December 2018 WATERritual

Bringing the Light of Wisdom

By Diann L. Neu and the WATER Staff

Preparation

Set your ritual space with candles (and matches) appropriate for each December festival of light. Include for Diwali (floral centerpiece and ginger tea), Hanukkah (a menorah and latkes), Advent (Advent wreath and cookies), Bodhi (fig jam to honor the Bodhi fig tree), Winter Solstice (pomegranate), and Kwanza (jollof rice). Place on the altar foods that represent these festivals. Have five candles to light for Lighting the Winter Solstice candles. Have ready the song “Light Is Returning” by C. Murphy on Canticles of Light, www.tubechop.com/watch/8688515 (0:44 – 2:11).

Call to Gather

Welcome to this celebration of Bringing the Light of Wisdom. This is the season of Winter Solstice festivals. Virtually all cultures have their own ways of marking the Winter Solstice by using the symbol of light: lighting candles, placing candles or lights on a tree, burning a Yule log, decorating houses with extra lights.

Many religious traditions mark the light breaking through the night: the Hindu Diwali on November 7; the Jewish Hanukkah December 2-10; the Christian Advent December 2-24; the Buddhist Bodhi Day on December 8; the Winter Solstice on December 21; Kwanzaa December 26-January 1. Each beseeches the sun to return again, to awaken in us compassion and justice.

Our celebration tonight focuses on women’s gift of wisdom. Women know how to give birth, “Dar la luce” or to give the light as they say in Spanish. We give birth to children, ideas, artistic spaces, friendships, and on and on. Women have a special insight into life’s mysteries.

Following the tradition of Las Posadas on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe of Mexico, take a look at the lights that guided us into this ritual space that are similar to the lights that guided the Holy Family.

Naming the Circle

Let us create our community tonight by sharing our names, our location, and a phrase of what we think of when we hear “bring the light of wisdom.” (Sharing)

We light the festival of light candles now to bring the wisdom of Diwali, Hanukkah, Advent, Bodhi, Winter Solstice, and Kwanza into this space.

Song: “Light Is Returning” by C. Murphy, on Canticles of Light, www.tubechop.com/watch/8688515

Light is returning, even though this is the darkest hour.

No one can hold – back the dawn.

Let’s keep it burning, Let’s keep the light of hope alive.

Make safe our journey – through the storm.

One planet is turning – circles on her path around the sun.

Earth Mother is calling – her children home.

Litany of Women of Wisdom

As we celebrate festivals of light, let us focus on women of wisdom who bring light into the world.

Reader 1:  Praise to you, Mother Earth, Creator of the Universe

Breathe into us life and creativity.

Praise to you, Guiding Ancestors, Liberators of the Oppressed

Free us to do the work of justice with peace.

Praise to you, Wise Women, Healing Spirits

Enkindle us with passion.

Reader 2:  Women of faith…guide us.

Women of hope…

Women of patience…

Women of wisdom…

Women of peace…

Women filled with questions…

Women of truth…

Reader 1:  Mothers of all cultures…walk with us.

Mothers of the disappeared…

Mothers of those living with AIDS…

Mothers of those who are sick and dying…

Mothers of survivors of abuse…

Mothers who are migrating…

Mothers of children who are hungry…

Reader 2:  Women of persistence…pray with us.

Women of gracious hospitality…

Women of strength…

Women of independence…

Women of passion…

Women of risk…

Women of holy rage…

Reader 1:  Women who are liberators…empower us.

Bringers of Justice…

Comforters of the Afflicted…

Providers of Sanctuary…

Caresharers of the aging..

Protectors of those who are vulnerable…

Dreamers of New Possibilities…

Prayer

Women who bring Light, empower us with your Wisdom during these days of Winter Solstice Festivals of Light. Enkindle us with sparks of creativity to be light for the world. Inspire us to act justly, to love tenderly, to set ourselves free, and to heal the brokenhearted. Amen. Blessed Be. May It Be So.

Lighting Solstice Candles

Generation to generation people honor the darkness and call light from the womb of night. Tonight we light five candles to welcome compassion and justice into the world.

Candle of the South: (Light a candle) We light our first candle, the candle of the South, to honor those in South America, Central America, Mexico, Africa, and Australia as they celebrate the Summer Solstice. We unite especially with those who have migrated to Mexico and face hostility at the U. S. border.

Candle of the East: (Light a candle) We light the candle of the East in solidarity with those in Asia and the Middle East, especially mothers and children in Syria.

Candle of the North: (Light a candle) We light the candle of the North for those who are afraid, for immigrants, Muslims, Jews, communities of color, sexual and gender minorities, those who have experienced violence: gun violence, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence.

Candle of the West: (Light a candle) We light the candle of the West for those who experience the devastation of wildfires and flooding, especially in California.

Center Candle: (Light a candle) We light the Center candle for those who have died this season. We invite you to name them. (Naming)

Song: “Light Is Returning” by C. Murphy, on Canticles of Light.

Reflection

How is light returning to your life and to life around you?

How will you spread this light?

Blessing Food and Drink

Come, extend your hands toward this food and remember the work of women, people on the margins, and communities of color that spread light through the world.

Blessed be this ginger tea for Diwali, latkes for Hanukkah, biscotti for Advent, fig jam for Bodhi, pomegranate for Winter Solstice, and jollof rice for Kwanzaa.

Blessed be those who bring the light of wisdom daily… child care workers, homemakers, domestic workers, lawyers… doctors, healers, secretaries, teachers… scientists, engineers, philosophers, social workers… writers, artists, musicians, florists… farmers, farmworkers, gardeners, theologians, therapists…

Blessed be…. friends who laugh with us and warm us like seasoned drink… daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, students, colleagues who share their creativity… women whose muscle and mind move our world… women whose sweat and toil bring liberation and equality… teachers and professors, not just those who teach us in the classroom but those who teach us in life, who are so important for our formation… (Name others)

Women indeed are blessed and women are blessers. Let us share this food and drink as we give thanks for women who bring the light of wisdom. (Toasting)

Blessing Light

Let us call forth a blessing of light from the stories and reflections we have heard. Choose a word or phrase from this evening’s ritual that you will add to our invocation as we go around the circle, blessing light and welcoming wisdom.

All: Come, wisdom come.

First person: Bless us with the light of _________.

All: Come, wisdom come.

Second person: Bless us with the light of________.

(Continue)

[Participants could respond with: Bless us with the light of hope…, compassion…, women…, strength…, tenacity…,  resilience…, laughter…, love…, joy…, community…, peace…, confidence…, faith…, safe travels…, and more.]

Take Action

Let us put our prayers into action.

~ Participate in a Festival of Light tradition that is other than your own.

~ Read a book to a child about one of these traditions.

~ Donate to the wildfire relief fund, Kino border initiative, interfaith coalition.

Sending Forth

Let us form a circle and bring closure to this night. Close your eyes and feel the power of the darkness around you and within you. Call forth from within you your light, your creativity, and your healing powers.

Filled with the power of this season,

Let us dedicate ourselves to remaining steadfast under oppression.

Let us enjoy the treasures of being together.

Let us call forth feminist religious voices worldwide.

Let us include those who are left out, nourish those who are afraid, and eradicate the causes of their fears. And let us go forth and spread the good news of equality, dignity, and justice far and wide.

Song: “Give Me Oil in My Lamp”

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning’, burning’, burning,

Give me oil in my lamp, I pray, hallelujah!

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning’ burning’ burning,

Keep me burning to the break of day!

© 2018 WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual dneu@hers.com