ChristmasEveC.24.12.2015

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

24 December 2015. Christmas Eve. (White).
Celebrating Community: Sacrament of Holy Communion


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


A Liturgy for a Blue Christmas/Long Night Service can be found HERE


GATHERING

Gathering Music

Silence

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is struck three times

From the east to the west,
flowing towards all people on earth.
comes the gentle light of hope
born in human form.  (D McRae-McMahon/adapted)
All Watch and see, the wonder of the gift.

On this Christmas Eve may we celebrate
the richness and diversity of life.

Music of Reflection

CHRISTMAS EVE...
Christmas Eve is a time for candlelight.
It is a time when one desires little more
than family and soft music.

Who can say what passes through our hearts on Christmas Eve?
Strange thoughts.
Undefinable emotions.
Sudden tears.

Christmas Eve is a time to be quietly glad.
It is a time to wonder, to give thanks,
and of quiet awakening to beauty
that still lives on through the strife
of a war-torn world.

And Christmas Eve is also a time for memories and remembering.

For some, the memories are of loved family members
who have died, and the festive season
makes the pain of those losses ever more real.

For others, the memories are of happier times than we know now,
felt as the anguish of broken relationships,
the insecurity around employment,
the anxiety of illness or poor health,
or the emptiness of loss after drought or bushfire.

All these feelings are with us this night as we gather in this sacred place.
Here we are safe to feel what we feel:
to acknowledge our sadness,
to share our concern,
to release our anger,
to face our emptiness,
and still to know that God by what ever name,
is made present in the caring thoughts and deeds of others.

So let us  be and share and remember and receive,
assured that we are not alone in our life experiences.

Silence
A brief period of silence is kept

Bowl of Tears
As a symbol of the memories of those loved and lost
we place this bowl of tears in this special place.
A bowl of water is put in place

Remembering Candles
This first candle we light
to remember those whom we have loved and lost.
(First candle is lit)

We pause to remember
their name,
their face,
their voice,
the memory that binds them to us in this season.
All May God's caring love surround them.

This second candle we light is to mend the pain of loss.
The loss of relationships,
the loss of jobs,
the loss of health
the loss of home.
(Second candle is lit.)

We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God,
asking that from God's hands
we receive the gift of peace.
All Refresh, restore, renew us Gracious God,
and lead us into the future.

This third candle we light
is to remember ourselves this Christmas time.
(Third candle is lit.)

We pause and remember the past weeks and months and years:
the disbelief,
the anger,
the down times,
the poignancy of reminiscing,
the hugs and handshakes of family and friends,
all those who stood with us.

We give thanks for all the support we have known.
All Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness.

This fourth candle we light
to remember the gift of hope
which the Christmas story offers to us.
(Fourth candle is lit.)

We remember that God is our companion, who shares our life,
blessing us, and fills us with longing and with courage.
All Let us remember the One who holds us in love.

Spirit of God, calm the turmoil in our lives
so that we can hear your still small voice.
The gong is struck three times

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"God Molds the Shapes of Life" (Tune:  66 66 88. 469 TiS)   38 TMT
God molds the shapes of life,
drawing the flow of tides,
firing the sunlight's blaze,
glazing the night with pride:
God gives the love which warms and moves
the patterned rhythm life provides.

Ponder the rising sap
changing to leaf's decay;
think of the winter's death
turning to spring's new day,
and in these cycles find the shapes
of all God dreams and all God makes.

Pulse of the veins and lungs,
seasons of human hearts -
patterns that intertwine,
shaping our thought and art;
all these are part of nature's flow -
the life of God we reap and sow.

Sing to the God of change,
chaos, and fine design;
hallow the ordered forms
filled with the life divine.
In God the universe is one
and sings the hymn which God first sung!
  WWallace

OR

Come Celebrate…(Tune: ‘Gift of life’, CGibson) 17 HoS
Come celebrate the gift of life:
creation’s journey from the star
whose first great flaring forth of light
responded to God’s word of power.
Enable us, O God, to see
your living word is in us still;
this vibrant possibility
within our human lives fulfill.

Come celebrate the gift of love,
potential in each human soul,
revealed by Jesus as he strove
to heal our world and make us whole.
Enable us, O God, to choose
beyond the inborn needs of self;
in loving, be prepared to lose
our boundaries, and find new life.

Come celebrate the gift of power:
the flow of God within each soul,
which calls us in this present hour
to see creation as a whole.
Enable us, O God, to know
your life is present in all things;
and may our lives, within that flow,
reflect the joy creation sings. (MBond)
The people sit after the hymn

Welcome   In your own words
A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are worshipping at (NN) during this Christmas season, 
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

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

May this time renew our hope.
May it refresh our courage.
May it lift our spirits.
May it restore us in faith.
(Silence)

Special Music

EXPLORING

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

Reader:  Holiness, Word, music, song -
into this night, your cry comes, once again.
All   Open our ears to hear you.
Open our mouths to sing you.
Open our very lives,

That we might live you in the world,
All   Light within Light. (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:
"Beatitudes of Christmas Tide"
By David Rhys Williams.
(Adapted)

On this blessed night let us worship at the altar of joy,
for to miss the joy of Christmas is to miss its holiest secret.

Let us enter into the spiritual delights which are the natural heritage of childlike hearts.
That we may take counsel of the wisdom of poetry and legend.

Blessed are they who have vision enough to behold a guiding star
in the dark mystery which girdles the earth.

Blessed are they who have imagination enough to detect
the music of celestial voices in the midnight hours of life;

Blessed are they who have faith enough to contemplate a world
of peace and justice in the midst of present wrongs and strife.

Blessed are they who have greatness enough to become at times as a little child;

Blessed are they who have zest enough to take delight in simple things;

Blessed are they who have wisdom enough to know that
the realm of God is very close at hand,
and that all may enter who have eyes to see
and ears to hear and hearts to understand.

OR

“Demiurge”
D H Lawrence

They say that reality exists only in the spirit
that corporal existence is a kind of death
that pure being is bodiless
that the idea of the form precedes the form substantial.
But what nonsense it is!
as if any mind could have imagined a lobster
dozing in the under-deeps, then reaching out a savage and iron claw!
Even the mind of God can only imagine
those things that have become themselves:
bodies and presences, here and now, creatures with a foothold in creation
even if only a lobster on tip-toe.
Religion knows better than philosophy.
Religion knows that Jesus was never Jesus
till he was born from a womb, and ate soup and bread
and grew up, and became, in the wonder of creation, Jesus,
with a body and with needs and with a lovely spirit.

OR

Responsive Reading:
Advent should admonish us to discover
Wm  in each brother or sister that we greet,
Mn  in each friend whose hand we shake,
Wm  in each beggar who asks for bread,
Mn in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union,
Wm   in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves,
All the face of the Christ.

Then it would not be possible
All to rob them, to cheat them, to deny them their rights.
They are as Christ.
Wm   And whatever is done to them
Mn Christ will take as done to him.

This is what Advent is:
Christ living among us (ORomera/lol)

Hymn  People remain seated to sing
"Here in the Dryness and Dust"
(Tune: 310(ii) TiS, ‘Spean’ 11 10 11 10)
Here in the dryness and dust of our climate,
snow is remote as the tale we repeat,
barren the ground in the heat of the outback,
barren the welcome: they wait on the street.

Mary and Joseph stand stunned and disabled,
wonder what shelter they'll find for the night,
here in the colour and warmth of the sunshine
we can imagine the fear of their plight.

Warm is the straw on the floor of the stable,
soft is the sun as it filters through trees,
now it is Christmas we welcome the Christ-child,
all of creation is brought to its knees.

Love is incarnate, the source of all being
cradled by Mary, yes, born on this earth;
looking she loves him, though strained and exhausted,
knowing her child is of infinite worth.
  © Andrew Pratt

OR

There Is No Child So Small(Tune: ‘Jewel’)    133(i) HoS
There is no child so small,
no scrap of life so precious
who is not born like Jesus,
whose cry is like us all.

There is no child unfed,
left hungry now at Christmas
but God will ask for justice,
for shelter and for bread.

There is no child so lost,
no refugee so nameless
that God will hold us blameless,
who share no care or cost.

There is no child so cheap,
in warfare or destruction
that love cannot take action
when God is made to weep.

There is not one of us
who could not be more giving,
and in the gift more loving,
to light a star for peace. (Shirley Erena Murray)

Traditional Gospel:
Luke 2:1-14  (Inclusive Text)

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the world to be taken.
This census - the first - took place while Quirinus
was governor of Syria, and everyone
went to their own town to be registered.

So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee
and travelled up to Judea, to the town of David called Bethlehem,
since he was of David's House and line,
in order to be registered together with Mary,
his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to a son, her first-born.

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger
because there was no place for them in the inn.

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’.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Christmas Litany (Optional)
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
(Adapted-Celebrating Christmas/52)People sit  

Prayer
We pray:
Celebrating God, with another Christmas,
we celebrate the gift of life itself
and the gift of every resource that enhances life.

Above all, we are thankful for the life and spirit of Jesus of Nazareth,
for leading us to put our hope and trust in the spirit of life and love
moving in the depths of our being.

May we too be creators of a better world.
May we find a good purpose and satisfaction in the life that we are given.
May we leave behind us a trail of encouragement and hope.
May it be so.

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
"Poets Tell...
(Tune: 'Regent Square', 87 87 47 Extend. 431 TiS)   5 CCS
Poets, tell the ancient story,
sing the universal song;
Take from war its cruel glory,
speed love’s triumph over wrong.
Hate belies it,
Doubt denies it
Peace on earth, good-will to all!

Calm the angry pride of nations,
stay the threat of holocaust.
Let all peoples’ lifted voices
call for peace, lest earth be lost
Fear rejects it,
Hope expects it
Peace on earth, good-will to all!

Prophets, speak with greater power;
leaders, mark your mission clear,
Match the challenge of this hour,
rid the world of hate and fear.
Faith believes it,
Love achieves it
Peace on earth, good-will to all! 
ET Buehrer
The people sit

CELEBRATING

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
Offerings
Our offerings to the Christmas Bowl, and
our gifts of bread and wine, shall now be received.

The Presentation
We rejoice in the new world God is creating around us and with us.
May our gifts proclaim the way of Jesus
and strengthen this faithful people.

Invitation
May Love be with you.
All  And also with you!
May our hearts be opened.
All
 We open ourselves to life.
Creator of light, Bearer of life, Source of love,
All
 your ancient love stirs within us.

Thanksgiving
The sacred emerges for us everywhere:
in the rhythm of the oceans
in the magnificence of the stars,
in the beauty of all beings.
All
We are grateful for the gifts of our story.

In this season, we sing the song of angels who quiet our fears.
We find ourselves in the company of shepherds and magi
who search for what is coming to birth
     in unlikely places among unlikely people.
All  In the company of courageous parents,
we dare to birth the holy among us.

In the divine, we live and move and have our being.
For all that is born of a sacred love,
we give our thanks and praise.
All 
In Jesus of Nazareth, we see new possibilities,
new ways of being in the world.

He was moved by the plight of the poor.
He made his home with the homeless
and shared his table with those
who could not command a seat at any meal.
He dreamed of a world where enemies
learned to love one another,
where the abundance of creation was shared fairly,
and where love was the law of every land. (Nancy Steeves)

On this night God's presentness was seen as one of us:
a baby needy and naked,
wrapped in a woman's blood,
born into poverty and exile,
to proclaim the good news to the poor,
and to let the broken victims go free.

Therefore, with the woman who gave Jesus birth,
the woman who befriended him and fed him,
who argued with him
and reached out to touch him;
the woman who anointed him for death,
the woman who met him in the garden,
(JMorley/cw-adapted)
and with all women and men throughout the ages,
we praise God, saying:
All Holy, holy, holy, vulnerable God,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
All Hosanna in the highest.

Bread and Wine
Again, on this night, we remember what our tradition teaches:
at the end of a journey, among friends, gathered round a table...

Jesus took bread, said a blessing, broke it and said,
'This is the bread of life, given to sustain the people of the world'.
Bread broken

All Let us share this bread and be strengthened
to bring peace and justice to the world.

Later he poured a cup of wine said a blessing and said,
'This is the cup of life, given to sustain the people of the world'. 
(PLawson/jc)
Wine poured out

All Let us share this cup in solidarity
with all the peoples of the world, so that
peace and justice may prevail everywhere.

Ever Present God, embrace us with your comfortable power.
Brood over these bodily things
and make us one body in community.
All As Mary's body was broken for him, and her blood shed,
so may we show forth his brokenness,
for the life of the world.

Communion
Bread and wine served in small circles around the Table

After Communion
Let us give thanks for this sharing in community.
May it sustains us in our desire to be followers of Jesus
in our own time and place.

Let us acknowledge that partaking of the bread and wine
joins us to a great company of people throughout history
and around the present world.

And let us renew our sense of belonging to this fellowship
as we seek to bring the words and ways of Jesus
into relevant connection with life
as we live and understand it today.
All May true knowledge increase in our minds.
May compassion increase in our hearts.
May there be energy and strength for good actions
that serve a suffering world.

And may peace be our portion
and the portion of all who live on this small planet
which is our human home.
 (RVJones)

Sharing 'The Peace’
May a heart of peace rest with you.
All  
And also with you. (DGalston/q)
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.

SCATTERING

Hymn   The people stand as they are able, to sing
All Over Creation(Tune: ‘Elizabeth’)   3 (v1-2) COC
All over creation
joy spills into light,
stars, candles ablaze this Christmas night;
where Jesus is sleeping,
peace kisses the earth,
O that we could know who Mary has brought to birth!

This child will bring freedom,
this child will release
wellsprings of compassion, ways to peace,
this child will bring healing,
this child will inspire
love answering love, and spirit to Spirit's fire.

OR

Of Home(Tune: ‘Woodlands’, 10 10 10 10, 411 TiS)
To dream of home while on that dusty road
meant Nazareth, yet they neared Bethlehem,
that house of bread; another sign of home,
a place for birth, yet there's no room for them.

And home is where there's room for love and life,
a place to rest, or noisy, or unblessed,
with, sometimes, hidden laughter, buried strife;
yet this is where we are and make the best.

Parting Words
Walk carefully as you go from here,
All
God is there before us.
Walk humbly as you go from here,
All
the city and suburbs awaits our coming.
Walk softly as you go from here,
for the Spirit is abroad in all the earth,
All
and the voice of the Spirit speaks in every place.

Words of Blessing
May the blessing in the strength of the Brindabellas,
the calm of Lake Burley Griffin
the freshness of gum tree and wild flower
remain with you...

And may peace and creativity go with us always.
All  
May it be so!

Hymn (Cont.)  “All Over Creation(Tune: ‘Elizabeth’)   3 (v3-4) COC
This child will befriend us,
this child will invite
all children to share his world's delight:
this Christ will confront us
when, children no more,
we plunder our planet, crying from want and war.

Let there be a moment
held, as in one breath,
when all the earth turns away from death,
peace nursing creation,
peace spreading her wing,
O that we could know what Christmas is meant to bring! (Shirley Erena Murray)

OR

Of Home(Tune: ‘Woodlands’, 10 10 10 10, 411 TiS)
Great God, they called you 'love' and so you are,
incarnate, given over to our hands.
Your love above all else will take us far,
then draw us home again from many lands. © Andrew Pratt 5/12/2009
The people sit after the hymn

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:
(COC) Carol Our Christmas. A Book of New Zealand Carols. 1996. Raumati: New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
(CCS) Celebrating Christmas in Song. Thirteen New Carols. 1983. Boston: UUA.
Hilton, D. (ed). 1991. Liturgy of Life. An Anthology. Birmingham: National Christian Education Council.
(HoS) Hope Is Our Song. New Hymns and Songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. 2009. Palmerston North: New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
Inclusive Readings. Year C 2006. Brisbane: Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation.
Jones, Robert V. 2005. 
Liturgy: The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In private circulation from the author.
Lawson, P. R.  2003. Jesus Circles. Xlibris Corporation.
Prewer, B. D. 1983. 
Australian Prayers. Adelaide: OpenBook Publishers.
Seaburg, C. (ed). 1983. Celebrating Christmas. An Anthology. Boston: UUMA.
Vosper, G. 2004/2010. 
Holy Breath. Prayers for Worship and Reflection. New & Revised edition. Brisbane: The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane.
(TMT) Wallace, W. L. 2001. The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston: Selah Publishing.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed). 1995. 
Celebrating Women. New edition. London: SPCK.

Web sites/Other:
Williams. UUA Worship Web. Boston: http://uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/index.php
Faith Works. Boston: UUA. (Collected by Jacqui James).
"Of Home” and “ Here in the Dryness and Dust". Andrew Pratt eMail copy. 2009. Direct from the author.
Dorothy McRae-McMahon. 2005.  "Christmas Liturgy: The light shines in the darkness".
Insights Magazine web site.
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. <http://www.questcentre.ca/>
Nancy Steeves. A resource adapted from the St Stephen
s Non-Theistic Liturgy Project. <http://stephen.srv.ualberta.ca/publications/non-theistic-liturgy-resources/#sthash.0Sd5KwzN.wLO2Tlw4.dpbs>

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