Revd Rex A E Hunt
Web site: www.rexaehuntprogressive.com
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LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE
27 December 2015. Christmas 1C. (White).
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) 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
Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times
With faith to face our challenges,
With love that casts out fear,
With hope to trust tomorrow,
We accept this day as the gift it is - a reason for rejoicing. GKowalski
Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.
Lighting of Community Candle
A Community Candle is lit
As we light our flame this morning:
we celebrate by its warmth
the depth and breadth of our congregations.
And we celebrate by its light the faith we share.
Hymn The people stand, as they are able to sing
"As Our Congregations Gathers" (Tune: ‘Nettleton’ 87 87D. 392 TiS) 43 WNC
As our congregations 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
God of our yesterdays and God of our tomorrows
we ask that you be with us now,
God of our today.
All May it be so.
God of vision and new possibilities
open our hearts and minds
to the reality of your presence.
All May it be so. (Adapt/RSugrue)
Act of Awareness
The world is always radiant.
Whether at night under the dimmest starlight,
or at noon under the brightest sun,
the world is giving forth a vast legend.
It only awaits the involvement of the eye,
the engagement of the ear.
So let us live this moment in all its fullness,
for in it is all realization, all time (Adapt.KPatton/sscl)
Creator of all times and seasons,
and of all the seasons of our lives,
we gather in this sacred place,
thankful for the days that have been,
and hopeful for the days that shall be.
May we become one with ourselves and you
in all the seasons to come.
May it be so.
Hymn "We Celebrate the Web of Life" (Tune: CM) 175 SLT
We celebrate the web of life
its magnitude we sing;
for we can see divinity
in every living thing.
A fragment of the perfect whole
in cactus and in quail,
as much in tiny barnacle
as in the great blue whale.
Of ancient dreams we are the sum;
our bones link stone to star,
and bind our future worlds to come
with worlds that were and are.
Respect the water, land, and air
which gave all creatures birth;
protect the lives of all that share
the glory of the earth. (AS Carpenter)
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.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.
Recognising the Sacred
On this last Sunday of the year, let us recognise
that we gather in the presence of an 'everywhere God',
source and ground of all that exists.
People stand and face North
We turn to the North the direction of heat and warmth,
of bushfire and drought, for a blessing.
We call on the energy of the season of summer, to sustain us.
The gift of the North is fortitude,
for it speaks of great endurance.
The Spirit of Fortitude teaches us the power of strength
All Spirit of Fortitude teach us
the gentle power of strength in adversity.
People turn right and face the East
We turn to the East where the sun rises, for a blessing.
We call on the energy of new beginnings and new life.
The gift of the east is truth,
for it speaks of the breath of new life on earth.
The Spirit of Truth teaches us to see clearly.
All Spirit of Truth teach us
to see new possibilities more clearly.
People turn right and face the South
We turn to the South, for a blessing.
We call on the energy of winter, the place of deep silence.
The gift of the South is mystery,
for it speaks of the unknown, the unseen.
The Spirit of Mystery teach us to be silent and listen
All Spirit of Mystery teach us
the gift of silence, and to listen.
The people turn right and face West
We turn to the West for a blessing.
We call on the energy of the place of the setting sun.
The gift of the West is beauty,
for it speaks of peace and serenity.
The Spirit of Beauty surrounds us at all times.
All Spirit of Beauty you surround us at all times,
at our beginnings and at our endings.
People face the Table
Bless us with a sharpened awareness of this Presence.
All Bless us with open minds and hearts...
Bless us with a desire to praise in song and poetry.
All Bless us with ways beyond our imagining...
Bless us with deep compassion.
All Bless us with dreams of a better humanity...
Let there now be a quiet time among us.
How good it is to be alive!
Yes, we feel the beat of our own hearts,
the pulsing of life in our veins,
the rhythm of our breathing.
We come into the silence of this time with gratitude for this day.
We come with our needs.
And we come because we have gifts to share.
In our coming and in our going
may we be strengthened
in our bonds of love and peace.
Readings from our Religious Tradition
A reading and a reflection from our broad religious tradition
shall now be read.
Luke 2:40-52 (Inclusive Text/Scholars Version)
The child Jesus grew into a mature adult, filled with wisdom,
and God regarded him favourably.
Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem
for the feast of the Passover.
When Jesus was twelve years old,
they went up for the feast as usual.
When they were on their way home after the feast,
the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem
without his parents knowing it.
They assumed he was with the caravan,
and it was only after a day’s journey
that they went to look for him
among their relatives and acquaintances.
When they failed to find him
they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
Three days later, they found Jesus in the Temple,
sitting among the teachers,
listening to them, and asking them questions.
And all those who heard were astounded at Jesus'
intelligence and replied.
They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said,
'My child, why have you done this to us?
See how worried your father and I have been,
looking for you.'
'Why were you looking for me?' Jesus replied.
'Did you not know that I must be busy
with my Father’s affairs?'
But they did not understand what Jesus meant.
Jesus then went down with them and came to Nazareth
and lived under their authority.
His mother stored up all these things in her heart.
And Jesus precocious as he was,
continued to excel in learning and gain respect
in the eyes of God and others.
"The Child is Missing"
By Heather Pencavel. Shine On, Star of Bethlehem/184-85.
v2 The child is missing - a moment's inattention, then
the lurch of the heart,
the sinking of the stomach
'I thought he was with you.'
v3 The child is missing - the ache of longing, even after years
even when you know he is safe,
even when there are other children,
'I wonder what he's doing now?'
v4 The child is missing - wandering the streets without a home:
home is where blows are struck,
and darkness brings abuse and now
'She's gone - good riddance!'
v5 The child is missing - he slept last night in this shop doorway
till they came with guns,
street cleansing, and he died.
'They got Carlos - tonight it might be us.'
v1 Parent God Hannah knew where Samuel was, and missed him.
Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the end,
safe in the Temple learning
(as well as all the teachers' knowledge)
what agony of fear his parents feel,
how much they love him.
Children disappear every day
and are not always found
though they are often missed.
We remember all missing children and their parents:
children kidnapped and afraid,
children given for adoption.
May we learn how to build homes where everyone is valued,
communities where everyone is safe,
and a world where all children are able to grow
strong in mind and body as Jesus did. (Adapted)
Silence for Personal Reflection
A Litany for the Past Year
People remain seated
First candle is lit
v1 We light this candle remembering
all the children who were baptised this year:
and whom we in our own congregations have baptised.
All This light beams so that all children may be able
to grow up receiving affection and protection.
Second candle is lit
v2 We light this second candle bearing in mind
all those married couples:
who have celebrated wedding anniversaries this year,
those who are newly wed, and especially
those who have celebrated silver and golden jubilees.
All This light beams for their mutual happiness,
and for their strength to uphold each other
even in difficult situations.
Third candle is lit
v3 We light this third candle remembering
all those who have experienced grief and loss this year:
the death of a loved one,
the ending of a significant relationship,
the loss of employment.
All This light beams for their continuing comfort and support.
Fourth candle is lit
v4 We light this fourth candle commemorating
all the people, near and far,
who had to live under wars
and have suffered violence and anxiety this year.
All This light beams that we and they
may have a real and lasting peace.
Fifth candle is lit
v5 We light this fifth candle remembering
all those who have visited our congregations for a first time
and decided to call that congregation 'home' this year.
All This light beams in order that we continue
to explore and enjoy everything we have received,
as a gift.
Sixth candle is lit
v6 We light this sixth candle
mindful of the people who have often put their lives at risk
to maintain our freedoms, reconciliation and peace this year.
All This light beams as a symbol of hope even in the midst
of experiences of powerlessness and suffering.
Seventh candle is lit
v7 We light this seventh candle
having each and everyone of us in mind,
bearing each other in our
strengths and weaknesses,
anxieties and hopes.
All This light beams on the pathways we have welcomed
and where we didn't want to go.
It will continue to shine for each and everyone of us
on the new pathways we will tread.
Hymn People remain seated to sing
"Faith Has Set Us on a Journey" (Tune: Venture) 14 FFS
Faith has set us on a journey
past the landmarks that we know,
taking risks with no insurance
but the Word that tells us "Go!"
Friend or job or home or lover
we may need to leave behind,
outworn truths and ways of thinking,
baggage to the past consigned.
Some are swags of easy conscience
who with others hitch a ride,
some are tourist-package Christians,
dollar-safe, with Book and guide.
There are others on this journey -
those who long and pray and search,
heave the stones to free the structures,
love the Christ and leave the Church.
We are this unlikely people
in the Body knit as one,
company of clowns and cripples -
some are wise and some can run.
Prophets are our travel agents,
gospel-makers lay this road:
to the place of peace and promise
faith will take us into God. Shirley Erena Murray
Our gifts for the work of ministry in this city and beyond
shall now be received.
As a river without an outlet becomes stagnant,
so life which receives but does not give
becomes polluted and sour.
As we give, we know we will be refreshed and cleansed
as well as being a blessing to others.
With the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat
Reflections and Prayers
We are people of all ages who enter this space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and concerns shared.
Holy God, as you have touched us
All May we now touch others
with your love in us. (Adapt.KGalloway/cw)
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.
all our joys and in all our concerns, may we be ever mindful
of the presence of the sacred among us,
and to see new possibilities of the now.
The 'Abba' Prayer
You are invited to pray the Lord's Prayer in your original language, as that is 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. (B Mack/Q)
Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
“God Who Carved... Landscape” (Tune: ‘Dansey’). 31 (v1-2) FFS
God who carved this timeless landscape,
snow-clad ridge to valley plain,
power of surging race and river,
limestone crag and scarred terrain;
maker still of earth, fire, water,
artistry of sight and sound,
Southern lights and sunset splendour,
raise our eyes and you are found.
Calendar of nature's balance,
rhythms of the farming year,
shearing, milking, ploughing, pruning,
manger setting ever near!
lonely struggle in the byways,
nor'west dust or snow and flood,
fellowship of tears and laughter:
Lord, with you, we're understood.
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
After the words, a quiet.
After the songs, a silence.
After the crowd
only the memory recalls the gathering.
All Peace and justice have need of us
after the words, the music, and the gathering.
God grant you the depth for dedication to justice.
All God grant us the will
to be apostles of peace. (Adapted/MCoots)
Words of Blessing
May the love that gives to life its beauty,
the reverence that gives to life its sacredness,
and the purposes that give to life its deep significance
be strong within each of us
and lead us into ever deepening relationships
with all of life. GG.Brooks
All Amen. May it be so!
Hymn (Cont.) “God Who Carved... Landscape” (Tune: ‘Dansey’). 31 (v3) FFS
Giving thanks for those before us,
village life and tussock track,
as we turn to face the future,
history's wind upon our back;
scattered are our congregations,
each now shares in ministry,
bonding strength of work together:
spirit of community. DGrierson
The people sit after the hymn, then prepare to leave
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:
Abbott, M. 2001. Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for seasonal use. Unley: MediaCom Education.
Duncan, G. (ed). 2001. Shine On, Star of Bethlehem. A worship resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich: The Canterbury Press.
(FFS) Faith Forever Singing. Songs for a new day. 2000. Raumati: New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
Funk, R. W. & R. W. Hoover. 1993. The Five Gospels. The search for the authentic words of Jesus. New York: MacMillan Press.
Inclusive Readings. Year C. 2006. Brisbane: Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation.
Mack, B. L. 1993. The Lost Gospel. The book of Q and christian origins. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.
Macnab, F. 1996. Hope: The deeper longings of the mind and heart. Richmond: Spectrum Publications.
Patton, K. 1967. Services and Songs for the Celebration of Life. Boston: Beacon Press.
(WNC) Pratt, A. 2002. Whatever Name or Creed. Hymns and songs. London: Stainer & Bell Ltd.
(SLT) Singing the Living Tradition. 1993. Boston: UUA.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed). 1995. Celebrating Women. New edition. London: SPCK.
Kowalski, Coots, Brooks. UUA Worship Web. Boston. http://uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/index.php
R. Sugrue. Spirit & Spice Web site, NZ. 2001.