PalmA.5.4.2020

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
5 April 2020. Palm Sunday A. (Purple).

Worth Pondering
“Jesus’ speech had the character not of instructionand ideas,
but of compelling imagination…”
(
Amos Wilder)

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

CLOWN ON A DONKEY
(Counter Cultural Interpretation of Jesus on Palm Sunday)
By John Cranmer
9 April 2017

Clown on a donkey
Stirred onwards 
By an hysteric crowd
Living their Prophetic Edge
"Next Year in Jerusalem!!"

People camping outside the gates
"Today we are slaves
Next Year we will be free!”
Exiles coming Home
Again and again and again!

Here is living out a stream of life 
At least 500 years deep
Remembering return from Exile
Babylon to Jerusalem
Anchored in the words of Zechariah 
Prophet of National Revival
And his vision of the king 
Coming with counter-cultural presence
Riding a Donkey's foal 
Not the War-Horse of overt power

And the Nazarene?
An ongoing question 
For Contemporary Power 

National Saviour at the Gates?
Underground Liberation Bringer?
Or something else?

Peace and Shalom
On this Day!
 

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 

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

The morning comes and now is!
Greet the day with gladness,
and welcome the evening with praise.

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Option 1. If using Liturgy of the Palms...
If not, go direct to Lighting of the Community Candle...

LITURGY OF THE BRANCHES
Introduction
For the past five weeks of the Season of Lent we have been preparing...
preparing for this moment in the story of Jesus' journey.
Now, we are one week from Easter!

Today is what has traditionally been called 'Palm Sunday'.
But you won’t hear about “palms” in this story from Matthew.
The Gospel of John, written several years later, is the only one that says
people waved 'palm' branches for Jesus.
Anyway...

This is the day on which, our tradition tells us,
Jesus entered Jerusalem, and just days before his death.
So I invite you to reflect on
some of the feelings associated with Holy Week.
(Pause)

Let’s imagine we have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
We begin by listening again to Matthew's story:
to Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, his own city,
to encourage the people to see
and experience God in new ways.

The Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 21:1-4, 6-11 (NRSV)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage,
at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately
you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her;
untie them and bring them to me.

‘If anyone says anything to you, just say this: The Lord needs them.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
they brought the donkey and the colt,
and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem,
the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
The crowds were saying,
“This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Silence

Gong sounded once
Reflection 1
v2  Jesus dared to live God’s way
in the midst of all the 'ups' and 'downs' of life.
We too are called to proclaim our faith faithfully
by the way we live, and treat one another.
Silence

Gong sounded a second time
Reflection 2
v3  Jesus wanted his disciples to live passionate,
justice seeking, God centred lives.
Silence

Gong sounded a third time
Reflection 3
v4  Jesus, as human face of God, shared his life
that others might sense the new signs of hope
in their everyday lives.
Silence

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) Some specific resources on Terrorism HERE
(iv) On Wonder, Awe, and Nature HERE

Hymn/Song  The people stand as they are able, to sing
Creative Love”  (Tune: 'Truth from Above’, LM)                                                                    289 SLT
Creative love, our thanks we give
that this our world, is incomplete,
that struggle greets our will to live,
that work awaits our hands and feet.

That we are not yet fully wise,
that we are in the making still -
as friends who share one enterprise
and strive to blend with nature's will.

What though the future long delay,
and still with faults we daily cope?
It gives us that for which we pray,
a field for toil and faith and hope.

Since what we choose is what we are,
and what we love we yet shall be,
the goal may ever shine afar -
the will to reach it makes us free.  (WdeW Hyde)
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
We come together as a community of faith.
We have gathered to talk,
and listen to, and care for each other.
All  
We acknowledged this is a privileged time.

Here we share a new covenant of promise and hope.
Our fears melt into awe and wonder before God.
Our failures become opportunities for learning.
All  So let us share and celebrate this life we live.

Act of Awareness
When, in the bursting forth of a new day's truths,
we feel the unbinding of what once stood fast,
might we recognise the freedom upon which
we are invited to embark
and feel ourselves released
into a future of goodness, truth, and beauty.

We open ourselves to this possibility
with love for the ground upon which we walk
and the stars for which we reach.  (Gretta Vosper/wab)

OR

We pray:
Spirit of life, we gather grateful for
the companionship of hearts and minds
seeking to speak the truth in love.

And we gather grateful for the gift of life itself,
mindful that to respect life means both
to celebrate what life is
and to insist on what it can become. 
M S Milner/adapt
May it be so.

Hymn/Song  For the Music of Creation”                                                                            41 AA
For the music of creation,
for the song your Spirit sings,
for your sound's divine expression,
burst of joy in living things:
God, our God, the worlds composer,
hear us, echoes of your voice:
music is your art, your glory,
let the human heart rejoice!

Psalms and symphonies exalt you,
drum and trumpet, string and reed,
simple melodies acclaim you,
tunes that rise from deepest need,
hymns of longing and belonging,
carols from a cheerful throat,
lilt of lullaby and lovesong
catching heaven in a note.

All the voices of the ages
in transcendent chorus meet,
worship lifting up the senses,
hands that praise and dancing feet;
over discord and division
music speaks your joy and peace,
harmony of earth and heaven,
song of God that cannot cease! 
Shirley Erena Murray
The people sit after the hymn

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

Meditation
“Prayer of the Leaves”
By Andrew Hill

Trees of Earth
let bud your leaves
let them open wide
let them gently fall
in annual cycle.

Let fallen leaves make a soft bed for Jesus at his birth
and may leafy humus make renewal of our humanity.

Forgive us our inhumanity and
may your dark branches break forth into bud and leaf to Creation’s praise
again, and
again, and
again,
forever.

OR

Today we begin the walk to Jerusalem
The holy week
The demand that we face the darkness, the broken path, the abuse of power.

Today we walk toward the dayspring breaking through,
The Easter day of joy.

So let us join together
To see what holiness resides within and about us
To welcome in the day

And make straight the path for the work of God. (Adapt/Daniel Kanter)

Centering Silence
Let silence be placed around us now, like a mantle.
During this quiet time may we move
from busy-ness to quietness...
(Silence)

May we look with gratitude upon this day,
for the beauty of the world,
for the first radiance of dawn
and the last smoldering glow of sunset.

May we be appreciative above all
for the countless other blessings present in our lives.
(Silence)

EXPLORING

Wisdom from our Religious Traditions
Some notes and a story from our broad religious tradition
shall be read by (NN) and (NN).

Reader:  May we be struck by the wisdom of these words
and marked by hearing them.
All  For within story lies meaning, and
within meaning, the wisdom for which we seek. 
(Gretta Vosper/ab)

“Colour of Beauty” (Part 6a) - Green
Extracts from John O’Donohue. Divine Beauty. The Invisible Embrace

While yellow reveals the outer joy and kindness of light, the workings of light have entered more deeply into the colour green.
Green is the colour of growth, the colour of hope.

As winter begins to relent, the first green buds appear.
Against the bare barks of tree and bush they seem out of place, some kind of mistake.
Yet these infant spots of green secretly hold all the fabulous dressage of the spring, summer and autumn colour yet to appear.

Green is the colour of youthfulness; it is full of spring energy.
It is the colour of the earth flourish.
Green is not static but full of the energy and direction of growth, urgent on its journey towards the light…

Green is the colour of relentless desire.
Even from under earth smothered over with concrete or tarmacadam, the green blade will rise…
You can find a green blade anywhere - the minuscule crevice or on top of ancient ruins way above the ground,
or growing in little indentations on top of massive rocks.

If you are celebrating Passion Sunday, then the following continues the “Colour of Beauty” theme…

“Colour of Beauty” (Part 6b) - Red
Extracts from John O’Donohue. Divine Beauty. The Invisible Embrace

The night breaks when the red fire of dawn is kindled and the world glows again in the beauty of colour. Of all colours, red is perhaps the most passionate and intense. Red is never neutral. When red is present, something is happening: red is for danger.

It is not a colour that dwells in some secure middle region where rest and stillness prevail. Red is a threshold colour; it tends to accompany and intensify beginnings and endings. Red is also the colour of birth and is probably the colour in which the universe was born… Our earth was born in a red fire.

Despite its solid outer surface, the heart of the earth is a wild fire-dance of red magma. When a volcano erupts we begin to understand that ground is only vaguely solid. The torrential red rivers that flow from a volcano reveal what a tenuous foundation ground is. Underneath the surface of the land and beneath the floor of the oceans, there is no solid stone-like foundation. The earth is grounded on a primordial red ocean. 

If it was red at the origin and is red at the root, it is somehow natural that the intense threshold experiences of life are often accompanied by the colour red.

OR

“Eccentric Tree”
by Diana Butler Bass (2016)

Eccentric tree,
lofty and lithe:
shadeless rod with
roughened fronds—
misfit wood.

You alone from forests of arborial majesty
offered expectant masses
sacred fans for fervid alleluias
and carpeting grace.

Gazing from holy height
Did you join the song?
Or bow in the holy breeze As the One rode by?

Perhaps in doing so, you redeemed your race:
For another of your kin, a more mundane timber, gave stake and beam,
But you gifted glory.

(Do not use again if using Option 1 above)
Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 21:1-4, 6-11
(NRSV)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage,
at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately
you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her;
untie them and bring them to me.

‘If anyone says anything to you, just say this: The Lord needs them.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
they brought the donkey and the colt,
and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

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

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Litany: "Waving the Palms" (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

Palm Sunday is found:
Mn   whenever we are serving a noble and unpopular cause with selfless devotion,
holding to the ideals of truth and justice;

Wm   whenever we are seeking to uplift the fallen,
to comfort the broken-hearted,
to strengthen and encourage the weak and hopeless;

Mn   whenever we are working bravely and persistently
in the face of abuse and criticism