Sunday Service Transcript, Solstice Flower Communion

Solstice Flower Communion with Rev. John and Elizabeth Harley 

Unitarian Chapel in the Garden, Bridport Unitarian Meeting Bristol Bristol Frenchay Unitarians 

Opening/Settling Music

Go Lovely Rose - Eric Whitacre

WildFlowers - Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris

Welcome. Lighting of the Chalice.

Welcome and Happy Solstice! We are going to celebrate the Unitarian tradition of the flower communion today. Let us settle in together for this sacred time.

We light this Unitarian chalice as a symbol of love. Love for our gracious planet, love for its sacred life and love for all the people of the world. All are welcome here. Amen

Greeting Breathing

It only takes three conscious breaths to bring yourself into connection with your inner being, with the earth below you and to that which we might call divine. Shall we take three big beautiful breaths now, feeling yourself connect.

Welcome Song

Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo) Here comes the sun, and I say

It's all right Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here Here comes the sun Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here Here comes the sun Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes (repeat line)

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear Here comes the sun Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right

Here comes the sun Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right It's all right

The Solstice Teaches Us By ​David Breeden

The Solstices teach us that darkness comes, that darkness goes. The Solstices teach us that light comes, that light goes. The Solstices teach us, calmly, silently, to be calm, silent. Learning. The Solstices teach us as we circle the sun that everything flies. The Solstices teach us to remember the dark, to remember the light, to remember time. The seasons. And love as we circle the sun.

Introduction to the Flower Communion

The Flower communion service was created by Norbert Capek (1870-1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced this special service to that church on June 4, 1923. For some time he had felt the need for some symbolic ritual that would bind people more closely together regardless of their faith backgrounds. He created a ritual that would be broader than the traditional Christian communion and would focus on community and unity rather than specific beliefs. So he turned to the native beauty of their countryside for elements of a communion which would be genuine to them.

People were asked to bring a flower of their choice, either from their own gardens. or from the field or roadside. When they arrived at church a large vase

stood waiting in the vestibule, attended by two young members of the Church School. Each person was asked to place their own flower in the vase. This signified that it was by their own free will they joined with the others. The vase that contained all the flowers was a symbol of the united church fellowship.

After the service, as people left the church, they went to the vase and each took a flower from the vase other than the one that they had brought. The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet.

When the Nazis took control of Prague in 1940, they found Dr. Capek's gospel of the inherent worth and beauty of every human person to be-as Nazi court records show-- "...too dangerous to the Reich [for him] to be allowed to live." Dr. Capek was sent to Dachau, where he was killed the next year during a Nazi "medical experiment." This gentle man suffered a cruel death, but his message of human hope and decency lives on through his Flower Communion, which is widely celebrated today. It is a noble and meaning-filled ritual we are about to recreate.

This ritual seems particularly poignant and powerful for present times. In these times of change and outrage and demand for change in the context of Black Lives Matter our flowers represent the unique humanity and worth we all contribute to this faith community and the other groups and circles of belonging we reach out to .

I invite you to show your flower or flower design now if you wish – hold it up to the screen so we can all appreciate the diversity and richness of their patterns and colours. Click onto gallery view if you like so you can see lots of other flowers.

People show their flowers
A prayer:

Children of the earth and sky, we are nurtured, sustained, given warmth and light from above and below. Supported by earth's strong, firm crust, we build our homes, till the fields, plant our gardens and orchards. When we turn from self

and seek to be aware, we will find holy light in human faces, in blossom, birdsong, and sky. Then earth is truly our home, and we are one with all earth's creatures, Parents of earth's children yet to be.

 -- Alice Berry Song

I like the flowers I like the daffodils I like the mountains I like the rolling hills I like the fireside When the lights are low

Boom de-ahh-da Boom de-ahh-da Boom de-ahh-da Boom de-ahh-da

Story Rani and the Seed

The King of a country in the Far East was growing old and he was no longer able to care properly for his land – he was a very wise and respected man, loved by his people.

He realised he needed to find a successor but he didn’t have any children and his nephews and nieces were scoundrels or layabouts.

So one day he called all the young boys and girls of his Kingdom together to his big banqueting room – they came from miles around – they were excited about what he would say. He explained the situation to them:

King: ‘I’m growing old and before I die I want someone worthy to inherit my Kingdom. As you leave this room you will each be given a seed – you must take it home, plant it, water it and nurture it – in exactly one year’s time you must bring your plant back – whoever has the best plant will be my successor’

As they filed out of the room each child was handed a tiny seed by the King and they rushed home to plant it.

One girl, Rani, carried her seed home carefully and explained to her Mother what she had to do. She helped her plant the seed in a pot, showed her how to water it

and where to place it to receive maximum sunlight. She cared for the seed during the day and even slept alongside it at night.

But over the weeks nothing happened! Weeks went by, then months. Her Mother advised her to be patient – telling her that these things take time.

After 6 months she became disheartened.

Meanwhile Rani’s school friends were boasting daily about the progress of their seeds

‘My plant is at least 3 feet tall’, ‘Mine has beautiful pink flowers’, ‘Mine is clearly going to win’

Eventually a year had passed and the day arrived for the children to take their plants to the palace for the King to judge them. Rani didn’t want to go – she looked into her pot and felt ashamed that there was no growth. However, her Mother encouraged her to go saying

Mother: ‘You have nothing to be ashamed of – you tried your best and never gave up’

He arrived in the Palace with all the other children – there was a wonderful array of exotic flowers, some tall, some colourful, some bizarre, some beautiful. There was a great deal of excitement about who would be chosen to inherit the Kingdom.

King: ‘What amazing plants ​ - ​you have done very well – it will be difficult for me to choose one of you to be my successor ​ . He looked at each plant carefully, scrutinising each plant in succession. Suddenly his eyes lit up when he spotted Rani’s pot at the back

‘You – yes you, young girl, come up the front with your pot’

Rani was horrified – maybe the King was angry with her!

King: ‘What is your name?

Deshi: ‘Rani – your majesty’

King: ‘Well Rani, I can tell you now – you are the one I have chosen to be my successor’ ​ . The other children were aghast at being overlooked. ‘As you know a year ago I gave you each a seed. What I didn’t tell you was that the seeds were for a rare, ancient and very special old Olive tree – which has one of the toughest seeds in the world – it germinates only after a whole year of watering. If we look in Rani’s pot we can see a tiny little green shoot’.

‘all of you with these impressive plants have swapped the original seed I gave you for another seed – that’s why there is such a huge range of varieties – you have found or borrowed seeds or plants from other gardens or markets and discarded the olive seed.

Only you, Rani, were honest enough not to cheat – you were brave enough to bring the olive seed – you will be an ideal ruler of this land – you are courageous and determined and with these qualities you will be a fine Queen.

Narrator: And sure enough Rani became a very respected and popular Queen and her hard work and honesty transformed the land.

Candles of Joy and Concern

Here is a time for you to light a candle or write on a piece of paper any joy or concern in your mind at this time. Know that you have the support and love of your community who share in all your joy and sadness. Take a moment to sit in silence to pray or meditate and connect.


Contemplative Music ​Litha (Summer Solstice) Lisa Thiel
A Bouquet of People By ​Claire Feingold Thoryn Let us give thanks for a bouquet of people. We give thanks for children. Like tulips and iris, they multiply around us, making the world ever more filled with color, beauty, and new life. May we bless them as they replant themselves ever further from us, knowing that they need their own space to grow into. We give thanks for generous friends, as constant in bloom as echinacea and whose gifts lift up our body and spirit. We give thanks for feisty friends as indomitable as geraniums, and for continuous friends, who, like bittersweet and ivy, hold on and never let go…and can never be gotten rid of. For crotchety friends, as prickly as rosebushes; their beauty a secret that is only discovered through careful gardening. For surprising friends, who at first glance seem dour and then blossom into joy as quickly as forsythia. For funny friends, silly as snapdragons, And serious friends, complex as chrysanthemums. For comfortable friends, their gentle presence as soothing as the sweet smell of lilacs. For stormy weather friends, who stand by us in hard times, like lily of the valley that cannot be deterred by shade or shadow. For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time And young friends coming on fast as phlox. For friends as unpretentious as dogwood, as persistent as pachysandra, as steadfast as azalea, and who, like snowdrops, can be counted on to see you through the winter and remind you that spring always comes. For loving friends, who wind around us like wisteria and embrace us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings, And, finally, for forget-me-not friends, gone but never forgotten. Their beauty lives on in our memories and hearts.

For this bouquet of people, who brighten our lives each in their own way, we give thanks. Amen.​. Flower Contemplations​ from our congregation

Just before he died Dr. Capek wrote this prayer. reflecting on his own life and the state of his spirit:

It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals. Oh blow ye evil winds into my body's fire; my soul you'll never unravel. Even though disappointed a thousand times or fallen in the fight and everything would worthless seem, I have lived amidst eternity. Be grateful, my soul, My life was worth living. He who was pressed from all sides but remained victorious in spirit is welcomed into the choir of heroes. He who overcame the fetters giving wing to the mind is entering into the golden age of the victorious.

Amen to finish…. Let us take a look at the flower or flower design we brought to today’s service. I mean really look. Use all of your senses. We are going to have a minute – just a minute. Notice the flower and everything about its form, colour, shape. See it with all of your being as if you will never see it again.

(One minute) I wonder what you noticed – what you saw. How will you take this discovery back into your daily life?

Let us finish with some words by William Blake…. To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.

Song ​59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy) ​ Simon and Garfunkel

Slow down, you move too fast You got to make the morning last Just kicking down the cobblestones Looking for fun and feelin' groovy Ba da da da da da da, feelin' groovy

Hello, lamppost, what'cha knowin'? I've come to watch your flowers growin' Ain't'cha got no rhymes for me? Doot-in doo-doo, feelin' groovy Ba da da da da da da, feelin' groovy

I got no deeds to do No promises to keep I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep Let the morning time drop all its petals on me Life, I love you All is groovy

Benediction: Let us go in peace with flowers, gratitude and love in our hearts. Amen.

Closing dance​ Ain’t no mountain high enough - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell