Opening to a Spring Celebration & Mandala

Today is a special holiday celebration.
Today we come together as church community to bless God for the season of Spring. For spring in creation, for spring times in our lives. For change and growth and new things. 
First, Let’s spend a moment or two in quietness.
Consider the winter that is drawing to a close.
Picture the fallen leaves and bark of winter breaking down now, giving the soil nutrients for the growth to come.
Picture the signs of new life in your neighbourhood, the stirrings of new growth in the garden and bush, the insects that are returning, the warm smells in the air, the lengthening days.
Let’s rest in the presence of our creator, life and love in every season.
Song Morning has broken sung by Steven Curtis Chapman.
Emerging Prayer
A sleeping world emerges to new possibilities,
For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For lengthening days, for time to play after dinner
And sunlight’s warmth upon the soil and our faces
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For colour, design and renewal in creation and in our stories
Reflecting our Creator’s artistry
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For new life, for clean slates, for the noisy baby magpies
Their joy and exuberance
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring
For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

Australian take on a prayer found here:
The Cript of the Original Sin – Matera, Italy.
Reflection from Italy 
Today we are thinking about the gifts of a new season. Of new things.
In Southern Italy there is an ancient cave city in a place called Matera. People have lived in these caves for thousands of years and more than 150 of them have paintings on the walls that were made between the 8th and 13th centuries AD.
There are some stories from the bible painted in them by monks – Christian men in the middle ages who were hiding from persecution.
There are paintings of angels, John the Baptist and Peter, Mary with baby Jesus and Adam and eve in the garden. And connecting each picture or scene are strings of blue and orange flowers that the monks painted in ochre and lapis lazuli a deep blue stone.
Here you can see the picture of Adam and Eve. Adam is looking up at the tree of knowledge, there is the serpent slithering up the trunk. Eve is offering a stolen fig to Adam and beneath them is a line of orange and blue flowers.
The flowers are painted to show that even from mistakes, brokenness and death, forgiveness and regeneration and new growth can come – like a new season.  The monks flowers remind us of learning, of growing, of healing of forgiveness of one story leading to the next.
There is a saying:The ground’s generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty! (Rumi) That reminds me of our God, our creator who is always saying,  Behold I am doing a new thing..-John 12:24
Spring Mandala 
We are going to make our annual spring mandala now as we pray for the season to come and commit to God the season that is passing.
I invite you to take a rock –  Think about something from this past season that you would like to give to God for new possibilities or a new story to grow from it.  This might be something that you desire to put to rest. Perhaps there is an area of life that you are tired or weary from. Something needing change and new life.
Play music
Take a leaf or flower – Think about a New thing the you can see God has been doing in your life this past season, something unfolding, healing, changing.Perhaps it is a friendship, a new attitude to your work or school, a new opportunity or focus, a new garden, book or hobby..
Now I invite you to place the rock, as a prayer for newness and the flower or leaf – as prayer of thanks for growth and a new season on the Spring mandala mat.
Play music