This creative mediation and liturgy for Remembrance Sunday guides us through confession, forgiveness and resolution as we think about the colours of a poppy. Suitable for all ages, not just children!
We make tissue-paper poppies and consider each colour – the black centre for blindness, the red petals for sin and the green leaf for new life – then place the finished poppies on a cross or wreath of grey wire (reconciliation) as an act of worship.
You will need:
- Grey galvanised wire [click] and wooden cross (the type that stands on a table)
- or metal wreath frame [click]
- Tissue paper circles or squares in green and red [click] (10cm)
- Black pipe cleaners [click] (30cm)
Each poppy uses two or three pieces of red and one piece of green paper, and one pipe cleaner. Have enough that people can make extras to take home if they wish.
To make a poppy cross, wind the grey wire all around the cross in a messy manner and anchor securely. Make sure that any sharp ends are hidden.
For a poppy wreath either make a wreath from the wire by looping it in a circle several times and winding the end messily around the circle, or use a purchased wire frame. Place the wreath at the foot of a cross.
You can spread the colours throughout the service if you like, with time between to think about the parts. Alternatively, you can make and place the poppies as a single activity.
Instructions to the congregation for making the poppies are given in italics. You can have pre-made poppies as well as the materials, so that everyone can bring up finished poppies to the cross at the end, even if they don’t want to make one.
The congregation says the words that start “God of light …, God of mercy …” etc.
The Colours of a Poppy
Colour 1 – Black
See the Black. Black reminds us of darkness, of night, of the blindness of closed eyes.
With our eyes shut to God’s light we all have wandered from his perfect path, stumbling in the darkness, following human knowledge instead of the wisdom of God, walking by the light of our own eyes, which is no light at all.
Take the black pipe cleaner and crumple it into a ball.
Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.” (Isaiah 59:9)
God of light, we call upon you in our blindness. Open our eyes to see your light.
God of light, we call upon you in our wanderings. Set our feet upon the right path.
God of light, we call upon you in our places of darkness. Walk with us through our valleys of shadow.
Restore us we pray, for your mercy is great and your love endures for ever.
May the Lord, who is all light, heal our blindness, make straight our wandering, and fill our dark places with his incomparable glory. Amen.
Unwind half of your pipe cleaner, leaving part as a crumpled ball and part straight.
We are works in progress this side of glory, and we live our lives with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth.
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Colour 2 – Red
See the Red. Red speaks of danger, of blood, of sin.
When we stay in darkness and refuse God’s light, when we feed our selfish instincts, when we place power and prestige above people, then sin buds and blooms.
Push the stalk of your pipe cleaner through the centre of your red circles. Twist the paper together around the stem near the crumpled ball to make a flower. Wind part of the stem around the paper to hold it in place.
Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “ ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
God of mercy, we confess to you as humanity. We have spoilt your perfect world with wars and injustice.
God of mercy, we confess to you as community. We have failed to declare your peace.
God of mercy, we confess to you as individuals. We have not loved you with our whole hearts, nor our neighbours as ourselves.
Forgive us we pray, for your mercy is great and your love endures for ever.
May the Lord, who is slow to anger and full of grace, wash away our sins of scarlet and create in us a clean heart. Amen.
Colour 3 – Green
See the Green. Green says safety, new life, fresh start.
In Autumn, leaves fall from the trees and all seems to be dying. Then fresh green shoots emerge in Spring, and that which looked dead bursts into life.
Pinch and twist the centre of your green paper to make a leaf. Place the leaf half-way down your stem and wind the stem around to keep it in place.
Hear the words of St John the Divine: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life … On each side of the river stood the tree of life … And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev. 22:1-2)
God of resurrection, we thank you for life renewed. We choose to forgive those who have hurt us or our loved ones.
God of resurrection, we thank you for fresh starts. We choose to learn from our mistakes.
God of resurrection, we thank you for living water. We choose to be channels of your healing.
Guide us we pray, for your mercy is great and your love endures for ever.
May the Lord, who is the living water, fill us with his resurrection life. Amen.
Colour 4 – Grey
See the Grey. Grey is cold, impersonal, unforgiving.
Jesus welcomed the outcasts, forgave for the unforgivable and died for the unworthy. We, his body on earth, do not always follow his example. Many see the Church as rejecting those who do not fit.
Come, place your poppy on the cross, covering the harsh, cold wire with the beauty and warmth of God’s light, mercy, life and peace.
Hear the words of our Lord: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ … ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Rev 21:5-6)
God of peace, we bring to you our hurting people. May we be your hands to heal and comfort.
God of peace, we bring to you our suffering victims. May we be your voice to cry out against injustice.
God of peace, we bring to you our wounded heroes. May we be your arms to defend the defenceless and work for reconciliation.
Strengthen us we pray, for your mercy is great and your love endures for ever.
May the Lord, who is the prince of peace, empower us, equip us and and send us. Amen.
New International Version – UK
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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