Earth.21.4.2019

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae74@gmail.com  OR  rexae@optusnet.com.au
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The Other Lectionary’ - a suggested ‘southern hemisphere’ Lectionary
(with a few Resources added) offered in parallel to, or even replacement of, 
the RCL which is in standard use by many


A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE

21 April 2019.  Earth Day.  (Green)
Theme: “Protect our Species" 

Worth Pondering
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”
(Kabat-Zin)

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 (NN) 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

Refreshment Station/Water Basins
Pottery basins are set on stands near the entrance to the sanctuary. 
Attendees are invited to dip their hands in the cool water in the basins as they arrive. 
Or to rinse each other’s hands. 

That we may relax, be refreshed, and prepare for this time together.

(Note: A small sign is placed above the basin explaining that as they dip their hands in the water, they are invited to relax and try to mindfully set aside or release for a time anything that might be preventing them from being fully present—each traveler rinsing the “dust from the road”).

OR

(A suggestion of other words)
We come together from our separate lives,
each of us bringing our concerns, our preoccupations,
our hopes, and our dreams.

We are not yet fully present.
The traffic, the last-minute cooking, the final details still cling to us.
Our bodies hold the rush of the past few hours.

It is now time to let go of these pressures and really arrive…   

When you are ready, repeat silently to yourself: ‘Hineini’ or ‘Here I am’.
Hineini is used in the Torah to signify being present in body, mind, and spirit.

It means settling into where we are and simply being “here”. (Adapted/Nan Fink Gene)

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

We gather here as the human ones of creation.
We name ourselves threads in the web of life.
We give thanks for connection,
        that we are all part of one another
        and that we are part of the sacred.  (StAndrew’s, Auckland)

So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

With heat and light, the Great Radiance blazed forth
With heat and light, ancestral stars fused atoms, exploding in awesome power
With heat and light, the fire on our Ancestors’ hearth cooked their food
With heat and light, modern scientists harnessed new energy sources
With heat and light, we light our flame today,
        looking toward a sustainable future.  (Adapt.JCH. Public domain)

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 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
per forms 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

Nature’s Beauty(Tune: ‘Regent Square’, 87.87.47 Extend.)              4 SNS3
Nature knows her sounds and movements
Heard and seen each day and night;
All her life in rich abundance
Fills my heart with great delight;
Celebrate with adoration;
Thankful for the world so bright.

Fearsome winds cause trees to whimper;
Storms can force the clouds to cry;
Raindrops, snowflakes dance together;
Sun and moon wink in reply;
Celebrate with adoration
All the wonders of the sky.

Celebrate all hidden textures;
Value all the roots below;
Celebrate all covered spendour;
Value beauty not on show;
Celebrate with adoration;
Thankful for the world we know.

Creatures bold and creatures timid
Offer beauty, each unique;
Trees and flowers paint a picture
On the plain and mountain peak;
Celebrate with adoration;
All revealed for those who seek.

We are blest with such profusion;
Beauty bursts out everywhere;
If we take the time to ponder
We may find a thankful prayer;
Celebrate with adoration
Thankful for the world we share.  (George Stuart).
Remain standing after the hymn/song

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
May we greet one another with open hearts and minds;
inspire each other to consider new questions
and seek deeper meaning;
and cultivate both wisdom and compassion.

And may this time together empower us to take some new steps
so all our living is transforming and the
yearning of our hearts become reality.

OR

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

Your presence is around us, and we respond with awe and wonder.
May it be so.

Hymn    "O Brother Sun" (Tune: ‘Ye banks & Braes’, 88 88D)                  1066 STJ
O Brother Sun, you bring us light,
all shining 'round in fiery might.
O Sister Moon, you heal and bless,
your beauty shines in tenderness.
O Brother Wind, you sweep the hills,
your mighty breath both freshens and fills.
O Sister Water, you cleanse and flow
through rivers and streams, in ice and snow.

O Brother Fire, you warm our night,
with all your dancing coloured light.
O Sister Earth, you feed all things,
all birds, all creatures, all scales and wings.
O Sister Death, you meet us here
and take us to our God so near.
O God of Life, we give you praise
for all your creatures, for all your ways.  (Adpated from St Francis of Assisi by Sharon Anway)
The people sit after the hymn  

OR

Stars and Planets  (Tune: ‘Triumph’, 87.87.87)                     186 TiS
Stars and planets flung in orbit,
galaxies that swirl through space,
powers hid within the atom,
cells that form an infant’s face:
these, O God, in silence praise you;
by your wisdom they are made.

Skies adorned with sunset splendour,
silent peaks in calm repose,
golden fields awaiting harvest,
foaming surf and fragrant rose:
earth, its bounty clothed with beauty,
echoes all creation’s praise.

Life in wondrous, wild profusion,
seed and fruit, each flower and tree,
beast and fish and swarming insect,
soaring bird, rejoicing, free:
these, your creatures, join in chorus,
praising you in wordless song.

Humankind, earth’s deepest mystery,
born of dust but touched by grace,
torn apart by tongue and colour,
yet a single, striving race:
we, in whom you trace your image,
add our words to nature’s song.

Gracious God, we bring before you
gifts of human life alone,
truth that throbs through song and story,
visions caught in paint and stone:
these, O God, we gladly offer,
gifts to praise the Giver’s name.

Christ, the Word before creation
as creation’s final goal,
once you came for earth’s redemption;
by your Spirit make earth whole:
then, O God, the new creation
will your praise for ever sing.  (Herman G. Stuempfle)
People sit after the hymn/song

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

Presentation of Water Basins
Words which acknowledge that the dust of many roads and many life experiences has been rinsed into the basins, and calls for the contents of the basins and the gathering to be transformed, renewed, and more fully alive

The dust of many roads and may life experiences
has been washed in this refreshing water.
For this place is a sacred place.

May we
greet one another with open hearts and minds;
inspire each other to consider new questions
and seek deeper meaning;
and cultivate both wisdom and compassion.

And may this time together empower us to take some new steps
so all our living is transforming and the
yearning of our hearts become reality.
The bowls of water are removed from the Gathering space

Centering Silence
Now let the silence of this place gently enfold us.
(Silence)

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

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
From the World Around us: (Responsive Reading)
“Beatitudes for Earth Sunday”
By Richard S Gilbert

v1  Blessed are the heavens,
for they declare the power of creation.
Mn  Blessed is the earth, our beloved home,
for she is a planet of plenitude
.

v2  Blessed are the waters thereon,
for they gave rise to living things.
Wn  Blessed is the land,
for it is the source of life abundant
.

v1  Blessed is the air we breathe,
for it fires us to life and love.
Mn  Blessed are the beasts of the field,
for they are glorious to behold.

v2  Blessed are the birds of the air,
for they carve a graceful arc in the sky.
Wn  Blessed are the mountains and the seas and the valleys,
for their variety makes rich our habitat.

v1  Blessed are the fields of grain,
and the orchards of fruit, for they give sustenance,
asking nothing in return.
Mn  Blessed are the dwellers on earth,
for they cherish the privilege of living upon it.

v2  Blessed are they who protect the earth
and all her creatures,
from the plants of the field
to the trees of the forest,
for their reward shall be
harmony with the web of existence.
All  Rejoice, and be glad, for the earth
and her people are one.

OR

“Communion Circle”
By Mark L. Belletini

The earth.
One planet.
Round, global,
so that when you trace its shape
with your finger,
you end up where you started. It's one. It's whole.

All the dotted lines we draw on our maps
of this globe are just that, dotted lines.
They smear easily.
Oceans can be crossed.
Even the desert can be crossed.

The grain that grows on one side of the border
tastes just as good as the grain on the other side.
Moreover, bread made from rice is just as nourishing
to body and spirit as bread made from corn,
or spelt or teff or wheat or barley.

There is no superior land, no chosen site,
no divine destiny falling on any one nation
who draws those dotted lines just so.
There is only one earth we all share,
we, the living, with all else that lives
and does not live.

Everything,
everything, for good or ill,
is part of the shared whole:
sky, earth, song, words and now, this silence.

OR

“The Pulse of Earth”
By Norman Habel. Rainbow of Mysteries/112-113

In my mind
I now know that Earth is alive
pulsing
deep within the core
and across the crust,
a vibrating mass of living matter.

But how do I feel the pulse of Earth?
Can I put my finger on throbbing extremities,
or connect with the life Forces
and hidden impulses
that permeate this planet?

If I hold a wild flower in my fingers,
place my hands on the trunk of a tree,
touch the beak of a pelican
or grasp a silver eel,
will I feel the pulse of Earth?

The impulses to live,
to sing,
to express wonder,
are in every throbbing cell of our planet.

Finally
I begin to feel the pulse of Earth
with my hands in the air
my feet in the ground
my spirit embracing
the throb of life
in every murmur
of mystery.

Secular Gospel:
Proverbs 108: 1-10. Nature
A C Grayling. The Good Book/387

To know nature, consult nature.
It cannot be nature, if it is not sense.
Nature is the true law.

Nature obeys necessity.
Nature pardons no mistakes.
To command nature one must obey it.

The volume of nature is the book of knowledge.
Wisdom and nature never say different things.

Nature always returns.
Nature does nothing in vain.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

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

A planet is born, a spark ignites,
something completely new comes into being;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of life. 

A waterfall descends, a rainbow arcs through the sky,
the ocean opens to an endless horizon;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of beauty. 

The stars pierce our hearts,
peace envelops us, we are blessed;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of wonder. 

In the midst of pain, we find our way to hope and restoration;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of healing. 

In the midst of fear, we do what is right
and speak our truth in faith;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of courage. 

In our aloneness we see someone in greater need
and offer ourselves to them;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of compassion. 

We gather in community,
in friendship, and cherish each other;
All  we give thanks for the mystery and miracle of love.   (Amanda Udis-Kessler) 

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.

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
Earth Was Given as a Garden”  (Tune: ‘Hyfrydol’, 87.87D)            207 SLT
Earth was given as a garden,
cradle for humanity;
tree of life and tree of knowledge
placed for our discovery.
Here was home for all your creatures
born of land and sky and sea;
all created in your image,
all to live in harmony

Show to us again the garden
where all life flows fresh and free.
Gently guide your sons and daughters
into full maturity.
Teach us how to trust each other,
how to use for good our power,
how to touch the earth with rev’rence.
Then once more will Eden flower.

Bless the earth and all your children,
one creation: make us whole,
interwoven, all connected,
planet wide and inmost soul.
Holy mother, life bestowing,
bid our waste and warfare cease.
Fill us all with grace o’er-flowing.
Teach us how to live in peace.  (Roberta Bard Ruby)
People sit

CELEBRATING

Offerings
Let us bring our offerings…
From each according to ability.
All  To each according to need(David Galston/q)

Presentation
In a world so full of what is wonderful,
ever changing, ever surprising us with life’s
power and beauty, may we accept with gratitude,
all that gladdens us, and with fortitude
all that brings us grief.

Let us be learning always,
from all that we see and do, and
from all that happens to us.  (Adapt/A Powell Davies/lth)

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:
The turning of seasons and of our hearts and minds,
remind us of the beauty, inevitability and necessity
of growing in compassion.
All  From our compassion…
this softness, this empathy, this ability
to love, hold, comfort and heal,
is what will help usher in peace on earth,
a peace beginning with me and you and us together.

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  Mystery of God
heartbeat of the universe,
centre of spirited change and rebirth;
we glorify your ways:
the ways of dignity and justice,
the ways of love for all creatures,
the ways of caring for the earth.

Let us be simple in our needs,
showing compassion for our neighbour,
sharing generously what we have,
letting go our hurts and fears.

For in you we find peace,
in you we find hope,
and in you we find courage,
now and forever. 
Amen.  
(Jenny Blood)

PARTING

Hymn People stand as they are able, to sing
The Earth is Our Cradle
The earth is our cradle, our ground and our home.
The sky is our blanket, protective and warm.
The stars are our ancestors, ancient and bright,
their glow is a glimpse of our life’s burning light.

The creatures of land, the swimmers of sea,
the birds of the air, the green plants and trees:
They’re all of our siblings with equal share
in Earth as our home and duty to care.

Our ancient atoms arranged and reformed,
connect us and bind us with the stuff of the stars,
When all is over, our substance returned
to our elements birth-place, our atom’s next turn.  (Christopher New)

OR

"Song of Earth (Tune: ‘Easter Hymn’, 77.77 + Alleluias)
Hail the Earth that first appeared. Alleluia!
When a word from God was heard. Alleluia!
Let the Earth arise and be. Alleluia!
Filled with living mystery. Alleluia!

Hail the rainbow flying high. Alleluia!
Spun by God across the sky. Alleluia!
Giving Earth a solemn word. Alleluia!
Never to unlease a flood. Alleluia!

Hail the planet blue and green. Alleluia!
Where the face of God is seen. Alleluia!
Glory filling all the Earth. Alleluia!
Celebrating every birth. Alleluia!

Hail our body made with clay. Alleluia!
Given breath to praise and pray. Alleluia!
Clay God honoured by God's birth. Alleluia!
As a human life on Earth. Alleluia!

Hail the groans of Earth in pain. Alleluia!
From the weight of human sin. Alleluia!
Longing for the Christ who died. Alleluia!
All creation to revive. Alleluia!  (Norman Habel)
Remain standing

Parting Words
Time has now come for us to leave this sacred place.
As we do, may we embrace the challenges
of our lives and our world…
The Community Candle is extinguished

v1  May the skies—
heavens, galaxies, spaces between the stars—
fill you with wonder.

v2  May clouds shade you
Rain refresh you
Stars guide you
Angels laugh your good intentions into action.

v1  And may the sun shine its warm, fierce love upon you
that you may live in joy and abundance of spirit,
grow in grace and compassion
envision a bright future
knowing that you are loved…  (Adapt/Bronwyn Angela White (2007)

Words of Blessing
v1  May we love deeply the earth which gives us air to breathe,
water to drink, and food to sustain us.

v2  May we remember that life is begotten from stardust,
radiant in light and heat.

v1  We are all one - all of creation,
all that now live,
all that have ever lived.
All  Remember we are stardust, and to stardust we return.
v1  Remember we are connected and to connection we return.
v2  Remember we are part of the great mystery.
All  Remember we are stardust and to stardust we return.

Hymn   “We Are The Earth…(Tune: ‘Ein’ Feste Burg’, 87.87.66.66.7)          30 SLT
We are the earth upright and proud;
in us the earth is knowing.
It’s winds are music in our mouths,
in us its rivers flowing.
The sun is our hearth-fire;
warm with the earth’s desire,
and with its purpose strong,
we sing earth’s pilgrim song;
in us the earth is growing.

We lift our voices, fill the skies
with our exultant singing.
We dedicate our minds and hearts,
to order, beauty bringing.
Our labor is our strength;
our love will win at length;
our minds will find the ways
to live in peace and praise.
Our day is just beginning. (Kenneth L Patton)
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 Liturgy:
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.
Davies, A. P. The Language of the Heart. A Book of Prayers. Washington, DC: All Soul’s Church, 1956.
Gilbert, R. S. In the Holy Quiet of this Hour: A Meditation Manual. Boston. Skinner House Books, 1995.
Grayling, A. C. The Good Book. A Secular Bible. London. Bloomsbury, 2011
Habel, N. Rainbow of Mysteries. Meeting the Sacred in Nature. Kelowna: Copper House/Wood Lake Publishing, 2012.
(HH3) Habel, N. Habel Hymns 3. Songs to Explore ‘The Mysteries’ of Evolution and Ecology. Adelaide: Habel, 2012.
(OHV) New, C. Our Highest Values: A Collection of Songs for an Expansive Spirituality. Edmonton. Southminster-Steinhauer United Church, 2015.  (chris@smsuc.com)
(STJ) Singing The Journey. Boston. UUA, 2005.
(SLT) Singing The Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
(SNS3)  Stuart, G. Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Volume 3. Toronto. G Stuart, 2011.
(TiS) Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious, 1999. Copyright enquiries: http://www.togetherinsong.org/.


Web sites/Other:
Belletini, Blood, Udis-Kessler. UUA Worship Web. Boston. UUA. < www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/
Refreshment Station. Words by Nan Fink Gefen, taken from an Evolutionary Passover Haggadah by Tree Bressen.

rexae74@gmail.com