Revd Rex A E Hunt

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Rex A E Hunt 
When Progressives Gather Together:
Liturgy, Lectionary, Landscape… And Other Explorations.
Melbourne: Morning Star Publishing (W&S in the USA), 2016.

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15 January 2017. Epiphany2A. (White).
Celebrating Community: Sacrament of the Lord's Style of Supper

mlk masthead 2

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 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 Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

In this world of differences
we are challenged to see the sacred
in many faces and many traditions.  (Gretta Vosper/hb)

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 the 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

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"Welcome to Worship" (Tune: Regent Square, 87 87 47 extend)     1 SNS3
We are thankful for a greeting
And a welcome we all prize;
We have come to join in worship,
Searching for what satisfies;
With a welcome as we gather
We can feel our spirits rise.

'Welcome' is the way of Jesus;
'Welcome' is his promised word;
Welcome is for saints and sinners;
All are welcome; all have erred;
Jesus speaks his word of welcome -
We respond for we have heard.

We all join in affirmation
 Of the love of God we know;
 Like the vastness of an ocean
 Love is here in constant flow;
 I am welcome; you are welcome;
 Jesus says, "Let it be so.”  
(George Stuart)


Epiphany Hymn (Tune: “Highwood”, 11 10 11 10)
Deep in the darkness a starlight is gleaming,
Calling us out from the safety of home.
God of the questions, the mystery of dreaming,
Lighten our journey into the unknown.

Out of the darkness the voices are crying,
Terror and fear screaming loud in the night.
God of the hurting, of innocence dying,
Fire us with anger to struggle for right.

Still in the darkness we search for your healing,
Hoping for meaning to comfort our fear.
God of the silence, of unspoken feeling,
Teach us the wisdom to make your truth clear.

On through the darkness we follow your leading,
Searching for joy and a refuge to stay.
God of our longing, the bliss we are seeking,
journey with us to the brightness of day.  (Jan Berry/ssb)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
O God true source of humanity,
mother and father of us all
you renew us so we may grow like you.

All We gather together:
from corner or limelight,
from fears or from sadness,
from hope or from gladness
in close relationships
or from separate lives.

All We gather together:
who long for the company,
the levelling and the deepest joys,
found in your presence.

All We gather together:
to meet you,
to celebrate your love,
and to rejoice in the possibilities that arise
when we honour all the diversity of our humanity.
All  We gather together - with you. (Adapt. St James Church, London)


v1  As surely as we belong to the universe,
we belong together.
We gather here to transcend the isolated self.
To reconnect,
To know ourselves to be at home,

v2  Here on earth, under the stars,
Linked with each other.  (M A Keip)

Act of Awareness
We are part of all that sustains or destroys life.
Creation and destruction occur in continually unfolding ways.
And so may we open our ears to the continually unfolding Word.
Life speaks to us in new and vital and imperative ways.
With all the power we have been given,
let us be silent and open to listening…
for nourishment,
for comfort,
for challenge and new focus.
May it be so.   
(St Stephen’s Project)


We pray:
Spirit of Life, bless us through this day
and through this life, till this day ends,
and a new day dawns.
Amen. May it be so.

Hymn Playful God(Tune: ‘Joyful God’. 77 87)   75 RP
Playful God, you laugh and dance
at every indication
that we have caught a glimpse, a glance
of magic in creation.

Tearful God, you weep and mourn,
you share our desolation;
in every doubt, in pain and grief,
we need your consolation.

Joyful God, we praise your name
in every situation.
Your love will even live through death,
you promise resurrection.

Mighty God, creative heart
and source of our elation,
accept our praise, our lives, our all,
our ceaseless adoration.  (Andrew Pratt)
The people sit after the hymn


Christmas - Mid-summer(Tune: ‘Cranham Irregular’)    4 SNS2
In the mild mid-summer pleasant winds can blow;
Balmy zephyrs soothe us; wafting to and fro;
Christmas has its beauty; Mary’s pain is past;
Lullaby her first born; parents’ joy at last.

In the warm mid-summer drying winds can blow;
Cooling breezes freshen in the evening glow;
Christmas has its contrasts; happiness and stress;
Wonder of a child birth, but in stable mess.

In the hot mid-summer scorching winds can blow;
Rainless days unending; rivers cease to flow;
Christmas has its harshness; it can linger still;
Cattle shed for birthing; Herod plans to kill.

Summer is the season when we harvest grain;
When the fruit from nature ripens on the plain;
Christmas, here in summer, hot or warm or mild
Is the time for growing; following the child.  (George Stuart)

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

It is through the simple things of life
that we are nourished.
In silence and celebration, our
spirits are nourished.

May we find in the simplicity of the silent time together
nourishment for this moment in time,
and may we sense connection with those
whom we share it in this sacred space.  (Adapt.Gretta Vosper/ab)


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

Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 2:1-12 (Inclusive Text)

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea
during the reign of Herod, some wise ones
came to Jerusalem from the east.

‘Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews?’ they asked.
‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do homage.’
At this news Herod became greatly disturbed,
and all Jerusalem as well.

Herod called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
and inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they said, ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:
And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judaea
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judaea,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise ones, asked them privately
the exact date on which the star had appeared,
and sent them to Bethlehem.
‘Go and find out all about the child, and
when you have found this child, let me know,
so that I too may go and do homage.’

Having listened to what Herod had to say, they set out.

And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising;
it went forward and halted over the place
where the child was.

The sight of the star filled them with delight, and
going into the house they saw the child with his mother, Mary,
and falling to their knees they did homage.

They opening their treasures, they offered gifts of
gold and frankincense and myrrh.

But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod,
and returned to their own country by a different way.


John 1:29-34 (Inclusive Text)

Seeing Jesus coming toward him, John said,
'Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

'This is the one I spoke of when I said,
One is coming after me
who ranks before me and existed before me.
Who it was, I did not know,
and yet it was to reveal the one coming to Israel
that I came baptising with water.'

John also declared,
'I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove
and resting on this one.

'I myself did not know who it was,
but the one who sent me to baptise with water had said to me,
'The one on whom you see the Spirit
come down and rest is the one
who is going to baptises with the Holy Spirit.

'Yes, I have seen and I am the witness 
that this is the Chosen One of God.'


Music of Reflection

From the World Around us:
"Four Different Pictures”
By John Bell. He was in the World/71. (Adapted)

v1 He was watched by shepherds.
He is lying in wool;
he is gurgling, laughing, crying,
wetting himself,
wearying his mother.

It is a very old man who recognises
the very young baby -
v2 This child has been chosen by God
for the destruction of some
and the salvation of many.


v1 He is speaking in the synagogue.
He is preaching from the prophets;
he is discovering how his words
do not please religious people.

v3 Who does he think he is?
v4 I think we've heard enough!
v3 Let's show him the door!
v4 Let's show him the hill!


v1 He is walking through the streets
which most decent folk avoid.
He is listening to the cries
of all those who go unheard -

v2 Touch me, Jesus.
v3 Heal me, Jesus.
v4 Jesus, let me see again.
v5 It's my child, Jesus!


v1 He is confronting his fiercest critics.
They have tongues as sharp as razors.
They have plans
in case their tongues are not enough.

v3 Why do you eat with the riff-raff?
v4 Why do they call you God's son?
v3 Why do you violate our traditions?
v4 Why don't you take us seriously?
v5 Judas... Judas... we've got a job for you.


v1 This is him: from Bethlehem to Bethany
from Jerusalem to Jericho
from Capernaum to Calvary
from Golgotha to the grave
from heaven to hell and back again;
saying: I am the way... follow me
I am the truth... believe me
I am the life... receive me.

Contemporary Exploration  HERE and HERE
And another, from Walter Brueggemann

Silence for Personal Reflection


An Epiphany Litany  (Optional)
People are invited to remain seated

v3  When a star in the sky marked where
the new ‘King of the Jews’ had been born,
wise ones came to Jerusalem looking for him.
Like the wise ones we ask
Where can we find you, Lord?

v1 They brought to the child, with his mother Mary,
their most precious gifts and worshipped him.
We have no treasure to offer, nor any star to guide us.
We bring only devotion to your will.
Like the wise ones we ask
Where can we find you, Lord?

v2  Do we look for someone who is rich and powerful,
living in a five-star hotel,
or for the One who had nowhere to lay his head?
Like the wise ones we ask
Where can we find you, Lord?

v3  Are you in the crowded shops during the post-Christmas sales?
Will we find you in the endless round of pre-Christmas
office parties, or squatting homeless in some condemned building?
Like the wise ones we ask
Where can we find you, Lord?

v1 You were in the world but they did not know you.
You came to your own and they did not receive you.
There was no room for you at the inn.
Is there any room for you in our hearts?
Like the wise ones we ask
All  Where can we find you, Lord?  (Iona Community/cfc)

Sharing 'The Peace
Let us take some time 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
God of Unexplored Tomorrows(Tune: ‘Marching’, 87 87)     27 FFS
God of unexplored tomorrows,
of today and yesterday,
God of rock and flowing river,
be our refuge, be our way.

Guardian rock above, before us,
strong foundation where we build,
landmark through the haze of doubting,
shelter where our fears are stilled,

Be the cleansing, quenching water,
irrigate, disturb and move,
stir us from our easy shallows,
current of refreshing love.

God of rock and flowing river
now and ever with us stand,
to transform our land of promise
into each one's promised land.  (B Jones)


"Peace is Generosity" (Music: Swee Hong Lim)      32 PaT
Peace is generosity,
peace is right and duty,
not diminishment of life
but its zest and beauty,
not the silence of the dead
not the tears of grieving
but dynamic of the world
rich beyond believing.

Peace is not the child of fear
nor what terror teaches,
peace is quick to give and serve
where compassion reaches;
not oppression in return,
grudges unforgiven,
but the good of all for all
the gift of heaven.  (Shirley Erena Murray)


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

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
As one heart is lifted
May we share its celebration
As one heart is burdened
All May we share the pain it knows.  (Gretta Vosper/wwg)

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:
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, and in your original language, as that is appropriate

All O Birther!  Father-Mother of the Cosmos
you create all that moves in light.
Hear the one Sound that created all others,
in this way the Name is hallowed in silence.

Your rule springs into existence
as our arms reach out to embrace all creation.
Let all wills move together
in your vortex, as stars and planets
swirl through the sky.

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight:
subsistence for the call of growing life.
Lighten our load of secret debts as
we relieve others of their need to repay.

Keep us from hoarding false wealth,
and from the inner shame of
help not given in time.  (Matthew Fox/ormw)

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

Our offerings for the work of ministry in this place and beyond,
and our gifts of bread and wine which will be shared,
shall now be received.

The Presentation
As a sign of hope in the world we offer these gifts
of bread, wine and money.
May we and these be used to further the ways
of love, hope, and justice in our world.

God of the summer’s day,
All  We stand in wonder and awe.
God of the lingering sunset and early dawn,
We pause to wonder the beauty of the universe.

God of the hot north wind and the refreshing shower,
God of the shady tree and the cool water bag,
God of the ripening harvest and sparkling sea,
Praise, wonder, and awe.

We gather together
conscious that raising our hearts and minds
is a gift of the Spirit of Life at work
in the depths of our being.
For the presence of that Spirit in us,
we offer encouragement to

We gather together conscious that our celebration
gives the Spirit a way of breaking into word and song
unique in all the universe.
For the words and songs within each of us,
we celebrate with joy

And so we offer our thanks and praise
inviting the Spirit of Life, Love and Goodness
to move freely in our words and actions.
Holy, holy, holy, celebrating Creative God,
the whole universe is full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
All  Hosanna in the highest.

Jesus is the story we gather around and give thanks for.
Human like us, he discerned 
where this Spirit of Life is found:
in the everyday,
in human interaction,
in caring,
in sharing,
in being neighbour.

He urged people to work together
to establish the 'reign of God’
by wholehearted generosity,
by eliminating boundaries between people,
by trust in the goodness of people,
and by working for peace and justice in all human endeavours.
We remember his total commitment
to living fully and loving totally
and his faith in a God to be trusted
whatever twists life could take
in this imperfect world.  (Adapt/Michael Morwood/pns)

We also remember the tradition…
On the night before he was handed over
Jesus again shared a meal with his friends.
Through grain and grape, bread and wine,
and in fellowship together,
he spoke of his enduring love for each of them.

Bread and Wine
Bread is broken.  Wine poured out.

And they recognised him in the breaking of the bread.
Bread and Wine served around the Table in small groups


Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
Sing of a Sacred Circle(Tune: ‘Sacred Circle', 75 65)  23 (v1-2) 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.
Remain standing


“Gift of the Solar Fire (In Praise of Light and Glass)”  (Tune: ‘Solar Fire’ Barry Brinson. Alternative Tune: ‘Diademata’)
Musical Score: www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundless life
Gift of the solar fire,
Life-giving golden rays,
Caressing all Earth’s face with warmth
Till hearts are filled with praise.
Without you all is dark,
Without you all is dead,
The colours fade into a void
Which masks life’s sacred thread.

Rainbows delight our eyes
Clothed in the spectrum’s robe,
Unpacking all the artist skills
Within Earth’s fragile globe.
With glass we recreate
The wonder of the skies
And through the lens of crystal threads
See life with mystic eyes.
Remain standing

Parting Words
Let us take on this week’s life with
renewed hope and imagination…
The Community Candle is extinguished

v1 May this ending be our beginning.
All  Let us begin, again and again,
to wonder, and
to cherish, and
to act,
v1 so that at day's end we will be content
All knowing that we have given our all to life.  (M Hachten-Cotter)

Words of Blessing
Blessed be.

In the name of all that is good and growing,
In the name of all that is loving and living,
In the name of all that fires our passion,

Blessed be.
All Blessed be.  
(Jan Berry/wb)

Hymn (Cont)Sing of a Sacred Circle(Tune: ‘Sacred Circle', 75 65)    2 (v3-4) TMT
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)
The people sit after the hymn


“Gift of the Solar Fire (In Praise of Light and Glass)”  (Cont.) (Tune: ‘Solar Fire’ Barry Brinson. Alternative Tune: ‘Diademata’)
Musical Score: www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundless life
Mystery of God in light,
Seen both in joy and pain,
In haunting cross and sparkling seas,
In sunshine and the rain,
Within our complex self
We glimpse a gilded space,
A silence which we share with God,
A chalice filled with grace.

Though many hearts embrace
Sexist and racist ways
We seek to live inclusive lives
Of pluralistic praise.
We share our work and wealth,
We treasure Earth’s domains,
We honour all within its web
And all its life contains.  (William L. Wallace)
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

I recommend the use of
LicenSing - Copyright cleared music for churches

Some of the Resources used in Shaping this Liturgy:
Abbott, M. Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for Seasonal Use. Unley. MediaCom Education, 2001.
Bell, J. L. He was in the World. Meditations for Public Worship. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 1995.
Duncan, G. (ed).
Shine on, Star of Bethlehem. A Worship Resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2001.
Duncan, G. (ed).
A World of Blessing. Benedictions from Every Continent and Many Cultures. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2000.
Faith Forever Singing. Songs for a New Day. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 2000.
Fox, M.
One River, Many Wells. Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths. New York. Tarcher/Penguin Publishing, 2000.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2004.
Morwood, M.
Praying a New Story. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2003.
(PaT) Murray, S. E.  
A Place at the Table. New Hymns written between 2009 and 2013. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2013.
(RP) Pratt, A.
Reclaiming Praise. Hymns from a Spiritual Journey. London. Stainer & Bell Ltd, 2006.
Prewer, B. D.
Australian Prayers. Adelaide. OpenBook Publishers, 1983.
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. 
(SNS2) Stuart, G. Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Volume 2. Toronto: G Stuart, 2011.
Vosper, G. Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane: The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.
Vosper, G.
Holy Breath. Prayers for Worship and Reflection. New & Revised edition. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2004/2010.
Vosper, G.
With or Without God. Why the Way we Live is more Important that what we Believe. Canada: Toronto. HarperCollins, 2008.
(TMT) Wallace, W. L.
The Mystery Telling. Hymns and Songs for the New Millennium. Kingston. Selah Publishing, 2001.
Wild Goose Worship Group.
Cloth for the Cradle. Worship Resources and Readings for Advent, Christmas & Epiphany. Glasgow. Iona Community, 1997.

Web sites/Other:
Hatchen-Cotter. UUA Worship Web. Boston. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
David Galston. Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. <http://www.questcentre.ca/>
"We are part of all..."  One of several non-theistic resources found at: <http://www.ualberta.ca/ST.STEPHENS/resource
“Gift of the Solar Fire”. William L Wallace. Also reproduced in R. A. E. Hunt. When Progressives Gather Together: Liturgy, Lectionary, Landscape… And Other Explorations. Northcote. Morning Star Publishing, 2016