Epiphany3A.22.1.2017

Revd Rex A E Hunt

International eMail: rexae74@gmail.com
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My books, suitable for progressive religious thinkers…
• When Progressives Gather Together: Liturgy, Lectionary, Landscape… And Other Explorations.
Melbourne: Morning Star Publishing, 2016.
• Against the Stream: Progressive Christianity Between Pulpit and Pew.
Preston: Mosaic Press/Morning Star Publishing, 2012/2013.
• Cards, Carols, and Claus. Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity.
Preston: Mosaic Press/Morning Star Publishing, 2013.
(Edited with John W. H. Smith). Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on ‘progressive’ Christianity.
Salem: Polebridge Press, 2012.
• (Edited with John W. H. Smith). New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians.
Preston: Mosaic Press/Morning Star Publishing, 2013/2014.
(Edited with Gregory C. Jenks). Wisdom & Imagination: Religious Progressives and the Search for Meaning.
Melbourne: Morning Star Publishing, 2014.

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rexae74@gmail.com
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LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
22 January 2017. Epiphany 3A. (Green).

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


GATHERING

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Come in.  Come into this place
which we make special by our presence.

Come into this place,
where the ordinary is sanctified,
the human is celebrated,
the compassionate is expected.

Come into this place.
Together we make it a sacred place.

OR

Today will be a joyful day.
This is our promise to each other
and to a world often taken aback by genuine invitation.
All
Today will be a joyful day.
Enter, rejoice, and come in.
  (George Stewart/www.uusf.org)

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

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
"As the Sun Beats Down" (Tune: 10 7 10 7)   2 FFS
As the sun beats down and the heat invades,
and creation burns and dries;
let us sing to God of a promised hope
in the midst of anxious cries.

As the parching winds relentless blow,
and creation browns away;
let us sing to God, who restores and calms
all foreboding and dismay.

As the feed dies back and the stock decline,
and creation's bones show through;
let us sing to God of the bread of life,
to refresh, restore, renew.

As the silent birds sing a silent song
in creation's still blue sky;
let us sing to God of the songs of hope,
through a gentle rain's reply.

As the season comes and the season goes,
and we search the skies each day;
let us sing to God of a rainbow faith,
and a promised green display.  Bill Bennett
Remain standing

OR

"May God's wisdom"  (Tune:  ‘Stuttgart 87 87)
May God's wisdom deep within us
Shape the joy within our hearts,
Smooth the road we travel gently
Using all our loving arts.

May fair blossoms dropping petals
On the living path we tread,
Make a cushioned, glorious carpet,
Fragrancing the way ahead.

May we root our dreams and longings
In a true integrity,
Clearing out all that will hinder
Love's own creativity. 
June Boyce-Tillman/ssb

Opening Sentences
God of our yesterdays and God of our tomorrows
we ask that you be with us now, God of our today.
All  
May it be so.

God of vision and new possibilities
open our hearts and minds
to the reality of your presence.  (Adapt/Rosie Sugrue)
All  May it be so with us.

Act of Awareness
For all that is our life we offer thanks and praise.
For all life is a gift which we are called to use,
to build the store of common good.

May we know once again that we are not isolated beings
but connected, in mystery and miracle,
to the universe,
to this community, and
to each other.

OR

We pray:
We gather grateful for the companionship of hearts and minds
seeking to speak the truth in love.

We gather grateful for our heritage,
for the women and men before us
whose imagination, dedication and prophetic words and deeds
make possible our dreams and our insight.

And we gather grateful for the gift of life itself,
mindful that to respect life means both to celebrate what life is
and to insist on what it can become.

May we always rejoice in life,
and work to cultivate a sense of its giftedness.  (
MSMilnor/Adapt)
May it be so.

Hymn "Faith Has Set Us On a Journey" (Tune: ‘Venture')   14 FFS
Faith has set us on a journey
past the landmarks that we know,
taking risks with no insurance
but the Word that tells us “Go!”
Friend or job or home or lover
we may need to leave behind,
outworn truths and ways of thinking,
baggage to the past consigned.

Some are swags of easy conscience
who with others hitch a ride,
some are tourist-package Christians,
dollar-safe, with Book and guide.
There are others on this journey -
those who long and pray and search,
heave the stones to free the structures,
love the Christ and leave the Church.

We are this unlikely people
in the Body knit as one,
company of clowns and cripples -
some are wise and some can run.
Prophets are our travel agents,
gospel-makers lay this road:
to the place of peace and promise
faith will take us into God.  (Shirley Erena Murray)
The people sit after the hymn

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.

Remembering (Optional)
Today is part of the celebration we call Australia Day weekend.
A time of reflecting and remembering.

As you entered this morning, you were given a eucalypt or gum leaf.
Take it between your fingers, break it, smell it,
and share with the person next to you
a memory of times you celebrated Australia Day.
Conversation

Silence

This day we celebrate our country
in its grandeur and grace,
its challenges and its possibilities.
All  
We remember and rejoice

This day we also grieve and respect our past
and walk another step into our future together.
Dorothy McRae-McMahon/rlll
All  and we lament.

Now away from the busyness of life
and in the silence of this sacred place,
let us give thanks for the gift of life, all of life:
life born of faithfulness,
life born of courage.
(Silence)

Life rises in our midst
All  It surprises us when it blossoms forth
in unexpected times and places. Dorothy McRae-McMahon/plpm

Music of reflection (with DVD/slide images of Australia and people)

EXPLORING

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

Hebrew Scriptures:
Psalm 27
Francis Macnab.
A Fine Wind is Blowing/13.

• How easy the author succumbs to every noise and anxiety.  How easy it is to fall in heap.
But the author wants to believe, wants courage and strength.  They are God’s gift.

The headlines in the papers every day can arouse a lot of anxiety.
Even in the safety of my home,
one noise at night can make my heart jump with fright
and I start believing the house could be surrounded
by who-knows-what - coming to get me.

And then I know that I have succumbed to my own scattered fear when
what I need to do is refocus
on what is good and beautiful in life.

So I focus on the Presence of a loving caring God
who raises me out of my stress,
and helps me stand tall again,
in spite of the things that make me anxious.

Deep inside, I hear my heart say to me
"Come on, take hold of that good Presence".

Even then in my anxiety I hear myself say
"Oh God, help me.  Do not hide yourself from me.
Though mother and father are of no help to me,
surely there is a God who will bring me
to my moment of strength".

Yes, I say to that Good Presence
"Show me the way. 
I do not want to be like thosewho throw themselves on the useless heaps of life”.
I want to believe in the Goodness of Life.
I am ready to wait for that.

Yes I shall breathe better.
I shall gather my courage and my strength.
God gives them to me.  If only I will wait for God's gift.

Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 4:12, 18-23 (Inclusive Text)

Hearing that John had been arrested
Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth
went and settled in Capernaum, a lake-side town…

From that moment Jesus began preaching with the message,
'Repent, for heaven's reign is close at hand.'

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter,
and his brother, Andrew
they were making a cast in the lake with their net,
for they were by trade, fishers.

And Jesus said to them,
'Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.’
And they left their nets at once and followed Jesus.

Going on from there Jesus saw another pair of brothers,
James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John;
they were in their boat with their father Zebedee,
mending their nets, and Jesus called them.
At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed.

Jesus went round the whole of Galilee
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming
the Good News of God's reign and 
curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

Litany: Travelling On... (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

When hope invites us to journey
elusive, beckoning onward
but never in our grasp:
All  
May we have the wisdom and the courage to travel on.

Wn  When dreams glimmer in the distance,
fading, clouded and hidden
or shining with new brightness:
All  May we have the wisdom and the courage to travel on.

Mn  When established patterns collapse
into the uncertainty of the unknown
and security dissolves into a memory:
All  May we have the wisdom and the courage to travel on.

Wn  When the illusion of success
threatens to divert us
and silence our souls' yearning:
All  May wisdom and imagination inspire us to travel on.

Mn  When we think our journey has ended
in the star-lit glow
only to find the end is a new beginning:
All  May wisdom and imagination inspire us to travel on.  (Adapted.Jan Berry/ssb)

Sharing 'The Peace
Let us take some time to celebrate each other.

May a heart of peace rest with you.  (David Galston/q)
All And also with you.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
"Dear Mother God
(Tune: ‘Intercessor’ 11 10 11 10)
Dear Mother God, your wings are warm around us,
We are enfolded in your love and care,
Safe in the dark, your heartbeat's pulse surround us,
You call to us, for you are always there.

You call to us, for we are in your image.
We wait on you, the nest is cold and bare -
High overhead your wingbeats call us onward,
Filled with your power, we ride the empty air.

Let not our freedom scorn the needs of others -
We climb the clouds until our strong heart sings -
May we enfold our sisters and our brothers,
Till all are strong, till all have eagles' wings.  (Jan Wootton/cw)

OR

A Hymn of Exploration(Tune:  11 10 11 10)
We take the path that leads beyond this moment,
while seeking all the hope faith has to give;
we walk so near the edge of understanding,
while grasping what we need to know to live.

This is no abstract whim that we are tracing,
this story of God’s free, creative grace;
this is no empty, useless recitation,
but God’s own love that nothing can erase.

The vision that you give, each new disclosure,
will bring us closer to our common goal,
the point where you assure us of salvation,
for us and every other living soul.  
 © Andrew Pratt 23/6/2010

CELEBRATING

Offering
Our offerings for the work of ministry in this place and beyond,
shall now be received.

Presentation
Far beyond the ‘east’, the people of Australia
come to celebrate under the Southern Cross...

(With or without the above...)
As we gather in this place, remembering
and telling the stories of our faith,
may we go behind the words to discern their meaning,
that we may be empowered with courage
to embrace the living of these days.

With the Children
The children gather on the conversation mat

Conversation:

"Somewhere someone:”
The kingdom of love is coming because:
All  somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind,
somewhere someone shares with another in need,
somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate,
somewhere someone is patient - and waits in love,
somewhere someone returns good for evil,
somewhere someone serves another, in love,
somewhere someone is calm in a storm,
somewhere someone is loving everybody.
Is that someone you?  
(jke)

Reflections and Prayers
Care Candle:
We are people of all ages who enter this space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Concerns shared

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
In caring for one another
All  
May we be untiring.
In sheltering one another
All  May we be strong.
In holding one another
All  May we be tender.  (Gretta Vosper/ab).

And so we take a flame and light our special Care Candle…
The Care Candle is lit

For ourselves, for those named or remembered, and in solidarity with those
who have not the freedom to express their concern or celebration
for fear of discrimination or condemnation.

In all our joys and in all our concerns, may we be ever mindful
of the presentness of the sacred among us,
and to see the new possibilities of the now.

The 'Abba' Prayer: (Optional)
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, and in your original language, as that is appropriate

All  O Birther!  Father-Mother of the Cosmos
you create all that moves in light.
Hear the one Sound that created all others,
in this way the Name is hallowed in silence.

Your rule springs into existence
as our arms reach out to embrace all creation.
Let all wills move together
in your vortex, as stars and planets
swirl through the sky.

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight:
subsistence for the call of growing life.

Lighten our load of secret debts as
we relieve others of their need to repay.

Keep us from hoarding false wealth,
and from the inner shame of
help not given in time. (Matthew Fox/ormw)

SCATTERING

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
God the Weaver (Tune: Picardy', 87.87.87)
God the weaver, making patterns,
spinning threads throughout our days -
Joy and sadness interwoven,
strands of sorrow, strands of praise.
Help us to discern your weaving
in the multi-coloured maze.

Teach us, Lord, to trust your guidance
when the pattern is not clear,
and to feel your strength and comfort
when life's fabric's torn by fear.
Help us sense that in the dark times
Lightening love is always near.

When we see the pattern changing
and a new direction starts,
let us know your love unbroken
winds through life in all its parts
by the threads of love and friendship
closely woven in our hearts.
Remain standing

Parting Words
The God we worship is never confined to this holy place.
So go and travel with the God
who is found in ordinary and surprising places.
The Community Candle is extinguished

v2  Summer is here!
In the warmth and light of this holiday season it is easier
to smile,
to play
to laugh,
to relax…
Our sun-kissed faces reflect abundant sunlight energy.

v3  Yet even as we delight in life’s rich pleasures,
we remember that some of us are also in pain…
suffering from breaking relationships or physical hurt,
watching loved ones fade into dementia or slip from life,
battling anxiety from financial fear or addiction’s ongoing grip.

v1  So, this today, let us breathe deeply and embrace life’s gifts.
Let us be gentle with ourselves and each other,
caressing all our glorious yet often flawed humanity.

Let us find balance as we dive head-first into life’s rhythms.
And let us reach out to support and hold each other close (Adapt.Mary Ackerson/C3 web site).

OR

Come to us, Creating God.
In new life,
In courage,
In wisdom,
In joy.

Bind us together as those who feel your love under our feet
in the warmth of this, our holy ground.
All  
Dance within our life, Spirit of God,
that we may be transformed by your eternal passion
for making all things new. Dorothy McRae-McMahon/bst

Words of Blessing
Go into this week,
held together by the love of God
clothed with the nature of Jesus our Companion
reinforced by the strength of the Holy Spirit.
All  
Amen! May it be so!

Hymn (Cont) “God the Weaver” (Tune: ‘Picardy’, 87 87 87)
Though we never see the picture
with your sense of space and time,
help us, Lord, to take our places
in our faith's continuing line,
as all lives are interwoven 
in your final grand design. © Marjory Dobson. 1996 Stainer & Bell Ltd
The people sit after the hymn

'This Week' at (NN)
Notices
Birthdays and anniversaries
Significant events
Journey candles

Music

Fellowship
Morning tea is now served.
You are invited to share in this time of fellowship


You are invited to keep this copy of the liturgy and take it home with you
to share with another member of your family, or with a friend

I recommend the use of
LicenSing - Copyright cleared music for churches



Some of the Resources used in Shaping this Liturgy:
Binkley, C. G. & J. M. McKeel. Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals. An International Curriculum on the Life and Teaching of Jesus. Santa Rosa. Polebridge Press, 2002.
Duncan, G. (ed). Shine On, Star of Bethlehem. A Worship Resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2001.
(FFS) Faith Forever Singing. Songs for a New Day. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2000.
Fox, M.
One River, Many Wells. Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths. New York. Tarcher/Penguin Publishing, 2000.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2004.
McRae-McMahon, D.
Prayers for Life's Particular Moments. Thornbury. DesBook, 2001.
McRae-McMahon, D.
The Glory of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Liturgies for living and dying. Melbourne. JBCE, 1996.
Macnab, F.
A Fine Wind is Blowing: Psalms of the Bible in words that blow you away. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2006.
Vosper, G. 2009/2010. 
Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed).
Celebrating Women. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Sugrue. Spirit & spice Web site, NZ.
Milnor, Belcher. UUA Worship Web. Boston.  www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/
"God the Weaver". M Dobson. Stainer & Bell Ltd. <hymns.uk.com>
"A Hymn of Exploration". Andrew Pratt. Direct from the author. Used with permission.
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. <http://www.questcentre.ca/>

rexae74@gmail.com