Advent4A.18.12.2016

Revd Rex A E Hunt

International eMail: rexae74@gmail.com
For continuing access make sure you 'Favourite' or ‘Bookmark’ my web site:
www.rexaehuntprogressive.com

Recently Published
Rex A E Hunt 
When Progressives Gather Together:
Liturgy, Lectionary, Landscape… And Other Explorations

Melbourne: Morning Star Publishing, 2016
(In the USA published by Wipf & Stock)


Details on the availability of my books, supporting progressive religious thought, HERE
Suggestion: ’Refresh’ each page before reading to make sure to get my latest edition


LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
18 December 2016. Advent 4A. (Blue).


Acknowledgement of Country/First Peoples
(An act towards reconciliation)

For thousands of years Indigenous people have walked
in this land, on their own country.
Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives.

We acknowledge the (NN) People and their stewardship
of this land throughout the ages.

(NN) is a safe place for all people to worship regardless of
race, creed, age, cultural background or sexual orientation


earth


GATHERING

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Music of Celebration (with DVD/slide images of sunset, people on beaches, creeks, water)

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

Advent Wreath – ‘Source of light’
Advent 4
v1 Orange flame burning
fire, breathing, consuming,
refining our thoughts.
Light fourth candle

v2 Holy God Spirit
we give thanks for the flame,
symbol of your presentness that never fails.
We pray for all people
that we may keep the Advent flame alight in our lives,
may we not to extinguish it when Christmas is past.
All Amen. (Adapted-HJohnston/ssb)

OR

Advent 4: “Water”
v1   Today, we remember water and light
with this candle of love.
All  
Without clean water,
life on our planet cannot exist.

v1  Yet we humans foul the oceans and rivers
with the toxic chemicals and other garbage of our lifestyles.
(Silence)
v2  We light this fourth advent candle…
The candle is lit

All  And as we do we renew our commitment
to live gently and lovingly,
with the water that gives life.

v1   May it be so.

Presentation of the Christmas Bowl
v5  Without love, people struggle to find their way.
The bowl, made by the children previously, is placed near the Advent wreath

Note: (i) A suggested process for introducing new hymns, called Hymn of the Month, can be found HERE
(ii) Additional
Special Purpose Hymns that cover major international events or themes can be found HERE  They include the categories: 1. Bush (Brush) Fire, 2. Tsunami, Storms/Cyclones, 3. Earthquakes, 4. War/Remembrance, 5. Caregiving, 6. God as Mother, 7. Human Trafficking, 8. Disabled, 9. Migration/Refugees

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing.  Children move to Sunday Club.
"Carol our Christmas(Tune: Reversi)     9 AA
Carol our Christmas,
an upside down Christmas;
snow is not falling and
trees are not bare.
Carol the summer, and
welcome the Christ Child,
warm in our sunshine and
sweetness of air.

Sing of the gold and the
green and the sparkle,
water and river and lure
of the beach.
Sing in the happiness
of open spaces,
sing a nativity summer
can reach!

Shepherds and musterers
move over hillsides,
finding, not angels,
but sheep to be shorn;
wise ones make journeys
whatever the season,
searching for signs of the
truth to be born.

Right side up Christmas belongs
to the universe,
made in the moment
a woman gives birth;
hope is the Jesus gift,
love is the offering,
everywhere, anywhere,
here on the earth.  (Shirley Erena Murray)

Remain standing

Opening Sentences
The season of Advent challenges us
All  
to see God's vision of what is yet to be,
to hear God's voice calling anew,
All  
to smell the scent of God in our world.

Act of Awareness
It is a still place where love is
and the way is very simple
it is so simple that I cannot understand
how hard it is to find the way
into the silence where love is (Jean Clark/cw)

OR

v1 We pray:
Now is the moment of magic, when candles are kindled
and clear voices whisper secret music.
So here's a blessing:
it is the warmth of summer love that enables us to overcome
the barriers we place around ourselves, and
love that strengthens us to take risks.

v2 And here’s another blessing:
we already possess all the gifts we need,
we've already received our presents:
ears to hear music,
eyes to behold lights,
hands to build true peace on earth
and to hold each other tight in love. 
(VSafford/adapted)
May it be so.

Hymn
O Come, Emmanuel”  (Tune: ‘Veni Emmanuel’, 88 88 & refrain)    265 TiS
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might
who to the tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high
and close the path to misery.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O branch of Jesse, free
your own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell your people save
and give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by your advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
The people sit after the hymn

Note: About that hymn for progressives… 
"O Come, O Come, Emanuel” is a classic Advent carol.  (And we are, after all, in the season of Advent – NOT Christmas, not yet!) 
But many of the words are problematic. 
“O come, O come, Emmanuel / And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here / Until the Son of God appear.”

The ideas are supercessionist --- implying that Judaism is obsolete, not relevant, past its use-by date.
Can we really sing this and not come across as demeaning and superior?
Is it time to rewrite (or ditch) this verse?
 (Dr John Squires)

Welcome
In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are worshipping at (NN) for the first time
or who have returned after an absence.

Your presence both enriches us and this time of celebration together.
Refer to printed liturgy.
Fellowship hour following worship.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.

Reflection
“We Gather Here”
By Barbara Hamilton-Holway
(Edited)

We gather here as individual people:
young and old,
male and female,
gay, lesbian and straight,
abled and differently abled,
regular and visitor…

We gather here as a community of people who are more than categories.
We gather here, each ministering to the other,
meeting one another’s strength,
encouraging wholeness.

We give thanks for this extraordinary blessing.

Here may our minds stretch, our hearts open, our spirits deepen.
Here may we acknowledge our brokenness
and be ever stirred by love’s infinite possibilities.

In Northern hemisphere
Hymn  "Throughout this Winter Season"  (Tune: ‘Tyrolese’, 86 86D)     22TMT
Throughout this winter season,
in nature’s darkened womb,
Christ, grant your life and laughter
to lighten frosty gloom;
to lift our flagging spirits
beyond these short-lived days
to Advent and each coming
which fills our lives with praise.

You come as puddles crackle
beneath the children’s feet;
you come in leafless branches
outlined against the sleet;
you come when lives diminish
as cold envelops all;
you come as snow which blankets
earth’s grime beneath its fall.

You come as fire and candle
and all that warms the heart;
you come in party feasting,
in music, dance, and art;
you come in ancient stories,
of years that are no more;
you come as liberation
and power for all the poor.

We seek to know your presence
in grey days and in bright,
in all the earth’s abundance
and during nature’s night;
but when we can not see you
through blindness or through pain,
enfold us in your dying
and rise in us again.  (William L Wallace)

OR

Anna’s Song     55 ISIT
Lift this child to the sun,
Raise this child to the sky;
God has come from above,
Come to earth from on high.
Lift this child, lift this child to the sun.

Lay this child on the ground,
One with us, one with earth;
Let God know in his son,
Human clay, human birth.
Lay this child, lay this child on the ground.

Place this child in the shade,
Hang this child ‘neath a tree;
With his hand on the wood,
May this child set us free.
Place this child, place this child in the shade.

Give this child to the world,
Let him be common folk;
God has come to be born,
As an ordin’ry bloke.
Give this child, give this child to the world.

Send this child down the road,
Let him ride hard the track;
To be king of the bush,
And the harsh world outback.
Send this child, send this child down the track.

Lift this child to the night,
To the silence of God;
Let this child cry for us,
And the silence be heard.
Lift this child, lift this child to the night. 
© Norman Habel

OR

Hymn Star-Child, earth-Child”   40(ii) COC
Star-Child, earth-Child
go-between of God,
love Child, Christ Child,
heaven's lightning rod,
Refrain:
This year, this year,
let the day arrive,
when Christmas comes
for everyone,
everyone alive!

Street child, beat child
no place left to go,
hurt child, used child,
no one wants to know,
Refrain:

Grown child, old child,
mem'ry full of years,
sad child, lost child,
story told in tears,
Refrain:

Spared child, spoiled child,
having, wanting more,
wise child, faith child
knowing joy in store,
Refrain:

Hope-for-peace Child,
God's stupendous sign,
down-to-earth Child,
star of stars that shine.  (Shirley Erena Murray)
Refrain:

EXPLORING

Remembering
For many of us life can be just a bit ordinary.
But on occasions we catch sight of something
truly exciting and life-giving.

That is the invitation we call Advent.

Copies of several Christmas cards have been placed around the worship space.
You are invited to go and select a card/design which appeals to you
and then share with the person next to you
a memory of a Christmas past, or why
you selected that particular card.
Conversation

Silence

Let us prepare a manger in our hearts
for the birth of the sacred.

For something sacred needs to be born:
born from the mating of what is, and what might be.
All Let us remind ourselves it is a hopeful world,
with a future yet to be constructed, a future
wanting to enlist builders of a better tomorrow.

This is the season when angels tell us
that something sacred wants to be born.
But it needs a manger.
All Let us prepare a manger in our hearts
for the birth of the sacred.
  Davidson Loehr/adapted
Silence

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Two readings from our broad biblical and religious tradition
shall be read by (NN).

Nag Hammadi Library:
The Infancy Gospel of James 3:1, 4:1-2, 5:5-9

And Anna looked up to the heavens and saw a nest of sparrows in the laurel tree…

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood in front of her, saying,
"Anna, Anna, the Lord God has heard your prayer.
You will conceive and give birth and your child
will be spoken of everywhere people live."

And Anna said,
"As the Lord God lives, whether I give birth to either a male or a female child,
I will bring it as an offering to the Lord my God
and it will be a servant to him all the days of its life."

And Anna's pregnancy came to term.

After nine months, she gave birth and she said to the midwife, "What is it?"
The midwife said, "A girl."  Anna said, "My soul exalts this day."

And she put her baby to bed.

After her days were completed, Anna cleansed her menstrual flow
and gave her breast to the child
and gave her the name, Mary.

Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 1:18-25 
(Inclusive Text)

This is how Jesus came to be born.

Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together
she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being righteous, and wanting to spare her publicity,
decided to divorce her informally.

Joseph had decided to do this when the angel of God
appeared in a dream, and said,
‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.

‘She will give birth to a child whom you must name Jesus,
because this is the one who is to save this people from their sins.’

Now all this took place to fulfil the words
spoken by our God through the prophet:
The young woman will conceive and give birth to a child
and they will call this child Emmanuel,
a name which means "God-is-with-us".

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of God had said
and took Mary to their home.

(For those interested...
You can purchase a copy of the Inclusive Texts/Readings (AU$50) from:
Inclusive Language Project
PO Box 1303
Toombul QLD 4012 Australia)

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

An Affirmation of Faith (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and share an affirmation of faith…
The people stand as they are able

We experience the holiness of God 
All  in wonder of creation 
in endless sky and sea;
in breathless beauty and quiet bush;
in acts of courage and silent heart.

We know the God in Jesus of Nazareth
All  in gifts of healing and liberations of life;
in recognitions of love and callings to serve;
in sufferings for others and glimpses of grace.

We live from God's Spirit
All  in moments of faith