AshWednesdayA.1.3.2017

Revd Rex A E Hunt

 International eMail: rexae74@gmail.com
For continuing access make sure you 'Favourite' or ‘Bookmark’ my web site:
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My books, suitable for progressive religious thinkers…

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.
When Progressives Gather Together: Liturgy, Lectionary, Landscape… And Other Explorations.
Melbourne: Morning Star Publishing, 2016.
(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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LITURGY FOR ASH WEDNESDAY
1 March 2017


Gathering Music 

Silence

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is placed near the entrance of the celebration space, and lit

Entry into the Celebration
v1   The season of Lent calls us to journey along the edge,
to anticipate that final trip to Jerusalem.
v2   Lent calls us to the cutting edge,
when the wheat falls to the ground and new life comes forth.

v1   Lent not only calls us to give up something, but also
invites us to participate in the mystery of the Sacred
v2  Through God's grace, we are called from grief into gladness, despair into hope,
estrangement into right relations with each other and with earth.
(Silence)

v2  So come apart from the busyness of family and work,
and dwell in the presentness of Creativity God,
source and ground of our being.
v1  Through God's grace, we are called to renew ourselves and our life's purpose
as we gather with others who are searching.
(Silence)

Setting the Tables
The tables are set with ashes, water, oil, bread, wine

Ashes… earth brings us into life and nourishes us.
Earth takes us back again,
Birth and death are present in every moment.  (Thich Nhat Hanh/ep)

Bread... the very stuff of life, in which is gathered up
warm sun, rich (Australian) earth, gentle rain,
human labour and knowledge and skill.

Wine... fruit of the vine,
nurtured, tended, harvested,
and pressed out for us to drink.

Opening Sentences
Out of nothingness we came through birth into life:
All  With the Spirit of God within us.
From the life of God the universe unfolded into being
All  
With the Spirit of God within it.
From the heart of God creation goes on till the end of time
All  
With the Spirit of God within it
and with our spirit within it.

Let us embrace the God who enfolds us
All  We delight in God.  (Pitt St Uniting Church/eoj)

Welcome
Thank you for beginning the season of Lent in this sacred place tonight/today.
By renewing our deep connection with others and with the natural environment,
may we be encouraged to spend the next 40 days mindfully aware
of how our everyday actions affect our world.

Readings from our rich Religious Tradition
The readers are (NN) and (NN).

Hebrew Scriptures:
Isaiah 58 (Selected verses, NRSV/Inclusive Text)

Thus says our God:
Is not this the fast that I choose;
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Share your bread with the hungry, 
shelter the homeless poor, 
clothe the one you see to be naked, 
and turn not from your own kin.

Then will your light shine like the dawn...

If you do away with
the yoke,
the clenched fist,
the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.

Hindu Scriptures:
From the Artharva Veda

Breath, the healing power that is your
breath is the shining One, the Queen,
breath is the Directress,
She who directs the
breath is the Life of Creatures.

When you breathe
you quicken the [divine in you]
and this is born again
this is the source of the unwearied ones
O breath, I bind you to myself like a child of the waters
that I may live.

Instruction in Meditation (Based on Matthew 6):
Matthew Fox. One River, Many Wells/200

When you want to lay yourself open for the divine,
like a snare that is hollowed out to its depth,
like a canopy that projects a shadow
from the divine heat and light
into your soul,
then go into your inner place physically,
or to that story or symbol that reminds you of the sacred.

Close the door of your awareness to
the public person you think yourself to be.

Pray to the parent of creation, with your inner sense,
 the outer senses turned within.

Veiling yourself, the mystery may be unveiled through you.

By opening yourself to the flow of the sacred,
somewhere, resounding in some inner form,
the swell of the divine ocean can move through you.

The breathing life of all reveals itself
in the way you live your life.

OR

Traditional Christian Gospel:
Matthew 6 (Selected verses, Inclusive text)

Jesus said to the disciples:
Be careful not to parade your good deeds before others
to attract their notice;
by doing this you will lose all heavenly reward.

So when you give alms,
do not have it trumpeted before you:
this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues
and in the streets to win the admiration of others.
I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward... 

And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites:
they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues
and at the street corners
for people to see them.

I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward...

When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do:
they pull long faces to let others know they are fasting.
I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward...

Silence

SERVICE OF THE ASHES
Extinguishing of the Community Candle

'The Star Within' - A Reflection
v2  In the beginning, the energy of silence
rested over an infinite horizon of pure nothingness.
Mn   
The silence lasted for billions of years,
stretching across aeons that the human mind
cannot even remotely comprehend.
Wn  Out of the silence arose the first ripples of sound,
vibrations of pure energy that ruptured the tranquil stillness
as a single point of raw potential, bearing all matter,
all dimension, all energy, and all time: exploding like a massive fireball.
All  It was the greatest explosion of all time!

Mn  An irruption of infinite energy danced into being.
It had a wild and joyful freedom about it, and like a dance
it was richly endowed with coherence, elegance, and creativity.
Wn   The universe continued to expand and cool until the first atoms came into being.
The force of gravity joined the cosmic dance; atoms clustered into primordial galaxies.
Mn   Giant clouds of hydrogen and helium gases gathered
into condensed masses, giving birth to stars!
Wn   Generations of stars were born and died, born and died,
and then our own star system, the solar system,
was formed from a huge cloud of interstellar dust,
enriched by the gifts of all those ancestral stars.

v1   Planet Earth condensed out of a cloud that was rich in a diversity of elements.
Each atom of carbon, oxygen, silicon, calcium, and sodium
had been given during the explosive death of ancient stars.
These elements, this stuff of stars, included
all the chemical elements necessary for the evolution of carbon-based life.
Wn   With the appearance of the first bacteria,
the cosmic dance reached a more complex level of integration.
Mn   Molecules clustered together to form living cells!
Wn   Later came the algae, and then fishes began to inhabit the waters!
Mn  Thence the journey of life on land and in the sky.
Insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals: all flourished
and diversified and elaborated the themes of life.

v2   And now it is our time, too.
All   This is our story.
v1 The story of our beginning, our cosmology.
Mn  
Humans were invited to care for the earth…
Wn  But often we tried to conquer and subdue it.
Mn  We have poisoned our life-support systems
of soil, water, and air with toxic waste.
Wn  We have damaged our forests through clear-cutting and acid rain.
M:  Our oceans, lakes, and streams are littered
with plastic and laced with sewage.
Wn  We are annihilating our companion creatures at a rapid rate.
Mn  In a universal sense, this is our Calvary experience.
v1  The onus is not on some divine, external agent
who can reverse the destruction we humans have caused.
All   
The burden is ours to own and bear.

v2   And so we commence our Lenten Journey this night - this Ash Wednesday,
with open hearts in the presentness of Creativity God.
Wn   
as we partake in our daily things of life may we see them as sacred.
Mn   May we be empowered to perform simple acts of concern and love,
and real works of reform and renewal.
Wn   Let us love deeply the earth which gives us
air to breathe, water to drink, and food to sustain us.
Mn   May we remember that life is begotten from stardust, radiant in light and heat.

v1   We are all one - all of creation, all that now live, all that have ever lived.
Wn   Remember we are stardust, and to stardust we return.
Mn   Remember we are connected and to connection we return.
v2   Remember we are part of the great mystery.
All   
Remember we are stardust and to stardust we return.  (Lehman & Griffith/adapted)

Silence

Contemporary Exploration (Optional)  HERE or HERE

Silence

Lighting of Several Candles
The Community Candle is relit.
Several other candles are then lit from the Community Candle.
All brought to the centre of the gathered space

The Ashes
Ash Wednesday invites us to come back to earth.
To wonder at the gift of life,
my life
our life
with the earth, the shared body of our existence.

These ashes were once trees and shrubs,
and places where life was lived to its fullest.
Once they were full of life.
Now they are black and grey.
Dry.
Lifeless.

But mixed with the oil and water of our Earth baptism make good fertiliser:
it will help the seeds of the gospel take deeper root in us
and bring forth the fruits,
the harvest of justice, peace, and generosity.

These are ashes worth wearing.
May we accept this gift.
And be blessed.

And be assured we will be different at the end of this season.
For from the burnt ashes will spring the green shoot of life
and the purple flower of attentiveness to God.

Blessing
May these ashes be blessed.
May they be for us a symbol of our star-dust,
and of our return to the earth.
May we be blessed.

And may we be earthed in an inclusive love,
as forgiven and forgiving people.

Distribution
Those who wish to be marked are invited to come forward

Prayer
We pray:
We are thankful for forgiveness and healing.
Mindful of faith that sees possibilities,
faith that endures,
faith that inspires...

Mindful of love’s call
to be faithing,
to endure,
to be generous and forgiving whatever the cost.

Mindful of the hope of new life
as we follow Jesus during this Lenten journey...
May it be so.

OR

God, open us wide in awareness of the creative urgency
which you have set within us.
May we understand that only when we stop growing
into harmony with your larger life
do we begin to die.

Open us to what this implies
in all our relations with living beings,
near and far.

Let that new awareness change our lives.  (Adapt/Donald S Harrington/OWoS)

Silence

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
Thanksgiving
We give thanks and praise
for all that is good in the world.

For the love we name Creativity God, and all that is.
For the one we name Jesus
      and his message of peace, justice and inclusiveness
      that is the realm of God.
For the renewing strength and freedom of the Spirit
always present on the breath of life.
All  
We give thanks for the presentness of God in the midst of life.

The Celebration
Jesus gathered with his friends to tell them
of a re-imagined way of living and being.

A way that did not conform to the standards
of the Roman Empire or any other system of governance
that suppressed people until starvation and
deprivation resulted in death.  (Sherri Weinberg)

He knew that human nature was such that
despite good intentions it often betrayed itself…
And he named the betrayal when he said,
there is one among us who will deny what I say.

The Story/Bread and Wine
So let us remember and enact the tradition.

We remember... at the end of a journey,
among friends, gathered round a table
Jesus took bread,
gave thanks for all the blessings in his life,
broke it,
Break the bread

 and shared it with his friends, inviting them to eat.

We remember…
Jesus poured a cup of wine,
Pour the wine

gave thanks, and shared it with his friends,
inviting them to drink.  (Iona)

Bread broken.
Cup full.

May the Spirit within us
All  be a source of healing and consolation.
May the Spirit within us
All  strengthen us when we feel weak,
warm us when we are cold-hearted,
bend us when we are stubborn,
move us when we are uncaring,
guide us in the way of love.

May the Spirit within us
All  shine in all we do.  (Margie Abbott/soc)

Communion
By eating this bread and drinking this wine
we become one in hope.
The bread and the wine will be served by intinction from four areas around the Celebration space
When all have elected to receive...

Sharing 'The Peace
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 The people stand as they are able, to sing
The Day Will Come, Must Come…
(Tune: ‘O Waly Waly 2’)     101 WNC
The day will come, must come, and soon
when we will sing a song of joy
with sisters, brothers, not like us,
who share the image of one God.

Whatever name, which ever faith,
at heart we share a common bond,
a shared humanity in God,
whose name and character is love.

OR

A ‘progressive hymn from the 18th century…
Awake my Soul, Stretch Every Nerve(Tune: ‘Christmas’, CM)    223 HCL
Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigor on!
A heav’nly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown.

A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey:
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge they way!

Words of Blessing
As the sun in its shining brings glory
As the stars in the night scatter dark
As the moon gives us hope in its radiance
So may the light of God
fill your heart
and your mind
and your life.
All  
Amen. May it be so!

Hymn (Cont.)The Day Will Come, Must Come…” (Tune: ‘O Waly Waly 2’)   101 WNC
That love will drive us to the day
when every wall is broken down,
when love and joy and song are one:
that day will come, must come, and soon.  (Andrew Pratt. © Stainer & Bell)

OR

Awake my Soul, Stretch Every Nerve(Cont.) (Tune: ‘Christmas’, CM)    223 HCL
‘Tis God’s all-animating voice
That calls thee from on high;
‘Tis God’s own hand presents the prize
To thine aspiring eye.  (Philip Doddridge, 1702-1751)


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



Some of the Resources used in Shaping this Liturgy:
Abbott, M. Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for Seasonal use. Unley. MediaCom Education, 2001.
Falla, T. C. (ed). Be Our Freedom Lord. Responsive Prayers and Readings for Contemporary Worship. Revised edition. Adelaide. Open Books Publications, 1994.
Fox, M. One River, Many Wells. Wisdom Springing From Global Faiths. New York. Tarcher/Penguin Publishing, 2000.
Harrington, D. S. Outstretched Wings of the Spirit. On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious. Boston. UUA, 1980.
Holy Bible. NRSV. Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989.
(HCL)
Hymns for the Celebration of Life. Boston. Beacon Press, 1964.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2004.
McRae-McMahon, D.
Echoes of our Journey. Liturgies of the people. Melbourne. JBCE, 1993.
Morely, J.
All Desires Known. Expanded edition. London. SPCK, 1992.
Morwood, M.
Praying a New Story. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2003.
Prewer, B. D.
Australian Prayers. Adelaide. OpenBook Publishers, 1983.
Roberts, E. & E. Amidon.
Earth Prayers from Around the World. 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth. New York. HarperCollins, 1991.
Seaburg, C. (ed).
The Communion Book. Boston. UUMA, 1993.
Wild Goose Worship Group. Stages on the Way. Worship Resources for Lent, Holy Week & Easter. Glasgow. Iona Community, 1998.

Web sites/Other:
Lehman & Griffith. 'The Star Within'  Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis. <churchinfo@plymouth.org>  Originally by Michael Dowd & Conni Barlow.
Sherri Weinberg. 2004. St Paul's Presbyterian Church Web site. NZ: Devonport.
L Bruce Miller. 2005. Robertson-Wesley United Church. Edmonton, Canada.
Andrew Pratt.  "The Day will Come". Stainer & Bell Ltd. Web site:
hymns.uk.com  (Also published in: Pratt, A. Whatever Name or Creed. Hymns and Songs. London. Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2002
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. <http://www.questcentre.ca/>

rexae74@gmail.com