COCU51A.13August2017

Readings
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28: Jacob loves his son Joseph more than his other sons, and gives a Joseph a beautiful robe. But, his brothers become jealous and sell him into slavery.
Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b: A psalm of thanksgiving and celebration of what God has done as the psalmist remembers Joseph.
Romans 10:5-15: Becoming right with God is not about the law’s requirements, but about recognising the nearness of God’s word and responding to it in faith – which is why it is so important that there are those who will take the message to the world.
Matthew 14:22-33: Jesus walks on water to join the disciples in the boat as they struggle with the storm. Peter asks Jesus to call him to join him, but as he walks toward Jesus he fears and begins to sink. Jesus rescues him, and when they climb back into the boat, the storm dies down.
(Short summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise. Also, reflections on the readings and local/global applications at the same link)

Water Walker
As the setting sun fell away
and the wind took the space of light
the waves
like a claw
shaped the tension
between stability and capsize
and the ghost called
from among the swell
‘step out! step out!’
and as Peter’s foot
sank into the waves
with the first steps
of an impossible journey
the miracle was born:
not that Jesus was a water-walker
but that Peter
with a surge of belief
that tore through doubt
loosened himself
from that which he was familiar
but the devil of deception
robbed him
with a last pull
and faith fell away
and in that single moment
the Saviour caught him
‘o ye of yet little faith’
which hid a promise
that realises
from little seeds
kingdom’s grow
and this was only the start
for a disciple who always willing
to get his feet wet
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, 2011)

Trepidation or Hope? (Matthew 14:22-33)
Why did Jesus send
the disciples away first
and the crowds later?

Against a strong wind
the disciples worked in vain,
with trepidation.

When Jesus turned up
on that dark and stormy night
they were terrified.

Do we work today
with trepidation or hope
that Jesus turns up?
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, 2017, the billabong)

Out of the Boat (reflecting on Matthew 14:29)
Lord,
Save me.
l hear you calling me to step out of the boat.
l hear you calling me out onto the tumult – out into the sea of humanity.
l hear you calling me away from what l think as safe.
I hear you calling and l want to step out in faith,
but I am afraid
What if I sink?
What if I am swamped?
What if I don’t have enough faith?
But I will trust in your love.
But I will put my faith in you.
Save me, Lord, from myself.
May it always be so
Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries)

Loving through the storms 
(could be used for quiet reflection/Prayers of who we are)
The worst storms, Jesus, are the ones caused by our fear,
when we grow afraid of losing our power,
or we grow suspicious of the power of others,
when we refuse to acknowledge your mysterious authority;

Yet, it’s in the storm that we find our capacity to love.
In releasing our weak claim to power
and opening to your reign,
we discover a new way of seeing ourselves –
as called and useful and beloved –
and the other, whoever they may be –
as dignified and precious and beloved.

Here in the storm, Jesus, we need you, and we need each other,
and the love you give us to share,
leads us through sacrifice and self-giving
to peace and calm,
if only we will loose our hold on fear. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

More resources to come…
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COCU50A.6thAugust2017

Readings
Genesis 32: 22-31: Jacob spends the night on the banks of the Jabbok River where he wrestles with a man until dawn. In the fight, Jacob is injured, leaving him with a limp, but he is also blessed and his name is changed to Israel.
Psalm 17: 1-7, 15: A prayer for God to listen to and rescue the psalmist, who affirms his commitment to follow God’s ways and be faithful, and to trust in God’s willingness to answer his prayer.
Romans 9:1-5: Paul expresses his love and concern for his Jewish brothers and sisters, and celebrates the covenants, promises, law – and the Christ – that the Israelites received from God.
Matthew 14:13-21: Jesus tries to get some time to himself after hearing of John’s death, but the crowds find him, and end up, late in the day, in a remote place and without food. Jesus instructs the disciples to feed them, but they object that they only have few resources. Jesus then feeds the crowds with the disciples’ food, after which baskets of leftovers are gathered up.
(Brief summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise. John’s global and local application also worth checking out on the same link).

(Readings in a double sided landscape format –COCU50A.RCLReadings.PDFversion)

The struggle is where the blessing begins by Jan Richardson.

‘Struggle and blessing’ – reflection by Jan Richardson. (use of the image info here)

Rev Sarah Agnew’s reflection on ‘struggle and blessing’.

Note: Resources specifically based on the Jacob wrestling with the angel reading are noted with an asterisk and the letter J (*J)

Acknowledgement of land – may also reference the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People recognition (August 9)

Opening words
On a winter’s morning on this first Sunday in August,
it is a good morning to be together!
Drawn by the warmth of faces familiar and new,

to the welcoming space of this sacred place.
It is a good morning to be together.
For this is a place where truth, love, and challenge meet.
(Source: B Cheatham, adapted)
Here, in this time, we can remember the ways God has graced us:
here, in these moments, we are reminded
God is with us, always!


Here are gathered those daring enough to step out of comfort
into the unknown:
here, in this faith space, we will find the courage
to recognize our need.

For we have gathered here in community,
in company with each other,
in company with God.
There is a safe place for each of us.
In our gathering, let us be open to new understandings,
reassurance and hope.
Let what we say and do here be both real and honest,
thus preparing ourselves for the life of the world. Amen.

Call to worship (*J)
The day breaks
And God does not let us go.
The hour calls
And God does not let us go.
When evening falls
God holds us fast.
Let us turn to God in worship
God, who never turns from us.

Gathering Prayer (*J)
Leader: God, you see us.
East: You see our struggles.
West: You see our difficulties.
East: You see our possibilities.
West: You see our promise.
East: Soften the hard spots with your blessing.
West: Call us in our wandering to hear you say our names.
All: For you are a good God, a God present in the scramble,
And in the end, you always, always have a blessing.
Leader: For this and so much more, we give you thanks!

(*J) In her book Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope, the Benedictine nun and writer Joan Chittister uses the Jacob story as a paradigm for a “spirituality of struggle.”
In Jacob’s story she identifies eight elements of our human struggle:
change, isolation, darkness, fear, powerlessness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and scarring.
But with each human struggle there is a corresponding divine gift:
conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, limitations, endurance, and transformation.
“Jacob does what all of us must do, if, in the end, we too are to become true. He confronts in himself the things that are wounding him, admits his limitations, accepts his situation, rejoins the world, and moves on.”
The end result of the nocturnal struggle for Jacob, the cheater and liar, was God’s blessing: “God blessed Jacob there” (32:29).
(this could be offered during prayers of confession/prayers of who we are, followed by a time for quiet reflection).

Jacob’s Blessing (*J)
If this blessing were easy,
anyone could claim it.
As it is,
I am here to tell you
that it will take some work.

This is the blessing
that visits you
in the struggling,
in the wrestling,
in the striving.

This is the blessing
that comes
after you have left
everything behind,
after you have stepped out,
after you have crossed
into that realm
beyond every landmark
you have known.

This is the blessing
that takes all night
to find.

It’s not that this blessing
is so difficult,
as if it were not filled
with grace
or with the love
that lives
in every line.

It’s simply that
it requires you
to want it,
to ask for it,
to place yourself
in its path.
It demands that you
stand to meet it
when it arrives,
that you stretch yourself
in ways you didn’t know
you could move,
that you agree
to not give up.

So when this blessing comes,
borne in the hands
of the difficult angel
who has chosen you,
do not let go.
Give yourself
into its grip.

It will wound you,
but I tell you
there will come a day
when what felt to you
like limping

was something more
like dancing
as you moved into
the cadence
of your new
and blessed name.
(Source: © Jan Richardson, janrichardson.com, from the book The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief)

The prayers of who we are (*J)
God is present to us, but we don’t always feel it.
God is good to us, but we can’t always accept it.
Fact is, there are things within and around us that attempt to step between us and our relationship to God’s goodness.
Sometimes our senses are dulled to the possibility of finding God in unexpected places and people.
Sometimes there are things that we think, things that we do,
that act to separate us from God. A time for silent reflection

Words of assurance (*J)
God is present!
God is with us! Thanks be to God.

Prayers of who we are – a quiet reflection (*J)
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak…
Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’
But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ Genesis 32.24, 26

The angels you’ll have to wrestle with most often
are no strangers:
they’re your anger, fear, control, defensiveness,
your despair, blame, insecurity, avoidance.
You won’t get away without a fight.

They may also be God’s forgiveness,
the Beloved’s absolute acceptance,
God’s serenity in the face of your betrayal,
God’s accompaniment in your troubles.
You won’t accept them without a fight.

You’re not wrestling with what’s happening;
you’re wrestling with your feelings about it:
not the problem but its difficulty,
not the suffering but how you take it personally.
The angels are not your world, but your self.

So wrestle. Grab them firmly.
Feel their breath on your neck,
their body against yours,
the weight of their intent.
Let your sweat mingle.

Learn their moves.
They’re your sparring partner,
not out to destroy you
but to shove you into the face of God.

Who knew divine intimacy
could be so hard?
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

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Hiroshima Day, August 6th

A Prayer for Hiroshima Day
Like most traumatic scars, the ones that are found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are permanent: reminders of the terrible damage human beings can inflict.
Similar scars can be found in the hearts and souls of people around the world who understand this terror: scars of grief, sadness, fear and even shame.
None of these scars promise an end to war and devastation. Instead, they serve as a reminder of healing and renewal – of a return to life.
Gracious God, Spirit of Life and Love, help us to see our scars: those we have created, those we are called to witness, and those we can soothe and heal.
We are deeply grateful for the buds and blossoms that even the most scarred offer as a revelation to the world.
And, especially on the anniversary of Hiroshima Day, we renew our commitment to peace individually, collectively and globally:
To “peace within” which calms our anxieties and fears,
To “peace between” which overcomes differences, animosities and conflict,
And, to “the great peace,” beyond even our understanding, that is Your gift and which we attempt to be stewards of for the world. Amen.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial Observance Worship and Prayer Resources – UMC (excellent prayers and resources)

Prayers for Hiroshima Day
God our creator and sustainer, we gather to pray in the midst of a broken people who today remember the darkness and the shadow of death and destruction caused by nuclear weapons.
We know that we deal falsely with the world and with ourselves, healing wound too lightly by saying ” peace, peace” when there is no peace.
Let there be sown is us anew the unity, the light and the peace which passes all understanding. Be with us today and keep our minds and hearts in you and in your peace
We remember the 300,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who died as a result of the atomic bombs: May they rest in peace.
We remember all those who died in the war with Japan, especially those who perished in the prisoner of war camps.
We remember those who gave their lives to help those suffering after the bomb and who died of radiation sickness. May their faithful and loving witness inspire us to compassion.
We remember the people of the Middle East – in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Israel. Each day brings news of more violence. We pray that nonviolent solutions may be found to heal wounds, bring justice and lasting peace to them.
We remember those who were able to forgive the suffering inflicted on them by their enemies in war. We pray for the same greatness of heart.
We will remember the peacemaker visionaries who have come before us, and we will give thanks for their witness and their commitment to life.
We pray we may be transformed by God and witnesses to the peace message of Jesus.
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COCU49A.30July2017

Readings
Genesis 29:15-28 Jacob serves Laban for Rachel and Leah
Psalm 105:1-11, 45b God, and God’s people
Romans 8:26-39 The future glory
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 parables about the kingdom & hidden treasure

Mucky Paws Roddy Hamilton

COCU49A.Worship resources compilation

Gathering
The Spirit is breathing.
All those with eyes to see,
women and men with ears for hearing
detect a coming dawn;
a reason to go on.
They seem small, these signs of dawn
perhaps ridiculous.

All those with eyes to see,
Women and men with ears for hearing
uncover in the night
a certain gleam of light;
they see the reason to go on.
Dom Helder Camera

Pilgrim Uniting Church services this week (2017): COCU49A.Pentecost8A.Midweek.PDFversion
COCU49A.P8A.30.Sunday8am.30July2017
COCU49A.Sunday11am.30July2017
COCU49A.Readings.20170730.PDFversion

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COCU46A.Pentecost5.9July2017

Readings: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:10-17; Romans 7:15-25a; Mt 11:16-19, 25-30

Reflection related to Mt 11:30: The Myth of Urgency
Everyone wants you to quietly be Atlas,
to shoulder it all. Even the voice in your
head insists you are behind. But I’ve seen
the light in you, the one the gods finger
while we sleep. I’ve seen the blossom open
in your heart, no matter what remains to
be done. There are never enough hours
to satisfy the minions of wants. So close
your eyes and lean into the Oneness that
asks nothing of you. When the calls stack,
answer to no one, though you receive them
all. Just open your beautiful hands, born with
nothing in them. You have never been more
complete than in this incomplete moment.
(Source: Mark Nepo)

Reflection related to Mt 11.30: The cult of ‘crazy busy’ is killing us
Online article here.

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NAIDOC Week 2017

NAIDOC WEEK: 2-9 July 2017
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. It is an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, and participate in a range of activities and to support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. To follow the celebrations or find out more information, visit the NAIDOC Week website.

2017 NAIDOC Theme: Our Languages Matter
It is hard to overstate the importance of language. It shapes our experience of the world – it shapes our relationships and what they mean for us, expresses our values, describes what matters, offers nuances around culture that are not quite translatable into other languages. Languages shape our identity and sense of belonging.
As a people who speak of Jesus as the Word of God and who value Scriptures, Christians should understand the importance of language, and of each person being able to use their own language. Why else do we spend so much time and energy ensuring that our Scriptures represent the very best translation of the original languages, and supporting translation into many other languages and dialects?
As the NAIDOC Week web site says: The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song. Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the continent at first (significant) European contact in the late eighteenth century. Most of these languages would have had several dialects, so that the total number of named variations would have run to many hundred. Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.
National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair said… “Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages are not just a means of communication, they express knowledge about everything: law, geography, history, family and human relationships, philosophy, religion, anatomy, childcare, health, caring for country, astronomy, biology and food. Each language is associated with an area of land and has a deep spiritual significance and it is through their own languages that Indigenous nations maintain their connection with their ancestors, land and law,” Ms Martin said.

Worship Resources

Prayer
Creator and giver of life,
You who spoke and all things came to life,
Word that became flesh in Jesus,We praise and worship You in all things.
Enable Your Word to take life among us this day.
Give us voice that we might honour You,
and witness to the transforming life of Jesus, living Word.
Forgive us for cheap and careless words, or deliberately harmful words,
for words of war rather than peace,for words of exclusion and words that make enemies, rather than words that build neighbourhoods and welcome.
Forgive us when our words make others silent, or when we refuse to listen to other words.
Forgive us that we belong to a community which has in so many ways robbed First Peoples of their languages, culture and sense of the world.
May we support efforts to reclaim and re-learn languages.
Hear these our words to You. Amen.

Words of mission and dismissal
Go out into the world,
to the place where you sustain the creation.
Allow others to speak their words of life,
and speak gently your words.
Tell and live the story of Jesus.
May the Creator who called forth life by speaking,
Jesus who bore the Word for the life of the world,
and the Spirit whose breath makes language possible
sustain you in all ways. Amen. Continue reading

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COCU39C.Day of Pentecost.4June2017

 

Day of Pentecost – image by Rev Mark Hewitt, http://oldtractorinshed.net

Readings
Year A
Acts 2:1-21:
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b:
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13:
John 20:19-23:

Year C
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 24-34, 35b; Romans 8:14-17; John 14: 8-17 (25-27)

Resources
Textweek
Sacredise
Rex AE Hunt

(Scroll to end for more liturgical resources and music)

A catalyst for a sermon – Richard Rohr
On the day of the dedication of “Solomon’s Temple,” the Shekinah glory of YHWH (fire and cloud from heaven) descended and filled the Temple (1 Kings 8:10-13), just as it had once filled the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 40:34-35). This became the assurance of the abiding and localized divine presence of YHWH for the Jewish people. This naturally made Solomon’s Temple both the centre and centering place of the whole world, in Jewish thinking.
When the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and took the Jews into exile (587 BC), it no doubt prompted a crisis of faith. The Temple was where God lived! People like Ezra and Nehemiah eventually convinced the people that they must go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple so God could be with them again. Yet Wright points out there is no account of the fire and glory of God ever descending on this rebuilt temple (515 BC).
The absence of visible Shekinah glory must have been a bit of an embarrassment and worry for the Jewish people. Wright says it could explain the growth of Pharisaism, a belief strong in Jesus’ time that if liturgical and moral laws were obeyed more perfectly—absolute ritual, priesthood, and Sabbath purity—then the Glory of God would return to the Temple. This is the common pattern in moralistic religion: our impurity supposedly keeps God away. They tried so hard, but the fire never descended.
Knowledge of this history now gives new and even more meaning to what we call the Pentecost event (Acts 2:1-13). On that day, the fire from heaven descended, not on a building, but on people! And all peoples—not just Jews—were baptized and received the Spirit (Acts 2:38-41). Paul understood this and spent much of his life drawing out the immense consequences. In that moment, Christianity began to see itself as a universal rather than a tribal or regional religion, which is why they very soon called themselves “catholic” (universal) as early as the year 108 AD. Paul loved to say, “You are the Temple!”

Prayer of Invocation
Come, Holy Spirit,
and guide us into pathways of truth, we pray.
Inspire us and strengthen us as we walk into the future
in your wise company.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
(Source: Words for Worship 2011)

Collect
Spirit of the living God,
Holy Wisdom, filling the whole earth,
you have come upon us all,
like fire on our heads,
hot in our hearts,
burning till the whole world
is ignited
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source: Bob Eldan)

HOLY BREATH (John 20:19-23)
No tongues of fire here,
simply a word and a gentle breath,
the Holy Spirit.
Through locked doors and fear,
the risen one brings new life,
peace and sending out.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, 2017)

Spirit, the presence of God, the inspiration of God,
the flicker that lives inside us helping us to seek God.
Spirit, the one that pushes us, suggests to us and speaks to us
in so many different ways.
May I always be open to the prodding of the Spirit.
(Source: Jay Robinson)

Peace be with you:
the peace I left you,
my peace, my peace,
I am with you.
Peace from these scarred hands,
peace from that wounded body,
peace, his peace, here
with us.
God has sent me,
now I will send you:
go with the Breath,
on the Wind, in the Spirit.
Peace from these scarred hands,
peace from that wounded body,
peace, his peace, here
with us.
Forgive transgressions,
for Tyrant has no power now;
forgive transgressors,
for Grace will lead them home.
Peace from these scarred hands,
peace from that wounded body,
peace, his peace, here
with us.
Peace be with you.
God has sent you –
be peace, my peace,
with Breath, Wind, Spirit.
(Source: Rev Sarah Agnew, Praying the Story)

Poem For Pentecost Sunday (Yr C)
SUDDENLY THERE CAME A SOUND. . .(Acts 2: 1-21)
It was one of those days where
leaves are thrashed
from tree branches writhing
under a racing sky,
and my childhood friend playing
outdoors with me wondered:
does the wind
ever stop blowing?

And does it stop somewhere, he asked again,
or just keep going around and around the world?

Back then I said I didn’t know
but now I know there came a day
when a wind began in a certain house
that filled with a light like flame,

and that wind had the roar of justice,
and that wind had the rush of love,
and that wind had the whisper of peace and compassion,
and it carried the words of hope and joy
to an anxious and needy world,

and it was gentle enough to touch the wounded soul
and strong enough to stir the ever seeking hearts
of women and men, young and old,
from city to distant shores,

and it pulled down walls of distrust and fear
and threw open doors of possibility,
and oaks of hatred have bent in its path
and palisades of pain have fallen to its strength
and new life has spread like scattered seed

and yes, my friend, that wind
circles the world
and no,
it has never stopped blowing.
(Source: Andrew King, 2016)

A LITURGY FOR PENTECOST
(in association with Acts 2 )
From around the globe, they came, a multitude of races of people in colourful dress, gathering in the town square to host the Holy Spirit. There were no interpreters, yet not a soul missed a word the apostles spoke.
Holy Spirit come again to enlighten and inspire your church, your people today with your words of love and grace.
In Jesus’ name.

Those who were there, described the visitation of the Holy Spirit as something like a refreshing, cleansing zephyr. Others registered the heat, like flames of cleansing, refining fire.
Holy Spirit, came to cleanse and refresh your church, your people today. In Jesus’ name.
Soft as the wings of a dove, the Spirit blessed the gathered throng, bringing peace to troubled minds.
Holy Spirit, come again to equip your church, your people, to be ambassadors for peace in the community, in the nation and in the world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
(Source: Linda Sutton) Continue reading

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World Environment Day – June 5th

wed2016-logo

World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5 June. First proclaimed in 1972, the day has grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

Each year World Environment Day highlights in its theme one important environmental issue.

The Uniting Church in Australia prepared a resource for World Environment Day 2016, Together for a world made whole. The resource made available through Uniting Justice can be downloaded at the link, or COCU.UJA_World_Environment_Day_2016. It has reflections from the Asia-Pacific context.

WED aims to inspire more people than ever before to take action to prevent the growing strain on planet Earth’s natural systems from reaching breaking point. The 2016 theme is the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which erodes precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and tigers as well as many other species. It also undermines our economies, communities and security. The 2016 slogan is “Go Wild for Life” and encourages people to spread the word about wildlife crime and the damage it does, and to challenge all those around you to do what they can to prevent it.

Sri Lanka becomes 16th country to destroy confiscated ivory – and first country to apologise to its elephants. Recommended reading. Prayers for elephants in Thailand.

More than 60% of Africa’s forest elephants have been killed in the past decade due to the ivory trade.

Illegal wildlife trade is a wrong that must be corrected.

Etihad has signed an agreement to help end the illegal trade in wildlife.

01-ivory-sri-lanka.adapt.1900.1**

Uniting Justice liturgical resources for World Environment Day 2015 (downloadable resource link at end of blurb on Uniting Jusice website). The 2014 resources are here.

William (Bill) Wallace (New Zealand) has prepared a ‘mass of the universe‘ which could be considered for World Environment Day. He has generously uploaded the text, MP3 files, music scores etc, and is complete in itself. Worth checking out.

There may be resources in Seasons of Creation that could be helpful for planning too.

Presbyterian Church USA – Caring for Earth’s Creatures (download)

Celebrating the Earth
v1 We light and put in place this candle for the land, sea and sky.
A green candle is put in place and lit

v2 We remember the richness of Planet Earth:
mountains unfolding to desert and plain,
seas swaying to the rhythm of tides,
skies reflecting the colours of light.

v3 We place this green cloth for the creatures of Earth.
A large green cloth is placed near/around the candle

v2 We remember creatures of land, air and sea:
horses running for the joy of living,
parrots chatting on roofs and branches,
dolphins leaping from sea to sky.

v4 We place these leaves for the fruits of Earth.
A branch of green leaves is put beside the candle

v2 We remember fruits of the land:
grasses bursting with nourishing grain,
flowers exuding colour and fragrance,
trees renewing the sweetness of air.

v5 We put this book in place for humanity.
A collection of sayings and poems is put on the green cloth near the candle

v2 We remember all sages and prophets:
through them recalling the power of love;
through them reclaiming a spirit of compassion;
through them embracing Earth and each other.
(Adapt.PCNV Earth Liturgy)

Prayer for World Environment Day
Creator God,
breath and source of life,
in love you called the world into being
and in grace you made us and call us your children.

We stand in awe of the wonder of your creation:
its beauty and wildness;
complexity and power;
resilience and fragility.

God of life,
you call us to be participants in the web and
wellspring of life:
to be nurtured by the planet;
to be nurturing of the planet;
to cherish the world and all that lives.
But we have failed and creation groans under our weight.

God of grace,
forgive us in our brokenness:
when we have taken too much from the earth;
when we have not spoken out
against greed and destruction;
when we have allowed our most vulnerable neighbours
to be harmed.
We seek courage and forgiveness to be made whole.

God of love,
we pray for those people, communities and nations
already suffering the devastating effects of climate change;
and we pray for the diversity of life on earth,
so much of it already threatened by our actions.

God of hope,
we pray for the world’s leaders
Bless them with wisdom and creativity,
and a shared vision of hope for all creation.
May they find the determination
to take strong action against climate change,
and the political will to act together for the common good.

Creator God,
we pray for us all,
that we might restore our relationships with each other
and work together to heal the earth.

Renew us in your grace
for the sake of your creation. Amen.
(Source: Uniting Justice World Environment Day 2016 resources) Continue reading

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COCU38A.Easter7A.28May2017

Also Reconciliation Sunday (Australia)

Readings
Acts 1:6-14
The disciples question Jesus about the timing of God’s restoration of Israel, but Jesus promises the Holy Spirit and then ascends into heaven as they watch. Then two white-robed men tell them that Jesus will return in the same way they saw him leave.
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
A psalm of victory and praise, celebrating God’s might in military terms, and rejoicing in God’s protection of the weak and vulnerable, and in God’s provision of a home for God’s people.
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
Peter encourages the persecuted believers, reminding them that they have witnessed Christ’s suffering and share in it, and that they have the hope of seeing Christ’s glory, and sharing in that as well.
John 17:1-11
Jesus prays for himself that God will take him back into the glory he shared with the Father. Then he prays for his disciples, who have received Christ’s message and have believed and given him glory, that they may be protected by God’s name and may be one as Christ and the Father are one.
(Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Call to Worship

At the presence of God, we rejoice:
glorifying the One who is Parent of all orphans.
In the presence of Jesus Christ, we listen:
to the Voice who calls us to humbly serve others.
Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we speak:
making God’s love known to the world-forsaken in our midst.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Posted in COCU Year A, Year A | 1 Comment

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.

Homily by Rev Dorothy McRae-McMahon in 2014.

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

Come, Holy Spirit, Renew our hearts renew our faith;
renew our love for you;
renew our openness and compassion; renew our sense of justice .
Come, Holy Spirit, Renew your Church
renew our love for the Gospel;
renew the liveliness of our worship;
renew our commitment for the care for the poor;
renew the church in its understanding of its calling.
Come, Holy Spirit, Renew the Earth.
Teach us to protect our environment
teach us to care for other people as our own brothers and sisters;
teach us to imagine all living things as we are connected to each other;
So may the peoples and all living things live in harmony with the earth.
Amen.

My hope is that this church will continue
to first open its heart to the needs of others;
lift its head to attend to opportunities on its horizon;
offer its hands in generous hospitality and healing…
In the Spirit God who raised the Christ,
 extending God’s extravagant compassion, grace and love 
to whomever the neighbour might be 
at the time, in that place, of whatever culture.
And especially to be present
to the lost, the least and the last.
[Prayer on leaving the ministry of Mission Officer by John Emmett]

A prayer from Jon Humphries:
God Who Unites Us in the Work Towards the Common Good
– A Foundational Uniting Church Prayer
(Adapted from the Uniting Church in Australia, ‘Statement to the Nation’ 1977)
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
The path to unity can be long and at times difficult.
You call us into unity as a sign of the reconciliation you seek for the whole human race.
In Christ you commission us with a responsibility to society which will always fundamentally involve us in social and national affairs.
You give us responsibilities within and beyond this country to work to uphold basic Christian values and principles, such as the importance of every human being and the need for integrity in public life.
You give us the task of proclaiming truth and justice and the rights of each citizen to participate in decision-making in their community.
You call us to advocate for religious liberty and personal dignity.
You commission in us a concern for the welfare of the whole human race.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
Move us to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur.
Push us to spend our time and effort for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond.
Fill our lungs with your Spirit that we might call for and affirm the rights of all people to equal educational opportunities, adequate health care, and freedom of speech.
Spur us forward to work so that all may find employment or dignity in unemployment if work is not available.
Fire up our passion and burn away our complacency so that we might oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms.
Give us the desire and the want to challenge values which emphasise acquisitiveness and greed in disregard of the needs of others.
Separate us from selfish thoughts and values that we might stand against that which encourages a higher standard of living for the privileged in the face of the daily widening gap between the rich and poor.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
Concern us with the basic human rights of future generations.
Urge us to find wisdom and take action to ensure the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
We owe you our first allegiance.
Under you the policies and actions of all nations must pass judgment. Steel us for when our discipleship and allegiance bring us into conflict with the rulers of our day, that we may stand your ground.
Unite us as one people so that your universal values find expression in national policies and that humanity may survive under your guidance.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere.
We commit ourselves the family of the One God — the God made known in Jesus of Nazareth;
Who is the One;
Who gave His life for others.
In the spirit of His self-giving love may this be so.
Amen
A LOVE SONG TO THE CHURCH
by Rev. Jennifer M. Creswell, St Luke the Physician Episcopal Church (Oregon)
Inspired by Psalm 84
‘How lovely is your dwelling place, oh Lord of hosts, to me.’
This is a love song to the church.
‘My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.’
This is a love song to the church.
‘The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.’
This is a love song to the church.
‘Happy are they who dwell in your house! They will always be praising you.’
A love song to the church:
‘Happy are the people whose strength is in you! Whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way. Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, for the early rains have covered it with pools of water. They will climb from height to height, and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.’
This is a love song.
To the church. To the ugly ones and the spectacular ones. To the ones the size of a closet and the ones bigger than a city block. To the gaudy ones, the ornate ones, the little country clapboard ones. The stone ones, the bone freezing cold ones, the stuffy filled-with-plastic-virgin-Mary ones, the plain ones, the messy ones, the dark ones, the holy ones.
This is a love song to the church.
To the places and spaces, in living rooms, in high school gyms, in mega sanctuaries from the 80s, in the suburbs, in the cities, the 1,000 year old ones and the buildings just completed—the spaces set aside for the worship of God. This is a love song to the people who build, the people who fund, the people who barn-raise and fundraise and take time off work to meet with the surveyor to build the church. The people who negotiate mortgages and rents, the people who pay the utility bills, the people who mow the grass and weed the front beds, the people who fix the toilet when it runs, the people who research dishwashers, the people who clean and organize and then clean and organize and keep cleaning and organizing. This is a love song to the church.
This is a love song to the spaces that feel holy, look holy, don’t look holy but are holy. The baptismal fonts the size of swimming pools, the fonts the size of a seashell, the tubs and pools, the fountains and dunk tanks. This is a love song to the places where God’s presence lingers on Monday and Tuesday, even if it spends the weekdays full of kids or bar patrons or basketball players. This is a love song to the sanctuary. Where the Word is read, the Word is heard, the Word is lived. To the table. To the place where we come for food, for holy drink. To the candles that light the morning, that burn with our prayers, that shine on Christmas Eve. This is a love song to the altars and sanctuaries, the pianos, the guitars, the drums, the organs, the voices, the songbooks, the blue folders, the singing leader, the kid who plays her saxophone, the praise songs projected on the walls, the chants, the Latin, the English, the Spanish, the Romanian, the Czech, the Arabic, the ASL. This is a love song to the church.
This is a love song to God who shows up as bread, as wine, as light, as flame, as water, as comfort, as pain, as loss, as shadow, as shivering beauty, as other people, as the person who asks if you can teach Sunday school, as coffee and cake, as the interruption to your prayers, as the computer guy, as the voices of 60 people singing.
This is a love song to the place where even a nest of tiny birds knows it is safe. The place where dogs and hamsters are blessed, the place where babies cry, where people move slowly, where you don’t have to know what’s going on. This is a love song of heartbreak over the church’s failures. The failure to protect children. The failure to welcome all God’s people. The failure to repent. The failure to forgive. The failure to take the side of the vulnerable. The failure to listen. This is a love song that sometimes breaks our hearts.
This is a love song to the house of God. To the rafters and the choir lofts and the pew racks and the banners. This is a love song to all the lovingly made sanctuary art that makes us cringe. This is a love song to the place where God dwells. To the sacristy and the narthex. To the parking lot. To the Sunday school room, the furnace room, the courtyard, the stained glass windows. This is a love song to the flag that gets stuck in the trees, to the windows too high to be washed, the elevator that never works, the terrible-colored carpet. This is a love song to the people who make the church their home. This is a love song to the pews that served as beds for rescue workers after 9-11. To the sanctuary that hid people from slaughter in Rwanda. To the roofs that keep houseless people dry at night. To all the crosses and crucifixes and Bibles and vestments and fog machines and icons and gospel choirs and incense. This is a love song to you.
This is a love song to the altar guild. To the worship leaders. To the light and sound guy. To the sexton, the janitor, the one who keeps it clean. This is a love song to the greeter, the baker, the teacher, the acolyte. This is a love song to the one who reaches over and shows where we are in the book. This is a love song to the one who says, “yes, I’ll read today.” This is a love song to the one who takes communion to another. This is a love song to the one who sings someone else’s favorite hymn, says someone else’s needed prayer, to the one who notices, to the one who says something.
This is a love song to the church. To the older church ladies who take Jesuit volunteers out for lunch. To the toddlers who act like they own the place. To the retired guys who show up at Boy Scoutmeetings. To the stitchers, the knitters, the cooks. This is a love song to a place where professors and students sit side by side. Where nurses and patients eat together. Where Republicans and Democrats pray for each other. This is a love song to the bond that holds people together in conflict. This is a love song to the people we wouldn’t be hanging out with otherwise. To the labyrinth walks, the foot washings, the stewardship campaigns, the annual reports, the vestry meetings, the phone directories, the prayer chains, the meal trains, the rides to the doctor, the cards, the guitar lessons, the organ preludes, the funeral receptions, the youth group complines. This is a love song to the crab feeds and Christmas bazaars and the art studios and the clothing closets and the food pantries. This is a love song to bad coffee and conversation you wish would go deeper. This is a love song to the conversation you think will never end. This is a love song to the person who’s been on your mind. This is a love song to little stubby golf pencils in the pews, and misprints in the bulletin.
This is a love song to the church. This is a love song to the people whose strength is in God, whose hearts are set on the pilgrim’s way. This is a love song to the pews polished by 60 years of hand oil, and to the people who would worship God even if the pews weren’t there. This is a love song to a God who is bigger than the church. This is a love song to God in people, God in mountains, God in thunder, God in injustice. A love song for the church. This is a love song for the church because God is holy. This is a love song for the church because God makes the church holy. This is a love song for the church because we can’t hold God.
This is a love song to the church. This is a love song to what we want the church to be, to what the church is now, to what the church will become. This is a love song to the agitators, the complainers, the pleasers. This is a love song to the overworkers and to the ones who keep thinking they ought to get more involved. This is a love song to the ones who keep the church the same and to the ones who push it to change. This is a love song to the reformers, the traditionalists, the peacemakers, the artists, the nurturers, the fighters, the introverts and the voices. This is a love song to the choir that covers for the ones who can’t hold a tune so well anymore. This is a love song to the family who brings the homebound to church. This is a love song to all the ones who pray. And to the ones who say they’ll pray. And to the ones who actually do. This is the love song to the minister who shows up when his heart is breaking. This is a love song to the congregation that praises God when they don’t know what else to do. This is a love song to the saints who have passed the church on to us.
This is a love song to God. This is a gratitude song for the church. This is a love song. Amen.

There Are Many Ways of Sharing (tune: NETTLETON TiS 392)

There are many ways of sharing, But God’s Spirit gives each one.
There are different ways of caring; It’s one Lord whose work is done.
God, whose gifts are overflowing, May we hear you when you call;
Keep us serving, keep us growing For the common good of all.

We’ve been baptized in the waters! We’ve been given work to do.
When you call your sons and daughters, You give gifts for serving you.
God, we join in celebration Of the talents you impart.
Bless each baptized one’s vocation; Give each one a servant’s heart.

All are blest by gifts you give us; Some are set apart to lead.
Give us Jesus’ love within us As we care for those in need.
Give us faith to make decisions; Give us joy to share your Word.
Give us unity and vision As we serve your church and world.

Tune: John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, 1813 (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”)
Text: Copyright © 2004 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Upper Room Books, 2009).

“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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