Lent4A.26.3.2017

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


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.

Should you wish to read Reviews or Order/Purchase any,
or go to my Home Page.  Or contact me direct at:
rexae74@gmail.com


Suggestion: ’Refresh’ each page before reading - especially if you are using Google Chrome - to make sure to get my latest edition


LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE

26 March 2017. Lent 4A. (Purple).
Commissioning of a Lay Leader


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

Blessed be the changing seasons of our living.
Blessed be the reliable balancing act of nature.
Blessed be the rededication of values and meaning of life.

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
God Who Carved... Landscape” 
(Tune: ‘Dansey’).     31 FFS
God who carved this timeless landscape,
snow-clad ridge to valley plain,
power of surging race and river,
limestone crag and scarred terrain;
maker still of earth, fire, water,
artistry of sight and sound,
Southern lights and sunset splendour,
raise our eyes and you are found.

Calendar of nature's balance,
rhythms of the farming year,
shearing, milking, ploughing, pruning,
manger setting ever near!
lonely struggle in the byways,
nor'west dust or snow and flood,
fellowship of tears and laughter:
Lord, with you, we're understood.

Giving thanks for those before us,
village life and tussock track,
as we turn to face the future,
history's wind upon our back;
scattered are our congregations,
each now shares in ministry,
bonding strength of work together:
spirit of community.  (D
oug Grierson)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
We are people of faith.
We are called to listen for the wind;
to encounter the Spirit.
All  
Who will tell us what God wants us to do?

Our pioneers in the faith dared to trust God;
they left all to follow a call and a promise.
All  Where is it that God wants to lead us?

We have received the promise of steadfast love.
All  
God has blessed us, and our hearts are glad.

Act of Awareness
We come together in this hour...
in a wider search for truth and purpose.

In this quest, may we
greet one another with open hearts and minds;
inspire each other to consider new questions
and seek deeper meaning;
and cultivate both wisdom and compassion.

Let all who enter this sacred place
find comfort in this community.

OR

We pray:
Awesome and gracious God,
you who are the power that brings us to life
and the spirit that sustains us.

May we become what is in our power to become.
May it be so.

Hymn Here in the Busy City”  166 AOV2
Here in the busy city 
now let the church be seen
where lesser gods are worshipped
in money and machine;
where news is but sensation,
the Good News hardly heard
now let the church take action
in living out the word!

In policies and planning
the church be there to speak
to moderate the powerful,
to argue for the weak:
where law must sit in judgement
and love is little known,
there at the crisis centre
the Christ concern be shown.

Where litter chokes the gutter
and people go to waste,
where joblessness is bitter
and living lost its taste
to underlevened people
be proof of rising yeast,
in lives devoid of flavour
be saltiness released!

Here in the busy city
 God walks on every street
 in generous or greedy,
 the honest or the cheat,
 and daily we must offer
 the good that goes unpriced
 with vigour and with vision
 the lifestyle of the Christ.  (Shirley 
Erena Murray)

OR

Of the Mulitude of Words”  (Tune:  ‘Vienna’, 77 77)    16 TMT
Of the multitude of words
held within the Bible's wall,
some bring life and some spread death,
some can liberate us all.

Should our use of sacred words
put all other views to flight?
Does our inner certainty
justify abuse of might?

Are our ways of using strength
open for the world to see?
Do they hide behind the texts
masking our transparency?

Loving God, the source of truth,
help us clearly to discern
what brings death and what brings life,
life for which our spirits yearn.

Then O God of spirit life,
we shall live with openness,
giving all the right to be
their true selves with graciousness.  (William L Wallace)
The people sit

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.

CENTERING

Silence
Come apart from the busyness of family and work,
and dwell in the presentness of God
who is our source of being.
(Silence)

May the silence which we now share
quieten us,
touch our need,
refresh our courage,
enlarge our wonder.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

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

The ‘Earth’ Story (Part 4):
What do you see?
What do you see when you look up at the sky at night at the blazing stars against the midnight heavens?
What do you see when the dawn breaks over the eastern horizon?
What are your thoughts in the fading days of summer as the birds depart on their southward journey,
or in autumn when the leaves turn brown and are blown away?
What are your thoughts when you look out over the ocean in the evening?
What do you see…

We have lost our connect to this other deeper reality of things.
Consequently, we now find ourselves on a devastated continent where nothing is holy, nothing is sacred.
We no longer have a world of inherent value, no world of wonder, no untouched, unspoiled, unused world.
We think we have understood everything. But we have not.
We have used everything.
By ‘developing’ the planet, we have been reducing Earth to a new type of barrenness.
Scientists are telling us that we are in the midst of the sixth extinction period in Earth’s history.
No such extinction of living forms has occurred since the extinction of the dinosaurs some sixty-five million years ago.  (Thomas Berry)

Traditional Gospel:
John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 33-34  
(Inclusive Text)

Jesus went along and saw a man blind from birth.
Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with the spittle,
put this over the eyes of the blind man, and said,
“Go and wash in the pool of Siloam'.

So the blind man went off and washed,
and came away with sight restored.

The neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging, said,
'Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?'
Some said, 'Yes, it is the same one.'
Others said, 'No, he only looks like him.'
The man said, 'I am the one…'

They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees.
It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste 
and opened the man's eyes,
so when the Pharisees asked how he had come to see, he said,
'The one they call Jesus put paste on my eyes,
and I washed and I can see.'

Then some of the Pharisees said,
'This Jesus can not be from God: he does not keep the sabbath.'

Others said, 'How could a sinner produce signs like this?'
And there was disagreement among them.

So they spoke to the blind man again,
'What do you have to say about this Jesus yourself,
now that he has opened your eyes?'
'He is a prophet', replied the man.

'Are you trying to teach us,' they replied, ‘and you a sinner
through and through, since you were born!'
And they drove the man away.

OR

John 9:1-7 (An Adaptation)
By Helen Garton. Courage to Love/223

As he went on his way he saw a woman who had been gay from birth.
His disciples asked him:
‘Rabbi, whose sin caused her to be lesbian?
Hers or her parents’ sin?’

Jesus answered:
’Neither she nor her parents sinned;
she was born that way so that God’s work might be revealed in her.
While the day lasts, we must carry on the work of God; night is coming,
when no one can work. While I am in the world I am the light of the world.’

With these words, he spat on the ground and made a paste with the spittle;
he spread it on the disciples’s eyes and immediately
her pain eased and she was able to be herself.

Contemporary Exploration
• A Sermon suitable for this day can be found in my book, Against the Stream. Progressive Christianity Between Pulpit and Pew.

Something for EARTH Hour...
http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=39198#.UzshR_S1aJU

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

An Affirmation of Peace and Justice  (Optional)
In response to the Word reflected on, let us stand and share together
an affirmation written by some people in Indonesia.
The people stand as they are able

All  I believe in God, who is love and who has given the earth to all people.
I believe in Jesus Christ, who came to heal us
and to free us from all forms of oppression.
I believe in the Spirit of God,
who works in and through all who are turned to towards the truth.
I believe in the community of faith,
which is called to be at the service of all people.

v1  I do not believe in the right of the strongest,
nor the force of arms, nor the power of oppression.
v2  I believe in human rights, in the solidarity of all people,
in the power of non-violence.
v3  I do not believe in racism,
in the power that comes from wealth and privilege,
or in any established order that enslaves.

v4  I believe that all men and women are equally human,
that order based on violence and injustice is not order.
v5  I do not believe that war and hunger are inevitable and peace unattainable.
v6  I believe in beauty of simplicity,
in love with open hands, in peace on earth.
All  I do not believe that suffering needs to be in vain,
that death is the end, that the disfigurement of the world
is what God intended.

But I dare to believe always and in spite of everything,
in God’s power to transform and transfigure,
fulfilling the promise of a new heaven and a new earth
where justice and peace will flourish. 
 Adapted from an Indonesian creed/dd

COMMISSIONING OF LAY LEADER  (Optional)
Lay leader comes forward

The Story
Once upon a time, in the beginning,
a labour of love and outreach was undertaken.

And a place was established where all persons might find
space and hospitality and inclusion.
And it was called (NN).

And the labour of love progressed.
And it grew.
And it was very good.
All  We are an inclusive community of people
who seek together to discern the transforming presence of God
in the world and in our own lives,
and to respond to that discovery through
worship, mission, hospitality, conversation and care.

The Ministry
For several years now (NN) has served this congregation
as its (Urban Community Worker/Other)
As a result, (NN Congregation) has become very well known and respected
in the local communities we serve.

But time has come to reshape that work,
and Church Council has now given it a new focus
through the recently established (NN) Wellbeing Centre/Other.

(About the new venture…)
The Centre is a holistic response to health and well-being for people of all ages.  
And it seeks to make this response through the supply of extra support
for parents, families, older people, and carers,
 by being both a safe place, as well as providing
 useful information and practical living skills, to all.

The role of Manager will be to work with our Centre tenants
encouraging them to join with us
in promoting existing and new outreach activities,
thus enriching the lives of all who come to this place.

Today we commission (NN) to this new work
as Manager, NN Wellbeing Centre.
The people stand

Commissioning Prayer
v1  We pray remembering God prays within us:
We give thanks for all those who, over the years,
have offered care and hospitality and outreach,
as part of this inclusive community called (NN) Congregation.

May they all continue to be blessed with God's love and care.

This day we also give thanks for (NN):
for the community work s/he has done in the past,
and for the new tasks set before her/him today as
Manager, (NN) Wellbeing Centre.

May s/he be blessed with God’s love and care.
May we always be prepared to offer our support to her/him,
that s/he may never feel alone in her/his challenging work.

v2  And the labourers looked at all that had been accomplished,
and the people rejoiced, for it was very good.
Amen.

Sharing 'The Peace'
This is a house of God.  A place of peace.
A place where we befriend one another.  
(Mitchell & Ricciuti/bb)
Let us greet another as a sign of God's peace and of our shared friendship.

The peace of God is here... to stay. (Iona)
All Thanks be to God.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours, and with (NN)

Hymn  People stand as they are able, to sing
God’s Word, God’s World”  (Tune: ‘The Streets of Laredo’ - trad.)
Come people of faith from the bounds of Australia,
let’s share in the vision of what we might be:
a part of God’s world that is vibrant with colour,
a landscape for life that is open and free.

God’s world has one table for all kinds of people, 
God's world is a home all are welcome inside,
God's way is the way beyond stigma and dogma, 
God's Spirit the surfboard that dares us to-ride.

God's Word is alive in the challenge of Jesus: 
to look with his eyes at the world that we know, 
to stand with conviction, to care with compassion, 
to make new connections, to pray as we go.

Let's relish the changes the Word rearranges, 
 with bushfires of bias stamped out from the start,
 let's savour the flavour of full-bodied living,
 the world of Christ Jesus, the way of the heart.  (Shirley Erena Murray)

OR

Praise Death and Birth amid the Stars  (Tune: ‘Lasst Uns Erferuen’, 88 88 Alleluia)
Praise birth and death amid the stars
Whence came all atoms that we
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise cosmic temporality
Each moment precious as can be
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Praise birth and death upon this Earth
Rejuvenation and rebirth
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise beauty, rise, and then depart
Fullness of spirit, breaking heart
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!  (Connie Barlow)

CELEBRATING

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

Presentation
In a world so full of what is wonderful,
ever changing, ever surprising us with life’s
power and beauty, may we accept with gratitude,
all that gladdens us, and with fortitude
all that brings us grief.

Let us be learning always,
from all that we see and do, and
from all that happens to us.  (Adapt.A Powell Davies/lth)

With the Children
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 Celebrations; Griefs 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 Abba/Lord's Prayer in your original language, as that is appropriate

All  Eternal Spirit
Source of all that is and ever shall be,
Loving Parent in whom we discern heaven,
May knowledge of your holiness inspire all peoples.

And may your commonwealth of peace and freedom
flourish on earth, until all of humankind
heed your call to justice and compassion.

May we find the bread that we need for today.
And for the hurts we cause one another
may we be forgiven in the same measure
that we forgive.

In times of trial and temptation, help us to be strong;
When life seems overwhelming, help us to endure;
And thus from the yoke of sin deliver us.

May you reign in the power of human love,
Now and forever.  
(Tom Hall)

SCATTERING

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
We Laugh, We Cry” 
(Tune: ‘Credo’, Irreg.)     354 (v1-2) SLT
We laugh, we cry, we live, we die;
we dance, we sing our song.
We need to feel there’s something here
to which we can belong.
We need to feel the freedom
just to have some time alone.
But most of all we need close friends
we can call our very own.

And we believe in life,
and in the strength of love;
and we have found a need to be together.
We have our hearts to give,
we have our thoughts to receive;
and we believe that sharing is an answer.

A child is born among us and
we feel a special glow.
We see time’s endless journey
as we watch the baby grow.
We thrill to hear
imagination freely running wild.
We dedicate our minds and hearts
To the spirit of this child.

And we believe in life,
and in the strength of love;
and we have found a time to be together.
And with the grace of age,
we share the wonder of youth;
and we believe that growing is an answer.
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

Take off your shoes:
All  Hear a word that leads to danger.
The ground on which you stand is holy ground.

Go speak a word:
All  Challenge lies that mean oppression.
The world in which you live is God’s domain.

Come travel on:
All  Leave a past which wants to bind you.
The place towards which you go is promised land. 
GAinger/dd

Words of Blessing
The blessing of God:
star maker, friend maker, wisdom maker,
make and remake you
in the image of God.  
(Ruth Burgess/bb)
All  Amen! May it be so!

Hymn (Cont)We Laugh, We Cry” (Tune: ‘Credo’, Irreg.)    354 (v3-4) SLT
Our lives are full of wonder and
our time is very brief.
The death of one among us
fills us all with pain and grief.
But as we live, so
shall we die and when our lives are done
the memories we shared with friends,
they will linger on and on.

And we believe in life,
and in the strength of love;
and we have found a place to be together.
We have the right to grow,
we have the gift to believe;
that peace within our living is an answer.

We seek elusive answers to
the questions of this life.
We seek to put an end to
all the waste of human strife.
We search for truth,
equality, and blessed peace of mind.
And then, we come together here,
to make sense of what we find.

And we believe in life,
and in the strength of love;
and we have found a joy being together.
And in our search for peace,
maybe we’ll finally see;
even to question, truly, is an answer. 
(Shelly Jackson Denham)
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:
(AOV2) As One Voice2. Uniting God's People in Song. Manly Vale. Willow Connection.
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, 2001.
Burgess, R.
A Book of Blessings. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
Davies, A. P. The Language of the Heart. A Book of Prayers. Washington, DC. All Soul’s Church, 1956.
Duncan, G. (ed). Courage to Love. An Anthology of Inclusive Worship Material. Norwich: The Canterbury Press, 2002.
Duncan, G. (ed). Dare to Dream. A Prayer and Worship Anthology from Around the World. London. Fount/HarperCollins, 1995.
(FFS) Faith forever singing. Songs for a New Day. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2000. 
(HoS) Hope is our Song. New Hymns and Songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North. The New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2009.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2004.
Iona Community. 2001. Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
Mitchell, R. C. & G. A. Ricciuti. Birthings and Blessings. Liberating Worship Services for the Inclusive Church. New York. Crossroads, 1992.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Vosper, G. 2009/2010. Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane.(TMT) Wallace, W. L. The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston. Selah Publishing, 2001.

Web sites,/Other etc:
(General) UUA Worship Web. Boston. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Tom Hall. "The Lord's Prayer". Direct form the author. (Also published in The Fourth 4).
“God’s Word, God’s World”
Shirley Erena Murray. Direct from the author.
Connie Barlowwww.thegreatstory.org/songs.html  (Songs and Hymns of the Universe)

rexae74@gmail.com