AshWednesdayA.9.3.2011

Revd Rex A E Hunt


 rexae@optusnet.com.au

www.rexaehuntprogressive.com



ASH WEDNESDAY

9 March 2011




Gathering Music 


Silence


Lighting of the Community Candle


Entry into the Celebration

v1.  The season of Lent calls us to journey along the edge,
to anticipate that final trip to Jerusalem.

v2.  Lent calls us to the cutting edge,
when the wheat falls to the ground and new life comes forth.


v1.  Lent not only calls us to give up something, but also
invites us to participate in the mystery of God-with-us.

v2.  Through God's grace, we are called from grief into gladness, despair into hope,
estrangement into right relations with each other and with earth.

(Silence)


v2.  So come apart from the busyness of family and work,

and dwell in the presentness of God,

source and ground of our being.

v1.  Through God's grace, we are called to renew ourselves and our life's purpose

as we gather with others who are searching.

(Silence)


Setting the Tables

The tables are set with ashes, water, oil, bread, wine


Ashes… earth brings us into life and nourishes us.

Earth takes us back again,

Birth and death are present in every moment (Thich Nhat Hanh/ep).


Bread... the very stuff of life, in which is gathered up

warm sun, rich Australian earth, gentle rain,

human labour and knowledge and skill.


Wine... fruit of the vine,

nurtured, tended, harvested,

and pressed out for us to drink.


Opening Sentences

Out of nothingness we came through birth into life:

All With the Spirit of God within us.

From the life of God the universe unfolded into being

All With the Spirit of God within it.

From the heart of God creation goes on till the end of time

All With the Spirit of God within it

and with our spirit within it.

Let us embrace the God who enfolds us

All We delight in God. (Pitt St Uniting Church/eoj)


Welcome

Thank you for beginning the season of Lent in this sacred place tonight.
By renewing our deep connection with others and with the natural environment,
may we be encouraged to spend the next 40 days mindfully aware
of how our everyday actions affect our world.

Readings from Religious Tradition

Let us listen to some stories from our biblical tradition.

The readers are (NN) and (NN).


Hebrew scriptures:

Isaiah 58 (Selected verses, NRSV/Inclusive Text)


Thus says our God:

Is not this the fast that I choose;

to loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?


Share your bread with the hungry, 

shelter the homeless poor, 

clothe the one you see to be naked, 

and turn not from your own kin.

 

Then will your light shine like the dawn...


If you do away with

the yoke,

the clenched fist,

the wicked word,

if you give your bread to the hungry,

and relief to the oppressed,

your light will rise in the darkness,

and your shadows become like noon.

 

Gospel:

Matthew 6 (Selected verses, Inclusive text)


Jesus said to the disciples:

Be careful not to parade your good deeds before others

to attract their notice;

by doing this you will lose all heavenly reward.


So when you give alms,

do not have it trumpeted before you:

this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues

and in the streets to win the admiration of others.

I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward... 


And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites:

they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues

and at the street corners

for people to see them.


I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward...

When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do:

they pull long faces to let others know they are fasting.

I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward...


Silence


SERVICE OF THE ASHES

Extinguishing of the Christ Candle


'The Star Within' - A Reflection

v2.  In the beginning, the energy of silence
rested over an infinite horizon of pure nothingness.

Mn:  The silence lasted for billions of years,
stretching across aeons that the human mind

cannot even remotely comprehend.

Wn: Out of the silence arose the first ripples of sound,
vibrations of pure energy that ruptured the tranquil stillness
as a single point of raw potential, bearing all matter,
all dimension, all energy, and all time: exploding like a massive fireball.

All: It was the greatest explosion of all time!


Mn:  An irruption of infinite energy danced into being.
It had a wild and joyful freedom about it, and like a dance
it was richly endowed with coherence, elegance, and creativity.

Wn:  The universe continued to expand and cool until the first atoms came into being.
The force of gravity joined the cosmic dance; atoms clustered into primordial galaxies.

Mn:  Giant clouds of hydrogen and helium gases gathered
into condensed masses, giving birth to stars!

Wn:  Generations of stars were born and died, born and died,
and then our own star system, the solar system,
was formed from a huge cloud of interstellar dust,
enriched by the gifts of all those ancestral stars.


v1:  Planet Earth condensed out of a cloud that was rich in a diversity of elements.
Each atom of carbon, oxygen, silicon, calcium, and sodium
had been given during the explosive death of ancient stars.
These elements, this stuff of stars, included
all the chemical elements necessary for the evolution of carbon-based life.

Wn:  With the appearance of the first bacteria,
the cosmic dance reached a more complex level of integration.

Mn:  Molecules clustered together to form living cells!

Wn:  Later came the algae, and then fishes began to inhabit the waters!

Mn: Thence the journey of life on land and in the sky.
Insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals: all flourished
and diversified and elaborated the themes of life.


v2.  And now it is our time, too.

All:  This is our story.


v1: The story of our beginning, our cosmology.

Mn:  Humans were invited to care for the earth...

Wn:  But often we tried to conquer and subdue it.

Mn:  We have poisoned our life-support systems
of soil, water, and air with toxic waste.

Wn:  We have damaged our forests through clear-cutting and acid rain.

Mn:  Our oceans, lakes, and streams are littered
with plastic and laced with sewage.

Wn:  We are annihilating our companion creatures at a rapid rate.

Mn:  In a universal sense, this is our Calvary experience.

v1:  The onus is not on some divine, external agent
who can reverse the destruction we humans have caused.

All:  The burden is ours to own and bear.


v2:  And so we commence our Lenten Journey this night - this Ash Wednesday,

with open hearts in the presentness of Creativity God.

Wn:  as we partake in our daily things of life may we see them as sacred.

Mn:  May we be empowered to perform simple acts of concern and love,

and real works of reform and renewal.

Wn:  Let us love deeply the earth which gives us
air to breathe, water to drink, and food to sustain us.

Mn:  May we remember that life is begotten from stardust, radiant in light and heat.


v1:  We are all one - all of creation, all that now live,
all that have ever lived.

Wn:  Remember we are stardust, and to stardust we return.

Mn:  Remember we are connected and to connection we return.

v2:  Remember we are part of the great mystery.

All: Remember we are stardust and to stardust we return (Lehman & Griffith/adapted).


Silence


Comment (Optional)


Silence


Lighting of Several Candles

Several candles are lit from the Community Candle, and brought to the centre


The Ashes

Ash Wednesday invites us to come back to earth.

To wonder at the gift of life,

my life

our life

with the earth, the shared body of our existence.


These ashes were once trees and shrubs,

and places where life was lived to its fullest.

Once they were full of life.

Now they are black and grey.

Dry.

Lifeless.


But mixed with the oil and water of our baptism make good fertiliser:

it will help the seeds of the gospel take deeper root in us

and bring forth the fruits,

the harvest of justice, peace, and generosity.


These are ashes worth wearing.

May we accept this gift.
And be blessed.


And be assured we will be different at the end of this season.

For from the burnt ashes will spring the green shoot of life

and the purple flower of attentiveness to God.


Blessing

May these ashes be blessed.

May they be for us a symbol of our star-dust,
and of our return to the earth.

May we be blessed.


And may we be earthed in an inclusive love,

as forgiven and forgiving people.


Distribution

Those who wish to be marked are invited to come forward


Prayer

We pray:

We are thankful for forgiveness and healing.


Mindful of faith that sees possibilities,

faith that endures,

faith that inspires...


Mindful of love’s call

to be faithful,

to endure,

to be generous and forgiving whatever the cost.


Mindful of the hope of new life

as we follow Jesus during this Lenten journey.

Amen.


Silence


CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION

Thanksgiving

We give thanks and praise

for all that is good in the world.


For the love we name Creativity God, and all that is.

For the one we name Jesus

and his message of peace, justice and inclusiveness

that is the realm of God.

For the renewing strength and freedom of the Spirit

always present on the breath of life.

All We give thanks for the presentness of God in the midst of life.


The Celebration

Jesus gathered with his friends to tell them

of a re-imagined way of living and being.


A way that did not conform to the standards

of the Roman Empire or any other system of governance

that suppressed people until starvation and

deprivation resulted in death (SWeinberg).


He knew that human nature was such that

despite good intentions it often betrayed itself...

And he named the betrayal when he said,

there is one among us who will deny what I say.


The Story/Bread and Wine

So let us remember the tradition.


We remember... at the end of a journey,

among friends, gathered round a table

Jesus took bread,

gave thanks for all the blessings in his life,

broke it,

Break the bread

 

and shared it with his friends,

inviting them to eat.


We remember...

Jesus poured a cup of wine,

Pour the wine


gave thanks, and shared it with his friends,

inviting them to drink. (Iona)


Bread broken.

Cup full.


May the Spirit within us

All be a source of healing and consolation.

May the Spirit within us

All strengthen us when we feel weak,

warm us when we are cold-hearted,

bend us when we are stubborn,

move us when we are uncaring,

guide us in the way of love.

May the Spirit within us

All shine in all we do. (MAbbott)


Communion

By eating this bread and drinking this wine

we become one in hope.

The bread and the wine /juice will be served by intinction


After Communion

Life affirming God, may this

table-gathering of ordinary people, be blessed.

May the meal shared together,

strengthen us in our witness to the world.


The Peace

The peace of God is here... to stay. (Iona)

All Thanks be to God!

You are invited to share the peace with your neighbours.


Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
The Day Will Come, Must Come…(Tune: ‘O Waly Waly 2’. 654 TiS.)

The day will come, must come, and soon

when we will sing a song of joy

with sisters, brothers, not like us,

who share the image of one God.


Whatever name, which ever faith,

at heart we share a common bond,

a shared humanity in God,

whose name and character is love.


Blessing

As the sun in its shining brings glory

As the stars in the night scatter dark

As the moon gives us hope in its radiance

So may the light of God

fill your heart

and your mind

and your life.

All Amen.


HymnThe Day Will Come, Must Come… (Tune: ‘O Waly Waly 2’. 654 TiS.)

That love will drive us to the day

when every wall is broken down,

when love and joy and song are one:

that day will come, must come, and soon APratt. © Stainer & Bell.




You are invited to keep this copy of the liturgy and take it home with you

to share with another member of your family, or with a friend



Some of the resources used in shaping this liturgy:

Abbott, M. 2001.  Sparks of the Cosmos. Rituals for seasonal use. SA: Unley. MediaCom Education.

Falla, T. C. (ed). 1994.  Be Our Freedom Lord. Responsive prayers and readings for contemporary worship. Revised edition. SA: Adelaide. Open Books Publications.

Holy Bible. NRSV. 1989. TN: Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Inclusive Readings. Year A.  2004. QLD: Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation.

Iona Community. 2001.  Iona Abbey Worship Book. GtB: Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications.

McRae-McMahon, D. 1993.  Echoes of our Journey. Liturgies of the people. VIC: Melbourne. JBCE.

Morely, J. 1992.  All Desires Known. Expanded edition. GtB: London. SPCK.

Morwood, M. 2003.  Praying a New Story. VIC: Richmond. Spectrum Publications.

Prewer, B. D. 1983.  Australian Prayers. SA: Adelaide. OpenBook Publishers.

Roberts, E; E. Amidon. 1991.  Earth Prayers from Around the World. 365 prayers, poems, and invocations for honoring the earth. NY: New York. HarperCollins.

Seaburg, C. (ed). 1993.  The Communion Book. MA: Boston. UUMA.


Web sites:

UUA Worship Web. MA: Boston. <www.uua.org/spirituallife/worshipweb/>

Lehman & Griffith. 'The Star Within'  Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis. churchinfo@plymouth.org

Sherri Weinberg. 2007. St Paul's Presbyterian Church Web site. NZ: Devonport.

L Bruce Miller. 2005. Robertson-Wesley United Church. Edmonton, Canada.

Andrew Pratt.  "THe Day will come". Stainer & Bell Ltd. Web site: hymns.uk.com

rexae@optusnet.com.au