CMas2C.Epiphany1C.3.1.2016

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
3  January 2016. Christmas 2C  OR  Epiphany 1C (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


GATHERING

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Seek not in some far away place for beauty.
It glows in dew-wet grasses all about our feet;
In birds, in sunshine, in a flower blooming…

In life’s common deeds and earth’s common things
God stands revealed. (Adapt.MJSavage/owos)

So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of Community Candle
A Community Candle is lit

Divine spark from sacred dark
Symbol of our holy intent
illuminate this hour. (KHuff)

Hymn The people stand, as they are able to sing
There Shone a Star…(Tune: ‘Epiphany Hymn’, 11 10 11 10)       40 RP
There shone a star at the start of creation,
beaming so brightly through time and through space;
sign of God’s presence, divine conflagration,
opening the way for each child of our race.

That star would shine when the prophets were speaking,
shining to show what was false, what was true.
Still that light shine when God’s people are seeking
lives that are frail to build up and renew.

Then a new star marked the birthplace of Jesus,
herald of hope at the (shaping) of God.
We hear again, now the story has caught us,
follow the footsteps that shepherds once trod.

This was the star that shone all through that Christmas
leading the Magi to love and to grace;
leading us still, to the God who has sought us,
looking with longing from every child’s face.
(Adapted. APratt)

OR

“’Til All, In Truth, Are Free(Tune: ’Aurelia’ 76 76D)
If truth still guides our journey,
where does it lead from here?
Our world lies there before us
but nothing seems that clear.
We used to think we knew things,
that all had been revealed,
but now all truths we question,
and much is yet concealed.

Our faith in higher powers,
our confidence in love,
our hope for bright tomorrows
our trust in things above –
each must be proved and tested:
what’s fantasy, what’s truth?
It’s while we’re on this journey,
we one another soothe.

If we would share with others
the way we choose to live;
if justice and compassion
inspired us all to give,
we would not need to worry
that truths do not agree
for all could live together
in love and harmony.

So walk with me in courage
across truth’s great divides.
We’ll listen to each other
until the hate subsides.
Together we’ll speak boldly
of what the world still needs
and speak a truth to power
‘til all, in truth, are free. (Gretta Vosper. <http://www.grettavosper.ca/>)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
God of all creation -
Be with each one of us,
All
  as growth, creativity and healing,
as light and wisdom.

Spirit of the living God -
Live within our community,
All  
giving courage to dispel fear, 
and resolve conflict,
giving fire to inflame with love.

Spirit of Peace -
Dwell with us so that we may
All
  know your presence in silences and stillness,
know your vision for your people.

Spirit of Love and Power -
Open our living to your power, so we may
All  
open ourselves to the joy and pain of others
open ourselves to justice truth and freedom.
(Pause)

All  God of all creation
Come into our bodies,
and your body, the church
making us your new creation.

Act of Awareness
Before us each day are challenges.
The choices we make craft us into who we are becoming.

May we ever open our eyes to the newness of our days.
May we sense the surge of wonder
just beneath the surface of the ordinary.
May we find purpose in each breaking moment
(Adapt.GVosper/ab).

OR

We pray:
Illuminating God, each sunrise and sunset
reminds us of your constant presence.
Awaken in each of us
the possibility for new life, new vision
and renewed energy. (TWatts/s)
May it be so.

Hymn Epiphany Hymn(Tune: ‘Highwood’, 11 10 11 10)
Deep in the darkness a starlight is gleaming,
Calling us out from the safety of home.
God of the questions, the mystery of dreaming,
Lighten our journey into the unknown.

Out of the darkness the voices are crying,
Terror and fear screaming loud in the night.
God of the hurting, of innocence dying,
Fire us with anger to struggle for right.

Still in the darkness we search for your healing,
Hoping for meaning to comfort our fear.
God of the silence, of unspoken feeling,
Teach us the wisdom to make your truth clear.

On through the darkness we follow your leading,
Searching for joy and a refuge to stay.
God of our longing, the bliss we are seeking,
journey with us to the brightness of day.  JBerry/ssb

OR

When All the Good… (Tune: ‘Killibegs’, William Davies)       43 PaT
When all the good is gathered up,
when all the pain is gathered, too,
then will an energy be born
to spark a world alight and new!

When all the spirit of the good
absorbs our sufferings and fears,
then will an energy arrive
that grows creation out of tears.

Within a chemistry of change,
within the heart of all that beats
will be the energy of love
that nothing quenches or defeats.

Where all the elements combine
to fire new truth, to foster joy,
set loose that energy of love
to be in us God’s strong alloy!

When goodness takes the place of gold,
when pain of war, of word and fist
becomes the energy of hope,
then peace and justice will have kissed. (Shirley Erena Murray)

OR

Watch and Wonder
The hand that carves exquisite birds;
the mind that writes astounding words;
the child who smiles a thousand joys;
the day which Love and Life employs.

The wrinkles lining wisdom’s face;
All those who give in simple grace;
the changing leadership of geese;
the dusky night that brings sweet peace.
Refrain:
Worship now the Holy One!
Unknown Source of moon and sun;
peace and chaos, space and time;
All of us evolving, born Divine!

To wonder then with heart and mind;
is worship of the truest kind.
To watch from depths within one’s soul
enables Love to make us whole.

’Tis time to voice our deep content.
’Tis time to give our strong assent.
The Spirit thrives in all that lives.
The Spirit loves, the Spirit gives!
Refrain:                             (Emily Kierstead/es)
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
during this festive season.

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
Now let silence gently enfold us.
(Silence)

In this day made fresh,
In the chorus of birds,
In the scent of garden flowers,
We embrace this day in hope.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

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

From the World Around us:
“Gathering”
By Rosemary Mitchell.
Birthings and Blessings/94.

God speaks!
with excitement!
with enthusiasm!
with new life!

God is present!
God is with us!
nothing can separate us!
Even when we feel unsure,
unclear,
confused,
even when we feel broken to the core of our being -

We hold fast to God's love,
God's acceptance,
we are always welcome in God's household.

We will each, once again, 
feel like a well-watered garden.
Full of life!
Radiant in the sun!
It will be good.
It is good.

OR

"To Name the Year"
By Kenneth Patton. Services and Songs for the Celebration of Life/132.

Forever is lived one moment at a time.
This time, as long as it lasts, is as much as eternity.
It is a piece of eternity.

No time past was richer than this time.
No time in the future will be more than this time.
We have all of time there is, during this time that we have.
No day is more brief than another day.
The number of years we have yet to live does not make this present year short or long.
It will be as fulfilled as we fill it.
Each year should be the best year we have yet lived.
Each year we are more learned in the ways of life.
Each year we are wiser than the year before.
Each year our eyes know better the sights to seek.
Our ears listen with a finer tuning...

This new year is one year older than the last.
The earth is more abounding in its growth.
The creatures have moved another step in their unfolding.
Humanity has left us one more year of art for our contemplation.
History is one more year resonant with lessons.

The sunrises are one year more familiar and promising.
The sunsets are one year less fearful, and the peace of the night is proven.

Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 2:1-12 (Inclusive Text)

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea
during the reign of Herod, some wise leaders came to Jerusalem
from the east.

'Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews?' they asked.
'We saw his star as it rose and have come to do homage.'

At this news Herod was greatly disturbed,
and all Jerusalem as well.

Herod called together all the chief priests and
the scribes of the people, and inquired of them
where the Christ was to be born.

‘In Bethlehem in Judaea,' they said, 'for this is what
the prophet wrote:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader who will shepherd
my people Israel.'

Then Herod summoned the wise leaders privately,
and asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared,
and sent them to Bethlehem.

'Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found this child,
let me know, so that I too may go and pay homage.'

Having listened to what Herod had to say, they set out.
And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising;
it went forward and halted over the place where the child was.

The sight of the star filled them with delight,
and going into the house they saw the child
with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they paid homage.

Then, opening their treasures, they offered gifts
of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, 
and returned to their own country by a different way.

Contemporary Exploration
And these two recent posts from Dr Gregory Jenks… 
http://gregoryjenks.com/2015/12/30/a-palestinian-jesus/      
http://gregoryjenks.com/2014/05/24/the-human-jesus/

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Litany for Epiphany (Optional)
People stand as they are able

v3  When a star in the sky
marked where the new King of the Jews had been born,
wise and learned ones came to Jerusalem looking for him.
Like the wise ones we ask
All  
Where can we find you, Affirming One?

v1  They brought to the child, with his mother Mary,
their most precious gifts and worshipped him.
We have no treasure to offer nor any star to guide us.
We bring only devotion to your will.
Like the wise ones we ask
All  
Where can we find you, Amazing One?

v2  Do we look for someone who is rich and powerful,
living in a five-star hotel,
or for the One who had nowhere to lay his head?
Like the wise ones we ask
All  
Where can we find you, Gracious One?

v3  Are you in the crowded shops during the post-Christmas sales?
Will we find you in the endless round of pre-Christmas 
office parties, or squatting homeless in some condemned building?
Like the wise ones we ask
All  
Where can we find you, Imagining One?

v1 You were in the world but they did not know you.
You came to your own and they did not receive you.
There was no room for you at the inn.
Is there any room for you in our hearts?
Like the wise ones we ask
All  
Where can we find you, Caring One?

OR

A Litany for the New Year
People stand as they are able

v1  A new year begs for change
even as we dig in our feet.
v2  What are we to make of new horizons
and lost opportunities?
All  
A generation comes and a generation goes,
but the earth remains forever
.

v1  A new year is charged with renewal
even as our expectations wane.
v2  What are we to make of hope and despair?
All  
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises
.

v1  A new year is full of resolutions and ambition.
v2  What are we to make of grand attempts
and arresting failures? 
All  
The wind blows from the north
and goes round to the south.
The wind returns.

v1  A new year startles and seduces.
v2  What are we to make of the one in the mirror
and the one in the flesh?
All  
All rivers and creeks run to the sea,
but the sea is not full.

v1  A new year strains away from the familiar.
v2  What are we to make of nuance and nativity?
All  
What has been is what will be;
what has been done is what will be done.
There is nothing new under the sun(Ecclesiastes 1:4-9, Adapted by GLStewart. Further adapted RAEHunt)

Sharing 'The Peace
Let us take a moment to celebrate each other.

May a heart of peace rest with you.
All  
And also with you. (DGalston/q)

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
God Present To All
(Tune: ‘Ombersley’, 88 88. 567 TiS)   26 SNS
Creation sings amazing songs;
This is the place where God belongs
In movement, colour to behold
In past and future yet untold.

 Source of all life's vitality
Enlivens love consistently;
We see God's presence in each face,
In kindly deeds and acts of grace.

Deep in our soul with vision clear
We see God's presence re-appear
Each time a human babe is born,
Each time we rise to greet the dawn.

Wonderful visions constantly
Express great beauty as we see
God's presence in humanity,
So vivid once in Galilee. (GStuart)
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 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 (GVosper/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 presence of the sacred among us,
and to see new possibilities of the now.

The 'Abba’ Prayer
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, and in your original language, as appropriate

All  Loving Presence, luminous in all creation,
hallowed be your name.
Thy kin-dom come.
May we reflect on earth
the yielding perfection of the heavens.

Help us to receive an illumined measure from the earth this day.
Forgive us when we trespass against others,
human and other than human,
as we forgive others who trespass against us.

Keep us on the path of wisdom
when we are tempted to take the selfish path.

May it be your rule we follow,
your power we exercise,
and your radiance that allures.

May this be the truth that guides our lives,
the ground from which our future will grow,
until we meet again. (BSanguin/dddc)

OR

Prayer for the New Year
By James Armstrong. Prayers of Via de Cristo/86

v1  We have just stepped over the threshold.
It’s a new dawn… a new day… in a brand new year.

The successes… and the shortfalls of the year past
have brought us thus far.
But now the lie behind us.

Ahead of us are all the unwritten pages of this new year…
so full of potential and opportunity.

And how remarkably gifted we are,
with abilities to transform these possibilities into fresh realities.

v2  So let us greet opportunity with anticipation and optimism,
and let our passions light the way
when the path grows faint or rough.

All  May we never tire of the adventure of encountering your presence,
and of your way to live in the world.

May we persist in doing good in a world capable as well of darkness,
drawing on deep-rooted determination
as we encounter adversity and discouragement.

May our successes be marked by generosity and humility,
as we seek new and meaningful ways
to touch people and change lives.

And may our own presence be transformed in the process
through love and grace...

CELEBRATING

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
Invitation
In all the colours and scents and sounds of the world,
In all growing things,
In all creatures and people and their joy,
In the chorus of suns and planets and stars,
We would see God's signature
as the beauty of things. (Adapt. JTrapp)

The Offerings
Our offerings for the work of ministry in this city and beyond,
and our gifts of bread and wine, shall now be received.

The Presentation
God of splendour,
your goodness sustains us,
and your graciousness gives us hope.
May we and these gifts of bread, wine and money
be used to further your way of love, hope, and justice.

Thanksgiving
v1  God of the summer’s day,
All  Praise and wonder be.
God of the lingering sunset and early dawn,
All  
Praise and wonder be.

God of the hot north wind and the refreshing shower,
God of the shady tree and the cool water bag,
God of the ripening harvest and sparkling sea,
All  
Praise and wonder be.

We gather together
conscious that raising our hearts and minds
is a gift of the Spirit of Life at work
in the depths of our being.
All  
For the presence of that Spirit in us,
we give thanks
.

We gather together
conscious that our prayers
gives the Spirit a way of breaking into word and song
unique in all the universe.
All  
For the words and songs within each of us,
we give thanks
.

We gather together
mindful of men and women 
throughout human history
who allowed the Spirit of Life
to work in them
for the betterment of our world and humanity.
All  
For their lives and their inspiration,
we give thanks
.

And so we offer our thanks and praise
inviting the Spirit of Life, Love and Goodness
to move freely in our words and actions.
All  
Holy, holy, holy, celebrating 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.

v2  Jesus is the story we gather around and give thanks for.
Human like us, he discerned 
where this Spirit of Life is found:
in the everyday,
in human interaction,
in caring,
in sharing,
in being neighbour.

He urged people to work together
to establish the 'reign of God’
by wholehearted generosity,
by eliminating boundaries between people,
by trust in the goodness of people,
and by working for peace and justice
in all human endeavours.
All  
We remember his total commitment
to living fully and loving totally
and his faith in a God to be trusted
whatever twists life could take
in this imperfect world. (Adapt.MMorwood/pns)

v1  We also remember the tradition…
On the night before Jesus was handed over
he again shared a meal with his friends.

Through grain and grape, bread and wine,
and in fellowship together,
Jesus spoke of his enduring love for each of them.

v2   So we take this bread and this wine 
mindful of the Spirit at work in our lives,
in the ordinary,
in the everyday,
and in our desire to love as generously as Jesus loved.

Bread and Wine
Bread is broken 

We break this bread giving our Amen to God
living and loving in us.

Wine poured out
We fill this cup with the fruit of the vine,
reminding us of promises to love,
of love generously shared,
of Jesus who loved so totally,
and our call to love as courageously as Jesus loved.

Communion
And they recognised him in the breaking of the bread.
Bread and wine served around the Table in small groups

After Communion
We give thanks for the Spirit of Life
visible in Jesus,
visible in us,
visible in people in all walks of life.

We give thanks for faith
that recognises and names this presence
and this bonding of all people.

We pray that we will allow
the life and the teaching of Jesus
to motivate all that we do
so that what we profess to have seen in his life
and heard in his teaching
might be evident in our living and loving.
(MMorwood)/pns)

OR

In these closing moments of our time together,
we say to all here that this table,
set in remembrance of Jesus,
remains open still.

May this presence… linger in our expressions
of compassion and sacrifice,
in our every offering of welcome and forgiveness.

And in our awareness and conversations,
may we daily be drawn deeper still
into Jesus’ teachings, and Jesus’ ways… (JArmstrong/pvc- Adapted)

SCATTERING

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
You Are Born In Us Again(Tune: ‘Dunstan’)   52 (v1-2) COC
You are born in us again
Like the warmth of the summer wind you come,
to melt away the icicles of vanity and pride;
you come to blow the very doors of loving open wide.
Like the warmth of the summer wind you come,
like the warmth of the summer wind you come.

You are born in us again
Like the scent of the summer rain you come,
You come to quench the thirsty and to freshen up the land;
you come to clean away the dust that settled in our hand.
Like the scent of the summer rain you come,
like the scent of the summer rain you come.

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

Be assured that God’s presence goes with us.
All  
We face the world with renewed faith and hope;
God’s word abides with us.

Let your hearts burn within you
as you dare to trust.
All  
God’s love is real and alive in us.

Live in gratitude each and every day;
All  
We will love sincerely and live confidently.

Words of Blessing
May the God you see in all the colours of creation
arouse in you a sense of awe and wonder.
May the God who is a sacred presence be real to you.
May the God who is a source of inspiration and courage
keep calling you forward.
May your God go with you, and bless you. (FMacnab)
All   Amen. May it be so!

Hymn (Cont.) You Are Born In Us Again(Tune: ‘Dunstan’)   52 (v3) COC
You are born in us again
Like the light of the summer sun you come,
to give light to the places that have never seen the Son;
you come now to embrace us, you’re the holy, holy one.
Like the light of the summer sun you come,
like the light of the summer sun you come. (MWilson)
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:
Armstrong, J. B. Prayers of Via de Cristo. Calls to Worship for Progressive Christians. Phoenix. JimBooks, 2015. 
(COC) 
Carol Our Christmas. A Book of New Zealand Carols. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1996.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Shine On, Star of Bethlehem. A Worship Resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich: The Canterbury Press, 2001.
Harrington, D. S.
Outstretched Wings of the Spirit. On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious. Boston: UUA, 1980.
Inclusive Readings. Year C. Brisbane: Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2006.
(ES) Kierstead, E.
Eternal Spirit. Songs of the Cosmic Spirit. Brookfield. EmilyDon Creations, (No date).
Mitchell, R. C. & G. A. Ricciuti.
Birthings and Blessings. Liberating Worship Services for the Inclusive Church. New York: Crossroads, 1992.
Morwood, M.
Praying a New Story. Richmond: Spectrum Publications, 2003.
(PaT) Murray, S. E.
A Place at the Table. New Hymns written between 2009 & 2013. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2008.
Patton, K.
Services and Songs for the Celebration of Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 1967.
(RP) Pratt, A.
Reclaiming Praise. Hymns from a Spiritual Journey. London: Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2006.
Sanguin, B.
Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos. An Ecological Christianity. Kelowna: CopperHouse, 2007.
(SNS2) Stuart, G.
Singing a New Song. Traditional hymn tunes with new century lyrics. Volume 2. Toronto: George Stuart, 2009.
Vosper, G.
Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane: The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.
Vosper, G.
With or Without God. Why the way we Live is more important that what we Believe. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2008.
Watts, T. & G. Lord. 
Sanctuary. Where Heaven Touches Earth. A group resource for those seeking simplicity, silence, and nurture. Kelowna: Wood Lake Books, 2005.
Withrow, L.
Seasons of Prayer. Resources for Worship. London: SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Huff, Trapp. UUA Worship Web. Boston. http://uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/index.php
Francis Macnab. St Michael’s Uniting Church Web site. 2010. Melbourne.
G. L. Stewart. UU Church of San Francisco. 2011.
David Galston.
Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. <http://www.questcentre.ca/>

rexae74@gmail.com