Epiphany2B.14.1.2018

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
14 January 2018. Epiphany 2B. (Green).
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

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 

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

We gather in community
to rest from our labours,
to greet our neighbours,
and to open our being to insight and intuition
of that greater reality of which we are a part.  
(Adapt.PHL'Herrou)

So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of this life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

This flame is warm as the companionship of friends is warm.

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

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
A Moment of Wonder”  (Tune: St Catherine’s Court’, 12 11 12 11)     1 MTH
A moment of wonder, amazement and grandeur,
a time when God’s glory shines clear through our lives,
God’s grace is beyond us, yet lives in each heartbeat,
the source of creation from which peace derives.

The eyes of our minds are enlightened with splendour,
inherited glory, the song of the saints
is ours for the asking, by faith becomes present
as life is set dancing, devoid of restraints.

O this is the spirit of joy and obedience,
it’s bending our pride to the purpose of God,
the rhythm, the harmony, gracefully springing:
our feet follow faithfully where Jesus trod.  (Andrew Pratt. © Stainer & Bell)

OR

Sing a New Song” (Tune: ‘Cosmic Praise’, 10 10 10 9)       166 (v1, 2, 5) TiS
Sing a new song, sing a new song,
and wait upon the promise of the Lord.

Creation sings a new song to the Lord,
the universal energies rejoice,
through all the magnitudes of space and time
creatures proclaim the grandeur of Christ.

The mountains and the valleys and the plains,
the cattle and the wild beasts and the birds,
the shadows and the clouds, the rain and snow,
praise and reflect the bounty of Christ.

The human eye, the shaping hand, the mind
with number and with symbol and design,
in work and play and artistry and prayer,
praise and reflect the wisdom of Christ.  (James Phillip McAsley)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
God’s breath stirs the gum trees that line the car park
and the traffic lights along the street.
All
May we feel this presence with us.

God’s voice speaks in thunder and summer surf,
in poem and concert hall.
All May we listen for this word among us.

God imagines ripening crops and bustling markets,
silent lakes and welcoming meals.
All May we seek this will beyond us. 
(Adapt. UCC.WorshipWays)

Act of Awareness
In each moment of this day resides incredible power:
new life,
healing,
opportunity.

May this time together empower us to take some new steps
so all our living is transforming and the
yearning of our hearts become reality.

OR

We pray:
We are bold to claim we sense a sacred presence in this place.
May it awaken within again
the wonder that humble us,
the beauty that informs us,
and the creativity that heightens and deepens our living,
that we may give ourselves in honesty and openness 
to the larger life before us. 
(Adapt.CWells)
May it be so.

Song  We Are Many(Tune: ‘Hamilton’.)        67 FFS
We are many, we are one,
and the work of Christ is done
when we learn to live in true community,
as the stars that fill the night,
as a flock of birds in flight,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine;
as the branches of a tree,
as the waves upon the sea,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine.

All division is made whole
when we honour every soul,
find the life of God in every you and me,
as the fingers of a hand,
as the grains that form the sand,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine;
as the threads upon a loom,
as a field of flowers in bloom,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine.

We will join creation's song,
make a world where all belong,
build as one in peace and loving harmony,
as the voices of a choir,
as the flames within a fire,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine;
as the snowflakes in the snow,
as the colours of a bow,
as the cluster of the grapes upon the vine.  Colin Gibson

OR

Chant  “Go Into The Sacredness”  10 OHV 
Go into the sacredness,
the sacredness of 
the world we love
Go into the sacredness,
the sacredness of the world we love.
To live the change, to be the ones,
to stand together in peace and love.  (Christopher New, 2015)
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.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.

CENTERING

Meditation
"All My Life"
By Joyce Keller. (Source unknown)

All my life I've wanted to believe in God,
gone to church,
followed every spiritual teacher in town,
meditated and prayed,
attended 12-step programs,
but still I felt abandoned and alone in the universe.

All my life I've wanted to see the face of God.
Is he really just a mean old man in the sky?
Perhaps God is a chubby Buddha,
or maybe the Dalai Lama, always laughing.
Or is She a woman, the green Tara, weeping pearl tears,
the Virgin of Guadalupe, crowned with roses?

All my life I've tried to solve that old mystery,
Who are we?
Where did we come from?
Why are we here?

Then one day I saw the pictures
sent back by the Hubble Telescope:
Hot blue stars born out of the red glow of galaxies,
a pulsating firestorm of fluorescent clouds,
the obsidian sky of deep space.

Spirals of comets, like swirling diamond necklaces.
Black holes, exploding supernovas,
a hundred thousand light-years away,
endless, unimaginable, eternal.

And I knew that finally I had seen the face of God.

Centering Silence
Let there be a quiet time among us.
(Silence)

May the silence remind us of the best hours we have known,
and strengthen our resolve
to live in that spirit
which gives the better meaning to our lives.  
(Bob Holmes)
(Silence)

EXPLORING

Readings from our Biblical Tradition
Hebrew Scriptures:
Psalm 139 (Selected verses)
A thematic approach by Francis Macnab. A Fine Wind is Blowing/51

God, the Eternal one, you know me:
You know me as I take my rest, and as I rise again.
You know my most distant thoughts.
You trace my journey and all my pathways.
My whole life is open to you.

Before a word comes out of my mouth, you know it.
Your Presence seems to every side, behind and before,
and (every now and then) you lay your hand on me.

All this is just too wonderful: how can I possibly understand it?

I know that there is nowhere I can go to escape your Presence…
Therefore, I find comfort that you know me as you do;
that you test me and try my thoughts.

But watch me lest I take a wrong path.
Lead me forward in a life where I will know for sure
I am accepted and blessed.

Traditional Gospel:
John 1:43-48
  (NRSV)

Jesus decided to go to Galilee.
He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip found Nathanael and said to him,
"We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, 
Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."

Nathanael said to him,  "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, "Come and see.

OR

New Gospel:
Gospel of Thomas 1 - 5 (A New New Testament)

These are the veiled sayings which the living Jesus spoke
and Judas, the Twin, Thomas wrote them down.

And he said, "Whoever finds the meaning of these sayings will not experience death.”

Jesus said, "Let the one who seeks continue seeking until he finds.
And when that one finds he will be disturbed,
and once that one is disturbed he will be become awed,
and will rule as a king over the all.”

Jesus said, "If those who lead you proclaim to you: ’The realm is in the sky,’
then the birds of the sky will enter before you.
If they proclaim to you: ’It is in the sea,’
then the fish will enter before you.
Rather, the realm is within you and outside of you.
When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known,
and you will realise that you are the children of the Living Father.
If, however, you do not come to know yourselves,
then you dwell in poverty and you are the poverty.”

Jesus said, "The old person will not hesitate to ask a small child of seven days
about the place of life, and the one one will live.
For many who are first will be last .
And they will come to be one alone.”

Jesus said, "Recognize what is right in front of your face,
and what is hidden will be revealed to you.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.”

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

Litany: ‘God at Epiphany’ (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and share together a special litany.
The people stand as they are able

O God, whose presentness we sense
Mn  in the time of death,
Wm  and in the time of feasting,
Mn  
in the time of anxiety,
Wm  
and in the time of opportunity,

Mn  
in the hour of loss,
Wm  
and in the hour of given wealth,

Mn  
in the hour of breaking,
Wm  
and in the hour when a new foundation is being laid,

Mn  
in the day of chaos,
Wm  
and in the day of renewal,

Mn
in the day of powerlessness,
Wm
and in the day when we witness to a grace that is not our own…

Love in us and in the midst of our community.
All  Stand revealed as light and hope and truth,
that whatever the future brings,
your peace may grow,
your joy inspire,
and your trust in us and in the world
be justified at last
.  (Adapt.JMHulme/ssb)

Sharing 'The Peace'
Holiness... is seeing with the eyes of Christ.  (Origen of Alexandria)
Therefore, let us take a moment to celebrate the Christ in each of us.

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
Our World is One World” 
(Tune: ‘Chernobyl’, 58 86 4)    134 SLT
Our world is one world
what touches one affects us all:
the seas that wash us round about,
the clouds that cover us,
the rains that fall.

Our world is one world
the thoughts we think affects us all:
the way we build our attitudes,
with love or hate, we make,
a bridge or wall.

Our world is one world
it’s ways of wealth affects us all:
the way we spend, the way we share,
who are the rich or poor,
who stand or fall.

Our world is one world
just like a ship that bears us all:
where fear and greed make many holes,
but where our hearts can hear,
a different call.  
(Cecily Taylor)

Reflections and Prayers
Care Candle:
We are people of all ages who enter this space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Celebrations; Griefs and Concerns shared

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
Creation thrums with Being

and peals the Word - 'I am'.
All  We sometimes remember
to whisper the antiphon, 'We are'.
  (VArnold/es)

And so we take this flame and light our special care candle...
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.  (Gretta Vosper/ab)

The 'Abba' Prayer:  (Optional)
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Abba/Lord’s Prayer 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.  (Burton Mack/Q) 

CELEBRATING

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
Offerings
Our offerings for the celebration of life in this place and beyond,
and our gifts of bread and wine, shall now be received.

Presentation
In all the colours and scents and sounds of the world,
we would see God's signature
as the beauty of things.  (Adapt.JTrapp)

Invitation
In faith and love, gathered in this place,

we celebrate the brightness of community

and the season of early Summer called 'Balalambar'
 (Season of Butterflies)
by the Djab Wurrung and Jardwidjarli People.

OR

Thanksgiving
God of the summer’s day,
All
Praise and wonder be.
God of the lingering sunset and early dawn,
All
Praise and wonder be.

God of the hot north wind and the refreshing shower,
God of the shady tree and the cool water bag,
God of the ripening harvest and sparkling sea,
All  Praise and wonder be. (Adapt.LWithrow/sp)

We gather together conscious that raising our hearts and minds
is a gift of the Spirit of Life at work
in the depths of our being.
All  For the presence of that Spirit in us,
we give thanks.

We gather together conscious that our actions
gives the Spirit a way of breaking into word and song
unique in all the universe.
All  For the words and songs within each of us,
we give thanks.

We gather together mindful of men and women
throughout human history who allowed the Spirit of Life
to work in them for the betterment of our world and humanity.
All  For their lives and their inspiration,
we give thanks.

And so we offer our thanks and praise
inviting the Spirit of Life, Love and Goodness
to move freely in our words and actions.
All  Holy, holy, holy, celebrating God,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
All 
Hosanna in the highest.

Jesus is the story we gather around and give thanks for.
Human like us, he discerned where this Spirit of Life is found:
in the everyday,
in human interaction,
in caring,
in sharing,
in being neighbour.

He urged people to work together to establish the 'reign of God'
by wholehearted generosity,
by eliminating boundaries between people,
by trust in the goodness of people,
and by working for peace and justice in all human endeavours.
All  We remember his total commitment
to living fully and loving totally,
and his faith in a God to be trusted
whatever twists life could take.
  (Adapt.Michael Morwood/pns)

We also remember the meal tradition of Jesus…
(Silence)

So we take this bread and this wine
All  mindful of the Spirit at work in our lives,
in the ordinary, in the everyday,
and in our desire to love as generously as Jesus loved.

Bread and Wine
Bread is broken

We break this bread giving our Amen to God
living and loving in us.

Wine poured out
We fill this cup with the fruit of the vine,
reminding us of promises to love,
of love generously shared,
of Jesus who loved so totally,
and our call to love as courageously as Jesus loved.

Communion
Bread and Wine served

After Communion
We give thanks for the Spirit of Life
visible in Jesus,
visible in us,
visible in people in all walks of life.

We give thanks for faith that recognises and names this presence
and this bonding of all people.

We pray that we will allow the life and the teaching of Jesus
to motivate all that we do
so that what we profess to have seen in his life
and heard in his teaching
might be evident in our living and loving.

SCATTERING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
"Sing High to God(Tune: ‘Woodlands’, 10 10 10 10)
Sing high to God, who once upon a time
(Before all time!) Took love to shape a dream
And poured it into life creating words
That gave to all that is: a role, a name.

Give thanks to Christ who calls us to be one
And learn to use the future tense today
To keep the dream alive the vision clear:
A world at peace, the human race at play.

OR

Wild Waves of Storm(Tune: ‘Wild Waves’, 4 10 10 10 4)     80 (v1-2) SLT
Wild waves of storm,
the wonder of the wind and crashing sea,
nature in power and might and majesty,
yet wonder more in deep tranquillity,
sea, calm and still.

Migrating birds,
in flocks intent upon far distant shore
great wonder hold; yet there is wonder more
when lonely eagle, watchful on a post,
sits, calm and still.
Remain standing

Parting Words
Let us go in faith to ponder in our hearts
the mystery and the wonder of this season...
The candle is extinguished

And now may the rhythms of our coming together:
the melodies of our worship,
and the harmonies of our farewells,
All  Make musical our living,
soothing our spirits
and uplifting our whole selves
This day
All  
and into the beckoning future.

Words of Blessing
Bless us God
with saints to tell us stories
with angels to surprise us
with friends along the way.

Bless us God with strength and joy and courage
all the length and breadth
of our nights and days. 
(RBurgess/bb)
All  Amen. May it be so.

Hymn (Cont) "Sing High to God(Tune: ‘Woodlands’, 10 10 10 10)
Pray that the Holy Spirit may proceed
Empowering us to see Christ's mission through
Transform the dream to speech, enact the word
Put flesh on hope, make God's intent come true.

Let not, O God, the vision we have caught
Fade as we rise, nor let it die away;
Give us the faith with passion to pursue
That dream's fulfilment in the light of day.  
Fred Kaan

OR

Wild Waves of Storm(Tune: ‘Wild Waves’, 4 10 10 10 4)    80 (v3-4) SLT
All people one
in urgent haste, on some great enterprise,
hearts beating fast, great dreams to realize,
yet in the soul a dream of richer prize,
serene and still.

Then striving cease:
from troubled turmoil seek an inward goal;
tranquillity shall make the spirit whole.
Be still, and know a Presence in the soul,
serene, alive.  
(Sydney H Knight/adapt)
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:
Burgess, R. A Book of Blessings. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Shine On, Star of Bethlehem. A Worship Resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2001.
(FFS) Faith Forever Singing. Songs for a New Day. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2000.
Holmes, R. H. The Bob Holmes Worship Materials. Vol 1.  Little Falls. Self published, 1972.
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.
Macnab, F. A Fine Wind is Blowing: Psalms of the Bible in Words that Blow you Away. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2006.
Morwood, M. Praying a New Story. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2003.
(OHV) 
New, C. Our Highest Values: A Collection of Songs for an Expansive Spirituality. Edmonton. Southminster-Steinhauer United Church, 2015.  (chris@smsuc.com)
(MTH) Pratt, A. More Than Hymns. Words for a Lyrical Faith. London. Stainer & Bell, 2015.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Taussig, H. (ed). A New New Testament. A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts. New York. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
(TiS) Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious, 1999.
Vosper, G.
Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.
Withrow, L.
Seasons of Prayer. Resources for worship. London. SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
L'Herrou, Wells, Trapp. UUA Worship Web. Boston. <
www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Fred Kaan. "Sing High to God". Stainer & Bell Ltd. Web site: hymns.uk.com
V Arnold.
"Listening Response". Eureka Street eZine 20, 23. 23/11/10.
United Church of Christ. Worship Ways web site. 2012.
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/

rexae74@gmail.com