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Friday, July 16, 2010

Blessing the 4 Directions.

This is the Call to Worship that was used at the PCUSA General Assembly's Communion service on Sunday, 7/4/10.  It is a version of the Native American "Blessing of the Four Directions," which has traditionally been part of the Medicine Wheel ritual.  The actual performance involved processions from each of the directions, with large figures of the respective animal-spirits.  It was very moving, in spite of the fact that it was in a very unconducive assembly hall.  The text was not available at the full service, but I was able to obtain a copy from the Committee on Local Arrangements.  I don't know who the author is, but it was given to me by someone named Elona Street-Stewart.



We begin our worship with a moment of silence.  During the silence the dancers move into place.  Blow the shofars, followed by rain sticks “played” by each of the four dancers.  When the rain sticks stop, the Call to Worship begins. 

We are called to worship this day in the tradition of my people, who, for generations, lived here, at the Big River where the prairie meets the woods.  Please rise in body or spirit, and join us as we turn to the four directions of God’s creation. 

Come, Holy Spirit, as we gather in your name. 

We turn to face East: 
We welcome the color of this direction – yellow for the morning star.
We thank you for your creation and welcome, 
for the eagle which soars ever upward in praise of God,
For your lessons calling us to balance of mind in discernment.  
We pray for your spirit of illumination and far-sighted vision.
Help us to love you and one another with all our heart, mind, and soul, as we pray together:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

We turn to face South:
We welcome the color of this direction – red, the hue of revelation.
We thank you for your creation and welcome,
For the turtle, close to the earth, and intuitive,
For your lessons calling us to balance of body in renewal.
We pray for your spirit of innocence, trust, and love.
Help us to open our eyes to the sacredness of every living thing, as we pray together:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

We turn to face West:
We welcome the color of this direction – black, still and quiet.
We thank you for your creation and welcome,
For the bear, mighty and purposeful,
For your lessons calling us to balance of emotion in wisdom and honesty.
We pray for your spirit of introspection, for seeing within.
Give us your strength and the courage to endure, as we pray together:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

We turn to face North:
We welcome the color of this direction – white of clarity and brightness.
We thank you for your creation and welcome,
For the buffalo, strong and nurturing.
For your lessons calling us to balance in harmony with brothers and sisters everywhere.
We pray for your spirit of wisdom and grace.
Give us the goodness of the ages, as we pray together:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

We turn to complete the circle and to look up:
To God who cleanses the earth with snow, wind, and rain.
To Jesus Christ who fills us with the wideness of mercy and embraces us all, 
and to the Holy Spirit who inspires us.
We pray together:
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

2 comments:

John Edward Harris said...

Thanks for tracking down the text and sharing it here. I did not attend the Communion service but when people who were there told me about, they usually first mentioned this liturgy in appreciation. I take issue with you referring to it a "The actual performance" though. I know there is a theological connection between theater and liturgy, but I think too many Presbyterians already think of worship as a "performance" where they are entertained and do not participate rather than a "liturgy" in which they too are actors on stage before God. The Blessing of the Four Directions (or was it five?) reminds me of some of the creative work and worship we used to enjoy through that old Ecunet conversation and series of real life retreats called Gaia Rising.

Paul Rack said...

You know, I thought of that when I wrote it, but let it go. I did not mean it as a passive entertainment. I was reminded of the Gaia Rising connection as well.