July 25 – Christmas in July

It’s Christmas in July at our church
and we hear the old stories
and sing the carols
without all the seasonal accumulation
of gifts and tinsel and loneliness.
It’s a heat wave
and we are channeling Australian Christmas,
but anyway, I’m trying to explain
the incarnation
and people are sweating
so maybe it is unnecessary.
They see the god-bump
on the young woman
and how willing to become a refugee
is her broken-hearted fiancé,
the dirty rural migrants
listening to corridos
of Norteño bands in the sky,
wizards who don’t know herod from hogwarts,
and to finish off
the list of unlikely companions –
one grouchy, tired, so no-vacancy
innkeeper
who sends Mary and Joseph
out back to the stable
then deals with the paying customers
who complain some great big star
is shining in their windows
and they can’t sleep –
so why doesn’t he turn it off?
And no one ever
has been able to turn it off.
But then I understand –
somewhere between “O little town”
and “hark the herald” –
that the in-carnation,
in spite of a long heritage
of theological self-indulgence
means God is willing
to be in everyone’s button hole.
(Maren C. Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

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COCU48C.21stJuly2019

Readings:
Amos 8:1-12: Amos sees a vision of a basket of ripe fruit – this is a symbol that because of corruption Israel is ripe for God’s judgement.
Psalm 52: Judgement comes to the one who lies, while God’s care is extended to the faithful.
Colossians 1:15-28: Jesus, the visible image of God, the Creator and reconciler of all.
Luke 10:38-42: Jesus is a guest in the home of Mary and Martha. Martha serves, while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Martha is unhappy but Jesus refuses to criticise Mary.

Martha_and_Mary_He_Qi

Mary and Martha, by He Qi

 

MarthaAndMary_He_Qi_2002

Mary and Martha, by He Qi

 

Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary

(More art work here)

John van de Laar, Sacredise
This week it’s all about listening – to God’s word – and to living it out in compassion, integrity and justice – which requires listening to others. This can be harder than it sounds with all the noise that bombards us each day. That’s why the discipline of worship is so important. It gives us the time and the space to learn the practice of listening well. (Click on Sacredise link for commentary).

Mary and Martha.. ‘generous intelligence’ and ‘intelligent generosity’. Continue reading

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COCU47C.14thJuly2019

Readings:
Amos 7:7-17;
Psalm 82
Colossians 1:1-14;
Luke 10: 25-37

Great reflection/sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber, A Sermon on Why it is The Parable of the Merciful Samaritan and not the Parable of the Robbers

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37): A Joint Christian–Buddhist Reflection
Kemmyo Taira Sato and Michael Ipgrave (pp 44-47, WCC Dialogue magazine)

Music
This hymn is based on the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Who is My Neighbor?
LOBE DEN HERREN 14.14.4.7.8 (“Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty”) (MIDI)

“Who is my neighbor?” A lawyer asked Jesus, to test him.
So Jesus told him a story to answer his question:
Lonely the way…
Lonely the traveler one day…
Robbers attacked him and left him.

First down the road came a priest who just chose to ignore him.
Next came a Levite who wouldn’t do anything for him.
Then one despised,
Hated in everyone’s eyes,
Knelt down to heal and restore him.

Tending the wounds of the man, the Samaritan labored.
He was the one with compassion, the one in God’s favor.
Not by a creed
But by responding to need,
He proved to be the good neighbor.

Biblical Reference: Luke 10:25-37
Tune: Straisund Ernewerten Gesangbuch, 1665. Harm. The Chorale Book for England, 1863
Text: © 2007 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net
Copied from Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Upper Room Books).

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COCU46C.7th July 2019

(work in progress)

Readings: 2 Kings 5: 1-14, Psalm 30, Galatians 6: (1-6), 7-16, Luke 1-11, 16-20.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
In the offering of our gifts, as well as the living of our days, may we not grow weary of doing what is right, but commit to speaking up for the voiceless, healing the broken, feeding the hungry, and all those mercies which are such a part of your heart and hopes for all your children. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. (Thom Shuman)

Reflection (may be used as Words of Mission/Benediction)
When we go into the world, O God,
may we not go alone;
with sisters and brothers, with friends,
may we be companions for each other;
may we walk together, talk together,
sing songs and pray and listen,
listen to the story of you, and your love
for all that lives; listen to our
stories telling of encounters of the Divine;
listen in the silence for your still assurance.
When we go into the world, O God,
may we go free of burdens;
may we carry ourselves and the gifts
we have received, with humble confidence;
may we leave behind the extra bags,
the riches of comfort and privilege –
so that we may enter each new place
open to receive what is offered,
to learn more than to teach, to listen
more than we speak, to honour what, and who, we find.
When we go into the world, O God,
may we go free of fear:
may the peace we carry – your peace –
run deep enough to warm our unsheltered nights,
protect us when our peace is rejected,
settle us where we land,
give us joy to eat and drink with friends
who once to us were strangers;
may your peace be the wick for love, O God,
bringing light as we go into the world. Amen.
(Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story. Sound File here).

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World Day against child labour – June 12th 2019

The World Day Against Child Labour raises issues about child labour and supply chains. With an estimated 152 million children still in child labour, all supply chains, from agriculture to manufacturing, services to construction, run the risk that child labour may be present. This article raises awareness of human trafficking and slavery in Australia.

The World Day Against Child Labour is an initiative to raise awareness and activism. The ILO website explains: “Hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights. Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.”

“Child labour has no place in well-functioning and well regulated markets, or in any supply chain. The message that we must act now to stop child labour once and for all has been affirmed by the Sustainable Development Goals. Acting together, it is within our means to make the future of work a future without child labour.” Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

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Winter

leunigwinter

Iona resource: Winter
A book of helpful resources by Ruth Burgess. It is for Northern Hemisphere winter, so includes key events in the church calendar in the Nov-Jan period (Christmas, Blue Christmas, Advent etc).

Opening Prayer
Holy One,
today the cold wind
chased us from our homes
across the car park
and into the warmth
of this church, the warmth
of your welcoming love, and
the warmth of our community.
As we gather together today,
let us not forget those who are homeless,
and have no warmth awaiting them:
keep us aware and compassionate.
May the fire we kindle here
fill our hearts with your love,
and may we carry it away within us
and warm the hearts of others. Amen.

There is a winter in all of our lives
There is a winter in all of our lives,
a chill and darkness that makes us yearn
for days that have gone
or put our hope in days yet to be.

God, you created the seasons for a purpose.
Spring is full of expectation
buds breaking
frosts abating and an awakening
of creation before the first days of summer.

The summer sun gives warmth
and comfort to our lives
reviving aching joints
bringing colour, new life
and crops to fruiting.

Autumn gives nature space
to lean back, relax and enjoy the fruits of its labour
mellow colours in sky and landscape
as the earth prepares to rest.

Then winter, cold and bare as nature takes stock
rests, unwinds, sleeps until the time is right.

An endless cycle
and yet a perfect model.
We need a winter in our lives.
A time of rest, a time to stand still.
A time to reacquaint ourselves
with the faith in which we live and breathe.
It is only then that we can draw strength
from the one in whom we are rooted,
take time to grow and rise through the darkness
into the warm glow of springtime,
to blossom and flourish,
bring colour and vitality into this world,
your garden.

The day of the storm
Through driving rain and howling wind
You call us.
When the light fades and a blanket of grey sky
reflects our moods, our fears, our darkness
You call us.
From the comfort of our homes
where we feel safe and secure, comfortable and content
You call us back into life.
(Source: ‘The day of the storm’ by Katy Owen)

Act of Awareness
In the seed is the flower,
In the weed and the apple tree,
In the chrysalis hides a promise
Of life that soon will be free.

In the deadly cold of winter storms
Waits the spring for you and me,
In the silence is the song
In which dreams come alive
(Robert Hasley)

The end of a cycle has come
This is the time of harvest, of thanksgiving and of leave-taking and sorrow. Life appears to decline. The season of barrenness is upon us, yet we give thanks for that which we have reaped and gathered. The end of a cycle has come. We enter our resting season. The seed now begins its time of gestation in the rich dark earth. It is the great cold of night; not the negative images of darkness, but the dark richness of that unknown, fertile, deep part in each of us where our intuitive creative forces abide. The Christ energy enters the earth at this season. The nights grow shorter, the light returns and in time we experience rebirth.
Wendell Berry

Winter… is a time of turning inwards
Winter,
a time of snow and wetness.
The days are short and cold,
the deciduous trees are bare.

Winter,
a time for cutting away
dead wood from roses,
and pruning unwanted branches
from grape vines.

Winter,
a time of shaping things,
tying up the waste,
a time for clearing.

Yet, in this time,
there is still growth:
the flower withers
to form the seedcase…
tubers shrink and turn inside out,
sending up the shafts of stem
and sending down the anchoring roots.

Underneath everything,
in the darkness,
new life is seething,
yearning to break through the surface.

The husks fall away from the seed
and the ticking kernel starts to shoot. (Trisha Watts. Sanctuary/84.adapted)

Music
Throughout this winter season, by William L. (Bill) Wallace

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COCU40C.TrinitySundayC.16thJune2019

See also Trinity Sunday Year A and Year B.

Readings
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31: Wisdom sings of being with God at the creation of the world, and of humanity.

Psalm 8: A song of God’s majesty, and the honour God has given to humanity.

Romans 5:1-5: In Christ God has given us peace and a place of privilege, and has also strengthened us by giving us the Spirit.

John 16:12-15: Jesus promises the Spirit who will lead us into truth, and teach us all that belongs to Jesus and the Father.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources:
Life in Liturgy
Singing from the Lectionary
Textweek

A Trinity Preparation
I bind unto myself this day the strong name of the Trinity.
The Creator’s gifts of earth and sky,
the flowing creeks and fertile land,
the winter sun and summer moon,
the roaring sea and golden sand.
I bind unto myself this day the Christ who wears our human clay.
The Baby sleeping in a stall,
the Healer touching our disease,
the Man of love upon the Cross,
the risen Friend who hears our pleas.
I bind unto myself this day the Spirit who is here to stay.
The Breath that makes the broken whole,
the Truth that flows like liquid light,
the Wind that sweeps my dusty soul,
the Fire that warms the darkest night.
From now unto infinity,
The strong name of the Trinity.
(Source: Bruce Prewer)

Call to worship
We gather in the name of the living Christ to worship God.
Surely, God is in this place and calls us to worship in spirit and in truth.
God’s love is for you and for all people everywhere.
May we be renewed in the refreshing Spirit of the living Christ, that we may share God’s love and life.
The living Christ is with us.
Praise the Lord!

Gift of Faith (a prayer inspired by Romans 5:1–5)
You give us faith
to make us right
with You again.

You give us peace
to bring us home
to You again.

You give us grace
in which we stand,
in Your presence,
in Your love,
in Your honour.

Thus we withstand
our suffering,
and we endure;
we find resilience,
and we grow;
we develop character,
and we hope –
we hope, for Your love,
our faithful Holy One,
is poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has
been given to us.

You give us Your Spirit,
breath of life,
wind of flight.

You give us Your Wisdom,
welcoming light,
path of right relationship.

You give us Your Love,
source of life,
home each night of sorrow
and day of quite exquisite joy.

We stand in awe,
grateful for such gifts, inspired
to fly, to love, to shine light
in the world.

May it be so. Amen.
(Sarah Agnew)
Continue reading

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Arbor Day/Tree Day – 20June2019 (in Australia)

Arbor (Tree) Day in Australia – June 20, 2018

Arbor Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, but mostly organized on different dates. The first known Arbor Day was celebrated in 1594 in Spain. In the USA it’s celebrated on April 27th. In Australia it’s on June 20. Jewish people observe Tu B’Shevat (Tu Bishvat), on the 15th day of the Jewish months of Shevat. This festival is also known as the “New Year for Trees”.

The very first Arbor Day is Australia was observed in 1889. The proposal for observation of this day was made by several South Australians, who were concerned about the environmental situation of the continent. The activity of white settlement had led to the rapid loss of vegetation across South Australia, and that is why an appropriate environmental event was demanded. The proposal was backed by parliamentarians and soon Arbor Day was established.
The inaugural event included a parade and after it the officials planted trees. For instance, then-governor Lord Kintore and his wife planted a bunya pine and a weeping Scotch elm. These trees still grow today. Pupils also planted a number of trees in designated areas.
Protection of the environment is a great issue in Australia, that is why a number of Tree Days are observed by Australians. For instance, every state has its own Arbor Day and Arbor Week is observed in Victoria. Moreover, National Tree Day and School Tree Day are also observed by Australians.

Lynne Baab reflects on trees (from a North American context).
I have always loved trees. They speak to me of God’s creativity, complexity, beauty and provision. In high school, we had three young birch trees in our back yard. To me, they looked like young girls dancing, reflecting the joy of living in God’s beautiful world.
As a university student, I took hundreds of photos of the sun shining through trees. I particularly admired the translucence of maple leaves backlit by the sun, speaking to me of the beauty of the Light of the World.
I often remember the trees from places I’ve traveled. The first time I travelled to New Mexico and Colorado in the fall, the round, golden aspen leaves made me gasp with pleasure. The trees looked like they were covered with gold coins, a picture of God’s rich beauty and abundance.
The eucalyptus trees in Australia were a revelation. I had always loved the smell of eucalyptus trees when I visited Northern California, but I thought “eucalyptus” referred to one kind of tree. In Australia, dozens of species of eucalyptus fill the streets and parks, each species with a slightly different color or shape. Of the 700 species of eucalyptus in the world, most are native to Australia. Seeing all those different kinds of eucalyptus trees made me feel like a kid in a candy shop of trees, all of them intricately created by the Maker of all beauty.
Trees are used throughout the Bible as metaphors for various aspects of faith. The tree planted by streams of water in Psalm 1 bears fruit in its season and has green leaves even in a drought. Who is like that tree? A person who loves God, does what is right, and meditates on God’s law day and night.
The vision of God’s abundance described in Isaiah 55:12 talks about joy and peace, which will be so powerful that the mountains will sing and “all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” I read that verse for the first time as a very young Christian, during my photographing-trees-in-the-sun phase, and I posted the verse on my bulletin board because it was so vivid and joyous.
In John’s vision of heaven, recounted in Revelation 21 and 22, the river of life flows through the city, with the tree of life growing beside it, “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2). The nations so desperately need God’s healing. I wonder if those healing leaves look like maple leaves with the sun shining through them. Perhaps those healing leaves are gold, like aspen leaves in the fall.
Trees take simple ingredients – carbon dioxide from the air, water and minerals from the soil – and turn them into beautiful branches and leaves, as well as delicious fruit and precious oxygen. Because humans and other mammals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, trees give balance, providing the oxygen that is essential for human life. Without trees, the rising carbon dioxide level of the air would make life impossible for two reasons: lack of oxygen for mammals to breathe and ever increasing temperatures caused by carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect.
Arbor Day focuses on planting trees, these miracles of beauty and oxygen.  This year, to celebrate Arbor Day, plant a tree. Draw a tree. Photograph a tree. Look out your window or go outside and enjoy the trees that you can see. And don’t forget to thank God for trees.
(Originally posted on Godspace).

For further reflection:
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How they Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben will blow your mind. Did you know that trees communicate with each other? They do it through chemicals they release into the wind and through fungi and other plants in the earth.

In November 2017, Rev Brian Polkinghorne was presented the ‘Award of Merit’ by the Roseworthy Old Collegians Association. The now 80-year-old and his family moved to Tanzania 12 months after he completed agriculture studies at Roseworthy College in 1969. He went as an agricultural missionary and has been back and forth to Tanzania on many occasions working on different projects. The African Evangelistic Enterprise invited him to open up a large reforestation project in Tanzania, funded by the Australian government. Brian and his team convinced farmers to plant and nurture 6.72 million trees. More here.

Rev Brian Polkinghorne

Brian and Jill Polkinghorne

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Refugee Week (World Refugee Day June 20)

In 2018, the dates are Sunday 17th to Saturday 23rd June.
#WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week 2018 in Australia.

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. UnitingJustice Australia has released their Refugee Week (14–20 June) resources for 2015 with the theme ‘With courage let us all combine.’ Taken from the second verse of the Australian national anthem, the 2015-2017 theme celebrates the courage of refugees who have refused to deny their beliefs or identity in the face of persecution, fled their homeland and often endured terrifying and dangerous journeys only to face the cruelty of detention before working hard to make a new life for themselves and their families. It also serves as a call to action for all Australians. Download the resource here.

New documentary (2018) – Border Politics (with Julian Burnside): below is a trailer (check it out on IMDB or in cinemas in Australia in June/July).

Imagine if we truly understand and live by the truth that no one wins until everyone wins. Imagine if we understand and were able to see a world where there is no “me”, only “we”, there is no “them”, only “us”. Imagine if we lived by the understanding there is no “their” children or “my” child, there is only “our” children.
A photojournalist was taking pictures of the destruction of the war in Syria when he heard a sniper’s rifle. He turned and saw a child fall to the ground down the street. He rushed to her and she was being held by a man who said, “My child, my child, she’s been shot. Please help!”
The photojournalist ran to get his car and helped the man and wounded child into the backseat. The man said, “My child’s bleeding badly. Please hurry.”
They hurried to the hospital. They rushed the child into emergency leaving the photojournalist and man pacing in the waiting room. After some time a doctor walked through the door with that look that says we did all we could but it was too late.
The man said to the photojournalist, “We must go and find this girl’s father at once and tell him.”
The photojournalist said, “Father? I thought you were her father. You said ‘my child’?”
The man, with tears in his eyes, said, “THEY ARE ALL OUR CHILDREN.”
Those are the tear-filled eyes that can heal and restore our broken world. Those are the eyes of Jesus, the eyes that understand and see they are all OUR children. It seems like a good week to be reminded of the truth that there is no “their” children. They are all our children.
(Source: Steve Koski, Facebook post, 17th June)

In 2000, the 9th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia expressed our commitment to seek “fair, humanitarian, adequately resourced and culturally appropriate government policies and procedures for the processing of refugees and asylum seekers”.

refugee week 2016Also, The Uniting Church’s ‪Refugee Week 2016  resource Searching for Freedom celebrates the rich diversity refugees bring to Australian society! Searching for Freedom is a reminder of what people are doing when they flee situations of persecution and grave danger. 2016 SearchforFreedom_RefugeeWeekResource

Silence Land – a poem by Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017 while on Manus:
I have doubts about my sanity:
not everyone can bear this much.
They stole all my feelings;
there’s no wisdom left in my mind.
I am just a walking dead man.
I am just a walking dead man.
I have yelled for help so many times –
No one on this earth took my hand.
Now I see many mad things and imagine
how the world would look if it collapsed.
Perhaps it would be good for everything to
return to the past;
for nothing to be seen on the earth or in the sky.
It would feel so good to be a child
again and go back to my mother’s womb,
for there to be no sign of me
for never to have gone crazy in this place
………………………………
I sound crazy speaking this way! It’s the outcome of being detained for four years after seeking asylum on the sea. Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017
(This poem, abridged, by an Iranian asylum seeker in detention on Manus Island were read as part of a poetic performance called ‘Through the Moon’. Sourced from ‘Adelaide Voices’, Sep-Nov 2017)

Resources

Downloadable resource here.
Because it’s important to understand what’s happening in the world and in Australia for those searching for freedom, this resource includes information about Australia’s history of accepting refugees, what it means to seek asylum, and how many refugees there are in the world and where they are living.
It describes an alternative to ‘stopping the boats’, and includes a section on the situation of the roughly 30,000 people who are living in the community waiting to have their claims for protection processed.
The resource includes worship resources for Refugee Week as well as a number of ideas for what you can do to help bring about positive change.

See also Migrant and Refugee Sunday resources on this site.

Resources for worship

Call to Leaders regarding Refugees
The Uniting Church in Australia responds
to the grace proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
who himself was a refugee.
We are called to work with all our hearts and minds
to love God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ.
We are called to express love and generosity of spirit
to the world for whom Christ died,
including the most marginalized people.
We seek to love the neighbour who is different
and welcome the stranger in our midst.
We implore civic leaders
to reflect the deep values of Australians,
shaped by different nations and cultures,
who seek to live in a world
characterized by peace and goodwill.
We therefore ask those leaders to embrace
a spirit of compassion
and concern for human dignity
in their considerations with regards
to Refugee and Asylum-seeker policy development.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Adopted by the South Australian Presbytery and Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia, October 2016)

Prayer of Invocation
God of hospitality and refuge,
come to us here in this place of security and safety. Remind us that you are the God Almighty;
large enough for all people,
all nations, all tongues.
Help us, with the presence of your Holy Spirit,
to be able to create space
for those who seek asylum and refuge.
In the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen.
(Source: UCA 2016 resource)

Lament
O Lord, how long shall we cry for help, and you will not listen?
Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’
and you will not save?
Why do you make us see wrong-doing and look at trouble?
In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?
(The response can be sung. The musical setting is in Uniting in Worship 2, p. 200)
Where is your justice, God?
Where is your purpose?
Where is your reason?
Where is your compassion?
Do you not care for your people,
your creation, your reputation?
Your purpose is hidden from our eyes.

In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?

Your reason is absent to our ears.
Your compassion is not discerned by our hearts.
We have no hope (and remember asylum seekers who have no hope).
We are lost (and remember asylum seekers who are lost).
We are afraid (and remember asylum seekers who are afraid).
In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?
(Source: from Uniting in Worship 2, Second Order of Service for the Lord’s Day, pp 200-202, adapted, The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (2005), Sydney: Uniting Church Press)

A Blessing for Refugees
We bless the host nations in their spirit of compassion and sharing that their citizens may be awakened to the immense human, intellectual and cultural wealth these newcomers represent for them. We bless all concerned in their consciousness that my sister or brother is myself and that the challenge of integrating these immigrants is truly an amazing gift of the universe in helping all work toward the win-win world that alone will guarantee the survival of the human race.
(Source: Pierre Pradervand, 365 Blessings to Heal Ourselves and the World, from The Gentle Art of Blessing page)

Affirmation
We are not alone. We live in God’s world.
We believe in God,
who has freely given the Holy Spirit
to bind us together as a community of grace.
We believe that the spirit can lead us
in the discovery of truth,
in the pursuit of justice, and
in the practice of caring for one another.
In our homes, in the church and in the community
the Spirit offers us inspiration and courage.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
(from Prayers on Parade (2006), compiled by Allan Shephard, Stepney, South Australia: Axiom Publishing. Permission is given for the use of this text in worship)

Leftover people in leftover places Hope is our song #85
Leftover people in leftover places,
troubled, disabled, the needy and sad,
scavenging crumbs from society’s plenty,
sick to the soul when their life has gone bad,
these are the ones in God’s upsidedown kingdom
deemed to be worthy and called to the feast,
soup-kitchen people invited to banquet,
valued as greatly as royal and priest.

Leftover people, disposable people,
locked into prisons of drugs and despair,
poverty’s children in poverty’s spiral,
locked out of learning and earning their share,
these are the ones in God’s upsidedown kingdom
these are the Christ in their shabby disguise,
these are the least and the highly unlikely,
given a hope and new light in their eyes.

Here is God’s testing of true Easter people,
spirited people with service to give,
taking to heart the compassion of Jesus,
feeling how others must struggle to live,
we are a part of God’s upsidedown kingdom,
we know the heart of the gospel’s demand,
taking our part with the leftover people,
widening the space of the lines in the sand.
(Words: Shirley Murray; Music: Colin Gibson)

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UCA Anniversary.22 June2019 (closest Sunday is 23rdJune2019)

The Uniting Church in Australia celebrated the formal union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Church on June 22nd, 1977.

PRAYER FOR THE UNITING CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA
Gracious and loving God,
We thank you for the Uniting Church in Australia,
for the ways your Spirit empowers us to participate in your liberating mission in the world.
You call us to be your Pilgrim People, responsive to your leading,
as we witness to your reconciling love in our communities.
At this time in our life as the Uniting Church,
May your Holy Spirit weave us together as the Body of Christ,
a community of grace and hope.
Renew and strengthen us as your Church –
Where there is hurt and pain,
bring your comfort and healing.
Where we have caused hurt to one another,
bring forgiveness and reconciliation.
Where our community and unity are strained,
give us patience to listen to one another,
to see your presence in one another,
and to love our sisters and brothers in Christ, as you have first loved us.
Where there is uncertainty and confusion,
bring your guidance and light.
Lead us forward in ways that are faithful to your mission in the world.
We pray for our Congregations and Faith Communities,
that they may be a source of your healing, hope, compassion and love,
and welcoming and hospitable places to worship and serve.Send your Holy Spirit upon us, fill us with passion for Christ’s mission,
so that we will be courageous bearers of God’s good news of love,
justice and healing in your world.
Through Christ we pray. Amen.
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.” Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
(A prayer written by President Dr Deidre Palmer six months after the Fifteenth Assembly)

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.
Worship resources for 40th anniversary here.

Could consider reading out the Statement to the Nation 1977 and/or 1988 as part of the UCA’s ‘DNA’

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
(Source: Jon Humphries)

A LOVE SONG TO THE CHURCH
could be adapted for use for the UCA Anniversary
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.
(Source: by Rev. Jennifer M. Creswell, St Luke the Physician Episcopal Church (Oregon))

MUSIC

Glory to God by Leith Fisher – the hymn recalls those who over time have kept vibrant the worship and witness of a congregation. Can be sung to Woodlands. (This image comes from the sample on the Wild Goose/Iona website).
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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