Epiphany4C.3.2.2019

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail:  rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
3 February 2019. Epiphany 4C. (Green).
Fearless Sunday

"A Day for Theological ‘Outing’.
Pastor/Ministers and Parishioners share the evolution of what they really feel, think,
believe, and disbelieve -- about matters theological, political, and social”
(Jim Burklo)

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Worth Pondering
“The task of religion is to give us the courage and strength
to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to life”
(Don Cupitt)


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

v1 Fold up the newspaper.
Turn off the kettle.
Close up your diary already filled with dates,
and times,
and people,
and places that claim you.

This congregation is ready for you
to fill this sacred space,
to create its spirit,
to generate its warmth,
to kindle its light.   (Adapt.David Blanchard)

v2 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. 
Kathy Huff

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
"God Given Energy, Flaring and Fiery" (Tune: ‘Spean’, 11.10.11.10)
God given energy, flaring and fiery,
stella collisions of fury and pace;
shafts of the light from the cosmic conception
searing to earth from infinity's space.

Stars from eternity, driven by forces
formed at the birthing of matter and time;
mystical sinews restraining the planets,
elegant science and God's hidden rhyme;

These are the visions of wonder and rapture,
signs of significance, pointers to place,
drawing us out from our narrow discernment,
windows to love and God's infinite grace.
  © AndrewPratt

OR

Praise From Depth and Height  (Tune: ‘Farley Castle’, 10.10.10.10.10)          3 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.

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)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
At this time and in this place,
may we keep in touch with the simple pleasures of life:
Wm  the smell of the bush after summer rain,
Mn  the sound of surf rolling on sandy shores,
Wm  
the juiciness of fruit freshly picked,
Mn  an evening breeze at the end of a hot day.

At this time and in this place may we
keep in touch with the simple pleasures of life:
All  gifts of Creativity God new every morning. 
(Adapt.Bruce Prewer/jof)

Act of Awareness
Today we celebrate a dream awakening.
Today we celebrate with renewed hope in our hearts.
Today we act on an audacity of hopes and dreams for the future.

Today we begin the hard work for justice, equity and
compassion in all human relations,
for today is a day like no other and
it is ours to shape with vision and action.

Let us be together and celebrate a dream awakening.   (Adapt/Elizabeth M Strong)

OR

We pray:
Abiding God, grant us the joy of feeling ourselves
a part of your vast magnificence,
your all-encompassing love.
All  
May it be so!

Hymn  "All-Present, All-Visible, Source of All Life" (Tune: ‘Immortal, Invisible’)
All-present, all-visible, Source of all life,

Within and around us, through joy and through strife.
Most Sacred, Eternal, You move on the earth,

You beckon and call forth new life and new birth.

Enlivened, extravagant, Sower of seeds,

Abundant, abounding, Your mercy exceeds.
Unhindered, unbridled, you shine forth your grace,
That we may do likewise, revealing Your face.



You care for Creation, O Mother of all,

Great mountains, clear waters, and flowers so small.

The earth is Your temple, for all life to share,

So help us be stewards of healing and care.



Transcendent, uncharted, and still close at hand,
Encompassing people from near and far lands.
Within each new moment, throughout life and death,

Your praises are sung out from all that has breath! (SKlosterboer/p&f)

OR

Jesus Calls Us Here(Tune: ‘Gaelic Air’, 87.87D)                   477 TiS
Jesus calls us here to meet him
as, through word and song and prayer,
we affirm God's promised presence
where his people live and care.
Praise the God who keeps his promise;
praise the Son who calls us friends;
praise the Spirit who, among us,
to our hopes and fears attends.

Jesus calls us to confess him
Word of Life and Lord of All,
sharer of our flesh and frailness
saving all who fail or fall.
Tell his holy human story;
tell his tales that all may hear;
tell the world that Christ in glory
came to earth to meet us here.

Jesus calls us to each other:
found in him are no divides.
Race and class and sex and language
such are barriers he derides.
Join the hand of friend and stranger;
join the hands of age and youth;
join the faithful and the doubter
in their common search for truth.  (Bell&Maule) 
People sit after the hymn

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.
Fellowship hour following worship.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.

CENTERING

Meditation
“Hearts to Understanding”
Gretta Vosper. We All Breathe/46.

How complex the world has become
and how brittle the language with which we describe it.
Each snowflake, each hibernating animal,
each step, each brain, each planet,
can be measured, weighed, examined.

So it is that we place them, carefully,
within our realm of knowledge.

Beyond the tools we would use for examination,
may we seek out ways to contemplate,
to consider, to appreciate
each person, each thing, each moment
into which we come in contact.

And may the movement of our thoughts
from matter to meaning,
move not only our minds,
but our hearts to understanding.

As those who would celebrate beauty,
we seek its hidden sources.

Centering Silence
As you entered this sacred place today
you were given a small clutch of Oak leaves...

Hold them now in the palm of your hand as you close your eyes.
Feel the surface of the leaves...
There is energy and potency in these leaves
as new acorns begin to form and take shape within them.

Given the soil, the water and the light,
these tiny acorn seeds will grow into a tree
and produce shade for birds and humans.
(Silence)

So too does your life provide opportunity
for growth, for new possibilities, for new beginnings...
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Some readings from our broad religious tradition shall now be read.

From the World Around us:
“To Reflect On . . .”
By William L Wallace.
Courage to Love/19

There is no pain greater than not being able to be yourself.

True humility is not the putting down of the self
but the putting down of roots into the earth,
the cultures of the earth
and the mystery which we call God.

To enter the wilderness
is to discover one’s true home.

What you are seeking lies within you.
No one can give it to you.
All you have to do is to own it.

The greatest achievement is to learn
to be
and to rest in that awareness.

Abandon yourself to the otherness
and you will find yourself in the process.

Nurture the mystic within you
for she is the guardian of the most sacred mysteries.
She alone is the ‘you’ that cannot be destroyed;
for her name is compassionate wisdom
and her aspect is divinity.

When you can see the divine in yourself
You will be able to see the divine everywhere.
When you reverence the divine in yourself
You will be able to reverence the divine everywhere.
When you nurture the divine in yourself
You will be able to nurture the divine everywhere.

OR

“Horizontal Transcendence”
 By Robert Charles Howard, Unity Tree/46

To better view the fairest stars of
Genesis, Keats, or Kepler,
learned priests and lectors
of vertical transcendence
built towers over clouds
beyond the touch of worldly toil.

Standing below in soiled boots,
newer prophets citing
the universal brotherhood of
mitosis, chromosomes, and DNA
urge a new transcendence
spread on a horizontal plane
where bridges are preferred to ladders.

Muffled distant drums,
beating somber warnings
of poisoned waters and global heat,
summon us down
from our lofty towers of denial.

Bring it in—this Age of Reason
Let all things be seen through the honest eye

Love and cherish the realities of the Universe
They are gifts from which to move forward

Making a path toward that beautiful horizon.

OR

“The Freedom Within”
By Kenneth Patton. Songs and Services for the Celebration of Life/82-83

A man once lived who changed his mind about the world.
He made a new set of answers about the heavens.
He changed the location and the significance of mankind in the scheme of things.
His mind was his free world, where he lived unmolested with his new answer’s.
He lived in a new world, while all of his fellows lived in the old world still.

He was not only wise; he was cagey.
He knew that the world of religion and politics was not as free
        as the world he maintained in his head.
He knew that his own mind was a roomier, saner,
        more charitable world than human society.
So he kept his freedom and his answers to himself.
His theories were published as he lay dying,
        when the angry priests and their torturers could not get to him.
After all, why should he make himself the victim of other men’s stupidity and cruelty?

They raged against him, but he was safe within the fortress of the grave.
But while he lived, he maintained his freedom and chance
        to do his work by living within the fortress of his own mind.
Since there was no freedom outside, he kept to his freedom within.

His name was Copernicus.
We named the universe after him.

Early Church:
"In Praise of Love"
(Based on i Corinthians 13:1, 4-8)
A translation by Margaret Lee and Brandon Scott. Sound Mapping the New Testament.

If I were fluent in human and heavenly tongues,
but lacked love,
I'd sound like a hollow gong
or a crashing cymbal...

love takes its time
makes itself good and useful
it doesn't envy
it doesn't boast
it doesn't bluster
it doesn't make a scene
it doesn't look after its own interests
it doesn't throw fits
it doesn't dwell on the negative
it takes no pleasure in injustice
but is delighted by the truth

love upholds everything
trusts in everything
hopes for everything
endures everything

love never falls away

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"All Who Love and Serve your City('Birtabus', 87.87)                    634 TiS
All who love and serve your city,
all who bear its daily stress, 
all who cry for peace and justice,
all who curse and all who bless:

in your day of loss and sorrow, 
in your day of helpless strife,
honour, peace and love retreating,
seek the Lord, who is your life. 

In your day of wealth and plenty,
wasted work and wasted play, 
call to mind the word of Jesus, 
'I must work while it is day.' 

For all days are days of judgment,
and the Lord is waiting still, 
drawing near to those who spurn him,
offering peace and Calvary's hill.

Risen Lord, shall still our city 
be the city of despair? 
Come today, our Judge, our Glory,
be its name 'The Lord is there'.
(Eric R Routley)
The people sit

Traditional Gospel:
Luke 4: 21-30 
(Inclusive Text)

Jesus finished speaking in the synagogue.
His speaking won the approval of all,
and they were astonished by the gracious words
that came from his lips.

They said, 'This is Joseph’s son surely?'

But Jesus replied,
'No doubt you will quote me the saying,
"Physician, heal yourself" and tell me,
'We have heard all that happened in Capernaum,
do the same here in your own countryside.'

And Jesus went on,
'I tell you solemnly, no prophets are ever accepted in their own country.

'There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you,
in Elijah's day, when heaven remained shut
for three years and six months
and a great famine raged throughout the land,
but Elijah was not sent to anyone of these;
he was sent to the widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town.

'And in the prophet Elisha's time there were many lepers in Israel,
but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.'

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue were enraged.
They sprang to their feet and hustled Jesus out of the town;
and they took him up to the brow of the hill
their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff,
but Jesus slipped through the crowd
and walked away.

Contemporary Exploration and an Article from 2009 HERE

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Celebration of Faith (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on let us stand
and share a celebration of faith.
The people stand as they are able

We celebrate that we are safe in the hands of God.
That God does not leave us alone,
All  who breathes within us our life
and walks within our way.

We affirm that Jesus as Companion truly lived as we do:
All  cried out with our cry, laughed with our laughter.

We believe that we are not defined
by the deaths that others deal us,
All  and we need not be defeated
by the powers which stand against us.

We claim this peace in Christ.
All  We receive this miracle from Creator God.
We celebrate this hope from Empower Spirit.   
(Adapt. Dorothy McRae-McMahon/bst)

Sharing 'The Peace'