A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Lughnasadh (Wiccan Mystery of the Slain God, Christian Lammas Day Festival of the First Fruits). Annual Northern Hemisphere Pagan celebration of wheat and corn reaping, of the things previously sown, of the fruits of the mystery of Nature, and to give thanks for the bounty of the Goddess as Queen of the Land. One of the four high holy days celebrated by ancient Europeans, it is at the halfway point between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, with worship of the Celtic Sun God Lugh and the Slain God symbolised in the Green Man, the Spirit of the Land manifested in all plant forms who bridges the gap between the Underworld and Heaven as the Source of All Things. This is the first of three harvest sabbats (days of worship) and focusses on the bread that is produced from the main harvest at this time and the berries that have ripened. The Christian Lammas (loaf-mass, hlaf-mas) also celebrates bread and the primary Christian liturgy of Holy Communion, the Festival in the liturgical calendar marking the blessing of the First Fruits of Harvest, with a loaf of bread baked from the new harvest being brought to the church for this purpose. Lughnasadh is a favourite Neopagan festival, celebrated with Handfasting pagan weddings. The Lunase folk festivals celebrated in Ireland and parts of Scotland are not part of the Neopagan faith celebrations nor are the Irish and Scottish August Bank Holidays. Lughnasadh looks forward to the other two harvest sabbats and the further plenty they will bring. The next of these is Mabon from 21 to 29 September, which again celebrates and gives thanks for the abundance in our lives. It is the Autumn Equinox Harvest Home marking when the nights become shorter than the days and focusses on the apples, gourds and root vegetables that are harvested in late September. The pagan Roman goddess Ceres is worshipped as a goddess of agriculture honoured at harvest-time, the only such deity to be listed among Rome’s equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The third harvest festival is Samhain from 31 October to 1 November and marks the beginning of Winter, focussing on a later apple harvest and on gourds such as pumpkins. Samhain is closely associated with the dead and some Neopagans see it more in that way, North American influences having distorted the ancient celebrations. The best-known Goddess of the Greek pantheon, Persephone, is worshipped as the counterpart of Ceres to represent the change of the seasons in the eternal cycle of Nature’s death and rebirth. Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and became the Queen of the Underworld, the otherworld where souls went after death. Image: en.wikipedia.org.
Prayer Come into the circle, come to the Goddess and the God to raise the song of First Harvest. All is safely gathered in, let the summer storms begin. Now our Goddess will provide for our needs to be supplied and the Green Man will watch over us. God and Goddess grant that we whole and pure as grain shall be. Blessed be
St Joseph of Arimathea (First Century). Episcopal Church Feast Day for important Jew who bravely took responsibility for Jesus’ burial after his crucifixion and the man who assisted Joseph to prepare the body for burial. Their actions showed the charismatic power of Jesus and his teachings, and the risks of following him. Joseph was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a Disciple of Jesus. Following the death of Jesus, he obtained Jesus’ body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. Most important is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus’ body, as Jesus was a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act. Medieval connections were made between St Joseph, Glastonbury and the Holy Grail legend. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran Churches, Anglican Communion. Major shrine 335 Syriac Orthodox Chapel of Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Feast Day 31 August Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church Third Sunday of Holy Pascha (Easter), the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women, 31 July Eastern Rite Feast Day and Lutheran Commemoration. Patron of funeral directors, pallbearers and undertakers. Image: en.wikipedia.org.
Sunday Worship. The BBC Radio 4 8 am We Cling to our Faith broadcast remembered the 4 August 2020 double explosion in Beirut port that caused at least 207 deaths, 7,500 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. The North Somerset Black and Minority Network launched an appeal for rescue funds. This Sunday’s broadcast came from the National Evangelical Church of Beirut Arabic- and English-speaking Protestant church less than a kilometre from the explosion’s epicentre. Prayers were for the victims of the catastrophe, for justice, peace and human dignity, and for a still-suffering Lebanon. One year on, we were invited to pray with Beirut residents as they lifted up their country and its people before the Lord. For what was considered the first time in history, the response to the disaster had unified the Lebanese, there having been no religious or sectarian cause, just the Lebanese people trying to help in any way possible. The world saw how there were Muslims cleaning churches and Christians cleaning mosques. It was a bittersweet time, after a day that had exacerbated the greatest collapse in Lebanese history, a true disaster for a nation that still has very limited electrical power and almost no fuel, and a crashed economy with people struggling to find their daily bread. The musical contributions to today’s service included Maronite and Byzantine chants, the Count your Blessings hymn sung immediately after the destruction, the Lord’s Prayer with an Armenian choral backing, and Maronite singing in Arabic of David’s Psalm 95, Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord. These came from the churches with ancient roots in Christianity in the East still found just metres from the explosion: the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Maronite, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholic Churches and the Armenian Catholic Church, which all reminded us to Sing to the Lord. The Worship Leaders were the Protestant pastors Habib Badr and Dr Rima Nasrallah van Saane of Beirut’s 1932 Near East School of Theology (NEST, مدرسة اللاهوت في الشرق الأدنى). Image: steamcommunity.com.