Eastertide Visitors

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

Every year in Eastertide the children of All Things Bright and Beautiful and I welcome visitors. These visitors arrive toward the end of lent in one form but change into a completely different form, post the resurrection. Thus, they end up with a completely different life. It is wonderful to experience each year, and I am always grateful for their visit and the teaching they provide.

I am speaking, in case you are curious, of the five caterpillars we purchase. In about three weeks these furry folks eat their fill, create their chrysalis, die to a life on the ground, and break free as a winged butterfly! You can imagine how helpful these visitors are in teaching us about Good Friday and Easter morning. Jesus died on the cross, taking an old way of life with him. He broke free from the tomb and lived anew, bringing a new way of life to us all. To be honest, I am not always sure every child is making the connection. Some articulate it. Others, I can, tell are pondering it. For others it might be several years. No worries. The ideas have been planted in their hearts. The Holy Spirit can lead the rest.

Spring is a wonderful time to ponder the mystery of Good Friday and Easter. Nature reminds us again and again that the two days cannot be separated. We cannot have butterflies without caterpillars. Caterpillars are not complete without butterflies. The same is true of Good Friday and Easter. They are connected. Two parts of one truth. Two parts of life.

To help you and those you love ponder the mystery of Easter, I invite you to use the following blessing as a tool or guide. May it help you learn a bit more of what it means to live as an Easter person. May it prepare you for the power of Pentecost we will receive in June.

Blessing of the Changing Seasons

Prepare: Hold this blessing outside. Find symbols that represent winter and spring (bare branches, small flowers). Arrange the symbols from winter in front of you and place the ones for spring to the side.
Welcome: (Read by a member of the family/group) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Welcome to the changing of the season.

Prayer: (Read by another member present) Holy One, Mother of Creation, Father of Life, bless our gathering, that we may honor the rhythms of the earth as witnesses to your extravagant love and faithfulness. Amen.

Bible Reading: (Read by another) As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

Reflection: Share or write in a journal about the following question: How have I seen the presence of God revealed this past season in my life? In nature?

Prayer: (Read by the first reader): Thank you, God of the cycles and rhythms, for making yourself known to us in the seasons of the earth and the seasons of our lives. Amen.

Ritual Action: Remove the old symbols and replace them with the new.

Reflection: Share or write in a journal about the following question: What do I hope for as I enter this new season? Name one thing from nature that will be your special reminder of God's presence in the coming season.

Prayer: (read by second reader) God of rhythms and cycles, open our hearts and all our senses to your presence in nature during the coming season. Amen.

If possible, take a walk in your neighborhood, a park or a natural area. Pay special attention to the sights, sounds, smells and texture of the natural world. What does nature teach us about God?

Blessing: (offered by oldest member gathered) May we trust this season, lie all others, will bear witness to God's extravagant love and faithfulness. Amen.