Easter5B.29.4.2018

Revd Rex A E Hunt

eMail: rexae74@gmail.com  OR  rexae@optusnet.com.au
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A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
Easter 5B.  29 April 2018.  (White)

Worth Pondering
“Change is… Life refuses to be embalmed alive”
Alfred North Whitehead


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

Refreshment Station/Water Basins
Pottery basins are set on stands near the entrance to the sanctuary. 
Attendees are invited to dip their hands in the cool water in the basins as they arrive. 
Or to rinse each other’s hands. 
That we may relax, be refreshed, and prepare for this time together.

(Note: A small sign is placed above the basin explaining that as they dip their hands in the water, they are invited to relax and try to mindfully set aside or release for a time anything that might be preventing them from being fully present—each traveler rinsing the “dust from the road”).

OR

(A suggestion of other words)
We come together from our separate lives,
each of us bringing our concerns, our preoccupations,
our hopes, and our dreams.

We are not yet fully present.
The traffic, the last-minute cooking, the final details still cling to us.
Our bodies hold the rush of the past few hours.

It is now time to let go of these pressures and really arrive…   

When you are ready, repeat silently to yourself: ‘Hineini’ or ‘Here I am’.
Hineini is used in the Torah to signify being present
in body, mind, and spirit.

It means settling into where we are and simply being “here”. (Adapted/Nan Fink Gene)

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

Life is a gift for which we are grateful.

We gather in community to celebrate
the glories
and mysteries
of this great gift.  (Marjorie Montgomery/slt)

So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

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 People stand as they are able, to sing
We Stand in Awe (2)”  (Tune: ‘Crucifer’, 10.10. Refrain)     61 SNS4 

Refrain:
We stand in awe; the mystery is supreme; 
The cosmos sings aloud the sacred dream. 

Earth is our home; its wonders, so diverse,
Are constant in a changing universe. 
Refrain:
We stand in awe…

Noises in nature sound harsh harmony;
The singing of whales and violent predatory. 
Refrain:
We stand in awe… 

Eager engagement and each new re-birth
Bring constant refreshment to this vibrant earth. 
Refrain:
We stand in awe… 

Constant renewal; promise in each seed;
For from each death new life will then proceed. 
Refrain:
We stand in awe… 

We are accepted; in this dream we grow,
Forever thankful that it can be so. 
Refrain:
We stand in awe…   (George Stuart)
Remain standing after the hymn

Opening Sentences
Through this gathering celebration
we leave for a time the daily sequence of events,
to examine life in its eternal dimensions
and consequences:
All  asking questions about our values
our directions
our goals, and
our relationships.

Let us spend this time in the presentness
of the Sacred One - God.
All  Praise be for this gathered community
in this sacred place, for all people.

Act of Awareness
O 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.  (Barbara Wells/slt)

Hymn  Tree of Life”  (Tune: ‘Thomas’, 87.8.77)            307 GA
Light of life beyond conceiving,
Mighty Spirit of our Lord;
Give new strength to our believing,
Give us faith to live your word.
Give us faith to live your word.

From the dawning of creation,
You have loved us as your own;
Stay with us through all temptation,
Make us turn to you alone.
Make us turn to you alone.

We remember truth once spoken,
Love passed on through act and word,
Ev’ry person lost and broken
Wears the body of our Lord.
Wears the body of our Lord.

Give us eyes to see you clearly,
Make us children of your light;
Give us hearts to live more nearly
As your gospel shining bright.
As your gospel shining bright.

God of all our fear and sorrow,
God who lives beyond our death;
Hold us close through each tomorrow,
Love as near as every breath.
Love as near as every breath.  (Marty Haugen)
People sit after the hymn/song

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.

CENTERING

Presentation of Water Basins
Words which acknowledge that the dust of many roads and many life experiences has been rinsed into the basins, and calls for the contents of the basins and the gathering to be transformed, renewed, and more fully alive

The dust of many roads and may life experiences
has been washed in this refreshing water.
For this place is a sacred place.

May we
greet one another with open hearts and minds;
inspire each other to consider new questions
and seek deeper meaning;
and cultivate both wisdom and compassion.

And 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.
The bowls of water are removed from the Gathering space

Centering Silence
So gathering as we do in this sacred place,
we pause again to reflect, to feel, and to commit
to thoughtful and mindful intention.
(Silence)

We wonder again about the ebb and flow
of this living, breathing, expanding universe…

And of this community.
(Silence)

We give our attention right now
to each other,
to new beginnings,
to this time,
to this season.

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Two readings from our broad religious tradition shall now be offered.

From the World Around us:
"Did the Sun Come Up this Morning?”
By Victoria Safford. UUA Worship Web

The dead shall rise again.

Have you seen the trees? Have you seen the maple buds?
The magnolias, swelling?
Poplars, the first lacy, pale spray across the shoulder of the hills? 

The forsythia (or as one child I know calls it, the three-sythia, the two-sythia), and those three small, flowering, perfect crabapple trees in the park, strong little trees begging children to climb them and get lost for a while in their magical, pink canopies?

Did you smell the rain this week, and the muddy, ready earth receiving it?
Did you smell the musty, lusty, mouldy pile of leaves all thawed now,
and underneath, the moist and living earthworms, wide awake?

Is it safe, I wonder, to presume that we have all seen the dead resurrected?
Can we presume, just quietly among us, this basic fact?
Can we admit, however carefully at first, however foolish it may sound,
that once or twice in our lives or perhaps over and over and tumbling over,
we have seen events miraculous? 

Choose the words you will, whatever words you need.
If 'miracle' cloys, try 'unexpected.' 'Surprising.' 'Unanticipated.' 'Lucky.’ ‘
That which has been given us, that second chance, that second wind,
by the grace of God knows what.'

The dead shall rise again.
We know, because we’ve seen it…

Did the sun come up this morning, no thanks to us and all for us,
and did the earth awake again, or did it not?

We will testify to resurrection.

Traditional Gospel:
John 15:1-8  (Inclusive Text)

Jesus said to the disciples:
"I am the true vine.

"Every branch in me that bears no fruit is cut away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
is pruned to make it bear even more.

"You are pruned already, by means of the word
that I have spoken to you.

"Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.

"As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.

"I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remain in me with me in them,
bear fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.

"Whoever do not remain in me
are like branches that have been thrown away- they wither;
these branches are collected and thrown on to the fire,
and they are burnt.

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will and you shall get it.

"It is to the glory of God, who sent me,
that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples."

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Celebration  (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

The Womb of Stars
By Joy Atkinson. (No. 445, Singing The Living Tradition)

v1  The womb of stars embraces us;
remnants of their fiery furnaces
pulse through our veins.
All  We are of the stars, the dust of explosions cast across space.

v2  We are of the earth:
we breathe and live in the breath
of ancient plants and beasts.
All  Their cells nourish the soil; 
we build our communities on their harvest of gifts.

v1  Our fingers trace the curves carved
in clay and stone by forebears unknown to us.
All  We are a part of the great circle of humanity 
gathered around the fire, the hearth, the altar.

v2  We gather anew this day
to celebrate our common heritage.
All  May we recall in gratitude 
all that has given us birth.

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
"Everything That Has Voice" (Tune: 'Sing for Peace', Marty Haugen)     9 TEL
Everything that has voice,
sing for peace,
speak for peace,
given chance, given choice,
work for peace,
write for peace,
resonating everywhere,
echoing our common care:
everything that has voice,
sing for peace!

All the world longs for peace
cries for peace,
dies for peace,
let the children, every place
sleep in peace,
grow in peace,
home and country safe to be
where the spirit rises free,
all the world longs for peace,
cries for peace.

Everyone who has breath,
you and I,
passers-by,
every tenant of the earth
plant for peace,
gather for peace,
cultivate a neighbourhood
cherishing our neighbours' good:
everyone who has breath,
live for peace!  (Shirley Erena Murray)
People sit

CELEBRATING

Offerings
Let us bring our offerings as a symbol of our decision
to be co-creators with God in a safer
and more inclusive world.

Presentation
We look for a gentler humanity, a kinder world:
with our money and with our hearts,
with our minds and with every good intention,
let this be our prayer and our deed.  (Francis Macnab/fwb)

Conversation with the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat

“Conversation”:

"Somewhere someone…:”

The kingdom of love is coming because:
All  somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind,
somewhere someone shares with another in need,
somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate,
somewhere someone is patient - and waits in love,
somewhere someone returns good for evil,
somewhere someone serves another, in love,
somewhere someone is calm in a storm,
somewhere someone is loving everybody.
Is that someone you?
(jke)

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

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
v1  We affirm an unfailing renewal of life.
Wm:   We affirm the steady growth of human companionship.
Mn:   We affirm a continuing hope

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

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.

In all our joys and in all our concerns, may we be ever mindful
of the presentness of the sacred among and within us,
and to see new possibilities of the now.

The 'Abba' Prayer:  (Optional)
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Abba/Lord’s Prayer, and 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) 

SCATTERING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
"From Season to Season" (Tune: ‘Foundation’ 11 11 11 11 anapaestic)      111 (v1-2) WNC
From season to season, through death and re-birth,
this world, through its phases, shows love has no dearth.
Such love is for sharing, to do good to all,
to nurture well-being, to echo God's call.

Through sensitive reason we fathom the need
of neighbours, of nature; we subjugate greed.
We offer each other the kiss of God's peace,
embracing earth's harmony, hatred will cease.

OR

Choose Life(Tune: ‘St Cecelia’, 66 66)        6 (v1-2) TMT
Choose life and turn from death,
make peace instead of war,
share love in place of hate,
and dance the Gospel life.

See beauty with your eyes,
make beauty with our hands,
live beauty in your lives
and dance the Gospel life.
Remain standing

Parting Words
As we leave this place of gathering and celebration:
may we remember that each day
offers more things than we can do.
The Community Candle is extinguished 

May you live forever
All  May you live forever
in the name of love.
All  in the name of love.

May you love forever
All  May you love forever
in the name of life.
All  in the name of life.

Called by God
All Called by God
filled with the spirit
All  filled with the spirit
compassionate and faithful
All  compassionate and faithful
rejoicing always
All rejoicing always,
may you live in love
All  may you live in love
forever. Amen.
All  forever. Amen.  (Adapt. Miriam T Winter)

Words of Blessing
Go now as those who would see
not only what the world is
but what we can make it be,
and may your hands, your heart, your voice
be turned toward making it so.

Go in peace.  (Gretta Vosper/wowg)

Hymn (Cont).  "From Season to Season" (Tune: ‘Foundation’ 11 11 11 11 anapaestic)          111 (v3) WNC
Through summer and autumn, through winter's release,
we welcome spring's coming with nature's increase.
All praise for the gifting of harvest and life,
all power to the ending of all human strife.  (Andrew Pratt)

OR

Choose Life(Tune: ‘St Cecelia’, 66 66)        6 (3-4) TMT
Seek justice for the poor,
find freedom for yourself,
help people use their power
and dance the Gospel life.

Choose love instead of fear,
choose change instead of guilt,
choose hope instead of gloom
and dance the Gospel life.  (William L Wallace)
The people sit

'This Week' at (NN)
Notices
Birthdays and anniversaries
Significant events
Journey candles

Music

Fellowship
Morning tea is now served.
You are invited to share in this time 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:
Binkley, C. G. & J. M. McKeel. Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals. An International Curriculum on the Life and Teaching of Jesus. Santa Rosa. Polebridge Press, 2001.
Gather Australia. Ashburton: NLMC Publications, 1995.
Inclusive Readings. Year B. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In Private Circulation, 2005
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.
(TEL) Murray, S. E. Touch the Earth Lightly. New Hymns written between 2003 and 2008. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2008.
(WNC) Pratt, A. Whatever Name or Creed. Hymns and Songs. London. Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2002
(SNS4) Stuart, G. Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Volume 4. Toronto: G Stuart, 2013.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Vosper, G. With or Without God. Why the Way we Live is More Important than What we Believe. Toronto. HarperCollins, 2008.
Wallace, W. L. The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston. Selah Publishing, 2001.
Winter, Miriam T. Women Prayer. Women Song. Resources for Ritual. Hartford. Meyer Stone Books, 1987.

Web sites/Other:
Safford, UUA Worship Web. Boston. < http://www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Refreshment Station. Words by Nan Fink Gefen, taken from an Evolutionary Passover Haggadah by Tree Bressen.
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/

rexae74@gmail.com