ChristmasDayB.25.12.2017

Revd Rex A E Hunt

International eMail:  rexae74@gmail.com

Remember to always favourite/bookmark my Web site:
www.rexaehuntprogressive.com



GATHERING FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
25 December 2017. Christmas DayB. (White).


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, gender, cultural background or sexual orientation


GATHERING

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

May the love and creativity that breathes life
into all humanity
and all of creation
All Be born in us today.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

On this (Australian) Christmas morning,
let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"O Come All Ye Faithful(Tune: ‘Adeste Fideles’, Irreg. Tune: 304 TiS)    23 FSSC
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold this child born of Mary.
Refrain:
O come, let us adore them;
O come, let us adore them;
O come let us adore them;
Mother and child.

Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all you messenger's of God's holy word.
Glory to God in-carnate, all glory.
Refrain:

Christ-child, we greet thee, born this happy morning,
Born of the Woman Mary, glory given;
Word of creation, now in flesh appearing.
(Genia P Haddon/adapt)
Refrain:
People remain standing

OR

"Good Christian Friends, Rejoice!”  (Tune: Traditional)     60 SiF
Good Christian friends, rejoice, 
with heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say:
News! News!
All our dreams are born today.
Love has come to lead the way
and will with us forever stay,
Dreams are born today!
Dreams are born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice, 
with heart and soul and voice!
Now ye hear of endless bliss:
Joy! Joy!
Every child was born for this.
Love has opened heaven’s door
and we are blest for evermore.
Joy is born today!
Joy is born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice, 
with heart and soul and voice!
Wondrous news have we to tell:
Peace! Peace!
Love with us is born to dwell.
Born within, it outward grows
and then to all the world, it flows. 
Love is born today!
Love is born today!  (John Mason Neale, 1853, alt., Gretta Vosper, 2007)

Opening Sentences
On a gentle summer’s breeze, a peaceful Word is whispered,
All  
From the mountain tops, a triumphant Word rings out,

From the depths of the ocean comes the roar of a mighty Word,
All  The birds sing out a joyous Word,

All of creation calls out the Word:
All  Jesus the Christ is born today, Hallelujah.
(www.mccchurch.org)

Act of Awareness
Life is a gift for which we are grateful.
We gather in community
to celebrate the glories and
the mysteries of this great gift. (MMontgomery/slt)

OR

We pray:
Days of bright sunlight, clear blue skies and sunbaked earth,
colourful birds,
fiery bottle brush,
pastel jacaranda,
the fragrance of each season beneath the Southern Cross...

We offer our praise and thanks,
for Creativity God is in our midst.
May it be so with us.

Hymn "Carol Our Christmas(Tune: Reversi)    9 AA
Carol our Christmas,
an upside down Christmas;
snow is not falling and
trees are not bare.
Carol the summer, and
welcome the Christ Child,
warm in our sunshine and
sweetness of air.

Sing of the gold and the
green and the sparkle,
water and river and lure
of the beach.
Sing in the happiness
of open spaces,
sing a nativity summer
can reach!

Shepherds and musterers
move over hillsides,
finding, not angels,
but sheep to be shorn;
wise ones make journeys
whatever the season,
searching for signs of the
truth to be born.

Right side up Christmas
belongs to the universe,
 made in the moment
 a woman gives birth;
 hope is the Jesus gift,
 love is the offering,
 everywhere, anywhere,
 here on the earth.
(Shirley Erina Murray)
People sit

OR

Troublesome Carol(Tune: By Colin Gibson)
The Christmas Child is a troublesome child,
as troublesome as the Word
that stirred the waters from the deep
and let God's voice be heard.
The Christmas Child is a spirited child
who questions given rule,
who flouts convention's pious face,
who laughs and plays the fool.

The Christmas Child is a generous child,
extravagant in excess,
who spends the coin of life and hope
to recreate and bless.
The Christmas Child is a dangerous child
when to a prophet grown,
whose vision takes a thorny path,
whose cross may be our own.

The Christmas Child is a troublesome child,
as troublesome as the Word
that stirred the waters from the deep
and let God's voice be heard.
The Christmas Child is a luminous child
whose peace the angels sing,
whose star no darkness overcomes,
whose life lights everything. (© Shirley Erena Murray, 2011)

Welcome
A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are here at (NN) for the first time
or who have returned during this festive season
to be with family and friends.

Your presence both enriches us and this time of celebration together.
Refer to printed liturgy.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.

Lighting of the Christmas Candle
v1  As we find ourselves wrapped in the season of wonder and light,
the astonishment that is life ignites our spirits,
and we feel, if merely for a moment,
that we are as we were meant to be.


v2 May we hold fast to this sliver of mystery,
this truth upon which we set the whole of who we are.

v3 May we call ourselves back to it time and again,
until we are filled with the wonder that is our life:
its hope, its peace, its joy, its love.

v4 Infused, then, with all that we are, may our energies
be given to the transformation of this world:
from despair into hope;
from darkness into light;
from fear into love.

May we be bold.
May we be daring.
May we be love.

Light candle

Love lights the world this Christmas. (Gretta Vosper)

OR

Over the past four Sundays we at (NN) have lit our Advent candles.

We light them again and remember...
the ways peace, hope, joy and love
are always brought to birth
in, through, and among, all creation.
Four candles lit

Last night we lit our Christmas Eve candles.
It was a time for memories and remembering.
To wonder and to give thanks…

And of quiet awakening to beauty
that still lives on through the strife of personal griefs
and an economically challenging world.

Now we come to light our Christmas candle.
It is a friendly candle.
It brings light and love
as we celebrate in the warmth of summer.

It is a candle of understanding which drives away fear.
It is a candle of truth.
It will lead one in unknown paths
to learn more about the mysteries of life.
All  Once upon a time a baby was born
who taught us to love and understand one another.
And they called his name, Jesus.
The Christmas candle is lit

Presentation of the Christmas Bowl
Let us remember that without peace, joy, love, and hope,
people struggle to find their way.
The bowl is place near the candle

Hymn The people stand, as they are able, to sing
In Every Face…”  (Tune: ‘Northbrook’, 11 10 11 10)
In every face that stares out from the manger,
each person bears the image of our God,
in Christ is human flesh affirmed and honoured,
for God has walked where human feet have trod.

In every face of youth, of age, each baby,
uplifted by the earth life of the Christ:
the stable bed, the cross of common torture,
marked off his life, these markers once sufficed.

And this we show, when we live incarnation,
to make God's presence real for humankind,
the wine we drink, the bread so freely broken
speak of the love of God so richly mined.

And those who live and suffer in this moment,
the dispossessed, oppressed throughout the earth,
are raised beyond frustration and existence,
to know, in living, their uncommon worth.
© Andrew Pratt 28/11/2011

OR

You Are Born In Us Again”  (Tune: ‘Dunstan’)     52 COC
You are born in us again
Like the warmth of the summer wind you come,
to melt away the icicles of vanity and pride;
you come to blow the very doors of loving open wide.
Like the warmth of the summer wind you come,
like the warmth of the summer wind you come.

You are born in us again
Like the scent of the summer rain you come,
You come to quench the thirsty and to freshen up the land;
you come to clean away the dust that settled in our hand.
Like the scent of the summer rain you come,
like the scent of the summer rain you come.

You are born in us again
Like the light of the summer sun you come,
to ive light to the places that have never seen the Son;
you come now to embrace us, you’re the holy, holy one.
Like the light of the summer sun you come,
like the light of the summer sun you come. 
MWilson
The people sit

CENTERING

Centering Silence
Let us now claim some silence
in the midst of the busyness of our Christmas lives.
(Silence)

Hear and feel your quiet breathing.
Hear and feel the quiet of this place
and this community of people.
(Silence)

As we remember the birth of the one we call Jesus
we see that the love and peace which he spoke of
must be cherished, nurtured and defended
in every generation.

Source of Life and Love,
your presentness among us is a tiny light of hope
which will never be extinguished. 
(Adapt.Dorothy McRae-McMahon)
(Silence)

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
A reading and a story from our broad religious tradition shall now be read.
Our reader is (NN).

A Contemporary Word:
From "Hymn of the Universe"
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The prodigious expanses of time which preceded the first Christmas
were not empty of Christ:
they were inbued with the influx of his power.

It was the ferment of his conception
that stirred up the cosmic masses and
directed the initial developments of the biosphere.

It was the travail preceding his birth
that accelerated the development of instinct
and the birth of thought upon the earth…

And all this labor was set in motion by the active,
creative awakening of his soul, inasmuch as
that human soul has been chosen
to breathe life into the universe.

When Christ first appeared in the arms of Mary
he had already stirred up the world.

OR

rust & white
By Rory Harris. Eureka Street, 27 October 2014  

Christmas meant
painting the wrought iron fence
eighty percent is preparation 
my father said
a scraping & rendering 
back to a base metal of a history
until the half dead lawn
speckled rust & white
& if it hadn’t been so hot
you could have imaged snow
those shirtless freckled browning limbs 
& later bent on canvas chairs
my mother & I would dab 
hunched & dab hatless
with thickening paint
& touch over each other’s mistakes
the job lasted forever & was inspected 
in the late first beer
cooling long neck afternoon

Traditional Gospel:
Luke 2: 8-20  (Inclusive Text)

In the countryside close by there were shepherds
who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch
their flocks during the night.

The angel of God appeared to them and the glory of God
shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said ,
'Do not be afraid.  Listen, I bring you news of great joy,
a joy to be shared by the whole people.
Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you who is the Christ.

'And here is a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.'

And suddenly with the angel
there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing,
'Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to all who enjoy God's favour'.

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
‘Let us go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that has happened
which God has made known to us.’

So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby lying in the manger.
When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him,
and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say.
As for Mary, she treasured all these things
and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen.
It was exactly as they had been told.

Contemporary Exploration

Some past Christmas Day sermons can be found HERE and HERE and HERE

An article of Interest:
Marcus Borg. "Has Christmas Been Swallowed by the Miraculous?"
Can be found at: www.patheos.com/blogs/marcusborg/

And of course there is my own book: Cards, Carols, and Claus. Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity

Silence for Private Reflection

CELEBRATING

A Christmas Day Litany (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

Celebrate this day, this Christmas day!
Shout Australia, our God is with us.
Christ is born!
All  From Darwin and Melbourne,
Canberra and Kalgoolie,
let the story be told.
Let the carols be sung.

In the hot, dusty paddocks
where headers are stopped for the day,
let the music be heard;
All  While the temperature soars at Broome and Coober Pedy,
and people crowd beaches
with surf board and sun screen lotion,
remember his birth.

Around the smoking barbecues
with the fragrant aroma of cooking food,
talk about the gift from God;
All  By tables loaded with crisp salads 
or roast turkey and plum pudding,
contemplate God's love in Christ.

Join the celebration, all human population -
late arrivals to the great south land!
Black people, make him your best corroborees!
Descendants of pioneers, sing your praise!
New Australians from Asia, Africa and Europe,
offer the heritage of your ancient ways!
All  For to us is born this day a Saviour,
who is called the Christ!

Arise, and laugh, and dance, and sing
All  for the Antipodes, too, have a glorious King!  (Adapt.Bruce Prewer)

The people remain standing to sing

OR

Southern Christmas Colours... (Optional)
v1 We come to acknowledge the many colours of Christmas…
v2 Colours of red in the shining ornaments
and rosy glow of merriment
Red cloth/steamers brought forward and put in place

All A time for meeting our memories and
honouring favourite traditions…

v3 Colours of green in the trees and
the streets of Christmas lights
Green cloth/steamers brought forward and put in place

All A time for seeing signs of life and celebration…

v4 Colours of yellow in bright summer sun and
neighbourhood bbqs
Yellow cloth/steamers brought forward and put in place

All A time to celebrate the warmth and care of each other
as days grow longer...

v5 Colours of blue in the deep, cool waters of the sea
Blue cloth/steamers brought forward and put in place

All A time when barmy evenings caress us and
beach-side walks relax us...

v1 We gather in this time to find hope
All We come to open our spirits to the courage of living
amid all the colours of this southern summer season.

Sharing 'The Peace'
Let us take a moment to celebrate each other.
May a heart of peace rest with you. (David Galston/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
"Carol Of The Birds"        1FACC
Out on the plains the Brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war-horses prancing:
Up to the sun the wood-larks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing -
Orana! Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day.

Down where the tree-ferns grow by the river,
There where the waters sparkle and quiver,
Deep in the gullies bell-birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyric notes rhyming -
Orana! Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day.

Friar-birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in wattle-tree bowers;
In the blue ranges Lorikeets calling
Carols of bushbirds are rising and falling -
Orana! Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day.
  John Wheeler.

OR

The Spirit that Breathed(Tune: ‘Montgomery’ OR ‘Normandy Carol’, 11 11 11 11)
The spirit that breathed on the waves of the sea,
is wonder, is wisdom, a cause to be free.
Before all creation, her glory was known,
with earth as a footstool and heaven her throne.

This spirit, this wisdom, then took human flesh,
divested of glory, a manger for rest.
This Word would appear in the form of a man
contained by the limits of life's human span.

Thus rooted, our lives are both honoured and raised,
through wisdom, in Jesus. When all things seem crazed
that spirit still lives as a sign of God's grace,
still hoping for freedom in each person 's face. © Andrew Pratt 8/12/2011
People sit

Conversation with the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat

AFFIRMING

The Offering
Our offerings to the Christmas Bowl and its various international projects
shall now be received.

Presentation
We rejoice in the new world God is creating around us and with us.
May our gifts proclaim the way of Jesus
and strengthen a faithful people.

Reflections and Prayer
May we be blessed and healed for we come in love and in trust.
May we be blessed and healed for we come in love expectant hope.
(Silence)

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:
Each day brims over with possibility.

All In every second lie choices, chances,

in numbers too great for us to comprehend.


May we ever strive to see beyond our limitations,

choose beyond our immediate needs,

All and live into each day,

the fullness of its opportunity
(Gretta Vosper/hb)

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

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 (Optional)
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the 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)

SCATTERING

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"God’s Surprise" (Tune: 'Scarlet Ribbons')      46 (v1-2) HSNW
Who would think that what was needed
To transform and save the earth
Might not be a plan or army,
Proud in purpose, proved in worth?
Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.

Shepherds watch and wise men wonder,
Monarchs scorn and angels sing;
Such a place as none would reckon
Hosts a holy helpless thing;
Stable beasts and by-passed stranger
Watch a baby laid in hay:
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day.
Remain standing

OR

"Child of Christmas Story”  (Tune: ‘Incarnation')        12 (v1-2) 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.

Parting Words
The God we worship is never confined to this holy place.

So go and travel with the God
who is found in ordinary and surprising places.
All And may we leave this place seeking
an uncharted and freely chosen way to wholeness,
knowing we have companions along the way.
  Barry Wienecke

Words of Blessing
Go in peace to claim the life of Christ within our midst:
and may the earth be warm under your feet,
the rain bring the gentle flowers
of the bush bright around you,
and the wind blows as the breath of the Spirit before you.
All
Amen. May it be so.

Hymn "God’s Surprise"  (Tune: 'Scarlet Ribbons')    46 (v3) HSNW
Centuries of skill and science
Span the past from which we move,
Yet experience questions whether,
Wth such progress, we improve.
While the human lot we ponder,
Lest our hopes and humour fray,
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day. © Iona Community

OR

"Child of Christmas Story”  (Cont.) (Tune: ‘Incarnation')        12 (v3-4) AA 
Child of Jew and Gentile,
child of white and black -
teach us how to love you,
teach us what we lack.

Child of Mary's courage
birthed in human pain,
tell us what your name is -
be our hope again.   (
Shirley Erena Murray)

Recessional 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 us of LicenSing -
Copyright cleared music for churches


Some Resources that have helped shape this Liturgy.
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa. Hymns and Songs for all churches. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1993.
(HSNW) Bell, J. & G. Maule. 
Heaven Shall Not Wait. Wild Goose Songs Vol. 1. Revised edition. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 1989.
Burgess, R. A Book of Blessings. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
(COC) Carol our Christmas. A Book of New Zealand Carols. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1996.
(FSSC) Haddon, G. P. Feminist Sacred Songs for Christmas. Scotland. Plus Publications, 1994.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2006.
McRae-McMahon, D. ‘Christmas Day liturgy’. Special resources. UCA. 2005.
(SLT) Singing The Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
(SiF) 
Kearns, S. (ed). 2009. Sing it Forward. Traditional Hymns Recast and Rewritten for Non-Exclusive Communities. In circulation from the author.
Vosper, G. With or Without God. Why the way we Live is more important that what we Believe. Canada. Toronto. HarperCollins, 2008.
Vosper, G. Holy Breath. Prayers for Worship and Reflection. New & Revised Edition. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2004/2010.
Wallace, W. L. Something to Sing About. Hymns and Reflections in Search of a Contemporary Spirituality. Melbourne. JBCE. 1981.
(FACC) Wheeler, J. Five Australian Christmas Carols. London. Chappell & Co., 1948.

Web sites/Other:
Wienecke. UUA Worship Web. Boston. < www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Metropolitan City Churches. 2008. <www.mccchurch.org/Resources/Worship>

Bruce Prewer 2008. 
Web Site. Bendigo.
Shirley E Murray. "Troublesome Carol". Direct from the author.
Andrew Pratt. "The Spirit that Breathed” and “In Every Face…". Direct from the author.
Gretta Vosper.
Candle Lighting. ProgressiveChristianity.Org web site

rexae74@gmail.com