Christmas1C.30.12.2018

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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The Other Lectionary’ - a suggested ‘southern hemisphere’ Lectionary (with a few Resources added)
offered in parallel to, or even replacement of,
the RCL which is in standard use by many.


A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE

30 December 2018. Christmas 1C. (White).


Worth Pondering
“New Year is a good time to remember that God
is the Lord of tomorrow rather than the patron saint of yesterday”
(John Bell)


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 (N) 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

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.  Gary Kowalski

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.

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
"As Our Congregations Gathers" (Tune: ‘Nettleton’ , 87.87D)              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
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
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.
Al l May it be so(Adapt/Rosie Sugrue)

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.Kenneth Patton/sscl)

OR

We pray:
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: Christus der ist Mean Leben’, 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. 
(Alicia S 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.

CENTERING

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
in adversity.
All  Spirit of Fortitude teach us
the gentle power of strength in adversity.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

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...
People sit

OR

If in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in America
Earth Prayer
By Miriam Therese Winter.
A World of Blessing/330-31

A prayer to the God of eight directions, the six of Native American spirituality, plus the inward and outward movements of the Spirit in all of us. Originally a song text, it was recorded on the album EarthSong by the Medical Mission Sisters

v1  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit of the North, hear us.
Barren are we unless You fill our emptiness.
All  O Wintering Warmth, come cheer us.

v2  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit of the East, wake us.
Wisdom, be wise in us; let hope arise in us.
All  O Dawn of our days, come take us.

v1  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit of the South, heed us.
Grace so abundantly flows from You, tenderly.
All  O Nurturing Love, come feed us.

v2  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit of the West, still us.
Until you call us home, shelter us in Shalom.
All  O Life after life, come fill us.

v1  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit from on high, see us.
Heavenly peace is ours when we can see the stars.
All  O Transcendent One, come free us.

v2  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit of the Earth, heal us.
Touching us, teaching us, Your glory reaching us,
All  O Flesh of our flesh, reveal us.

v1  O Holy One of Blessing, O Spirit deep within, guide us.
All  Enter us, centre us, patiently mentor us,
and always be there inside us
.

v3  O Holy One of Blessing, Love emanating forth, send us.
All  Yours is the life we share. Your love is everywhere.
Creator of all, befriend us.

Centering Silence
Let there now be a quiet time among us.
(Silence)

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.
(Silence)

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.
(Silence)

EXPLORING

Readings from our Religious Tradition
A reading and a reflection from our broad religious tradition
shall now be read.

Traditional Gospel:
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.

Silence

A Reflection:
"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,
the runaways,
the disappeared,
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)

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

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.

Silence

Hymn  People remain seated to sing
Who Sweep the Stable When Christmas Is Over?”           59 TEL 
Another Servant Song
(Tune: ‘Harrison Terrace’, (Carol Schurt) or ‘ServantLife’, (Jane Marshall)

Who sweep the stable when Christmas is over,
who clear the table, the crumbs of the meal?
Practical people, compassionate people,
people not proud to take basin and kneel.

Who take the load for the helpless and hurting,
who drive the road when the crisis is there?
People of spirit, compassionate people,
people with hands at the ready to care.

Who are the first to bring calm into chaos,
who tend the worst and restore what is best?
Heart-and-soul people, compassionate people,
saviours and servants, humanity’s test.

God, give us eyes for the needs of our neighbour,
God make us wise to the actions that bless,
being your servants and taking directions,
gladly and instantly answering “Yes!”  (Shirley Erena Murray, 2004)

OR

“New Year”  (Tune: ‘Bishopgarth’. #964 in Methodist Hymnbook or #370 Presbyterian Hymnary)
The New Year brings another time
To practise some reflection,
To contemplate priorities;
What past ways need rejection;
The call of Jesus comes again
To strengthen our connection
To his inspiring way of life,
And maybe change direction.

The past is gone; cannot be changed;
The future is elusive;
We are tied to what we have been,
But we are not its captive;
The New Year points to hope we have
In love that is supportive;
In Jesus’ message we have learnt
This love is all-inclusive.

And so we forge ahead today
To meet God in the future;
Ignite in us the flame of love
To energise each venture;
And as we go God is within
To comfort and to nurture;
We follow Jesus, as he points
To life in all its wonder.  (George Stuart)

Offerings
Our gifts for the work of ministry in this city and beyond
shall now be received.

Presentation
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.

CELEBRATING

With the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat

Conversation:

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 presence of the sacred among us,
and to see new possibilities of the now.

The 'Abba Prayer:  (Optional)
You are invited to pray the Abba/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.
  (Burton Mack/Q)
Amen.

OR

All  Our Mother, whose body is the Earth,
Sacred is thy being. Thy gardens grow.
Thy will be done in our cities,
as it is in nature.

Thanks be this day
for food, and air, and water.

Forgive us our sins against Earth,
as we are learning to forgive one another.
And surrender us not unto extinction,
but deliver us from our folly.

For thine is the beauty, and the power,
and all life, from birth to death,
from beginning to end. Amen.
So be it.
Forever.
Blessed be.
  (Henry Horton/lp)

PARTING

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
Praise From Depth and Height  (Tune: ‘Farley Castle’, 10.10.10.10.10)     3(v1-2) HCL
Praise, O my heart, with praise from depth and height.
To you, O Source of Life, how very great
The glories are that beat upon my sight,
So robed are you with honour and with light.

You laid the deep foundations of the earth
Not to be moved for ages from their place.
You raised the sea to cover all its girth;
The waters lay abroad its gleaming face.

OR

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.

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

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/Max Coots)

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.  G. G.Brooks
All
   Amen. May it be so!

Hymn (Cont.)  Praise From Depth and Height  (Tune: ‘Farley Castle’, 10.10.10.10.10)     3(v3) HCL
The cloud you made your carrier as it streams
Upon the wings of winds; at your desire
Life woke and made the darkness glorious,
And [we] rose upward from the atom fire.  
(Ridgely Torrence, 1941. Adapted)

OR

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.  
 (Doug Grierson)
The people sit after the hymn, then prepare to leave

Recessional Music


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. Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for Seasonal Use. Unley: MediaCom Education, 2001.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Shine On, Star of Bethlehem. A Worship Resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich: The Canterbury Press, 2001.
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.
(HCL) Hymns for the Celebration of Life.
Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.
Inclusive Readings. Year C. Brisbane: Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2006.
Mack, B. L.
The Lost Gospel. The book of Q and Christian Origins. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.
Macnab, F.
Hope: The Deeper Longings of the Mind and Heart. Richmond: Spectrum Publications, 1996.
(TEL) Murray, S. E.
Touch the Earth Lightly. New Hymns written between 2003 & 2008. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2008.
Patton, K.
Services and Songs for the Celebration of Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 1967.
(WNC) Pratt, A.
Whatever Name or Creed. Hymns and Songs. London: Stainer & Bell Ltd, 2002.
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.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed).
Celebrating Women. New edition. London: SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Kowalski, Coots, Brooks. UUA Worship Web. Boston. http://uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/index.php
R. Sugrue.
Spirit & Spice Web site, NZ. 2001.
New Year” George Stuart. One of the resources in Hunt, R. A. E. When Progressives Gather Together. Liturgy, Lectionary, Landscape… And Other Explorations. Northcote: Morning Star Publishing, 2016

rexae74@gmail.com