Tuesday, September 22, 2009
worship in the down: in the premature death of child
A few days ago I described an “Up” act of worship I curated. Since then I have noted a post on Jason’s blog, lamenting the lack of online resources when gathering for the ‘down’ that is the death of a child. Which brought to mind two services I have curated in the last while: One was worship in the “down” of a miscarriage, another in the “down” of a 21st memorial service for a cot death baby. Both have a similar structure, so here they are, followed by some explanation of what I was hoping …
INTRODUCTION: welcome, gather people in circle:
REMEMBERING: Read the funeral notice:
GATHERING IN GOD: And so we light this candle. It is the Opawa candle, the one we light every time there’s a death in the church family. Way for us to give thanks for life, no matter how short. Way for us to pray that God’s light will be present in darkness.
God our friend, who promises to be light in dark places
Turning pain into change, Reminding us of the warmth of your love
Come, Encircle us, in the love of family and friends
May we find in each and in you the courage to face the future. Amen
SHARING MEMORIES: A treasure box, held by mother, who introduces the child to us. The treasure box is then handed around. People (who have been offered prior a stone/piece of paua) are invited to add their treasure, our presence adding to the treasure of memories.
Bible reading: Jeremiah 31:15 15
SOME brief words leading into Romans 8: 35a, 38-39, offered as a dedication of child into God’s hands.
PRAYER IN RESPONSE: We have in the middle a bowl of water, with flower floating. Water is a sign of life. Water is also a sign of tears. (Add salt). It is soothing, healing, relaxing, forgiving, cleansing.
As a way of us praying, I am going to hand the bowl of water around the circle. You could (options): Hold it, pass it on; Make a fist in anger; Hold our palms open in release; Swirl them seeking of comfort; Make heart, sign of love. And when you’re done we will sprinkle our prayers on the grave.
COMMITTAL: Into God’s loving care and compassion
We entrust name, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust
in the sure and certain hope, of the resurrection to eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen
To all of us; May God, the Good shepherd
enfold us with love, fill us with peace
and lead us in hope; this day and all your days. Amen.
Some thoughts in preparation: These need to be short. Everyone feels awkward and finds this hard. It is important to name the reality, hence the gathering and use of the funeral notice. Another is to create memories, hence the use of treasure box. As much as possible I try to use something physical – words float away, while things we touch and hold connect us in different ways – hence in this case the treasure box, the water and the candle. Very few are willing to speak aloud at such times, so the need to allow ways to pray without words. Options are important, trying to help people name a range of emotions. Passing things around a circle reinforces the circle of love, and allows people to participate as much, or as little, as they want.
An absolutely excellent resource I’ve recently discovered is this: – it offers such a wide range of actual services – in birthing, addictions, mental illness, aging, violence – and as such gives a wonderful jumping off place in terms of curation.