Christmas1B.28.12.2014

Revd Rex A E Hunt

eMail: rexae@optusnet.com.au

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www.rexaehuntprogressive.com


GATHERING FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE

28 December 2014. Christmas 1B. (White).


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


GATHERING

Gathering Music

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

May this flame remind us of the light of wisdom.
May the warmth of its glow remind us
of the warmth of God's everlasting love (Adapt.VMarshall).

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
“God the Weaver”  (Tune: ‘Picardy’, 87 87 87. 497 TiS)
God the weaver, making patterns,
spinning threads throughout our days -
Joy and sadness interwoven,
strands of sorrow, strands of praise.
Help us to discern your weaving
in the multi-coloured maze.

Teach us, Lord, to trust your guidance
when the pattern is not clear,
and to feel your strength and comfort
when life's fabric's torn by fear.
Help us sense that in the dark times
Lightening love is always near.

When we see the pattern changing
and a new direction starts,
let us know your love unbroken
winds through life in all its parts
by the threads of love and friendship
closely woven in our hearts.

Though we never see the picture
with your sense of space and time,
help us, Lord, to take our places
in our faith's continuing line,
as all lives are interwoven
in your final grand design. © MDobson/mm
Remain standing after the hymn

Opening Sentences
Spirit of life, bring to us beauty.
All  The beauty of coloured wild flowers and ripened fruit.

Bring to us strength.
All  The strength of torrents of rainfilled rivers
and the quiet strength of a gum tree’s roots,
pushing deep into the ground for nourishment.

Bring to us pleasure.
All  The pleasures of maple syrup on pancakes
and the wind grabbing a kite and taking it high.

Bring to us wisdom.
All  The knowledge that new life springs up without help.
In spite of everything we do or do not do.

Spirit of life, come to us that all the
energy and power of the seasons of the year
will make us tall and smiling and expectant.

Act of Awareness
Silently a flower blooms.
In silence it falls away.

Yet here now, in this moment, at this place,
the world of the flower,
the whole of the world is blooming.

This is the talk of the flower,
the truth of the blossom:
the glory of eternal life is fully shining here (Adapt.ZShinayama/lp)

OR

We pray:
Spinner, weaver of our lives, your loom is love.
May we who are gathered here be empowered by that love
to weave new patterns of truth and justice into a web of life
that is strong, beautiful, and everlasting. (Adapt.BWells)
May it be so.

Hymn
We Are Not Our Own”  (Tune: ‘Nexus’, 89 85) 317 SLT
We are not our own.  Earth forms us,
human leaves on nature's growing vine,
fruit of many generations,
seeds of life divine.

We are not alone.  Earth names us:
past and present, peoples near and far,
family and friends and strangers
show us who we are.

Therefore let us make thanksgiving,
and with justice, willing and aware,
give to earth, and all things living,
liturgies of care.

Let us be a house of welcome,
living stone upholding living stone,
gladly showing all our neighbours
we are not our own!  (BWren)

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.

CENTERING

Recognising the Sacred
As we gather together for the last time this year
and in these seasons of Christmas, New Year, and Summer,
may we give thanks for the past,
and celebrate the future, yet unknown,
which shall be woven out of our possibilities and realities,
our hopes and our fears.

v4 Now the earth was formless and empty and
the shadow of a breath caressed the surface.
And the emptiness quivered with potential
and life became known…
A rope circle ‘world’ is placed on the floor of the celebration space

v5 The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.
From it we have learned most of what we know.
Recently, we have waded a little out to sea,
enough to dampen our toes or, at most, wet our ankles.

The water seems inviting.  The ocean calls (CSagan).

Silence

People stand and face the North
v1 We turn to face the direction North
the season of Summer and the element of water,
and search it for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2 The gift of the North is love,
for it speaks of great endurance.

Love offers us, above all else, the power of strength in adversity.

v1 May we hold love in our hearts…
All May we hold love in our hearts…
and bring to our future the gentle power
of strength in adversity.
All and bring to our future the gentle power
of strength in adversity.

v3 We bring blue, colour of water,
stronger than any obstacle, and place love
in our circle, the world.
A blue ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

Silence

People turn right and face the East
v1 We turn to face East, the direction of the rising sun,
the season of Spring and the element of air,
and search it for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2 The gift of the East is wisdom.
In the morning light we can see and know
and understand more clearly.
it speaks of the breath of new life on earth.

Wisdom offers us, above all else, the confidence
to know ourselves more fully.

v1 May we hold wisdom before us and with it...
All May we hold wisdom before us and with it...
bring to our future the confidence to know
ourselves more fully.
All bring to our future the confidence to know
ourselves more fully.

v3 We bring white, colour of air, wrapping all life,
and place wisdom
in our circle, the world.
A white ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

Silence

People turn right and face the South
v1 We turn to the South, the direction of Winter
and the element of earth,
and search if for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2 The gift of the South is mystery, for,
in the silent darkness of the earth, possibility
stretches toward its future light.

Mystery offers us, above all else, the courage to dream
and wait and dream again.

v1 May we hold mystery in our depths of our being...
All May we hold mystery in our depths of our being...
v1 and bring to our future the courage to dream
and wait and dream again.
All and bring to our future the courage to dream
and wait and dream again.

v3 We bring green, colour of the earth,
fertile with possibility, and place mystery
in our circle, the world.
A green ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

Silence

The people turn right and face West
v1 We turn to the West the place of the setting sun,
the season of autumn and the element of fire,
and search if for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2 The gift of the West is beauty,
for it speaks of great peace and serenity.

Beauty offers us, above all else, the freedom to live
in wonder and gratitude.

v1 May we carry beauty in our lives...
All May we carry beauty in our lives...
v1 and bring to our future the freedom
to live in wonder and gratitude.
All and bring to our future the freedom
to live in wonder and gratitude
.

v3 We bring red, colour of fire, dancing
and casting light, and place beauty
in our circle, the world.
A red ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

v6 Look at this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
the bliss of growth,
the glory of action,
the spendour of beauty.

For yesterday is but a dream,
and tomorrow is only a vision,
but today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day. (Sanskrit/ep)
(MTWinter/wpws. Adapted by GVosper & RHunt for the Common Dreams2 Conference, Melbourne 2010)

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
A reflection and a story from our broad religious tradition,
shall now be read by (NN).

From the World around us:
Each Birth a Revolution”
By Sitar Situmorang. Liturgy of Life/102.

Each birth is a revolution
whether it happened a thousand years ago
or takes place today,
with each birth the world becomes new.

Some are born in a cottage, some in a field,
but wherever a child is born,
in its eyes the world is reflected,
in its cries - Christ is present.

Christ the son of man
was born to renew the world
like every child in the mother's womb
is granted by the Lord at its time.

OR

"now what"
By Thomas Shuman

now what will you do
with those gifts?

now what will you do
with that love
God has given to you -

to share with those 
you don't like?

now what will you do
with that hope
God put under the tree -

can you pass it on
to a despairing neighbo(u)r?

now what will you do
with that joy 
you didn't expect -

hoard it all for yourself
or hand it to a grieving widow?

now what will you 
do with that grace
God stuck in your stocking -

leave it there
or find the stranger who needs it?

now what will you do
with all that forgiveness
God has given to you
in the Babe -

throw it out
with the wrapping paper
or offer it to the one
who has hurt you so much?

now
that Christmas is over,
what will you do?

Traditional Gospel:
Luke 2: 22-40  (NRSV)

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses,
Jesus’ parents brought him up to Jerusalem to present him,
as it is written in the law of the Lord,
“Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”,
and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law,
“a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
this man was righteous and devout,
looking forward to the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus,
to do for him what was customary under the law,
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed
at what was being said about him.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary,
“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be opposed
so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed,
and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
then as a widow to the age of eighty-four.

She never left the temple but worshiped there
with fasting and prayer night and day.

At that moment she came, and began to praise God
and to speak about the child to all
who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When the parents had finished everything required by the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favour of God was upon him.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

CELEBRATING

Litany for the Past Year
Let us remember and celebrate the past year.

First candle is lit
We light this candle remembering the children
who were baptised this past year into our congregation.
All This light beams so that all young people may be able
to grow up receiving affection and protection.

Silence

Second candle is lit
We light this second candle remembering all those
who have experienced grief and loss in our congregation:
the death of a loved one,
the ending of a significant relationship,
the loss of employment.
All This light beams for their continuing comfort and support.

Silence

Third candle is lit
We light this third candle remembering all those who
have shared in ministry in this place:
Ministers, lay preachers, organists and singers,
those who offered pastoral care
or reminded us of our wider community,
those who visited hospitals, nursing homes,
cooked meals or offered transport.
All This light beams with the compassion
of the Christ One in our midst.

Silence

Fourth candle is lit
We light this fourth candle remembering all those who
have visited our congregation in recent times
and decided to call this place, 'home'.
All This light beams in order that we continue
to explore and enjoy everything we have received, as a gift.

Silence

Fifth candle is lit
We light this fifth candle mindful of those who
have called us to risk the way of Jesus:
to create inclusive and safe,
open, and honest communities for all.
All This light beams as a symbol of hope
in the midst of both challenge and comfort.

Silence

Sixth candle is lit
We light this sixth candle having each and everyone of us in mind,
bearing each other in strengths and weaknesses,
anxieties and hopes.
All This light beams on the pathways we have welcomed
and where we didn't want to go.
It will continue to shine for each and every one of us
on the new pathways we will tread.
(Silence)

Sharing 'The Peace'
We take a moment to celebrate each other.

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

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
Wisdom Far Beyond...(Tune: ‘Coronation Road’) 157 HoS
Wisdom far beyond our knowledge,
Word of endless mystery,
God, in whom is comprehended
all that was, is now, will be,
you have set us free to wander,
world on world, through time and space,
haunted by the hope of heaven,
nurtured by your constant grace.

Unimaginable lover,
faithful to eternity,
God, fulfilling and indwelling
all that was, is now, will be,
we can never stray beyond you,
loving Presence, you are here:
called to join your great adventure,
forth we go to find you there.

Beating heart of all creation,
first and final unity,
God who draws all things together,
all that was, is now, will be,
we have heard your distant music,
shared your dream of harmony:
now we go as reconcilers,
makers of community.

Focus of our search for meaning,
truth in our perplexity,
God the One by whom we measure
all that was, is now, will be,
centre of our heart’s devotion,
magnet of our questing mind,
spirit’s birth and soul’s companion,
journey’s end in you we find (CGibson).
People sit

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

Presentation
May these our offerings reflect confidence and inclusiveness.
And may the programs and concerns
we undertake in the coming year,
build up the congregation among us,
and the church far beyond us.

AFFIRMING

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)

And so we take this flame and light our special care candle.
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…
The Care candle is lit

v2  May we find in this day
an awareness of the freedom we are given
to know life unshackled from fear,
v3  and embrace the possibilities of the present,
with every breath we take. (GVosper/ab)

The 'Abba' Prayer:
You are invited to pray in your original language, as appropriate

All  Father, may your name be holy.
May your rule take place.
Give us each day our daily bread.

Pardon our debts, for we ourselves pardon
everyone in debt to us.

And do not bring us to trial
into a trying situation.  (BMack/Q) 

SCATTERING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
Playful God”  (Tune: ‘Joyful God’. 77 87)       75 (v1-3) RP
Playful God, you laugh and dance
at every indication
that we have caught a glimpse, a glance
of magic in creation.

Tearful God, you weep and mourn,
you share our desolation;
in every doubt, in pain and grief,
we need your consolation.

Joyful God, we praise your name
in every situation.
Your love will even live through death,
you promise resurrection.
Remain standing

Parting Words
The presentness of God reaches beyond this place...
The candle is extinguished

Our time in this sacred place may have ended,
but our connection to each other
and our respective communities remain.
All Together may we walk the path of justice,
speak words of love, live the selfless deed,
tread gently upon the earth,
and fill the world with compassion  KHuff.

Words of Blessing
May the God who dances in creation,
who embraces us with human love,
who shakes our lives like thunder,
bless us and drive us out with power
to fill the world with her justice.
All Amen. May it be so.

Hymn (Cont) Playful God”  (Tune: ‘Joyful God’. 77 87)      75 (v4) RP
Mighty God, creative heart
and source of our elation,
accept our praise, our lives, our all,
our ceaseless adoration.  APratt
The people sit after the hymn

Music


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:
Dobson, M. Multi-coloured Maze. Drama, hymns, prayers and poems for worship and everyday living. London. Stainer & Bell, 2004.
Hilton, D. (ed). Liturgy of Life. An anthology. Birmingham. National Christian Education Council, 1991.
(HoS) Hope Is Our Song. New hymns and songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2009.
Holy Bible. NRSV. Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989.
Mack, B. L. The Lost Gospel. The Book of Q and Christian Origins. New York. HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.
(RP) Pratt, A. Reclaiming Praise. Hymns from a Spiritual Journey. London. Stainer & Bell Ltd. 2006.
Roberts, E; E. Amidon. Earth Prayers from Around the World. 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth. New York. HarperCollins, 1991.
Roberts, E. & E. Amidon. Life Prayers from Around the World. 365 Prayers, Blessings, and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Vosper, G. Another Breath. Prayers for celebration and reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.
Winter, Miriam T. Women Prayer. Women Song. Resources for ritual. Hartford. Meyer Stone Books, 1987.

Web sites/Other:
Wells, Huff. UUA Worship Web. Boston. < www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
"May we have courage..." Ian Lawton. 2011. C3Exchange, Spring Lake. MI. <http://www.c3exchange.org/
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/
"now what". 
(c) 2006  Thom M. Shuman. Greenhills Community Church, Presbyterian. Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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