Lent4A.22.3.2020

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
22 March 2020. Lent 4A. (Purple).
Commissioning of a Lay Leader (Optional)

Worth Pondering
“Our generation has been the first in history (that I know of)
to willingly surrender the middle class to become peasants
to enrich the privileged for no apparent reason”
(Roger Lee Ray)

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, emerging,
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


GATHERING

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)
          Multi-sensory artwork
OR Floral/Symbols display (cloths, candles, stones, wood, leaves, flowers, earth, water) OR projection of Film/Slides 

Refreshment Station/Water Basins
Pottery basins are set on stands near the entrance to the Gathering space. 
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 traveller 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)

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Blessed be the changing seasons of our living.
Blessed be the reliable balancing act of nature.
Blessed be the rededication of values and meaning of life.

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

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/Song  The people stand as they are able, to sing
God Who Carved... Landscape” 
(Tune: ‘Dansey’).                                                              31 FFS
God who carved this timeless landscape,
snow-clad ridge to valley plain,
power of surging race and river,
limestone crag and scarred terrain;
maker still of earth, fire, water,
artistry of sight and sound,
Southern lights and sunset splendour,
raise our eyes and you are found.

Calendar of nature's balance,
rhythms of the farming year,
shearing, milking, ploughing, pruning,
manger setting ever near!
lonely struggle in the byways,
nor'west dust or snow and flood,
fellowship of tears and laughter:
Lord, with you, we're understood.

Giving thanks for those before us,
village life and tussock track,
as we turn to face the future,
history's wind upon our back;
scattered are our congregations,
each now shares in ministry,
bonding strength of work together:
spirit of community.  (D
oug Grierson)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
We are people of faith.
We are called to listen for the wind;
to encounter the Spirit.
All  
Who will tell us what God wants us to do?

Our pioneers in the faith dared to trust God;
they left all to follow a call and a promise.
All  Where is it that God wants to lead us?

We have received the promise of steadfast love.
All  
God has blessed us, and our hearts are glad.

Act of Awareness
We come together in this hour...
in a wider search for truth and purpose.

In this quest, 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.

Let all who enter this sacred place
find comfort in this community.

OR

We pray:
Awesome and gracious God,
you who are the power that brings us to life
and the spirit that sustains us.

May we become what is in our power to become.
May it be so.

Hymn/Song  Here in the Busy City”                                                                           166 AOV2
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)

OR

Of the Mulitude of Words”  (Tune:  ‘Vienna’, 77.77)                                                         16 TMT
Of the multitude of words
held within the Bible's wall,
some bring life and some spread death,
some can liberate us all.

Should our use of sacred words
put all other views to flight?
Does our inner certainty
justify abuse of might?

Are our ways of using strength
open for the world to see?
Do they hide behind the texts
masking our transparency?

Loving God, the source of truth,
help us clearly to discern
what brings death and what brings life,
life for which our spirits yearn.

Then O God of spirit life,
we shall live with openness,
giving all the right to be
their true selves with graciousness.  (William L Wallace)
The people sit

Welcome
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 the Gathering
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 and poured on an outside garden

Centering Silence
So we come apart from the busyness of family and work…
In the silence of this place
may we give our attention right now
to each other,
to new beginnings,
to this time,
to this season.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Wisdom from our Religious Traditions
Readings from our broad religious tradition shall be read by (NN) and (NN).

“Colour of Beauty” (Part 4) - Yellow
Extracts from John O’Donohue.
Divine Beauty. The Invisible Embrace

A yellow fire burns eternally, alway out in the infinite distance of the cosmos.
All colour, light and earthly life depend on that yellow furnace.
Without our knowing it, distance, as always, is one of our great protectors.
Were we nearer to the yellow fire-source, it would scorch everything to cinders.
Conversely, were this sun-fire to slip down into a crevice in the pattern that holds its face toward us,
 the earth would freeze over and all life would disappear.

The colour yellow holds such warmth, brightness and attraction for us because it is the colour of the source that sustains us.
A room that is yellow can throw a glad brightness back into the space it surrounds.
Put some pinks, reds and burnt umber in there and it almost feels as though you are nestled within a honeycomb…

In terms of its physics, yellow has absorbed read and green and then reflects yellow back.
Red is the colour of life, blood and fire; and green is the colour of growth and of hope.
Little wonder that yellow has such a life-giving brightness.

Traditional Gospel:
John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 33-34  
(Inclusive Text)

Jesus went along and saw a man blind from birth.
Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with the spittle,
put this over the eyes of the blind man, and said,
“Go and wash in the pool of Siloam'.

So the blind man went off and washed,
and came away with sight restored.

The neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging, said,
'Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?'
Some said, 'Yes, it is the same one.'
Others said, 'No, he only looks like him.'
The man said, 'I am the one…'

They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees.
It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste 
and opened the man's eyes,
so when the Pharisees asked how he had come to see, he said,
'The one they call Jesus put paste on my eyes,
and I washed and I can see.'

Then some of the Pharisees said,
'This Jesus can not be from God: he does not keep the sabbath.'

Others said, 'How could a sinner produce signs like this?'
And there was disagreement among them.

So they spoke to the blind man again,
'What do you have to say about this Jesus yourself,
now that he has opened your eyes?'
'He is a prophet', replied the man.

'Are you trying to teach us,' they replied, ‘and you a sinner
through and through, since you were born!'
And they drove the man away.

OR

John 9:1-7 (An Adaptation)
By Helen Garton. Courage to Love/223

As he went on his way he saw a woman who had been gay from birth.
His disciples asked him:
‘Rabbi, whose sin caused her to be lesbian?
Hers or her parents’ sin?’

Jesus answered:
’Neither she nor her parents sinned;
she was born that way so that God’s work might be revealed in her.
While the day lasts, we must carry on the work of God; night is coming,
when no one can work. While I am in the world I am the light of the world.’

With these words, he spat on the ground and made a paste with the spittle;
he spread it on the disciples’s eyes and immediately
her pain eased and she was able to be herself.

Contemporary Exploration
• A Sermon suitable for this day can be found in my book, Against the Stream. Progressive Christianity Between Pulpit and Pew.

Something for EARTH Hour...
http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=39198#.UzshR_S1aJU

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

An Affirmation of Peace and Justice  (Optional)
In response to the Word reflected on, let us stand and share together
an affirmation written by some people in Indonesia.
The people stand as they are able

All  I believe in God, who is love and who has given the earth to all people.
I believe in Jesus Christ, who came to heal us
and to free us from all forms of oppression.
I believe in the Spirit of God,
who works in and through all who are turned to towards the truth.
I believe in the community of faith,
which is called to be at the service of all people.

v1  I do not believe in the right of the strongest,
nor the force of arms, nor the power of oppression.
v2  I believe in human rights, in the solidarity of all people,
in the power of non-violence.
v3  I do not believe in racism,
in the power that comes from wealth and privilege,
or in any established order that enslaves.

v4  I believe that all men and women are equally human,
that order based on violence and injustice is not order.
v5  I do not believe that war and hunger are inevitable and peace unattainable.
v6  I believe in beauty of simplicity,
in love with open hands, in peace on earth.
All  I do not believe that suffering needs to be in vain,
that death is the end, that the disfigurement of the world
is what God intended.

But I dare to believe always and in spite of everything,
in God’s power to transform and transfigure,
fulfilling the promise of a new heaven and a new earth
where justice and peace will flourish. 
 Adapted from an Indonesian creed/dd

COMMISSIONING OF LAY LEADER  (Optional)
Lay leader comes forward

The Story
Once upon a time, in the beginning,
a labour of love and outreach was undertaken.

And a place was established where all persons might find
space and hospitality and inclusion.