Christmas2B.3.1.2021

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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Suggestion:
’Refresh’ each page before reading to make sure to get my latest edition

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

“There is a need for the religious traditions… to appreciate that the primary sacred community
is the universe itself, and that every other community
becomes sacred by participation in this primary community.”


3 January 2021. Christmas 2B. (White).

Worth Pondering
“The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder
is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe
but a will to wonder”
(Abraham Heschel)

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 gather 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/Video

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

"Let there be light!"
Let it shine in dark places, in moments of pain,
in times of grief,
in the darkness of hatred, violence, oppression,
where there is discouragement and despair.

Wherever darkness is to be put to flight,
"Let there be light!"
  G McKeeman

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
"God Given Energy, Flaring and Fiery" (Tune: ‘Spean’, 11.10.11.10)
God given energy, flaring and fiery,
stella collisions of fury and pace;
shafts of the light from the cosmic conception
searing to earth from infinity's space.

Stars from eternity, driven by forces
formed at the birthing of matter and time;
mystical sinews restraining the planets,
elegant science and God's hidden rhyme;

These are the visions of wonder and rapture,
signs of significance, pointers to place,
drawing us out from our narrow discernment,
windows to love and God's infinite grace. 
© Andrew Pratt

OR

This Land of Bursting Sunrise(Tune: ‘Andujar’, 76.86D)                                              82 SLT
This land of bursting sunrise,
all lavender and blue,
its cloud-strewn, light-swept day skies flow,
and every day renew.
To east the glow of dawning,
to west the blaze of night,
‘round all the long horizon’s rim,
the everlasting light!

This land of open vistas,
life rooted deep and free,
the canyoned plains, the mountains vast,
plumb earth’s immensity.
Here in life’s fragile balance,
the sun and stars above,
find hand in hand, and heart to heart,
the everlasting love. (John H Holmes)
Remain standing after the hymn

Opening Sentences
Take from life its coals, not its ashes.
Fan the flames of love and justice.
All  
Join hands and hearts in common endeavour.

And there will be no limit
All  to what we can achieve together.
  L S Sheridan

OR

Come, let us gather in this sacred yet ordinary place
Knowing every place is sacred
Where we find peace or energy
Where beauty flourishes
Where we share body, mind and heart…
All   Come, let us gather in this sacred place (Adapt.Bronwyn Angela White, 2001).

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:
Creative Spirit of life and love, we have gathered in this sacred place,
at the start of a new year.
May we continue to create here a circle of love,
ever expanding,
ever growing.

A place of wisdom.
A place of connection.
A place of hope.
May it be so.
The people sit

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.
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book.

CENTERING

Centering Silence
          Centering silence has its roots in the earliest of monastic traditions of the ‘desert Fathers (abbas)/Mothers (ammas)’
          and the Christian mystic tradition… 
Relaxing into ‘quietness’ creates the space for deep listening and draws you into yourself

Let silence be placed around us now, like a beach towel.
(Silence)

May this towel of silence become a cloak of understanding
to warm our hearts and cool our body,
this day, this week, this new year.
(Silence)

Music of Reflection

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: Into the silence of our hopes and dreams,
words work upon us to break, crack, open us
to new understanding.
All
 May we experience, in these words,
a seeking after truth, that we may lift ourselves
to this same desire.
  (Gretta Vosper/ab)

• “Hearts to Understanding”
Gretta Vosper. We All Breathe/46. (*Additional words: RAEHunt)

How complex the world has become
and how brittle the language with which we describe it.
Each snowflake, each hibernating animal, *each laughing kookaburra,
each step, each brain, each planet,
can be measured, weighed, examined.
So it is that we place them, carefully,
within our realm of knowledge.

Beyond the tools we would use for examination,
may we seek out ways to contemplate,
to consider, to appreciate
each person, each thing, each moment
into which we come in contact.

And may the movement of our thoughts
from matter to meaning,
move not only our minds,
but our hearts to understanding.

As those who would celebrate beauty,
we seek its hidden sources.

OR

• “Meditation for New Year”
By Dennis McCarty. Thoughts from a Gentle Athiest

Who makes the world anew each day?
Who names things? Who names the heat of the summer’s afternoon,
The cold and dark of winter,
The falling, leaping, singing, skeleton leaves of autumn?
Who names the budding, glowing, rising, damp, rich wonder of spring?
No copouts, now, my friend! Own up! Confess! It’s you.
Yours is the eye of the beholder.
Yours is the voice, the pen, the measuring intellect,
Naming, building, seeking, formulating in the face of the cosmos.
Yours are the hands which join the corners, bolt the pieces,
Reach toward the heavens,
Bind the stars together in constellations and chemistry.
The world is yours to touch, yours to seek: a power not to squander thoughtlessly.
Because what I want to know is:
What are you going to do to make the future better than the past?

• John 1:1-5, 9-10  (Scholars Version)

In the beginning there was the divine word and wisdom.
The divine word and wisdom was there with God, and it was what God was.

It was there with God from the beginning.

Everything came to be by means of it;
nothing that exists came to be without its agency.

In it was life, and this life was the light of humanity.

Light was shining in darkness, and darkness did not overpower it…
Genuine light - the kind that provides light for everyone
- was coming into the world.

Although it was in the world, and the world came about
through its agency, the world did not recognize it.

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

CELEBRATING

Litany: ‘Spirit of Life’ (Optional)
At the beginning of a new year, and in response to the word reflected on,
let us stand and share a special litany.
The people stand as they are able

Out of the ordinariness of the bare earth,
has been brought the extraordinariness of human life.
All  The spirit of Creativity God lives within us.

In the ordinariness of the bare earth
we plant seed from last year's flower gardens.
All  The spirit of Creativity God lives within the gardens.

Out of the ordinariness of water
comes the life of the seed.
All  The spirit of Creativity God lives within the water.

In human life and in the life of the ‘bush capital’
lies the life of this community.
All  The spirit of Creativity God lives within this community.

From the life of Creativity God
comes life and community and recreation.
All  In the beginning was Creativity God...
(Inspired by Pam Wyley/grpe)

OR

"Meditation for a New Year
By Amanda Poppei

v1  My friends, we have arrived.
We are here, in this new year.
We have crossed the boundary of time, into the next year,
with all its resolutions and plans and schedules ahead of us.

v2  Let us pause, for just this moment, before we move boldly onward.
Let us pause to hear the breathing of those around us,
to feel their presence in this room.
To know their presence in our lives.

v3  Let us pause to consider the trees, their branches in full leaf,
offering shade and comfort to all who seek it from the hot sun.

Let us pause to feel the spirit of life and love that ties us to each other,
that winds its way through our very bones and settles in our hearts. 

v1  Before we march forward, armed with resolutions
that will shortly be forgotten in the day-to-day of living,
let us notice what it is that remains every year, every day.
v3  What exists beyond schedules and months, beyond time.
All  It welcomes us to life, 
not just at the start of the year, but every day
. (Adapted)

Sharing 'The peace'
Let us take a moment to celebrate each other.

May a heart of peace rest with you. (DGalston/q)
All  And also with you
You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours

OR

Namaste
Facing the person with right hand on your heart and a slight bow of the head…

The Divine in me honours the Divine in you.
OR

The Light in me recognises the Light in you.
OR

The spirit within me sees the spirit within you.

Hymn/Song  People stand as they are able, to sing
“Spirit Who Broods” (Tune: ‘Song to the Spirit’)                                                             126 AA
Spirit who broods,
Spirit who sings,
mothering bird,
peace in your wings,
Refrain:
Come from within,
come make us one,
come and renew
the face of the earth.

Spirit of truth,
laser and light
searching the path,
seeking the right,
Refrain:

Spirit of love
larger than law,
quick to forgive,
keeping no score,
Refrain:

Spirit of hope
never subdued,
Spirit of God,
Spirit of Good,
(Shirley Erena Murray)
Refrain:

Offerings

Presentation
The riches of the divine word and wisdom have been entrusted to us.
May we share these symbols of creativity
with all who walk with us, in caring service.

AFFIRMING

In Solidarity
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:
We turn to Life, to that vast creativity

All  that empowers the universe
as the ocean animates the wave,


seeking to let go of that which blocks our healing.

All  May we open ourselves even now

to the wonder of Life
.

And so we take this 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 new possibilities of the now.

The 'Abba Prayer:  (Optional)
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, and in your original language, as appropriate

All  O God, you love us like a good parent,
and are present in every aspect of our existence
May your nature become known and respected by all
May your joy, peace, wholeness and justice 
be the reality for everyone
as we live by the Jesus Way

Give us all that we really need to live every day for you
And forgive us our failures as we forgive others for their failures
Keep us from doing those things which are not of you,
and cause us always to be centred on your love

For you are the true reality in this our now,
and in all our future.
In the Jesus Way we pray.  Amen
D Sorrill

SCATTERING

Hymn/Song People stand as they are able, to sing
God of Dawn” 
(Tune: ‘Abbot’s Leigh, 87.87D)
God of dawn, each day’s renewal
brings the world into your light.
As your sun defeats the shadows,
drives away the darkest night:
we would greet this new beginning
as your call to start again,
lead us on with hope and courage,
make your will and purpose plain.

Christ, you walked the world as we do,
knew its human pain and loss.
As your love broke through the barriers
by your death upon the cross;
we still speak your gospel message,
though two thousand years have gone.
Help us now translate its meaning
in this present world of wrong.

Holy Spirit, inspiration,
light and truth and root of prayer,
as your challenge moves us forward
taking us we know not where:
we will follow your direction,
though the way may not be clear.
Shape us, change, recreate us,
so the future holds no fear.
Remain standing

Parting Words
As we prepare to leave this sacred space where we have been together,
let us return to our homes and our work,
enlivened and renewed...
The candle is extinguished

v2  There is a season for everything in creation
Le  A time for dying and a time for rebirth.
Ri  A time for laughter and a time for tears.
Le  A time for courage and a time for fear.
Ri  A time to talk and a time to be still.
Le  A time alone.  A time for romance.
Ri  A time to welcome and to send away.
Le  A time to break rules.  A time to behave.
Ri  A time to search and a time to find.
Le  A time to begin…
Ri  and a time to end.  
(Miriam T Winter-adapt/wpws)

v2 There is a season for everything in creation.

Words of Blessing
The blessing of God:
star maker,
friend maker,
wisdom maker,
make and remake you in the image of God 
(Ruth Burgess/bb).
All  
Amen. May it be so.

Hymn/Song (Cont) God of Dawn”  (Tune: ‘Abbot’s Leigh, 87.87D)
Praise to God, who spoke creation,
giving life to time and space.
Praise to Christ, whose living presence
showed the world your human face.
Praise the Spirit, daily witness
to you ever-loving way.
Take us now and reawake us,
challenge us to use this day.
 
Marj Dobson/mcm
The people sit after the hymn/Song

'This Week' at (NN)
Notices
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Significant Events
Journey Candles

Music

Fellowship
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

Please include any reproduction of hymns/songs for local church use
on your Music Licence returns, as appropriate


Some of the Resources used in Shaping this Liturgy:
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa.
 Hymns and Songs for all Churches Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1993.
Burgess, R.
A Book of Blessings. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
Dobson, M. Multi-coloured Maze. Drama, Hymns, Prayers and Poems for Worship and Everyday Living London. Stainer & Bell, 2004.
Funk, R. W. & R. W. Hoover.
The Five Gospels. The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. New York. MacMillan Press, 1993.
Liebelt, P. & N. Nicholls. (ed). Gentle Rain on Parched Earth. Worship Resources for Rural Situations. Melbourne. JBCE, 1996.
McCarty, D. Thoughts from a Gentle Atheist. Religious Readings for the Skeptical. USA. Dennis McCarty, 2019.
(SLT) Singing The Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Vosper, G.
We All Breathe. Poems and Prayers. Toronto: PostPurgical Resources, 2012.
Vosper, G.
Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.
White, B. A.
You Who Delight Me. Words of Spirit and Faith. Wellington: Steele Roberts Publishers, 2012.
Winter, Miriam T.
Women Prayer. Women Song. Resources for Ritual. Hartford. Meyer Stone Books, 1987.

Web sites/Other:
McKeeman, Sorrill, Sheridan, Poppei. UUA Worship Web. Boston. UUA. < www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
"God Given Energy". Andrew Pratt. eMail distribution direct from the author. UK.
David Galston . Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/ 

rexae74@gmail.com