Lent4B.11.3.2018

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
11 March 2018.  Lent 4B. (Purple)
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

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

We have come from our own places to this special sacred place.
This is a place where we know
we can share community and be blessed.

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 The people stand as they are able, to sing
Love Now Ascending(Tune: ‘Nicaea’, 11 12 12 10)
Holy, holy, holy, love now ascending
Early in the morning our song shall rise to you.
Holy, holy, holy, joy that has no ending
Giving, forgiving, breathing life anew.

Holy, holy, holy, love without a limit
Care that binds creation in sacred unity,
Holy, holy, holy, birthing every minute,
Christ, Love's revealer, sets our spirits free.

Holy, holy, holy, infinite compassion,
Makes a place for every soul in God's eternal reign,
Holy, holy, holy, truth beyond religion,
Love that endures should nothing else remain.

Holy, holy, holy, raise your voice in singing,
Join the cosmic chorus in praise of Love divine,
Holy, holy, holy, God beyond all naming,
Echoes our song in harmony sublime.
(Jim Burklo)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
This time is for us.
We step inside the sacred circle.
Wn  
We see our lives as part of the
continually astonishing mystery of life.
Mn  We know our lives are always lived connected
with other people, wider communities,
the eternal humanity.

This time is for us
All To come closer to Creativity God.

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:
In this season of Lent, may we become more aware of the presence of God.
May we see this presence in each other,
hear it in the music, and experience it,
as we give and receive gifts of love.
May it be so.

HymnOur Life Has Its Seasons(Tune: 'Kotuka')   113 AA
Our life has its seasons,
and God has the reasons
why spring follows winter,
and new leaves grow,
for there's a connection
with our resurrection
that flowers will bud
after frost and snow
So there's never a time to stop believing,
there's never a time for hope to die,
there's never a time to stop loving,
these three things go on.

There's a time to be planting,
a time to be plucking,
a time to be laughing,
a time to weep,
a time to be building,
a time to be breaking,
a time to be waking,
a time to sleep,
But there's never a time to stop believing,
there's never a time for hope to die,
there's never a time to stop loving,
these three things go on.

There's a time to be hurting,
a time to be healing,
a time to be saving,
a time to spend,
a time to be grieving,
a time to be dancing,
a time for beginning,
a time to end,
But there's never a time 
to stop believing,
there's never a time for hope to die,
there's never a time to stop loving,
these three things go on.  (Shirley Erena Murray)

The people sit

Welcome In your own words
A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are worshipping 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
Let us now take a moment to settle into
the silence of this sacred place.
(Silence)

Song: Solo voice
Sing a Gentle Love Song”
Sing a gentle love song to the earth,
Fill the air with music for her healing.
Then be still and you will hear
Her love song forever sung for you.  (Kathy Sherman)

Let us listen to the depths of being…
our busyness calling for quietness,
our emptiness calling for renewed strength,
our sadness calling for some consolation,
our joy calling for some celebration.

May we touch again that strength and wisdom
that helps us to know again the helping resources
that are given to us. 
(Adapt/Francis Macnab/fwb)
(Silence)

Song: Solo voice
Sing a Gentle Love Song”
Sing a gentle love song to the earth,
Fill the air with music for her healing.
Then be still and you will hear
Her love song forever sung for you.  (Kathy Sherman)

EXPLORING

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

The first is the fourth in a series we are hearing during Lent,
written by retired Uniting Church minister, Bruce Prewer.

The other is from the storyteller/theologian John, who's audience
was one of the later Jesus Movement communities.
Our reader is (NN).

From the World Around us:
"Homecoming"  (Based on Psalm 126)
By Bruce Prewer. More Australian Psalms/138.

When the Lord gave us liberty, it was a dream come true.
Laughter filled our mouths,
our tongues sang for joy.

Others could not help but exclaim:
'God is at work in them!'
Certainly God is at work in us, and we celebrate it!

Like outback rivers after rain,
flood us, Lord, with life.
May we who have sown many tears
now reap the songs of joy.

Those who leave home weaping,
carrying the seeds of sadness,
will return home laughing,
with a harvest of happiness!

Traditional Gospel:
John 3:16-21  (Scholars Version/Inclusive Text)

This is how God loved the world: God sent the Beloved One,
so everyone who believes may not be lost
but have real life.

After all, God sent the Beloved One
so that the world might be rescued through the one sent.

Those who believe are not condemned.
But those who refuse to believe is condemned already,
because they have refused to believe
in the name of the Holy One sent by God.

On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world,
some have shown they prefer darkness to the light. 

Their actions were evil, weren't they?
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it, otherwise
their actions would be exposed.

But those who live by the truth come out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen:
their deeds belong to God.

Contemporary Exploration
A sermon suitable for this day can be found in my book When Progressives Gather Together...

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A ‘Beatitudes’ Litany (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and share a special Lenten ‘beatitudes’ litany.
The people stand as they are able

Blessed are the poor
All  not the penniless, but those
whose heart is free.

Blessed are those who mourn
All  not those who whimper, but those
who raise their voices.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice
All  not those who whine, but those
who struggle.

Blessed are the merciful
All  not those who forget, but those
who forgive.

Blessed are the pure in heart
All  not those who act like angels, but those
whose life is transparent.

Blessed are the peace-makers
All  not those who shun conflict, but those
who face it squarely.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice
All  not because they suffer, but
because they love.  (Jacob, Santiago Chile/lol)

Sharing 'The Peace'
Let us take some time 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
It All Depends”  (Tune: 'Te Horo)      39 FFS
 It all depends on where I'm going
 if I reach my anywhere,
 but this I'm surely, surely knowing,
 that I'll never leave God's care;
 it all depends on when I'm travelling,
 maybe now or maybe then,
 but the Son of God will lead me
 through each where and why and when.

It all depends on how I'm choosing
for the life that is in me,
but I will never lose the hand of Christ,
the one who walks with me;
if I stumble or I falter
he will steady me once more,
for there is no darkest pathway
that we cannot both explore.

It all depends on who comes with me
if I break or if I bend,
but this I'm surely, surely knowing,
God will be there at the end
in the laughter and the sadness,
in the pleasure or the pain,
by my side and all about me
God's own Spirit will remain.  Colin Gibson
People sit

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)

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 a world so full of what is wonderful,
ever changing, ever surprising us with life’s
power and beauty, may we accept with gratitude,
all that gladdens us, and with fortitude
all that brings us grief.

Let us be learning always,
from all that we see and do, and
from all that happens to us
. (Adapt.A Powell Davies/lth)

Thanksgiving
In time beyond our dreaming,
Creativity God hovered over the water,
and was revealed in fire and storm and precious law.

Likewise, humanity in this creative likeness evolved on the earth,
along with earth’s minerals and waters, flowers and fruits,
living creatures of grace and beauty!
All  We stand in wonder and awe.

In the 40 days of Lent,
we remember the love made manifest in the
birth, life, and
untimely death of Jesus of Nazareth.

In his healing acts and radical teachings
we recall the words he spoke
to call forth love, care and respect
for one another.

We are grateful for this assurance of
love amidst human betrayal,
care amidst hatred,
respect amidst oppression. (Robert Jones)

And so, with Elizabeth who prophesied your birth,
Martha who confessed you as the Christ,
and James and John who sought to follow in your way,
we join with the whole universe:
All  Holy, holy, holy, vulnerable 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.

Bread and Wine
We remember the tradition...
Long ago, at the end of a journey,
among friends, gathered round a table...

Jesus took bread,
and after offering a blessing, broke it,
handed it to his friends, and invited them to eat.

Long ago, Jesus poured a cup of wine,
and after offering a blessing, gave it to his friends.

Bread... the very stuff of life, in which is gathered up
warm sun, rich Australian earth, gentle rain,
human labour and knowledge and skill.

Wine... fruit of the vine,
nurtured, tended, harvested,
and pressed out for us to drink.
All  In the breaking of the bread
and the sharing of the wine, 
may we know a Sacred Presence.

Communion
Let us share this bread and wine as our tradition teaches us,
knowing that our lives are forever changed
by this and every breaking of bread.
Bread and Wine/juice served in continuous line

SCATTERING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
When There Is No Star
 (Tune: ‘Ode to Joy’, 87 87D)     134(v1-3) BL
When there is not star to guide you
and you cannot wait for day
and your ancient maps provide you
only hints to find the way,
keep within each other’s calling,
mark each time you make a turn,
shout for help if you are falling,
tell each other all you learn.

Be alert to shifts in weather;
if it turns to cold and frost
huddle closely all together,
check if any have been lost.
Listen for a river flowing,
feel for damper moving air,
trace from where the wind is blowing,
move on bravely but with care.

If you think you have discovered
with your lantern in the dark
some clear path the dark has covered
let the others bring their light.
Test your single lone perception
in their gathered shining beams,
what you saw may be projection
fed by shadows, fears and dreams.

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.
The Community Candle is extinguished

Those who dodge growing pains
will never arrive at their full spiritual height.

As you prepare to leave this special place,
pray that you may have the courage
to stretch once more
towards the goals set by the Man of Nazareth.
All  There is no shame in failing.
But there is in not trying.
  (Bruce Prewer 2006).

Words of Blessing
Fall in love with living
wrestling with the chaos and the pain
within yourself and within the world.

Join the celebration of life, dancing with
the angels and the clowns.

And may the God of peace and joy,
who is continually making all things new,
embrace you as a partner
In the divine creating.  
(Joyce Boyce-Tillman/wb).
All  Amen. May it be so.

Hymn (Cont). When There Is No Star”  (Tune: ‘Ode to Joy’, 87 87D)     134 (v4) BL
You may sometimes trip and stumble
on a hidden root or stone
but remember as you grumble
that you do not fall alone.
And in risking dark expanses
never marked on map or chart
you will find that faith advances
through the landscape of your heart.  (Thomas Troeger)
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:
(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.
Davies, A. P. The Language of the Heart. A Book of Prayers. Washington, DC. All Soul’s Church, 1956.
Duncan, G. (ed). A World of Blessing. Benedictions from Every Continent and Many Cultures. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2000.
(FFS) Faith Forever Singing. Songs for a New Day. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2000.
Funk, R. W. & R. W. Hoover. The Five Gospels. The search for the authentic words of Jesus. New York. MacMillan Press, 1993.
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.
Inclusive Readings. Year B.
 Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2005.
Jones, Robert V. “Liturgy: The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper”. In private circulation from the author. L & L Seminar, 2005.
Macnab, F. A Fine Wind Is Blowing: Psalms of the Bible in Words that Blow you Away. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2006.
Mitchell, R. C. & G. A. Ricciuti. Birthings and Blessings. Liberating Worship Services for the Inclusive Church. New York. Crossroads, 1992.
Prewer, B. D. More Australian Psalms. Adelaide. OpenBook Publishers, 1996.
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.
The St Hilda Community. The New Women Included. A Book of Services and Prayers. London.  SPCK, 1996.
(BL) Troeger, T. Borrowed Light. Hymn texts, prayers, and poems. New York. Oxford University Press, 1994.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed). Celebrating Women
. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.
Withrow, L. Seasons of Prayer. Resources for Worship. London. SPCK, 1995.


Web sites/Other:
Bruce Prewer Jim Burko Web Site. Bendigo.
"Love Now Ascending".. <http://www.jimburklo.com/>
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/
Refreshment Station. 
Words by Nan Fink Gefen, taken from an Evolutionary Passover Haggadah by Tree Bressen.
“Sing a Gentle Love Song”. Kathy Sherman. <www.ministryofthehearts.org> 1987

rexae74@gmail.com