire that does not destroy,
whereas fear is that fire that burns everything that it touches.”
 
Hildegard of Bingen said “The Holy Spirit is a Burning Spirit.
It kindles the hearts of humankind.”
 
Jesus said (Luke 12.49) “I came to set the Earth on fire and how
I wish it were already kindled.”
We allow this fire to burn in our heart singing:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 
THE ROCK
Touch the Rock and be touched by the substance of the Cosmos.
 
Jesus said, “Lift the stone, and I am there (The Gospel of Thomas saying 77).
The writer of I Peter 2/5 urges us to ‘become as living stones.”
 
Jan Haag said “Feel the weight of the rocks and the trees of this earth,
as if their roots grew right down through your heart.”
 
Dan Snow (stonemason) said, “The same inscrutable mystery lies
at  both the centre of the stone and the core of the Earth.
Standing in a hollow interior the mystery comes alive for me.”
 
Teilhard de Chardin said, “I bless you matter and you I acclaim…….
as you reveal yourself to me today, in all your totality and true nature.”
 
Rabbi Jill Hammert said of God “You who dwell in the pebbles of the earth
and in the furnace of the stars where stone is made,
put in my heart the strength, persistence, and humility of stones.
 
Humans have a special bond with stones,
the book of Job says: “Your covenant shall be with the stones of the field.”
 
The poet William Blake said:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
 
We allow ourselves to be embraced by the mystery of stillness and oneness and give thanks singing:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 
THE AIR
Breathe the Air
We breathe in Life and breathe out Love.
We breathe the Air which we cannot capture or own
but which we share with other people, plants and animals,
indeed with the whole ecosystem.
We give thanks for gentle zephyrs and solar wind.
We give thanks for the breath of new ideas, new awareness,
new wholeness and enlightenment.
All these are part of the wind of God’s refreshing activity.
 
Kahlil Gibran said “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair.”
 
Hildegard of Bingen said “Prayer is breathing in and breathing out the one breath of the universe.”
 
Kabir said “What is God? (S)he is the breath within the breath.”
 
Haven Trevino said
“Quiet the mind
Be still
And watch the breath of God
Rise and fall
In all things.
Allow God’s breath
To be your breath;
Allow God’s nature
To be your nature.”
 
In John 3/8 Jesus says that the wind breathes where it wills and in the same way there is an invisible and unpredictable power in everyone who undergoes a spiritual re-awakening (rebirth). (Composite translation).
 
We seek to be open to the Wind of the Spirit singing:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 
OFFERING:
As fire, rock and water are brought forward we sing:

(3x) In the Letting Go we find Life (Click here for audio)

        For deeper than the striving is the flowing
Deeper than the searching is the knowing

        And deeper than the grieving is the mystery
In which darkness and light are one.

 
We all come forward to offer thanks bringing the stone which we have been given.
We stand in a group hearing sayings about water.
 
THE WATER
Between the stillness of the rock and the flowing of the stream
I am, I AM.
 
Rabindranath Tagore said   “ The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.”
 
Sheng-yen said “Be gentle in your practice. Think of it as a fine silvery stream not a raging waterfall.
Follow the stream, have faith in its course.”
 
The prophet Amos said “Let justice flow down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
 
In John 4/13 Jesus says “the water that I give you will be a life-giving
inner spring welling up from within you.” (Composite translation)
 
(All receive water)
Leader:  Drink the water and be in touch with your inner well of Spirituality,
the Inner Christ, the Buddha nature, that of God, your l AM.
Drink this water and recall that we and the Cosmos are one.
Rejoice in the ocean, the rivers, the lakes, and the rain.
Rejoice in the waters of your mothers’ womb.
Feel the water in your blood pulsing in your heart and veins singing:
 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 
We do all this to remember the Prophets and Mystics, to remember our own spiritual
pilgrimage and the spiritual pilgrimage of the whole human race.
We allow ourselves to be embraced by the mystery and give thanks singing:
 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
We return to our seats and sing
 
SONG
WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE COSMOS

(Click here for audio)

1. We are children of the Cosmos,
We are subject to its laws,
subject to its laws.
We will make their celebration
Our most joyful sacred cause,
Our most joyful sacred cause.

2. Every dying in the Cosmos
Forms a prelude to new birth,
prelude to new birth.
Every portion of the Cosmos
Links with all the life on Earth,
Links with all the life on Earth.

3. Every star within the Cosmos
Lives within dark matter’s web,
in dark matter’s web.
We will venerate its darkness
Both its growing and its ebb,
Both its growing and its ebb.

4. Each time two share a joining
Something greater has its birth,
greater has its birth,
From uniting of the atoms
Comes the substance of the Earth,
Comes the substance of the Earth.

5. All the justice of the Cosmos
Acts to limit each extreme,
limit each extreme.
But the greed of our consumption
May soon kill life’s sacred stream,
May soon kill life’s sacred stream.

6. As we think of all the Cosmos,
Every process and each part,
process and each part,
We decide to heed its wisdom
And plant sharing in our heart,
And plant sharing in our heart.

 
REFLECTIVE PRAYER:  We link with each other by touching our neighbor on the shoulder, sharing our life-force and enfolding within it the people and causes that reflect our deep concern.
 
BLESSING:
The Earth itself is a blessing,
And we are part of Earth.
Let us rejoice in our life
and share it as a blessing with other people,
with the eco-system and the Cosmos.
For in giving blessing, we receive blessing
and in that blessing we will rest.
 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Click here for audio
Click here for Score
 

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