Revd Rex A E Hunt
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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.

of reflection and support
for those who have experienced grief and loss

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, gender, cultural background or sexual orientation

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
“Hector’s Song”
Harry Manx.
West Eats Meet.
As people enter they are invited to collect a stone from the basket.

Words of Welcome
Christmas is a time for memories and remembering.

For some, the memories
are of loved family members who have died,
and the holiday 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 a bushfire.

We sometimes can feel very alone
in the midst of all the celebrating of the season,
the singing, and the constant proclamation
of "Joy, joy, joy!"

We gather here this evening
in the presence of God's comforting love, to remember.
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, cares.

This evening we are here in this safe place with each other,
in comfort and support.

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

When we lose, we grieve.
Grief is normal.
Grief is universal.
At the same time grief is extremely personal.

May we and others not forget or deny our journey of grief.

We come in this service to God, in our need
and bringing with us the needs of the world.
We come with our faith and with our doubts.
We come with our hopes and with our fears.
We come as we are, because it is God who invites us to come.

And our tradition claims, God has promised never to turn us away.

Silent Reflection

We pray:
Come to us, healer of hurts.
Hear our prayer in this Advent Season for
our families
our friends
who live with the painful memories of grief and loss.

We seek strength for today, courage for tomorrow and peace for the past.

Gather us up in your warmth and answer the prayers of our
recognised and unrecognised needs.
May it be so.

Special Music
“The Rose”
Bette Midler.
The Rose.

Story 1        
v1 Our first story comes from the Hebrew scriptures, from the Book of Isaiah.
It was written in a time when many of the people of Judah
had been taken as captives into exile in Babylon,
and were feeling crushed and without hope.

Isaiah 40:1-5, 28-31
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem...

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

“Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.

“Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken...”

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

“He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

“Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Story 2
v1 The story of the first Christmas told by Matthew is not really a happy story
but a story about life in the real world.

Mary of Nazareth, who is betrothed to the carpenter Joseph,
discovers she is pregnant. Joseph does not want to embarrass Mary
and plans to end the relationship privately.
This was not an easy time for this couple.

Their country was under Roman occupation
and King Herod who ruled Palestine for the Romans was known for his cruelty.

These are not exactly ideal conditions
for bringing a child into the world.

In the midst of their turmoil,
an angel - God's messenger - speaks to Joseph in a dream.

Matthew 1:18-24
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.

When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man
and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace,
planned to dismiss her quietly.

But just when he had resolved to do this,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,
for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place
to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the young woman will conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us.’

When Joseph awoke from sleep,
he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

v1 In the midst of Mary and Joseph's joy over the safe birth of their son Jesus,
a new crisis looms.

King Herod orders the death of all children under two
and so this small family has to flee as refugees to Egypt.

There they live for several years until King Herod dies and it is safe to return.
Mary and Joseph felt the presentness of God with them
through all the hardships they had to face.

Matthew 2:7-9, 12-14, 16, 19-23
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them
the exact time when the star had appeared.

Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying,
“Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him,
bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out following the star...

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they left for their own country by another road.

Now after they had left,
an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother,
and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you;
for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,
and remained there until the death of Herod...
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,
he was infuriated,
and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem
who were two years old or under,
according to the time that he had learned from the wise men...

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord
suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel,
for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there.

And after being warned in another dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.
There he made his home in a town called Nazareth...

Music of Reflection
“Tears in Heaven”
Eric Clapton.

Story 3
v1 Luke, one of two religious storytellers who offer us a picture of the birth stories of the one called Jesus,
is probably the more familiar story for many of us.

It is the one which shapes the popular stories we hear and the celebrations we note at this time of the year - called Christmas.
It is a story full of bright primary colours, and rejoicing.

Matthew’s picture, on the other hand, is a picture using a darker palette.
His colours are more sombre, darker hues.
Light may banish darkness but it also shows up the cobwebs,
inviting us to a courageous living of life.

Matthew encourages us to see in this family, and in ourselves, a people of worth.
For they - for we - can endure.

Renee Bozarth offers similar encouragement.

O Earth, wrap me in your leaves - heal me.
Cloister me around with wild flowers.
Refresh me with springs and living waters.
Draw me down into your well of rebirth and
Let my wounds open and empty
Into your wonderful compost heap.

Then fill me with your fruit and bread, start over,
Let my wounds become fertile gardens and

Let me be, let me live again.  (Adapted from A Renee Bozarth. Life prayers/265)

Music of Reflection
“The prayer”
Andrea Bocelli/Celine Dion. Andrea Bocelli.

A Candle Liturgy of Remembering
This first candle
we light to remember those whom we have loved and lost.
(Pause while the 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.
(Pause while the 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 your future.

This third candle
we light is to remember ourselves this Christmas time.
(Pause while the 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.
(Pause while the 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 souls
so that we can hear your still small voice.

Prayers of the People
We pray:
Compassionate One
Mend us and we shall be whole.

For our families and friends
that they may continue to help and support us.
Compassionate One
All  Mend us and we shall be whole.

For the person we have loved who has died.
For all the losses we have known...
Compassionate One
All  Mend us and we shall be whole.

For all our family and friends
that they may know love and peace and happiness...
Compassionate One...
All  Mend us and we shall be whole.

For the peace proclaimed by the Christmas angels,
to come throughout the whole world...
Compassionate One
All  Mend us and we shall be whole.

God of great compassion and love,
listen to the hopes of these your people.
If it is your tradition you are invited to share in this contemporary expression of the The 'Abba' Prayer, and in your original language

All  Loving God,
within and around us, we revere you.

We seek to live life as you would want us to do:
with love and respect for all people
and all things in the universe.

May we find each day sufficient for our needs.
And find forgiveness when we do wrong,
just as we forgive those who do wrong to us.

In times of trouble, may we centre our lives in you.
For your being is love,
which comes with strength and with beauty.
Throughout eternity.

Amen.    Margaret Rolfe. 04

‘The Stone’ Reflection
Look at the stone you are holding.
It is unique.

Each has a different shape, colour, pattern.
Each stone has its own beauty,
its memorable smoothness,
its rough edges.
Each stone has its own story
which is in part the story of creation.

These stones are inanimate objects - and yet in them the atoms are dancing,
as they also dance in us.

They may remind us of ourselves.
And also of the people
who have helped to make us who we are.

Let us gather the stones together.
People bring the stones to the centre and lay them down.
People remain in a semicircle..

An Australian 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 God's strength, peace and creativity
go with you always.
All  Amen. May it be so.

‘The Stone’ Reflection (Cont.).
There is a time to gather the stones.
And there is a time to scatter the stones.

Let us leave these stones here,
even though they may have taken on a meaning for us,
and we might want to keep them
and take them away with us.

Let us leave them here in this sacred place.
And in their place, take a flower.

Take it not to keep forever and forever.
Nothing is forever.

Take one of the flowers as a symbol
of gratitude for beauty we did not create,
of gratitude for blessings we do not deserve,
of gratitude for joys which come when unexpected.

Take one of the flowers...
a symbol of beauty and grace and joy and love,
and go out into this Advent Season
held in the arms of God’s tender compassion.

Life is for living.
The future is worth expecting.
The people leave taking a flower with them.

“My Wild Rose”
Stevan Pasero.

“There is a God
who says to us
weep strongly,
be strongly afraid,
care strongly,
choose life strongly in faith
and I will live strongly
in all of that”