Epiphany3B.24.1.2021

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
24 January 2021. Epiphany 3B. (Green).
Celebrating the Jesus Banquet

Worth Pondering
“Evolution is too often portrayed as a progression, a sequence.
But the bedrock beneath Earth’s tectonic plates is constantly moving,
the climate is constantly changing, ocean and land
have swapped locations repeatedly”
(Paul R. Fleischman)

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

We are the sisters and brothers of all that is,
cherishing the earth,
embracing its life.

So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

As we light our flame today, may it:
remind us of the ongoing process of evolution,
reminding us of the first gasping breath, the first clumsy step,
the first drop of warm milk, the first curious thought…

All these are wonders of the Universe.  (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 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 of the Northerlies"  (Tune: ‘Matangi’ 10.10.6.10)                                                       45 HoS
God of the northerlies, giver of grace;
warm and enveloping, fill every place.
Nurture the earth, water the seeds.
God of the northerlies, fulfil our needs.

Christ of the easterlies, life-giving Son;
earthly, renewing, in you we are one.
Hope is reborn, changing our hearts.
Christ of the easterlies, your peace impart.

Spirit of westerlies, gust through our lives;
shaking, disturbing the scheme we devise.
Teach us your truth, gift us your word,
God of the westerlies, faithfulness stirred.

God of the southerlies, polar defined,
crisply and sharply reshaping our minds.
Challenge our ways, strengthen our wills.
God of the southerlies, your love fulfils.

God of the north and the east, south and west,
*Creative Process, by whom we are blest,
breeze through our lives, earnest and strong;
Spirit, keep blowing and lure us along.  (Bill Bennett/*Last verse adapted, RAEH)

OR

Morning, So Fair To See(Tune: ‘Schonster herr Jesu’, 66.96.68)                                 42 SLT
Morning, so fair to see,
night, veiled in mystery –
glorious the earth and resplendent skies!
Pilgrims, we march along,
singing our joyous song,
as through an earthly paradise.

Tall are the verdant trees;
deep are the flashing seas;
glorious each wonder the seasons bring.
Brighter is faith’s surmise,
singing in pilgrim eyes,
from which our waking spirits spring.

Age after age we rise,
‘neath the eternal skies,
into the light from the shadowed past:
still shall our pilgrim song,
buoyant and brave and strong,
resound while life and mountains last.  (Vincent B Silliman)
Remain standing after hymn/song

Opening Sentences
God, who sets us on a journey
to discover, dream and grow,
All  
stir the spirit, stretch our minds,
grant the vision that we lack.

Exploration brings new insights, changes,
choices we must face;
All  give us wisdom in deciding,
give us courage for the journey,
cherish only what's essential,
All 
there can be no turning back.  (Adapt./Jill Dine/ffs)

Act of Awareness
If we can see what is happening today,
we will know much about the past and the future.
But if we can see the people with whom we live,
we will know much about humanity.  (Adapt.Kenneth L Patton/sscl)

OR

We pray:
Excite our hearts and minds, Creative Life Source,
to trace new truths,
to catch creation's flair,
and to live within the contexts of compassion and care.
May it be so with us.

Hymn/Song  "Arms Only For Embracing"
My child, I want a world for you
we have not had before
where people build community
and no-one thinks of war,
where people use their arms only for embracing.

My child, I see a world that's just
where all can dwell secure,
a world where need and hunger cease
'cause people help the poor,
and want to use their arms only for embracing.

My child, I wish you could grow up
untouched by greed and hate,
within a world community
that's whole and unafraid,
since people use their arms only for embracing.

My child, I want to rest assured
that after I am gone,
more generations fill the earth
and life continues on,
'cause people use their arms only for embracing...

We ought to use our arms only for embracing.  (Ingrid Rogers)

OR

Where Wide Sky Rolls Down”  (Tune: ‘Hanover’, 55.55.65.65)                                 188 TiS
Where wide sky rolls down and touches red sand,
where sun turns to gold the grass of the land,
let spinifex, mulga and waterhole tell
their joy in the One who made everything well.

Where rain-forest calm meets reef, tide and storm,
where green things grow lush and oceans are warm,
let every sea-creature and tropical bird
exult in the light of the life-giving Word.

Where red gum and creek cross hillside and plain,
where cool tree-ferns rise to welcome the rain,
let bushland, farm, mountain-top, all of their days
delight in the Spirit who formed them for praise.

Now, people of faith, come gather around
with songs to be shared, for blessings abound!
Australians, whatever your culture or race, 
come, lift up your hearts to the Giver of grace.  
Elizabeth J Smith
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.
Fellowship hour following the Gathering

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

Now, in the quiet of this day and the safety of this place
we take this moment to sit in silence:
to give thanks for another day;
to give thanks for all those in our lives
who have brought us warmth and love;
and to give thanks for the gift of life.
(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 this day will break moments of awareness,
tiny shards of light that illumine
the whole reality of existence.
All  
May these readings be such a moment
and may we be blessed by their gift. 
(Gretta Vosper/ab)

• The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

• Mark 1:21-28  (Inclusive Text)

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum and as soon as the sabbath came
Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach.

And the teaching made a deep impression on them
because, unlike the scribes, Jesus taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was someone
possessed with an unclean spirit, and it shouted,
'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are: the Holy One of God.'

But Jesus said sharply, 'Be quiet!  Come out!’
And the unclean spirit threw the person into convulsions
and with a loud cry went out.

The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant.
'Here is a teaching that is new' they said, and
'with authority behind it: this teacher gives orders
even to unclean spirits and they obey.'

And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere,
through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

FYI: Some notes on Capernaum
While we cannot be sure how long his public activity lasted, Capernaum seems to have been the base for Jesus' activities prior to his final trip to Jerusalem.  John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001) devote several pages to a discussion of Capernaum in the First Century (pp. 81-97).  The most salient features to note are as follows:

• POPULATION: around 1,000 persons on 25 acres of land

• BUILDINGS: none of the Greco-Roman architecture of a significant urban center: no gates, no defensive fortifications, no civic structures (theater, amphitheater, hippodrome), no public bathhouse, no public latrine, no basilica for civic gatherings or commercial activities, no constructed agora (market) with shops and storage facilities

• STREETS: no sign of planning in layout of streets, no streets appear to have been paved, no channels for running water, sewage disposed on the site, no plaster surfaces, no decorative fresco, no marble of any kind, no ceramic roof tiles (contra Luke 5:19)

• INSCRIPTIONS: none from 1C or earlier have been found

• HOUSES: used local dark basalt, crooked wooden beams, straw, reeds, mud.  Poor quality of construction.  No evidence of skilled craftsmen.  Mostly single storey and with thatched roofs (as implied in Mark's version of Jesus healing a paralyzed man).  Several abutting rooms centered around a courtyard, usually just a single entrance

• BOATS: lakeside location supported a fishing industry, but town shows no evidence of wealth.  The discovery of a 1C fishing boat in 1986 (during a drought that lowered the water level) confirms the impression of a community struggling to survive but with considerable ingenuity in making the most of limited resources

Dr Greg Jenks also writes: In one of his classic turns of phrase, Crossan describes Capernaum as "not a sought-after spot, but a good place to get away from, with easy access across the Sea of Galilee to any side." (p. 81)

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

Epiphany Litany (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and share together an Epiphany litany.
The people stand as they are able

v1  There is a song in the air
v2  There is a star in the heavens
v3  There is a lowly stable
All  There is a child to meet.

v1  Let us bring our gifts
v2  Let us honour this child
v3  Let us follow the light coming from where he sleeps
All  Let us seek blessings for our journey 
through the wilderness.

v1  May we be held in the palm of God’s hand
v2  May we keep the light before us
v3  May we know the gift that the Christ Child gives to us
All  May we know the love of the Messiah in our journeying!
(Unknown)

OR

The Canberra Affirmation  (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and affirm and celebrate some common understandings
which continue to shape our lives, as
expressed in The Canberra Affirmation...
People stand, as they are able

v1  We celebrate that our lives are continually evolving
in a web of relationships:
continuous with historical humans and their societies;
with other forms of life;
and with the ‘creativity’ present at the origins of the universe.
All  Over billions of years this ‘creativity’ –
the coming into being of the new and the novel –
has undergone countless transformations,
and we and all other life forms are its emerging products.

Thus we are called to live in community,
All  respecting all human beings, all life forms,
our planet and universe.

v2  We affirm there is a presentness in the midst of our lives,
sensed as both within and beyond ourselves,
which can transform our experiences of this earth and each other.
All  Various imaginative ideas have been used
to describe this presentness:
‘God’, ‘Sacred’, ‘Love’, ‘Spirit of Life’.

We recognise all attempts at understanding
and attributing meaning are shaped
by prevailing thoughts and culture.
All  Ultimately our response can only be as awe-inspiring mystery
beyond the limits of our ability to understand
our world and ourselves.

v1  We honor the one called Jesus,
a first century Galilean Jewish sage,
nurtured by his religious tradition.
All  A visionary and wisdom teacher, he invited others
through distinctive oral sayings and parables about
integrity, justice, and inclusiveness,
and an open table fellowship,
to adopt and trust a re-imagined vision
of the ‘sacred’, of one’s neighbour, of life.

v1 As we too share in this vision,
All  we affirm the significance of his life and teachings,
while claiming to be ‘followers of Jesus’.

v2 We receive the Hebrew and Christian scriptures
known as the Bible, as a collection of human documents
rich in historical memory and religious interpretation,
All  which describe attempts to address
and respond to the ‘sacred’.
It forms an indispensable part of our tradition
and personal journeys.

v2  We claim the right and responsibility
to question and interpret its texts,
empowered by critical biblical scholarship
as well as from our own life experiences.
All  We accept that other sources - stories, poems and songs -
imaginative pictures of human life both modern and ancient,
can nurture us and others,
in a celebration of the ‘sacred’ in life.

v1  We recognise there are many paths to the ‘sacred’.
All  We respect the diversity and pluralism of truth-claims,
often in the midst of serious disagreement.

v1  In and with this diversity we honor the integrity
and meaning of each religious tradition
and the people who practice them.
All  We reject all attempts to convert others
to any fixed body of belief which they would not come to
through their own open, free,
and considered explorations.

v2  We acknowledge that a transformative path
of inclusion and integrity involves living
responsible and compassionate lives
in community with others.
All  Such a path asks us to adopt values supporting
social equality and connectedness.

v2  It entails non-violent peacemaking and considered forgiveness.
All  It invites passion and action for social justice,
and stewardship of the earth and all its life forms.

v2  It encourages humour, challenge, and acts of generosity.
All  At its centre is an awareness of oneness:
one with the ‘sacred’,
with ourselves,
with others,
with the universe.  
(Hunt & Smith/wwwt)

OR

If celebrating Australia Day:
Litany for Australia
The people stand as they are able

Come to us, Creating God,
as the One who walks the way of ordinary people.
All   Come to us,
as the One who weeps over the city.

Come to us,
as the One who deeply understands
the paradox of life which rises from death.
All   Come to us, in a language of grace
that we may approach you
in vulnerable hope.

Give us new life
if the old has been destroyed in us.
All  Give us openness
if we have closed our hearts to your future.

Give us courage, if we tread this land
in fear of bringing our gifts.
All  Give us wisdom, when we forget to listen
to the learnings of our history.

Give us joy
when we see the breadth of your imagination
expressed in the differences between us.
All  Differences of race and culture,
differences of history and journey,
differences in our experience of you.

Bind us together as those
who feel your love under our feet
in the warmth of this, our holy ground.
All  Dance within our life, O Spirit of God,
that we may be transformed by your eternal passion
for making all things new.
(Dorothy McRae-McMahon/bst)

Some information on Indigenous disadvantage HERE

Sharing 'The Peace'
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

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
Great God Of All Creation(Tune: ‘King Lynn’, 76.76D)
Great God of all creation,
bright as the morning sun,
our dawning praise is rising,
our daily work begun.
A quiet blade is growing,
up from the rich, dark earth,
the life that once was hidden
is springing into birth.

The land is always changing,
it bears our human mark,
idyllic scenes are hiding
a life that's hard and stark.
A lack of understanding
of all we do and share,
obscures the deprivation
that's hardly hidden there.

We work within the compass