World Habitat Day October 1st

In 1985 the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. Access to adequate housing is a global challenge growing fast with urbanization. Around one quarter of the world’s urban population continues to live in slums and informal settlements.

The theme for World Habitat Day 1 October 2018 is Municipal Solid Waste Management

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International Day of Older Persons

The International Day of Older Persons is a celebration of the older people in all societies, and a reminder to continue developing a society for all ages. It is an opportunity to challenge negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and aging.

“It is widely recognised that older persons are an asset to the society; their wisdom, value-system and experience helps in guiding and mentoring the present generation…..What is important is not merely adding ‘years to life’ but also adding ‘life to years’”.

God of the unknown, as age draws in on us, irresistible as the tide, make our life’s last quarter the best that there has been. As our strength ebbs, release our inner vitality, all you have taught us over the years; as our energy diminishes increase our compassion, and educate our prayer. You have made us human to share your divine life; grant us the first fruits; make our life’s last quarter the best that there has been. Amen.
(Source: A New Zealand Prayer Book, pg. 747)

Prayers for others
On this United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons, we pray for all who are in their senior years. We pray for churches that run lunches, cafés, clubs and groups of all kinds for older people. We pray that those who have the wisdom of many decades find opportunities to tell their stories. And we pray that all who are lonely in their later years find the love of God shown to them in the love of church communities. Until thy kingdom come. Amen

Prayers for Others
God, parent of us all, you see every one of us as your child, no matter how young or old. You have known us every second of our lives. You gift us every breath, and you sustain us every day.
We hold before you this International Day of the Older Person every adult living in the late autumn of their lives silence … no matter they be rich, or poor, comfortable or struggling; no matter they be well or unwell; no matter what creed, or colour, or faith they belong, we ask your blessing upon them this day.
God of love/Hear our prayer
Loving God, we pray especially for older adults who are lonely: those whose loved ones are gone or those who have never enjoyed the relationships they might have had; those who feel abandoned and unsure of their worth; those who live alone, and who feel isolated even when they are in company. Give to each person the knowledge that you are with them always, and help us to befriend the lonely, sharing with them the companionship we have found in you.
God of love/Hear our prayer
Loving God, we pray for the sick… those afflicted in body, those in pain, those wrestling with disease, or coming to terms with frailty. We pray for the troubled in mind; those whose confidence has been crushed, those who face sorrow or suffering, those who feel their hopes have been dashed and dreams broken, the let-down, the betrayed, the abused. We pray for those who struggle to cope with the pressures of life, who are oppressed by false imagination, or facing the dark of depression. We pray for those afflicted in spirit: all who feel their lives are empty, or who feel they have lost their faith…
Living God, hold on to all who walk through the valley of tears. Minister the consolation that you alone can offer, and give the assurance that those who mourn will be comforted, and those who weep will laugh. Be that sure foundation in people’s lives, that come what may, their knowing of your love and presence with them, will uphold their spirits, and be an endless source of comfort, peace, and joy.
God of love/Hear our prayer
We pray for the dying… That wherever these people are in this moment that you will come as close to them as their very breath and bring your forgiveness and peace. In a moment of silence we name those we know and care for…
God of love/Hear our prayer
Holy One, we know, that every aging heart is held in your hands, young and vibrant to your touch. We see how you use the wisdom, knowledge and experience of the older generations to teach the young, to bring old insight to new problems, and to give love and security where there is uncertainty.
You trusted an old man to build an ark and save humanity from the flood. You brought a child to Abraham and Sarah despite their years, a child who signalled the beginning of Israel. You guided an aging Moses through the desert so he could lead thousands to the promised-land, you gave Zechariah and Elizabeth a son in their old age, a son who would prepare the way for your own, and you gave the aged Simeon and Anna the honour of first recognising the infant Jesus in the temple, seeing someone who no one else saw.
Your continued engagement with older adults is sure; and yet society is so quick to forget this generation. We are sorry.
God of love/Hear our prayer
We hold before you for blessing in thanks those people and organisations who care for needs of older persons in our city… Aged Care facilities, Chaplains and pastoral carers, those who provide in-home care, every person or organisation working to better the lives of our elders.
God of love/Hear our prayer
(Source: Revd. Amy Houben)

Blessing
Go as beloved of God to grow old in Christ. Be blessed in years and be a blessing to God’s Kingdom. Keep alive the gifts of wisdom received from older friends and become the gift of wisdom for those who follow. Remember you are God’s children even into old age: and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.

Worship-Suggestions-Celebrating-International-Day-of-the-Older-Person-1 2

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World Rivers Day – 30th Sept 2018

World Rivers Day is observed globally every year on the last Sunday in September. Rivers may make up only about 0.2 percent of all the fresh water worldwide but their importance is priceless. This day encourages citizens to get actively involved to ensure the future health of our rivers.

For congregations participating on Season of Creation in September, this is a good day to focus on Rivers. Liturgies online here.

2018 – In Australia the drought, the plundering of the river resources for cultivation of rice and cotton, the threat to the Murray-Darling river system, all deserve focus for the integrity of creation.

Pilgrimage Blessing
As you go into the wilderness of the land and of your heart –
May you experience the ever-flowing grace of God’s presence!
May you be immersed so fully in God’s love that you learn to let go and swim!
May you engage deeply and radically with the natural world,
as steward, co-creator, and friend!
May you drink anew from the divine source, the stream of living water!
And may you be transformed, may the stagnant waters of your spirit begin to flow,
and may all which is dead in you rise again!
God is here. The river awaits. Let the adventure begin. Amen.
(Source: Lisa Hershey Kutolowski, from The River of Life Prayer Book)

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World Alzheimer’s Day – Sept 21

World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21st of each year, is a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. At the moment, Alzheimer’s is progressive and irreversible.

Alzheimer’s Patient’s Prayer by Carolyn Haynali
Pray for me I was once like you.
Be kind and loving to me that’s how I would have treated you.
Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse I had a life and a
dream for the future.
Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand
what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of
which I can still relate.
Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle.
Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain.
Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.
Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s; I was full of life,
I had a life, laughed and loved you.
Think of how I am now,
My disease distorts my thinking, my feelings, and my ability to respond,
but I still love you even if I can’t tell you.
Think about my future because I used too.
Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now.
Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and
can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me,
but Alzheimer’s.
I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I
still need you to love me.
Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death.
The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will
live forever.
How you live and what you do today will always be remembered
in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

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Social Justice Sunday – 30September2018

Social Justice Sunday is held annually on the last Sunday in September.

“Justice is the Body of Love ~ Love is the Soul of Justice” (John Dominic Crossan)

Resources for Social Justice Sunday on NCCA website.

Here’s a link to the 2014 Social Justice Sunday resources.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Richard Rohr

The Prophetic Voice
God of Justice!
We call on you to guide
all those on this Land
to seek Justice.
Bless and renew our hearts and minds,
so that we may see with your insight,
mindful of the calling
to walk in your way of peace and reconciliation.
Seed in us the desire to be agitators
for holy change.

May the blessings we receive
inspire and nourish us
to bless those around us
with words of comfort
and actions of healing.
Inspire in our mouths
the words of your good news
for the sake of the world you love.

May we grow in the courage of Christ,
becoming and being prepared to take up the cross,
rather than buy in to the pressure
of dehumanizing and demeaning
that places avarice before generosity.
Gift us with the desire to share in joyful community.
Make us into catalysts for relationships.
Form us as people who become nourishment for the world.

May we deepen in our reading of your Scriptures,
that we might see your promises of mercy written in our souls.
May we work, throughout Australia,
and through our international partnerships,
to bring about a foretaste of the state of mercy and blessing
that characterizes Heaven.

Just as we seek mercy,
teach us to recognize the power imbalances
that prevent the full experience of abundant life.
May we learn to repent of those habits
that destroy your beautiful plan.
Rather, let us learn the creativity of your nature,
to better use our gifts for the sake of grace.

God of Justice,
be our Teacher and our Defender!
Correct us, so we can learn how to speak Truth.
And, when we do – protect us from the evils we confront,
For this is your will to be done
And we are honoured by your call.

So, we commit this day,
to be your holy and vocal people.
We commit to stand up for your beloved creation,
especially those who are marginalised
by the cultures of judgement and shame around us.
May we stand with them.
So be it.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Hyphenated Faith, 2017)

Love Is Calling
“Love is calling for liberation.
Love is hoarse from calling,
her voice raw from the decades
she has spent chanting at protests
and speaking from pulpits
and singing the songs of freedom.
Love is weeping into a white candle
she cups in her hands at a vigil
for one more Black life lost,
ripped away, gunned down, forgotten.
She is holding the hands of a grieving mother
and praying aloud for peace.

This is where Love shows up,
where Love has always shown up.
She is tugging at our hands and sleeves,
begging us to lay down our egos
and take up our courage
and dedicate our lives to justice.”
(Source: Jess Reynolds, Love Like Thunder)

Rev Dr Nymabura Njoroge, from Kenya (who now works for the World Council of Churches) is a theologian, who knows from personal experience and from the experience of her people, the extent of suffering and injustice present in our global community.
She has seen her communities devastated by AIDS. She has experienced discrimination as a woman in the church. She has struggled with the poverty and violence decimating African communities.
In this context Nyambura speaks of “a spirituality of resistance and transformation.”
Resistance to all that would dehumanise us and divide us from God and from each other, transformation of our realities into a world where God’s desires for us are realised – peace with justice, love and compassion mark our lives together.
Nyambura writes:
“A spirituality of resistance and transformation demands that we share the good news of the possibility of new life in the presence of death here and now. It is a spirituality that invokes a passion that believes positive change is possible. In Africa as we watch the escalating anarchy in many countries and in our streets, it is difficult to comprehend how we can end violent death and proclaim new life in Christ.
“We even wonder where God is when such chaos and destruction take place. We therefore need a zeal that believes… that we can sit down together and engage in dialogue over our difference. Passionate commitment is needed whereby we are not afraid to try new ways of relating to our neighbours and our enemies. Such zeal would be willing to listen to the word of God in the scriptures that require that we trust in God and act justly. “
Nyambura Njoroge and other women like her are seeking to nurture faith that engages the people of God in ways that will transform the whole of our realities: spiritually, politically, economically, and socially.

Continue reading

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COCU57B.23September2018

Readings
Proverbs 31: 10-31
A good wife is to be valued because she cares for her family and her servants, she provides for her household, she brings honour to her husband.
This woman is an industrious resourceful household manager. She produces and sells textiles, brings in income for the family, oversees the planting of vineyards and uses her own money to set them up. She has servants she oversees, she gives to the poor, her household is a small business that provides for her family, and her husband is praised for it. She works both inside and outside of her home.
Psalm 1
Righteous people are blessed because they do not follow the ways of the wicked, but love God’s instruction. They are like trees planted by streams, bearing fruit and always succeeding. The wicked, however, are destroyed.
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Wise followers of Christ should live a humble life. Jealousy and selfish ambition are not wise, but cause evil, conflict, murder and struggle. Therefore God’s people should resist evil, submit to God, draw near to God, and seek to be cleansed.
Mark 9: 30-37
Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, and then challenges the disciples for arguing about which of them is greatest. Then he teaches them that the greatest in God’s Reign must be the slave of all, and that whoever welcomes a child, welcomes Jesus, and the One who sent him.
(Bible reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Readings (landscape A4 folded format for printing) COCU57B.Readings

Resources
Textweek
Singing from the Lectionary
Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday

United Church of Christ resource related to Gospel reading: To change the world, welcome the children. To Change the World

“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for it’s children.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Components of worship (links to resources on this website)
Note: scroll down for a collation of other resources related to this week’s RCL readings

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COCU56B.16September2018

Readings
Proverbs 1:20-33
Wisdom cries out in public for the crowd to turn away from their foolishness, but, in spite of the invitation, the people have refused to listen. So, they will receive no help when disaster comes, but those who obey will be protected.
Psalm 19
Creation proclaims God’s glory, and the Psalmist celebrates God’s law that brings life, refreshes the soul, gives insight and wisdom, and corrects him when he goes astray.
James 3:1-12
The tongue is a small thing, but it has tremendous power for good or ill. Although human beings have tamed all sorts of animals, we struggle to tame the tongue. But, for God’s people, blessing and curses should not come out of the same mouth.
Mark 8:27-38
Jesus asks his disciples who the people say he is, and then who they say he is. Peter replies that he is the Christ. Then Jesus predicts his coming death and resurrection, but Peter tries to correct him. Jesus responds by rebuking Peter, and then teaching that all who seek to follow him must take up their crosses, and not be ashamed of him.
(Summaries, John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Readings to print, A4 landscape folded, Pilgrim COCU56B.Readings

What will it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit your life?
Indeed, what can you give in return for your life? (Mark 8.36-37)

In how many ways do you forfeit your soul?
For what borrowed thoughts,
what presumed judgments,
have you given away
what is you,
the dark I AM at the core?
What can counterfeit that beauty,
approximate that mystery,
replicate that once-in-a-lifetime You?

Oh, yes, the suffering of honesty is real,
the cost of being yourself is awful.
Almost as bad as not,
except for the stripping away of what isn’t,
the loss of what was loss to begin with,
the death of all that isn’t eternal of you,
with nothing left but divine light.

Come stand in this clearing,
exposed and true,
solitary yet embraced – possessed –
and let the word that began all things
burn in you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light) Continue reading

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Acknowledgement of land

Various options…(these specifically mention the Kaurna people on whose land I live and work, and on which Pilgrim Church is located)

We acknowledge the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians on whose land this church was built. We commit ourselves to actively work alongside Aboriginal people for reconciliation and justice.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people who God placed as the traditional custodians of the country on which we stand. We pay our respects to them for their care of the land.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people,the first inhabitants of this place.
We honour them for their custodianship of the land on which we gather today.

For thousands of years the traditional custodians have walked in this land, on their own country. Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives. We acknowledge the Kaurna People and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people, traditional custodians of this land, and pay our respects to their elders both past, present and future for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of the living Kaurna today. Continue reading

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September 11th

peace 9 11 sculpture

9/11 sculpture

The sculpture consists of an iron beam pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center held up by two stainless steel hands. The hands holding it up are constructed from 2,976 individually crafted stainless steel doves – each representing a victim of the attacks.

All these years since 9/11 –
what is worth remembering?
How fragile we are.
How deeply we need each other.
How little our differences matter.
That in our vulnerability
we are most human.
That we can always respond to violence
with violence or with peace.
That violence begets violence.
That in danger, chaos and trauma
we can choose to come together.
That you always have a choice
to contribute to the world’s hurt
or its healing.
That we are one.
That entering into the world’s suffering
is divine.
That the world is not ending yet.
How beautiful it is
when we care for each other.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Litany for 9/11
God, we remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
We know that you remember them too, and are keeping them in your care.
We acknowledge the pervasiveness of violence in our world:
Sometimes it explodes with intent to kill
And has its success, as on 9/11.
And sometimes it creeps in subtly:
In attitudes and mindsets, in worldviews and passing words.
We find it even here in our own hearts.
Cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and restore us to justice.
We rely upon your mercy.
Grant that we may forgive those who have committed atrocities against us
And remember them also to your merciful love.
We hear your words to us: “Do not resist an evil person;” (1)
We are baffled and astonished at this instruction.
We have no paradigm for understanding a peaceable kingdom,
Other than your example.
Console us in our grief, Oh Lovely One.
Speak to us in our confusion.
Guide our feet on the path of peace. (2)
Be to us a light in darkness,
A lamp of peace drawing us lovingly in. Amen
(1) Matthew 5:39
(2) Luke 1: 78-79
(Source: Fran Pratt, Godspace)

Many have cited Biblical passages and verses that seem to explain 9/11, the Boxing Day tsunami etc as God’s judgement. Always wise to read some informed commentary about the Proverbs passage before embarking on the preaching project. Came across the following that seems pertinent:
Jerry Falwell said that the reason that September 11th happened, the reason that God allowed it to happen, was because of certain people in our country. People like, and I’m quoting, ‘the pagans,’ which is a motorcycle group. Feminists; he brought up feminists. […] And I couldn’t believe it, he said that God had actually talked to him and said, these were the people. That was the reason. It was those people, and that was the reason God allowed this to happen. And I thought, ‘That’s odd.’ Because God had called me twelve hours before, and He said the reason He was upset was because of people like Jerry Falwell.” ― Lewis Black

Textweek resources for September 11 anniversary.
Continue reading

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Child Protection Week (1st week every September)


National Child Protection week happens in the first week of September every year (2nd-8th September in 2018). The link will take you to posters, resources and facts sheets which can be downloaded. 

Not sure how congregations/churches/faith communities have been involved in the past but will aim to collect some resources for use in National Child Protection Week.

For all those who work in child safety and protection
Christ Jesus,
You welcomed children and brought healing and hope to their lives.
We pray that as your Church, we will create places of welcome, care and safety for all children, reflecting your love and compassion.
God of love and comfort,
We pray for children who have been neglected or abused.
We pray that people will come into their lives who love and nurture them in healing and life-giving ways.
We pray for child safety workers and all those working in child protection.  We thank you for their dedication and the gifts they bring to their vocation to protect and improve the lives of children.
We pray that you will sustain their vision, and uphold them in love and grace.
Christ Jesus, as your church, you call us to be a faithful embodiment of your care and love.
We lament when we have failed to be communities of safety and care.
Challenge and correct us in our failure, and reform our life.
We commit ourselves as your Church to being places of safety, free of abuse and exploitation.
We commit ourselves as your Church to be communities, where people can flourish in ways of trust and love.
We pray that your Spirit will empower us to be advocates for a society in which all children can flourish.
Through Christ, Our Light and Life, we pray, Amen.
(Source: Deidre Palmer, Uniting Church in Australia, 2017)

A prayer for children
Loving God, we thank you for the care and affection of Jesus, who placed children in the very centre of his community.
We pray for children, created in your own image and likeness, dwelling places of your Spirit, each one called to experience the freedom of your daughters and sons.
We pray for all children – those in our family homes, those in our community of faith, those in the wider community, those in our global village, those with plenty and those who struggle to survive.
We yearn for the day when all children may know safety and freedom and protection from violence and abuse, when they may bask in constant love, safe from any harm, where they may flourish and be all they can be.
God of all goodness, we hope in you. Inspire us to surround others with gentleness and love and empower us to build a world that no longer knows abuse and violence. Grant us courage to speak out and act when children need protection, care and shelter.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

MUSIC
This new (2018) hymn is in response to the latest news of abuse by clergy; it was written with input from survivors and counselors. The hymn also references Pope Francis’ August 20th letter, using in particular: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Permission is given for its free use.
O God, When Trust is Shattered
PASSION CHORALE 7.6.7.6.D (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”)

O God, when trust is shattered
by wolves among your sheep,
when youth and children suffer,
when those remembering weep,
when victims tell their stories,
when leaders hide abuse,
bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

When leaders side with evil,
when people do their worst,
may we reach out to victims
and put their healing first.
If any member suffers,
we all will suffer, too.
Bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

We pray that the abusers
will learn sin’s awful cost,
and— making no excuses—
will know that they are lost.
Then may they find redemption—
as we all need it, too.
Bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

May all who serve in churches
be careful, watchful, wise.
May we prevent abuses
and hear your children’s cries.
We pray that institutions
will seek your way anew.
Bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

Tune: Hans Leo Hassler, 1601; harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1729
Text: Copyright (c) 2018 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

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