Plural.Easter4A.7.5.2017

Revd Rex A E Hunt

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LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
7 May 2017. Easter 4A. (White).
Pluralism Sunday

Celebrating Community: Sacrament of Holy Communion


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

We gather here to celebrate life's beauty and find healing for its pain;
to honour our kinship with each other and with the earth,
and to be inspired to create a more compassionate world,
beginning with ourselves.  (Gary Kowalski/adapt)

So 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
Progressive Hymn”  (Tune: 'Marching', 87 87)
When life juggles with our learning,
with the things we thought secure,
then it seems the artist’s palette
spins and faith becomes obscure.

In the wash of different colours,
as we seek for shape and form,
others paint their faith by numbers
forcing God to fit some norm.

But when life has torn the canvas,
when the numbers twist and slip;
then we need to find an image
that will help our hope to grip:

holding us, when we're past holding,
grounding when we're insecure,
till we find a faith, not drifting,
still dynamic, free, yet sure.  (© Andrew Pratt 28/5/2010)

OR

Celebrate All Human Beauty”  (Tune: Nettleton’, 87 87D)
Celebrate all human beauty
caught in colour, form and face,
celebrate the human body
made to move with speed and grace.

Celebrate the human spirit
leaping high to reach a goal,
celebrate our Maker's wisdom
crafting body, mind and soul.

Celebrate our own endeavours
to achieve and to arrive
over handicap and hurdle
when against ourselves we strive,

iron will and summoned courage
sweeping obstacles aside,
sweating out our inner conflict
to acquit ourselves with pride.

Sport and faith both speak a language
universal, sensed and known;
where there's shared exhilaration,
new community is grown,

friendship found in common focus,
effort turned to common goal,
honouring our maker's purpose,
health in body, mind and soul.  (Shirley Erena Murray/sco)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
To celebrate life is to stand in awe under a heaven of stars,
before a flower, a leaf in sunlight
or a grain of sand.
All 
To celebrate life is to sing with the singing beauty of the earth.
To pause, to be silent... and receptive.  (JTrapp/adapted)

Act of Awareness
Marvel at life!
Strive to know its ways!
Seek wisdom and truth,
the gateways
to life’s mysteries!
Wondrous indeed is life! (Adapt. Rabbi Rami M Shapiro/ep)

OR

We pray:
May the Spirit of Wisdom comfort and inspire us.
The symbols of life are all around us:
light and noise,
infants and adults,
birds and animals,
colours and movement,
words of goodwill, songs of joy.

May we recognise and renew these symbols of life everyday;
and be inspired to share them generously.
May it be so.

HymnFlower of Compassion”  (Words & Music by Bret Hesla)
Flower of Compassion,
bloom in every heart,
bloom in every heart,
bloom in every heart.

Blossom of Love,
draw us all together,
draw us all together,
draw us all together.

Gentle Fragrance,
drift over all borders,
drift over all borders,
drift over all borders.

OR

"He Came Singing Love" (Tune: ‘Singing Love’)    59 AA
He came singing love
and he lived singing love;
he died singing love.
He arose in silence.
For the love to go on
we must make it our song:
you and I be the singers.

He came singing faith
and he lived singing faith;
he died singing faith.
He arose in silence.
For the faith to go on
we must make it our song:
you and I be the singers.

He came singing hope
and he lived singing hope;
he died singing hope.
He arose in silence.
For the hope to go on
we must make it our song:
you and I be the singers.

He came singing peace
and he lived singing peace;
he died singing peace.
He arose in silence.
For the peace to go on
we must make it our song:
you and I be the singers.  (Colin Gibson)
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 with Many Voices
"The Gift”
By Zam Walker. Timeless Prayers for Peace/114.

v1  God grant us the gift of dreaming:
v2  The dream of a world enjoying its extraordinary colour and beauty;
not viewing life through tunnel-vision, grey-tinted spectacles.
v3  The dream of breadth and variety in glorious harmony;
not definition through division, prejudice and ignorance.
v4  The dream of acceptance and inclusion;
not judgement and exclusion.
v5  The dream of your love and humour;
not our idolatry and self-righteousness.
v6  The dream of 'we might'; not 'we can not’.

(Silence)

v1  God give us the vision and imagination to dream
and enable us to make the dream a reality.

OR

Breathe with me
Breathe with me—the breath of life
Inhale, Inspire, Inspiration,
Ruacḥ, Pneuma, Spiritus, the Holy Spirit
the many names for breath.

Breathe with me.
Know that with each breath we take in molecules of air
that were breathed by every person that ever lived.

Breathe with me,
and breathe the breath of Jesus, of Moses,
of Mohammed, of the Buddha.

Breathe with me,
and know that we are all interdependent,
that the spirit of life
flows through us all.

Breathe with me,
as we come together to do the holy work
of interconnection and relationship,
that our work here may be blessed.  (Matt Alspaugh/uua-ww)

Silence
We come now into the silence of this place
with gratitude for this day.
(Silence)

We come with our needs.
And we come because we have gifts to share.
In our coming and in our going
may we be strengthened
in our bonds of love and peace.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

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

Reader: Into this day will break moments of awareness,
tiny shards of light that illumine
the whole reality of existence.
All  
May these readings be such a moment
and may we be blessed by their gift.  (Gretta Vosper/ab)

Celtic Spirituality:
"Soul... and Imagination”
John O'Donohue.
Anam Cara/183

The soul... is the place where the imagination lives.
The imagination is the creative forces in the individual.

It always negotiates different thresholds and
releases possibilities of recognition and creativity
which the linear, controlling, external mind will never even glimpse.

The imagination works on the threshold that runs between
light and dark,
visible and invisible,
quest and question,
possibility and fact.

The imagination is the great friend of possibility.
Where the imagination is awake and alive
fact never hardens or closes but remains open,
inviting you to new thresholds of possibility and creativity.

Sufi Mysticism:
"Divine Dancing”
Rumi, Sufi mystic

When you dance
the whole universe dances.

The world dances around the Sun.
The morning light breaks,
Spinning up with delight.

How could anyone
Touched by your love
Not dance like a weeping willow?

Today I spin wildly
throughout the city;
I am the cup-bearer,
My head is the cup.
Perhaps a scholar will see me
and drop his books.
Perhaps the world will see me
and forget all its sorrows.

Hymn  In solidarity with those for whom standing is not easy or possible we will remain seated to sing
Children of the Human Race”  (Tune: ‘Aberystwyth’, 77 77D)     302 SLT
Children of the human race,
off-spring of our Mother Earth,
not alone in endless space
has our planet given birth.

Far across the cosmic skies
countless suns in glory blaze,
and from untold planets rise
endless canticles of praise.

Should some sign of others reach
this, our lonely planet Earth,
differences of form and speech
must not hide our common worth.

When at length our minds are free,
and the clouds of fear disperse,
then at last we’ll learn to be
Children of the Universe.  (John A Storey)

OR

When Evenings Shorten(Tune: ‘Cavell Street’)  147 HoS
When evenings shorten and grow cool,
as grapes turn purple on the vine,
as golden grain is safely stored,
we see again our Easter sign.

As daisies fade along the hill,
and bush birds come to us for food,
in rain, or mist or bitter chill
we see again our Easter sign.

As trees grow bare, we see the trace
of life’s new buds along the bough.
We do not need to wait for spring;
we see again our Easter sign.

So let the southern Church rejoice!
As colour flames from hill and plain
so let us sing with hearts of joy:
we see again our Easter sign.  (Shirley Smith/adapted)

OR

From an earlier era:
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes  (Tune: ‘Bourdillon’, 75 85 Irreg.)   164 HCL
The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of the whole life dies
When love is done.  (Francis William Bourdillon, 1890)

Unitarian:
“To Risk”
Anonymous. Singing the Living Tradition/658

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk
exposing our true self.
To place our ideas - our dreams -
before the crowd is to risk loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.
To live is to risk dying

OR

Traditional Gospel:
John 10:1-2, 7-10.  
(Inclusive Text)

Jesus said,
'I tell you most solemnly,
anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate,
but gets in some another way is a thief and a brigand.

The one who enters through the gate
is the shepherd of the flock…

'I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold.
All others who come are thieves and brigands;
but the sheep took no notice of them.

'I am the gate.  Anyone who enters through me will be safe:
they will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.

'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.'

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Litany:  ‘Sometimes We Wonder’ (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

v1   The creation is alive with the glory of God,
yet sometimes we wonder.
All  
After the music has died away and
we are faced with the challenges of a new day –
sometimes we wonder…

v1   Wonder whether we have the heart to keep going.
All   The way ahead seems unclear
and so much is changing around and within us…

v2   Sometimes we wonder whether we have the imagination to keep hoping.
All   When the pain and struggles of our hurting world
catch at our throats and draw us into despair…

Wm  
Then into our weariness new life is breathed.
Mn   Into our helplessness fresh dreams are poured.
All   And we rise upon wings like eagles.
We run and no longer feel tired.
Thanks be to God.  (Unknown and adapted)

Sharing ‘The Peace’
Let us take a moment to celebrate each other.

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

Hymn  People stand as they are able, to sing
God of Diversity(Tune: ‘Margaret’. By Colin Gibson)   40 HoS
God of diversity, vibrant creation
is bursting with signs of extravagant joy.
In riot of blossom, in species unnumbered
we see that all difference is ours to enjoy.

God of diversity, nations and cultures
tell of the richness life offers to all.
In language and symbol, in story and doctrine
we clothe our experience, respond to your call.

God of diversity, humans embody
the interdependence of ear, eye and hand;
we struggle to learn, in this globe-become-village,
our need of each other in every land.

God of diversity, help us to honour
our different perspectives on things that are true,
as, knowing more deeply the God in Christ Jesus,
we learn how to worship with all who love you.  (Margaret Bond)

OR

O Beauty Ever Ancient”  (Tune: ‘Manor Place’, Colin Gibson)     107 HoS
O beauty ever ancient,
O beauty ever new,
divine and Holy Presence
my being sings to you
Refrain:
in gratitude,
in worship,
my being sings to you!

O beauty in creation,
in world of sound and sight,
O beauty in the silence,
in darkness as in light,
Refrain:
in gratitude,
in worship,
my being sings to you!

O beauty that is movement
in liquid line of grace,
O beauty that is stillness
in love form or face,
Refrain:
in gratitude,
in worship,
my being sings to you!

O beauty of the Spirit
where love is shining through,
O beauty ever ancient,
O beauty ever new,
Refrain:
in gratitude,
in worship,
my being sings to you!  (Shirley Erena Murray)

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 safe space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Celebrations; Griefs and Concerns shared

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
In the light and beauty of day
All  
We give thanks in awe and wonder.
In the dark and stillness of night
All   We dream of healing and hope.  (Gretta Vosper/wwg)

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, and in your original language, as that is appropriate

All   Most compassionate Life-giver,
may we honour and praise you:
may we work with you to establish
your new order of
justice, peace and love.

Give us what we need for growth,
and help us, through forgiving others,
to accept forgiveness.

Strengthen us in the time of testing,
that we may resist all evil.
For all the tenderness,
strength and love are yours, now and forever.
Amen.  (William L. Wallace)

CELEBRATING

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
Welcome to the Table
v1   At this table we give thanks for
justice, love, peace and freedom.
Mn  
At this table we give thanks for friends and strangers
together in community in this safe place
.
Wm  
At this table we welcome old and young.

v2   A place at the table.  And all are invited.

Offerings
We bring our gifts for ministry and celebration in this place,
and in the wider world.

Presentation
In hope and thanksgiving we offer these gifts of money, bread and wine.
May they be the necessary nutrients of
a new creation,
an Easter re-formation.

Thanksgiving
We give thanks for the unfolding of matter,
mind,
intelligence,
and life
that has brought us to this moment in time.

Gifts from an Easter God.
All   We celebrate our common origin with everything that exists.

v1   We celebrate the mystery we experience and address as ‘God’,
ground and sustainer of everything that exists,
in whom we live and move and have our being.
v2   And we acknowledge this mystery embodied
in every human person,
aware that each one of us gives God
unique and personal expression.
All  
God is everywhere present.

In grace-filled moments of sharing.
In carefully created communities of loving solidarity.
v1   We are one with everything, living and nonliving, on this planet.
Connected.
Interrelated.
Interdependent.
v2   Webs of life within a web of life!

The Story
We remember the stories from our tradition...

How on many occasions Jesus would share a meal with friends.
Bread and fish and wine shared in community.
v2   For everyone born, a place at the table...

How the bread would be taken,
a blessing offered, and then shared between them.
And all of them ate.

v1   How some wine would be poured out,
a blessing offered, and then passed between them.
And all of them drank.

v2   The bread and the wine symbolised human lives
interconnected with other human lives,
and the power of giving and receiving.
v1   May the passion for life as seen in Jesus,
and in the lives and struggles of many other
committed and faithful people then and now,
enable us to dare and to dream and to risk…
All  
Together may we re-imagine the world.

v2   Together may we work to make all things new.
All   Together may we celebrate the possibilities and hope
we each have and are called to share.

v2   For everyone born, a place at the table...

Bread and Wine
Bread is broken after each response OR at each 'We break...'

We break the bread for the broken earth,
ravaged and plundered for greed.
All  
May there be healing of our beautiful blue and green planet.

We break this bread for our broken humanity,
for the powerful and the powerless
trapped by exploitation and oppression.
All  
May there be the healing of humanity.

We break this bread for those who follow other paths:
for those who follow the noble path of the Buddha,
the yogic path of the Hindus;
the way of the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs;
and for the children of Abraham and Sarah and Hagar,
the Jews, and the Muslims.
All  
May there be healing where there is pain and woundedness.

We break this bread
for the unhealed hurts and wounds
that lie within us all.
All  
May we be healed.

Wine is poured into the cup
This is the cup of peace and of new life for all.
A sign of love for the community of hope.
All  
A reminder of the call
to live fully,
to love wastefully, and
to be all that we can be.

Communion
To eat and drink together reminds us
of the deeper aspects of human fellowship,
for from time immemorial
the sharing of bread and wine
has been the most universal of all symbols of community.
People invited to move to the four corners of the space where the Bread and Wine will be served

(This liturgy for Holy Communion has been shaped from resources created by and adapted from: Carter Heyward, L Bruce Miller, Michael Morwood, Shirley Erena Murray, David Bumbaugh, John S Spong, Rex Hunt, the Iona Community, and was first celebrated some years ago at The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra ACT, Australia.)

SCATTERING

"People Are God's Language" (Tune: 'Ellers', 10 10 10 10 10. 301 RCH)   71(1-2) SNS2
People are language through whom God can speak;
Heard by the list'ners, found by those who seek;
Heard in a whisper, never in a roar;
Heard in compassion, not through formal law.

People are language through whom God can care
With words of comfort when we see despair;
Spoken in kindness, yet with certainty;
Heard with delight when calming misery.

OR

Embrace This Life"  (Tune: ‘Sine Nomine’, 10 10 10 with hallelujahs)
Embrace this life and all its wondrous days,
let go of fear that in our heart betrays
the joy of life, the beauty and the praise.
Hallelujah, hallelujah.

When truth becomes the gospel that we spread,
it lifts the shadows of our deepest dread;
with honest words our hearts are richly fed.
Hallelujah, hallelujah.
Remain standing

Parting Words
Let us embrace the wonder of this week
with expectation and imagination…
The Community Candle is extinguished

With hope and wisdom
All   Living God, inspire us.
With compassion and involvement
All   Living God, inspire us.
With openness and love
All  
Living God, inspire us.
With courage to face the reality and complexity of life
All   Living God, inspire us.  (Richard Watson/cl)

Words of Blessing
May the freshness of the dawn enliven our spirits
May the rising of the sun enlighten our minds
May the noon-tide of the day warm our hearts
May the sunset clothe us with restfulness.  (William L. Wallace/wb)
All   Amen! May it be so!

Hymn (cont)  "People Are God's Language" (Tune: 'Ellers', 10 10 10 10 10. 301 RCH).  71 (v3-4) SNS2
People are language through whom God can plead
For peace and mercy, for the ones in need;
Spoken in strength, with poise and dignity,
Calling for justice and for liberty.

Sharing of love with acts of gentleness,
Sharing the load with deeds of thoughtfulness,
We can ensure the message can be heard;
For we are language of God's living word.  (George Stuart).

OR

Embrace This Life" (Tune: ‘Sine Nomine’, 101010 with hallelujahs)
The strength of truth creates a warming light
of peace and freedom, born when things are right;
an honest heart expands our inward sight.
Hallelujah, hallelujah.

Give thanks for truth that opens ways to care,
to ease the struggles and the pain we bear;
the way of truth improves the lives we share.
Hallelujah, hallelujah (© Peggy McDonagh, 2004. All Rights Reserved)
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:
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa. Hymns and Songs for all Churches. Raumati: New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1993.
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.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Timeless Prayers for Peace. Voices Together from Around the World. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2003.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Seeing Christ in Others. An Anthology for Worship, Mediation and Mission. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 1998.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Courage to Love. An Anthology of Inclusive Worship Material. Norwich: The Canterbury Press, 2002.
(HoS) Hope Is Our Song. New Hymns and Songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North: New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2009.
(HCL) 
Hymns for the Celebration of Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2004.
(SNS2) Stuart, G.
Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Volume 2. NSW: Toronto. G Stuart, 2009.
"Divine Dancing" By Rumi, in M. Fox.
One Rive, Many Wells. Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2000.
O'Donohue, J.
Anam Cara. Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World. London: Bantam, 1997.
Roberts, E. & E. Amidon.
Earth Prayers from Around the World. 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
(SLT)
Singing the Living Tradition. Boston: UUA, 1993.
Vosper, G. 
With or Without God. Why the way we Live is more important that what we Believe. Canada: Toronto. HarperCollins, 2008.
Vosper, G.
Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane: The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.

Web sites/Other:
Alspaugh, Kowalski, Trapp, UUA Worship Web. Boston. www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/
“Progressive Hymn”, Andrew Pratt blog site site: <hymnsandbooks blog>
“Flower of Compassion” in Nelson-Pallmeyer, J. & B. Hesle. Worship in the Spirit of Jesus. Theology, Liturgy, and Songs without Violence. Cleveland. The Pilgrim Press, 2005.
“Embrace This Life”, Peggy McDonagh. One of several non-theistic resources found at: St Stephen’s Non-Theistic Project. "
http://stephen.srv.ualberta.ca/publications/non-theistic-liturgy-resources/
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacyhttp://www.questcentre.ca/

rexae74@gmail.com