EasterSunriseA.16.4.2017

Revd Rex A E Hunt

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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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LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
16 April 2017.  6.30am.
EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE IN A PARK OR WOODLANDS


Gathering

Silence

Acknowledgement of Country/First Peoples
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 Elders, past and present,
and their stewardship of this land
throughout the ages.

Welcome

Opening Sentences
Southern Hemisphere
This is the place and this is the time.
To see the world and the whole of life in a new light.
All  
That we might be filled with hope, and joy
and certainty for the future.

This is the place, as are all places:
Al l this is the time, as are all times.
Here and now

Northern Hemisphere
We seek life’s meaning in the wonder of morning
All  In the freshness of springtime,
And in each others hearts and minds.

Yet still we hope for something more,
A break in the ordinary,
An infusion of the unexpected,
An explosion of glory,
A miracle,
Revealing more than we hope to understand.  (Charles F Flagg)

The liturgy continues...
Today we celebrate the Spirit of Life over death.
We will light the fire, aware that the power of resurrection
has forever changed who we are,
and given us the courage to boldly proclaim a living faith.

Today we celebrate:
new life,
new joy,
new possibilities.
All  We give thanks for the Spirit of Life
visible in Jesus,
visible in us,
visible in people in all walks of life
.  (Michael Morwood/pns)

Recognising the Sacred
As we gather together in this season of Autumn and change,
let us also recognise that we gather
in the presence of the Spirit and Source of Life.
People face the North

v1  We turn to face the direction north
the season of summer and the element of water, for a blessing.
v2  The gift of the north is love,
for it speaks of great endurance.

The Spirit of Love teaches us the power of strength in adversity.
All  Spirit of Love
teach us the gentle power of strength in adversity.

Silence

People turn right and face the East
v1  We turn to face east, the direction of the rising sun,
the season of spring and the element of air, for a blessing.
v2  The gift of the east is truth,
for it speaks of the breath of new life on earth.

The Spirit of Truth teaches us to see clearly.
All  Spirit of Truth 
teach us to see new possibilities more clearly.

Silence

People turn right and face the South
v1  We turn to the south, the direction of winter
and the element of earth, for a blessing.
v2  The gift of the south is mystery,
for it speaks of the unknown, the unseen.

The Spirit of Mystery teaches us to be silent and to listen.
All  Spirit of Mystery
we ask you to teach us the gift of silence, and to listen.

Silence

The people turn right and face West
v1  We turn to the west the place of the setting sun, the season
of autumn and the element of fire, for a blessing.
v2  The gift of the west is beauty,
for it speaks of peace and serenity.

The Spirit of Beauty - above us, beside us, beneath us -
surrounds us at all times.
All  Spirit of Beauty
you surround us at all times,
at our beginnings and at our endings.

We gather together in this season of Autumn and change…
All  Holy! Holy! Holy!
Earth is filled with the presentness of God.

We discern the presentness of God in this sanctuary called Earth.
All A planet filled with this presence:
quivering in the forests,
vibrating in the land,
pulsating in the wilderness,
shimmering in the rivers.

The presentness of God is revealed in the face of all creation.
All  
Holy! Holy! Holy! 
Earth is filled with the presentness of God
.  (Norman Habel/adapted

Narrative 1
We have come to this special place, this year and in past years,
out of the busyness of the world.
From the noise and colour and frenzy around us.

Here we can gather together,
listening for the sounds that silence brings,
and the gentle murmurings that nature offers us.
And witness the breaking of a new day.

As we listen and as we watch,
let our minds wander, and our feet connect us to the earth.

Let us become conscious of our breathing...
Our breathing in and our breathing out... 
The rise and fall of our breath…

That we might wonder yet again at how God transforms us
with every breath we take.

Silence

Lighting of the fire
Let us light the fire.
Originated in Ireland in the sixth century. Symbolises the warming presence of God.

Sounds of Celebration
And let us listen to the sounds of celebration.
The sound of the bell, it was believed, calls the earth back into life, and announces the arrival of Easter

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Some reflections of faith as we celebrate Easter,
the season of change, shall now be read.

From the Celtic Tradition:
“A God for all Seasons”
By Kate Compston. Dare to Dream/31.

Springtime God,
coming alive within us like pale shoots
thrusting through frozen earth,
we need your persistent love
to disturb
the impacted soil of our hearts' rigidity.

Summer God,
growing luxuriously, blossoming with heady scents,:
holding us in your warm embrace,
we need these times of perceived presence
to draw upon in cooler seasons.

Autumn God,
falling and dying in Christ,
etched with the colours of vulnerability,
we need the fellowship of your wounds
to dignify our brokenness.

Winter God,
dormant and distant,
starkly challenging our self-absorption,
we need your austerity
to nudge us
into a warm compassion for your suffering ones.

OR

From the World around us:
“Easter is Breaking”
By Kathleen Rolenz.

Somewhere across the world,
Easter is breaking
not the Easter we may think of,
with arms upraised and "he is risen" echoing from canyons,
but a much quieter, less dramatic Easter.

Somewhere in the world - perhaps not this day, but some day soon,
a woman and a man rise from their beds,
shaking the sleep from their eyes,
and find their children already awake and
preparing for their morning prayers.
There has been no gunfire, no drug wars, no yelling or shouting or screaming,
only the quiet of the night and the peace of silence around them.

And somewhere in the world, perhaps not this morning, but soon, very soon
a soldier is packing his duffle bag,
has emptied out all his bullets,
is changing into civilian clothes,
and is coming home, for peace has long been established,
and there is no need for his presence.

And somewhere in the world, Easter dawn breaks over the earth,
not only on this day, but every day,
and the familiar pulse in our veins throbs of
"peace, peace, peace”.

Silence

From a Mystical Tradition:
“On Jesus…”
By Kahlil Gibran. Sand and Foam/77, 84

Once every hundred years
Jesus of Nazareth meets Jesus of the Christian
in a garden among the hills of Lebanon.

And they talk long;
and each time Jesus of Nazareth goes away
saying to Jesus of the Christian:
“My friend, I fear we shall never, never agree…”

There are three miracles of our Brother Jesus
not yet recorded in the book:
the first that he was [hu]man like you and me;
the second that he had a sense of humor;
the third that he knew he was a conquer though conquered.

Silence

From the Christian Tradition:
Gospel Luke 24:1, 5, 9  (Inclusive Text)

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn,
the women went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared.

Two figures in brilliant clothes
suddenly appeared at their side, and said:
Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?'

When the women - Mary of Magdala, Joanna,
and Mary the mother of James, and the other women -
returned from the tomb they told all this to the apostles...

Silence

Narrative 2
We listen, we watch, we wait...

In the cycle of seasons we come again to Easter.
Out of our hearts we feel the urge to new being -
to worship at the shrine of our hopes,
to gain perspective on our lives,
to reorder the chaos of our years,
to reflect on the way our hearts should go,
to reaffirm our deepest aspirations.

In the holy quiet we come:
we want peace and that quiet serenity born of insight,
we want beauty, the inner sanctuary of sounds and sights and air,
we want courage, the inner fortitude to live our own lives.

May we strive to be worthy of this great life
that out of the old brings forth the new.

Silence

A Celebration of Faith
v2 Let us now share together a celebration of faith.

We celebrate a God
All  who lives and speaks in the sunrise,
in dew-touched grass,
and fleeting butterflies.

We celebrate a Jesus
All  who honoured our humanness,
who climbed trees, skinned knees;
who laughed and cried,
loved and wept, bled and died.

We celebrate a Spirit,
All  who mystically joins us to people everywhere,
and incorporates us into Christ.

We celebrate a church,
All  seeking, however imperfectly,
to act justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with our God.
  (Adapted. Dorothy McRae-McMahon/eoj

OR

A Credo for Progressive Christians
We worship and adore God,
source, essence, and aim of all things,
spirit that enlivens all beings.

We follow the way of Jesus, who found God in himself
and shared a way for others to find God in themselves.
He was born through love,
He lived for love,
He suffered for love,
He died for love,
But love never dies.

We submit ourselves to the leadings of the love that is God,
that we may be compassionate to all beings,
that we may live and serve in community with others,
that we may ask for and offer forgiveness,
that we may praise and enjoy God forever.  (Jim Burklo/b&b)

Prayer/Reflection
We pray:
We believe that death is not the end,
but rather a transformation into new possibilities.

Nothing that exists is ever completely destroyed.
A star exploding
or a leaf falling:
both offer new possibilities and will 'live on'
in ways unknown to stars and leaves.

Winter gives way to Spring;
what seems lifeless now abounds with life,
new possibilities and delights.

We, too, experience new possibilities arising from our failures
or disappointments
or what has come to an end...

v2  We give thanks for all the influences in our lives
that have helped us see beyond the present
and have called us to live in hope and trust
whatever endings we have experienced.

We give thanks for the Spirit of New Life
active in our lives
as it was in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Amen. May it be so with us.  (Adapted. Michael Morwood/pns)

Narrative 3
Each of us has an important part to play in this world.
And part of that is to know we need each other.

In the spirit of the new and changed life we know as resurrection,
let us now give and receive a blessing.

Blessing the World
People of the Middle East,
angry and tired of being angry…
All  
God’s peace is for you.

People of Africa,
exploited and tired of being exploited…
All  God’s peace is for you.

People of South America,
silenced and tired of being silence…
All  God’s peace is for you.

People of Korea,
divided and tired of being divided…
All  God’s peace is for you.

People of Iraq,
fractured and tired of being factured…
All  God’s peace is for you.

People of Afganistan,
torn and tired of being torn…
All  God’s peace is for you.

People of the West,
privileged and tired of being privileged…
All  God’s peace is for you.
Other blessings may be offered

Song  (Optional)
"As Leaves that Softly Fall”  (Tune: HERE)
As leaves that softly fall to earth
We let go of hate and fear.
As autumn winds strip branches bare
We explore each smile and tear.
As seeds are spread both far and wide
We build hope and not despair.  (William L Wallace)

Blessing Each Other  Place your left hand on your neighbour's right shoulder
All  
May the blessing in the strength of the Brindabellas,
the calm of Lake Burley Griffin
the freshness of gum tree and wild flower
remain with you…

v1  May the stories of this day
inspire us in ways that bring us a hope-filled clarity
about who we are, what we can do,
what it is our lives might be about.
v2  And as we walk this dusty path,
may we see only
the love and passion of those who journey with us
and be inspired.   (Gretta Vosper/wab).
All are invited to light a candle from the Easter flame before you leave

oo0oo

Please share in hot buns, raisin loaf, and tea/coffee


Some of the resources used in shaping this liturgy:
Abbott, M. Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for Seasonal Use. Unley. MediaCom Education, 2001.
Burklo, J. Birdlike and Barnless: Meditations, Prayers, and Songs for Progressive Christians. Saint Johann Press, 2008.
Duncan, G. (ed). Dare to Dream. A Prayer and Worship Anthology from around the World. London. Fount/HarperCollins, 1995.
Gibran, K.
Sand and Foam. New York. Alfred A Knope, 1926.
Inclusive Readings. Year C. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2003.
Iona Community.
Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
McRae-McMahon, D.
Echoes of our Journey. Liturgies of the People. Melbourne. JBCE, 1993.
Morwood, M.
Praying a New Story. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2003.
Vosper, G.
We All Breathe. Poems and Prayers. Toronto: PostPurgical Resources, 2012.

Web sites/Other:
Flagg, Rolenz. UUA Worship Web. Boston. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Creation Liturgies. Norman Habel <http://seasonofcreation.com/>
"As Leaves that Softly Fall”. William L Wallace
From the Boundless Life collection

rexae74@gmail.com