Sally over at RGBP writes:
It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer. The BBC web-site tells us that:
Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.
Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.
I believe that we live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real celebration, and marking the passages of life;
1. Are ritual markings of birth marriage and death important to you?
I love rituals. I belong to the Order of St. Luke, which is a group of mostly United Methodists, a dispersed religious order dedicated to sacramental and liturgical scholarship, teaching, and practice. So, good liturgy is very important to me, and I like to celebrate these life passages with it. I echo Auntie Knickers in that I do wish there were ways to recognize birth other than baptism, especially since several of my children died before birth and were not able to be baptized.
2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
I celebrated my first infant baptism last weekend, and it was a high point of my ministry to date. The little boy sat calmly and wonderingly in my arms as I scooped the water over his head with my hand. It was beautiful.
3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
I also agree with Sally here - I would love to develop a ritual for "coming of age" that would recognize the journey an adolescent has made to date, and the importance of their own decision to follow their faith. Jews have the bar/bat mitzvah, but our confirmation services pale in comparison, especially in the United Methodist church. My Episcopalian friend celebrated something called "Rite 13" with her son last week, I would like to find out more about that!
4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?
I have really not done much with ancient cultures at all. I have been in a church that has a large African-American population for about 6 years now, and I enjoy the ways we introduce some of that culture into our worship, especially through music and altar art. I think we need to be aware of and inclusive of non-Euro culture as we create worship. I am enjoying reading about your experiences, though, Sally!
5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?
Wow - I love parties, and with our 20th Wedding Anniversary coming up, I can envision a celebration like this:
Early morning outside worship and walking the labyrinth, followed by worship with Eucharist and renewal of vows, followed by a big dance party to 80s music!
Thanks Sally, this was fun, but it is way too late! WIsh I had come in earlier!