Advent3B.17.12.2017

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
17 December 2017. Advent 3B. (Blue).

Worth Pondering During Advent
By cooling the air and ground around them,
the shade from trees helps cool the Earth’s temperature


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

Rich and Striking Visuals
          “The function of beauty… is to make us aware of a reality which is richer and deeper
          and more marvellous than anything we can dream or conceive.” (Henry N. Wieman)
          Artwork OR Floral/Symbols display (cloths, candles, stones, wood, leaves, flowers, earth, water) OR projection of Film/Slides 

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Advent is about the birth of something sacred.
For something sacred needs to be born:
born from the mating of what is,
and what might be.

It needs a manger.

So let us prepare a manger in our hearts
for the birth of the sacred.  (Davidson Loehr/First UU Church of Austin). 

OR

The season of Advent challenges us
to see God's vision of what is yet to be,
to hear God's voice calling anew,
to smell the scent of God in our world.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

In this special season, let us continue to celebrate
the richness and diversity of life.

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 these 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, 10. Terrorist Attacks, 11. Science/Cosmology
(iii) PLUS some specific resources on Terrorism
HERE

Song  The people stand as they are able, to sing
Anna’s Song”      55 (v1-3) ISIT
Lift this child to the sun,
Raise this child to the sky;
God has come from above,
Come to earth from on high.
Lift this child, lift this child to the sun.

Lay this child on the ground,
One with us, one with earth;
Let God know in his son,
Human clay, human birth.
Lay this child, lay this child on the ground.

Place this child in the shade,
Hang this child ‘neath a tree;
With his hand on the wood,
May this child set us free.
Place this child, place this child in the shade.
Remain standing after the hymn

Opening Sentences
The presentness of Creativity God is among us,
Wm  
in the wilderness of our cities,
Mn  furrowed by freeways and shaded by skyscrapers.
v2  Prepare a way…

The presentness of Creativity God is among us,
Wm  
in the wilderness of our countryside,
Mn  where farmers eke out a drought-feed existence.
v2  Prepare a way...

The presentness of Creativity God is among us,
Wm  
moving in the air, the land, and the waters,
Mn  making our world whole.
v2  Prepare a way...
All  Smooth the rough places, move the mountains;
let Creativity God’s glory be displayed. (Adapt.Bruce Prewer/ap)

OR

God invites us to engage in ministry with her,
to share the good news of God’s unconditional love.
All What a joy it is to work with our God!
What a joy it is to share the good news!

Through the power of love,
Ri: through the work of our hands,
Le: those who were hungry are filled.

Through the power of love,
Ri: through the work of our hearts,
Le:   through the power of love,
Ri: through the work of our minds,
Le: those who were oppressed are freed.

We rejoice in God’s amazing love.
We rejoice in the life-changing opportunities open to us.
All Out of that joy, we offer our thanks and praise as we gather in this place.
May we be challenged.
May we be encouraged.
May we be empowered.
So that we may continue to live as joyous partners
in creating a world filled with love
and ruled by justice.
(Adapt.Jessica Petersen/ct)

Act of Awareness
Is it morning, really morning, or is it just another day?
A new beginning
or just a continuing yesterday…?

May we greet each day as gift and blessing
fold its promise into who we will become,
and live the fullness of its teachings:
new thoughts,
new ideas,
new potentials,
new promises.

OR

We pray:
May we give thanks for the opportunity we have
to worship and celebrate this day.

May we be surrounded with a very real sense
of the presentness of Creativity God
as we spend this time together.
May it be so.

Song  (Cont)  Anna’s Song”     55 (v4-6) ISIT
Give this child to the world,
Let him be common folk;
God has come to be born,
As an ordin’ry bloke.
Give this child, give this child to the world.

Send this child down the road,
Let him ride hard the track;
To be king of the bush,
And the harsh world outback.
Send this child, send this child down the track.

Lift this child to the night,
To the silence of God;
Let this child cry for us,
And the silence be heard.
Lift this child, lift this child to the night. (Norman Habel)
People sit

Welcome
In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are here 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.

THE CHILDREN LEAD US...
Advent Candle Lighting 3

Joy

v1  As this season of “sparkle and bright” unfolds around us
the transforming wonders of joy await discovery
like shimmering sugar crystals on a favourite treat.

v2  May we create joy in all our surroundings as we share gifts, meals, and simple pleasures with family and 
v3  May the easy gift of a smile bring the power of joy’s touch to those we meet through these busy days.
v4  And may we experience the joy of this season as though
with the eyes and hearts of children
that we might be transfixed by power of what could be.

Light candle

May Joy light the world this Christmas. (Gretta Vosper)

OR

Advent Candle of Courage
The light grows brighter and the nights are mild;
excitement is building
in every true child.
(Bruce Prewer/bpa)
All
Come, Companion Jesus, Come.

Last Sunday we lit the candle of trust,
the second Advent candle.

We light it again, along with the candle of hope,
which will always be brought to birth
in, through, and among, all creation.
First and second candles lit

The third Advent candle is the candle of courage.
In the stillness of our worship here we light it,
watching it burn and glow.
Third candle lit

And we affirm that we are a people of God
seeking to muster enough courage amid
the many other voices which surround us.

Presentation of the Christmas Bowl
Let us again remember that without hope, trust and courage,
people struggle to find their way.
The Bowl is placed near the candles

Song  "Child of Christmas Story(Tune: ‘Incarnation’ 65 65)     12 (v1-3) AA
Child of Christmas story,
stable straw and star,
small and sweet and gentle:
tell us who you are.

Child whose baby finger
round our own is curled,
come to melt our hearts, and
come to change the world.

Child of Jew and Gentile,
child of white and black -
teach us how to love you,
teach us what we lack. 
Shirley Erena Murray
The children leave to go to Sunday Club

CENTERING

Centering Silence
Let there now be a silence among us…
(Silence)

In these brief moments of silence may we find strength.
May our lives be rich in affection,
deep in understanding and
sympathy for each other.

May the blessings of life be known to all.  Bob Holmes/adapt
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Some readings from our broad religious tradition
shall now be read.  The reader is (NN).

(i) Traditional Gospel:
Mark 1:2-3  (Inclusive Text)

As it is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah,
Look, I am going to send my messenger before you,
who will prepare your way.

A voice cries in the wilderness:
‘Make ready a way for God,
clear a straight path.’

From the World Around us:
"Taking the Plunge"
By Bruce Sanguin. If Darwin Prayed/8

We gather at the shore of a new start.
John the Baptist is proclaiming an apocalypse:
reality shorn of pretence,
the facade of religiosity,
the clamouring for acclaim,
and the make-believe madness.
He stands there, dripping wet,
eyes of fire burning through the dry brush of our egos,
our half-hearted commitments,
and all that we've settled for.

Buck-naked souls,
stripped down and seduced by words of life,
we wade in,
reminded by John's uncompromising countenance
of what it looks like
to hold nothing back,
and wonder how new-born souls
behave in the real Spirit-drenched world.

"Bear fruit fit for the kin-dom,"
the Baptizer responds,
and everybody knows -
we know,
taking the plunge -
what is required of us.

(ii) Traditional Gospel:
John 1:6-8, 19-28  (Inclusive Text, adapted)

A man came, sent by God. His name was John.

John came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
John was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness.

When the Jews sent priests and Levites
from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?'
John not only declared, but declared quite openly,
'I am not the Christ.'

'Well than,' they asked him, 'are you Elijah?'
'I am not.'

'Are you the Prophet?'
'No.'

So they said,
'Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us.
What have you to say about yourself?'

So John said,
'I am, as Isaiah prophesied:
a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for God.’

Now these priests and Levites had been sent by the Pharisees,
and put this further question to John,
'Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ
and not Elijah, and not the Prophet?'

John replied:
'I baptise with water.
But there stands among you unknown to you
the one who is coming after me.

'And I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.'

This happened at Bethany, on the far side of Jordan,
where John was baptising.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A 'Faith-in-Action' Litany (Optional)
On this third Sunday in Advent
and in response to the word reflected on,
let us stand and share a Faith litany.