In chapel yesterday, we used the Chinese New Year as a framework for our prayers. Celebrating inclusivity and diversity are an important part of our Spiritual Life program. Throughout the chapel liturgy 15 candles were lit. They represented:
• welcoming God into our lives
• thanksgiving for the gift of life
• honoring and giving thanks for our ancestors
• honoring and giving thanks for all females who have filled a special role in our lives
• honoring and giving thanks for all men that have held special places in our hearts and lives
• thanksgiving for material blessings
• thanksgiving for good health in the coming year
• celebration of "everybody's birthday" (in traditional China everyone added a year to their age at New Year's time rather than at their birthday).
• prayers for help to use our blessings wisely and to be able to care for others in their time of need
• prayers that our lives may be lived as a pleasing offering to God
• praise and thanksgiving for friends
• praise and thanksgiving for our family and extended family
• prayers for guidance in our lives and help to love one another
• prayers that we be a strong Light in the world and to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming year
• prayers for harmony and happiness for all
• celebration for God's Light and Love and Goodness
Chinese New Year lasts 15 days and each day contains its own focus for celebration. The last day is the Lantern Festival, a very sacred, happy and joyful time. A popular legend regarding the carrying of lanterns is one often told to Chinese children:
In ancient China, the 15th day of the first lunar month was the first day of school.
Each student carried a lantern to school, asking the teacher to light it.
The light would show the way toward a life of enlightenment, learning and wisdom.
Children carried the shining orbs to represent their brilliant futures.
At the end of chapel, everyone was given their own paper lantern with a fortune cookie prayer inside.
The Chinese New Year candles are set in a bowl of rice, an important daily ingredient n Chinese life and a sign of abundance.
Thanks to Joyce Johns PTC for sharing her great photos with us!