WaterB.21.3.2021

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail: rexae74@gmail.com  OR  rexae@optusnet.com.au
To stay connected make my web site a Bookmark/Favourite: 
www.rexaehuntprogressive.com

Details on the availability of my books, supporting progressive religious thought, HERE
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.”

21 March 2021  (Blue/Light Blue)
World Water Day

Worth Pondering
“Where the imagination is awake and alive, fact never hardens or closes
but remains open, inviting you to new thresholds of possibility and creativity”
(John O’Donahue)

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

Refreshment Station/Water Basins
Pottery basins are set on stands near the entrance to the sanctuary. 
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 traveler 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/Video

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

v1  Blessed be the changing seasons of our living.
v2  Blessed be the reliable balancing act of nature.
All  Blessed be the rededication of values and meaning of life

v1  So let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit

This flame dances as growing things dance upon the green earth;
This flame flickers as life flickers for a precious while in each of us;
This flame is warm as the companionship of friends is warm.  (A Hill/Adapted)

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  People stand as they are able, to sing
"Song of Earth (Tune: ‘Easter Hymn’, 77.77 + Alleluias)
Hail the Earth that first appeared. Alleluia!
When a word from God was heard. Alleluia!
Let the Earth arise and be. Alleluia!
Filled with living mystery. Alleluia!

Hail the rainbow flying high. Alleluia!
Spun by God across the sky. Alleluia!
Giving Earth a solemn word. Alleluia!
Never to unlease a flood. Alleluia!

Hail the planet blue and green. Alleluia!
Where the face of God is seen. Alleluia!
Glory filling all the Earth. Alleluia!
Celebrating every birth. Alleluia!

Hail our body made with clay. Alleluia!
Given breath to praise and pray. Alleluia!
Clay God honoured by God's birth. Alleluia!
As a human life on Earth. Alleluia!

Hail the groans of Earth in pain. Alleluia!
From the weight of human sin. Alleluia!
Longing for the Christ who died. Alleluia!
All creation to revive. Alleluia!  (Norman Habel)

OR

Song for Planet Earth”  (Tune: ‘Bunessan’, 55.54D) 
Mystery and wonder greet Your creation;
out of the chaos galaxies grow:
may we discern Your purpose emerging –
inter-connections in all we know.

Kangaroos bounding through ancient fern gullies,
whales in the oceans, birds in the air:
we are a part of all this profusion,
may we yet grasp how stewards should care.

We are a nation of droughts and downpours,
yet blighting our world by a consumerist urge:
may we have grace to repent of our folly,
move with Your rhythm, conserve Your earth.

You have endowed us with wisdom and foresight,
minds that can focus, dreams that bring life:
may we have wills to embrace all creation,
to faithfully serve You doing the right.  (Neil Wilkinson, 2007)
Remain standing after the hymn/song

Opening Sentences
v1  A morning mist,
the gleam of a new day,
faintly we discern the possibilities
that are before us.
All   Energy rising, plans turning to action,
we build our every yesterday
from the living of our days.

v2   May we live our hope into tomorrow.
All  
May we wrap our lives around
the challenges of today.
v1  And in the quiet of the sacred space,
may we listen at the centre of our being
for the truth of our inner voice
v2  that sets before us the purpose of this day. (Adapt.Gretta Vosper/ab)

Act of Awareness
Gathered here, we sense the Sacred in this place.
May we be awakened again to
        the mysteries that humble us,
        the realities that orient us,
        the beauty that informs us,
        the fellowship that sustains us,
and the creativity that heightens and deepens our living,
that we may give ourselves in honesty and openness
to the larger life before us.  (Adapt/Clarke Wells)

OR

We pray:
God of the important and the common place,
you reach into our lives through story.

Open our hearts to be attentive:
that seeing, we may perceive,
and hearing, we may understand,
and understanding, we may act.
May it be so. Amen.

Hymn/Song  Stars and Planets  (Tune: ‘Triumph’, 87.87.87)                                                 186 TiS
Stars and planets flung in orbit,
galaxies that swirl through space,
powers hid within the atom,
cells that form an infant’s face:
these, O God, in silence praise you;
by your wisdom they are made.

Skies adorned with sunset splendour,
silent peaks in calm repose,
golden fields awaiting harvest,
foaming surf and fragrant rose:
earth, its bounty clothed with beauty,
echoes all creation’s praise.

Life in wondrous, wild profusion,
seed and fruit, each flower and tree,
beast and fish and swarming insect,
soaring bird, rejoicing, free:
these, your creatures, join in chorus,
praising you in wordless song.

Humankind, earth’s deepest mystery,
born of dust but touched by grace,
torn apart by tongue and colour,
yet a single, striving race:
we, in whom you trace your image,
add our words to nature’s song.

Gracious God, we bring before you
gifts of human life alone,
truth that throbs through song and story,
visions caught in paint and stone:
these, O God, we gladly offer,
gifts to praise the Giver’s name.

Christ, the Word before creation
as creation’s final goal,
once you came for earth’s redemption;
by your Spirit make earth whole:
then, O God, the new creation
will your praise for ever sing.  (Herman G. Stuempfle)

OR

Wild Waves of Storm(Tune: ‘Wild Waves’, 4 10 10 10 4)                                                        80 SLT
Wild waves of storm,
the wonder of the wind and crashing sea,
nature in power and might and majesty,
yet wonder more in deep tranquillity,
sea, calm and still.

Migrating birds,
in flocks intent upon far distant shore
great wonder hold; yet there is wonder more
when lonely eagle, watchful on a post,
sits, calm and still.

All people one
in urgent haste, on some great enterprise,
hearts beating fast, great dreams to realize,
yet in the soul a dream of richer prize,
serene and still.

Then striving cease:
from troubled turmoil seek an inward goal;
tranquillity shall make the spirit whole.
Be still, and know a Presence in the soul,
serene, alive. (Sydney H Knight/adapt)
People sit after the hymn/song

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 .
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 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 claim some silence

May we give thanks for all the silences in our lives:
the silence of sunrise,
the silence of mist on the lake,
the silence at the end of a story,
the silence between notes of music,
the silence between us here…
A period of silence is kept

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Wisdom from the World/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)

• “Last Night the Rain Spoke To Me”
By Mary Oliver

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain—
imagine! imagine!
the wild and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

OR

• “Puddles”
By Peta Edmonds. Eureka Street, 7 April 2014

Waiting for the rain to stop
The low grey clouds are like petticoats,
The puddles are pieces of a broken mirror,
the raindrops roll upon the muddy ground
like chocolate maltesers.
I'm waiting for the sun to break through
like a blond headed child in a blue rain coat.

• “Song of the Rain”
By Kahlil Gibran

I am dotted silver threads dropped from heaven
By the gods. Nature then takes me, to adorn
Her fields and valleys.

I am beautiful pearls, plucked from the
Crown of Ishtar by the daughter of Dawn
To embellish the gardens.

When I cry the hills laugh;
When I humble myself the flowers rejoice;
When I bow, all things are elated.

The field and the cloud are lovers
And between them I am a messenger of mercy.
I quench the thirst of one;
I cure the ailment of the other.

The voice of thunder declares my arrival;
The rainbow announces my departure.
I am like earthly life, which begins at
The feet of the mad elements and ends
Under the upraised wings of death.

I emerge from the heard of the sea
Soar with the breeze. When I see a field in
Need, I descend and embrace the flowers and
The trees in a million little ways.

I touch gently at the windows with my
Soft fingers, and my announcement is a
Welcome song. All can hear, but only
The sensitive can understand.

The heat in the air gives birth to me,
But in turn I kill it,
As woman overcomes man with
The strength she takes from him.

I am the sigh of the sea;
The laughter of the field;
The tears of heaven.

So with love—
Sighs from the deep sea of affection;
Laughter from the colorful field of the spirit;
Tears from the endless heaven of memories.

Contemporary Exploration HERE

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Time of Celebration and Lament  (Optional)
Invite people to move into two groups with the Voices in the middle of each group
After each couplet a moment of Silence to be kept

Voice 1 (Celebration)                                                                        Voice 2 (Lament)
I am the sparkle of dew on the morning grass                                 For the fish that have died in our rivers
I am the silver crust on the winter hedge                                         For the harmful chemicals in our waters
I am the mist on the evening mountain                                            For the traces of contamination in our dams
I am the trickle on the rocks                                                             For the pollution in our oceans
I am the lapping of lake water                                                          For the children who die of water-borne diseases
I am the moisture on our forehead                                                    For those who have no access to clean water
I am the gush of waterfall                                                                 For the impure water in our taps
I am the music of the running creek                                                 For the damage we do to water by harmful detergents and sprays
I am the majesty of ice                                                                     For the women who spend long hours drawing water
I am the energy and the colour of the rainbow                                 For the dumping of toxic waste into our waterways

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.

Hymn/Song  People stand as they are able, to sing
All Creatures of Our God”  (Tune: ‘Lasst Uns Erfreuen’, 88.88. Alleluias)
(Leader spoken, Sung response)

v1  Praise God, you holy ones…
Praise Wisdom Sophia, all shining stars.

All creatures of our loving God,
Lifit up your voice with praise and laud,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
You blazing sun with golden beam.
You silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise God! O praise God!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

v2  Praise God, highest heavens…
She established you forever and ever.

You rushing wind, air, clouds, and rain,
By which all creatures you sustain.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
You rising morn, in praise rejoice,
You lights of evening, find a voice
O praise God! O praise God!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

v3  Praise Wisdom Sophia, all the Earth…
Storm winds that fulfill God’s word.

You swirling water, flowing clear,
Make music for your God to hear,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
You glowing fire who lights the night,
Providing warmth, enhancing sight…
O praise God! O praise God!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

v1  You mountains and all you hills.
You creeping things and flying birds.

Dear gentle Earth, who day by day
Unfolds your blessings on our way,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruit that in you grow,
Let them God's glory also show!
O praise God! O praise God!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

v2  Let God be praised by all the faithful ones,
By the people/women of (name your group), the people close to God.

All  Let all on Earth our Creator bless,
And praise our God in holiness,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!’
  (Adapted from the original by Diann Neu/rb)

OR

Faith of Metaphor and Mystery
Music: 
Metaphor and Mystery © Amanda Udis-Kessler (2020) or

Regent Square by Henry Thomas Smart

Faith of metaphor and mystery
Christ of paradox and pun
Sure foundation, revelation
Many facets of the One
Sacred found in the familiar:
phase of moon, and blazing sun.

God of living, dying, rising
Goddess: maiden, mother, crone
Word of sages, rock of ages
Love transforming hearts of stone
Meaning made in the familiar:
spirit, body, breath and bone.

Passover and visitation
Parable and playful jest
Seeking, finding; losing, binding
Exodus and hero’s quest
Sacrament of the familiar:
open door and welcome guest

Life in all its many stages
Sense and senses, heart and head
Meditation, celebration
Hope new-risen from the dead
Meaning found in the familiar:
making peace and breaking bread.
(Bronwyn White)
Download the score (pdf) Faith of Metaphor and Mystery by Amanda Udis-Kessler

• Download the MP3 sung by Ken Janzen from Amanda’s website, Queer Sacred Music

People sit

CELEBRATING

Offerings

Presentation
As a river without an outlet becomes stagnant,
so life which receives but does not give
becomes polluted and sour.
All  As we give,
we know we will be refreshed and cleansed
as well as being a blessing to others.

Conversation with the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat

“Conversation”:

"Somewhere someone…:”
The kingdom of love is coming because:
All  somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind,
somewhere someone shares with another in need,
somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate,
somewhere someone is patient - and waits in love,
somewhere someone returns good for evil,
somewhere someone serves another, in love,
somewhere someone is calm in a storm,
somewhere someone is loving everybody.
Is that someone you? 
(Binkley & McKeel/jke)

In Solidarity
Care Candle:
We are people of all ages who enter this safe space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Celebrations; Griefs and Concerns shared.

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
From all the world that we have seen
All  From all the life that we have known
We here claim all that has been
All  And name tomorrow for our own(Kenneth Patton/sscl)

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 and within us,
and to see new possibilities of the now.

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

All  O Birther!  Father-Mother of the Cosmos
you create all that moves in light.
Hear the one Sound that created all others,
in this way the Name is hallowed
in silence.

Your rule springs into existence
as our arms reach out to embrace all creation.
Let all wills move together
in your vortex, as stars and planets
swirl through the sky.

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight:
subsistence for the call of
growing life.

Lighten our load of secret debts as
we relieve others of their
need to repay.

Keep us from hoarding false wealth,
and from the inner shame of
help not given in time.
(Matthew Fox/ormw)

PARTING

Hymn/Song  People stand as they are able, to sing
The Earth is Our Cradle”                                                                                                       14(v1-2) OHV
The earth is our cradle, our ground and our home.
The sky is our blanket, protective and warm.
The stars are our ancestors, ancient and bright,
their glow is a glimpse of our life’s burning light.

The creatures of land, the swimmers of sea,
the birds of the air, the green plants and trees:
They’re all of our siblings with equal share
in Earth as our home and duty to care.

OR

Wonder and Radiance”  (Tune: ‘Faithfulness’, 11.10.11.10 & Refrain)                                       7(v1-2) SNS3
Movement and colour are graces so pleasing;
Sounds and sweet perfumes are here to delight;
Oceans and mountains and flora and fauna -
Too many marvels for us to recite.
Refrain:
Wonder and radiance,
Beauty, extravagance,
All come together in what we can see;
Nature’s abundance can fill all our senses;
We are in awe of these gifts that are free.

Given for everyone, new and the future ;
Given for sharing, not profit nor greed;
Food for the hungry and drink for the thirsty;
There is sufficient for meeting each need.
Refrain:
Wonder and radiance,
Beauty, extravagance,
All come together in what we can see;
Nature’s abundance can fill all our senses;
We stand in awe of these gifts that are free.
Remain standing

Parting Words
v1  As we prepare to leave this Gathering place and time of celebration,
may we continue to live lives of hope...
The Community Candle is extinguished

v2  May the skies—
heavens, galaxies, spaces between the stars—
fill you with wonder.

May clouds shade you
Rain refresh you
Stars guide you
Angels laugh your good intentions into action.… (c) Bronwyn Angela White (2007)

Words of Blessing
v1  Water is the raw material of creation, the source of life…
v2  Blessed be water essential to our survival
All   Blessed be water.

v2  Blessed be water the tide of life itself, the sacred source
All  Blessed be water.

v2  Blessed be water that is carried in our cells
All  Blessed be water.  (Margie Abbott/cs) 

Hymn/Song  (Cont).  “The Earth is Our Cradle”                                                                        14(v3) OHV
Our ancient atoms arranged and reformed,
connect us and bind us with the stuff of the stars,
When all is over, our substance returned
to our elements birth-place, our atom’s next turn.  (Christopher New)

OR

Wonder and Radiance”  (Tune: ‘Faithfulness’, 11.10.11.10 & Refrain)                                      7(v3) SNS3
Love and respect for the world all around us
Can make a difference; can halt future deem;
Can bring some healing; prevent destruction;
Show our thanksgiving and help nature bloom.
Refrain:
Wonder and radiance,
Beauty, extravagance -
These priceless gifts are for you and for me;
Nature’s abundance can thrill all our senses;
We must protect and preserve all we see.
  (George Stuart)
The people sit

'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:
Abbott, M. Cosmic Sparks. Igniting a Re-Enchantment with the Sacred. Bayswater. Coventry Press, 2020
Binkley, C. G. & J. M. McKeel. Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals. An International Curriculum on the Life and Teaching of Jesus. Santa Rosa. Polebridge Press, 2001.
Glennon, K. Heartbeat of the Seasons: Earth Rituals for the Celtic Year. Dublin: Columba Press, 2005.
Fox, M. One River, Many Wells. Wisdom Springing From Global Faiths. New York.:Tarcher/Penguin Publishing, 2000.
Neu, D. L. Return Blessings: Ecofeminist Liturgies Renewing the Earth. Cleveland. Pilgrim Press, 2002.
(OHV) New, C. Our Highest Values: A Collection of Songs for an Expansive Spirituality. Edmonton. Southminster-Steinhauer United Church, 2015.  (chris@smsuc.com)
Patton, K. Services and Songs for the Celebration of Life. Boston. Beacon Press, 1967.
(SLT) Singing The Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
(SNS3) Stuart, G. Singing a New Song. Traditional Hymn Tunes with New Century Lyrics. Volume 3. Toronto. G Stuart, 2011.
(TiS) Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious, 1999. Copyright enquiries: http://www.togetherinsong.org/.
Vosper, G. Another Breath. Prayers for Celebration and Reflection. Brisbane. The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought Brisbane, 2009/2010.

Web sites/Other:
Hill, Wells.  UUA Worship Web. Boston. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>
Refreshment Station. Words by Nan Fink Gefen, taken from an Evolutionary Passover Haggadah by Tree Bressen.
David Galston.
Quest Learning Centre for Religious Literacy. http://www.questcentre.ca/
Norman Habel. “Song of Earth”. Direct from the author

rexae74@gmail.com