EasterSunriseC.2022

Revd Rex A E Hunt
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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”

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE
(Gathering in a Bush setting or Park near trees...
not just to gather
in nature but to enter into relationship with nature)

"I think it is quite well-known by now that the English word “Easter” seems likely to have been derived
from the Old English “Easterdæg”, from “Eastre” (Northumbrian “Eostre”)
and from the Proto-Germanic “austron-, meaning “dawn” which was also the name of a goddess
of fertility and spring, perhaps originally of sunrise, whose feast was celebrated
at the spring equinox, from “aust-” meaning “east, toward the sunrise”
from the Proto-Indo-European root “aus-” meaning “to shine”, especially of the dawn.

    “In other words, the genealogy of the name Easter can stand as a reminder
that the prototype of our Christian, Easter celebrations is to be found in the renewal
and restoration of life each day at dawn and each year at the spring equinox.
It helps us see that it is natura naturans, nature doing what nature does,
which underpins ALL human religious traditions and not the other way round. 
Natura naturans is fundamental, primordial, whilst Christianity is not;
everything in Christianity — and indeed everything in all religions —
depends upon natura naturans.”
(Andrew Brown)

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)

Prepare to meet in a circle
Symbols displayed in the centre... (candles, stones, wood, leaves, flowers, sticks, water)
During the liturgy a circle is drawn around the symbols
Place folded coloured paper/crepe (Brown/Green, Blue, White, Red) at four points around the edge of the gathering space
    for later use during the liturgy

Gathering

Listening Silence
During this time of Listening Silence ‘wander’ with full presence and sensuality...
       Touch: Be aware of your body in this setting; how the breeze touches your face and hair
        Look: Look on all the beauty of this place; the differences in each tree/bark/leaves
        Listen: To the chatter of the birds in the early morning daylight; as neighbouring households awake and start the day
        Beathe: Take deep breaths; what smells/scents ask for your attention; taste the air
Resume your membership of the group

Acknowledgement of Country/First Peoples
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 and present,
and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages...

And we recognise and give thanks that we humans
are creatures of the Earth living in the ecosystem
—flowers, trees and insects; land, waters and mountain range—that is unique to (NN).

May we honour one another and honour life itself.

Welcome

Opening Sentences
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...

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.
  (Kerri Wehlander/adapted)

Today we celebrate life over death.
Today we celebrate the flame that lives again.
We will light the fire…
A fire is lit, using both dry and green branches to enable smoke

aware that the power of resurrection
has forever changed who we are,
and given us the courage
to boldly proclaim a living faith.

Today we celebrate:
new life,
new joy,
new possibilities.
All  We give thanks for the Spirit of Life
visible in Jesus,
visible in us,
visible in people in all walks of life.  
(Michael Morwood/pns)

Recognising the Sacred
As we gather together in this season of Autumn and change,
let us also recognise that we gather
in the presence of the Spirit and Source of Life.
People face the North

v1 We turn to face the direction north
the season of summer and the element of water,
for a blessing.

v2 The gift of the north is love,
for it speaks of great endurance.
The Spirit of Love teaches us the power of strength in adversity.
All Spirit of Love
teach us the gentle power of strength in adversity.

Silence

People turn right and face the East
v1 We turn to face east, the direction of the rising sun,
the season of spring and the element of air,
for a blessing.

v2 The gift of the east is truth,
for it speaks of the breath of new life on earth.
The Spirit of Truth teaches us to see clearly.
All  Spirit of Truth
teach us to see new possibilities more clearly.

Silence

People turn right and face the South
v1  We turn to the south, the direction of winter
and the element of earth,
for a blessing.

v2  The gift of the south is mystery,
for it speaks of the unknown, the unseen.
The Spirit of Mystery teaches us to be silent and to listen.
All  Spirit of Mystery
we ask you to teach us the gift of silence, and to listen.

Silence

The people turn right and face West
v1  We turn to the west the place of the setting sun, the season
of autumn and the element of fire,
for a blessing.

v2  The gift of the west is beauty,
for it speaks of peace and serenity.
The Spirit of Beauty - above us, beside us, beneath us -
surrounds us at all times.
All  Spirit of Beauty
you surround us at all times,
at our beginnings and at our endings.

Silence

In the beginning the earth was made,
round and blue and beautiful.
A circle is drawn in the earth around the placed symbols

We bring brown,
colour of the earth,
source of growth,
surrounding and feeding sleeping seeds.
The colour brown or green is put in place across the gathering space from the edge to the symbols

We bring blue,
colour of water,
source of life,
refreshing and cleansing people and land.
The colour blue is put in place across the gathering space from the edge to the symbols

We bring white,
colour of air,
source of breath,
moving and shaking sky and trees.
The colour white is put in place across the gathering space from the edge to the symbols

We bring red,
colour of fire,
source of energy
warming and giving life to growing things.
The colour red is put in place across the gathering space from the edge to the symbols

All  We give thanks for life
and for the gifts of the earth.  Adapt.Christian Aid/htw

Narrative 1
We have come to this sacred place,
out of the busyness of the world.
From the noise and colour and frenzy around us.

Here we can gather together,
listening for the sounds that silence brings,
and the gentle murmurings that nature offers us.
And witness the breaking of a new day.

As we listen and as we watch,
let our minds wander,
and our feet connect us to the earth.

Listening Silence

Sounds of Celebration
The sound of a gong calls the earth back into life, and announces the arrival of Easter

Wisdom from the World/ Religious Traditions 1
        “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)

• "Autumn Leaf"
By William L Wallace.
Harvest for the World/172.

This autumn
shall be for me
the most glorious
of them all
for I shall no longer
struggle possessively
to clutch life
but instead
like a leaf
let myself
be blown
by God's Spirit
and whenever
I touch the earth
sing the song of the universe
dance in the power of God's grace
and with tenderness
offer myself
to all.

Silence for Private Reflection

Narrative 2
We listen and we watch…
In the cycle of seasons we come again to Easter.

Out of our hearts we feel the urge to new being -
to gather at the shrine of our hopes,
to gain perspective on our lives,
to reorder the chaos of our years,
to reflect on the way our hearts should go,
to reaffirm our deepest aspirations.

In the holy quiet we come:
we want peace and that quiet serenity born of insight,
we want beauty,
the inner sanctuary of sounds and sights and air,
we want courage,
the inner fortitude to live our own lives.

May we strive to be worthy of this great life
that out of the old brings forth the new.

Wisdom from the World/Religious Traditions 2
“Is Earth Alive”
By John Palka. March 2017. (https://naturesdepths.com/is-earthalive/)

Today we are reaching beyond the immediacy of the wondrous world around us and asking a broader question:
does the division into living and non-living really represent our best understanding of life on Earth?
Or is there another perspective?
Could we usefully think of Earth itself as being in some sense alive, of being a living planet?

Today’s science generally regards all celestial objects, including the Earth, as non-living.
There is, 
however, a perspective developing among some scientists that raises the question of whether a planet like the Earth,
on which life abounds, might appropriately be considered as living.

One of the earliest formulations of this perspective is known as the Gaia Hypothesis, after the Greek goddess of the Earth, Gaia.
 It was developed by the British chemist James Lovelock and the American biologist Lynn Margulis.

 Lovelock and Margulis wrote frequently about their idea (see, for example, James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth),
but the most compelling formulation I have found comes from the pen of David Grinspoon,
a planetary scientist deeply interested in the possibility of life on other planets.

Here is one way he raises the concept of a living planet, taken from his book Earth in Human Hands.
Margulis and Lovelock proposed that the drama of life does not unfold on the stage of a dead Earth, but, that, rather, the stage itself is animated, part of a larger living entity, Gaia, composed of the biosphere together with the “nonliving” components that shape, respond to, and cycle through the biota of the Earth. Yes, life adapts to environmental change, shaping itself through natural selection. Yet life also pushes back and changes the environment, alters
the planet. This is now as obvious as the air you are breathing, which has been oxygenated by life. 

So evolution is not a series of adaptations to inanimate events, but a system of feedbacks, an exchange. Life has not simply molded itself to the shifting contours of a dynamic Earth. Rather, life and Earth have shaped each other as they’ve coevolved.

Silence

• Luke 24:1, 5, 9  (Inclusive Text)

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn,
the women went to the tomb
with the spices they had prepared.

Two figures in brilliant clothes
suddenly appeared at their side, and said:
'Why look among the dead
for someone who is alive?'

When the women - Mary of Magdala, Joanna,
and Mary the mother of James, and the other women -
returned from the tomb
they told all this to the apostles...

Silence for Private Reflection

A Celebration of the Earth (Optional)
Let us share together a celebration of life and the Earth.

Whatever we think the holy may be,
Creation itself is holy.
All  May we simply cherish the earth and all its creatures,
the stars in all their glory.

Life’s gifts are available to everyone,
not just the chosen or the saved.
All  Only human artifice or blind ill fortune can separate us
from the source of our blessings.

That which is Divine, Precious, or Profound
is made evident not in the miraculous or otherworldly,
but in the simple and the everyday.
All  We look not to the heavens
or an afterlife for our meaning,
but to the exuberance of this life's unfolding.

Human beings themselves are responsible
for the planet and its future.
All  Social and environmental justice is a religious obligation.
The future is never fated.

Every one of us is held in Creation's hand.
We share its burdens and its radiance.
Hence strangers need not be enemies.
All  The earth is our cherished home;
all its inhabitants our companions.

Although death confronts us all,
we love life all the more,
perhaps because we loose it.
All  An honourable and impassioned life
may not deny death its due,
but it can surely deny it of its victory. (
William F Schulz)

In Solidarity
We believe that death is not the end,
but rather a transformation into new possibilities.

Nothing that exists is ever completely destroyed.
A star exploding
or a leaf falling:
both offer new possibilities
and will 'live on'
in ways unknown to stars and leaves.

Winter gives way to Spring;
what seems lifeless now abounds with life,
new possibilities and delights.

We, too, experience new possibilities arising from our failures
or disappointments
or what has come to an end...
v2 We give thanks for all the influences in our lives
that have helped us see beyond the present
and have called us to live in hope and trust
whatever endings we have experienced.

We give thanks for the Spirit of New Life
active in our lives
as it was in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. (Michael Morwood/pns)

Narrative 3
Each of us has an important part to play in this world.
And part of that is to know we need each other.

In the spirit of the new and changed life
we know as resurrection,
let us now give and receive a blessing.

Blessing  Place your left hand on your neighbour's right shoulder as you walk in a circle
Peace of the flowing stream be yours.
All  
Peace of the flowing stream be yours...

Peace of the gentle breeze be yours.
All  Peace of the gentle breeze be yours...

Peace of the fertile earth be yours.
All  Peace of the fertile earth be yours...

Peace of the twinkling stars be yours.
All  Peace of the twinkling stars be yours...  (Diann L New/rb)

Song  Wake, Now My Senses  (Tune: ‘Slane’, 10 10 10 10)                                     298 SLT
Wake, now my reason, reach out to the new,
join with each pilgrim who quests for the true;
honour the beauty and wisdom of time;
suffer your limit, and praise the sublime.

Wake, now compassion, give heed to the cry;
voices of suffering fill the wide sky;
take as your neighbour both stranger and friend,
praying and striving their hardship to end.

Wake, now my conscience, with justice your guide;
join with all people whose rights are denied;
take not for granted a privileged place;
God's love embraces the whole human race.

Wake, now my vision of ministry clear;
brighten my pathway with radiance here;
mingle my calling with all who will share;
work toward a planet transformed by our care.  (T J S Mikelson)

oo0oo

Please share in hot buns, raisin loaf, and tea/coffee back at (NN)


Some of the Resources used in Shaping this Liturgy:
Duncan, G. (ed).
Harvest for the World. A Worship Anthology on Sharing in the Work of Creation. Norwich. The Canterbury Press, 2003.
Inclusive Readings. Year C. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2006.
Loorz, V.
Church of the Wild. How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred. Minneapolis. Broadleaf Books, 2021.
Morwood, M.
Praying a New Story. Richmond. Spectrum Publications, 2003.
Neu, D. L. Return Blessings: Ecofeminist Liturgies Renewing the Earth. Cleveland. Pilgrim Press, 2002.
(SLT) Singing The Living Tradition. Boston. UUA, 1993.
Ward, H.; J. Wild. & J Morley. (ed). Celebrating Women. New edition. London. SPCK, 1995.

Web sites/Other:
Wehlander, 
Schulz. UUA Worship Web. Boston. http://uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/index.php

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

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