Pentecost23B.4.11.2018

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
4 November 2018.  Pentecost 23B. (Green/White).
All Saint’s Day
Celebrating Community: Flower Communion


Worth Pondering
“Born of a woman… and the Hebrew gene pool, Jesus was a creature of earth,
a complex unit of minerals and fluids, an item in the carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen cycles,
a moment in the biological evolution of this planet.
Like all human beings, he carried within himself the signature of the supernovas
and the geology and life history of the Earth…” 
(Elizabeth A. Johnson)


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 of the (NN) Nation, past and present,
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

Let there be joy in our coming together this morning.
Let there be silence for the voice within us and beyond us.
Let there be joy in our coming together.  (Adapt.Carl Seaburg)

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
Nature’s Moods”  (Tune: ‘Moscow’, 664.6664)       99 SNS
Nature won’t be subdued.
Has more than just one mood;
Can cause us fear.
Earthquakes and violent storms,
Tempest in all its forms,
Tornado that deforms,
There’re so severe.

Fire and floods destroy;
Treat buildings like a toy.
Such is their force.
They always devastate;
Leave people desolate;
They can annihilate
All in their course.

Why should these things be so?
Has nature turned to foe?
We’re in despair.
We ask the question, “Why?”
No answers satisfy;
We stagger and we cry;
“It’s just not fair!”

Some blame catastrophe
On God’s activity,
As if it’s planned.
But nature’s frantic deeds
Do not serve human needs;
Amoral nature heeds
No such demand.

Standing by those on pain,
Trying to ease the strain,
Gloom is reversed.
Our spirits still survives.
And human hope revives.
When love’s support arrives,
God is immersed.  
(George Stuart)

OR

A Hymn suitable for the Southern Hemisphere
"The Spring Has Come"     140 AA
The spring has come,
let all the church be part of it!
The world has changed,
and God is at the heart of it!
New light, new day,
new colour after winter grey.
New light, new day,
the spring has come,
let all the church be part of it!

The sun is warm,
let all God's children play in it!
The world expands,
let's spread the gospel way in it!
New leaf, new thrust,
new greening for the love of Christ.
New leaf, new thrust,
the sun is warm,
let all God's children play in it!

The spring has come,
new people are the flowers of it!
Through wind and rain,
new life is in the showers of it!
New bud, new shoot,
new hope will bear the Spirit's fruit.
New bud, new shoot,
the spring has come,
new people are the flowers of it!   Shirley Erena Murray
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
Through this celebration and worship,
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
It is good to be alive!
To share life with each other
in this wonder-filled and evolving universe.
We are most grateful.

May wisdom dawn in us
so we may see all things in clarity.

OR

We pray:
Creating God, extend our vision to perceive
that this is your world.
You are in it.
You pervade it.
You enfold it.
It is immersed in you.

Open our eyes to see in the depth of reality,
your grace
your goodness
your glory.
To see that we dwell in you.

May it be so.

Hymn  World Without End(Tune: ‘Slane1’, Irreg.)
Praise to the Lord for the joys of the earth:
Cycles of seasons and reason and birth,
Contrasts in outlook and landscape and need,
Challenge of famine, pollution and greed.

Praise to the Lord for the progress of life:
Cradle and grave, bond of husband and wife,
Pain of youth growing and wrinkling of age,
Questions in step with experience and stage.

Praise to the Lord for this care of our kind:
Faith for the faithless and sight for the blind,
Healing, acceptance, disturbance and change,
All the emotions through which our lives range.

Praise to the Lord for the people we meet,
Safe in our homes or at risk in the street:
Kiss of a lover and friendship’s embrace,
Smile of a stranger and words full of grace.

Praise to the Lord for the carpenter’s son,
Dovetailing worship and work into one:
Tradesman and teacher and vagrant and friend,
Source of all life in this world without end.  
© Iona Community
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

Reflection
"To the God Above God…"
By Gary Kowalski

To the God above God we turn our thoughts in meditation.

To the God above the god of any single nation,
who unites the people of the world
in the bonds of kinship and peace;

To the God above the god of any single ideology,
who knows that one human life
is more valuable than all the systems in the world;

To the God above the god of any single religion,
whose goodness and inspiration
are the possession of people of all faiths;

To the God above God
who brings humility to our minds
and reverence to our hearts...

We dedicate ourselves in work and in prayer. 

Centering Silence
Come apart from the busyness of family and work,
and dwell in the presence of Creativity God
who is our source of being.
(Silence)

We are part of a great web of life…
As international human beings in this small place
we are called to renew ourselves and our life's purpose
as we gather with others who are searching.

So let us be in silence together.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition Tradition
Two readings from our broad religious tradition…
The ‘Nanjing Pentecost’ comes out of an International Consultation in Nanjing, China, 1986)

"Nanjing Pentecost”
By Jan Such Pickard. Celebrating Women/156

Woman whose work is words
what will you do when words are
gone?
          Grow in silence like the trees
          find strength in solitude
          listen to wind, water and living things
         hear what God speaks in silence.

Woman who lives by words
what will you do when words are
strange?
          Listen for a change
          learn what people mean in other ways
          smile, gesture — weep even -
          live with questions and powerlessness.

Woman who cares for words
what will you do when words
overwhelm?
          Laugh at jargon, be angry
          when talk and papers oppress people —
          care more for them, remember
          the first and last Word that makes us one.

Traditional Gospel:
Mark 12:28-34 (Inclusive Text)

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question,
'Which is the first of all the commandments?'

Jesus replied,
'This is the first:
Listen Israel, Our God is the One God,
and you must love your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind
and with all your strength.

'The second is this:
You must love your neighbour as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.

The scribe said to Jesus,
'Well spoken, teacher; what you have said is true:
that God is one and there is no other.

'To love with all your heart, with all your understanding
and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself,
this is far more important than any 
holocaust or sacrifice.'

Jesus, seeing how wisely the scribe had spoken, said,
'You are not far from the reign of God.'

And after that no one dared to question Jesus any more.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

Litany: For All the Saints(Optional)
The people stand as they are able

Through the ages and in many places,
saints of God have witnessed in God's name;
All 
through the ages, prophets, poets, martyrs, sages,
have witnessed in God's name.

We come together in the cloud of witnesses
as one communion;
All
  we raise our voices to God, the Source of Life.

We bless the earthly memories 
of those who now shine in God's glory
All
  and join the whole company on earth and in heaven
singing unending praise...

Doxology The people sing (Tune: 768(i) TiS)
Praise God, the love we all may share;
Praise God, the beauty everywhere;
Praise God, the hope of good to be;
Praise God, the truth that makes us free.  (PHewett)

We celebrate the presence of the church in (NN) in our lives,
All
  which is real when it stands open
to the life of the city,
and bears witness to the love and justice of God.

OR

Let Us Now Praise Noble Women
By Janet Crawford. Celebrating Women/64-66

Let jus now praise noble women
and our mothers who lived before us,
Through whom God’s glory as been shown,
in each successive generation.

Some ruled nations with authority
and were renowned as queens;
others gave counsel by their wisdom
and spoke with prophetic power;

a few were leaders of the people
because of their deep understanding;
their custody of tradition.

Some composed musical tunes
and set forth verses in writing;
others were rich and respected
peacefully keeping their homes.

All these were honoured in their lifetime
and were a glory of their day.
Such women have left a name which is remembered
so that their praises are still sung.

But others have left no memory,
have vanished as though they had never lived.
These are the nameless women of the ages;
the work of their hands is not remembered.

These women planted, picked,
preserved, baked, boiled and brewed;
they washed, cooked, cleaned,
fed, clothed and nursed the world.

A few were barren but most bore
children, children and more children
To carry on the father's name
so his posterity continues forever.

All these were different in their lives,
different and yet the same;
and they died in different ways,
in childbirth, sickness,
fever, madness, ripe old age;
all died.

They are now as though they had never been
and so too are their daughters who followed them.

There are numerous men whose good works have not
been forgotten
whose descendants remember their names
and recall their forefathers with pride,
rejoicing in their heritage.

Their bodies were buried with honour
and their names live on
so that their glory lasts for ever.

Few of our foremothers are so remembered;
most lie forgotten in their graves
until their daughters shall claim their inheritance,
recollecting them with joy and pride.

Now their glory is not blotted out
as we declare their wisdom and proclaim their
praise;
Noble women and nameless ones,
our mothers who lived before us.
(Silence)

Sharing 'The Peace
Let us take some time to celebrate each other.

May a heart of peace be with you.  (David Galston/q)
All  And also with you.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.

Hymn  The people stand, as they are able, to sing
Peace Is Generosity(Tune: ‘Trial’, Swee Hong Lim)              32 PaT
Peace is generosity,
peace is right and duty,
not diminishment of life
but its zest and beauty,   
   not the silence of the dead
   nor the tears of grieving
   but dynamic of the word
   rich beyond believing.

Peace is not the child of fear
nor what terror reaches,
peace is quick to give and serve
where compassion reaches;
   not oppression in return,
   grudges unforgiven,
   but the good of all for all
   and the gift of heaven.  (Shirley Erena Murray)

OR

For Flowers that Bloom About our Feet(Tune: 'Was Gott Thut’, 88.88.7)          76 SLT
For flowers that bloom about our feet,
for tender grass so fresh and sweet,
for song of bird and hum of bee,
for all things fair we hear or see:
   Giver of all, we thank thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
for pleasant shade of branches high,
for fragrant ait and cooling breeze,
for beauty of the blooming trees:
   Giver of all, we thank thee.

For this new morning with its light,
for rest and shelter of the night,
for health and food, for love and friends,
for everything your goodness sends:
   Giver of all, we thank thee. (Anonymous, 1904)
The people sit

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:
In this abundant blessing
All  
We share the joy.

In this, our time of need,
All  May love abound.  (Gretta Vosper/wwg)

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  O God, you love us like a good parent,
and are present in every aspect of our existence

May your nature become known and respected by all
May your joy, peace, wholeness and justice
be the reality for everyone
as we live by the Jesus Way

Give us all that we really need to live every day for you
And forgive us our failures as we forgive others for their failures
Keep us from doing those things which are not of you,
and cause us always to be centred on your love

For you are the true reality in this our now,
and in all our future.
In the Jesus Way we pray. (DSorril)

CELEBRATING

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?  (Binkley & McKeel/jke)

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: FLOWER COMMUNION
The Flower Communion service had its origins in 1923 when Dr Norbert Capek, a former Baptist and founder of the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia, introduced it to his congregation.  This liturgy is shaped by sections of two other modern liturgies, written by Dr David Bumbaugh.

Offerings
Our offerings for the celebration of life in this place and beyond,
and our gifts of flowers, bread and wine, shall now be received.

Presentation
Creating God, the landscape of life and your presence is near:
a daffodil in bloom,
a single green leaf,
the red and green flash of a parrot.

May we too be a people of adventure and life,
grace-filled companions, offering
courage and hope in unexpected places.

Welcome
v1 Enter into this sacred time.
Enter with joyful hearts.
Enter with reverent thoughts.

v2 It has taken long months beneath cold ground
for flowers to prepare their blooming.
It has taken each of us long times of growth,
through sorrow and joy,
to prepare for our living now.

v1 The blooming season is short.
Flowers stay only a brief time.
We are travellers upon the earth:
travellers through all too brief life times.

v2 Therefore let our moments together be bountiful.
And let us rejoice in our unique colours, aromas, and sounds.  
(Elizabeth Strong/adapted)

Thanksgiving
Have you considered the flowers, the lilies of the fields?
All  They spin not, neither do they sew,
yet Solomon, in all his glory
All  
was not arrayed as one of these.

Say what you will about the economy of life,
flowers are irrefutable proof
of nature’s extravagance.

Flowers do not bloom for us.
They do not care whether or not we see them.
They grow and bloom
because they are full of life.
They are a gift of grace.

They invite us to seek the beauty in each moment.
They encourage us to find fulfilment in life
and the living of it.

As you came into this gathering this morning,
you brought with you a flower,
from your yard,
from along your street,
from a florist,
from your neighbour’s flower bed,
from the basket in the entrance.

From many different sources
these many different flowers have come.

Together on this table they symbolise
the extravagance of nature,
for as various as these flowers are,
they do not begin to exhaust
nature's inventiveness
in creating forms
and colours
and beauty.

And what nature has done for flowers,
nature has done for us.

Bread and Wine
v1  In all the colours and scents and tastes and sounds
of the world, we see the beauty of the universe.

v2  In this season of spring it is fitting we should celebrate
the renewal of life and hope using
the symbols of bread and wine and flowers.

Time out of mind we have watched
grain buried in the dark soil.

Time out of mind we have watched sprouting seeds
break through the soil, reaching towards the warm sun.

Time out of mind we have watched grain broken,
ground into dust-like flour.

Yet mixed with water and leavening,
it stirs, rises, becomes bread,
the sustainer of our lives.

v1  For longer than we can remember
the fruit of the vine has been our companion.

It’s clustered fruit is harvested
and crushed, and juice is stored and fermented
saved for festive occasions.

We have shared the fruit of the vine
in moments of joy and sorrow,
and to mark momentous turnings. (David Bumbaugh)

Communion
Remembering the tradition surrounding Jesus…
we break this bread and fill this cup.
Bread broken. Wine poured out

We give thanks
All  
And seek to live in harmony with all about us.
We give thanks
All  And take our place in the human story,
struggling for the unity of humankind.
We give thanks
All  
And join with all in a quest for justice.
We give thanks
All  
For all that Jesus, human like us, means to us.
Bread and Wine served

After Communion
And now we prepare to leave this place.

As you do, you are invited to take one of the flowers.
Take a different one than the flower you brought.
Take it not to keep forever and forever.
Nothing is forever.

Take a flower as a symbol of gratitude
for beauty we did not create,
for joys which come when unexpected.

Take a flower as a symbol of your participation
in the community of this congregation,
in the community of human kind,
in the community of all living things,
in the universal community.

Take a flower as a symbol, that
beauty and grace and joy and love
are not matters of reciprocity.

In this world we cannot earn or deserve
that which is most important.
It comes to us as a gift.  (David Bumbaugh/hc))

PARTING

Hymn The people stand, as they are able, to sing
This hymn was written on the day that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of protons, was put into action.

We Seek The Source Of All(Tune: AMAZING GRACE or other suitable CM tune)
We seek the source of all that was
of all that is to be;
the ground of being, source of life
that set creation free 

The cataclysmic cosmic force,
God's rollercoaster ride,
may give a glimpse back into time
as particles collide.

For here we watch, observe, compute
and try to understand
the time before we even thought
what physics might demand.
Remain standing

Parting Words
Let us go in faith to ponder in our hearts
the mystery and the wonder of this season…

The Community Candle is extinguished

v1 Go in peace.
Live simply, at home in yourself.
Be just in your word, just in deed.
Remember the depth of your own compassion.

v2 Do not forget your power
in the days of your powerlessness.

v3 Do not desire to be wealthier than your peers,
and never stint your hand of charity.

v1 Practice forbearance in all you do.

v2 Speak the truth or speak not.

v3 Take care of your body,
be good to it, it is a good gift.

v4 Crave peace for all peoples in this world,
beginning with yourselves,
All
and go as you go with the dream of that peace
set firm in your heart.  (Adapt.Michael Belletini)

Words of Blessing
v1  May we be blessed
with saints to tell us stories
with angels to surprise us
with friends along the way.

v2  May we be blessed
with strength and joy and courage
all the length and breadth
of our nights and days.
All  
Amen! May it be so!

Hymn (Cont). We Seek The Source Of All
But even if we comprehend
or wonder at these things,
Higgs boson, quasars, pulsars, quarks,
we need the faith God brings.

The test of all we ought to be
is in the common place,
our depth of kindness, strength of love,
that demonstrate God's grace.  © Andrew Pratt 10/9/2008
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.
Inclusive Readings. Year B. Brisbane: Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2005.
(PaT) Murray, S. E. A Place at the Table. New Hymns written between 2009 and 2013. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2013.
Seaburg, C. (ed). The Communion Book. Boston: UUMA, 1993.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. Boston: UUA, 1993.
(SNS) Stuart, G. Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Sydney: CPRT Sydney, 2006.
Vosper, G. With or Without God. Why the Way we Live is More important than What we Believe. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2008.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed). Celebrating Women. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Seaburg, Kowalski, Sorril, Strong, Belletini. UUA Worship Web. Boston: UUA. www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Andrew Pratt “We Seek the Source of All”. eMail distribution. UK. From the author
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/

rexae74@gmail.com