Lent1B.18.2.2018

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
18 February 2018.  Lent1 B. (Purple).


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 Gathering space. 
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 traveller 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

From season to season, this world, through its phases,
shows love has no dearth.

This love is for sharing,
to nurture well-being,
to echo God's call.
  (Adapt.Andrew Pratt/hfw)

So let us celebrate this 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

Lighting of the Community Candle
In this place of friendship there is freedom.
Let the light we kindle go before us,
strong in hope,
wide in good will,
inviting the day to come.
The Community Candle is lit

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
Where Wide Sky Rolls Down(Tune: ‘Hanover’, 55 55 65 65)   188 TiS
Where wide sky rolls down and touches red sand,
where sun turns to gold the grass of the land,
let spinifex, mulga and waterhole tell
their joy in the One who made everything well.

Where rain-forest calm meets reef, tide and storm,
where green things grow lush and oceans are warm,
let every sea-creature and tropical bird
exult in the light of the life-giving Word.

Where red gum and creek cross hillside and plain,
where cool tree-ferns rise to welcome the rain,
let bushland, farm, mountain-top, all of their days
delight in the Spirit who formed them for praise.

Now, people of faith, come gather around
with songs to be shared, for blessings abound!
Australians, whatever your culture or race,
come, lift up your hearts to the Giver of grace. (Elizabeth J Smith)

OR

Praise to God, the World’s Creator”  (Tune: ‘Abbot’s Leigh’, 87 87D)
Praise to God, the world’s creator,
Source of life and growth and breath,
Cradling in her arms her children,
Holding them from birth to death.
In our bodies, in our living,
Strength and truth of all we do,
God is present, working with us,
Making us creators too.

Praise to God our saving Wisdom,
Meeting us with love and grace,
Helping us to grow in wholeness,
Giving freedom, room, and space.
In our hurting, in our risking,
In the thoughts we dare not name,
God is present, growing with us,
Healing us from sin and shame.

Praise to God, the Spirit in us,
Prompting hidden depths of prayer,
Firing us to long for justice,
Reaching out with tender care.
In our searching, in our loving,
In our struggles to be free,
God is present, living in us,
Pointing us to what shall be. 
(Jan Berry/cw)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
As we gather to remember and share stories of faith,
let us rejoice in the presentness of God.
All  
Before our stories began, there was God;
through all our days, God walks with us.

God’s creative presence is moving among us.
All  Let us sing praises and offer thanks.

Dance with the God who frees us for new possibilities.
All  We seek to grow in faith and in love for one another.

Act of Awareness
For all that is our life we offer thanks and praise.
For all life is a gift which we are called to use,
to build the store of common good.

May we know once again that we are not isolated beings
but connected, in mystery and miracle,
to the universe,
to this community, and
to each other.

OR

We pray:
Surprising God, as we move into new experiences,
help us to be open to your presentness
among us and within.

May we sense your glory
in the sights and sounds and breath of this Lenten day.
Amen.

Hymn  Choose Life(Tune: ‘St Cecelia’, 66 66)       6 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.

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)

OR

Hymn  “Let All Beauty…(Tune: ‘Danby’, (LM) 88 88)      46 SiF/326 SLT
Let all the beauty we have known
illuminate our hearts and minds.
Rejoice in wonders daily shown,
in faith and joy, and love that binds.

We celebrate with singing hearts
the loveliness of sky and earth,
the inspiration of the arts,
the miracle of ev’ry birth

Life’s music and its poetry
surround and bless us through our days.
For these we sing in harmony,
together giving thanks and praise. (Dana McL Greeley)
The 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.

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

Meditation
"Prophets"
By Clinton Lee Scott. Singing the Living Tradition/565.

v1   Always it is easier to pay homage to prophets
than to heed the direction of their vision.
v2  It is easier blindly to venerate the saints
than to learn the human quality of their sainthood.

v1  It is easier to glorify the heroes of the race than
v2  to give weight to their examples.

v1  To worship the wise is much easier
than to profit by their wisdom.
v2  Great leaders are honored,
not by adulation, but by sharing
their insights and values.

v1  Grandchildren of those who stoned the prophet
sometimes gather up the stones
to build the prophet's monument.
v2  Always it is easier to pay homage to prophets
than to heed the direction of their vision.

Silence
Come apart from the busyness of family and work,
and dwell in the presentness of God,
our dynamic source of being.
(Silence)

God calls us to renew ourselves and our life's purpose
as we gather with others who are searching.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

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

The first is one of a series we will hear during Lent,
written by retired Uniting Church minister, Bruce Prewer.

The second is from the storyteller Mark, who's audience
was one of the early Jesus Movement communities.
Our reader is (NN).

From the World Around us:
'Thoughts in the Desert' By Bruce Prewer.  More Australian Psalms/135.

Those who dare to test their wits
in dry inhospitable territory,
where no-one is waiting
to receive them,
return with
a word:

The dire danger to the adventurer
is not demoralising gibber plains
nor ridge after ridge of sand,
but the distracting lure
of the shimmering
mirage.

To distinguish reality from the illusion
and to keep one's bearings and course
in spite of the mind's treachery -
this is the ultimate test
for the pilgrims
and prophets.

City prophets have a variation on this word:
Deserts take victims swiftly, savagely,
but urban mirages work slowly,
day by day diverting prey
and destroying souls
still smiling.

Traditional Gospel:
Mark 1: 12-15  (Inclusive Text)

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and Jesus remained there for forty days,
and was tempted by Satan.

Jesus was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee
and there proclaimed the Good News of God, saying,
'The time has come and the reign of God is close at hand.
Repent, and believe the Good News.' 

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Litany for Lent (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand and share a special litany for today
as we begin the Season of Lent.
The people stand as they are able

Jesus invites us to a way of celebration,
meeting and feasting with the humble and poor.
All  Let us walk his way with joy.

Jesus beckons us to a way of risk,
letting go of our security.
All  Let us walk his way with joy.

Jesus challenges us to listen to the voices
of those who have nothing to lose.
All  Let us walk his way with joy.

Jesus points us to a way of self-giving,
where power and status are overturned.
All  
Let us walk his way with joy.

Jesus calls us to follow the way of the cross,
where despair is transformed
by the promise of new life.
All  Let us walk his way with joy. 
(Jan Berry/bot)

Sharing 'The Peace'
This is a house of God.  A place of peace.
A place where we befriend one another.
(Adapt.RMitchell/bb)
Let us greet one another as a sign of God's presence and peace.

The peace of God is here... to stay. (Iona)
All  Thanks be to God.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
When Evenings Shorten(Tune: ‘Cavell Street’)    147 HoS
When evenings shorten and grow cool,
as grapes turn purple on the vine,
as golden grain is safely stored,
we see again our Easter sign.

As daisies fade along the hill,
and bush birds come to us for food,
in rain, or mist or bitter chill
we see again our Easter sign.

As trees grow bare, we see the trace
of life’s new buds along the bough.
We do not need to wait for spring;
we see again our Easter sign.

So let the southern Church rejoice!
As colour flames from hill and plain
so let us sing with hearts of joy:
we see again our Easter sign.  (Shirley Smith/adapted)
People sit

CELEBRATING

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

Presentation
We are called to make real the sharing of the gifts God has given to us.
We offer what we have for the good of all.

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 space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Celebrations; Griefs and Concerns shared

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
Holy God, as you have touched us
All  May we now touch others
with your love in us. 
(Adapt.Kate Galloway/cw)

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 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  God, who cares for us,
The wonder of whose presence fills us with awe.

Let kindness, justice and love shine in our world.
Let your secrets be known here as they are in heaven.
Give us the food and the hope we need for today.

Forgive us our wrongdoing
as we forgive the wrongs done to us.
Protect us from pride and from despair
and from the fear and hate which can swallow us up.

In you is truth, meaning, glory and power,
while worlds come and go.
Amen.  (MFurlong/nwi)

SCATTERING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
"Where the Road Runs Out"   156 (v1-2) AA
Where the road runs out and the signposts end,
where we come to the edge of today,
be the God of Abraham for us,
send us out upon our way.
Refrain:
Lord, you were our beginning,
the faith that gave us birth.
We look to you, our ending,
our hope for heaven and earth.

When the coast is left and we journey on
to the rim of the sky and the sea,
be the sailor's friend, be the dolphin Christ,
lead us in to eternity.
Refrain:
Remain standing

Parting Words
Time has now come for us to leave this sacred place.
As we do, may we embrace the challenges
of our lives and our world...
The Community Candle is extinguished

Go out from this place to your daily journey through life.
All As we do, may we fashion relationships of inclusion
and reconciliation, and a life-style that loves
and treats people and the earth gently, as God does.

And may the Holy One surprise us all on the way.

Words of Blessing
May the God you see in all the colours of creation
arouse in you a sense of awe and wonder.

May the God who is a sacred presence be real to you.

May the God who is a source of inspiration and courage
keep calling you forward.

May your God go with you, and bless you.  (Francis Macnab)
All  Amen. May it be so.

Hymn (Cont). "Where the Road Runs Out"   156 (v3) AA
When the clouds are low and the wind is strong,
when tomorrow's storm draws near,
be the spirit bird hovering overhead
who will take away our fear.
  Colin Gibson
Refrain:
Lord, you were our beginning,
the faith that gave us birth.
We look to you, our ending,
our hope for heaven and earth.
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:
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa.
 Hymns and Songs for all Churches. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1993.
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.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Harvest For The World. A Worship Anthology on Sharing in the Work of Creation. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2003.
(HoS) Hope Is Our Song. New Hymns and Songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2009.
Inclusive Readings. Year B. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2005.
Iona Community.
Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
Mitchell, R. C. & G. A. Ricciuti.
Birthings and Blessings. Liberating Worship Services for the Inclusive Church. New York. Crossroads, 1992.
Morely, J. (ed).
Bread of Tomorrow. Praying with the World’s Poor. London. SPCK/Christian Aid, 1992.
Prewer, B. D.
More Australian Psalms. Adelaide. OpenBook Publishers, 1996.
The St Hilda Community.
The New Women Included. A Book of Services and Prayers. London.  SPCK, 1996.
(TiS) Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious, 1999. Copyright enquiries: http://www.togetherinsong.org/.
(TMT) Wallace, W. L. The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston. Selah Publishing, 2001.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed). Celebrating Women. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Francis Macnab. "Blessing words". St Michael’s Uniting Church Web site. Melbourne.
Words by Nan Fink Gefen, taken from an Evolutionary Passover Haggadah by Tree Bressen.

rexae74@gmail.com