Autumn.Easter2B.11.4.2021

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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Suggestion:
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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

“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”.


11 April 2021.  Easter 2B. (White).
(Celebrating the Season of Autumn)

Worth Pondering
“Questions, not answers, are how science makes progress”
(Stuart Firestein)

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

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

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 Film/Videos

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.
(Silence)

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  People stand as they are able, to sing
God – The Dance” 
(Tune: ‘Camberwell’, 65.65D)
Do we have a picture of what God may be?
Is it one of power and authority?
Does it help inspire more discovery?
Can we think of dancing metaphorically?

God is Love – can help us into Jesus’ mind;
For this Jewish rabbi is a dance, we find
All his life reminds us what love’s all about;
Dancing in the gospels, he would sing and shout.

Jesus shows us dancing in a loving way;
Costly yet fulfilling; never just display;
Sometimes it’s not easy; we may need a prod;
For to dance with Jesus is to dance with God.

Love is never static, always finds a way
To be kind and gentle; to be warm each day;
Like a dance with rhythm, love is never still;
Lightens every burden and prolongs each thrill.

God, the Love Dance, call us – use your energy
To live every moment in a dance with Me.
Dancing solo can be quite a misery.
Dancing with Me helps you find your destiny.  
(© George Stuart 2008)

OR

Where is the Spirit(Tune: ‘Where is the Spirit’, 9.10.9.9)                                                  26 SC
I asked the Earth, “What is the Spirit?”
Here’s what she said to me in hallowed tones:
Here is the Spirit in grandeur deep,
In Nature’s swift flow of sea and stone.

I asked the Sky, “What is the Spirit?”
And she did say to me and all I know:
Here is the Spirit in flying on,
In sailing over all human woe.

I asked the Stars, “What is the Spirit?”
And they did welcome me so knowingly:
Just come up here, see for yourself;
The Spirit shines so, in all we see.  (Daniel Ryan)

Opening Sentences
v1  We live at mystery's edge
watching for a startling luminescence or a word to guide us.
All  
In fragile occurrence the Holy One  presents oneself and we must pause...

v2  Daily, there are glimmers,
reflections of a seamless mercy
revealed in common intricacies.
All  These circles of grace spill out around us
and announce that we are part of this mystery. 
KWehlander/sosob.

v1  We see the presentness of God's beauty
reflected in our communities and in our world.
All  We feel the warmth of God's love
in the autumn sun, the smiles of strangers,
and the hugs of friends.
We sense the fragrance of God's creativity
in the flowers of the garden,
and in the leaves of ash and oak and gum.
All  
May we overcome our mono blandness
and enjoy God's presentness forever.

Act of Awareness
As the sun rises each day in perfect newness,
so may we break upon each new day
with splendour and expectation:
renewed creatures content with reflected radiance
and dirty fingernails. 
 (Nelson-Pallmeyer & Hesla/wsj) 

OR

We pray:
We give thanks for the opportunity we have to worship and celebrate this day.
May we be surrounded with a very real sense
of the presentness of the Source and Sustainer of all that exists
as we spend this time together.

May the Spirit of Wisdom inspire and challenge us.
May it be so.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

The following hymn/reflection brings together as a unit, the spoken and sung word (solo)
Hymn/Song  “Easter People, See The Light!(Tune: ‘Ave Virgo Virginum’)
Easter people, see the light,
new light of this morning!
Myths and mysteries are gone,
brighter suns are dawning!
Empty Cross, display your arms,
all the world embracing,
shed Good Friday shadows now,
dark despair displacing!

(Silence)

Reflection
"Easter Week"
By Gretta Vosper. We All Breathe

v1  This light which bathes the world,
pours from a source so close, so near
and yet we cannot touch it
or fence it in that it not be lost.

This light which shatters darkness
is pieced together, flame by flame,
shining from a thousand sources
but is diminished by the loss of one.
(Silence)

SongEaster People, See The Light!(Tune: ‘Ave Virgo Virginum’)
For the Jesus whom we know
lives in different guises,
and the Spirit is unleashed,
mighty as it rises
through our chaos and our pain,
through all cultures winging
on a flight of health and peace
fresh momentum bringing!
(Silence)

"Easter Week"
By Gretta Vosper. 

v1  This light which fills the furthest corner
brings with it warmth
to fill billions of hearts
and bind them with its common truth.

This light which pulls us toward tomorrow
is carried deep within each of our hearts
and lit by you and me and him and her
and all who live upon this earth.
(Silence)

SongEaster People, See The Light!(Tune: ‘Ave Virgo Virginum’)
Not the sacrificial Lamb,
blood for sins atoning,
nor the gold of chalice cup,
nor a king's enthroning -
God's desire can never be
pictured in this fashion,
but the working out of love,
justice with compassion.
(Silence)

"Easter Week"
By Gretta Vosper. 

v1  This light which is yours and mine to carry
burns only in the hope-filled heart,
the source of all our inspiration
and all the beauty that will ever come to be.
Let it shine
(Silence)

SongEaster People, See The Light!(Tune: ‘Ave Virgo Virginum’)
Leave the loaves that fed the past
now is fresh bread baking,
risen with the Gospel yeast
free and for the taking!
Pour away the wine that sours,
new wine is for tasting,
Easter people, bring the world
to this new world's feasting!  (© Shirley Erena Murray 2010)

OR

Hymn/Song  Big Bang(Tune: ‘Amazing Grace’ or other suitable CM tune)
We seek the source of all that was
of all that is to be;
the ground of being, source of life
that set creation free 


The cataclysmic cosmic force,
God's rollercoaster ride,
may give a glimpse back into time
as particles collide.

For here we watch, observe, compute
and try to understand
the time before we even thought
what physics might demand.

But even if we comprehend
or wonder at these things,
Higgs boson, quasars, pulsars, quarks,
we need the faith God brings.

The test of all we ought to be
is in the common place,
our depth of kindness, strength of love,
that demonstrate God's grace.  © Andrew Pratt 10/9/2008
The people sit

Welcome  
In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are gathering 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 placed on an outside garden

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 us now listen to the silence of this sacred space…
A space made ready for us by willing hands.
(Silence)

Music of Celebration

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:  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)

• Acts of the Apostles 4: 32-35  (Inclusive Text)

The whole group of believers were united, heart and soul;
none claimed for their own use anything that they had,
as everything they owned was held in common.

The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of Jesus Christ with great power,
and they were given great respect.

None of their members was ever in want,
as all those who owned land or houses would sell them,
and brought the money from them,
to present it to the apostles;
it was then distributed to any member who might be in need.

OR

If in Southern Hemisphere
• “A Leaf Reflection”
By Chris Highland

We see them fall,
We hear them rustle,
We may even feel them
brush by our face.
Today, as I ate my lunch under the sycamore
One landed on my plate.
Was the tree teasing, or asking me to eat it?
More likely I should leave it be–
“Leaf it alone,” (to drop a pun)
To decompose
To compose a composting concert
Orchestrating endless living music
Among renewable roots
Sucking beauty from the crunching copper carpet
Ascending again, transformed
From the scattered symphonic spread
Drifting down to play once again
Across the rain-soaked autumn earth.

OR

• “Sacred Season of Autumn”
By Edward Hays.
Earth Prayers/314-15

O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for l wish to learn the virtue of contentment.
As I gaze upon your full-co1oured beauty,
I sense all about you
an at-homeness with your amber riches.

You are the season of retirement,
of fufl barns and harvested fields.
The cycle of growth has ceased,
and the busy work of giving fife
is now completed.
I sense in you no regrets:
you’ve lived a full life.

I live in a society that is ever-restless,
always eager for mere mountains ta climb,
seeking happiness through more and more possessions.
As a child of my culture,
I am seldom truly at peace with what I have.
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received,
may I know that it’s enough,
that my striving can cease
in the abundance of God’s grace.

May I know the contentment
that allows the totality of my energies
to come to full flower.
May I know that like you I am rich beyond measure.

As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty,
let me also take delight
in the abundance of the simple things in life
which are the true source of joy.
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment
may I truly appreciate this autumn day.

OR

If in the Northern Hemisphere
• "Eros Awakens the Spring"
By John O'Donohue. Divine Beauty/151-52

Creation is imbued with Eros.
Each landscape, each season has its own quiet Eros.

In contrast to the glory of autumnal colour
which is like the flaming of a final twilight,
winter is a chaste season.
Nothing flourishes.
Every field and tree is cleaned back to its bare form.
The night of winter comes in clear and sure.
Against the bleak grey whatever muted colour endures seems ghost-like.

But as ever, the circle travels on to its own beginning.
And just when the amnesia seems absolute,
the first tones of spring commence their infant flaming.

Within a short while the exiled Eros of nature stages a magnificent return.

From the dark under-life of cold fields,
infinite tribes of grass ascend.
Skeleton trees allow themselves a shimmering of leaves.
Flowers arrive as if this were the place they had always dreamed.
Having travelled thousands of miles of sky and ocean,
swallows return to their favourite holiday nests in outdoor sheds.
Local birds become passionate architects high up in the network of trees.

The terse silence of winter has given way to the symphony of spring.
Eros has awakened.
The shadow-dream of winter is coming to life
in every corner.

Birth is the inner and outer song of spring.
If winter is the oldest season,
then spring is the youngest season.
The Eros of the earth calls forth the beauty of spring.

• John 20:19-23  (Inclusive Text)

In the evening on that same day, the first day of the week,
the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the people.

Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
'Peace be with you,'
and showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw The Risen One, who said to them again,
'Peace be with you.
As God sent me, so I am sending you.'

After saying this Jesus breathed on them and said:
'Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.
For those whose sins you retain, they are retained.'

Contemporary Exploration HERE and HERE

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Celebration of Faith (Optional)
In response to the word reflected on, let us stand
and share a celebration of faith.
The people stand as they are able

God is hearing what we hear
God is seeing what we see
All  urging us, with others,
to make fresh that which is in decay.

God is crying when we cry
God is laughing when we laugh
All  We are known
in community with believers
in ministry with the marginalised.

Encouragement and support
are the gifts we exchange
All  in our places of rest, work and play,
in our speaking of dreams and visions.

In our physical, emotional and spiritual relating -
All  being loved, empowers all women and men,
to, in turn, minister in love.  (Adapt. KDeLisle/ctl)

OR

"A Celebration of Beauty"
v1  Blessed be Creative Flame in the darkness.
All  
Blessed all who are awake to justice.

v2  Blessed be Creative Flame in the darkness.
v3  Blessed be songwriters and musicians who lead us to think.
All  Blessed be the “crack that lets the light in”.

v1  Blessed be agents of change in a sometimes-hostile world.
v2  Blessed be Creative Flame, flowing through me in ever surprising ways.
v3  Blessed be Infinite Beauty, flowing in me that I may live freely, happily and justly.
All  Blessed be Beauty before me.
Blessed be Beauty behind me.
Blessed be Beauty below me.
Blessed be Beauty above me.
v1, v2, v3  Blessed be Beauty.  (Margie Abbott/cs)

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

May a heart of peace rest with you.
All And also with you. (David Galston/q)
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.

If in Southern Hemisphere... Can be adapted  (Optional)
A Celebration of Autumn and Harvest
Where once it was believed
that only certain grains and fruits grew in particular areas,
now we can obtain most grains and fruits and nuts
in all parts of the world.
And they are eaten by all peoples.

Such is the harvest reward of a present-day Autumn.
Over the decades this season has been universally celebrated.

The area around present day Canberra,
especially when pioneers rode across the limestone plains
on horse back in search of grass and water,
became home to two different kinds of harvest.

First was the sheep farm
and the annual harvest of wool and mutton.

Second, especially out Pialligo way and along the Molonglo River,
was the orchard and annual harvest of fruit,
especially the apple.

Third, honey from local apiarists.

Wool... reminds us of our past,
when the land was first opened up for cultivation
by country folk.

Apples... remind us of our present,
as city folk pick fruit, cut lawns, wed flower beds 
and mulch the leaves - a gift to the earth
to make sure of Spring.

Honey… reminds us of our dreams for a sweetened future
by renewing our commitment to ourselves.

Let us then give thanks for the rewards of the season,
by honouring the fruits of the area.
Bring forward Apples, Honey, Wool, and Soil

During the following solo sung song, pieces of apple and pots of honey will be distributed/made available throughout the congregation.
Congregants invites to take a piece of apple and dip it in 
the honey (optional).

Song  Solo or small group/choir song only
Quiet Descending(Music: David A Barker)                                                           11 TEN
Quiet descending like mist over water,
surrender the care of your heart to its calm.
Holy the places where footfalls sound softly,
for truth speaks its clearest where silence abides.

And awaken all the senses to the longing of the spirit.
Enliven your hearts yearning for truth.
Quiet descending like mist over water,
surrender the care of your heart to its calm.  (David Barker)

OR

Take a Grape…(Tune: ‘Yamsong’, Colin Gibson)                                                   127 HoS
Take a grape and an apple, take a pomegranate too,
take a fig, and a melon, take an apricot or two,
take a date and an olive, throw some nuts into a bowl,
and you’ll have a fruit salad that is good for the soul.
It’s the bounty of nature and lovely to see:
they are food for the body, the fruits of the tree.
Refrain:
By planting and growing and tending with care,
we may harvest the crop and enjoy it here.

Take some barley and wheat, take a cucumber too,
take an onion, some beans and a lentil or two,
take some millet and leeks, add some salt (not a lot),
pour in water, make soup in a pot.
It’s the bounty of earth and the sun and the rain,
and there’s food for the soul in the growth of the grain.
Refrain:

Take some love and some patience, some faithfulness too,
take some joy and some kindness, take a good deed or two,
take some gentle behaviour, add some peace and self-control,
and you’ll have a fruit salad that is good for the soul.
They’re the fruits of the Spirit and lovely to see,
all the fruits of the life of the Spirit in me.  
(Colin Gibson).

Offerings

Presentation
May our eyes, our ears, and our mouths be opened.
Let us be doers of the word and not hearers only,
taking on those tasks set before us
with uncommon vision and wholehearted expectation.

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:
In the light and beauty of day
All  We give thanks in awe and wonder.
In the dark and stillness of night
All  We dream of healing and hope.  
(Gretta Vosper/wwg)

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