Christmas1B.27.12.2020

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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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
27 December 2020. Christmas 1B. (White).

Worth Pondering
“To wonder is to perceive with reverence and love…
and in wondering we come close to the feeling
that the earth is holy”
(Sam Keen)

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

Gathering Music

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 Video 

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

May this flame remind us of the light of wisdom.
May the warmth of its glow remind us
of the warmth of God's everlasting love.  
(Adapt.VMarshall)

OR

We light this chalice/candle on the brink of a new year
All  Letting go of what has been
Open and hopeful for what may come
All  Renewed, restored, ready
To live Life fully anew
All  May we move forward with intention.  (Lois Van Leer/uuww)

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

Hymn/Song  The people stand as they are able, to sing
“God the Weaver”  (Tune: ‘Picardy’, 87.87.87)
God the weaver, making patterns,
spinning threads throughout our days -
Joy and sadness interwoven,
strands of sorrow, strands of praise.
Help us to discern your weaving
in the multi-coloured maze.

Teach us, Lord, to trust your guidance
when the pattern is not clear,
and to feel your strength and comfort
when life's fabric's torn by fear.
Help us sense that in the dark times
Lightening love is always near.

When we see the pattern changing
and a new direction starts,
let us know your love unbroken
winds through life in all its parts
by the threads of love and friendship
closely woven in our hearts.

Though we never see the picture
with your sense of space and time,
help us, Lord, to take our places
in our faith's continuing line,
as all lives are interwoven
in your final grand design.
© Marjorie Dobson/mm
Remain standing after the hymn

Opening Sentences
Spirit of life, bring to us beauty.
All  
The beauty of coloured wild flowers and ripened fruit.

Bring to us strength.
All  The strength of torrents of rainfilled rivers
and the quiet strength of a gum tree’s roots,
pushing deep into the ground for nourishment.

Bring to us pleasure.
All  The pleasures of maple syrup on pancakes
and the wind grabbing a kite and taking it high.

Bring to us wisdom.
All  The knowledge that new life springs up without help.
In spite of everything we do or do not do.

Spirit of life, come to us that all the
energy and power of the seasons of the year
will make us tall and smiling and expectant.

Act of Awareness
Silently a flower blooms.
In silence it falls away.

Yet here now, in this moment, at this place,
the world of the flower,
the whole of the world is blooming.

This is the talk of the flower,
the truth of the blossom:
the glory of eternal life is fully shining here.  (Adapt. Zenkei Shinayama/lp)

OR

We pray:
Spinner, weaver of our lives, your loom is love.
May we who are gathered here be empowered by that love
to weave new patterns of truth and justice into a web of life
that is strong, beautiful, and everlasting.
(Adapt.BWells)
May it be so.

Hymn/Song  We Are Not Our Own”  (Tune: ‘Nexus’, 89.85)                                          317 SLT
We are not our own.  Earth forms us,
human leaves on nature's growing vine,
fruit of many generations,
seeds of life divine.

We are not alone.  Earth names us:
past and present, peoples near and far,
family and friends and strangers
show us who we are.

Therefore let us make thanksgiving,
and with justice, willing and aware,
give to earth, and all things living,
liturgies of care.

Let us be a house of welcome,
living stone upholding living stone,
gladly showing all our neighbours
we are not our own!  (Brian Wren)

Welcome
In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are gathering here 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.

CENTERING

Recognising the Sacred
As we gather together for the last time this year
and in these seasons of Christmas, New Year, and Summer,
may we give thanks for the past,
and celebrate the future, yet unknown,
which shall be woven out of our possibilities and realities,
our hopes and our fears.

v4  Now the earth was formless and empty and
the shadow of a breath caressed the surface.
And the emptiness quivered with potential
and life became known…
A rope circle ‘world’ is placed on the floor of the celebration space

v5  The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.
From it we have learned most of what we know.
Recently, we have waded a little out to sea,
enough to dampen our toes or, at most, wet our ankles.

The water seems inviting.  The ocean calls (Carl Sagan).

Silence

People stand and face the North
v1  We turn to face the direction North
the season of Summer and the element of water,
and search it for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2  The gift of the North is love,
for it speaks of great endurance.

Love offers us, above all else, the power of strength in adversity.

v1  May we hold love in our hearts…
All  May we hold love in our hearts…
and bring to our future the gentle power
of strength in adversity.
All  and bring to our future the gentle power
of strength in adversity.

v3  We bring blue, colour of water,
stronger than any obstacle, and place love
in our circle, the world.
A blue ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

Silence

People turn right and face the East
v1  We turn to face East, the direction of the rising sun,
the season of Spring and the element of air,
and search it for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2  The gift of the East is wisdom.
In the morning light we can see and know
and understand more clearly.
it speaks of the breath of new life on earth.

Wisdom offers us, above all else, the confidence
to know ourselves more fully.

v1  May we hold wisdom before us and with it...
All  May we hold wisdom before us and with it...
bring to our future the confidence to know
ourselves more fully.
All  bring to our future the confidence to know
ourselves more fully.

v3  We bring white, colour of air, wrapping all life,
and place wisdom
in our circle, the world.
A white ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

Silence

People turn right and face the South
v1  We turn to the South, the direction of Winter
and the element of earth,
and search if for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2  The gift of the South is mystery, for,
in the silent darkness of the earth, possibility
stretches toward its future light.

Mystery offers us, above all else, the courage to dream
and wait and dream again.

v1  May we hold mystery in our depths of our being...
All  May we hold mystery in our depths of our being...
v1  and bring to our future the courage to dream
and wait and dream again.
All  and bring to our future the courage to dream
and wait and dream again.

v3  We bring green, colour of the earth,
fertile with possibility, and place mystery
in our circle, the world.
A green ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

Silence

The people turn right and face West
v1  We turn to the West the place of the setting sun,
the season of autumn and the element of fire,
and search if for a blessing we might carry into that future.
v2  The gift of the West is beauty,
for it speaks of great peace and serenity.

Beauty offers us, above all else, the freedom to live
in wonder and gratitude.

v1  May we carry beauty in our lives...
All  May we carry beauty in our lives...
v1  and bring to our future the freedom
to live in wonder and gratitude.
All  and bring to our future the freedom
to live in wonder and gratitude
.

v3  We bring red, colour of fire, dancing
and casting light, and place beauty
in our circle, the world.
A red ribbon of cloth is brought forward and placed at a ‘corner’ of the earth rope

v6  Look at this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
the bliss of growth,
the glory of action,
the spendour of beauty.

For yesterday is but a dream,
and tomorrow is only a vision,
but today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day. (Sanskrit/ep)
(MTWinter/wpws. Adapted by GVosper & RHunt for the Common Dreams2 Conference, Melbourne 2010)

EXPLORING

Wisdom from the Religious Traditions
          “Wisdom is not just special knowledge about something. Wisdom is a way of being, a way of inhabiting the world.
          The beauty of wisdom is harmony, belonging and illumination of thought, action, heart and mind.”
(John O’Donohue)

Reader:  The delight of a story well-known fills our hearts
as we listen for its familiar end.
All  May we hear in these stories, familiar and new,
both wisdom and meaning for the days ahead.

• “Each Birth a Revolution”
By Sitar Situmorang. Liturgy of Life/102.

Each birth is a revolution
whether it happened a thousand years ago
or takes place today,
with each birth the world becomes new.

Some are born in a cottage, some in a field,
but wherever a child is born,
in its eyes the world is reflected,
in its cries - Christ is present.

Christ the son of man
was born to renew the world
like every child in the mother's womb
is granted by the Lord at its time.

OR

• "now what"
By Thomas Shuman

now what will you do
with those gifts?

now what will you do
with that love
God has given to you -

to share with those 
you don't like?

now what will you do
with that hope
God put under the tree -

can you pass it on
to a despairing neighbo(u)r?

now what will you do
with that joy 
you didn't expect -

hoard it all for yourself
or hand it to a grieving widow?

now what will you 
do with that grace
God stuck in your stocking -

leave it there
or find the stranger who needs it?

now what will you do
with all that forgiveness
God has given to you
in the Babe -

throw it out
with the wrapping paper
or offer it to the one
who has hurt you so much?

now
that Christmas is over,
what will you do?

• Luke 2: 22-40  (NRSV)

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses,
Jesus’ parents brought him up to Jerusalem to present him, as it is written in the law of the Lord,
“Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”,
and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law,
“a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
this man was righteous and devout,
looking forward to the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus,
to do for him what was customary under the law,
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed
at what was being said about him.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary,
“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be opposed
so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed,
and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
then as a widow to the age of eighty-four.

She never left the temple but worshiped there
with fasting and prayer night and day.

At that moment she came, and began to praise God
and to speak about the child to all