Revd Rex A E Hunt
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GATHERING FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
1 October 2017. Pentecost 17A. (Green).
Celebrating Community: Sacrament of Holy (Flower) Communion
Acknowledgement of Country
(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
Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times
Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.
Lighting of the Community Candle
The community candle is lit in silence
And let us rejoice in the company of this gathered people.
Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
“Children of the Human Race” (Tune: ‘Aberystwyth’, 77 77D. 211(i) TiS) 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. (JAStorey)
Remain standing after the hymn
As the curtain of night is drawn back,
and the golden robes of the day arrive over hill and sea,
All may there be expelled from our minds all sour thoughts
so we might greet this new day as a gift,
All fresh from the rhythm of creation,
and filled with hope.
Act of Awareness
From the earth we have come.
By its fruits we live.
This earth is our home.
We celebrate the beauty of our days,
and all their splendid avenues of love and hope.
The Spirit of Creativity is all around us.
We are grateful for the possibility of being
ever more aware, human and alive.
May it be so.
Hymn "Celebrate a New Day Dawning" (Tune: ‘Joyful joyful’ 152 TiS)
Celebrate a new day dawning,
sunrise of a golden morn;
Christ Sophia dwells among us,
glorious visions now are born,
Equal partners 'round the table,
we make dreams reality;
Calling out our gifts we nurture
hope beyond all we can see.
Christ Sophia lights the pathway
to a world of harmony;
Sister Brother love surrounds us,
nourishing our synergy.
Earth joins in our rich communion,
grateful for our healing care;
Leaping deer and soaring eagles,
all earth's fullness now can share.
Sing a song of jubilation,
dance with joyous revelry,
Clapping trees and laughing rivers
join our call to liberty.
Free at last to blossom fully,
flow'ring forth in beauty bright.
We become a new creation,
bursting open into light. JAldredge-Clanton/ctl
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.
Gathering as we do in this sacred place,
we pause again to reflect, to feel, and to commit
to thoughtful and mindful intention.
We wonder again about the ebb and flow
of this living, breathing, expanding universe…
And of this community.
We give our attention right now
to each other,
to new beginnings,
to this time,
to this season.
We celebrate this new early Spring day,
and the new challenges and possibilities it brings.
The universe is beginning to bloom again.
May this time spent in sacred silence, empower us
to once again be open-eyed and open-sensed
to the beauty and the oneness
of all people and things.
Music of Reflection
Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Two readings from our broad religious tradition
shall now be read by (NN).
From Church Tradition:
If celebrating St Francis Day/Pets Sunday
‘Peace, Birds, Peace!’
From a sermon by St Francis
My brother and sister birds,
you should greatly praise your Creator
and love him always.
He gave you feathers to wear, and wings to fly,
and whatever you need.
God made you noble among his creatures
and gave you a home in the purity of the air,
so that, though you do not sow nor reap,
he nevertheless protects and governs you
without your least care.
“Blessing of the Animals - St Francis Day”
By Thomas Rhodes
You Birds of the Air,
Hawk, Sparrow, and laughing Jay
You embody freedom itself,
delight us with your song, astound us with feats of migration
Grant us your perspective,
for too often our horizon is limited
and we are blind to the full results of our actions.
You Worms of the Earth,
Ants, Beetles, Spiders and Centipedes
You are the essential but oft-forgotten strand in nature’s web.
Through you the cycle is complete;
through you new life arises from old.
Remind us of our humility.
For the wheel of live does not turn around us;
we are not the axle, but merely spokes
no less than unseen, unknown and shunned companions
such as yourselves.
You creatures of the field and wood and field, marsh and desert—
Bear and Bison, Skunk and Squirrel, Weasel and Wolf
Too often we have sacrificed your homes in the name of progress,
clear cutting the forests to fill our desire,
or covering the earth with tarmac, cement, and suburban lawns.
Pray that we may remember that the earth was not given for our needs alone,
and what we do to you, we eventually do to ourselves.
You animals of the farm—
Horse and cow, pig and fowl
Willingly or not, you give your very lives for us,
your milk for our nourishment, your flesh for our sustenance,
Yet too often we forget that the meat on our tables was once as alive as we are.
Forgive our willful ignorance,
and remind us constantly to give thanks for your sacrifice.
You Dearest Companions in our lives
Dogs and Cats, Hamsters and Goldfish
You who are with us today
and you who always be present in our memories
You have enriched our lives in so many ways
endured our shortcomings with calm acceptance
taught us something of our humanity
taught us how to love.
May we hold you in our hearts throughout the days of our lives.
Genesis 2:18-23b (Adapt.NRSV)
Then Yahweh Elohim said, "It is not good that the (hu)man should be alone;
I will make him a helper as his partner."
So out of the ground Yahweh Elohim formed
every animal of the field
and every bird of the air,
and brought them to the (hu)man to see what he would call them;
and whatever the (hu)man called every living creature,
that was its name.
The (hu)man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air,
and to every animal of the field;
but for the (hu)man there was not found a helper as his partner.
So Yahweh Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon the (hu)man, and he slept.
Then Yahweh took one of the (hu)man’s ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
And the rib that Yahweh Elohim had taken from the (hu)man
Yahweh made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman…
Contemporary Exploration (Francis of Assisi)
Silence for Personal Reflection
A Spring Reflection (Optional)
The people stand
Spirit of life, bring to us beauty:
All the beauty of magnolia and tulip.
Bring to us strength:
All the strength of flowing Spring creeks
and the quiet strength of roots
pushing deep into the ground for nourishment.
Bring to us pleasure:
All the pleasures of toffee apples sweet on our tongues
and the wind grabbing a kite and taking it high...
if only we could go too!
Bring to us wisdom:
All the knowledge that new life springs up without help.
In spite of everything we do or don't,
grass and weeds and dandelions will appear.
Bring to us love:
All springtime love has magic in it.
Let springtime love be a part of our lives.
Spirit of life, come to us
that all the energy and power of Spring
All will make us tall and smiling and expectant. (Adapt/JQuarles)
Litany: "Colour. The Radiance of Life..."
v1 Heaven's light forever shines, earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass
stains the white radiance of eternity...
v2 What is green?
All Green is a flutter that comes in Spring
when frost melts out of everything.
v1 Green is an olive and a pickle.
The sound of green is a water trickle.
v2 September is green, spearmint too.
Every elf has one green shoe.
Under a grape vine air is green
With sprinkles of sunlight in between
v3 What is red?
v4 What is yellow?
v5 What is blue?
v6 What is orange?
v7 What is white?
v2 An apple is red!
v3 The sun is yellow!
v4 The sky is blue!
v5 An orange is orange!
v6 A cloud is white!
All And the earth is brown!
v1 And if I asked you, could you tell me, 'What colour is love?'
v7 Love is pink!
v2 Love is people!
v4 Love is purple!
v6 Love is pain!
v3 Love is pink!
All and joy and laughter and singing and,
most of all, love is you! (BettyWilder/UUA).
Sharing 'The Peace'
Let us take a moment to celebrate each other.
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
“To God the Process” (Tune: ‘Edith’)140 HoS
To God the process, God the life,
to God compassion’s spring,
to God the boundless way of love,
to God in everything,
to God the inner Christ of faith,
to God the wine and bread,
to God the sacred energy,
the fabric and the thread.
To you, O God, we sing our praise,
we join the cosmic song,
we walk the path that Jesus walked,
we turn our thoughts from wrong.
For you delight in each of us
and we delight in you.
With hearts on fire we live your praise
in all we think and do.
Amen, Amen, Amen, O God,
to you be endless praise.
Shalom, Shalom, Shalom, O God,
our hearts to you we raise.
For you empower and you fulfil
our latent energy,
the universe within our lives
shall dance your liturgy.
Reflections and Prayers
We are people of all ages who enter this space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and concerns shared.
In this abundant blessing
All We share the joy.
In this, our time of need,
All May love abound (GVosper/wwg)
And so we take this flame and light our special care candle.
The Care candle is lit
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 new possibilities of the now.
The 'Abba' Prayer
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, and in your original language, as that is appropriate
All Gracious Spirit,
Who loves us like a mother,
Whose realm is blooming among us now.
We pray that your compassion guide us in every action.
Give us what we need for each day,
and help us to be satisfied with the miracle of that alone.
Forgiver, whose embrace brings us to wholeness without our asking,
May we reconcile ourselves to one another in humility.
And may we cancel the crushing debts that imprison our neighbours
So that communities of joy and health may flourish.
May we neither profit from nor ignore evil.
But ever work to thwart it with non-violence
As we co-create the realm of peace in this world.
Now and each day.
CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF (FLOWER) HOLY COMMUNION
The Flower Communion service had its origins in 1923 when Dr Norbert Capek, a former Baptist and founder of the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia, introduced it to his congregation. This liturgy is shaped by sections of two other modern liturgies, written by Dr David Bumbaugh.
v1 Enter into this sacred time.
Enter with joyful hearts.
Enter with reverent thoughts.
v2 It has taken long months beneath cold ground
for flowers to prepare their blooming.
It has taken each of us long times of growth,
through sorrow and joy,
to prepare for our living now.
v1 The blooming season is short.
Flowers stay only a brief time.
We are travellers upon the earth:
travellers through all too brief life times.
v2 Therefore let our moments together be bountiful.
And let us rejoice in our unique colours, aromas, and sounds. (EStrong/adapted)
Our offerings, and gifts of flowers, bread and wine,
for the celebration of life in this place and beyond,
shall now be received
Creating God, the landscape of life and your presence is near:
a daffodil in bloom,
a single green leaf,
the red and green flash of a parrot.
May we too be a people of adventure and life,
grace-filled companions, offering
courage and hope in unexpected places.
Have you considered the flowers, the lilies of the fields?
All They spin not, neither do they sew,
yet Solomon, in all his glory
All was not arrayed as one of these.
Say what you will about the economy of life,
flowers are irrefutable proof of nature’s extravagance.
Flowers do not bloom for us.
They do not care whether or not we see them.
They grow and bloom because they are full of life.
They are a gift of grace.
They invite us to seek the beauty in each moment.
They encourage us to find fulfilment in life and the living of it.
As you came into this sacred place this morning,
you brought with you a flower,
from your yard,
from along your street,
from a florist,
from your neighbour’s flower bed,
from the basket in the entrance.
From many different sources these many different flowers have come.
Together on this table they symbolise
the extravagance of nature,
for as various as these flowers are,
they do not begin to exhaust nature's inventiveness
in creating forms
And what nature has done for flowers,
for bread and for wine, nature has done for us.
Bread and Wine
v1 In all the colours and scents and tastes and sounds of the world,
we see the beauty of the universe.
v2 In this season of spring it is fitting we should celebrate
the renewal of life and hope using
the symbols of bread and wine and flowers.
Time out of mind we have watched grain buried in the dark soil.
Time out of mind we have watched sprouting seeds
break through the soil, reaching towards the warm sun.
Time out of mind we have watched grain broken,
ground into dust-like flour.
Yet mixed with water and leavening,
it stirs, rises, becomes bread,
the sustainer of our lives.
For longer than we can remember the fruit of the vine has been our companion.
It’s clustered fruit is harvested and crushed,
and juice is stored and fermented
saved for festive occasions.
We have shared the fruit of the vine in moments of joy and sorrow,
and to mark momentous turnings. (DBumbaugh/hc)
Remembering the meal tradition surrounding Jesus…
we break this bread and fill this cup.
Bread broken. Wine poured out
We give thanks
All And seek to live in harmony with all about us.
We give thanks
All And take our place in the human story,
struggling for the unity of humankind.
We give thanks
All And join with all in a quest for justice.
We give thanks
All For all that Jesus, human like us, means to us. (JStinson)
Bread and wine served in continuous line
And now we prepare to leave this place.
As you do, you are invited to take one of the flowers.
Take a different one than the flower you brought.
Take it not to keep forever and forever.
Nothing is forever.
Take a flower as a symbol of gratitude
for beauty we did not create,
for joys which come when unexpected.
Take a flower as a symbol of your participation
in the community of this congregation,
in the community of human kind,
in the community of all living things,
in the universal community.
Take a flower as a symbol that
beauty and grace and joy and love
are not matters of reciprocity.
In this world we cannot earn or deserve
that which is most important.
It comes to us as a gift. (DBumbaugh/hc)
Hymn “Celebrate All Human Beauty” (Tune: 'Nettleton’, 87 87D. 392 TiS)
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.
The presentness of God reaches beyond this place...
The candle is extinguished
We give you thanks,
Gentle One who has touched our soul.
All You have loved us from the moment of our first waking
and have held us in joy and in grief.
Stay with us, we pray.
All Grace us with your continuing presence,
that encouraged by your Spirit
All we might work to restore compassion to the human family,
and renew the face of the earth.
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 hearts
and your minds
and your lives.
All Amen. May it be so.
Hymn (Cont) “Celebrate All Human Beauty” (Tune: 'Nettleton’, 87 87D. 392 TiS)
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. (SEMurray/sco)
The people sit after the hymn
'This Week' at (NN)
Birthdays and anniversaries
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.
Duncan, G. (ed). 2002. Courage to Love. An anthology of inclusive worship material. Norwich. The Canterbury Press.
Duncan, G. (ed). 1998. Seeing Christ in Others. An anthology for worship, mediation and mission. Norwich. The Canterbury Press.
Holy Bible. NRSV. 1989. Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
(HoS) Hope Is Our Song. New hymns and songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. 2009. Palmerston North. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
Iona Community. 2001. Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
Nelson-Pallmeyer, J. & B. Hesle. 2005. Worship in the Spirit of Jesus. Theology, liturgy, and songs without violence. Cleveland. The Pilgrim Press.
Seaburg, C. (ed). 1993. The Communion Book. Boston. UUMA.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. 1993. Boston. UUA.
Stinson, J. 2006. “The encounter of progressive christian theology with the language of prayer and ritual on Sunday morning”. Westar Institute/Westar Leaders Seminar. March 2006.
Uniting in Worship. Leader’s Book. 1988. Melbourne. Uniting Church Press.
Vosper, G. 2008. With or Without God. Why the way we live is more important that what we believe. Canada: Toronto. HarperCollins.
Wilder, Betty. "Color: The Radiance of Life". Excerpted from the Celebrating Worship booklet, published by Worship Arts Clearing House, UUA, Boston. (1974).
Quarles, Strong, Rhodes. UUA Worship Web. Boston. < www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Primary sources. “Flower Communion service” and “A Springtime Service” by David E Bumbaugh, in The Communion Book. 1993. Ed. Carl Seaburg. MA: Boston. UUMA.