Lent4C.31.3.2019

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail:  rexae74@gmail.com  OR  rexae@optusnet.com.au
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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
31 March 2019. Lent 4. (Purple).

Worth Pondering
“The sense that we live in a holy place is not a biblical article of faith.
It is a report of experience”
(Ed Mooney)

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) of the (NN) Nation, past and present,
and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.

(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 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)

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/Slides 

Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration
The gong is struck three times

As we gather together on this day, at this time, in this place
may we recognise and affirm:
the pieces of possibility,
the bits of good, we bring,
allowing our individual gifts
to weave a patchwork of celebration and justice.

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
A Community Candle is lit

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) PLUS some specific resources on Terrorism 
HERE

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"God Of All Time"  (Tune: Infinite')         49 (1-2) AA
God of all time,
all seasons of our living,
source of our spark,
protector of our flame,
blazing before our birth,
beyond our dying,
God of all time,
we come to sing your name.

Here in this place
where others have been building,
we come to claim
the legacy of faith,
take, in our turn
the telling of your story,
and though we tremble,
speak your hope, your truth.  Shirley Erena Murray
Remain standing

Opening Sentences
In hope, in longing
All  
We're glad to come together.
In trust, in community
All  
We're glad to come together.
In many moods, in many shapes and sizes
All  
We're glad to come together.
In peace, in joy
All  
We're glad to come together.
In solidarity with those who struggle
All  
We're glad to come together.
In resistance to those who dominate
All  
We're glad to come together in this Lenten season(Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer/wsj)

Act of Awareness
For all that is our life we offer thanks and praise.
For all life is a gift which we are called to use,
to build the store of common good.

May we know once again that we are not isolated beings
but connected, in mystery and miracle,
to the universe,
to this community, and
to each other.

OR

We pray:
Remind us, O Spirit, that life is worth living.
Remind us, O Creator, that the struggle for justice is worth undertaking.
Remind us, O Mercy, that love and action are one.
May it be so.  (Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer/wsj)

Hymn  "When Love is Taught in Parables" (Tune: 'McKee', 86.86)
When love is taught is parables,
and hope in history,
we thank you, God, for trusting us
with Jesus' memory.

When broken people speak their need
and pray to be made whole,
we thank you, God, for Christ, who heals
our body, mind, and soul.

When hearts are lifted, wine is poured,
and common bread is blessed,
we thank you, God, that in this meal
we share in heaven's feast.

When Christians claim the Spirit's power,
and faith, now fed, can grow,
we thank you, God, and go in peace,
to share the peace we know.  
© Elizabeth J Smith

OR

"The Way Ahead"  (Tune: 87.87)
When life juggles with our learning,
with the things we thought secure,
then it seems the artist’s palette
spins and faith becomes obscure.

In the wash of different colours, 
as we seek for shape and form, 
others paint their faith by numbers 
forcing God to fit some norm.

But when life has torn the canvas, 
when the numbers twist and slip; 
then we need to find an image 
that will help our hope to grip:

holding us, when we're past holding,
grounding when we're insecure,
till we find a faith, not drifting,
still dynamic, free, yet sure.  © Andrew Pratt 28/5/2010
People sit after the hymn

Welcome
In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are worshipping 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 worship.
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

Meditation
"Seeing the Rainbow in our Faces"
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
. Life Prayers/105.

We are the generation that stands between the fires:
behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima;
before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
the flame and smoke that consume all Earth.

It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze
but the light in which we see each other fully.

All of us different,
all of us bearing One Spark.

We light these fires to see more clearly
that the Earth and all who live as part of it
are not for burning.

We light these fires to see more clearly
the rainbow in our many-colored faces.

Blessed is the One within the many.
Blessed are the Many who make one.

Centering Silence
In the silence which we now claim, let us be gentle with ourselves.

For a few moments, let us release ourselves
from a world that is too noisy, too busy, too demanding.
For a few moments, let us release ourselves
into the calm, still world that waits to receive us…

where the quiet is broken only by sounds
of our own making.
(The charka is sounded)

Silence

Within this welcoming quiet, let us befriend ourselves.
Let us rest in the gentleness of this moment.
  BCheatham/adapted

Music of Reflection

EXPLORING

Reading from our Religious Tradition
A reading from our religious tradition shall now be offered.

Traditional Gospel:
(i) Luke 15:1-3, 12-24 32
(Inclusive Text)

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking
the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say…
So he spoke this parable:

A man had two sons.
The younger said to his father,
‘Father, let me have a share of the estate that would come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.

A few days later the younger son got together
everything he had and left for a distant country
where he squandered his money on a life of loose living.

When he had spent it all, that country experienced
a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch,
so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants
who put him on his farm to feed the pigs.

And he would willingly have filled his belly
with the husks the pigs were eating,
but no one offered him anything.

Then he came to his senses and said,
‘How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want,
and here I am dying of hunger!

‘I will leave this place and go to my father and say:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as one of your paid servants.

So he left the place and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity.
He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.

Then the son said,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants,
‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

‘Bring the calf we have been fattening and kill it;
we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because
this son of mine was dead and has come back to life,
he was lost and is found!’

And they began to celebrate...

Hymn  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
that nature will allow,
we follow through the seasons,
we harrow, seed or plough.
O holy one of heaven,
as stewards, give us grace,
to care for your creation,
to value country space.  © Andrew Pratt

OR

Spirit of Life(Tune: ‘Spirit of Life’, 8.12.8.12.8.10)          123 SLT
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me. (Carolyn McDade)

(ii)  Luke 15:25- 32 (Inclusive Text)
Now the elder son was out in the fields,
and on his way back, as he drew near the house,
he could hear music and dancing.

Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about.
‘Your brother has come’, replied the servant,
‘and your father has killed the calf we had fattened,
because he has got him back safe and sound.’

He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father
came out to plead with him, but he answered his father,
‘Look, all these years I have slaved for you,
and never once disobeyed your orders,
yet you never offered me so much as a kid
for me to celebrate with my friends.

‘But, for this son of yours, when he comes back
after swallowing up your property – on loose living - you kill the calf we had been fattening!’

The father said,
‘My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.

But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother here was dead and has come to life;
he was lost and is found.’

Contemporary Exploration HERE and HERE and HERE

Silence for Personal Reflection

AFFIRMING

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

We celebrate a God
All  who lives and speaks in sunsets,
in love-wrapped gifts, and fleeting butterflies.

We celebrate a Christ
All  who honoured our humanness,
who climbed trees, skinned knees;
who laughed and cried,
loved and wept, bled and died.

We celebrate a Spirit,
All  who mystically joins us to people everywhere,
and incorporates us into Christ.

We celebrate a church,
All  seeking, however imperfectly,
to act justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with our God.  (Adapt.Dorothy McRae-McMahon/eoj)

OR

Litany for the Soil and the Harvest (Optional and if appropriate)
Creativity God, may we learn to care for this earth
and be good stewards of all that is in it.
All
 May our hands be open to cherish this gift.

How precious is the soil time made:
All 
It is rich and fertile, a single seed
will bring forth a hundred seeds.

How beautiful is the soil time has made:
All
 Frail seeds blown by gentle winds
become garlands of colour
flowering in crevice and cranny.

How mysterious is the soil time has made:
All 
Its deep brings forth minerals
which bring energy and ornament to our lives
.

How fruitful is the soil time has made:
All
 It brings forth crops of grain and wood,
fruits and vegetables, roots and berries.

May the land and all who live on it, be blessed.
All
 May it bring forth goodness to nourish and renew
the whole community who shares it.

Transfigure this earth:
All
 May your kingdom come on it.
Transfigure this earth:
All
 May flowers bloom on it.
Transfigure this earth:
All
 May fruit and vegetables and nuts ripen on it.
Transfigure this earth:
All
 May people and animals be friends on it.
Transfigure this earth:
All
 May peace reign on it.  (Unknown/Adapted)

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

CELEBRATING

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
May the Mystery of God Enfold Us(Tune: 'Marleborough Sounds')           95 AA
May the mystery of God enfold us,
may the wisdom of God uphold us,
may the fragrance of God be around us,
may the brightness of God surround us,
may the wonder of God renew us,
may the loving of God flow through us,
may the peace of God deeply move us,
may the moving of God bring us peace.  Joy Cowley

OR

God of Unexplored Tomorrows”  (Tune: ‘Marching’, 87.87)                  27 FFS
God of unexplored tomorrows,
of today and yesterday,
God of rock and flowing river,
be our refuge, be our way.

Guardian rock above, before us,
strong foundation where we build,
landmark through the haze of doubting,
shelter where our fears are stilled,

Be the cleansing, quenching water,
irrigate, disturb and move,
stir us from our easy shallows,
current of refreshing love.

God of rock and flowing river
now and ever with us stand,
to transform our land of promise
into each one's promised land.  Beverley Jones
The people sit

The Offering

The Presentation