Mānawatia a Matariki
A special 5 Senses to Prayer Virtual Prayer Room for Matariki weekend
We are headed away for the long Matariki weekend, the second time in Aotearoa where the whole nation has joined together to celebrate Matariki. We’re holidaying for the weekend with whānau, a beautiful concept for an extended family that goes beyond including those we might call relations. We’ve holidayed in the summer months with these friends for many years, bringing in the new year together on the first of January. It feels different and exciting to have this opportunity to gather in the middle of winter together. In the northern hemisphere the celebration of New Year, happens in winter, an appropriate time of year to acknowledge the year that has passed and the year that is yet to come. Now, we get our own very Aotearoa New Zealand, new year’s holiday that really does mark the start of a new year.
I te ra hei tohutohu i te awatea: he mau tonu hoki tana mahi tohu;
I te marama me nga whetu hei tohutohu i te po: he mau tonu hoki tana mahi tohu.
Psalm 136:8-9 (CEV)
Last year I co-wrote a Matariki Retreat with which is available on our Kereru Publishing website for free download. I am not an expert on Matariki or Mātauranga Māori but I’m an eager learner. There is so much in the celebration of Matariki that resonates with me and excites me in a very sensory based way. In writing the retreat I was glad to have the help and encouragement of Rebecca (Te Rarawa, Ngāi Takoto, Ngāti Pūkeko) who is part of my whānau and a long-time student of Te Reo and Te Ao Māori. She did her best to help with reo and tikanga in preparing the retreat. Even if you’re not based in Aotearoa, New Zealand, you may enjoy downloading the retreat and using it over this weekend or in the coming days.
He lets the sun rule each day.
God's love never fails.
He lets the moon and the stars
rule each night.
God's love never fails.
As a new year dawns with the rising of the Matariki star cluster, there are beautiful strands we are encouraged to include in our celebrations:
remembrance — honouring those who have died since the last rising of Matariki
celebrating the present — gathering together with family and friends
looking to the future — looking forward to the promise of a new year
If you’re in Aotearoa, celebrating Matariki this year, I hope your celebration is filled with remembrance, celebration and hope. The two prayers I’ve chosen for today’s post are based on two things I’m taking with me for the Matariki weekend away. Wherever you are this Matariki, I hope there is time and space for you to pause, ponder and pray about what it means to remember the past, to celebrate the present and to look to the future.
I can’t bake or eat shortbread without thinking of my beloved Grandad Ted who was still making a weekly batch of shortbread for me until he was in his late 90’s. At Matariki, we remember those who have died in the last year. It’s been a few years since he died, but I included him in my prayers as I baked shortbread to take away with us for Matariki weekend. My grandparents were caterers, and their cooking skills brought sustenance and joy to many people. I’ve included Grandad Ted’s shortbread recipe after today’s prayers.
Shortbread Stars Prayer
Sense of Taste – Thanksgiving (T.TA.9)
Prepare a shortbread dough and roll out flat. Use cookie cutters to make star shaped cookies. As you cut each star from the dough offer a one sentence prayer of thanks for events, happenings, and people you’re currently grateful for in your life. Shortbread requires a long slow cooking period. As it bakes in the oven, reflect with gratitude on aspects of your life that are benefitting from a long, slow, growth period and what you are looking forward to ahead. As you eat your shortbread, take time to pause and remember those who have influenced your life in the past and offer a prayer of gratitude for these individuals.
Getting ready checklist
· Ingredients and equipment for baking shortbread
· Cookie cutter or star shapes to trace
Sample suggestions for using this prayer
Use this prayer station at Christmas or Matariki as part of a group of prayers focussing on looking at the night sky. Decorate the prayer station with hanging stars. Adapt the prayer by using pre-made homemade shortbread. Invite participants to help themselves to a piece of shortbread and pray a two-part gratitude prayer based on the prayer. If the prayer station is part of an event, fill a plate with shortbread. If the prayer station is a drop-in over time situation, store the shortbread in a tin. Provide serviettes instead of plates and a small rubbish bin.
Bake shortbread to give away to others. As you bake, pray this prayer, particularly extending your gratitude prayers to include the recipients of the baked shortbread.
Make shortbread together, inviting each person to cut their own star and to place it onto a small piece of card covered with a square of baking paper. Give each person a skewer to mark their shortbread with their initials or some other identifying pattern. Extend the prayer by suggesting participants offer one-word prayers of praise to God as they pierce their piece of shortbread with the skewer. Place the prepared pieces of shortbread onto an oven tray and cook in the oven. While the shortbread is cooking, have a discussion about growth in a long, slow, period and what this means to each person in their lives.
Pass around containers of shortbread and invite participants to take a piece of shortbread and pray their gratitude prayers as they eat the shortbread together.
Visual Images - Static, Projected, Live Props
Matariki cluster of stars (if using at Matariki)
Nativity night scenes (if using at Christmas)