PalmA.9.4.2017

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, 2012.
Cards, Carols, and Claus. Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity. Preston: Mosaic Press, 2013.
• (Edited with John W Smith)
Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on ‘progressive’ Christianity. Salem: Polebridge Press, 2012.
• (Edited with John Smith)
New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians. Preston: Mosaic Press, 2013.
• (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

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LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
9 April 2017. Palm Sunday A. (Purple).

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) 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

The morning comes and now is!
Greet the day with gladness,
and welcome the evening with praise.

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Option 1. If using Liturgy of the Palms...
If not, go direct to Lighting of the Community Candle...

LITURGY OF THE BRANCHES
Introduction
For the past five weeks of the Season of Lent we have been preparing...
preparing for this moment in the story of Jesus' journey.
Now, we are one week from Easter!

Today is what has traditionally been called 'Palm Sunday'.
But you won’t hear about “palms” in this story from Matthew.
The Gospel of John, written several years later, is the only one that says
people waved 'palm' branches for Jesus.
Anyway...

This is the day on which, our tradition tells us,
Jesus entered Jerusalem, and just days before his death.
So I invite you to reflect on
some of the feelings associated with Holy Week.
(Pause)

Let’s imagine we have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
We begin by listening again to Matthew's story:
to Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, his own city,
to encourage the people to see
and experience God in new ways.

The Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 21:1-4, 6-11 (NRSV)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage,
at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately
you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her;
untie them and bring them to me.

‘If anyone says anything to you, just say this: The Lord needs them.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
they brought the donkey and the colt,
and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem,
the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
The crowds were saying,
“This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Silence

Gong sounded once
Reflection 1
v2  Jesus dared to live God’s way
in the midst of all the 'ups' and 'downs' of life.
We too are called to proclaim our faith faithfully
by the way we live, and treat one another.
Silence

Gong sounded a second time
Reflection 2
v3  Jesus wanted his disciples to live passionate,
justice seeking, God centred lives.
Silence

Gong sounded a third time
Reflection 3
v4  Jesus, as human face of God, shared his life
that others might sense the new signs of hope
in their everyday lives.
Silence

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
Creative Love”  (Tune: 'Truth from above’ LM)   289 SLT
Creative love, our thanks we give
that this our world, is incomplete,
that struggle greets our will to live,
that work awaits our hands and feet.

That we are not yet fully wise,
that we are in the making still -
as friends who share one enterprise
and strive to blend with nature's will.

What though the future long delay,
and still with faults we daily cope?
It gives us that for which we pray,
a field for toil and faith and hope.

Since what we choose is what we are,
and what we love we yet shall be,
the goal may ever shine afar -
the will to reach it makes us free (WdeW Hyde)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
We come together as a community of faith.
We have gathered to talk,
and listen to, and care for each other.
All  
We acknowledged this is a privileged time.

Here we share a new covenant of promise and hope.
Our fears melt into awe and wonder before God.
Our failures become opportunities for learning.
All So let us share and celebrate this life we live.

Act of Awareness
When, in the bursting forth of a new day's truths,
we feel the unbinding of what once stood fast,
might we recognise the freedom upon which
we are invited to embark
and feel ourselves released
into a future of goodness, truth, and beauty.

We open ourselves to this possibility
with love for the ground upon which we walk
and the stars for which we reach. (Gretta Vosper/wab)

OR

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

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. 
M S Milner/adapt
May it be so.

Hymn For the Music of Creation”     41 AA
For the music of creation,
for the song your Spirit sings,
for your sound's divine expression,
burst of joy in living things:
God, our God, the worlds composer,
hear us, echoes of your voice:
music is your art, your glory,
let the human heart rejoice!

Psalms and symphonies exalt you,
drum and trumpet, string and reed,
simple melodies acclaim you,
tunes that rise from deepest need,
hymns of longing and belonging,
carols from a cheerful throat,
lilt of lullaby and lovesong
catching heaven in a note.

All the voices of the ages
in transcendent chorus meet,
worship lifting up the senses,
hands that praise and dancing feet;
over discord and division
music speaks your joy and peace,
harmony of earth and heaven,
song of God that cannot cease! 
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.

CENTERING

Meditation
“Prayer of the Leaves”
By Andrew Hill

Trees of Earth
let bud your leaves
let them open wide
let them gently fall
in annual cycle.

Let fallen leaves make a soft bed for Jesus at his birth
and may leafy humus make renewal of our humanity.

Forgive us our inhumanity and
may your dark branches break forth into bud and leaf to Creation’s praise
again, and
again, and
again,
forever.

OR

Today we begin the walk to Jerusalem
The holy week
The demand that we face the darkness, the broken path, the abuse of power.

Today we walk toward the dayspring breaking through,
The Easter day of joy.

So let us join together
To see what holiness resides within and about us
To welcome in the day

And make straight the path for the work of God. (Adapt/Daniel Kanter)

Silence
Let silence be placed around us now, like a mantle.
During this quiet time may we move
from busy-ness to quietness...
(Silence)

May we look with gratitude upon this day,
for the beauty of the world,
for the first radiance of dawn
and the last smoldering glow of sunset.

May we be appreciative above all
for the countless other blessings present in our lives.
(Silence)

EXPLORING

Reading from our broad Religious Tradition
Some notes and a story from our broad religious tradition
shall be read by (NN) and (NN).

Reader:  May we be struck by the wisdom of these words
and marked by hearing them.
All For within story lies meaning, and
within meaning, the wisdom for which we seek
(GVosper/ab)

From the world around us:
“Cosmic Procession”
Bruce Sanguin. If Darwin Prayed/56-57

God of galaxies and gerbils,
and this 'gay great happening illimitably earth'
with great hope and celebration
we join the procession of life
en route to Jerusalem,
honouring the Christ,
in Jesus,
as alpha and omega.

The palm branches we throw down -
the royal carpet for His passing -
are our own lives,
offered as hallelujahs
that it has all come to this:

Fourteen billion years it has taken
to come to this One,
arriving as servant, though honoured as King;
as peasant, though Lord of Compassion;
no formal education, though born as Wisdom;
dormant in the stars, gestating in the pregnant Earth;
and through Mary, Mother of God.

What joy is ours as we take our place
in the great procession of life,
heralding and blessing
this One who comes in your name,
and all who are coming
with a song of holiness on their lips
and a yearning for wholeness in their hearts.

Blessed,
blessed,
blessed,
is this one who comes in your name!

(Do not use again if using Option 1 above)
Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 21:1-4, 6-11
(NRSV)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage,
at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately
you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her;
untie them and bring them to me.

‘If anyone says anything to you, just say this: The Lord needs them.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
they brought the donkey and the colt,
and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

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

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Litany: "Waving the Palms" (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

Palm Sunday is found:
Mn   whenever we are serving a noble and unpopular cause with selfless devotion,
holding to the ideals of truth and justice;

Wm   whenever we are seeking to uplift the fallen,
to comfort the broken-hearted,
to strengthen and encourage the weak and hopeless;

Mn   whenever we are working bravely and persistently
in the face of abuse and criticism
to establish more equitable relations in the world;

Wm   whenever we are sacrificing our lives on behalf on what we believe
to be the service of love for all humanity.

That is Palm Sunday.

Sharing 'The Peace'
This is a house of God.  A place of peace.
A place where we befriend one another.
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

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
God Is An Artist" (Tune: original available from author.)
God is an artist, Creator of earth,
Shaping a world of immeasurable worth.
We share in creation, a gift to us all;
As stewards we each must respond to God's call.

Blue skies and water and winter's white snows,
Big orange pumpkin and fragrant red rose.
The green fields of summer turn gold in the fall;
Our God is a painter whose brush touches all.

Rumble of thunder and gurgling brook,
Loon's call and lark's song, the cry of a rook.
The laugh of a babe or a cry of despair,
Our God is a singer who calls us to care.

Clouds moving swiftly and birds flying high,
Sun-sparkled water with fish swimming by;
Bright leaves twirling earthward as wind passes through,
Our God is a dancer who moves in us too.

God is an artist in colour and sound,
Spirit that fills us and spins us around.
We know that, as partners, we're called on to share
In serving creation and handling with care. © Gayle Simonson, 1999 All rights reserved

The Offerings
Let us bring our offerings as symbols of our ministry in this place.

The Presentation
We are sustained by a goodness and a graciousness
that gives us hope.
May these gifts be used to further the way of
love, hope, and justice in the world.

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 concerns shared.

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
May we have courage in uncertain times,
All Let it all happen.  No mood is final.
May we recognise new beginnings
in what seem to be endings,
All Let it all happen.  No feeling is final. (3C Exchange)

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 Care candle is lit

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)
Amen.

SCATTERING

Hymn 'Ride On, Ride On(Tune: ‘Ride on’)     24(v1-3) EOA
Ride on, ride on, the time is right:
The roadside crowds scream with delight;
Palm branches mark the pilgrim way
Where beggars squat and children play.

Ride on, ride on, the critics wait,
Intrigue and rumour circulate;
New lies abound in word and jest,
And truth becomes a suspect guest.

Ride on, ride on, while well aware
That those who shout and wave and stare
Are mortals who, with common breath,
Can crave for life and lust for death.
Remain standing

Parting Words
Time has now come for us to leave this sacred place.
As we do, may we embrace the challenges
of our lives and our world...
The Community Candle is extinguished

Remember this: within and all around us is our Source.
May we return to it, heed it, and honour it. 
Adapt/AMcKQuinn 

Words of Blessing
The peace of this ancient earth to you...
of the high blue heavens which embrace it,
and the winds which blow freely over it.

The peace of splintered light sparkling on gum leaves,
and gentle rain falling on parched earth.

The peace of star-jewelled skies and full-orbed moons,
of breathless dawns and splendid dying suns.

And the peace of the God of Peace to you.  Elizabeth Howie/grpe
All Amen!

Hymn (Cont) 'Ride On, Ride On(Tune: ‘Ride on’)     24(v4-6) EOA
Ride on, ride on, though blind with tears,
Though dumb to speak and deaf to jeers.
Your path is clear, though few can tell
Their garments pave the road to Hell.

Ride on, ride on, the room is let,
The wine matured, the saw is whet;
And dice your death-throes shall attend
Though faith, not fate, dictates your end.

Rise on, ride on, God's love demands.
Justice and peace lie in your hands.
Evil and angel voices rhyme:
This is the man and this the time. 
(John Bell)
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 the moment 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:
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa. Hymns and songs for all churches. 1993. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust. 
(EOA) Bell, J. & G. Maule. 1990. 
Enemy of Apathy. Wild Goose Songs Vol. 2. Revised edition. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
Binkley, C. G. & J. M. McKeel. 2001. 
Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals. An international curriculum on the life and teaching of Jesus. Santa Rosa. Polebridge Press.
(HoS)
 Hope is our Song. New hymns and songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. 2009. Palmerston North. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
Holy Bible. NRSV. 1989. Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Iona Community. 2001. 
Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
Liebelt, P. & N. Nicholls. (ed). 1996. 
Gentle Rain on Parched Earth. Worship resources for rural situations. Melbourne. JBCE.
Macnab, F. 1996.
Hope: The deeper longings of the mind and heart. Richmond. Spectrum Publications.
Sanguin, B. 2010.  
If Darwin prayed. Prayers for evolutionary mystics. Canada: Vancouver. ESC/Bruce Sanguin.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. 1993. Boston. UUA.
Vosper, G. We All Breathe. Poems and Prayers. Toronto: PostPurgical Resources, 2012.
Vosper, G. Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane: The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.

Web sites/Other:
Quinn, Milner, Hill, Kanter. UUA Worship Web. Boston. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Tom Hall. The Lord's Prayer. Published in The FourthR. Polebridge Press
C3 Exchange. <
 http://www.c3exchange.org/>
“Waving the Palms”. David O. Rankin. Dancing in the Empty Space. Reprinted from UUA Worship Web. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
"God is an Artist". Gayle Simonson. Contact author:  <kgsimons@telusplanet.net>  One of several non-theistic resources found at: http://stephen.srv.ualberta.ca/publications/non-theistic-liturgy-resources/ 

rexae74@gmail.com