1. Set sail with God: The Prayer of St Brendan
You will need: a large paddling pool with a thin layer of water that will accommodate your group’s paper boats to be blown across the water; additionally you could place a large candle in a heavy weighted candle holder in the middle of the pool; A4 pieces of paper; pens; pencils; computer/projector/screen for video of how to make an origami boat; tealights (optional); matches; music (optional).
Give out the A4 paper and invite people to write or draw a journeying prayer to ‘set sail with God’ this week/month/year. When people have finished, follow the instructions on how to make an origami boat out of their A4 piece of paper. If you can’t remember, watch this video here and re-learn how to do it! Or you could set up a computer/projector/screen with this video on a loop that shows you step by step how to make an origami boat in under two minutes – just watch and follow.
Place your boat on the water and blow! As it moves across the water, pray that God will fill your sails with his wind of the Spirit and that you are available to him for his purposes this week/month/year. You could place a tealight inside your boat, then light it with a match (without setting fire to your paper boat!) Turn the lights off and launch your boat and pray.
If your gathering is next to a small lake or pond, you could take your boats down to the edge of the water and set sail there!
You could end this time together using the prayer of St Brendan the Navigator. Find out more about St Brendan on Mark Berry’s blog.
The Prayer of St Brendan
Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?
Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?
Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honour?
Shall I throw myself wholly upon you, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on?
Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under your yoke?
Shall I pour out my heart to you, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks?
Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?
Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?
Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?
O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?
O Christ, will you help me on the wild waves?
This is a simple prayer of commitment and blessing shared together that underlines the sense of journeying together, supporting one another and that God goes with us.
We hang our lives upon your mercy
measured out in miles
your boundaries and pathways,
coordinates and charts
that guide our steps
along roads you travelled before us
We will make time for you and your word
We will practice your ways until they are part of us
We will rest and play in you
We will be your people
We are not complete without one another
We cannot run the race alone
We will support one another
encourage one another
wait for the weak
pick up the fallen
through your strength and love
When we are together we will remember what it is like to travel alone
When we are alone we will remember what it is like to travel together
Wherever we are we will remember God who always goes with us
Go with us now, Lord, this day/night and always
From the Grace community, Ealing, London.
3. Traditional Gaelic blessing
You could print this out on bookmarks and hand them, out or say it as a blessing to one another.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
4. Edible blessings
You will need: a packet of rice paper (multi-coloured rice paper is ideal – you can get it from good sweet shops); non-toxic felt tip pens (t is very important that you use pens which have ink that is safe to eat – to be on the safe side, you could use thin brushes or unused fountain pens and food colouring).
It may be a good idea to ask those who are going to take part to wash their hands (if necessary, at the beginning of your time together).
Explain that you are going to write blessings for each other, ones that you can actually eat after you have received them. If you think people will need help or inspiration, give some example blessings for everyone to copy or use as a basis for their own. Hand out the rice paper and the pens, and invite everyone to write a blessing on a piece of rice paper. After everyone who wished to take part has written a blessing, swap the papers and read each other’s blessings. At the end of the meeting, invite everyone to eat their blessings.
Some biblical blessings
‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace’ (Numbers 6.24-26).
‘Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ (2 Peter 1.2).
‘May the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will’ (Hebrews 13.20-21).
‘The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you’ (2 Timothy 4.22).
For more ideas like this, see Sue Wallace, Multi-Sensory Church, Scripture Union, 2002, p27.