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.


22 December 2019. Advent 4A. (Blue).

Worth Pondering
“The modern natural sciences… increasingly disclose an interconnected world, 
a world that is fundamentally and inclusively natural and within which 
mind and body are interrelated, self and other are profoundly related, 
human and nonhuman are mutually dependent, 
and faith and reason are integral aspects of one another”
(Michael Hogue)

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, present, and emerging leaders,
and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.

First Peoples Statement to the Nation 2017 called “Uluru Statement from the Heart” HERE
A Response from Common Dreams5 Conference of Religious Progressives,
Australia/South Pacific 2019 HERE

(NN) is a safe place for all people to worship regardless of
race, creed, age, 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

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

Advent Wreath – ‘Source of light’
Advent 4

v1 Orange flame burning
fire, breathing, consuming,
refining our thoughts.
Light fourth candle

v2 Holy God Spirit
we give thanks for the flame,
symbol of your presentness that never fails.
We pray for all people
that we may keep the Advent flame alight in our lives,
may we not to extinguish it when Christmas is past.
All Amen. (Adapted-HJohnston/ssb)


Advent 4: “Water”
v1   Today, we remember water and light
with this candle of love.
Without clean water,
life on our planet cannot exist.

v1  Yet we humans foul the oceans and rivers
with the toxic chemicals and other garbage of our lifestyles.
v2  We light this fourth advent candle…
The candle is lit

All  And as we do we renew our commitment
to live gently and lovingly,
with the water that gives life.

v1   May it be so.

Presentation of the Christmas Bowl
v5  Without love, people struggle to find their way.
The bowl, made by the children previously, is placed near the Advent wreath

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 

Hymn/Song  The people stand as they are able, to sing.  Children move to Sunday Club.
"Carol our Christmas"  (Tune: Reversi)                                                                    9 AA
Carol our Christmas,
an upside down Christmas;
snow is not falling and
trees are not bare.
Carol the summer, and
welcome the Christ Child,
warm in our sunshine and
sweetness of air.

Sing of the gold and the
green and the sparkle,
water and river and lure
of the beach.
Sing in the happiness
of open spaces,
sing a nativity summer
can reach!

Shepherds and musterers
move over hillsides,
finding, not angels,
but sheep to be shorn;
wise ones make journeys
whatever the season,
searching for signs of the
truth to be born.

Right side up Christmas belongs
to the universe,
made in the moment
a woman gives birth;
hope is the Jesus gift,
love is the offering,
everywhere, anywhere,
here on the earth.  (Shirley Erena Murray)

Remain standing

Opening Sentences
The season of Advent challenges us
to see God's vision of what is yet to be,
to hear God's voice calling anew,
to smell the scent of God in our world.

Act of Awareness
It is a still place where love is
and the way is very simple
it is so simple that I cannot understand
how hard it is to find the way
into the silence where love is.  (Jean Clark/cw)


v1 We pray:
Now is the moment of magic, when candles are kindled
and clear voices whisper secret music.
So here's a blessing:
it is the warmth of summer love that enables us to overcome
the barriers we place around ourselves, and
love that strengthens us to take risks.

v2 And here’s another blessing:
we already possess all the gifts we need,
we've already received our presents:
ears to hear music,
eyes to behold lights,
hands to build true peace on earth
and to hold each other tight in love.  
May it be so.

Hymn/Song  O Come, Emmanuel”  (Tune: ‘Veni Emmanuel’, 88.88 & refrain)                                265 TiS
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might
who to the tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high
and close the path to misery.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O branch of Jesse, free
your own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell your people save
and give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by your advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
The people sit after the hymn

Note: About that hymn for progressives… 
"O Come, O Come, Emanuel” is a classic Advent carol.  (And we are, after all, in the season of Advent – NOT Christmas, not yet!) 
But many of the words are problematic. 
“O come, O come, Emmanuel / And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here / Until the Son of God appear.”

The ideas are supercessionist --- implying that Judaism is obsolete, not relevant, past its use-by date. 
Can we really sing this and not come across as demeaning and superior? 
Is it time to rewrite (or ditch) this verse?
 (Dr John Squires)


O Come, Light’s Dawning”  (Tune: ‘Veni Emmanuel’)
Traditional Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, light’s dawning, burn within my soul,

The tinder of my heart you can make whole.

O come, ignite my passion to see

the truth of who I am, who I can be.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

To fear I bid farewell 

that light may come within my heart to dwell.

O come, light’s beauty, come amongst and cheer

our spirits by your radiant presence here.

O come, ignite our passion to see

that we can live in peace and harmony,

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

To anger bid farewell 

that light may come within our hearts dwell.

O come, light’s wisdom, be our certain guide

as arrogance and greed we set aside,

O come, ignite our passion to see,

the beauty born in all humanity.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

To privilege bid farewell 

that light may come within our hearts to dwell

O come, light’s piercing truth, come and reveal

all that our planet needs from us to heal.

O come, ignite our passion to see

the splendour in Earth’s vast diversity.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

To darkness bid farewell

that light may come within our hearts to dwell.  (© 2012 Gretta Vosper, direct from author)

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.

“Creativity” #206
By Dennis McCarty. 
Thoughts from a Gentle Atheist/125

Of any riches life may bestow,
One’s own mind is the brightest gift of all.
No barrier blocks it.
Neither rain nor snow may turn it from its journey.
Only we, ourselves, can destroy this wonderful gift,
By choosing to let it lie fallow.
Let us use our mind-gift with joy,
For the harvesting of the gift
Is also the seeding and fertilising of the gift.


If in Australia and remembering the bushfires...

“No Longer Country”
By John Cranmer (Part of the Haiku Series of Anger and Lament)

Closed up money minds
This Land as commodity
No longer Country

Country becomes death
Now this Hard Skeleton Land
No longer Country

Whirlwind and salt pan
As Land so the wasted heart
No longer Country.

Lost the earth wisdom
Lost the long native flora
No longer Country

Pyroclasm bites
Ash-laden the ancient land
Remaking Country?

In Northern hemisphere
Hymn/Song   "Throughout this Winter Season"  (Tune: ‘Tyrolese’, 86.86D)                             22 TMT
Throughout this winter season,
in nature’s darkened womb,
Christ, grant your life and laughter
to lighten frosty gloom;
to lift our flagging spirits
beyond these short-lived days
to Advent and each coming
which fills our lives with praise.

You come as puddles crackle
beneath the children’s feet;
you come in leafless branches
outlined against the sleet;
you come when lives diminish
as cold envelops all;
you come as snow which blankets
earth’s grime beneath its fall.

You come as fire and candle
and all that warms the heart;
you come in party feasting,
in music, dance, and art;
you come in ancient stories,
of years that are no more;
you come as liberation
and power for all the poor.

We seek to know your presence
in grey days and in bright,
in all the earth’s abundance
and during nature’s night;
but when we can not see you
through blindness or through pain,
enfold us in your dying
and rise in us again.  (William L Wallace)


Anna’s Song                                                                                                  55 ISIT
Lift this child to the sun,
Raise this child to the sky;
God has come from above,
Come to earth from on high.
Lift this child, lift this child to the sun.

Lay this child on the ground,
One with us, one with earth;
Let God know in his son,
Human clay, human birth.
Lay this child, lay this child on the ground.

Place this child in the shade,
Hang this child ‘neath a tree;
With his hand on the wood,
May this child set us free.
Place this child, place this child in the shade.

Give this child to the world,
Let him be common folk;
God has come to be born,
As an ordin’ry bloke.
Give this child, give this child to the world.

Send this child down the road,
Let him ride hard the track;
To be king of the bush,
And the harsh world outback.
Send this child, send this child down the track.

Lift this child to the night,
To the silence of God;
Let this child cry for us,
And the silence be heard.
Lift this child, lift this child to the night. 
© Norman Habel


For many of us life can be just a bit ordinary.
But on occasions we catch sight of something
truly exciting and life-giving.

That is the invitation we call Advent.

Copies of several Christmas cards have been placed around the worship space.
You are invited to go and select a card/design which appeals to you
and then share with the person next to you
a memory of a Christmas past, or why
you selected that particular card.


Let us prepare a manger in our hearts
for the birth of the sacred.

For something sacred needs to be born:
born from the mating of what is, and what might be.
All  Let us remind ourselves it is a hopeful world,
with a future yet to be constructed, a future
wanting to enlist builders of a better tomorrow.

This is the season when angels tell us
that something sacred wants to be born.
But it needs a manger.
All  Let us prepare a manger in our hearts
for the birth of the sacred.
  Davidson Loehr/adapted

Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Two readings from our broad biblical and religious tradition
shall be read by (NN).

Nag Hammadi Library:
The Infancy Gospel of James 3:1, 4:1-2, 5:5-9

And Anna looked up to the heavens and saw a nest of sparrows in the laurel tree…

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood in front of her, saying,
"Anna, Anna, the Lord God has heard your prayer.
You will conceive and give birth and your child
will be spoken of everywhere people live."

And Anna said,
"As the Lord God lives, whether I give birth to either a male or a female child,
I will bring it as an offering to the Lord my God
and it will be a servant to him all the days of its life."

And Anna's pregnancy came to term.

After nine months, she gave birth and she said to the midwife, "What is it?"
The midwife said, "A girl."  Anna said, "My soul exalts this day."

And she put her baby to bed.

After her days were completed, Anna cleansed her menstrual flow
and gave her breast to the child
and gave her the name, Mary.

Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 1:18-25  
(Inclusive Text)

This is how Jesus came to be born.
Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together
she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Her husband Joseph, being righteous, and wanting to spare her publicity,
decided to divorce her informally.

Joseph had decided to do this when the angel of God
appeared in a dream, and said,
‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.

‘She will give birth to a child whom you must name Jesus,
because this is the one who is to save this people from their sins.’

Now all this took place to fulfil the words
spoken by our God through the prophet:
The young woman will conceive and give birth to a child
and they will call this child Emmanuel,
a name which means "God-is-with-us".

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of God had said
and took Mary to their home.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection


An Affirmation of Faith (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and share an affirmation of faith…
The people stand as they are able

We experience the holiness of God 
All  in wonder of creation 
in endless sky and sea;
in breathless beauty and quiet bush;
in acts of courage and silent heart.

We know the God in Jesus of Nazareth
All  in gifts of healing and liberations of life;
in recognitions of love and callings to serve;
in sufferings for others and glimpses of grace.

We live from God's Spirit
All  in moments of faith
in dreams beyond hoping
and in rhythms of new energy.

We name the God who is our centre. 
All  We claim the goodness that is ours in God.
We announce the truth that lies at the heart of the gospel.
We believe we are not alone
in our struggle to be the church.
  (Dorothy McRae-McMahon/eoj)


If in Northern hemisphere

A Litany (Optional)
Snow-capped peaks and warming valleys;
rolling spinifex and rocky outcroppings;
 These are the splendours for which
we raise our songs of grateful praise.

Blue sky mornings and blood-red sunsets;
whirling dances between soil and sun;
 These are the splendours for which
we raise our songs of grateful praise.

Bustling streets and lonely sidewalks;
rivers both mysterious and majestic;
 These are the splendours for which
we raise our songs of grateful praise.

Ghost towns and gold mines;
sea breezes and desert palms;
 These are the splendours for which
we raise our songs of grateful praise.

A place of Celebration that honours the earth
on which we walk, live and love,
 With a spirit of compassion and a commitment
to community, the eternal ‘We’,
we raise our songs of grateful praise. 
 (George L Stewart/Adapt)

Sharing 'The Peace'
Let us greet another as a sign of God's peace
and of our shared friendship.

The peace of God is here... to stay (Iona).
All Thanks be to God.
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.


Hymn/Song  People stand as they are able, to sing
"My Heart is Leaping('Mary's Song', Barry Brinson)                                                   101 HoS
My heart is leaping,
my soul is glad,
for God has remembered me,
a humble servant;
I now am blessed,
for this Child will set people free.

The Holy Spirit
has come on me,
a prophecy to fulfil;
I am contented
to let it be,
according to God's holy will.

God's arm is mighty,
the proud brought down,
the lowly are lifted high;
the rich sent empty,
the hungry filled,
the covenant made will not die.

For God shows mercy
from age to age
and keeps faith with those before;
the promise given
to Abraham
is honoured and stands evermore (MKitchingman - Based on Luke 1:47-55)


"Because of the Baby  (Tune: ‘Come Christmas”, Carlton Young)                                   2 PaT
Because of the baby when Gabriel told her,
because of the baby when Mary said ‘Yes!’
because of the faithful, the brave and the hopeful,
still Christmas keeps coming to comfort and bless.

Because of the baby the parents were suspect,
because of the baby just anyone’s guess,
because there are children conceived without welcome,
still Christmas keeps coming in tears and distress.

Because of the baby they camped in a stable,
because of the baby no classy address,
because there’s poor justice for helpless and homeless,
still Christmas keeps coming to stir and redress.

Because of the baby King Herod was frightened,
because of the baby great rulers played chess,
because of the mitres and thrones that have tumbled,
still Christmas comes closer to the least and the less.

Because of the baby the planets are dancing,
because of the baby the world became light,
because in this child is the stardust made holy,
will Christmas keep coming, and coming and coming
till all is made joyful and peaceful and right!  (Shirley Erena Murray).


“At the Census in the City”  (Tune: 87.87D)
At the census in the city,
at the crossing place of life,
where the homeless and abandoned
share the scars of human strife;
mid the rubble and the ruins
shedding God's prophetic light
see, a star is softly shining
through the horror of the night.

In the cross of shafting shadows
see a mother and her child,
see the wetness of his features,
freshly born, so not yet filed.
In a world of cold statistics
yet another mouth to feed,
for the parents' love holds tension
with a calling, crying need.

So from Bethlehem in hist'ry
to this present place and time,
God has entered human anguish,
sung in tune to human rhyme;
yes, the baby that we welcome,
yes, the Christ of Palestine,
are as one, we seal remembrance
in a feast of bread and wine.

For the ruin of the manger,
this prefig'ring of the cross,
offers Christ as our relation
in our chaos and our loss,
puts the Christ into the present,
places God in human hands,
tests our loving and our living
here in this and every land.  Andrew Pratt, © Stainer & Bell Ltd.


We are called to make real
the sharing of the gifts and resources given to us.
We offer what we have for the good of all.

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

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
May our thoughts be filled with transformation,
All  May our words reflect the yearnings of our hearts.
And may the spirit that binds within us as we gather

All  Hallow each and every passing moment

we know here together.  (Adapt.Gretta Vosper/ab).

And so we take a 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 us,
and to see the 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 that is appropriate

All  Father, may your name be holy.
May your rule take place.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Pardon our debts, for we ourselves pardon
everyone in debt to us.
And do not bring us to trial
into a trying situation. 
 (Burton Mack/Q)


Hymn/Song  The people stand as they are able, to sing
Sing a Different Song” 
(Tune: Different Song')                                                   62(v1-2) HSNW 
Sing a different song now Christmas is here,
Sing a song of people knowing God's near:
The Messiah is born in the face of our scorn,
Sing a different song of welcome and warn.

Shout a different shout now Christmas is here,
Shout a song of joy and genuine cheer:
Fill the earth and sky with the news from on high,
Shout a different shout that all may come by.
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

Leave here with the certainty that God
loves you and travels with you.
All  Relax in God’s love,
and love in openness to God’s spirit moving within you.

Go to live as God’s people:
as God’s eyes, God’s heart and God’s hands,
in the name of Christ.

Words of Blessing
May the blessing of God,
sower of seed,
nurturer of hope, and
gardener of harmony,
stay with us today, tomorrow, and always.
Amen! May it be so!

Hymn/Song  (Cont) “Sing a Different Song” (Tune: Different Song')                              62(v3-4) HSNW 
Love a different love now Christmas is here,
Love without condition, love without leer:
With the humble and poor, with the shy and unsure,
Love a different love. Let Christ be the cure!

Dance a different dance now Christmas is here,
Dance a dance of war on suffering and fear:
Peace and justice are one and their prince is this Son,
Dance a different dance. God's reign has begun!  
The people sit after the hymn

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


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

Some of the Resources used in Shaping this Liturgy:
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa.  Hymns and Songs for all churches. 1993. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust. 
(HSNW) Bell, J. & G. Maule. 1989. 
Heaven Shall Not Wait. Wild Goose Songs Vol. 1. Revised edition. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
Burgess, R. 2001. 
A Book of Blessings. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
 Carol our Christmas. A Book of New Zealand Carols. 1996. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust. 
Duncan, G. (ed). 2001. 
Shine On, Star of Bethlehem. A Worship Resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich. The Canterbury Press.
 Faith Forever Singing. Songs for a New Day. 2000. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust. 
 Hope is Our Song. New hymns and songs from Aotearoa New Zealand. 2009. Palmerston North. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust.
 In Spirit and in Truth. A Worship Book. 1991. Geneva. World Council of Churches. Seventh Assembly.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. 2004. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation.
Iona Community. 2001.  
Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.
McRae-McMahon, D. 1993.  
Echoes of Our Journey. Liturgies of the People. Melbourne. JBCE.
Mack, B. L. 1993.  
The Lost Gospel. The Book of Q and Christian Origins. New York. HarperSanFrancisco.
Murray, S. E. 
A Place at the Table. New Hymns written between 2009 and 2013. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2013.
Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. 1999. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious.
Vosper, G. 2010.  
Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Brisbane.
(TMT) Wallace, W. L. The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston. Selah Publishing, 2001.
Ward, H.; J. Wild, & J Morley. (ed). Celebrating Women. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Safford, Stewart, Hamilton-Holway, UUA Worship Web. Boston. <> 
Andrew Pratt.
Early Christian Writings.
"At the Census" Stainer & Bell Ltd. Web site:
Advent 4: Water. Adapted from ‘The Four Elements’ by Dean Salter, UCC. 2006