For solar eclipse, UCC pastor creates liturgy for churches to praise God in ‘this spectacular display of the universe’

From Texas to Maine, potentially millions of people will be traveling across the United States to witness the totality of the Monday, April 8 solar eclipse.

Included in the eclipse’s “path of totality” is Cleveland, where the United Church of Christ is headquartered. To celebrate this celestial event, the UCC is lifting up a special eclipse meditation, written by a local UCC pastor. 

The Rev. Janet Ross, pastor of Wakeman Congregational Church in Wakeman, Ohio, put together the call-and-response liturgy after having an epiphany. 

“I was out walking by the river,” she recalled. “The birds were singing, beginning to wake up for their new day. And the thought stumbled into my mind: Where is the church in this solar eclipse?” 

For Ross, it became clear in that moment that the eclipse is a prime opportunity to praise the divine in nature. 

“Some are blocking off their parking lots so no one will trample on their precious property. And that felt blasphemous to me,” she said. “Here, the birds are singing their praises to God for a new day. Can the church not honor God with prayers and praises as this spectacular display of the universe is revealed?” 

‘A holy moment’ 

After Ross’ prayer meditation was composed, UCC Minister for Worship and Theology the Rev. Cheryl Lindsay included it in the Worship Ways liturgical resource. The intention, Lindsay said, is for local churches to recognize the solar eclipse as “a holy moment to be still in wonder at God’s creation.” 

Ross, understanding that travel likely will be difficult on April 8, will include the prayer in her own church a day earlier. 

“In our rural town, the police chief is expecting the main road through our town will be a parking lot. Thousands are anticipated to visit,” she said. “Most of our parishioners are farmers who live a couple of miles outside of town. It wouldn’t be advisable or feasible for them to come to ‘church.’ So, we will use this prayer meditation on the day before in our Sunday worship service.”

Wherever people are and however they observe the solar eclipe, it will offer a reminder of the spectacle — and the spiritual — present in such an event. 

“I can sometimes limit God to my own little experiences, my own little ponderings, my own little interpretations,” Ross said. “An event of this magnitude invites me to expand my littleness; to connect with other human beings, creatures, nature, and the universe; to hope that through this witness, we may consider more fully our relatedness to one another and the Holy Creator of all.” 

Read the full solar eclipse meditation here.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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