Lent5B.18.3.2018

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
18 March 2018.  Lent 5B. (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

As we live, we are transmitters of life.
And when we fail to transmit life,
life fails to flow through us
(D H Lawrence)

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
"As Our Congregation…(Tune: ‘Nettleton’ 87 87D)    43 WNC
As our congregation gathers
lift our lives, with love amaze;
offer some melodious treasure,
fill our hearts with wondering praise.

Crashing brass and singing cymbals,
soaring organ, sound and light;
fill this space with awe and thunder,
lift us through the veil of night.

Then a sudden, silent stillness
holds an echo in the air:
on a knife edge, balanced, waiting,
in the silence, you are there.

Joy beyond imagination,
love incarnate, hope to hold,
faith we cannot sound or fathom,
gripped in wonder, we behold. 
Andrew Pratt
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
v1  We gather in reverence before the wonder of life,
the wonder of this moment,
the wonder of being together, so close yet so apart.
All  
Each hidden in our own secret chamber,
each listening, each trying to speak.

v2  Yet none fully understanding,
none fully understood.
v1  We gather in reverence before all intangible things,
that eyes see not, nor ears can detect;
All  that hands can never touch,
that space cannot hold, and
time cannot measure.  (SLFahs)

OR

Arise, O Living Spirit, embrace the day ahead,
All   awake our eyes and ears for wonder.

Invoke anew the wisdom which is our daily bread.
All   Protect anew the pilgrim of the dawn.
  (Diarmuid O’Murchu)

Act of Awareness
We come together in this hour...
in a wider search for truth and purpose.

In this quest, 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.

Let all who enter this sacred place
find comfort and solidarity in this community.

OR

We pray:
God of all life, we give thanks for the signs
of love and creativity that surround us
and bless us in each moment.
May it be so.

Hymn "Now Light is Less" (Tune: 'Sursum Corda', 10 10 10 10)        54 SLT
Now light is less; noon skies are wide and deep;
the ravages of wind and rain are healed.
The haze of harvest drifts along the field
until clear eyes put on the look of sleep.

The garden spider weaves a silken pear
to keep inclement weather from its young.
Straight from the oak, the gossamer is hung.
At dusk our slow breath thickens on the air.

Lost hues of birds the trees take as their own.
Long since, bronze wheat was gathered into sheaves.
The walker trudges ankle deep in leaves;
the feather of the milk-weed fluters down.

The shoots of spring have mellowed with the year.
Buds, long unsealed, obscure the narrow lane.
The blood slows trance-like in the altered vein;
our vernal wisdom moves through ripe to sere.
(Theodore Roethke)
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)

May our silence grow profound
as we are embraced by the spirit
of our highest hopes.
(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 the fifth and final in a series we are hearing during Lent,
written by retired Uniting Church minister, Bruce Prewer.

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

From the World Around us:
"All Seasons" 
By Bruce Prewer. Brief Prayers for Australians Vol 3./62.

Open our lives, loving Spirit,
to the opportunities of every season.

In the season of success give us gratitude and humility.
In the season of frustration give us patience and serenity.
In the season of failure give us repentance and sincerity.

May the glory of your loving presence
saturate and fill all our days.

Traditional Gospel:  (Optional)
Mark 11:15-19  (Scholars Version)

They came to Jerusalem.

And Jesus went into the temple and began chasing the vendors
and shoppers out of the temple area,
        and he turned the banker’s tables upside down,
        along with the chairs of the pigeon merchants,
                    and he wouldn’t even let anyone carry a container through the temple area.

Then he started teaching and would say to them,
“Don’t the scriptures say, ‘My house is to be regarded as a house of prayer for all peoples’? - but you
have turned it into ‘a hideout for crooks’!”

And the ranking priests and the scholars heard this
and kept looking for a way to get rid of him.

The truth is that they stood in fear of him, and that the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.

And when it grew dark, Jesus and his disciples
made their way out of the city.

OR

John 12:20-30  (Inclusive Text)

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 

These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, 
and put this request, ‘We should like to see Jesus.’

Philip went to tell Andrew,
and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. 

Jesus replied to them:
‘Now the hour has come
for the Human One to be glorified.

'I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.

'Anyone who loves their life will lose it;
Those who hate their life in this world
will keep it for eternal life.

'Those who serve me, must follow me,
for where I am, my servants will be there too.
Those who serve me, my God will honour.

'Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say;
O God, save me from this hour?
But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.
Most loving God, glorify your name!’

A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’

People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder;
others said, It was an angel speaking to him.’ 

Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.

‘Now sentence is being passed on this world;
now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all to myself.’

For those interested…
You can purchase a copy of the Inclusive Texts/Readings (AU$50) from:
Inclusive Language Project
PO Box 1303
Toombul QLD 4012 Australia

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

An Affirmation of Faith  (Optional)
In response to the word refelected on, let us stand
and share an affirmation of faith.
The people stand as they are able

v1  We believe in a sacred power within and around us.
v2  A Divine Source that we call by many names
and experience in many ways,
that empowers and heals,
that calls us forth.

All  We believe in our creativity.
v1  Making and transforming beauty out of words and notes,
images and colours, lines and pictures...
and silence.

All  We believe in doing justice.
v2  Justice that compels and empowers us
to risk whatever we must risk to create a climate
in which all people can be who they are.

All  We believe in our dreams.
v1  We experience the world as it is,
in both its ugliness and beauty,
and we see what it can become.

All  We believe in making peace.
v2  A peace that is based on openness,
honesty and compassion.

All  We believe in hope.
v1  We expect change to continue to occur in our world.
We rely on our courage to continue
to bring about these changes.

All  We believe in love.
v2  A passionate love within and around us
that laughs and cries,
challenges and comforts,
a healing love that perseveres.

All  We believe in potential.
v1  We know who we are,
painful as that can be at times,
yet we continue to call each other
to become more of who we are.

All  We believe in celebrating.
v2  We remember and we commemorate.
We create rituals.
We play and dance, and sing and love well.

All  We believe in our diversity.
v1  We affirm our many shapes and sizes,
colours and traditions,
emotions and thoughts,
differences and similarities.

All  We believe in life.
v2  Life that wells up within
and flows out of us like a streaming fountain.

All  We believe we are good and holy,
a sacred part of all creation. SKramer/cl

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
Presentness – The Canberra Affirmation(Tune: ‘Ascalon’, 668D)       27 SNS2
There is a 'presentness'
In our midst that we confess;
Sensed both within and beyond us all;
This 'presentness' can be
Transforming constantly
In each event and overall.

We give this 'presentness'
Many names which do express
The faith of those with religious creed;
'God', 'Sacred' and 'Divine'
'Love' and 'The one true vine'
Can prompt the caring act and deed.

We recognise these names
Are but only passing frames
For all the pictures we have been taught;
Each image we attempt
Can never be exempt
From all prevailing views and thought.

To this grand mystery,
Our response can only be
Far and beyond what we understand;
For our ability
To search infinity
Can never match such high demand. (George Stuart)

OR

In Northern Hemisphere:
Lo, the Earth Awakes Again”  (Tune: ‘Easter Hymn’, 77 77 with alleluias)   318 HCL
Lo, the earth awakes again
Alleluia!
From the winter’s bond and pain.
Alleluia!
Bring we leaf and flower and spray
Alleluia!
To adorn this happy day.
Alleluia!

Once again the world comes true,
Alleluia!
All the earth shall be made new.
Alleluia!
Now the dark cold days are o’er,
Alleluia!
Light and gladness are before.
Alleluia!

Change, then, mourning into praise,
Alleluia!
And, for dirges, anthems raise.
Alleluia!
How our spirits soar and sing,
Alleluia!
How our hearts leap with the spring!
Alleluia! 
(Samuel Longfellow, 1887)
People sit

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

Presentation
Let our gratitude for life be expressed in our generosity.
Let our faith be expressed in good causes.
Let our belief in the future find full expression
in our daily attitude of mind. 
(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 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
Brother, Sister.../The Call of Christ(Tune: 'Servant Song', 87 87)

Brother, sister I'm beside you,
Let me be as Christ to you,
Pray that I might have the grace
to let you be as Christ to me.

We are pilgrims on a journey
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will share your problems with you
I'll support you in your space
I will help you run your distance
I will look you in the face.

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

Let us go from this place, facing and serving the world
with confidence, generosity and integrity.
All  Let us live out the heart of religion which is to bring together
all that is divided, to live in the moment, to love mightily
and to reverence the mystery, beauty and spirituality
of all things and all people.  (C3Exchange web site, 2009)

Words of Blessing
And now may the blessings of life
be upon us, and upon this congregation.

May the memories we gather here give us hope for the future.
May the love that we share
bring strength and joy to our hearts,
and the peace of this community be with us
until we meet again.
All  Amen. May it be so.

Hymn (Cont).Brother, Sister.../The Call of Christ” (Tune: 'Servant Song', 87 87)
I'll remember that God made you
I'll not take your dignity
I'll encourage you in your skills
to create and feel and be.

Brother, sister I'm beside you,
Let me be as Christ to you,
Pray that I might have the grace
to let you be as Christ to me.
(Presbyterian Church, NZ/sco)
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 he 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.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Courage to Love. An Anthology of Inclusive Worship Material. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2002.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Seeing Christ in Others. An Anthology for Worship, Mediation and Mission. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 1998.
Funk, R. W. & R. W. Hoover.
The Five Gospels. The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. New York. MacMillan Press, 1993.
(HCL) Hymns for the Celebration of Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.
Inclusive Readings. Year B. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In Private Circulation, 2005
Iona Community.
Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
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.
(WNC) Pratt, A.
Whatever Name or Creed. Hymns and Songs. London. Stainer & Bell Ltd, 2002.
Prewer, B. D.
Brief Prayers for Australians. Vol 3. Adelaide. OpenBook Publishers, 1992.
(SLT)
Singing the Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
(SNS2) Stuart, G.
Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Volume 2. Toronto. G Stuart, 2009.
The St Hilda Community.
The New Women Included. A Book of Services and Prayers. London.  SPCK, 1996.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed).
Celebrating Women. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.


Web sites/Other:
"Opening Sentences1" C3Exchange
, Spring Lake. MI. <www.c3exchange.net/>
"Opening Sentences2". 
Diarmuid O’Murchu  <http://www.diarmuid13.com/the-cosmic-walk/the-cosmic-walk-1/home-1>
Refreshment Station. 
Words by Nan Fink Gefen, taken from an Evolutionary Passover Haggadah by Tree Bressen.

rexae74@gmail.com