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

Posted in COCU Year A | Comments Off on COCU14A.Epiphany6A.16thFebruary2020

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.

Continue reading
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Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12): The people complain because God does not seem to notice when they fast and pray, but Isaiah speaks God’s word that challenges them on their injustice and exploitation – that they have the appearance of penitence without a true change of heart.
Psalm 112:1-9, (10): Those who live righteously are compassionate, just and generous, and they have confidence that God will care for them.
1 Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16): God’s wisdom is Christ crucified, which cannot be understood without opening our spirits to God’s Spirit. But, for we who have received God’s Spirit, we are able to know and receive the wonderful blessing God offers us in Christ.
Matthew 5:13-20: Jesus calls his followers to be as salt and light in the world – allowing our good works to be seen in order that others may praise God. Further, Jesus calls his followers to true righteousness, beyond the external legalism of the Pharisees, but embodying the true spirit of the law.

In Isaiah a contrast is drawn between the indulgent spirituality of the people, which leaves them disconnected from God and from God’s purposes, with the result that they feel no answer from God when they fast and pray, and true fasting and prayer which are expressed in lives of justice and compassion. In the Psalm, those who live justly and righteously are celebrated, and are assured of God’s care. In Paul’s letter, we are reminded that God is not known by the usual means that the world tries to find life and goodness, but only in Christ and Christ’s crucifixion. It is as we open to God’s Spirit that we receive God’s presence and power, and that we receive “the mind of Christ” which will inevitably lead us into lives that emulate Christ’s selfless service and sacrifice. In the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel, we discover that true righteousness is not that of the Pharisees – legalistic, individualistic obedience to law – but is to be light and salt in the world, fulfilling the heart of the law by bringing life and goodness to others, and drawing them into healing and saving knowledge of God. Clearly, for the Lectionary this week, true spirituality is seen in a living, vibrant relationship with God through Christ, and by God’s Spirit, which is then reflected and expressed through actions of compassion, justice and service in the world. If we live this kind of spirituality, it will inevitably draw others to this God we serve – and that’s a huge bonus for us!
(Summary of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, Singing from the Lectionary, Starters for Sunday, Sacredise,

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.

Approach to God
Why do we come before God?
The Lord is good; his love is eternal, and his faithfulness lasts for ever.
Psalm 100:5
God, we have come to worship.
We may be here often, or this experience may be unusual,
but you are here, and we need your Spirit to make this time special.
God, we have come together to worship.
We may be in our own group, we may be by ourselves,
but we gather with angels and archangels, we gather with people of every colour and every nation, we gather as those who went before us gathered –
to worship, to reflect, to receive, though Jesus Christ.
God, we have come together to worship.
To declare your greatness and your goodness.
To feel the wonder of your presence.
To listen to what you have to say.
To resolve afresh to live as your people, with the help of your Spirit. Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Call to Worship
If the human body, body of blood and muscle,
is to live, it needs salt.
If the body of Christ, body of peace and justice,
is to live, it needs us!

If the earthly creation, bustling and blooming,
is to flourish, it needs the sun’s light.
If the new creation we are in Christ is to flourish,
it needs the Spirit’s light!

Jesus says we are salt of the earth, light of the world.
Our faith, our love, our hope —
essential as salt and light.

But if salt isn’t salty?
It isn’t what it’s meant to be.

And if a light doesn’t shine?
It isn’t what it’s meant to be.

Jesus says we are salt of the earth, light of the world.
Briny and bright, we are God’s faithful people.
We shall be who we are meant to be in Christ:
a welcoming oasis, a compassionate community,
a justice-making people, giving glory to God!

Opening Prayer
God of mystery and delight,
who has made us to be salt and light
in a tasteless, shadowed world,
guide us in this time of worship.
Grant us understanding and spiritual discernment
so that others may see your good works through us,
give you the glory,
and be moved to serve you. Amen.

God, we are here not because we are good, and not because our lives are glorious.
We are here because we are sinners who mess up,
human beings who let you down, let others down and let ourselves down.
We know what you must think of us in ourselves, and so we seek your mercy.
We are here also because we have heard there is good news;
there is a man who is on our side, whom we call Jesus;
there is a man who has lived our life as it ought to be lived,
there is a man with whom you identify so much that we call him your Son, we call him Messiah, we call him wonderful, we call him God.
For his life, for his death on the cross, for his rising from the dead, for his return to heaven, for his gift of Holy Spirit, we praise you indeed;
we rejoice in being saved from our failure and folly;
we marvel in our new life as your adopted children.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Prayer of Confession
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s hymn ‘O God, Come Sunday Morning’ (scroll down below to MUSIC) could be broken into two sections beginning with vv 1&2, followed by silence for reflection, followed by the ‘affirmation’ in vv 3&4.

Prayers of Restoration and Renewal
It’s much easier, God,
to point fingers and speak with horror
about the darkness in our world,
than to live ablaze with light,
revealing the truth of our lives and world,
bringing the colours of those around us into vibrant life,
warming the hearts of all we meet with compassion and love,
But, we do not choose what is easy,
We ask you to flood us with your light,
and make us light-bringers in our world.

It’s much easier, God,
to separate ourselves
from those who believe and act differently from us,
to judge and exclude them
and preach about the bland lifelessness of our world,
than to live with salty spiciness,
preserving what is good and true and beautiful,
revealing the varied and exciting flavours
of different cultures and peoples,
healing and cleansing what is wounded and stained,
But, we do not choose what is easy,
We ask you to fill us with your saltiness,
and make us spice-bringers in our world.

We celebrate your grace and truth,
your compassion and self-giving,
your justice and righteousness,
and we offer ourselves to be those who follow your ways,
who become light and salt,
bringing life, justice and praise
wherever we may find ourselves.
In Christ’s Name we pray.

We are still the people walking.
We are still people in the dark,
and the darkness looms large around us,
beset as we are by fear,
loss –
a dozen alienations that we cannot manage.

We are – we could be – people of your light.
So we pray for the light of your glorious presence
as we wait for your appearing;
we pray for the light of your wondrous grace
as we exhaust our coping capacity;
we pray for your gift of newness that
will override our weariness;
we pray that we may see and know and hear and trust
in your good rule.

That we may have energy, courage, and freedom to enact
your rule through the demands of this day.
We submit our day to you and to your rule,
with deep joy and high hope.
(Source: Walter Brueggemann in Prayers for a Privileged People, p.163)

God of sweat, tears and sea,
God of these three salty places,
you have added a fourth
making us the salt of the earth.
God of sun, supernovas and stars,
God of all places of light,
you have made us the light of the world.
Give us courage to own our cosmic selves,
to step out to flavor and beam for others,
through Jesus we pray,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source:  Bob Eldan. For reflection and haiku on 5 Epiphany go here)

Lead them to the water
to be salt,
to be tasty, moreish,
make them thirsty,
lead them hither
to drink, to quench,
to drench from lips
to depths; to be
salt dusted on the earth
he swept across;
you are salt, scattered
by the water that restores
your taste, your thirst,
for water.

to be light,
to be free and brightly
dancing on the water,
shimmer, glimmer all
hope and fresh renewal;
sweep the earth
with beams inviting,
guiding them, lighting
their turning to the Way;
point them hither, to
the shimmer of an ocean
deep beyond all dreaming,
gleaming mysteries to dive
for, whispered story to
revive the light that flickers
unextinguished in the dark.
(Source: Rev Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

God, we are grateful for the life you have given us.
For its opportunities, for its challenges.
For its memories, for its hopes.
For the food and friendships that sustain us.
For the media which entertain us, teach us, connect us.
For the arts and sports which stimulate mind and body and spirit.
For the time that remains before us,
and for eternity beyond us,
we give you humble and heartfelt thanks.
God, we are grateful for the faith you give us.
Without you, we may be clever but remain clueless.
With you we see ourselves and the world around us more clearly,
with you we have a direction and a destiny,
with you we have a Champion and a Friend, your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.
God, we are grateful for the people you give us to help us, support us, challenge us. We give thanks for this church family, on earth and in heaven,
and for all who seek to serve you in every land.
We give thanks for every good example, for all who have inspired us,
and for him who leads us to salvation, even Christ our Lord, Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

God, we desire your name to be hallowed.
As the first fruit of a new human race, we offer you our praise and prayers in the name of Christ. May your people honour your name in life and lip,
may your church be reformed and ready for your purpose,
may those who lead us be wise and committed in their life and example.
God, we desire your kingdom to come, your will to be done on earth.
We pray for those who rule our nation;
we pray for our Prime Minister and Government, that they preserve what is good,
and put proper boundaries around what is bad;
we pray for those who hold authority in public life,
that in business and in service they may do their work with integrity;
we pray those held up as leaders by the media,
that they learn humility and practice integrity;
we pray for those who serve the life of our communities in ordinary ways,
that they discover your purpose in the ordinary things of life;
we pray for our neighbours, our friends and our enemies, in the name of Jesus.
God, grant us and especially those who hunger, daily bread;
grant us and especially those in troubled places peace, and a safe home;
grant us and especially those we know who need our prayers, healing and help.
We have asked you to forgive our sins;
help us to be strong enough to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Do not bring us to testing that is too hard for us, and deliver us from every bondage of evil, because we trust in you, the one who is stronger than every power of evil,
the one whose kingdom will triumph in the end,
the one who will change even our weak bodies into what is beyond our sight and sense,
the one whose purposes for creation exceed everything we can imagine,
the one who has given all power to his glorious Son, in the Spirit.
Therefore we pray as Christ taught us, Our Father…
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Prayers of the People
Let us now pray to the God of light
that we may truly become the salt and the light of the world.
Lord, let your light shine in us.

That there may be more love on earth, Lord,
we ask you to dispose people to be more understanding
and friendlier to one another
and to share more readily with those in need:
Lord, let your light shine in us.
That there may be greater justice on earth,
dispose governments and public officials
to make room in their priorities and budgets
for the socially deprived and those out of jobs:
Lord, let your light shine in us.
That there may be more peace on earth,
dispose all nations to put an end to words of hatred
and threats of revenge:
Lord, let your light shine in us.

That there may be more joy on earth,
dispose all those who follow your Son
to show sympathy and affection to one another,
to be faithful in our friendships
and concerned about our communities:
Lord, let your light shine in us.

That there may be more faith on earth,
dispose all your sons and daughters
to live as children of light before you
and in the sight of people:
Lord, let your light shine in us.
Lord God, we pray that your light may shine on all the earth.
However limited we are, let our words and actions
reflect the light of your love,
in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Commission and Benediction
As people of faith we have gathered for worship.
As people of faith we now return to the world.
Go out to share the story of faith,
the story of life, with the world around you.
We share the faith in word and in deed,
in speech and in action.
As you go out to give a living witness,
as you go out to testify to God’s love active in the world,
go knowing that God goes with you,
sharing the laughter and the hope, the fears and the tears.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Source: Rev Gord, Worship Offerings)


A Little Bit of Salt    LEONI (“The God of Abraham Praise”)
A little bit of salt will quickly show its worth;
A little bit of faithfulness will change the earth.
God, make us worth our salt— a church that’s glad to be
The change that you desire in each community.

A lamp that’s in a house gives safety, warmth and light;
It’s set upon a table where it shines so bright.
God, make your church a light that bravely takes a stand
To bring your love and justice into all the land.

A garden is a place where so much beauty grows,
Where flowers bloom and food is raised and water flows.
When worship leads us out to care for the oppressed,
O God, you say we’re like a garden at its best.

When worship leads us out to love and serve the poor,
To welcome in the immigrant* at our own door,
O God, then we’ll be called “repairers of the breach,”
And we your church will be “restorers of the streets.”

It’s tempting to remain well-hidden, quiet, bland—
Yet, God, you make us salt and light to change this land.
You send us out to love, to build and to repair,
Till peace and justice flourish here and everywhere.

* “refugee” can be used instead of “immigrant”

Biblical References: Matthew 5:13-16; 25:31-46; Isaiah 58:1-12
Tune: Traditional Hebrew melody (“The God of Abraham Praise”)
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:
(Please email if you want the music and words as a PDF)

O God, Come Sunday Morning
LLANGLOFFAN D (“Lead On, O King Eternal”; “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”)
O God, come Sunday morning, we offer you our praise.
We pray and take an offering; we seek to know your ways.
We love each morning service, yet wonder, when it’s through:
Lord, did you even notice our honouring of you?

On Monday, children hunger; on Tuesday, victims cry.
On Wednesday, gunshots thunder, and so the days go by.
Indifferent, even scorning, we turn from neighbours’ pain,
And then on Sunday morning, we worship you again.

O Lord, you spoke through prophets and told us what you seek;
For this is faithful worship — to help the poor and weak,
To work to bring your justice, to give the hungry bread.
In this we honour Sabbath — when all your world is fed.

We hear your wondrous promise, that as we follow you,
You’ll make of us a garden to bless the world anew.
We trust what you have spoken — that joy and worship meet
When we repair the broken, when we restore the streets.

Biblical Reference: Isaiah 58
Text: Copyright © 2012 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:
This hymn was written at the 2012 Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, following a Bible study led by Dr. Margaret Aymer.


Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU13A.Epiphany5A.9thFebruary2020

World Council of Churches – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The World Council of Churches commemoration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally runs from Friday, January 18 through Friday, January 25 (northern hemisphere, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul) and around Pentecost (southern hemisphere), which is also a symbolic date for unity. It is usually between the Day of Ascension and Day of Pentecost. 

The theme for the 2020 Week of Prayer in 2020, “They showed us unusual kindness…” is inspired by Acts 28:2 and draws on the story of Paul finding safety in Malta after a shipwreck. The resources for the week have been prepared by members of different churches in Malta. 

Continue reading

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Micah 6:1-8: God challenges God’s people regarding their tiring of God, and calls them to love mercy, do justice and walk with God in humility.
Psalm 15: Those who are true worshipers, who may enter God’s presence, are the ones who live with consideration and compassion for their neighbours, and with justice and integrity.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31: God is not known through the wisdom and power of this world, but in the foolishness of the cross, which, to those who believe, is the wisdom and power of God. In this cross alone do we boast.
Matthew 5:1-12: Jesus teaches his disciples that those who are poor, mourning, pure in heart, working for peace, desperate for justice and persecuted for following Christ are the ones God blesses.

The Lectionary this week explores the interconnectedness of our intimacy with God and our lives lived in justice and mercy. It also begins a short Epiphany journey through the Sermon on the Mount. Without a lived expression of our intimacy with God, our faith is little more than platitudes and dreams. But, in a challenging call this week, the Scriptures demonstrate how we find God in the poorest, the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, and how as we work for justice and mercy, we participate in God’s reign and God’s life. There is no division between justice and worship, between ministry and liturgy, in the Gospel. And so we are called to embrace a vibrant relationship with God that is manifest and experienced in a vibrant interaction with the world.
(Summaries from John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, Starters for Sunday, Singing from the Lectionary

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.

Beatitudes for the 21st Century – reflections by Rev Becky Withington (click on link or scroll right to the end of this post)

Thought for the week (John van de Laar)
In the prophecy of Micah, which is one of the Lectionary readings for today, the prophet asks what God requires of God’s people. Then he answers his own question: “…to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 CEB). If we wish to know what justice, faithful love and walking with God look like, the Sermon on the Mount gives a pretty good picture. Situated near the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, the famous Sermon is the first of five important teaching sessions of Jesus, and it offers summary of Jesus’ message, a manifesto for his ministry. The first part of the Sermon, known as the Beatitudes, is the Gospel reading for today.
Along with Micah’s prophecy, the Beatitudes show us the kind of life that “God blesses”. This doesn’t mean that we earn God’s blessing by making the Beatitudes as a new law. Rather, these Scriptures invite us into the blessing of God that is already ours because of God’s grace. Everyone is blessed! But, not everyone experiences the blessing because we may have shut ourselves off to the qualities and values that open us to abundant life. We may not live as justly as we could, and we may not embrace faithful love for God and others – in which case we have chosen ways that bring pain to others and, ultimately, to ourselves. But, when we open ourselves to God’s values and purposes, our hearts begin to change and we begin to live the kind of life that brings blessing and justice. God’s grace enables us to live this way, but if we refuse to allow God’s grace to do its work, we separate ourselves from God’s “blessings”.
This week we explore what it means to live a life of justice, faithful love and walking humbly with God.
(John van de Laar – 2017-02-05-11 for the week ahead using the lectionary readings)

Thom Shuman writes: On a social media site, a colleague in Scotland asked how folks might re-phrase ‘blessed are the poor in spirit . . .’
The response that struck me was the one that spoke of people being ‘out of breath.’
I know a lot of folks who are breathless.
People with actual breathing problems, who rely on oxygen and medicine in order to breathe.
People whose breath is taken away by wonder and creativity.
Children whose breath is sucked out of them by verbal and physical bullying.
Families whose breath of life is taken away as they have to flee war, disasters, oppression.
Those who run out of breath trying to take care of families, aging parents, grandchildren.
People who could breathe easier if only that elephant called debt, fear, doubts was not sitting on their chests.
So many breathless people.
How do we show them the kingdom where they can catch their breath? How can we carry them to the Breath which can restore them to hope, to life, to laughter? How can we be the paramedics of the kingdom who help resuscitate folks with the gifts God has given to us?
Blessed are the breathless . . .
(Source: Thom M. Shuman, Galloway Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio),,

Approach to God
Jesus of Nazareth,
We did not come towards you
You came first to us
And lived among us
Speaking, Including, Welcoming, Protesting, Teaching, Challenging, Sharing, Dying, Rising. You are so much more than your words
You are Word made Flesh, Embodied Enacted, Enlivening among us.
Make us more like you.
Make our words live
thought the actions of our lives
We ask this because you, Word of Life
are also the Bread of Life.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Call to worship
What does God require of us?
The sacred words of Jesus will remind us
when we forget our calling.
In humble hope, we are to be those
who live with love and justice,
even when that means a costly journey.
In times when values are linked
with power and money and success,
we are to take our stand,
as those who have a different vision.
For we, the people of God, have seen in Jesus Christ,
a new witness to life which is full and free.
(Source: Words for Worship 2011)

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)

Prayers of who we are
We long to know your presence
and your blessing God;
to know that we have found a place
in your kin-dom;
And so we commit to being those
who acknowledge our poverty of spirit,
and who grieve rightly our brokenness and losses;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
We dedicate ourselves to humility,
and to a constant, never-ceasing hunger and thirst
for justice;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
We seek to always act with compassion and mercy,
and to keep our hearts pure –
free from destructiveness,
and bound by integrity;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
We devote ourselves
to working for peace,
and to constant celebration and rejoicing,
even in the face of hardship,
and struggle;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
Gracious and Compassionate God,
We offer ourselves to you again,
in worship and obedience,
in lives committed to the purposes and practices
of your reign;
For in this way, we know, we are blessed,
and we are a blessing. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year A, Year A | Comments Off on COCU12A.Ephiphany4A.2February2020

Blessings for a journey

A journey can become a sacred thing.
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you towards
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home, more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
(Source: John O’Donohue)

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Australia Day resources – various

Listen to the Whisper: Music written by Geoff Boyce, sung by Tim and Alison Solly, with images from Colebrook memorial (Adelaide, SA) – can be used for Acknowledgement of Land.

Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White’s sermon from Day of Mourning services (19th January 2020), Leichhardt Uniting Church
“When we stop talking and listen, we hear that the church in Australia is built on stolen land, Indigenous land, and shares in a history of racism, massacre, abuse, stolen children, imprisonment and death in custody, and ongoing disadvantage. We hear that this legacy is really ours because we have explained, justified or remained silent in the face of this reality. When we stop talking and listen, we make space to realise anew that we have acted in ways that deny the worth of some of God’s people, equally made in God’s image.”

Great Spirit, God of every people and every tribe,
we come to you as your many children,
to ask for your forgiveness and guidance.
Forgive us for the colonialism that stains our past,
the ignorance that allowed us to think
that we could claim another’s home for our own.
Heal us of this history.
Remind us that none of us were discovered
since none of us were lost,
but that we are all gathered within the sacred circle of your community.
Guide us through your wisdom to restore the truth of our heritage.
Help us to confront the racism that divides us
as we confess the pain it has caused to the human family.
Call us to kinship.
Mend the hoop of our hearts
and let us live in justice and peace,
through Jesus Christ, the One who came
that all people might live in dignity. 
(Source: A Gathering Prayer from Native Ministries of the Episcopal Church: Resources on the Doctrine of Discovery)

Why Lord, O Why?
Why Lord, O why
is this where we are?
Why Lord, O why
all the sorrow we bear?
Land dispossessed
Our humanity scarred
Why Lord, O why Lord
is this where we are?

Why Lord, O why
such injustice, abuse
language and law,
and culture suppressed?
Sovereignty stolen
and spirit despised
we, church complicit
before mournful eyes?

How Lord, O how
could this happen, recur?
How Lord, O Lord
have we somehow not learned?
Apathy, silence
have marked our response
Where was compassion?

And at such a cost!

Hear Lord, O hear
Our deep “Sorry” … our pain;
dishon’ring First People’s
for our sinful gain, we 

pray restoration, forgiveness, renewal;
that we’ll walk together
as one, born in you
(Source: David MacGregor

© 2020 Willow Publishing
- written for UCA National Day of Mourning)
Music Score
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Isaiah 9:1-4: Isaiah prophesies a reversal of fortune for the people of God who are occupied by Assyria – though they are in darkness, light will break in, and they will be freed from their oppression.
Psalm 27:1, 4-9: David’s Psalm celebrating God’s protection and the security he finds in God’s presence and in God’s sanctuary.
1 Cor 1:10-18: Paul confronts the Corinthians about the divisions and factions among them, reminding them that it is only the message of the cross that is important and that offers God’s power for salvation.
Matt 4: 12-23: Jesus begins his ministry and is seen by Matthew to be fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of the light shining in the darkness. He preaches the nearness of God’s reign, calls his first disciples and heals those who are afflicted with disease.
(Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

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COCU8A.Epiphany of the Lord (January 6, 2020)

(note: Epiphany can be celebrated on the date shown, or on the first Sunday in January which in 2020 is COCU7A)

Isaiah 60: 1-6
Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3: 1-12
Matthew 2: 1-12

God of gold, we seek your glory:
The richness that transforms our drabness into color,
and brightens our dullness with vibrant light;
your wonder and joy at the heart of all life.

God of incense, we offer you our prayer:
our spoken and unspeakable longings, our questioning of truth,
our searching for your mystery deep within.

God of myrrh, we cry out to you in our suffering:
The pain of all our rejections and bereavements,
our baffled despair at undeserved suffering,
our rage at continuing injustice;
and we embrace you, God-with-us,
in our wealth, in our yearning, in our anger and loss.
(Source: Jan Berry) Continue reading

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(Note: COCU 8A Epiphany may also be celebrated on this day)

Jeremiah 31: 7-14 or Sirach 24: 1-12
Psalm 147 or Wisdom of Solomon 10: 15-20
Ephesians 1: 3-14
John 1: (1-9), 10-18

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