Christmas1C.26.12.2021

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

...in the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.
It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself”

26 December 2021. Christmas 1C. (White).

Worth Pondering
“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge”
(Abraham J 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 (N) Nation, past, present, and 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

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 

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is sounded three times

With faith to face our challenges,
With love that casts out fear,
With hope to trust tomorrow,
We accept this day as the gift it is - a reason for rejoicing.  Gary Kowalski

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of Community Candle
A Community Candle is lit

As we light our flame this morning:
we celebrate by its warmth
the depth and breadth of our congregations.

And we celebrate by its light the faith we share.

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
"As Our Congregations Gathers" (Tune: ‘Nettleton’ , 87.87D)                                          43 WNC
As our congregations gathers
lift our lives, with love amaze;
offer some melodious treasure,
fill our hearts with wondering praise.

Crashing brass and singing cymbals,
soaring organ, sound and light;
fill this space with awe and thunder,
lift us through the veil of night.

Then a sudden, silent stillness
holds an echo in the air:
on a knife edge, balanced, waiting,
in the silence, you are there.

Joy beyond imagination,
love incarnate, hope to hold,
faith we cannot sound or fathom,
gripped in wonder, we behold.
  Andrew Pratt
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
God of our yesterdays and God of our tomorrows
we ask that you be with us now,
God of our today.
All  
May it be so

God of vision and new possibilities
open our hearts and minds
to the reality of your presence.
All  May it be so(Adapt/Rosie Sugrue)

Act of Awareness
The world is always radiant.
Whether at night under the dimmest starlight,
or at noon under the brightest sun,
the world is giving forth a vast legend.

It only awaits the involvement of the eye,
the engagement of the ear.

So let us live this moment in all its fullness,
for in it is all realization, all time.  (Adapt.Kenneth Patton/sscl)

OR

We pray:
Creator of all times and seasons,
and of all the seasons of our lives,
we gather in this sacred place,
thankful for the days that have been,
and hopeful for the days that shall be.

May we become one with ourselves and you
in all the seasons to come.
May it be so.

Hymn/Song  "We Celebrate the Web of Life(Tune: ‘Christus der ist Mean Leben’, CM)     175 SLT
We celebrate the web of life
its magnitude we sing;
for we can see divinity
in every living thing.

A fragment of the perfect whole
in cactus and in quail,
as much in tiny barnacle
as in the great blue whale.

Of ancient dreams we are the sum;
our bones link stone to star,
and bind our future worlds to come
with worlds that were and are.

Respect the water, land, and air
which gave all creatures birth;
protect the lives of all that share
the glory of the earth. 
(Alicia S Carpenter)
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.
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 there now be a quiet time among us.
(Silence)

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)

• "Wide Sky"
It is a wide sky
we huddle under,
each of us,
challenged by our birth,
to hold up our corner.

It is a deep sea
we wonder over,
each of us,
drawn by its beauty,
to care for it.

It is a broad land
we walk upon,
each of us,
marking our path,
must go lightly.

As we consider this Earth,
our home,
and we, our presence upon it,
may we be moved to see ourselves
as particles of the whole
and walk in reverence.

Into being the change, we move. (Gretta Vosper/wab)

• Luke 2:40-52  (Inclusive Text/Scholars Version)

The child Jesus grew into a mature adult, filled with wisdom,
and God regarded him favourably.

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem
for the feast of the Passover.
When Jesus was twelve years old,
they went up for the feast as usual.

When they were on their way home after the feast,
the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem
without his parents knowing it.

They assumed he was with the caravan,
and it was only after a day’s journey
that they went to look for him
among their relatives and acquaintances.

When they failed to find him
they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
Three days later, they found Jesus in the Temple,
sitting among the teachers,
listening to them, and asking them questions.

And all those who heard were astounded at Jesus'
intelligence and replied.

They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said,
'My child, why have you done this to us?
See how worried your father and I have been,
looking for you.'

'Why were you looking for me?' Jesus replied.
'Did you not know that I must be busy
with my Father’s affairs?'

But they did not understand what Jesus meant.

Jesus then went down with them and came to Nazareth
and lived under their authority.

His mother stored up all these things in her heart.

And Jesus precocious as he was,
continued to excel in learning and gain respect
in the eyes of God and others.

Silence

OR

"The Child is Missing"
By Heather Pencavel. Shine On, Star of Bethlehem/184-85.

v2  The child is missing - a moment's inattention, then
the lurch of the heart,
the sinking of the stomach
'I thought he was with you.'

v3  The child is missing - the ache of longing, even after years
even when you know he is safe,
even when there are other children,
'I wonder what he's doing now?'

v4  The child is missing - wandering the streets without a home:
home is where blows are struck,
and darkness brings abuse and now
'She's gone - good riddance!'

v5  The child is missing - he slept last night in this shop doorway
till they came with guns,
street cleansing, and he died.
'They got Carlos - tonight it might be us.'

v1  Parent God Hannah knew where Samuel was, and missed him.
Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the end,
safe in the Temple learning
(as well as all the teachers' knowledge)
what agony of fear his parents feel,
how much they love him.

Children disappear every day
and are not always found
though they are often missed.

We remember all missing children and their parents:
children kidnapped and afraid,
the runaways,
the disappeared,
children given for adoption.

May we learn how to build homes where everyone is valued,
communities where everyone is safe,
and a world where all children are able to grow
strong in mind and body as Jesus did. 
(Adapted)

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

A Litany for the Past Year
People remain seated

First candle is lit
v1  
We light this candle for Planet Earth, our home.
For the land, sea and sky,
for the creatures of Earth,
for the fruits of the land.
All  This light beams as we accept the responsibility
now laid upon us all 
for the future of our species
and of all planetary life.

Silence

Second candle is lit
v2  We light this second candle remembering
all the children who were born this year:
those into our love and care,
those around the world.

All  This light beams so that all children may be able
to grow up receiving affection and protection.

Silence

Third candle is lit
v3  We light this third candle bearing in mind
all those who have married or entered into a loving relationship.
Those who have celebrated anniversaries,
those who are newly wed, and especially
those who have celebrated silver and golden jubilees.
All  This light beams for their mutual happiness,
and for their strength to uphold each other
even in difficult situations.

Silence

Fourth candle is lit
v4  We light this fourth candle remembering
all those who have experienced grief and loss this year:
the death of a loved one,
the ending of a significant relationship,
the loss of employment, especially during periods of lock-down.
All  This light beams for their continuing comfort and support.

Silence

Fifth candle is lit
v5  We light this fifth candle commemorating
all the people, near and far,
who had to live under wars
and have suffered violence and anxiety this year.
All  This light beams that we and they
may have a real and lasting peace.

Silence

Sixth candle is lit
v6  We light this sixth candle remembering
all those who have visited our congregations for a first time
and decided to call that congregation 'home' this year.
All  This light beams in order that we continue
to explore and enjoy everything we have received, as a gift.

Silence

Seventh candle is lit
v7  We light this seventh candle
mindful of the people who have often put their lives at risk
to maintain our health, our freedoms, and peace this year.
All  This light beams as a symbol of hope even in the midst
of experiences of powerlessness and suffering.

Silence

Eighth candle is lit
v8  We light this eighth candle
having each and everyone of us in mind,