A Worship Service that Starts at the End and Returns to the Beginning (A Halloween prank with a spiritual purpose)
October 31, 2021
POSTLUDE: Toccata in D minor, BWV 565–J. S. Bach
SUNG BENEDICTION RESPONSE: Nunc Dimittis Stanzas 1, 4
RESPONSIVE BENEDICTION: Plain text—leader, Bold text—congregation
May you be alert for Resurrection II’s* glad surprise!
When faith becomes weak—improvise!
See through all disguise!
Curiosity gains more, the precious prize!
The spirit creates the art
Of being good, strong and wise!
Upon the Super Powered Holy Ghost~—
Let all souls—as dancing stars— arise! Trust the soul’s elevated surmise.
*reference to Resurrection II, a sculpture by Paul Granlund which suggests a second resurrection—humanity’s—after the first, on Easter,
HYMN: Will You Come and Follow Me GTG# 726
A PRAYER OF DEDICATION—
How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth! Physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout. The courteous gesture increases one’s respect for others. To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving. And certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others, which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe you, God . I believe you have called us to the duty of delight. Amen.
—adapted from Dorothy Day, founder Catholic Worker Movement
OFFERTORY: Never Weather-beaten Sail—text, Thomas Campion (1567-1620); Music, Charles Wood (1866-1926)
PRAYER: Matthew 25 prayer—Lord’s Prayer—
Congregational Sung Response: Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying GTG469
CORAL ANTHEM: A Soulin’ (Soul Cake)—-attributed to Noel Paul Stookey, Elena Mezzetti, Tracy Batteast
A soul cake, a soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake, An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry.
A soul cake, a soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake; One for Peter, two for Paul, and three for him that made us all.
God bless the master of this house, and the mistress also, And all the little children that round your table grow.
The cattle in your stable, the dogs at your front door, And all that dwell within your gates, we’ll wish you ten times more.
Go down into the cellar and see what you can find; If the barrels are not empty, we’ll hope that you’ll be kind.
We’ll hope that you’ll be kind with your apple and your pear, And we’ll come no more a soulin’ till Halloween next year.
The streets are very dirty, me shoes are very thin, I have a little pocket to put a penny in.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do, If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you.
HYMN: Come, Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire
SERMON: Holy Ghosts!
SUNG RESPONSE: Spirit (refrain, 1st stanza, refrain) GTG#291
SCRIPTURE:1 Samuel 28:3-20 Mark 13:10-11
Brief Silent Meditation concluding with Ringing of the Gong
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND COMMITMENT
We have all fallen short, made mistakes, failed to forgive, withheld love, compromised the best within us, and amongst us—and lived as though God were NOT! Still, we sustain hope that Jesus Christ, who rode into Jerusalem for the liberating Passover, will liberate us—from all which interferes with a loving relationship with God, with ourselves and our neighbor! Make us us whole, Savior! Forgive us, God! Heal us! May it be so—and soon! Amen.
HYMN: Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door GTG#728
UNISON CALL TO RETURN TO OUR SOULS
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justicerequires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Let us become dedicated by what we give, who we become,and the work we are willing to do. Amen. Adapted from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
PRELUDE: Graceful Ghost— William Bolcom (The composer has said that this piece is a reminiscence of his father.)
The custom of “souling” and the soul cake:
The origins of our modern Halloween seem to stem from various cultures’ customs, in which some form of celebration took place at harvest time. In the Celtic holiday of Samhain, the harvest, around the end of October or early November, marked the end of the growing season and the preparation for the cold winter months. Centuries ago, there was a cultural belief that the souls of the departed returned at this time to visit their relatives. Some living relatives wore disguises so that any evil spirits would not recognize them. For this harvest festival, townspeople, often children, would go door to door collecting food for the festival. Children carried lanterns made from turnips to light their way, and the people of the town would feast, light bonfires, and play divination games.
In the early Church, on the occasion of All Hallows’ Eve, the custom was to go door to door collecting “soul cakes”, scone-like biscuits, to honor those souls who were in Purgatory and not yet in heaven. This custom was known as “souling”. (This holiday was in May until Pope Gregory moved it to the last day of October and first day of November in the year 835). The belief was that departed spirits roamed the earth until All Hallows’ Eve, which was the deadline for seeking vengeance on their enemies, hence the donning of costumes by the living. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Protestant Church deemed these customs unacceptable and ordered them discontinued; but in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Irish and Scottish immigrants brought the customs to the United States. The holiday known as Halloween became popular in the early 20th century.
Some of the text you’ll hear today has been co-opted for Christmas, and you’ll hear a “Christmas quote” in the music as well.
You are welcome to take a soul cake home with you after the service!