International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) – April 28

The International Workers Memorial Day is held around the world each year on April 28th to remember those who have died in the work place, and to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace incidents and ill health and to promote campaigns and union organisations in the fight for improvements in workplace safety.

Facebook event/s here: Adelaide

International Day of Mourning (New South Wales)

Service here (2015 service at Pilgrim UC) – note this is 5.5MB 2015 IWMD2013-04-28 16.21.07

This was written in response to the tragic loss of lives at Dreamworld (October 2016) in Queensland. It has been adapted for the IWMD service by leaving out the specific names mentioned in the first few lines. 
Lives cut short
countless and nameless, myriad lives are cut short
before their abundance of life can be lived to the full.
There’s no sense to be made of a life cut so short,
no eternal purpose or universal will to the ending;
none, at least, I can fathom without recoil
from projected platitudes or power wielded cruel.
There’s no sense to be made, yet sense we make
for sense-making creatures we humans beings are:
sense-seeking missiles through the cold arc of life
huddled on a watery planet, seeking the joy of life
or simple survival while life still pulses or wanes.
The sense is in life itself, lived while yet we have breath:
clustered or lonely, embittered or enraptured,
watching the far flung fires of the cosmos
that light the night sky, pin-prick pointers to a scale
beyond most capacity to grasp, so far
beyond a petty god with a petty agenda of sins.
The sense is in life lived abundantly, and shared,
more 10:10 than 3:16 in John’s cosmic view,
lived as companions in life, loving and sharing
more than selfish scrabbling for all we can own.
Good God, bring us to our senses, to life as a gift.
A gift beyond price, is life to each being,
and all that we can do we must to protect
the fragile life each one carries and shares,
not in self-ish defence but in abundance shared.
If each felt as gift, and was treasured among all,
what new life might be possible, life in abundance!
Abundant life: the eternity of life lived in each moment,
not lived for some cloudy future beyond pearly gates,
but here and now, each moment a treasure, a gift,
a chance to enrich through encouragement and service.
Mourning those now gone, lives cut short, what can I do
but live eternal life here and now, God help me, anew.
Rohan Pryor, 28 Oct 2016
For Amanda Dawson, the Dreamworld four, and Rachel Millen,
and so many others including my Dad, Robin Pryor.

This beautiful reflection by Moira Deslandes on the nine year journey from when her husband Tim was diagnosed with IPF to his death in October 2017. (Tribute by MP Amanda Rishworth in Australian Federal Parliament)

Posted in IWMD, Special days | 1 Comment

ANZAC Day resources


Excellent 2018 article by Geoff Thompson for ANZAC Day.
The words “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”, uttered on Anzac Day, have nothing whatsoever to do with war. Wrenched from their context, Jesus’ words are used to legitimate certain cultural collusions. But there are some other words of Jesus which might speak into the war-torn character of every age: loving enemies and reconciliation. Reconciliation is just as relevant to a nation’s war memories as the Bible passage ‘Greater love hath no man than this …’

Uniting Church in Australia Assembly 2016 – remembering ANZAC Day and Armenian Genocide (April 24th, 1915): On the 25th of April Australia remembers the ANZACs and their sacrifice at Gallipoli in the First World War. On the 24th of April, one day before ANZAC Day, Armenians remember the martyrs of their nation, victims of a Genocide that was fuelled by political and cultural hatred. Armenians also remember the ANZAC soldiers who saw the injustice that they were suffering and stopped to help them. The ANZACs created the first relief for the victims of the Armenian Genocide and provided them with the much needed medical care, and in many instances, keeping them safe from the hands of the Turkish soldiers. (UCA Assembly resolution here, and background here).

2016 UCA Assembly prayer for congregational use:
God of remembrance,
help us this day to remember the sacrifice of the first ANZACs at Gallipoli.
In your hands are the destinies of this and every nation.
We give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land
and for those who lost their lives to defend them.
We pray that we and all the people of Australia,
gratefully remembering their courage,
may have the grace to live in a spirit of justice, of generosity, and of peace.
We pray that people around the world,
remembering their sacrifice in providing aid to a people being massacred,
may have the compassion to reach out to those in need.
God of love and grace,
we praise you
for all those who stood firm in their Christian faith in the face of persecution,
exile and death;
for all those who endured the Armenian Genocide.
Hear our voice as we pray
for all those Armenian men, women and children who were deported,
driven in death marches, and massacred mercilessly;
for all those who continue to trample on truth, justice and human rights.
We pray
that this nation may not perish but prosper under your care;
that you may uproot from our hearts every trace of hatred and the spirit of vengeance;
that those who are the descendants of those noble martyrs may have a deep sense of gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility.
Grant that
we may value the freedom and security we are privileged to enjoy in this beautiful country;
that your power of resurrection may inspire us to live as a righteous people
prepared for every good work;
that we may be a compassionate, forgiving and loving people.

Let us pray for the victims of war;
For the wounded and the dead.
For those who mourn and are afflicted.
For the earth and its innocent creatures –
Now mutilated and in disarray.
For the aggrieved and suffering souls –
Now bombed into submission and tormented silence.
For the scales of justice –
Now locked in false balance.
For the dove –
Now mocked by the metal wings of cruelty and greed.
For the yearnings and labours of peacemakers,
healers and teachers –
Now degraded by the cunning and cowardice of warlike minds.
For the needy whose precious resources are now wasted and spent.
For the beautiful treasures, icons and holy places –
Now defiled by a crass science, now smashed by vulgar and heartless economies.
For those who seek to know what has befallen their world –
Now deceived and bewildered by the dictatorships of information.
We lament this poisoned and sorrowful state,
We resist this brutal invasion of the common soul.
We pray for peace. 
(Source: Michael Leunig, ‘When I Talk To You’)

In A Minute’s Silence
Timeless God,
Christ of the Cross,
Spirit of Peace,
In a minute’s silence take us into compassion and understanding.
In a minute’s silence may we find ourselves almost walking in the shoes of those we remember.
In a minute’s silence may we seek the joys that sustained them in the trials that they faced.
In a minute’s silence may we find the courage that empowered them in the suffering they endured.
In a minute’s silence may we be inspired to love like the sacrifice that they made.
In a minute’s silence may we comprehend the ripples of pain that bounce around the world in response to such disturbance.
In a minute’s silence may we learn the lessons which will lead to such things never occurring again.
In a minute’s silence may we decide to be better in ourselves, that the world may be better with us in it.
In a minute’s silence may the world change for the better.
In a minute’s silence may all this be so.
In a minute’s silence we pray.
(Source:Jon Humphries)

Continue reading

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Acts 4:5-12: Peter and the other disciples are put on trial by the religious leaders, who ask them by which name or power they have healed the lame man. Peter, in response, tells them that it is by the power of Jesus that the healing has happened. Though they rejected Jesus, he has become “the cornerstone” and is the name through which humanity is saved.
Psalm 23: David celebrates God as his shepherd who provides for him, cares for him, protects him, and in whose house he will live forever.
1 John 3: 16-24: As Jesus laid down his life for us we should lay down our lives for each other. We are called to follow God’s command to love one another – in action, not just in word.
John 10: 11-18: Jesus proclaims himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, and takes it up again.
(Bible readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)


Shepherd me, Love.
Lead me out from my attachments.
Lead me to the green meadow of your heart,
your deep well of peace and nourishment.
Fill me with your breath again,
breath of your Spirit.
Lead me in your way,
not mine,
even through darkest canyons
shadowed by death,
for your presence is my safety,
your will my comfort.
You invite me to your table with my enemies
to share with them your grace:
gift that overflows,
blessing that makes life beautiful.
Lead me where goodness and mercy go;
then on every road
I will still be at home in you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Prayer of the Day
Gracious God, help us to live in love and charity with others,
and, as we ask for your forgiveness, enable us to be forgiving.
Take from our lives the hidden grudges and concealed hate.
Forgive us that we have so often denied you;
that like lost sheep we have turned away from you;
that we have sung with our lips what we have not had the courage
to practice in our lives.
Forgive our sins, comfort our sorrows, calm our fears,
and take from us every proud thought.
So fill us with love and concern for others,
and make us ready to help and quick to forgive.
We thank you for every good thing in our lives
for home and friends and family;
for all the beauty and loveliness in the world about us
which has lifted our hearts and made us glad;
for life itself with all its promise and possibility.
We thank you that in every great experience of life,
when it seemed as if we were passing through water and fire
we are not alone, but you were there as companion and friend.
We thank you that we are yours, created for your glory;
that you have called us all by name,
that through Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep,
who lived and died and rose again for us,
you have redeemed us;
and that your love will never finally let us go, or ultimately give us up.
We thank you that so often you have come to us
in the ordinary and everyday things of life, in our work and in our leisure .
Help us there to seek you and find you and serve you,
as in Christ you have sought and found and served us.
We ask it for his sake. Amen.
(from Companion to the Lectionary, Vol 3, by Neil Dixon)

An alternate Psalm 23 from Thom Shuman
the Mall is my shepherd,
I shall always need more.
It makes me lie down in mattress stores;
it leads me beside coffee shops;
it restores my greed.
It leads me down paths for the sake of its sales.
Even though I walk the aisles of outlet stores,
I am not afraid,
for you are at my side
your credit cards and coupons – they comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me at the food court
in the midst of shoving shoppers,
you anoint me with cappuccinos,
my latte overflows.
Surely stress and debt shall follow me
all the days of my life (and my kids),
and I shall live at the mall
every day of my life.
(Source: Thom M. Shuman) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year B, Uncategorized, Year B | 1 Comment

COCU33B.Easter3B.15th April2018

Acts 3: 12-19: Immediately after the healing of the lame man, Peter addresses the crowds, explaining that the power to heal the man came from the same Jesus that they had crucified. Peter then calls the people to turn back to God.
Psalm 4: A plea for God to remember God’s faithful servant, and an affirmation of how God cares for those who trust in God. Finally, a call for people to stop chasing lies and turn back to God.
1 John 3:1-7: Because of God’s love, we are God’s children, and we have hope that when we see Christ we will be like him. Therefore, we resist sin and seek to live in righteousness as Jesus is righteous.
Luke 24: 36b-48: Jesus appears to the disciples, showing them his hands and feet, and eating a piece of bread to prove that he is not a ghost. Then he shows them how he has fulfilled the Scriptures, and he calls them to proclaim repentance and faith in Christ as his witnesses.
(Bible summaries: John van de Laar, Sacredise)


Micah 4:1-5 (alternate reading)
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, 2and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; 4but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. 5For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.

A great story related to Micah 4.3
Artist Melts 1,527 Guns And Turns Them Into Shovels For Planting Trees
story by Amanda Froelich
The project Palas por Pistolas by artist Pedro Reyes seeks to show “how an agent of death can become an agent of life.”
Gun control is a touchy subject – and for good reason. Existing solely to wound or kill, they are a dangerous weapon, one that if not employed for reasons of necessity, may harshly rip families apart.
In Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, many people know the devastating consequences these weapons can contribute to. That’s where creative activist Pedro Reyes comes in. Reyes is an inspired artist who likes to focus on the failures of modern culture in a positive light. He doesn’t believe in failure but instead believes that failure is the outcome of a certain perspective. With this unique perception, he transforms things people see as broken and models them in a new way.
Concerning guns, he felt that something positive could be transformed from their matter, and, therefore, started a campaign asking residents to hand over their guns in exchange for a coupon they could use to buy electronics or household appliances.
After Pedro collected 1,527 guns for the project, Palas pro Pistolas, he had them melted down and transformed into 1,527 shovel heads. These new shovels were then distributed to art institutions and public schools, where people in the community are now using them to plant a minimum of 1,527 trees.
“If something is dying, becoming rotten and smelly, I think there is a chance to make a compost in which this vast catalog of solutions can be mixed in an entirely new way.” In Palas por Pistolas he was aiming to show “how an agent of death can become an agent of life.”
It’s interesting to note that 40% of all the guns Reyes collected were automatics of military caliber. After the collection, they all were transported to a military base and publicly smashed with a steamroller. Then, they were melted and recycled into shovels with wooden handles. Now they exist solely for the purpose of planting trees and creating life!
Some of the shovels have even made their way to the Vancouver Art Gallery, the San Francisco Art Institute, Maison Rouge in Paris and other locations around the world.
A shovel, like a gun, can be used for a productive purpose or a hateful one. But with inspired intent, may these tools always be utilized for the purpose of optimizing land and creating space for something new to flourish.
Guns1 Guns2Gathering words – general

Prayers of Confession – general

Prayers for others – general

Benediction/words of mission – general

Peace be with you

Christ Is Our Peace
Christ is our peace,
Christ is our health,
he the true Word,
his the true wealth –
gifts to be shared by the simple and poor:
peace in your land,
peace at your door.

Peace in your mouth,
Peace in the hands
Open to truth,
to love’s demands:
those who would go with Christ also must bleed –
bright is the flower,
burst is the seed.

Who work for peace
find the true wealth,
who heal the hurt
find their own health –
peace will flow on through the hearts that believe:
this may we know,
thus may we live.
(Source: Shirley Erena Murray, Words © 1992 Hope Publishing Company)
Christ is our peace.ShirleyMurray


Posted in COCU Year B, Year B | 1 Comment


Psalm 133
A song of celebration for the blessing of living in unity.
Acts 4:32-35
The early disciples of Christ bear witness to the resurrection through their generosity and care for one another, ensuring that no one among them had any need.
1 John 1:1-2:2
John writes to testify to Jesus and to open the door to fellowship for the believers with one another and with God. However, if we claim to be in fellowship but live in “darkness” – denial and sin – we lie. But, if we confess our sin, and live in the light we do, indeed, have fellowship with God and others.
John 20:19-31
Jesus appears to the disciples in the closed upper room, giving them a gift of the Spirit, and sending them just as he was sent. Then, Thomas who wasn’t at this appearance, is encountered by Jesus, and his doubts are removed.


Christ is Risen! The Easter celebration continues with the familiar upper room appearances from John’s Gospel. But, this year the supporting texts highlight a feature of the resurrection that can easily be missed – the way Christ’s resurrection brings us into a unified, loving community in which we share joy and abundant life together.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

The challenge and the promise of Easter is how to help a community of fearful dismay realise they are a community of the resurrection. That is why Easter is both an event and a season in the church – it takes time to come to terms with the enormity of the event and what it means, then and now. This second Sunday of Easter is therefore an opportunity to let the events of the previous weekend sink in a little deeper. The scripture passages lend themselves to that – celebrating unity of purpose, care for one another and acknowledgement of our need of God’s peace and forgiveness in the midst of distress and brokenness. (Source, Church of Scotland)

Resources: Textweek

The rhythm of breath – drawing air in, and sighing it out –
pulses in all of creation, O Lord
It is a simple sign of the resurrection;
of the life that cannot be quenched,
even by death itself.
We know what it is to breathe, Jesus
our lives depend on it
even as they depend on You
Risen, Alive and Present;
So, breathe into us again, Lord Jesus, we pray
breathe the life that never dies,
breathe the hope that never despairs
breathe the courage that never turns back
breathe the joy that never stops singing
Breathe into us, Lord Jesus, and teach us to sing,
to worship, with every breath
And to live the inspiration that is Your resurrection.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Call to Worship (based on Acts 4:31-37)
As early followers of Jesus gathered
for fellowship and worship,
praying and singing and reading the scriptures,
so we gather this morning.
We read in Acts
that the whole group of those who believed
were of one heart and soul.
One heart.
One soul.
They shared everything–
everything they owned,
everything they had.
God’s grace was at work in them,
powerfully at work
within them all.
There was not a needy person among them.
May it be so for us as well. Amen.
(Source: Joanna Harader, Spacious Faith)

Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year B | 1 Comment

COCU31B.Easter Sunday.1April2018

Photo: courtesy of Donald Boyce


Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24
1 Cor 15:1 – 11
Mark 16:1-8

See also resources for Year A and Year C

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ was (and is!) the proclamation of a new understanding of God’s activity in human life.” (Charles Cousar,  p.279 – Texts for Preaching – A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV, Year B, Walter Brueggeman, Charles Cousar, Beverley Gaventa and James Newsome]

Merciful One,
I enter the garden of your presence
open to the mystery of your love.
The hurt I have caused and the hurt I have borne
I lay to rest in the tomb of your grace.
All resentment, shame, dread and anxiety
I wrap in the linens of your mercy.
All distrust and defiance
I lay in the ground of your patient redeeming.
See if there be any evil in me,
and in your tender mercy lay it to rest.

Dawning One,
let Christ rise in me,
free of all fear, free of the power of doubt
and the shroud of the past.
Let Christ rise to new life in me,
wounded but whole,
radiant, forgiving and alive with your love.
Create me anew: by your grace let there be light.

This is the day you are making;
let me rejoice, and be glad in it.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Rev Steve Koski, reflecting on Easter Sunday, writes:
On this Easter morning, I turn, as is my tradition to the best Easter book ever written by my favorite theologian, On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss:
“…from beginning to end, from start to the close,
everyone knows Z is as far as the alphabet goes.
Then he almost fell flat on his face on the floor,
when I picked up the chalk and drew one letter more.
A letter he’d never dreamed of before.
In the places I go and the people I see,
I couldn’t survive if I stopped at Z.
So ON BEYOND ZEBRA, it’s high time you were shown ,
that maybe you don’t know all there is to be known.”
Love wins! Love always wins! If love isn’t winning it simply means the story isn’t over yet!
Wishing everyone one letter more on this Easter and encouraging us all to imagine and pick up the chalk and draw one letter more for our world – a letter we’ve never dreamed of before.
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”~ Mary Oliver

“On this Easter morning, let us look again at the lives we have been so generously given and let us let fall away the useless baggage that we carry – old pains, old habits, old ways of seeing and feeling – and let us have the courage to begin again. Life is very short, and we are no sooner here than it is time to depart again, and we should use to the full the time that we still have.
We don’t realize all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren’t put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously.
May the spirit and light of this Easter morning bless us all, watch over us and protect us on our journey, open us from the darkness into the light of peace and hope and transfiguration.”
(Source: John O’Donohue, Dawn Mass Reflections, excerpts from WALKING ON THE PASTURES OF WONDER)

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COCU30A.Holy Saturday.31March2018


Joan Chittister , The Liturgical Year: “Everyone who has ever lived, who will ever live, will someday undergo a Holy Saturday of our own. Someday we will all know the power of overwhelming loss when life as we know it changes, when all hope dies in midflight. Then, and only then, can we begin to understand the purpose of Holy Saturday.
The importance of Holy Saturday lies in its power to bring us to the kind of faith the spiritual masters call ‘mature.’ Holy Saturday faith is not about counting our blessings; it is about dealing with darkness and growing hope. Without the Holy Saturdays of life, none of us may ever really grow up spiritually.”

2016 Holy Saturday resource: COCU30C.2016ResourceHolySaturday
2016 Stations – response sheets: COCU30C.Stationssheets.HolySaturday

2017 resource including stations COCU30C.HolySaturday2017

Holy Saturday Vigil, by Andrew O’Neill

Praying in the Spirit of Easter Saturday
Lord of Easter,
God of all times,
We pray in the Spirit of Easter Saturday.
We pray in this liminal time,
This in in-between time,
The place of paralysis in the midst of confusion,
The bit or gap where the chasm of despair or hopelessness seems sometimes all too close.
We pray for those who are in-between.
For those who have to wait,
The grieving, 
For those who walk in the shadow of death,
For those waiting for results or treatment,
Those between employment,
Those between opposing powers.
For those for whom the promise of paradise seems but a mirage or a place beyond the horizon of their hope.
Lord of Easter,
You have walked by this way before us.
For us the Easter story moves ahead towards resolution and resurrection, 
but for many the reality of the future is unclear and uncertain, 
just as it was for your disciples and followers that Easter Saturday.
Be with us, Christ, and all those caught in the vortex of waiting.
Carry all beyond our fear and despair to hope.
Lift us all and strengthen us when the weight of uncertainty presses down upon us.
Sustain us when we feel trapped by circumstance.
Lord of Easter,
God of all times,
We pray in the Spirit of Easter Saturday.
Comfort and uphold us all.
Enfold us in your love, that we may bear the angst is waiting.
Transform us into survivors.
Walk with us into tomorrow.
Walk us into how and healing.
Bring us into resurrection.
This we ask of you.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

Sojourners: What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?

Patheos: Holy Saturday – the Space Between
Before we rush to resurrection we must dwell fully in the space of unknowing, of holding death and life in tension with each other, to experience that liminal place so that we become familiar with its landscape and one day might accompany others who find themselves there and similarly disoriented. The wisdom of the Triduum is that we must be fully present to both the starkness of Friday and to the Saturday space between, before we can really experience the resurrection. We must know the terrible experience of loss wrought again and again in our world so that when the promise of new life dawns we can let it enter into us fully in the space carved by loss. As the great poet of Hafiz reminds us, we must let our loneliness “cut more deep” and “season” us, so that we are reminded of our absolute dependence on the Source of all.
Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear. —Hafiz
(read more here) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C, Holy Saturday | Comments Off on COCU30A.Holy Saturday.31March2018

COCU29A.Good Friday.30March2018


Year B readings (2018)
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16-25
John 18:1 – 19:42

Year A readings (2017)
Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16-25   Bill Loader commentary
John 18:1 – 19:42 Bill Loader commentary on the Gospel

Bill Loader, An order of service for Good Friday
Reflections: God of the mountainTwo words from the Cross, Caiaphas – did you know?
A reflection by Rev Matt Stuart on Good Friday

Brad Chilcott and Anthony Castle, Who will we crucify this Easter?
Australia may not be a very religious nation, but we know one truth for sure; if we hear a voice challenging the powerful, we will also hear the cries of “crucify them” soon after. The spectacle of retribution that follows is not mere tabloid entertainment. It has political purpose – distraction and deterrence – and is as old as the Easter story itself. As Christ faced trial, so the scriptures say, his disciple Peter infamously denied knowing him in order to avoid sharing the same torturous end (Mark 14:66-72). The threat of political execution works, silencing dissent and leaving the truth unspoken. If we hear voices challenging the powerful, we’re likely to hear the cries for punishment soon after. On which side will we stand? (click on link for full article)

Introduction to the Good Friday Service
After the last supper, Jesus went out to Gethsemane. It tells us this in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Gethsemane means “the place of the oil press.” The Gospel of Luke says they went out to the Mount of Olives… which is where you might expect to find an oil press.
The Mount of Olives is significant because people believed the Messiah would come from the Mount of Olives when he rescued Jerusalem. That idea came from a prophecy in Zecariah Chapter 14, and the story of Jesus uses the Mount of Olives as a literary symbol to tell us Jesus is the Messiah.
But John’s Gospel, which we read today, does not give us a name for the place where Jesus went to be handed over. There is no name. John simply calls it a garden, or in Greek, a κῆπος.
There is another word Greek can use for a garden and it’s one we still use in English, although we have forgotten its root-meaning; that is, we have forgotten where the word came from. That word is … paradise…. in Greek, παράδεισος. We sometimes remember one garden in particular when we talk about paradise, and that garden is the Garden of Eden.
And that’s John’s point. His Gospel begins with a retelling of the story of creation
In the beginning was the word… and the word was with God 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life…
So, at the end of his life, John tells us, Jesus was in the garden, in a paradise, with his disciples. In Jesus, John hints, life has begun. And that’s what makes Good Friday terrifying. Because Jesus and his disciples, John is telling us, were already living the life of the Kingdom of God. He had already enabled them to begin living as a Community of Divine Love.
And yet he was still killed. In John Chapters 18 and 19, we will listen to a story, now, of a Show Trial, of a Kangaroo Court, of a brutal scapegoating. It does not matter that he is innocent, that he has done nothing wrong, that he is against violence. The powers that be have decided someone has to die, and Jesus is the one they choose. The old violence of the world kills even Jesus.
It’s tempting to look away. It’s tempting to remember Easter Day, and to comfort ourselves with stories of resurrection. But there is only one way to resurrection, only one way for Jesus, and only one way for us. And that way is by dying.
So let us listen to the story in all its horror and injustice.
To listen to this story and be shaken by it, to feel the horror, is the beginning of holiness. It is the beginning of trust, the beginning of a faith, that by following Jesus we enter a life uncowed by death. A life which can face death and say, “Anyway… do your worst, I will not let you turn me aside.”
To listen to this story and be shaken by it, to feel the horror, protects us from a cheap faith that uses the story of Jesus as a magic trick and a psychological prop to avoid the reality of death— a shallow faith which may not serve us well when life goes wrong.
Listen to this story, because Good Friday is our story, both as people who sometimes join the mob and condemn others, and as people who are finding that death is an empty threat which does not destroy us.
(Source: Rev Andrew Prior, Hare St Uniting Church, Adelaide)

Good Friday service – wrapping the cross by Mardi Glass at Glass Overflowing blog.

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?
(My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?)
Mark 15.34, Psalm 22.1

In the beginning you created pain.
You split yourself. Light from darkness.
This from not this. Separation.
But you are the light and the darkness.

You made space in yourself for another,
and you are the other, and the space.
You are the unity and you are the abyss,
width and depth, post and arms of the cross.

Yours is belonging, and being alien is yours,
loneliness and its aching distances,
a world of gap and absence.
In our pain you cry out to yourself,

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?
When we can’t imagine closeness
it is you who cry in us for that return,
even as we push you away into yourself.

My God, my God, that you know my pain,
that you live in terror of losing God,
is my salvation. There is no exile
in which I am not in you.

When I am derelict, abandoned, deserted,
you cry out to me, in me, for me.
Your agony is mine.
I am in your arms.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes,

‘Christianity is the only world religion that confesses a God who suffers. It is not that popular an idea, even among Christians. We prefer a God who prevents suffering, only that is not the God we have got. What the cross teaches us is that God’s power is not the power to force human choices and end human pain. It is, instead, the power to pick up the shattered pieces and make something holy out of them – not from a distance, but right close up’.
(Source: Barbara Brown Taylor, God in Pain)

Good Friday prayer: the hosannas have died away
O Holy God,
the hosannas have died away,
the palm branches have turned brittle.
Now, today, there is only this –
each of us,
all of us,
sitting in the darkness,
the hymns of lament in the air,
the mumblings of our own feeble confession,
on this Friday
which we tremble to call Good.

What is good about Good Friday?

What is good about the innocent one nailed to a cross?
What is good about the darkness of war that persists today?
What is good about our devastation of the planet?
… about people living in poverty?
… about the fog of addiction, depression, disease and despair?
What is good about the crushing weight of hunger, racism, scapegoating, apathy?

No, there is nothing good and desirable in these things.

Yet you, O God, are Good.

When suffering reigns, yours is the first heart to break.

When despair lurks about, we remember that you were there first,
peering into the abyss and crying out, incredibly:
“Father, forgive them.”

When we feel forsaken, we remember that in your last moments,
you cared for your mother and your beloved disciple,
binding them to one another as a new family.

When we feel overcome by guilt, we remember that you spoke grace to a thief:
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Your love for us is just that boundless,
and ever-present,
and Good.

Thank you.
What else can we say here, in the dimness,
in the darkness,
but thank you. Amen.
(Source: MaryAnn McKibben Dana, LiturgyLinks)

What Abides For Good Friday
You will know
this blessing
by how it
does not stay still,
by the way it
refuses to rest
in one place.

You will recognize it
by how it takes
first one form,
then another:

now running down
the face of the mother
who watches the breaking
of the child
she had borne,

now in the stance
of the woman
who followed him here
and will not leave him

Now it twists in anguish
on the mouth of the friend
whom he loved;

now it bares itself
in the wound,
the cry,
the finishing and
final breath.

This blessing
is not in any one
of these alone.

It is what
binds them

It is what dwells
in the space
between them,
though it be torn
and gaping.

It is what abides
in the tear
the rending makes.
(Source: Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace)

“So gather up the brokenness
and bring it to me now;
the fragrance of the promises
they never dared to vow;
the splinters that you carried,
the cross you left behind;
come healing of the body,
come healing of the mind.”
(Source: Leonard Cohen)
Continue reading

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COCU28A.Maundy Thursday.13April2017


Maundy Thursday, Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Tonight is a night of darkness – for Maudy Thursday
Tonight is a night of darkness.
We gather it together like gauze and wrap our souls in it.
Tonight is a night of final things.
We gather together in the darkness and hold hands for one last meal.
Tonight is a night of water.
We gather together to cleanse and prepare.
Tonight is a night of tears
We gather together and pray that the tears can wash away the betrayal yet
Tonight is a night of betrayal.
We gather together to support one another, but one of us will destroy.

The cup comes to me at the table – the cup of the last meal
I will drink of it deeply and
Remember all the good times; the teachings, the laughter, the love.
The cup comes to me at the table – the cup of new beginnings
I will drink of it deeply and
Hope that the new covenant will not hurt too much as it is carved on my heart
The cup comes to me in the garden – the cup of my Father’s will
I will drink of it deeply after
I ask that it pass from me.
The cup comes to me as He is on the cross – the cup of bitterness
I will drink of it deeply even
If it comes in a form that is alien to me.
The cup comes to me tonight and I will drink
I will drink deeply and enter into
At one ment with Him.

“Komunyon” by Filipino artist Emmanuel Garibay

This is the dark night of the cup.
Dark is the wine, dark are the shadows, dark is my soul.
Together we enter into this night, we will leave separately in silence.
Can I be at one with Him? Will I stand watch with Him tonight?
Or will I too sleep at the gate?
Will I embrace and kiss only to betray?
(Source: Theresa Coleman)

Running sheet and script for Pilgrim UC Maundy Thursday service 2017
Word and PDF format. Resource available to use freely (but we’d love to know if you use it). Maundy Thursday 2017 running sheet PDF version   Maundy Thursday 2017 script

Holy Thursday, and it is time to come to the table.
Here at the table, there is bread.
Here at the table, there is wine.
Here at the table, there is Christ,
offering the gifts to us with beautiful simplicity and astonishing love.
As we linger at the table, as we leave the table, what will we do with what we receive?Blessing the Bread, the Cup
For Holy Thursday
Let us bless the bread
that gives itself to us
with its terrible weight,
its infinite grace.
Let us bless the cup
poured out for us
with a love
that makes us anew.
Let us gather
around these gifts
simply given
and deeply blessed.
And then let us go
bearing the bread,
carrying the cup,
laying the table
within a hungering world.
(Source: Jan Richardson, Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons)

He said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
And they began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” …
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night.”
Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
And so said all the disciples. (from Matthew 26.21-35)

Jesus, my Friend,
my Beloved, my Person,
I love you, and I will falter.
I will deny you. I will betray you.
Three times ten thousand times
I will deny you.
The silver pieces lie in my pocket.
I have the nails.
And you, knowing, invite me to your table,
to the place of honor even,
this seat of greatest grace,
beside you,
to share your bread with me,
and lay down your body for me.
I can hardly look into the sun
of such forgiveness,
love’s empty tomb
that defeats me,
re-makes me.

I confess. I return.
Knowing, I follow,
drawn in your grace,
this burden that is light.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light) Continue reading

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World Down Syndrome Day 21 March each year


Let us celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, and thank God for all the beautiful DS people, for parents who welcomed DS children into the world, and for the wonderful film “Praying with Lior” (about a Jewish boy with DS). One of the most beautiful stories Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche Communities (unique families of joy for the able-bodied and disabled), shares is about a DS man and Prayer:
From his book “From Brokenness to Community, p.23:
“Many people in L’Arche are close to God, and yet they are so little and poor. They have known rejection and have suffered a great deal. I am always moved as I hear them speak of God. When somebody asked one of our men, Peter, if he liked to pray, he said that he did. So the person continued and asked him what he did when he prayed. He replied: “I listen.” Then the person asked what God says to him. Peter, a man with Down Syndrome, looked up and said: “He just says, ’You are my beloved son.’”
(Source: Deacon John)

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