Prayers for others – various

God for all who at this moment in time are threatened with death
for no reason other than the colour of their skin, their ethnicity,
or that they are seeking enough to eat, we pray.
For all who risk their lives on a journey
to find a place of freedom and hope, we pray.

For all who are willing to exploit others for their own enrichment,
for those who are willing to imprison and kill others for their own poetical ends,
and for those who can stand by while the innocent are made to suffer
and who profit from that suffering, we pray.

We pray that hope will not die in the hearts of the afflicted.
We pray that joy and the possibility of renewal will not be suffocated  in the hearts of the afflicters.
We pray that all whose lifestyles are propped up by the suffering of others
will not long be deaf, blind and numb to their complicity but will rise up and demand change.

We pray for the one-day-to-come-world  when death is done,
and all our wildest hopes become our everyday experiences.
We pray in the name of the suffering, innocent Jesus. Amen.

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Holy Saturday reflection – Learning to wait in the dark

JESUS TOMB DARK

A reflection by Barbara Brown Taylor:

Holy Saturday reminds me that one has to learn how to be Christian. When I first came to Christian faith, the day meant nothing to me. It was the blank day between the high dramas of Good Friday and Easter, the day when nothing happened. Jesus was dead and buried. Everyone had gone home to get some rest. In the morning he would rise triumphant from the grave but meanwhile there was nothing to do. The church service — if there was one — lasted no more than fifteen minutes. It seemed rude to go shopping after that, or to check the movie listings. So I puttered the day away, rattling around the house doing nothing much while the clock ticked toward Easter. Holy Saturday was a placeholder, an empty set of parentheses, a waiting room for a train that would not come until morning.

Later, when I became a priest, Holy Saturday was the day when members of the congregation came to the church for private confession. There were never more than four or five of them, who showed up at discreet intervals so they did not even see each other’s cars in the parking lot. The list of names changed every year. Whatever was going on with them, the general confession they said with everyone else on Sunday mornings was not helping. They needed to find their own words for what they had done, or what had been done to them. They needed to say those words out loud so they could hear them without anyone else’s words covering them up.

My only job was to listen, pronouncing some of the sweetest words in the prayer book at the end: “Now there is rejoicing in heaven; for you were lost, and are found; you were dead, and are now alive in Christ Jesus our Lord. Go in peace. The Lord has put away all your sins.” After that I waited in the church for the next person to come, which was often as long as an hour. Sometimes I lay down on a pew, which was how I began to imagine Jesus lying on a stone ledge in the dark. I had been to Jerusalem, so I knew how tombs looked in those days: low holes in rock walls, with narrow bunks inside to hold the dead bodies until the flesh on them was gone and the bones could be gathered up for safe-keeping.

That was where Jesus spent Holy Saturday: in a dark hole in the ground, doing absolutely nothing. It was the Sabbath, after all. His friends had worked hard to make sure he was laid to rest before the sun went down. Then they went home to rest too, because that was what they did on Saturdays. Once it was clear that there was nothing they could do to secure their own lives or the lives of those they loved, they rested in the presence of the Maker of All Life and waited to see what would happen next.

Though Christians speak of “witnesses to the resurrection,” there were no witnesses. Everyone who saw Jesus alive again saw him after. As many years as I have been listening to Easter sermons, I have never heard anyone talk about that part. Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. Whatever happened to Jesus between Saturday and Sunday, it happened in the dark, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. It happened where no one but him could talk about it later, and he did not talk about it — at least not so anyone could explain it to anyone else.

That is what Holy Saturday has taught me about being Christian. Between the great dramas of life, there is almost always a time of empty waiting — with nothing to do and no church service to help — a time when it is necessary to come up with your own words and see how they sound with no other sounds to cover them up. If you are willing to rest in this Sabbath, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face and none of your self-protective labors can do you one bit of good, then you may come as close to the Christ as you will ever get — there in that quiet cave where you wait to see how the Maker of All Life will choose to come to you in the dark.

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Lent 4A – raising of Lazarus

Words of Assurance
In God, Source of Life,
our deaths are not the final word,
our moments of crisis are part of eternal possibility,
and our weakness is taken up into the courage of God.

As followers of Jesus of the Way,
our humanness is touched with divine life,
our tears are mingled with longing love,
and our solidarity with those who suffer
is joined by divine presence.

In the Spirit of Creativity,
there are no boundaries on the dream,
there is no end to hope,
and we will never live beyond the cherishing of God.
 (Adapd/DMcRae-McMahon/bst)

 

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Lent 1 (first Sunday in Lent)

Giving up chocolate and beer for Lent is not what Jesus had in mind by Landon Whitsitt

Links to resources for Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter here.

Textweek worship suggestions
Helpful reflections on the lectionary texts: Sharron R. Blezzard

Scroll down for music suggestions.

Introduction to Lent in the service:
Today is the first Sunday in the Season of Lent. Lent is a time in which we reflect upon our personal faith and walk with the Lord. Some people spend extra time in prayer and study of the Bible during Lent.  Some people fast.  Some people dispense with unnecessary luxuries and try to live more simply.  Some people set aside money for the poor and needy.  All of these are worthy pursuits. But the worthiest pursuit is our desire to be closer to God and to understand what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. Let us together enter into all the disciplines of Lent.  And in our journeying together may we become more of what Christ had intended us to be when he called us to be his own.

Year A
RCL Readings:
Genesis 2: (7-9) 15-17, 3:1-7     The Garden of Eden
Psalm 32                                       Confession and Forgiveness
Romans 5:12-19                           Adam and Christ
Matthew 4:1-11                            The Temptation of Christ

Howard Wallace – reflections on Old Testament Readings

Bill Loader – reflection on New Testament readings

A table ready to receive a pile of sand, a cross, a purple cloth, a candle blown out, a bible and some pebbles. Place these on the table during these words.
The dust that shapes the journey,
the cross that guides it,
the colour that surrounds it,
the light that fades through it,
the word that foretells it,
the wilderness that invites it.
This is Lent,
and into its wilderness
God calls us.
Come,
brothers and sisters,
Christ is heading for Jerusalem.
(Source: ‘Starters For Sunday’, Church of Scotland, 2014)

Prayers of who we are (prayers of confession)
On this first Sunday of Lent we get serious about our human predicament.  We face up to the fact that humanity is a sorely tempted and gravely corrupted species of life, and that evil which is not honestly confronted and dealt with, will do anything to exclude God from its sphere of influence.  We also acknowledge one young man from Nazareth, who fought temptation and the source of evil without compromise, and by his efforts opened up an avenue of liberation for humankind (Bruce D. Prewer, Feb 2002)
Let us spend time listening to the conflicted voices within ourselves, within our community, within our world. A silence is kept. 

LUKE 4:1-13
“He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.”
It’s a story probably not true on the outside, but true on the inside:about a journey of the heart, into the heart. Take it literally and we lose the story’s power.
Our place, south of the equator, means that Lent is not a lengthening of the light but a lengthening of the dark, of light fading to darkness: a journey into our inmost being, an echo of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and death, of warm air giving way to cold, of waiting for the autumn rains while the earth cries, “I thirst!”
It’s a story not just about Jesus wrestling with temptation and evil;
it’s also our story, the struggle in our lives, taking responsibility for our words, our actions.
“When the devil had finished every test he departed from him until an opportune time.”
Source: Jeff Shrowder, http://thebillabong.info/lectionary-2/year-c-luke/19c-lent-1c/

Music suggestions – Singing from the lectionary (Natalie Sims)

“Love will be our Lenten calling” (Elizabeth Smith) TiS #684

1. Love will be our Lenten calling,
love to shake and shatter sin,
waking every closed, cold spirit,
stirring new life deep within,
till the quickened heart remembers
what our Easter birth can mean.

2. Peace will be our Lenten living
as we turn for home again,
longing for the words of pardon,
stripping off old grief and pain,
till we stand, restored and joyful,
with the Church on Easter day.

3. Truth will be our Lenten learning:
hear the Crucified One call!
Shadowed by the Saviour’s passion,
images and idols fall,
and, in Easter’s holy splendour,
God alone is all in all.

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Transfiguration Sunday

Transfiguration Sunday – last Sunday in Epiphany

Reflection
We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.
(Source: Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela)

Call to worship
We gather as the faithful of God,
we come to listen to what God has to say to us.
God has invited us to this place;
may our faces reflect our hopes and our hearts.
We gather as the faithful of God,
people of the new covenant of hope and promise.
We boldly enter into the presence of God,
hoping to be transformed into new people.
We gather as the faithful of God,
our fears melting away in the heart of God.
We come to share in the freedom of the Spirit,
we come to praise God’s holy name.
(Thom Shuman)

Call to worship
Let’s go up to the mountain
let’s go up to the place where the land meets the sky
where the earth touches the heavens,
to the place of meeting,
to the place of mists,
to the place of voices and conversations,
to the place of listening.       (Bill Loader)

Prayer of Confession/A prayer of who we are
A light beckons us, a new day rises up, around and within us
and we are afraid;
A voice calls us, echoing in the stillness,
and we are confused;
A dream wakens in us, a hope is born within us,
and then we remember that we are the beloved,
warmed by the light that surrounds us,
gathered into a community of faith,
and we give thanks.   Amen    

Introduction to prayers for others……
From a cloud, and in a crowd, God speaks to us.
Calling us to be lovers of justice, to share hope with the broken.
On mountaintops and in the valleys, Christ calls to us.
To embrace the faint hearted and bind up the wounds of the hurt
In all the places we spend our days, the Spirit whispers in our hearts.
Gathering our hopes and fears, joys and concerns,
and offering them to God.
Let us pray for the world and for ourselves……

Collect
God of all transformations,
God of all glowing faces,
you have invited us to the mountain,
invited us to glow in bright light,
dazzling white.
We accept.
Lead us on through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.  Amen (Bob Eldan)

Closing prayer
Deepest mystery of grace,
beneath, above, around and within;
on the mountain you showed your glory.
As your Spirit invites us
into new, even daring ways of following Jesus,
may our lives be parables of your love, justice and freedom
in every gesture and deed.    (Bill Loader)

Blessing
May God as love dwell within us.
May God as light bring new insights and encouragement.
May God as grace take us on a journey of compassion.
May God as hope give us courage to let our light shine.

Music suggestions

Mountains and Valleys(Helen Wiltshire)   (Tune:TiS 212 Heathlands)
Stand upon a mountain peak;
hear the gravid stillness speak;
watch the golden dawn awake;
think of journeys love may take;
pause to breathe the misty air;
see God’s glory dwelling there.

Hear the words of blessing fall;
sense a presence, touching all;
feel joy stirring deep within;
see transfigured life begin;
pause to breathe a thankful prayer;
see God’s glory dwelling there.

Gaze upon the world below;
hear the cries of human woe;
take the path to valleys deep;
share the grief of all who weep;
pause to offer love and care;
see God’s glory dwelling there.

Live with mindfulness and grace;
name each vale as sacred space;
share the warmth of love divine;
see shekinah’s* beauty shine;
love the complex world we share;
know God’s glory dwelling there.    

(*shekinah – presence, blessing and glory of God)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australia Day resources – various

Prayer
Loving God, undiminished by distance, unconstrained by place or time, forever seeking, forever calling, forever drawing humanity to yourself and to each other, we glimpse your Spirit in the brooding silence of awesome landscape, the ancient law of Aboriginal nations, the unspoken trust of honest mateship. Yet in the vastness of this place, Australia, we often feel alone, alienated, unworthy of more than a passing acquaintance with your love.
Help us understand you ever yearn to make us whole, drawing near in Christ to show us the way. Amen.
(Source: Rev BL Smith, published in Frontier News, August 2011)
=> could be shaped as a prayer of confession, with silence after ‘with your love’, and the last line as words of assurance.

Opening prayer/call to worship
Our land is alive with the glory of God
Desert sands hum and gum trees dance
Brown grasses sing
and mountains breathe their stillness.
All created things add their rhythm of delight
and even the stones rap out their praise.
Let our voices mingle with the song of the earth
May our hearts join the beat of her joy
For our triune God is with us:
Our creator surrounds and upholds us.
Christ Jesus walks beside and upholds us.
The Spirit moves within and between us.
Blessed be God, our wonder and our delight.
Jenny Tymms

Call to worship
As we tread the ground of this place,
call to us, Spirit of God.
Open our ears to hear the sound of your voice
speaking in the desert silences,
stirring in the moving
of the grey-green bushland trees,
singing songs in the rhythm of our farmlife
and rising free in the humming of our cities.
Call to us again, Spirit of God.
Make your music of peace and joy in the midst of our life.
For your song is true, your voice is of love,
and in your Holy Spirit lies our hope. Amen.
Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Acknowledgement of land
This prayer by Dorothy McRae-McMahon could precede an acknowledgement of land.
Sometimes we think we are small gods, God of all creation.
We think we own this land
and can tame its eternal energies.
But it teaches us who we are in the cosmos, O God.
Its endless changing rhythms
of flood and dryness,
fire and fertility
invite us, age by age,
to simply take our place as your humble children
thankfully receiving small and larger gifts,
invited to cherish a mysterious landscape of your making…….

…….We acknowledge that we are on the land of the (name of traditional custodians of the land eg Kaurna) people and that the Spirit was in the land revealing God to them through law, custom and ceremony. The same love and grace that was finally and fully revealed in Jesus Christ sustained the Kaurna people and gave them particular insights into God’s ways. Therefore, we honour the wisdom of the Kaurna Elders and their continuing culture, and pray that we might all work together for reconciliation and justice in this nation.
(Using words from the Preamble to the Uniting Church constitution)
O
ther suggestions for wording for acknowledgement of land here)

Prayers for others
God of grace, God of life, hear the cries that rise from heart of Australia.
The cry of Aboriginal communities, struggling for justice, sustaining meaning, nurturing creativity in the face of dispossession, dislocation and destruction, seeking freedom, shaping the future
The cry of pastoral stations, struggling for survival, sustaining meaning, nurturing achievements in the face of change, uncertainty and government indifference, seeking direction, shaping the future.
God of grace, God of life, hear our prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(original from 1997 Assembly Mission Prayer Handbook, Jesus, stand among us)
=> could have additional sections written for the current situations in Australia.

A multicultural church in multicultural Australia – a prayer
Leader:
God of indigenous peoples, and migrant groups old and new,
God of Ruth, loving and loyal in a new land,
God of Esther, courageous to save her people from ethnic cleansing,
Only your love can break through our boundaries of race and culture, of ignorance and fear.
(Voices) I am a Samoan Australian
I am an Aboriginal Australian
I am an Anglo Australian
I am a Korean Australian
I am……(other examples)
All:
We are all Australians. Creator God, you are making a new Australia of us all. We want it to be an Australia that honours you:
that stands strongly for your way; that gives a fair go; that builds peace.
May God helps us to respond to this challenge.

Leader:
We all bring the unity and acceptance that are God’s gift to us.
All:
Spirit of God, empower us to prove that your way of compassion and community is the way we are going forward together, with Jesus. Amen.
(Adapted, from the ‘Conference on Multiracial ministry in a changing Australia’)

Song of Australiaespecially written for Order of Australia Day service 2012. Words by Helen Wiltshire, Music by Norm Inglis. Song for Australia

For you, deep stillness by Julie Perrin & Robin Mann (All Together Whatever 494)
(Australian songwriters/musicians)

“Praise to Christ” by Christopher Willcock & Tony Kelly, which was composed for the “Pilgrimage to the Heart” in 2000. Listen here. Can be purchased here.

TIS 188 Where wide skies roll down. (Youtube clip with music and images)
Or choose a powerpoint with Australian images such as this by Scott Leggo.

TiS 672 expresses Australians’ thanksgiving for our land, sadness at the hurts of our history and prayer for our future. (The writer chose the tune Westminster Abbey). It was sung at the opening of the new Parliament House. The tune Bennelong can also be used – it is written by an Australian.

Lord of earth and all creation,
let your love possess our land:
wealth, and freedom, far horizons,
mountain, forest, shining sand:
may we share, in faith and friendship,
gifts unmeasured from your hand.

People of the ancient Dreamtime,
they who found this country first,
ask with those, the later comers,
will our dream be blessed or cursed?
Grant us, Lord, new birth, new living,
hope for which our children thirst.

Lord, life-giving healing Spirit,
on our hurts your mercy shower;
lead us by your inward dwelling,
guiding, guarding, every hour.
Bless and keep our land Australia:
in your will her peace and power.

Marie Wilson wrote:
Although not Australian, TiS 281  When God Almighty came to be one of us can be sung to Waltzing Matilda – I read in the introduction to the first Australian Hymnbook that that was the tune intended for it and then the writer realised we were having a national anthem debate so thought it was better to have a different tune – it is a bit of fun to sing and the words are ok.

Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer (sung) TIS 253 O Lord Jesus Marrkapmirr (2 verses)

THE TRINITY (c) Paul Sheppy
Tune: Advance, Australia Fair or Kingsfold
If you use the Advance Australia Fair tune, you need to repeat the final 2 lines of each verse. Written for Trinity Sunday but can be used anytime.

Come, Christians all, to sing the praise
of God, the mighty One,
Ancient of Days, whose canopy
shines brighter than the sun.
Throughout the universe are found
the wonders that portend
complexity and mystery:
the glory without end.

The Word made flesh makes known to us
an interwoven sign:
hope, wisdom, prophet, priest and light,
life, truth and way and vine;
messiah, judge and sheepfold-door,
salvation, teacher, friend,
whose life, laid down for all the world,
brings glory without end.

An Advocate to us is given –
breath of creation’s day.
She hovers over chaos-depths
to straighten disarray.
The guarantee and pledge of life
on whom all things depend,
the nourisher of faith and hope
for glory without end.

Eternal God, the Three in One,
the source and goal of all;
be light and word and life for us
who gather at your call.
May all the earth proclaim your praise
and come to apprehend,
from North’s Pole Star to Southern Cross,
your glory without end.

In times of great decision…
(Tune ‘The Church’s One Foundation’)

1.4 In times of great decision,
Be with us, God, we pray!
Give each of us a vision
Of Jesus’ loving way.
When louder words seem endless
And other voices sure,
Remind us of your promise,
Your love and truth endure.

2.4 O God, whose gifts are countless,
You send us bearing peace.
You fill our dreams with justice,
For all communities.
You give us global neighbours,
That all may justly live,
May those we choose as leaders
Reflect the life you give.

3.4 O God, you bridged the distance,
You opened wide your door,
You call us by our presence
To reach to serve the poor.
You teach us: welcome strangers!
Seek justice on the earth!
May those we choose as leaders
See every person’s worth.

4.4 you call on every nation
To put aside all greed,
To care for your creation
And for your ones in need.
To care for those in prison,
For children, for the ill,
In times of great decision,
may we choose leaders well
(from Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor No. 56
Words Carolyn Winfrey Gilette, Copyright © 2009 Discipleship Resources)

Give glory
By John Beavis. Public domain

Take this sand, take this snow
Coopers Creek to Omeo
give glory, glory to the Lord.
Tiger snake, kangaroo,
Franklin-Gordon, Kakadu
give glory, glory to the Lord.

Ancient people, people new,
share the cross on midnight blue;
with arid hearts and desert seeds
Living water fill our needs.

Take this gold, take this reef
take this rock and take this beef
give glory, glory to the Lord.
take this coal, take this wool
take these prawns by the trawler-full
give glory, glory to the Lord.  Chorus

Take this ore to make the steel,
take this wheat to make this meal
give glory, glory to the Lord.
take this woman, take this man:
an equal place, an equal plan
give glory, glory to the Lord. Chorus

Take this sand, take this snow
Cooper’s Creek to Omeo
give glory, glory to the Lord.

Australian hymn writers
TiS 681.  Lord let me see.                       Ross Langmead.
TiS 687.  God gives us a future.            Elizabeth Smith.
TiS 420.  Holy Spirit go before us.       Elizabeth Smith.
TiS 691.  Faith will not grow.                 Elizabeth Smith

Others that could be of interest…..
·         TIS 615 Almighty God, lift up our eyes
·         TIS 135 All things bright and beautiful, verses 1, 3, 4, 5

 

 

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Psalm 23

(Katy, liturgy outside)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;We believe in the goodness of God.
We believe God hears and responds to our needs.
We believe God responds to all children everywhere.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.We are grateful that we’ve been blessed with enough water.
But we know that many do not have enough.
Not enough water, not enough food, not enough peace.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.Too many children do not see God’s righteousness.
Too many children watch violence, taste hunger, feel fear.
Too many children cry from the unspeakable horror of war.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.To become involved is risky. Pain is often contagious.
Our hearts may be broken and our lives may be threatened.
Yet we hear God calling and we can no longer hide.

Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of my enemies;thou annointest me head with oil, my cup overflows.Our steps may be small and timid.
We may read a book, write a letter, or make a gift.
But each tiny step is blessed by God and multiplies.

Surely goodness and mercyshall follow me all the days of my life;and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.God is more relentless than war.
God is more pervasive than hatred.
God is more insistent than despair.

Amen. Amen.

Bush Psalm (an Australian version of Psalm 23)
The Lord is my guide through this wide, red land.
He leads me to grassy camping grounds where I can rest.
He shows me the way to the refreshing water of a billabong
where I quench my thirsty spirit.
He is the travel guide who maps the corrugated track for me to follow,
for there is danger from my enemies of heat and inexperience
and mechanical failure.
It comforts me to know that all throughout,
he never leaves my side.
You are present in the hospitality
around the campfire
of a cattle muster -
you heal my wounded spirit with the oil of your grace,
so that I can be certain of your goodness and mercy as long as I live,
and reserve a place in your house without walls forever.
(Source: Linda Sutton, in Frontier News, November 2013)

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O come, O come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and fill our lives, all dark and fear dispel,
as once an exiled Israel you found,
redeemed, restored and set on holy ground.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to us and in our hearts will dwell.

O come, O light of Christ, so bright and clear
and lift our spirits by your advent here.
In all who gather, show us your face,
that we may know the warmth of your embrace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to us and in our hearts will dwell.

O come, O Wisdom, mind and heart divine,
help us restore a world we’ve let decline.
Enlighten us; your way we would know
and show us where new seeds of hope to sow.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to us and in our hearts will dwell.

O Advent God of hope, joy, love and peace,
in you we pray our sad divisions cease.
Bind us as one, a people of grace,
for at your table each one has a place.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to us and in our hearts will dwell.

(c) 2010 Susan Wickham

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UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Dec 3

December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This celebration, created by the United Nations, seeks to celebrate the over one billion people worldwide living with some kind of disability. Disability is so natural, that this number equals 15% or more of the total population of the world. We don’t celebrate disability, but the ability that is hidden within, and makes uniquely able all of those who live with a disability. Pause to remember those who are as whole in their human identity as everyone else, but can find themselves treated as lesser beings.

I’ve been sorting through papers and re-reading a TEAR magazine (2011) focussed on disability. Great articles.

A handful of memorable quotes…..

Of the 650 million people with disabilities in the world, a staggering 80% live in developing nations.

‘It always comes back to belonging. We have to discover more fully that the church is a place of compassion and fecundity*, a place of welcome and friendship. We need time to listen to and understand people with communication problems. It takes time to become a friend of people with disabilities. (Living Gently in a Violent World, by Jean Varnier with Stanley Hauerwas). (* fecundity – fruitfulness and the capacity to give life)

‘Those we lock away and think worthless have the power to teach and even to heal us” (Varnier). We are all ‘broken’ in some way. When you start living with people with disabilities, you begin to discover a whole lot of things about yourself’. Varnier learned that to ‘be human is to be bonded together, each with our own weaknesses and strengths, because we need each other’.

‘The more we can identify what is particularly true for us individually, the more we may discover that others are making similar journeys’. (Henri Nouwen)

Matt Anslow writes: ‘In his book Suffering Presence, Stanley Hauerwas insists upon the ‘tyranny of normality’, the idea that normality is dangerous for people with disabilities. Hauerwas writes, ‘The most stringent power we have over another is not physical coercion but the ability to have another accept our definition of them’. Indeed, this kind of ‘defining’ people is a hallmark of human society, which inevitably leads to those with social power being able to delegate the label of ‘the other’. What is the impact on people who are labelled in this way? What is the effect on those who are ‘normal’?

A prayer for all God’s people

Let us pray for all God’s people. For people who are blind and cannot see, and for those who can see but are blind to people around them.
Lord, in your mercy help us touch each other.

For people who move slowly because of accident, illness, or disability, and for those who move too fast to be aware of the world in which they live.
Lord, in your mercy help us work together.

For people who are deaf and cannot hear, and for those who can hear but who ignore the cries of others
Lord, in your mercy help us respond to each other.

For people who learn slowly, for people who learn in different ways, and for people who learn quickly and easily but often choose ignorance
Lord, in your mercy help us grow in your wisdom.

For people who have chronic illness for which there is no known cure or relief, and for people who live in unholy fear of developing a chronic illness.
Lord, in your mercy help us and heal us.

For families, friends, and caregivers who serve people with disabilities, and for those who feel awkward in their presence
Lord, in your mercy help us see each other with your eyes.

For people who think they are worthless and beyond your love, and for people who think they don’t need your love,
Lord, in your mercy help us accept your love.

For people who feel isolated by their disabilities, and for people who contribute to that sense of isolation
Lord, in your mercy change our lives.

For all the people in your creation, that we may learn to respect each other and learn how to live together in your peace.
Lord, in your mercy bind us together. Amen.

Kate Chipps, adapted by Ginny Thornburgh

 

Posted in Special days, UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities | Leave a comment

Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, after a long day’s work at a Montgomery department store, where she worked as a seamstress, Rosa Parks boarded the bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for “colored” passengers. Though the city’s bus ordinance did give drivers the authority to assign seats, it didn’t specifically give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of requiring black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers, when no other seats were available. If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed. As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, “Why don’t you stand up?” to which Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the police and had her arrested. Later, Rosa recalled that her refusal wasn’t because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.

Her story has inspired many to non-violent ways to seek change.

Walter Brueggeman reflects on this remarkable woman (p.151 Prayers for a Privileged People):

Rosa is dead….but not forgotten!
Rosa is dead….but remembered.
Remembered by us here as a witness to your truth.
Remembered by those who have sat too long at the back of the bus,
and now have moved forward a couple of rows but still have no free ride.
Remembered by
those accustomed to sitting up front,
those who have begun repentance that is still unfinished
those so in control that relinquishment is not easy and mostly done with a grudge.
Rose is dead….but remembered,
to be retold after and long among us,
retold because the tale we tell of her is an item in your large story
of freedom,
of justice,
of resurrection,
of transformation,
and finally – not too soon – forgiveness.
As we remember Rosa, we recall your big story
in which we are situated -
the wonder of the sea miracle,
the miracle of homecoming from exile,
the astonishment of Easter emancipation.
We remember the day the hills danced in resurrection and the waters answered in new creation.
We remember…..and so we hope,
for your new miracles so urgently awaited,
miracles of redemption and release,
of still more back-of-the-bus people brought to newness.
We give thanks for Rosa and Martin and Nelson and Desmond
and all those who have trusted your goodness.
Let us walk in Rosa’s parade, which is a segment of your Easter parade.
In remembering and in hoping, open us to your new world that is coming soon – even now!

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