Epiphany6C.17.2.2019

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae74@gmail.com  OR  rexae@optusnet.com.au
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A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
17 February 2019  Epiphany 6C (White)


Worth Pondering
“Our challenge today is not only to survive the next few decades or so but,
with faith in the future, to minimise our negative impacts
and maximise the positive as far into the future as we can”
(Joel Primack & Nancy Ellen Abrams)


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

Gathering Music

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

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

We light this flame to honour our past.
We light this flame to endorse our present.
We light this flame to symbolise our future.

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 People stand as they are able, to sing
The Universe in God”  (Tune: “Praise My Soul”, 87.87.87)        13 SNS
All creation sings a story
Of great splendours to declare.
When we contemplate its beauty
We are called forth into prayer.
We, enchanted, stand in silence;
God discovered everywhere.

When we stumble on new knowledge,
When new insights help us grow,
We are quick to re-discover
Just how much we do not know.
But the Universe smiles gently,
As our theories come and go.

Outer space and inner being
Both have secrets they conceal.
Galaxies so grimly awesome,
Deep emotions that we feel –
All in God are judged as sacred;
It is God they all reveal.

Ageless mysteries still excite us;
Time and space we must explore.
God the 'Presence' and 'Surrounding’,
God the ever wondrous ‘More'
Is not found by science labours,
But in praise when we adore.  (George Stuart)

OR

God, Who Stretched…”  (Tune: ‘Thoronet’, 87.87D  Or ‘Wurzburg’)       163 TiS
God, who stretched the spangled heavens,
infinite in time and place,
flung the suns in burning radiance
through the silent fields of space,
we your children, in your likeness,
share inventive powers with you:
great Creator, still creating,
show us all we yet may do.

Proudly rise our modern cities,
stately buildings, row on row;
yet their windows, blank, unfeeling,
stare on canyoned streets below,
where the lonely drift unnoticed
in the city’s ebb and flow,
lost to purpose and to meaning,
scarcely caring where they go.

We have ventured worlds undreamed of
since the childhood of our race;
known the ecstasy of winging
through untravelled realms of space;
probed the secrets of the atom,
yielding unimagined power,
facing us with life’s destruction
or our most triumphant hour.

As each far horizon beckons,
may it challenge us anew,
children of creative purpose,
serving others, honouring you.
May our dreams prove rich with promise,
each endeavour, well begun:
great Creator, give us guidance
till our goals and yours are one.  (Catherine Cameron)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
The chorus of suns and planets announce
the beginning of a new day.
All  Each morning births new possibilities
and beckons fresh challenges.

The cycle of morning music and starry silence
promise second chances.
All  Each day provides new vistas
and promotes further exploration.

The laughter of oceans and the wailing of winds
reflect the human condition.
All  Each week declares we are in the world
and determines we are of the world.
  (George Stewart/www.uusf.org)

Act of Awareness
As we listen to the life of our city,
may we sense a Sacred Presence in
its murmuring rhythms,
its working and walking and talking,
its colours and faces and longings.

OR

We pray:
God of all life we give thanks for the signs of love and creativity
that surround us and bless us
each and every day.

May our coming and our going be a blessing to others,
this day and forever more.
Amen.

Hymn  
The Blessings of the Earth and Sky”  (Tune: ‘Mach’s Mit Mir, Gott’, 88.88.88)     308 SLT
The blessings of the earth and sky
upon our friendly house do lie
The rightness of a master’s art
has blessed with grace its every part.
The warmth of many hands is strewn
in the human blessing on this stone.

The wind upon the lakes and hills
performs its native rituals.
The worship of our human toil
brings sacrament from sun and soil.
With words and music, we the earth,
in nature’s wonder seek our worth.

Here we restore ancestral dreams
enshrined in floor and wall and beam,
a monument where in we build
that their high purpose be fulfilled,
a tool to help our children prove
an earth of promise and of love.  (© 1980 Kenneth L. Patton)

OR

Here in the Busy City(Tune: ‘Merle’s Tune’, OR ‘Cathedral Square’, 76.76D)     37 ECS
Here in the busy city
now let the church be seen
where lesser gods are worshipped
in money and machine;
where news is but sensation,
the Good News hardly heard
now let the church take action
in living out the word!

In policies and planning
the church be there to speak
to moderate the powerful,
to argue for the weak:
where law must sit in judgement
and love is little known,
there at the crisis centre
the Christ concern be shown.

Where litter chokes the gutter
and people go to waste,
where joblessness is bitter
and living lost its taste
to underlevened people
be proof of rising yeast,
in lives devoid of flavour
be saltiness released!

Here in the busy city
God walks on every street
in generous or greedy,
the honest or the cheat,
and daily we must offer
the good that goes unpriced
with vigour and with vision
the lifestyle of the Christ.  (Shirley Erena Murray)
People sit after the hymn/song

Welcome   In your own words
A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are here 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

Centering Silence
Let us open ourselves to the sacred silence of this place.
(Silence)

Generous God, enfold us in the depths of love and there hold us.
Renew.
Refresh.
Restore us.

Saturate us with unending peace.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
From the World Around us:
“Let Me Be Like Bach”
By Beatrice Hill Tinsley. Ephesus Liturgies Vol. 2.

Let me be like Bach, creating fugues,
till suddenly the pen will move no more.

Let all my themes within - of ancient light,
of origins, and change, and human worth -
let all their melodies still intertwine,
evolve and merge with ever growing unity,
ever without fading,
ever without a final chord…
till suddenly my mind can hear no more.

Traditional Gospel:
Luke 6: 1, 20-28 (A New New Testament)

Jesus came down the hill with [the disciples] and took his stand on a level place.
With him was a large crowd of his followers,
and great numbers of people from the whole of Judea, Jerusalem,
and the coast district of Tyre and Sidon…

Then, raising his eyes and looking at his followers, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the realm of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they expel you from among them, and insult you,
and reject your name as criminal—because of the Child of Humanity.

“Then be glad and dance for joy,
for be sure that your reward in heaven will be great;
for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

But
‘cursed are you who are rich,’ for you have had your comforts in full.
Cursed are you who are full now, for you will hunger.
Cursed are you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Cursed are you when everyone speaks well of you;
for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

“But to you who are listening I say - love your enemies,
show kindness to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who insult you.”

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Celebration of Faith (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

v1  Ever present God,
Like water bubbling down a mountain stream;
washing clean what has been soiled;
carving new channels for the river of life;
soothing the thirst of explorers, pilgrims and trampers…
(Sung response)
I Sing the Grace of God Within You
I sing the grace of God within you,
I know that grace within my soul;
and when we honour God in each other
we bring together one gracious whole…

v2  Like wind blowing through the valleys of Aotearoa (Or other name);
disturbing, disruptive intensity;
or gently reviving zephyr;
blowing us together into communities
of compassion and hospitality…
(Sung response)
I Sing the Grace of God Within You
I sing the love of Christ within you,
I know that love within my soul;
and when we honour Christ in each other
we come together, one loving whole…

v1  Like a giant Kauri watching over northern forests;
guardian of ancient wisdom;
sanctuary where the small and vulnerable find protection;
beauty and stability;
enduring strength persisting over the centuries.
(Sung response)
I Sing the Grace of God Within You
I sing the Spirit’s life within you,
I know that life within my soul;
and when we honour life in each other
the Spirit forms one living whole.
  (Colin Gibson)

v2  God in the faces of your people;
a rich tapestry of cultures, religions, nationalities and ages;
holding difference together within a single family;
luring us all towards a shared and generous future.
All  Open the windows of our minds, our imaginations
and our deepest sensitivity, so we may know ourselves
to be embraced by grace,
touched with possibility, and
invited to share in the creation of new futures. 
(Keith Rowe)
(Note: “
I Sing the Grace of God Within You” by Colin Gibson, in Hope is Our Song (#68), New Zealand Hymn Book Trust)

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

May a heart of peace rest with you.  (David Galston/q)
All  And also with you.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.

Song People stand as they are able, to sing
Life into Life, the Threads are Woven(Tune: ‘Stanley Street’)         28 TEL
Life into life, the threads are woven,
parent and child,
partner and friend;
tokens of love received and given:
joy at each birth,
grief at each end.
God of all time, all loves, all living,
hear as we bring our hearts' thanksgiving.

Life into life, our ways cross over,
culture and place,
neighbour and race;
in your good world help us discover
imprint of grace
in every face.
God of all time, all loves, all living,
hear as we bring our hearts' thanksgiving.

Life into life, when love is spoken,
everyday things
give our heart wings,
life-changing ills when things are broken,
turn us to you,
seeing what's true,
God of all time, all loves, all living,
hear as we bring our hearts' thanksgiving.

Life into life, your Holy Spirit
quickens the mind,
lifts humankind,
gives to our stream of days its current,
livens the slow,
charges the flow,
God of all time, all loves, all living,
hear as we bring our hearts' thanksgiving.

Life into life, the world goes spinning,
catching your light,
gaining new sight;
you give us hope, a fresh beginning,
life's very breath,
life out of death.
God of all time, all loves, all living,
hear as we bring our hearts' thanksgiving.  (Shirley Erena Murray)

OR

Hymn  O Slowly, Slowly, They Return  (Tune” ‘Solothurn’, LM)           342 SLT
O slowly, slowly, they return
to some small woodland let alone:
great trees, out-spreading and upright,
apostles of the living light.

As patient stars they build in air
tier after tier a timbered choir,
stout beams upholding weightless grace
of song a blessing on this place.

They stand in waiting all around,
uprisings of their native ground,
down-comings of the distant light;
they are the advent they await.

Receiving sun and giving shade,
their life’s a benefaction made,
and is a benediction said
o’er all the living and the dead.

In fall their brightened leaves, released,
fly down the wind and we are pleased
to walk in radiance, amazed.
O light come down to earth, be praised.  (Wendell Berry)
People sit

CELEBRATING

Offerings
In all the colours and scents and sounds of the world,
we see God's signature as the beauty of things.  (Maggie Abbott/sc)

Our offerings for the work of ministry in this place and beyond shall now be received.

Presentation
Today is a day of compassion…
May our indifferences give way to awakening.
May we allow ourselves to feel more keenly
the hungers and pains of others we encounter.

And may we come to know deep within
that our every act of compassion,
changes things… even if only ourselves.  (James Armstrong/pvc)

Conversation with the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat

“Conversation”:

"Somewhere someone…:”

The kingdom of love is coming because:
All  somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind,
somewhere someone shares with another in need,
somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate,
somewhere someone is patient - and waits in love,
somewhere someone returns good for evil,
somewhere someone serves another, in love,
somewhere someone is calm in a storm,
somewhere someone is loving everybody.
Is that someone you?
  (Binkley & McKeel/jke)

Reflections and Prayers
Care Candle:
We are people of all ages who enter this safe space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Celebrations; Griefs and Concerns shared.

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
Let each of us find a window
All  To see beyond our own enclosures.
Let each of us find a door
All  To open ourselves into new being.  (Adapt.Kenneth Patton/sscl)

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

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

All  Ground of all being, we honour
the many names for our experience of the sacred.

May we build a community
faithful to the dream of heaven on earth.

May there be food for all who hunger this day.
May we be forgiven for the falseness of what we have done
as we forgive those who have been untrue to us.
May we not feel abandoned in hard times
but find strength to meet each moment.

For the light of life, the vitality of being
is within us and beyond us,
now and forever, Amen
(Nancy L Steeves/StSC.N-TL)

SCATTERING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
My Song is of Love(Tune: ‘Love Unknown’, 66.66.4444)
My song is of the Love
not known or understood
a mystery that surrounds
us all yet dwells within.
Where e’er we go
what e’er we do
it is through love
that we are free.

We find in those we meet
companions for the way
gender and colour will
no longer bring discord.
Together we
drag barriers down
and strive to help
divisions heal.

Men, women, children all
can build a better place
a place where everyone
can find true harmony.
From birth till death
may our lives show
the mystery
that we call Love.  (Pam Raff, On behalf of the Rockhampton Progressive Group)

OR

Sing of a Sacred Circle(Tune: ‘Sacred circle', 75.65)         23 TMT
Sing of a sacred circle
round the sky and earth,
binding plants and creatures,
linking death and birth.

Sing of that ring of mystery,
changed by fearsome greed;
pawned for Judas silver,
sold for idols' needs.

See how a people's loving
greens the Mammon ring;
hear the people's sharing,
help creation sing.

Sing of the Gospel ring-time;
love embracing earth;
vibrant sphere of our living,
circle death and birth.  (William L Wallace)
Remain standing

Parting Words
If, here, you have found freedom,
All  take it with you into the world.

If you have found comfort,
All  go and share it with others.

If you have dreamed dreams,
All  help one another, that they may come true.

If you have known love and unity,
All  give some back to a bruised and hurting world.  (LBellamy/C3CCC)

Words of Blessing
Now may the blessings of life be upon us, and upon this gathered people.

May the memories we gather here give us hope for the future.
May the love that we share
bring strength and joy to our hearts,
and the peace of this community be with us
until we meet again.
All    Amen. May it be so.

Hymn  Spirit of Life(Tune: ‘Spirit of Life’ 8.12.8.12.8.10)        123 SLT
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.  (Carolyn McDade) 
The people sit

'This Week' at (NN)
Notices
Birthdays and anniversaries
Significant events
Journey candles

Music

Fellowship
Morning tea is now served.
You are invited to share in this time of fellowship


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 Gathering Liturgy:
Abbott, M. Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for Seasonal Use. Unley. MediaCom Education, 2001.
Armstrong, J. B. Prayers of Via de Cristo. Calls to Worship for Progressive Christians. Phoenix. JimBooks, 2015.
Binkley, C. G. & J. M. McKeel. Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals. An International Curriculum on the Life and Teaching of Jesus. Santa Rosa. Polebridge Press, 2002.
Harris, J. & I. (ed). The Ephesus Liturgies. Vol. 2. Eastbourne: Makaro Press, 2015.
(HoS) Hope Is Our Song. New Hymns and Songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. Palmerston North. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2009.
(TEL) Murray, S. E. Touch the Earth Lightly. New Hymns written between 2003 & 2008. Carol Stream. Hope Publishing, 2008.
(ECS)  Murray, S. E. In Every Corner Sing. Carol Stream. Hope Publishing, 1999.
Patton, K. Services and Songs for the Celebration of Life. Boston. Beacon Press, 1967.
(SNS) Stuart, G. Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Sydney. CPRT Sydney, 2006.
(SLT) Singing The Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Taussig, H. (ed). A New New Testament. A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts. New York. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
(TiS) Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious., 1999. Copyright enquiries: http://www.togetherinsong.org/.
(TMT) Wallace, W. L. The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston. Selah Publishing, 2001.

Web sites/Other:
Nancy L Steeves. “Abba/Lord’s Prayer”. One of several non-theistic resources found at: http://stephen.srv.ualberta.ca/publications/non-theistic-liturgy-resources/#sthash.0Sd5KwzN.wLO2Tlw4.dpbs
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/
C3Exchange, Spring Lake. MI. <http://www.c3exchange.org/
George L Stewart. 2011. UUChurch of San Francisco. www.uusf.org
“Celebration of Faith” by Keith Rowe  and “My Song is of Love” by Pam Raff, in Hunt, R. A. E. & J. W. H. Smith (ed) Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on Progressive Christianity. Salem: Polebridge Press, 2013.

rexae74@gmail.com