ChristmasDayC.25.12.2015

Revd Rex A E Hunt

eMail:  rexae@optusnet.com.au
Web site:  www.rexaehuntprogressive.com


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LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE

25 December 2015. Christmas Day. (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) 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

Gathering Music

Silence

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

May the love that breathes life
into all humanity
and all of creation
All  Be born again in us today.

OR

From the eloquent questionings of children,
from the vast research of humanity into the unknown,
let us draw strength and courage
to live our lives in freedom and faith. (BHolmes/wm)

On this (Australian) Christmas Day may we celebrate
the richness and diversity of life.

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
Carol of the Birds”     1 FACC
Out on the plains the Brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war-horses prancing:
Up to the sun the wood-larks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing -
Orana! Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day.

Down where the tree-ferns grow by the river,
There where the waters sparkle and quiver,
Deep in the gullies bell-birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyric notes rhyming -
Orana! Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day.

Friar-birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in wattle-tree bowers;
In the blue ranges Lorikeets calling
Carols of bushbirds are rising and falling -
Orana! Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day. (JWheeler)

OR

"Christmas Day"   322 TiS
The north wind is tossing the leaves,
The red dust is over the town;
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddocks is brown;
And we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-Child, the Heavenly King.

The tree-ferns in green gullies sway;
The cool stream flows silently by:
The joy-bells are greeting the day,
And the chimes are adrift in the sky,
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-Child, the Heavenly King. 
(JWheeler)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
God of creation, shaper of seas and stars
of planets and of people
All God is here with us.

God, born in Bethlehem
gurgling, crying, laid in a manger
All God is here with us.

God, breath of the universe
flickering, dancing in the candle flame
All God is here with us.

God, Emmanuel, among us, within us
All We bring ourselves and our dreams
for we want to be here with you.
  (cfc/Iona)

Act of Awareness
We receive fragments of holiness,
glimpses of eternity,
brief moments of insight.

Let us gather them up for the precious gifts that they are
and, renewed by their grace,
move boldly into the unknown. (SMCampbell/slt)

OR

We pray:
Days of blazing sunlight,
clear blue skies and sunbaked earth,
colourful birds,
fiery bottle brush,
pastel jacaranda,
the fragrance of each season beneath the Southern Cross...
We offer our praise and thanks for God/the Sacred is in our midst.
May it be so.

Hymn "Child of Christmas Story(Tune: 'Incarnation')    12 AA 
Child of Christmas story,
stable straw and star,
small and sweet and gentle:
tell us who you are.

Child whose baby finger
round our own is curled,
come to melt our hearts, and
come to change the world.

Child of Jew and Gentile,
child of white and black -
teach us how to love you,
teach us what we lack.

Child of Mary's courage
birthed in human pain,
tell us what your name is -
be our hope again. Shirley Erena Murray

OR

"Joy To The World" (Tune: 88 88 88 66. 268 TiS (Inclusive)    6 FSSC
Joy to the world! The Christ is here!
The gift of peace to bring!
Let ev'ry heart a welcome place prepare.
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heav'n, and heav'n and nature sing!

Joy to the earth! The saviour lives!
With song your voice employ;
While fields and floods, rock, plains and hills
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

Christ fills the world with truth and grace,
And asks each life to prove
The glories of God's righteousness
And wonders of God's love,
And wonders of God's love,
And wonders, and wonders of God's love!
    (GPHaddon)
People sit

Welcome
In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to you all this Christmas Day.

Those of you who may be worshipping at (NN) for the first time,
and those who have returned
to celebrate this special season
with family or friends.

Your presence both enriches us and this time of celebration together.
Refer to printed liturgy.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.

CENTERING

Lighting of the Christmas Candle
Over the past four Sundays we have lit the Advent candles
of peace, hope, joy and love.

We light them again and remember...
the ways peace, hope, joy and love
are always brought to birth in, through, and among, all creation.
Four candles lit

Last night we lit our Christmas Eve candles.
It was a time for memories and remembering...
To wonder and to give thanks.
And of quiet awakening to beauty
that still lives on through the strife
of personal griefs and a war-torn world.

Now we come to light our Christmas candle.
It is a friendly candle.
It brings light and love
as we celebrate in the warmth of summer.

It is a candle of understanding which drives away fear.
It is a candle of truth.
It will lead one in unknown paths
to learn more about the mysteries of life.
All Once upon a time a little baby was born
who taught us to love and understand one another.
And they called his name, Jesus.

The Christmas Candle is lit

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

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

May the silence which we now share quieten us,
touch our need,
refresh our courage,
enlarge our wonder.
(Silence)

OR

May that which is most sacred to us
enter into this moment of silence… (BHolmes/wm)

(Silence)

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"Carol Of The Earth"
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
how lovely are your branches.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
how lovely are your branches.
Upon those branches hangs a ball
which is most delicate and small
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
how lovely are your branches.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
you are the tree most loved.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
you are the tree most loved.
The ball which hangs there with such grace,
it is the earth which spins in space.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
you are the tree most loved.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
your beauty green will teach me
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
your beauty green will teach me
that planet earth can ever be
a friendly home for you and me.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
your beauty green will teach me. 
AHill
People sit


OR

"Summer Christmas" (Tune: 'Aurelia', 76 76D. 457 TiS)      6 SNS2
We sing our Christmas carols amidst the summer heat,
When scorching winds can torment those harvesting their wheat;
We look for cooling respite, some shade among the trees,
An evening change in weather, a light refreshing breeze.

The summer heat reminds us of drought and rainless days,
Of hostile dust-storms raging, of forest trees ablaze;
At times like these we question; we sometimes feel dismay;
We need to sing our carols to celebrate this day.

This story of a baby, exposed to human fate,
To summer heat and winter, to human love and hate;
The Jesus story claims that we all can rise above
Our disappointing failures to work the works of love.

We can be devastated by all the daily news,
By murders, wars and conflicts, by pessimistic views;
But in the Jesus story we ponder on the worth
Of love, compassion, beauty, the hope of peace on earth.

So Christmas has a message of dreaming and good cheer;
When God's intention prompts us both now and every year,
In summer and in winter to emulate with joy
The life we see in Jesus - this tiny baby boy. (George Stuart)
People sit

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Some readings from our broad religious tradition shall now be read.
The reader is (NN).

Reader:  With wonder we watch
the world unfold before us each day.
All   Prisms of light dance our dreams beyond our grasp
and we awake to a world bursting with promise.

Ordinary, simple things, bring awe and wonder to our everyday.
All   And we find blessing all about us.
May our minds ever ponder the subtle textures of life,
All   And as these words and stories settle into our minds,
may we feel them stir and lift our hearts
 (Adapt. GVosper/hb)

Hebrew Scriptures:
Isaiah 9:2-7 
(Inclusive Text)

The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.

You have made their gladness greater,
you have made their joy increase;
they rejoice in your presence
as harvesters rejoice at harvest time,
as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

For the yoke of Israel's burden,
and the staff for its shoulder, the rod of its oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.

For there is a child born for us.
An heir given to us upon whose shoulder government will rest.
They will name this one:
Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God,
Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.

This dominion - and this peace - will grow without end,
on David's judgement seat and over David's realm,
established and made secure in justice and integrity,
from this time onward and forevermore.

The zeal of our God of hosts will do this.

The World Around us:
"Come Christmas!"
By Maureen Killoran. 
(Adapted)

No one is ever really ready for Christmas.
If we were really all prepared:
If every gift we had contemplated had been obtained;
If every present was beautifully beribboned;
If all the goodies our friends deserve
were baked and cooled, and stored just so;
If each and every person we love
was gathered for our celebration;
If we never snapped at someone we care about,
nor stopped short of being all that we could be;
If our minds were 100 per cent loving
and our hearts were 100 per cent generous;
They truly would be ready
- and truly we would not need Christmas quite so much.

So welcome, Christmas, most needed of seasons.
Come with the reminder that love does not depend on
perfection but on willingness to risk connection.

Come into the unready manger of our hearts
that we may feel the warmth of new life
and give flesh to the promise of hope
that cries to bring healing into our world.

OR

“Christmas”
By Fay White

Christmas
is loud cacophony
in the symphony of my year.
the sound of crass cash registers
beep-beeping in my ears
and all day long in every place
no matter where I go
relentless sentimental songs
that keep on mentioning snow.
and the clash of garish glitter
and tawdry tinsel-shine
and buy! buy! buy! buy!
on every second sign.

I wish
it was
a simple tune
played on a flute
or fiddle,
that could slip
past my defences and
touch me
in my middle

like the sweetness
of a baby
born
all fresh
and soft
and whole

to light a lamp of wonder
in the midnight of my soul

OR

“The Scandal of Christmas”
John Shuck, 2011

The scandal of Christmas is not that Jesus was son of God. 
Images of the son of God were seen everywhere. 
The Roman Imperial cult was filled with son of God propaganda. 

Lest there be any doubt, Caesar was the son of God
and he had the standing armies to prove it. 
That is what a son of God has—power. 
Power to fund armies. 
Power to move populations from one place to another. 
Power to build. 
Power to destroy. 
Power to feed and power to let starve.

The scandal is not that Jesus is son of God as if that is something supernatural. 
No, the scandal is that Jesus, the nobody,
the one without any army,
who wrote nothing,
who held no office,
who owned no property,
who was nobody in his own lifetime,
whose legacy is
    welcoming and offering dignity to the marginalized,
    pointing out and poking fun of the hypocrisy of the elite,
    and resisting evil with non-violent transformative love,
that nobody who was tortured and executed by authority of Caesar, the son of God,
was the son of God.

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
Christmas Is Real” 
(Tune: ‘Spean’, 11 10 11 10D. 310(ii) TiS)
Christmas is real when the cost that we measure
reaches the manger and touches the skies,
shop fronts give way to divine revelation,
God is among us and selfishness dies.

Christmas is real when the gifts that are given
mirror the love of this God upon earth,
God who is known in self-giving and loving
crowning our poverty, coming to birth.

Christmas still echoed when screams of the children,
slaughtered by Herod inflamed people's fear.
Christmas remains when the trees and the tinsel
make way for news that we'd rather not hear.

Christmas is real when we enter the squalor
mirrored in Bethlehem so long ago;
off'ring the love that was seen in the God head,
total self-giving not baubles  and show.
© APratt 2006

Traditional Gospel:
Luke 2:8-20  (Inclusive Text)

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields
and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night.

The angel of God appeared to them and the glory of God
shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said,
'Do not be afraid.
Listen, I bring you news of great joy,
a joy to be shared by the whole people.

Today in the town of David
a saviour has been born to you who is the Christ.
'And here is a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.'

And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host,
praising God and singing,
'Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to all who enjoy God's favour'.

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
"Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened
which God has made known to us."

So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby lying in the manger.
When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him,
and everyone who heard it
was astonished at what the shepherds had to say.

As for Mary, she treasured all these things
and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen.
It was exactly as they had been told.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Christmas Litany
People stand as they are able

Blessed are they who find Christmas
in the fragrant eucalypt,
the song of the cicada,
and the soft flicker of candles...
All To them shall come memories of love and happiness.

Blessed are they who find Christmas
in the Christmas star...
All Their lives may ever reflect its light and beauty.

Blessed are they who find Christmas
in the age-old story of a child born in a stable and laid in a manger...
All To them a little child will always mean
hope and promise in a troubled world.

Blessed are they who find Christmas
in the joy of gifts sent lovingly to others...
All They shall share the gladness and joy
of the shepherds and sages of old.

Blessed are they who find Christmas
in the message of Jesus of Nazareth...
All They shall ever strive to help bring peace on earth,
good will to all. 
(Adapt.Celebrating Christmas/52)

OR

Colours of Christmas
v1 We come to acknowledge the many colours of Christmas…

v2 Colours of red in the shining ornaments
and rosy glow of merriment
Red cloth/steamer brought forward

All A time for meeting our memories and
honouring favourite traditions…

v2 Colours of green in the trees and
the streets of Christmas lights
Green cloth/steamer brought forward

All A time for seeing signs of new life and celebration…

v2 Colours of yellow in bright summer sun and
neighbourhood barbeques
Yellow cloth/steamer brought forward

All A time to celebrate the warmth and care of each other
as days grow longer...

v2 Colours of blue in the deep, cool waters of the sea
Blue cloth/steamer brought forward

All A time when barmy evenings caress us and
beach-side walks relax us...

v1 We gather in this time to find hope
All We come to open our spirits to the courage of living
amid all the colours of this summer season.
(Adapt. Faith Works)

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
"Christmas Bowl
(Tune:'Winchester Old',  86 86. 299 TiS)
An empty bowl, uplifted hands:
a challenge there we see,
to share with neighbours in all lands
our one humanity.

An empty bowl, uplifted hands:
may our commitment be
that peace and justice in all lands
shall be reality.

An empty bowl, uplifted hands:
to set the captives free
and joining people in all lands
in one community.

A cup of wine, uplifted hands:
O Christ, lead us to be
your body broken for all lands,
now and eternity. 
RFaser

Offerings
Let us now make real the words of our hymn
as our gifts to the Christmas Bowl are received and presented.

Presentation
The generosity of life is around us.

Even in difficult times
we can discover the spirit of generosity.
May we receive this generosity for our growing enrichment,
and may we give to this generosity
for the world's growing compassion. 
FMacnab/h

Conversation 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 Concerns shared

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
We turn to Life, to that vast creativity

All that empowers the universe
as the ocean animates the wave,


seeking to let go of that which blocks our healing.

All May we open ourselves even now

to the wonder of Life.

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
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)

SCATTERING

Hymn   The people stand as they are able, to sing
Star-Child, Earth-Child”  40(ii) COC
Star-Child, earth-Child
go-between of God,
love Child, Christ Child,
heaven's lightning rod,
Refrain:
This year, this year,
let the day arrive,
when Christmas comes
for everyone,
everyone alive!

Street child, beat child