A Season of Creation: Sky Sunday (9/13/2015)
Arts and Media
Skies and clouds of all types—day, night, dawn, sunset, day storms, night storms (with lightning), snowy skies, foggy skies, skies during eclipse, starry skies, moon in many phases, aurora.
Consider the ambient lighting where you worship—and how well you can control it. If you can make the space reasonably dark and fairly bright, consider starting worship with an evening or night feel, moving through darkest, starriest night to daybreak, and then from daybreak to twilight at the sending, following the biblical and ancient near eastern understanding of the day beginning at sundown. And if you have a way to project to the walls and ceilings, consider projecting a night sky with moon and the stars as atmospheric surroundings during the reading of the word and the preaching, moving toward a dawn feeling (with images of sunrise surrounding you) during the prayers, full sun during the Great Thanksgiving, then moving the lighting through the course of the day during receiving at Communion, toward late afternoon in the hymn of sending, and to twilight again at the final word of sending or benediction.
NASA's Visible Earth website may be an excellent resource for images, many of which are in the public domain.
You may wish to check Wikimedia Commons for others that are either in the public domain or licensed for shared use.
For transition from twilight (evening) to night, consider Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir performance of Water Night. Or surround the praying of Psalm 119:1-6 with the hymn "The Spacious Firmament on High" (Tune:Haydn, Text: Addison).
As a response to the sermon, consider singing "God of the Bible" (Worship & Song, 3020), Verses 1-2.
Continue using the intercessions from the past two weeks, replacing the intercession for the earth with "For the gift of the skies—rain, snow, light, air, protection, winds, and window to the universe—that we may be truly grateful and wise stewards of all these gifts, let us pray to the Lord." Sing "Father, We Praise Thee" (UMH 680) as a musical frame for the intercessions, as follows:
Sing "Father, We Praise Thee," Verse 1
Intercessions for the world, its peoples and its leaders, the church universal, and the skies.
Sing: "Father, We Praise Thee," Verse 2
Intercessions for the people of the congregation, the sick, the suffering, the concerns of the local community, and the communion of saints
Sing: "Father, We Praise Thee," Verse 3
Then move into the Invitation to the Table, Confession, Pardon, Peace, Offering and Great Thanksgiving.
"A Great Thanksgiving for Transfiguration Sunday" includes images of brilliant light.
This newer Great Thanksgiving for Festival of God’s Creation has a more “cosmic” feel. If you use the latter, be sure to add an Invitation to the Table, confession, pardon and peace. The intercessions are already built into this prayer, so you need not do them earlier.
Thoughts on the Theme
By day, the sky diffuses solar light.
By night, the sky offers a window on the galaxy and, with the aid of other instruments, the wider universe.
By day or by night, the sky helps to regulate the balances of water and CO2 on the planet, and the magnetosphere protects earth's life from much of the harmful radiation of the sun.
Sky is also where we sense at once hope for rescue (Christ returning with the clouds) and menace (storms, aerial attack).
Sky in the Bible is also seen as "the firmament"— a "dome" keeping "the waters above the earth" from falling on the earth all at once and destroying all life in the deluge.
Sky is where many cultures, including biblical cultures, have pictured "God" to be. This is why in biblical sacrifices, the highlight of the sacrifice is when the largest billows of smoke rise from that altar to the sky.
And sky is both a means of transport and an erstwhile home for billions of creatures ("the billion bug highway").