COCU Index Year B 2014-15

The COCU Index for Year B, 2014-15: COCU master index.YearB.2015

Upcoming Sundays
COCU45B, 28th June, Pentecost 5B
COCU46B, 5th July, Pentecost 6B
COCU47B, 12th July, Pentecost 7B
COCU48B, 19th July, Pentecost 8B
COCU49B, 26th July, Pentecost 9B

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in times of grief, and death, and sorrow

Luka Bloom wrote this in March 2012, after 28 people from Belgium, including 22 children, died in a bus crash in Switzerland – ‘You should always come home’… Achingly beautiful, and so appropriate for so many suffering loss and grief, especially after tragedy. Thank you for your music, Luka Bloom.

Blessing when the world is ending
Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.

Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.

Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun
the knife
the fist.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door
the shattered hope.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone
the television
the hospital room.

Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you
will not mend you
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.

– Jan Richardson

Posted in Blue Christmas, Funerals, Grief and sorrow | Leave a comment

COCU45B.Pentecost 5B

In 2015, Pentecost 5B is on June 28th.

RCL readings:
2 Samuel 1:1,17-27 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24
Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

See Textweek for worship resources for Pentecost 5B

Here is this week’s gospel reading: Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Continue reading

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Prayers and liturgies in times of natural disaster/tragedy

prayer circle

A small prayer circle forms near where police responded to the shooting

“The type of healing we need can only be borne out of lament — a lament that holds space in the deepest pits of our beings for the piercing sorrow and rage being expressed by black communities, cultivates empathy, and puts restorative justice at the center of our collective action.” (Sojo)

Sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Martyrs of Charleston and the power of Christ crucified and risen

A hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette for Charleston:
They Met to Read the Bible

ST. CHRISTOPHER 7.6.8.6.8.6.8.6 (“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”)

They met to read the Bible, they gathered for a prayer,
They worshiped God and shared with friends
and welcomed strangers there.
They went to church to speak of love,
To celebrate God’s grace.
O Lord, we tremble when we hear
What happened in that place.

O God of love and justice, we thank you for the nine.
They served in their communities
and made the world more kind.
They preached and sang and coached and taught,
And cared for children, too.
They blessed your church and blessed your world
With gifts they used for you.

We grieve a wounded culture
Where fear and terror thrive,
Where some hate others for their race
And guns are glorified.
We grieve for sons and daughters lost,
For grandmas who are gone.
O God, we cry with broken hearts:
This can’t continue on!

God, may we keep on sowing
the seeds of justice here,
Till guns are silent, people sing,
and hope replaces fear.
May seeds of understanding grow
And flourish all our days.
May justice, love and mercy be
The banner that we raise.

Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Copyright © 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com
Permission is given for free use by local churches and in ecumenical services.

A call to worship for the tragedy at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston
We stand before you today, oh Lord
Hearts broken, eyes weeping, heads spinning
Our brothers and sisters have died
They gathered and prayed and then were no more
The prayer soaked walls of the church are spattered with blood
The enemy at the table turned on them in violence
While they were turning to you in prayer
We stand with our sisters
We stand with our brothers
We stand with their families
We stand to bear their burden in Jesus’ name

We cry out to you, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, heads spinning
The violence in our streets has come into your house
The hatred in our cities has crept into your sanctuary
The brokenness in our lives has broken into your temple
The dividing wall of hostility has crushed our brothers and sisters
We cry out to you, May your Kingdom come, may it be on earth as it is in heaven
We cry out for our sisters
We cry out for our brothers
We cry out for their families
We cry out for peace in Jesus’ name

We pray to you today, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, souls stirring
We pray for our enemies, we pray for those who persecute us
We pray to the God of all Comfort to comfort our brothers and sisters in their mourning
We pray that you would bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes
We pray that you would give them the oil of joy instead of mourning
We pray that you would give them a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair
We pray for our sisters
We pray for our brothers
We pray for their families
We pray for their comfort in Jesus’ name

We declare together, oh Lord
With hearts breaking, eyes weeping and souls stirring
We will continue to stand and cry and weep with our brothers and sisters
We will continue to make a place of peace for even the enemies at our table
We will continue to open our doors and our hearts to those who enter them
We will continue to seek to forgive as we have been forgiven
We will continue to love in Jesus’ name because you taught us that love conquers all
We declare our love for you, our Sisters
We declare our love for you, our Brothers
We declare our love for you, their families
We declare our love as one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism
We declare they do not grieve alone today

Source: One Church Liturgy

AME*************************************************************************************

Mindful of the floods in Manila and earthquakes in Iran in August 2012, and so many other natural disasters that devastate communities:

Most merciful God
in the midst of natural disaster
we look to you in hope and trust,
acknowledging that there is much in life
beyond our present understanding.
Accept our compassion for the suffering;
bless those who are working for their relief;
and show us what we can do to share in their task,
as servants of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning, Noon and Night, from New Parish Prayers, Ed. Frank Colquhoun, Hodder and Stoughton, London, Sydney, Auckland. 1999.

All things look to you, O Lord,
to give them their food in due season.
Look in mercy on your people,
and hear our prayer for those whose lives and possessions have been destroyed by the raging waters.
In your mercy, restore your creation and heal the land.
So guide and bless all your people,
that all may enjoy the fruit of the earth
and give you thanks with grateful hearts,
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Adapted from Occasional Prayer No. 12, A Prayer Book for Australia.

O God, we are stunned.
We cannot take it in.
It seems unreal and yet too real.
Bear with us in the pain of what has happened
and give us the healing of wounds that now run deep.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Adapted from Funeral Services of the Christian Churches in England, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2002.

God of compassion,
You created a world for us
to know your love and peace.
Yet amidst the beauty of creation we encounter pain and hurt
and forces beyond our control.
At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow
at the destruction of lives, homes and livelihoods.
Hear our prayers for those affected
by the floods and for all those working
to bring relief and fresh hope. Amen.
prayer: locally adapted from an original by wellsprings.co.uk

Liturgy (can be adapted to suit the context for disasters)

Prayer and Reflection to remember those whose lives have been devastated by (type of disaster and place)

CALL TO PRAYER
I pray to you, Lord! Please listen.
Don’t hide from me in my time of trouble
Pray attention to my prayer and quickly give an answer.

The Lord be with you
And also with you.

Let us pray (silence)

We come to you O God, in shock and grief, with our hearts full of sorrow
for the suffering of our sisters and brothers.
Comfort us, we pray,
and stay close to all who are working with the survivors of these tragedies
to find the lost, to care for the living,
and build new hope from the ruins.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

Psalm: 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations,
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands. O prosper the work of our hands!

EITHER of the following songs, A Trusting Psalm OR When Human Voices Cannot Sing could be placed here.

Song: A Trusting Psalm K. Bates

Refrain:
Lord, let your mercy be on us
As we place our trust in you.

The word of the Lord is faithfulness and love.
His love can never be measured.
His beauty is like nothing we have ever seen,
So let us place our trust in him.

The word of the Lord means a patient, gentle God.
His love can never grow weary.
His mercy is as though our sins have never been,
If we can place our trust in him.

The word of the Lord is fire burning strong.
His love can never grow weary.
He will seek and save the lost until we all return,
So let us place our trust in him.
©1989, Kevin Bates. Copyright agent: Willow Connection Pty Ltd. Used with permission. Word of Life International License No. 1550.

Song: When Human Voices Cannot Sing

  1. When human voices cannot sing
    and human hearts are breaking,
    we bring our grief to you, O God
    who knows our inner aching.
  2. Set free our spirits from all fear –
    the cloud of dark unknowing,
    and let the light, the Christ-light show
    the pathway of our going.
  3. Make real for us your holding love,
    the love which is your meaning,
    the power to move the stone of death,
    the hope of Easter morning.Words: Shirley Erena Murray. Words© 1992 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, II.60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Word of Life International License No. 1550.CELEBRATION OF THE WORD

Reading

A reading from the Book of Genesis

God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you,
and with every living creature that is with you;
the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you,
as many as came out of the ark.
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh
be cut off by the waters of a flood,
and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God said,
“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you
and every living creature that is with you, for all generations:
I have set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh;
and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the
Earth should change, though the mountains shake
in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
See what desolations he has brought on the earth;
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.

Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in the earth
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Gospel: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (4:35-41)

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them,
“Let us go across to the other side.”
And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat,
just as he was.
Other boats were with him.
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that the boat
was already being swamped.
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
And they woke him up and said to him
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea,
“Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?
And they were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this, That even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Reflection

Silence

Litany of Petitions

God the Father,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy and blessed Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

In these days of shock and mourning
Have mercy on us.
In the pain of lost life and shattered hopes,
Have mercy on us.
In our grieving for those who have died,
Have mercy on us.
In our compassion for all who are bereaved,
Have mercy on us.
For the rescue workers and medical teams treating the injured,
Lord hear our prayer.
For people searching for those who have not been accounted for,
Lord hear our prayer.
For the leaders of our state and nation, offering sympathy, support and aid,
Lord hear our prayer.
For emergency services and their workers responding with practical care,
Lord hear our prayer.
For a generous response to appeals for support,
Lord hear our prayer.
For those who have friends and family in the disaster areas,
Lord hear our prayer.
For the survivors who are left alone and bereaved of their loved ones,
Lord hear our prayer.
For communities that have lost their homes and livelihoods,
Lord hear our prayer.
For wisdom in planning the future for devastated communities,
Lord hear our prayer.
For solidarity with the suffering of the dispossessed,
Lord hear our prayer.
For the people of (name the places of concern)
Lord hear our prayer.
For the victims of drought, flood, fire or earthquake, everywhere on earth,
Lord hear our prayer.
For Christ to bring all the peoples of the world into one flock with one shepherd,
Lord hear our prayer
For Christ to bring healing and comfort for those we love who are sick or in mourning,
Lord hear our prayer.
For Christ to bring us with all who have died in faith to a joyful resurrection,
Lord hear our prayer.

N.B. A significant time of silence is suggested at this time.

Lord’s Prayer

And now as Christ our Saviour has taught us, we are confident to pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
Now and for ever. Amen.

EITHER of the following songs, Comfort, Comfort All My People OR Eye Has Not Seen could be placed here.

Song: Comfort, Comfort All My People R.Mann

Refrain:
Comfort, comfort all my people
with the comfort of my Word.
Speak it tender to my people:
All your sins are taken away.

1. Though your tears be rivers running,
though your tears be an ocean full,
though you cry with the hurt of living:
comfort, comfort.

Every valley shall be lifted,
every mountain shall be low,
every rough place will be smoother:
comfort, comfort.

Refrain:

2. Though your eyes see only darkness,
though your eyes can see no light,
though your eyes see pain and sorrow:
comfort, comfort.

Every night will have its morning,
every pain will have an end,
every burden will be lightened:
comfort, comfort.

Refrain:

Words and music © R. Mann. All rights reserved. Used by permission. 

Song: Eye Has Not Seen Marty Haugen

Refrain:
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard
what God has ready for those who love him;
Spirit of love, come, give us the mind of Jesus,
teach us the wisdom of God.

  1. When pain and sorrow weigh us down,
    be near to us, O Lord,
    forgive the weakness of our faith,
    and bear us up within your peaceful word.
  2. Our lives are but a single breath,
    we flower and we fade,
    yet all our days are in your hands
    so we return in love what love has made.
  3. To those who see with eyes of faith,
    the Lord is ever near,
    reflected in the faces of all the poor
    and lowly of the world.
  4. We sing a myst’ry from the past
    in halls where saints have trod,
    yet ever new the music rings to
    Jesus, Living Song of God.

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Marty Haugen, b. 1950. © 1982, GIA Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

CLOSING PRAYER

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Consoling God, source of all comfort,
Lift the burden of despair and grief from those who suffer.
Enkindle in us the hope of your Spirit.
Show us how you want us to live and give us the courage
and the goodness to reach out to others in their distress.
Do not abandon your people in their time of need.
We ask this in the name of the One who knew suffering and loss,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May he look upon you with kindness, and give you his peace.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you and all those you love;
this day and forever more. Amen

Song: Prayer for Peace D.Hass

  1. Peace before us, peace behind us,
    Peace under our feet.
    Peace within us, peace over us,
    Let all around us be peace.
  2. Love before us, love behind us,
    Love under our feet.
    Love within us, love over us,
    Let all around us be love.
  3. Light before us, light behind us,
    Light under our feet.
    Light within us, light over us,
    Let all around us be light.
  4. Christ before us, Christ behind us,
    Christ under our feet.
    Christ within us, Christ over us,
    Let all around us be Christ.
  5. Peace before us, peace behind us,
    Peace under our feet.
    Peace within us, peace over us,
    Let all around us be peace.
    Let all around us be peace.
    ©1987, GIA Publications, Inc.
    All rights reserved. Used with permission. Word of Life International

N.B. Hymnals: When Human Voices Cannot Sing and Comfort Comfort All My People (Together In Song). A Trusting Psalm and Eye Has Not Seen (Gather Australia and As One Voice I). Prayer for Peace (As One Voice I).

Silence: Ensure that pronounced times of silence are made after psalms, readings and reflection.

Liturgy prepared by combined Anglican, Lutheran, Uniting and Roman Catholic Churches of Toowoomba Qld. Adapted by Diocesan Liturgical Commission, Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba, Qld.

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UCA Sunday, 22nd June 1977

The Uniting Church in Australia celebrated the formal union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Church on June 22nd, 1977.

Here is the combined service used at Pilgrim Church on UCA Sunday 2013.
UCA Anniversary 2013

Order of service from UCA Worship Working Group for 30th Anniversary here.

Here is a list of other resources for UCA Sunday: UCA Anniversary

“GOD OF OUR LIFE, THROUGH ALL THE CIRCLING YEARS”
(Tune: Sandon, TiS #582)

God of our life, through all the circling years,
We trust in thee;
In all the past, through all our hopes and fears,
thy hand we see.
With each new day, when morning lifts the veil,
we own thy mercies, Lord, which never fail.

God of the past, our times are in thy hand;
with us abide.
Lead us by faith to hope’s true promised land;
be thou our Guide.
With thee to bless, the darkness shines as light,
and faith’s fair vision changes into sight.

God of the coming years, through paths unknown
we follow thee;
when we are strong, Lord, leave us not alone;
our Refuge be.
Be thou for us in life our daily Bread,
our heart’s true Home when all our years have sped.

Words: Hugh Thomson Kerr (1872-1950), 1916.
(NOTE: Kerr wrote this hymn for the 50th anniversary of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.)
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Refugee Week (World Refugee Day June 20)

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. UnitingJustice Australia has released their Refugee Week (14–20 June) resources for 2015 with the theme ‘With courage let us all combine.’ Taken from the second verse of the Australian national anthem, this year’s theme celebrates the courage of refugees who have refused to deny their beliefs or identity in the face of persecution, fled their homeland and often endured terrifying and dangerous journeys only to face the cruelty of detention before working hard to make a new life for themselves and their families. It also serves as a call to action for all Australians. Download the resource here.

 

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COCU43B Pentecost 3B.14th June 2015

Reading: Mark 4:26-34

Mark’s Gospel relates two parables that use seeds as the metaphor for God’s Reign. In both readings the message is clear: God often uses the least, the smallest, the hidden, to accomplish God’s purposes. God’s work is often subversive and hidden, and God often works God’s transformation by using small things to slowly and gently impact our world. This week we will be exploring how to recognize and co-operate with the small, hidden work of God in our lives and our world.
Reflection: The two parables that Jesus tells in this reading are both simple and very comforting. In the one, the Reign of God is shown to be a reality that grows in secret in ways that we cannot control or even understand, but that produces fruit if we just nurture it and receive it. In the other, God’s Reign grows from small, but significant, things. The seed is the perfect metaphor for these truths. Farmers work with seeds – planting them, watering them, weeding the ground, nourishing the soil – but no farmer can make a seed grow. All they do is co-operate with the process of growth that is built into the seed. In the same way, we cannot make God’s Reign grow. We can only open our hearts and allow the seed to be sown into our hearts. We can only nurture, nourish, and water the seed, and then trust that God’s Reign will grow in our hearts and lives. Furthermore, the miracle of the seed is that a tiny thing can become a large and sheltering plant. God’s Reign is like this. Even the smallest actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts can be seeds that can grow into significant movements or realities in which God’s Reign is manifest.
The invitation that lies in these two stories is simple. Rather than strive in our own ability to make God’s Reign visible in our lives and our world, we need only open ourselves to God’s activity and presence. Then, often in ways that we can’t observe or control, God’s Reign begins to take hold of us, and we begin to change – with the result that we begin to reflect the character and compassion of Jesus, and bring life, healing, and welcome to others.
How can you open your heart to the seed of God’s Reign today? How can you trust the process of growth that God has created to bring the change you need in your life?
Practice for Today: It can be helpful, in seeking to allow God’s Reign to grow in us, to learn to be more mindful. This doesn’t mean we have to “watch” the growth process or try to control it. It just means that we look for the signs that God’s Reign is becoming visible in our lives. The practice of listening – to our hearts, to others and to the world around us – is a good way to grow in mindfulness. Try it today.
Breath-Prayer for Today: Open my awareness to the seeds of God’s Reign growing in my heart and in my world.
(John van de Laar)

IMG_3120

sign on the window of De Nieuwe Poort, Amsterdam

You walk in your garden,
enjoying what you have planted,
burgeoning, beautiful.

It has come from your hand
and yet from its own mystery,
each blossom a gift of grace.

You stand for a while, still,
taking in the beauty,
simply relishing being there.

You also know what you have sown
that is not yet up,
still hidden, gorgeous.

That, too, you savour,
the promise, the mystery,
the coming.

It is enough for you
to be here, to take it in.
This is its purpose, its perfection.

God, I too am still, sharing your delight
in the garden you have planted
in me.

(c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Every act of service, every effort of justice, every act of peace, healing, and reconciliation will not be overlooked by God, but will someday grow to bring forth results that we cannot imagine. God is redeeming the world through mustard seed churches and ordinary people who give themselves to the love and grace of God. Kyle Childress, Ekklesia Project.

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World Oceans Day – June 8th

A bit of cross-referencing here from my DIAKONIA website about World Oceans Day (June 8th), which includes some resources, youtube clip, hymn, prayers.

A young man expels part of his breath as he and friends duck under a breaking wave at Coogee beach in Sydney. Photographer Mark Tipple was capturing images of local Sydneysiders swimming on the first warm day of Summer. © Mark Tipple / The Underwater Project "I've always been intrigued by what happens below the surface, like what's happening where we can't see." While watching the slide-show on Mark's laptop I'm amazed at the detail of this 'other world' that's portrayed with his selection. As an accomplished documentary photographer, in the past Mark has used the ocean as an escape for some solace away from his projects. Lately, while between projects he's been "hanging out" below the surface trying to capture what happens while swimming on a slow summer's day. "Coming from a surfing background I used to wonder what happens when we're duck-diving, like, what it looks like from a different angle than what we can see. Kinda hard to explain but it has always been on my mind. I used to surf with a small video camera and housing attached to my helmet, (pauses) it worked surprisingly well but my neck couldn't take the impact and stress while trying to duck-dive and capture the right angle. Even tried to turn it back on myself to see what happens clearer but that, uh, sucked (laughs). I looked for a new approach to capture what I was seeking, which basically meant getting off the surfboard."

A young man expels part of his breath as he and friends duck under a breaking wave at Coogee beach in Sydney. Photographer Mark Tipple was capturing images of local Sydneysiders swimming on the first warm day of Summer.
© Mark Tipple / The Underwater Project

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Winter

leunigwinterOpening Prayer
Holy One,
today the cold wind
chased us from our homes
across the car park
and into the warmth
of this church, the warmth
of your welcoming love, and
the warmth of our community.
As we gather together today,
let us not forget those who are homeless,
and have no warmth awaiting them:
keep us aware and compassionate.
May the fire we kindle here
fill our hearts with your love,
and may we carry it away within us
and warm the hearts of others. Amen.

There is a winter in all of our lives
There is a winter in all of our lives,
a chill and darkness that makes us yearn
for days that have gone
or put our hope in days yet to be.

God, you created the seasons for a purpose.
Spring is full of expectation
buds breaking
frosts abating and an awakening
of creation before the first days of summer.

The summer sun gives warmth
and comfort to our lives
reviving aching joints
bringing colour, new life
and crops to fruiting.

Autumn gives nature space
to lean back, relax and enjoy the fruits of its labour
mellow colours in sky and landscape
as the earth prepares to rest.

Then winter, cold and bare as nature takes stock
rests, unwinds, sleeps until the time is right.

An endless cycle
and yet a perfect model.
We need a winter in our lives.
A time of rest, a time to stand still.
A time to reacquaint ourselves
with the faith in which we live and breathe.
It is only then that we can draw strength
from the one in whom we are rooted,
take time to grow and rise through the darkness
into the warm glow of springtime,
to blossom and flourish,
bring colour and vitality into this world,
your garden.

The end of a cycle has come
This is the time of harvest, of thanksgiving and of leave-taking and sorrow. Life appears to decline. The season of barrenness is upon us, yet we give thanks for that which we have reaped and gathered. The end of a cycle has come. We enter our resting season. The seed now begins its time of gestation in the rich dark earth. It is the great cold of night; not the negative images of darkness, but the dark richness of that unknown, fertile, deep part in each of us where our intuitive creative forces abide. The Christ energy enters the earth at this season. The nights grow shorter, the light returns and in time we experience rebirth.
Wendell Berry

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Lament

The following two prayers/reflections were written following the execution of Andrew Chan and Myurun Sukumaran in Indonesia. The words could easily be adapted for another sorrow, for surely there will be more to come that our nation will be engulfed in in one way or another, as well as sorrow for what happens beyond our own nation. 

There is within me a deep heaviness – a strong-sighing of spirit
a day in which for me life continues as a muted-blessing
yet with an arduousness in which living becomes a burden
and every thought encapsulates a cry of deep-sadness

Is this just me responding with the mood of a nation?

Is this just me being carried along by the build-up of collective emotion?

Or could it be a sharing from within this pit-of-anguish
a deep-care and identification that offers
the possibilities of reconciliation and healing between the nations?

Perhaps a bearing-the-burdens on behalf of the people?
Carrying us all into the arms of Grace Mercy and Forgiveness

Intensely-participating in our nations shared-experience of grief
in ways that may just enable Resurrections to break-out in our lives
with their own surprising new possibilities?

And so –

Strength and Peace in our Ongoing

(c) John Cranmer 2015

A Lament Over Death
Loving God of justice,
Christ of the cross,
Spirit of healing and peace,
Another person is dead,
And another.
Power has been misused.
Anger and violence have prevailed again.
These we know about.
More people are dead.
Many more.
Many we know little about.
Lives have been extinguished.
Their bodies lie quiet.
The grieving weep loudly.
We mourn. We lament.
We long for justice in this world.
We long for mercy in this world.
We long for compassion in this world.
We long for healing in this world.
We long for love in this world.
We long for a different way that restores, reconciles, renews and transforms.
May we be granted wisdom to know what to do.
May we be granted wisdom, so that we might know what part we can play.
May we be granted courage, so that we might take action to end this waste of life.
May it be so!
(c) Jon Humphries, adapted

Blessing When the World is Ending

Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.

Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.

Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun
the knife
the fist.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door
the shattered hope.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone
the television
the hospital room.

Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you
will not mend you
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.

– Jan Richardson

– See more at: http://adventdoor.com/2014/11/23/advent-1-blessing-when-the-world-is-ending/#sthash.Jd3JaLE4.TB7TixfF.dpuf

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COCU42B, Pentecost 2B, 7June2015

Readings: Psalm 138; 1 Samuel 8: 4-11, (12-15), 16-20; (11: 14-15); 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35
As ‘ordinary time’ returns after the Lent and Easter cycle, we return to semi-continuous reading of Mark’s Gospel. The lectionary also follows 2 Corinthians.

Jan Richardson reflection here.

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 138)
With my whole heart, we give you thanks, O God!
In the face of all the things that clamor for our attention each day, we turn to focus our adoration on you alone, O Lord!
Even though your name is above every name, O God, you recognize us and cherish the meek.
You, Lord, do not give any special honor to the proud and arrogant.  Instead, you strengthen those who are ridiculed and downtrodden.
Let us lift our voices in praise of the God of Love!
Together, let us worship the God who never forgets us!
(c) Amy Loving, The Worship Closet

Prayer of Confession (inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1)
Faithful God, we confess that we sometimes act as though there is no hope.  We forget the promise of resurrection.  We fail to see your grace at work in our lives, and so we waste time dwelling on our afflictions instead of celebrating our blessings.  Open our eyes, dear Lord.  Give us your vision, so we may glimpse your eternal glory.  Encourage us, so that we persevere and never lose heart.  We pray these things in the name of the One who holds our future in the safety of his hands. (c) Amy Loving, The Worship Closet

Prayer of Approach and Confession
(inspired by Mark 3:20-35)
O God, you call us like a good parent to you to guide and protect us, to nourish and lead us. Brother Jesus, you call us like a caring elder brother to serve us and help us, to cheer us and invite us. Healing Spirit, you call us and move us ever closer into fellowship with you and each other.
Yet like unruly children we strain at your guidance, we try to break away and do it ourselves. We feel our strength and imagine to be all powerful. We rejoice in our life and imagine ourselves to be immortal. We know our talents and want to be independent rather than depend on you. Before we know it we are in the grip of other powers, leading us away from your loving ways into the slavery of selfish greed, adoring false gods of youth-fulness, materialism and power.
Lord, forgive us and free us. Open our eyes how your wisdom knows true leadership to be service. Open our hearts that we may learn that neither race or tribe, culture or religion are barriers to separate us but that we are all one family in your love.
So open our hearts and minds to learn again to live your love as we celebrate and worship you here together.
(c) Rev. Andrea Price, Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website.

Sermon (Nathan Nettleton) – Ties that bind
Unquestioning allegiances to family and nation keep us bound to satanic systems, but Jesus binds the satan and breaks us free to be the new family of God.

Sermon reflections (Andrew Prior) – Healing the family sandwich

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