Advent

Readings

Advent 1B
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

Advent 2B
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

Advent 3B
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Advent water wreath (particularly for southern hemisphere, and Australia
Using water as the entry point for the advent themes, especially suitable for the southern hemisphere as summer approaches and for the season of drought in many places.

http://ctm.uca.edu.au/childrenfamilies/files/2012/07/watery_advent_wreath.pdf

Christmas Bowl Resources, including songs, prayers and Advent Candle litanies here.

From the depths we cry by Claire McKeever-Burgett
This is particular to events in the USA and can be easily adapted to local contexts. It is a lament and written in the context of Advent 2014 (can be used in place of prayers of confession). (Written in memory of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and all other black boys and men, black girls and women killed by those who purportedly exist to keep our communities safe.)
We hear the cry of Eric Garner’s widow: “Hell, no. The time for remorse for the death of my husband was when he was yelling to breathe.”
We hear the cry of Michael Brown’s mother: “We heard this and it was just like, like I had been shot. Like you shoot me now — just no respect, no sympathy, nothing. This could be your child. This could be anybody’s child.”
We hear the cry of Rachel in Ramah, one of deep anguish and bitter weeping, refusing to be comforted because her children are no more. (Jeremiah 31: 15)[1]
We hear the cry of Maya Angelou: “It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.
We hear the cry of Rev. Jeff Hood: “I keep thinking about Eric Garner saying, ‘I can’t breathe.- It made me think — that’s what Jesus is saying in this culture. Jesus is fundamentally connected to the marginalized and right now Jesus is saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I think the church should be saying the same thing — that we can’t breathe in this culture and we have to change this culture in order for us to have breath and exist in this society.”
We hear the cry of the prophets: “Repent, for the kin-dom of heaven is come near! Prepare the way of the Lord, and make the paths right!”
We hear the cries of each other[2]:
How do we live in a world that kills unarmed black boys?
How do we raise our children in world that sets murderers free?
What does our privilege afford us, and what does our privilege call us to do?
A silence is kept
Cries of silence, cries of pain rise up like incense before the Holy One as we sit, as we wait.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, God hears the voices of grieving mothers and marginalized prisoners and oppressed captives.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, God attends our needs for peace, for healing, for justice, for love.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, we sit together, and we wait.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, we trust and we live.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy, we sing a new song in spite of our fear.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy a child is born.
From the depths, we cry, and from mercy we creatively and powerfully act.
A silence is kept
Amen.
[1] If we are to be so bold, someone could actually yell a cry here. It is dramatic, but I think it’s appropriate and adds texture to the true lamentation – or, invite a grieving mother to read this line about Rachel.
[2] Here, I would invite people to voice their questions, their cries, their laments. I would place a few in the congregation as “plants” with something already prepared, but invite people to spontaneously speak aloud a one sentence question or cry or lament.

Let us practice being ready
It doesn’t matter whether or not you can have faith;
whether or not you are cynical or despairing, hope-filled or hope-less:
what matters to God is simply that you are here.
We are entering the time of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.
Advent reminds us that if God is to be born again
in the most ordinary parts of our world and our lives
that we need prepare for it.
We need to make the space in our lives where love might be born.
Welcome to this tiny corner of a harsh and dark world.
Together, let us practice being ready in the faith that Christ will come.    Cheryl Lawrie

Learning to walk in the dark (Barbara Brown Taylor)
‘Through darkness, we begin to see the world and sense God’s presence around us in new ways, guiding us through things seen and unseen, and teaching us to find our footing in times of uncertainty. Like seeds buried in the ground, we will find how darkness is essential for our own growth and flourishing’.
‘I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.
Recognising our tendency to associate all that is good with light, and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness, BBT asks whether God doesn’t work at night too?
In Advent, themes of light and dark are explored, often with light trumping the darkness. But maybe this duality is unhelpful. At Pilgrim, we are doing a study of BBT’s book as our  Advent study this year. The wonderful Helen Wiltshire has penned some Advent introductions for our services in 2014 which will deliberately juxtapose hope with its opposite, love with its opposite etc and thereby explore the dark shadows, and discover God is in the darkness too.
Advent thoughts.HelenWiltshire.2014

Smuggling God into the world inside your own body
In a sermon about Mary’s response to God, Barbara Brown Taylor once said:
“If you decide to say no, you simply drop your eyes and refuse to look up until you know the angel has left the room and you are alone again. Then you smooth your hair and go back to your spinning or your reading or whatever it is that is most familiar to you and pretend that nothing has happened…. Or you can set your book down and listen to a strange creature’s strange idea. You can decide to take part in a plan you did not choose, doing things you do not know how to do for reasons you do not entirely understand. You can take part in a thrilling and dangerous scheme with no script and no guarantees. You can agree to smuggle God into the world inside your own body.
From “Mothers of God ” in Gospel Medicine

Reflection on consumerism and the realm of God
on Sojourners, by Scott Bessenecker
“The gospel ought to consume us; instead we have turned it into a consumable. I believe the good news about the reign of Christ over the all creation, the invitation to love our enemies, the vision of communities beating their weapons into agricultural implements, has been turned into a product. For many the gospel has been reduced to a privatized salvific experience purchased through a ministry outlet mall – the church dressed up like a coffee shop selling cups of Pumpkin Spice Saviour. When the gospel is reduced to a highly individualized and highly privatized experience, we lose the larger picture of God’s plan to make all things new. We see our part in God’s mission exclusively through the lens of producing a convert, not restoring the cosmos. If the gospel were only about words, then I suppose it could be wrapped in packaging and sold at gospel outlet malls. But its nature is cosmic and its purveyors are organic. It defies the easy reduction to a sales pitch. If the mission of God is the renewal and reconciliation of all things – people, planet, and powers – then the people of God need to be about the activities of God”.

Who’s birthday is it anyway? Advent Studies by Walter Brueggeman

Click on the link for more resources……

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Compilation Calendar of Commemorations (UCA)

This calendar of commemorations has been prepared for use in the Uniting Church in Australia. It’s not the feast days or saints days as such, and includes some more contemporary people in the life of the wider church.

Compilation Calendar of Commemorations

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World Toilet Day – Nov 19th

World Toilet Day service in Geneva 2014

19 November is World Toilet Day. This international day of action aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge. Can you imagine not having a toilet? Can you imagine not having privacy when you need to relieve yourself? Although unthinkable for those living in wealthy parts of the world, this is a harsh reality for many – in fact, one in three people on this globe does not have access to a toilet!

2014 Order of Service (Ecumenical Water Network): ‘Human Right to a Dignified Sanitation’. ORDER OF SERVICE 17 Nov 2014 – sanitation_14th -2-_Final

A prayer (source: World Council of Churches)
Lord, we remember in our prayers the billions of people around the world, particularly from Africa and Asia, who do not have access to safe sanitation facilities and thereby have to face illness, humiliation and even death. Lord, we pray that they may have access to a dignified life by getting access to adequate means of sanitation facilities. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Lord, with other people of goodwill, help us to provide better sanitation facilities with good hygiene that can reduce deaths caused by diseases related to diarrhoea. Empower us to achieve universal access to water and sanitation latest by 2030 (as per the UN Sustainable Development Goals). To this end, bless the Ecumenical Water Network of the WCC, so that it may be instrumental in achieving this goal. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer. Amen.

Information
A former minister of environment from India describes India as the “largest open-air toilet in the world”. In India alone 680 million people openly defecate. The new Prime Minister of India recently made it mandatory that within a year, that each school in India must have at least two “functioning” toilets
A woman in India said, ‘every day is a nightmare for us….we have to plan every night, before we go to bed, where shall we go tomorrow to attend the nature’s call! Many a times we have to simply ‘control’ our urge to ‘defecate’ and postpone it till the night falls’.
Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. This holds particularly true for women and girls, who lose their privacy and have to face humiliation and shame having to defecate in public, or they have to painfully hold their bladder and bowels all day, risking their health by waiting until night falls.

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Reign of Christ A

Christ in Judgment

(see also Reign of Christ B in ‘Year B’ on this site for other resources. Also, Textweek has an incredible range of resources)

Reign of Christ Sunday (or ‘Christ the King’) was first instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius IX, and over time, has become an ecumenical observance. The one enthroned is also the one who takes the role of the servant and washes feet, and wears a crown of thorns. His concern for the outcast and wounded is in keeping with the actions of the shepherd in Ezekiel. (from ‘Gathering’, United Church of Canada)

READINGS
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

First Thoughts on the Old Testament Readings:
http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/webotcomments/ContentspageYearA.html (Howard Wallace)

http://www.oldtestamentlectionary.unitingchurch.org.au/Lectionary.htm

First Thoughts on the New Testament Readings (Bill Loader)

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/lectionaryindex.html

WELCOME and GREETING
Grace to you, and peace from the One who is and who was and who is to come. May this be a time and place of peace, that everyone who enters, enters in peace; and everyone who leaves, leaves in peace. 
Today is both the end and climax of the Christian year, which began in Advent last December. Today we celebrate the reign of Christ, Christ the King, and the paradox of the one named king who lays down the power to destroy, a leader who treads through the costly journey and into the shadow places of night, that we might find the rising of life before us. Christ the King, born to witness to God’s truth, whose might lies in mercy. 
When we speak of Christ as king, we speak of one who: is the first child of a village woman, born in a stable; is a story teller among the common people: welcomes children that gather around him, lays his hands on unclean lepers, makes disciples out of fishermen tax collectors, dines with traitors and other dregs of society, washes the feet of his followers, tramps around the country on foot, allows a prostitute to publicly wipe his feet with her hair. His only crown – a wreath of thorns. His only throne – two crossed planks of wood. (adapted, Bruce Prewer) In him, there is no shadow or darkness, but a light wherein the humble and poor may walk secure forever and ever! Praise his name!

Call to worship (based on Psalm 100)
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing.
Know that the LORD is God. It is God who made us, and we belong to God;
We are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture.
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and God’s courts with praise.
Give thanks to God! Bless God’s name.
For the LORD is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness to all generations.

AN AUSTRALIAN PSALM OF PRAISE: “JESUS IS KING!”
Come, join to praise with morning light: our loving King!
Let grateful voices sound with might: our loving King!
Let children’s voices tell their praise,
While aged lips extol your ways,
Let every tongue in joy unite: our loving King
To you we bring our praise!
Let songs like this ring through our land: our loving King!
From coastal farms and inland sand: our loving King!
Let all our nation thankful raise
Its voice in glad tumultuous praise: our loving King
To you we bring our praise!
Let earth’s great millions thunderous shout: our loving King!
Let this song spin the clouds about: our loving King!
We’ll always shout and sing your praise
While years flit by like passing days,
Until time runs its last hour out: our loving King
To you we bring our praise!
(by Bruce D. Prewer, ‘Australian Psalms’) Continue reading

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Year A Proper 27, November 9, 2014

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Flickr Creative Commons Copyright Brijesh Bhaskaran

Sermon
A thoughtful reflection here on the Gospel for the day – the 10 bridesmaids, by David R. Henson.
(Somebody commented that this sermon is ‘an excellent and daring exposition of this parable that I’ve puzzled over at times myself. Yours is almost like a rabbinical approach, which most Christians are not willing to do — put the scripture out on the table, openly admit the problems, hash it out and explore it from different vantage points. Thank you for sharing this!’ The writer responds: ‘Thanks for this! I sometimes think we’d do better if we approached parables from a rabbinical perspective.  Amy-Jill Levine’s book Short Stories by Jesus is terrific on this point’.)

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Remembrance Day

Resources for Remembrance Day

Prayer
For those whom we have asked
to bear the horror of our violence
we offer our prayers
of thanks for their willingness
to stand between us and our fears,
for forgiveness for having asked them,
of healing for the damage to their souls
by what they have done and seen,
for mercy for them who don’t know
how to carry the horror back to us,
how to shed the darkness
we have asked them to drink,
how to live among us, who are so willing
to sacrifice our children.
May we give others peace to bear, not fear,
healing to carry, not weapons,
and send them into blessing, not danger.
May we, too, have the courage to serve,
to risk, to give our lives in love
for the sake of our homeland,
which is the Kingdom of God,
the whole human family,
in the spirit of peace. Amen.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes, www.unfoldinglight.net

UCA 2014 Remembrance Day resources
2014_UCA_Remembrance_Sunday_Resources
Remembrance_Day_resources

Remembrance Day youtube resource (3.21 mins) – prayer meditation

Prayer for Remembrance Day
Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may give us peace:
for the service men and women
who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God;
may God give peace. God give peace. Continue reading

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All Saints Day

We are ourselves borne on the shoulders of others – a vast communion of saints, past, present and to come. We are a wonderfully rich and varied family of faith
– that prays for us when we can no longer pray for ourselves
– that believes for us when our own faith falters
– that supports us in times of weakness
– that enlightens us in hours of darkness
– that embraces us in moments of despair
– that endures even in the face of the gates of hell.
(Rev David Gill, Secretary of the UCA Assembly, 1980-88)

Sermon
Nadia Bolz Weber – a sermon for All Saints Day (including an audio link), based on the Beatitudes

Prayer by Janet Morley
For all the saints who went before us who have spoken to our hearts and touched us with your fire, we praise you, O God.
For all the saints who live beside us whose weaknesses and strengths are woven with our own, we praise you, O God.
For all the saints who live beyond us who challenge us to change the world with them, we praise you, O God.

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Peace in our Time

As the world prepares for another round of international military engagement in Iraq; as the situation in Syria escalates; as war, displacement, violence and death continue and refugees flood out of trouble spots seeking refuge –  we continue to pray for peace.

I came across a Youtube music clip with words by Australian musician and composer Melvyn Cann, and sung by Rachel.

The youtube music clip has images overlaid so could easily be used as a meditation during prayers for others.

Here are the words to the song:

Now comes the evening , when all of mankind,
shuts up the shutters, and pulls down the blinds.
Where has the light gone, that shone through our window when we were children?

Now comes the morning, on a desolate plain,
rushes the wind, and beats down the rain.
Hear in the caverns, the echoes of pain and cries of the people.

Now all the children who live in the streets, come to that window all looking for treats,
Now feel the splinter , the cold of their winter when they find nothing.

Now feel the anger of a suffering earth,
its love for its creatures, its pains to give birth,
its healing and breaking, its watching and waiting for PEACE IN OUR TIME!

Right by that window, and written in blood,
lies the name of someone you love,
had you but told them, and held them and kissed them things might be different

Now comes the evening , when all of mankind
shuts up the shutters, and pulls down the blinds,
Now comes the morrow, when hope is upon us- yes we are children!

Music and lyrics Melvyn Cann
Production/ guitar Stephen Joyce
Vocals Rachel
Recorded in 1989, video production 2014 by Rachel

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58A, 21st September, 2014

15th Sunday after Pentecost [Pent 15A] [Ord 25A] [Prop 20A]

Readings:

Resources: Textweek, Singing from the Lectionary

Also, Week 3 of Seasons of Creation – Wilderness Sunday.
Music suggestions for Wilderness Sunday in Singing from the Lectionary

 

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53A, August 24th, 2014

11th Sunday after Pentecost [Pent 11A] [Ord 21A] [Prop 16A]
Sunday between August 21 and 27 inclusive

Readings:

First Thoughts on the Old Testament Readings of the RCL

http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/webotcomments/ContentspageYearA.html

http://www.oldtestamentlectionary.unitingchurch.org.au/Lectionary.htm

First Thoughts on the New Testament Readings of the RCL

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/lectionaryindex.html

Reflecting on ‘the body’ and community in Romans 12: 13-Ways-of-Looking-at-Community-ParkerJPalmer

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