COCU Index

Another horrific act of family violence in Brisbane (19th February) that has resulted in the death of 5 people. Struggling to find words, but this resource from Common Grace may provide some information and prayer resources. Also ‘Break the Silence Sunday‘ resources and Domestic Violence resources. 
“Humanise the perpetrator – Former footy player, fitness instructor, doting dad… and demonize the victim “his estranged wife” And that’s how we frame domestic and intimate partner violence. And it continues”.
(Bronwyn Spencer)
“It is imperative that we do not create a narrative where domestic violence is seen as “mutual combat” or “relationship conflict”. It occurs when one person makes a unilateral choice to exert power and control over another person”. (Susan Heward Belle, from ABC online article ‘What we’re getting wrong about domestic violence)

WCC Prayer Cycle: France, Germany, Monaco (Feb 16-22)
COCU15A (Transfiguration) February 23rd, 2020
WCC Prayer Cycle: Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands (Feb 23-29)
COCU 18A, Ash Wednesday, 26th February 2020
(Also, Ash Wednesday Year C)
(Season of autumn – in Australia 1st March – 31st May)
COCU19A, Lent 1, 1 March 2020
WCC Prayer Cycle: Ireland, UK (Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland) (March 1-7)
World Day of Prayer, March 6, 2020
COCU20A, Lent 2, 8 March 2020
International Women’s Day, 8 March 2020
COCU21A, Lent 3, 15 March 2020
World Down Syndrome day, 21 March (link here)
Harmony Day, March 21st
UN World Water Day, March 22

Lenten Studies
Water for the Journey‘ by Craig Mitchell NEW
Where do we go from here‘ by Steve Daughtry and Matt Anstey NEW
(explores Book of Acts and 5 Marks of Mission – online version here)
Christine Sine has listed a number of Lenten study books and practices here. Definitely worth exploring!
NEW We will Rise: Rising from the ashes to a new beginning
This is a new 46-day devotional study which focuses on building hope out of loss following the aftermath of the Australian bushfires. The booklet offers daily devotionals and prayers, encouraging people to turn to Jesus for hope, healing, comfort and courage. Sample here. Order through MediaCom

New Common Grace has prepared a Lenten Study on the 7 ‘I Am’ sayings of Jesus. You can subscribe online and you will receive a video, Bible reading and reflection each week. Here’s a promotional video with Brooke Prentis. You can also ‘like’ the Common Grace Facebook page for updates. 

Lenten liturgical resource, Wilderness (A Sanctified Art)

Planning ahead
Good Friday April 10th, Easter Sunday April 12th
Anzac Day, 25th April (or acknowledged in services on 26th April)
Break the Silence Sunday (usually 4th Sunday in April, so 26th April 2020, or at any other time that works for your congregation)
Reconciliation Sunday 31st May, 2020

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order

UCA Calendar of commemorations

Ecumenical prayer cycle (World Council of Churches) 
2020 NCCA Ecumenical Prayer Cycle with lectionary readings

Components of worship – general
Acknowledgement of Land
Prayer of thanksgiving
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are/Words of Assurance
Prayer for Illumination
Readings (see specific weeks)
Prayers for others
Lord’s Prayer
Prayer of Dedication
Benediction and sending out
(Communion Hymns)

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COCU21A.Lent 3A.15March2020

Exodus 17:1-7: The people of Israel grumble against Moses because of their thirst and the lack of water, so God commands Moses to strike the rock, and when he does so, water gushes out.
Psalm 95: An invitation for God’s people to worship God, and not harden their hearts as Israel did at Meribah, resulting in them not entering God’s rest.
Romans 5:1-11: In Christ we have been made right with God, and have the Holy Spirit as assurance of God’s love. It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us, and now we are God’s friends.
John 4:5-42: Jesus, while resting at Jacob’s well in Samaria, meets a Samaritan woman, speaks to her about living water and reveals himself as the Messiah to her. In delight she returns to her village and brings others to meet Christ, and they too believe.
(Summaries of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

UN World Water Day (WWD) is recognised each year on March 22, and may be helpfully explored if the focus of the service is the Gospel reading on the woman at the well, and life-giving water. See the related link on this website here which includes prayer resources and links.

In a culture where only men can initiate marriage or divorce
she’s been thrown away by five husbands,
and now is used by one who won’t commit to her.
In a culture where women draw water in order of social status,
she’s there for her morning water at noon. She’s a pariah.
He’s a Jew and she’s a Samaritan; he’s a rabbi and she’s a woman.
She has no reason to expect an exchange at all, let alone respect,
and certainly not an engaging theological discussion.
But he sees her – her, not people’s judgment of her.
He sees her as she is, and accepts her without judgment:
she is not immoral; she has been used.
He sees her wound. And he sees the truth in her.
He sees her not as someone flawed,
but someone gifted.
He talks theology with her,
longer than with anybody else in the Gospels.
Then she leaves her water jug,
not out of forgetfulness but because she knows she’s coming back.
She goes into the village,
and the former outcast becomes the first Christian evangelist.
She brings people to Jesus.
Something happened in her that changed her.
What was it?
Imagine this: Jesus comes to you
in the dull midday heat of your ordinary life.
You are bound by judgments of how good you are.
And he sees through that. Sees you. You. Your soul.
He sees your wounds, sees your giftedness.
He sees how your wounds inhibit your gifts…
and yet can propel your gifts.
And in his knowing he sets you free.
Leave your water jug.
What is the news in you to tell?
What will you do? How will you tell it?
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

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COCU20A.Lent 2A.8March2020

See also Lent 2B and Lent 2C

Genesis 12:1-4a: God calls Abram to leave his home country, and promises that he will be blessed and will be a blessing to others, and Abram obeys.
Psalm 121: A song affirming God’s help, attention and care.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17: Paul holds Abraham up as an example of faith and relationship with God, and points out that it was not so much Abraham’s obedience as Abraham’s relationship with God through faith that ensured that God’s promise would be fulfilled through him.
John 3:1-17: Nicodemus comes to speak to Jesus at night, and is told that he must be born of the Spirit in order to see God’s reign, and that Christ came into the world to save through faith, not to condemn and judge.
(Summaries of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise. The link also provides reflections on the readings)

Resources: Textweek, Rex AE Hunt, Singing from the Lectionary, Sacredise

John 3:1-9 (Scholars Edition)
A Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Judean leader,
came to Jesus during the night and said,
“Rabbi, we know that you’ve come as a teacher from God;
after all, nobody can perform the miracles you do unless God is with him.”
Jesus replied to him,
“As God is my witness: No one can experience God’s imperial rule
without being born from above.”
Nicodemus says to him,
“How can an adult be reborn?
Can you re-enter your mother’s womb and be born a second time?”
Jesus replied,
“As God is my witness: No one can enter God’s domain
without being born of water and spirit. What is born of the human realm is human,
but what is born of the spiritual realm is spirit.
“Don’t be surprised that I told you,
‘Every one of you must be reborn from above.’
“The spirit blows every which way, like wind:
you hear the sound it makes but you can’t tell where it is coming from
or where it’s headed. That’s how it is
with everyone reborn of the spirit”.
“How can that be possible?” Nicodemus retorted.

Psalm 121
I lift my eyes
from world to sky,
from where will I find help?

My help will come
from Holy One,
maker of earth and sky.

Beneath your feet
the ground may tremble,
but you will never fall;

Holy One slumbers not,
is watchful ever
over the people of God.

Holy One will keep you,
Holy One will save you,
from trouble and from harm.

Fear not the sun’s hot flame,
nor moon’s shards of silver;
Holy One will be your shield.

Holy One will keep you,
Holy One will hold you;
your life is precious to God.

Holy One will keep you,
Holy One will seek you,
going and coming and ever more.

Lift your eyes
towards the light,
however thick the dark;

help will come
from Holy One,
maker of day and night.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

A centering prayer (gently, reflectively)
We may be born again,
born into the life of the Holy Spirit of God.
From the womb of God’s love
we will emerge into the unknown
and wait in faith for what may come.
Christ’s arms will hold us like a loving mother.
As the winds of the future blow where they may,
we are called to take one step at a time
towards the will of God for us in each moment.
We may be born into life everlasting
and a grace which is eternal in the Triune God.
A silence is kept
Come, Holy Spirit, and be with us today.
Guide us through our labouring,
whether it is easy or painful,
and bring goodness to birth through us and within us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
(Source W4W 2011)

Gathering  (see also words of welcome and gathering)
We gather here
to celebrate life’s beauty and find healing for its pain,
to wonder at the mystery that gave us birth,
and to listen for the wisdom that guides us
in the quietness of this moment.
(Source: Gary Kowalski, UUA Worship Web)

Life is a journey with others;
we travel as a people, on a winding road.
We share our lives, our experiences, our hopes, our fears.
With joy and hope we welcome other travellers
to share our lives.
We learn from each other.
We laugh and cry with each other.
We are home with each other.
And together we celebrate God’s presence
as we are refreshed and made ready
for re-creation in our lives and our communities.
(Source: Rex AE Hunt)

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UN World Day of Social Justice, Feb 20

World Day of Social Justice takes place on February, 20 2020. The theme is “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice
The UN World Day of Social Justice is an awareness day which had been initiated by the United Nations (UN) in 2009 and it aims to bring back the approach of social justice to mind. One of its basic principles is the fair dispersal of goods.
Social Justice is the basic condition for peace and respect between the nations on a connected world.
World Day of Social Justice follows another topic each year but it always focuses on certain themes about injustice on our planet which should be fought. Examples for such injustice between nations are human trafficking, forced labor or rights at work. A fair globalization must include fair trade and working conditions to avoid human exploitation and frustrations. World Day of Social Justice supports fair globalization.

For resources, see Social Justice Sunday.

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World Day of Prayer: 6th March 2020

(held annually, first Friday of March)
The World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement led by Christian women who welcome you to join in prayer and action for peace and justice. It is run under the motto “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action,” and is celebrated annually in over 170 countries on the first Friday in March. The movement aims to bring together people of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common Day of Prayer, as well as in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.

The 2020 resources (downloadable here) have been prepared by the WDP Committee in Zimbabwe; the theme is ‘Rise! Take your mat and walk!’
(John 5:2-9a)

The country of Zimbabwe has been in the news recently. The newly elected president has been sworn in after a tense and disputed election. Churches and ecumenical organizations are actively promoting peace education and civic awareness to engage the communities in peaceful participation. Prayer vigils, election monitoring and dialogues between civil society and the government were organized to have political transparency, and to promote healing in a country that searches for peace and reconciliation.
This historical moment may express one of the contexts for the Zimbabwe theme. The WDP 2020 program is based on Jesus’ encounter with a person who, although positioned for healing, had not acted upon the opportunities given (John 5:2-9a). Jesus asked –“Do you want to be made well?” You are faced with this life-changing question. What are you going to do? Use this opportunity to reflect with your WDP group, community and ecumenical partners. Prayer and action are what links us together around the globe.
“Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk,” said Jesus. Our sisters from Zimbabwe are taking Jesus’ encounter to be a call to act in love for peace and reconciliation. “The action verbs suggest that we should not be afraid to act on the word of God. God is offering us the steps for personal and social transformation.” This is the time for change!
We are empowered to take up our mats. No more waiting powerlessly on the mat. Let us give a healing hand to the needy, let us embrace children with love as their future is ahead, and let us open our arms in joy as the time to rise up has come.​ This is the time for change!​
May we hear the words of this compassionate God and the Prince of Peace to act upon the healing of ourselves and our communities to bring peace and reconciliation into the world.

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National Apology Day (Australia), 13th February

On 13 February 2008, the first sitting of the new parliamentary year, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally acknowledged the immense suffering experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to past government policies of forced child removal and decades of mistreatment of Indigenous Australians.
The PM delivered an apology to the Stolen Generations.

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COCU19A.Lent 1A.1March2020

See also Lent 1B and Lent 1C

Christ in the desertIwan Nikolajewitsch Kramskoi.1872

See also Autumn (southern hemisphere)

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7: God warns the man and woman in Eden not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they are tempted by the serpent, and eat some of the fruit, at which point they realise their nakedness and cover themselves with fig leaves.
Psalm 32: A Psalm of David celebrating God’s forgiveness which is given so freely to those who confess their sin and do not try to hide it, and also an acknowledgement of God’s invitation to guide God’s people and lead them to life.
Romans 5:12-19: Through one person sin entered the world, and all people have likewise sinned against God, but in Christ, God has given the free gift of forgiveness and right relationship with God.
Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness, but overcomes the temptation to satisfy his appetites by turning stone into bread, to gain power and influence by the miraculous act of throwing himself off the temple, and to gain the world’s wealth by worshiping the devil.
(Lectionary readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Call to Worship
Ashes have been smeared and sins have been confessed…
We follow our faithful Lord.
These times, they are troubling. This journey, it is hard…
We follow our faithful Lord.
It is God who sustains, not the temptations of this world…
We follow our faithful Lord.
In the Lord is our trust, our protection from harm…
We follow our faithful Lord.
Come, let us worship the One whom we serve…
We follow our faithful Lord.
(Stephen Fearing, Wild and Precious Life)

Call to Worship for Lent
Lent calls us to journey, this and every day,
following Jesus wherever he leads us.
Lent calls us to journey:
to the place where God covenants with us,
to receive the new names we are given.
Lent calls us to worship together,
to tell future generations the good news.
Lent calls us to practice justice,
to bring God’s hope to all people.
Lent calls us to faithful living,
to trust the One who gives us life.
Lent calls each of us to take up our cross,
to trust the One who bears it with us.
Lent calls us to journey with God.
Let us worship God, who walks with us,
this and every day.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Darkness and Light
(could be used to accompany candle lighting at start of service, and as a call to worship)
The darkness loves to parade itself, God,
to draw our attention and steal our energy,
with fearful threats
and dire prophecies of doom;
and we all too easily give it just what it seeks.

Community candle (or Christ candle) is lit

But, if we can just drag our gaze away
we discover that there is another reality;
that your light shines undimmed,
that your care is undiminished,
that your strength and protection
are unfailing.

And so, even in the midst of pain, suffering, evil
even when it seems your light is almost out,
we choose to remain under the shadow of your wings;
to trust in your salvation,
to speak your words,
and to dispel the darkness
by lighting the flame of faith again
in our hearts. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

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COCU17A.Transfiguration Sunday.23rdFeb2020

Please refer also to Year B Transfiguration Sunday and  Year C Transfiguration Sunday.

Exodus 24:12-18: God calls Moses to come up the mountain to receive God’s commands, and he obeys and spends 40 days and nights with God on the mountain.
Psalm 99: A celebration of God as Israel’s king, who loves justice, who answered the calls of God’s people for help, and who speaks from the pillar of cloud.
2 Peter 1:16-21: Peter affirms the reliability of his teaching, and that of the other apostles, reminding his readers of his experience with Jesus on the mountain, and confirming his trust in the message of the prophets.
Matthew 17:1-9: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain, where he is transfigured and talks to Moses and Elijah who appear with him. God proclaims Jesus to be God’s beloved son, and afterward, Jesus instructs the disciples not to tell anyone what they have seen until after the resurrection.
(Summaries of readings: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, re-worship,

Prayer for Transfiguration
Lead us up the mountain, O Beloved Child of God.
Transfigure us with your transcend holiness.
Shine upon us with your sacred illumination.
Dazzle us with your grace and compassion.
Transform us with revelation.
Change us with new insights.
Move us from the ordinary day-to-day to the divine extraordinary.
Let the prophets of old educate us.
May the saints of the past accompany us.
Allow the wisdom of the ages inform our hearts and minds.
But do not let us get stuck:
building shrines to former glories,
erecting edifices to distance memories,
commemorating occasions when we need to move on.
Speak to us your comforting, challenging word.
Teach us to listen to what is most important.
Help us to know what is most faithful, most true.
And when we fear failure, or exposure, or pain,
tell us in your gentle, assertive way:
“Be not afraid.”
And gather us up to come down from the mountain,
and love the world.
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COCU16A – not in 2020 lectionary

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Deuteronomy 30:15-20: Moses offers the people a choice between life and death, challenging them to love and remain faithful to God and God’s commandments, and promising them prosperity and blessing if they do.
Psalm 119:1-8: Because a life of integrity is blessed, the psalmist pleads with God for the ability to live a life of obedience to God’s commands.
1 Corinthians 3:1-9: Factions among people of faith are a sign of immaturity. Paul calls the Corinthians to be mature and to recognise that those who serve God’s people are equal, and insignificant. It is God’s work in the believer to bring growth that matters.
Matthew 5:21-37: Continuing the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that righteousness is not just about following externals, but is about what happens in the heart. He challenges his hearers to true integrity, goodness and compassion with regard to dealing with anger, lust, adultery, divorce and making promises (vows).
(Lectionary readings summary from John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, Re-Worship,

The Sermon on the Mount: A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs

This worship service by Carolyn Gillette is a wonderful way for a congregation to celebrate all of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s gospel in one worship service. Jesus’ most famous sermon is powerful when heard in one service, coordinating Jesus’ deep words with contemporary music and prayers. It could be done on any of the weeks when the Sermon on the Mount readings are included – perhaps as an introduction or summation. Continue reading

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