Revd Rex A E Hunt

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24 September 2017. Pentecost 16A/Creation 4A. (Green).
River Sunday

Acknowledgement of Country/First Peoples
(An act towards reconciliation)

For thousands of years Indigenous people have walked
in this land, on their own country.
Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives.

We acknowledge the (NN) People and their stewardship
of this land throughout the ages.

(NN) is a safe place for all people to worship regardless of
race, creed, age, cultural background or sexual orientation


Gathering Music

Entry into the Celebration  (Sung, Solo Voice)
Be Still… (Tune: ‘Be Still and Know That I Am God’)
Be still and feel the presence of God,
the presence pulsing, pulsing through Earth, 
be still and feel the pulse of God.

Be still and hear the Spirit of God,
the Spirit breathing, breathing through Earth,
be still and hear the breath of God.

Be still, behold the glory of God,
the glory filling, filling this Earth,
be still, behold the face of God.  (Norman C Habel)
(The gong is sounded three times)

The God of the rivers be with you.
All  And also with you.

Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

Lighting of the Community Candle
The Community Candle is lit in silence

v2 Fountain of life...
Pulse of life...
Breath of life...
All  Earth is filled with the presentness of God.

v1 A planet filled with the presentness of God
All  quivering in the forests,
vibrating in the land,
pulsating in the wilderness,
shimmering in the rivers.

v2  Together this day, let us sense the face of God in all creation. (Adapted. Norman Habel/soc)

Note: (i) A suggested process for introducing new hymns, called Hymn of the Month, can be found HERE
(ii) Additional Special Purpose Hymns that cover major international events or themes can be found HERE  They include the categories: 1. Bush (Brush) Fire, 2. Tsunami, Storms/Cyclones, 3. Earthquakes, 4. War/Remembrance, 5. Caregiving, 6. God as Mother, 7. Human Trafficking, 8. Disabled, 9. Migration/Refugees
(iii) PLUS some specific resources on Terrorism

Hymn The people stand as they are able, to sing
"Let Justice Roll Down"       85 AA
Let justice roll down like a river,
let justice roll down like a sea,
let justice roll down like a river,
let justice begin through me.

Justice for all who go hungry,
crying to God to be fed,
left in a world of abundance
to beg for a morsel of bread.

Justice for those who are homeless,
victims of warfare or need,
trapped on the borders of no-where,
lost in the canyons of greed.

Justice for all who are powerless,
yearning for freedom in vain,
plundered, and robbed of their birth-right,
silently bearing their pain.
  (Colin Gibson)


O River Mother, Spirit of Creation(Tune: ‘Highwood’,
O river mother, spirit of creation,
flowing so freely since the dawn of time,
source of all life and onward propagation,
summer's bright warmth and winter's frozen rime.

Once from a riven altar, out through history,
your source of life flowed on to all the earth;
then cosmic letters formed the timeless story,
charged with your passion, grace and love and worth.

Now at the point in time of our existence,
through faith and science we discern our place.
We understand your gentle, calm persistence
folding around us with your love and grace.

O river mother, flowing to the future,
on past the present that we see and feel,
take us, flow with us, kindly love and  nurture
virtues that make your presence strong and real.  (© Andrew Pratt 25/1/2004)
Remain standing after the hymn

Opening Sentences
We invite the rivers to worship with us:
the Murray, the Darling and all the streams that flow to the sea.

We invite the country creeks to sing:
All  perch, eel and platypus,
trout streams and gleaming fountains.
We invite the fauna to praise God with us:
ibis, heron and mountain duck,
dragonflies and sleepy tortoises.

We join with the waters in praising God:
All  waterfalls singing upstream
and waves dancing at the river mouth.

We celebrate the song of the river!
All  Sing, river, sing!  
(Adapted/ Norman Habel/soc)

Act of Awareness
Spring... is a time of revelation:
the revealing of that which is eternal,
which we see every year,
but still need to be reminded to see it in a new way.

But there is also the revelation of that which is new.
Every spring we encounter something never before seen.
It is that very newness
which embodies hope and potential
for the wholeness which is yet to be.

Let us allow spring to unfold slowly
that we may appreciate the true mystery
of rebirth and renewal.  (Edited. Terasa Cooley)


We pray:
Creating God, we celebrate your refreshing presence
among us and our kin in creation,
especially in the rivers,
the creeks and the wetlands of Earth.

May our spirits be lifted to rejoice with
the vibrant world of the rivers.
May it be so.

Hymn "In Water We Grow(Tune: Paderborn, 55 55 65 65)        494 TiS
In water we grow,
secure in the womb.
and speechlessly know
love's safety and room.
Baptizing and blessing
we publish for good
the feeling, caressing
safe keeping of God.

In water we wash:
the dirt of each day,
its trouble and rush
are carried away.
In Christ re-created
by love's cleansing art,
self-will and self-hatred
dissolve and depart.

In water we dive,
and cannot draw breath,
then surface alive,
rebounding from death.
OUr old self goes under,
in Christ dead and drowned.
We rise, washed in wonder,
by love clad and crowned.

In water we dwell,
for by its deep flow
through bloodstream and cell,
we live, think, and grow.
Praise God, love outflowing,
whose well of new birth
baptizes our knowing,
and waters the earth.  (Brian Wren)
People sit

In your own words

A warm welcome is extended to all.
Especially those who are worshipping at (NN) for the first time
or who have returned after an absence.

Your presence both enriches us
and this time of celebration together.
Refer to printed liturgy
Fellowship hour following worship
Those visiting, please sign our Visitors book


Take the river stone you received at the door,
rub it between your fingers, feel its surface and edges,
and share with the person next to you
a special memory of the rivers, creeks
or wetlands you have enjoyed.

We remember the rivers across our planet.
Rivers and wetlands that are the lifeblood of Earth
and vital for all that lives.
We remember and rejoice.

Away from the busyness of our day-to-day living
and in the silence of this place,
let us now give thanks
for the rivers and creeks that sustain our life!

Sung reflection:

All   As this day dawns in beauty,
we pledge ourselves
to repair the web.
(Carol P Christ/swc)

Earth is a sanctuary, a sacred planet
filled with the presentness of God.
All A home for us to share with our kin.  
(Norman Habel/soc)


Readings from our broad Religious Tradition
Two readings from our broad religious tradition
shall now be read by (NN).

From the World Around us:
"Seeking Harbour..."
By Kate McIllhagga. The Green Heart of the Snowdrop/50.

As the grey wave
creeps on to the shore
and the sail limps
for port,
so, Lord, do I
seek harbour,
crawl into the circle
of your welcoming arms.

May I know your forgiveness.
Then may I forgive
as you have forgiven

And now the blue comes flooding in,
transforming sea and sky with light;
the white wave tops
are bracelets of glory;
the sand
a new page
on which to write my story.


“On Water”
Water is the best thing in the world.
It benefits all things without competing with them.
It flows to lower places that people do not want to go.

Therefore it is closest to the Way.
Look for lowly places.
Look into the depth of all things.
Treat others with mercy.
Speak trusting Words.
Do right things when governing.
Act mercifully and timely.
Do not compete with others and there will be no fault with you

The great way of life is like a river
of which its overflowing water goes to the left and right.
All things depend on it for life, and it does not turn away from them.

The Way accomplishes its work, but does not claim credit for it.
It provides for and nourishes all things,
but does not claim to be master over them.
It does not seek its own will, and is considered small.
All things come to it, but it does not control them.
It never claims greatness, and therefore it is great.   
(From Chapters 8 and 34, Tao Te Ching)

Traditional Gospel:
Matthew 20:1-15  (Inclusive text)

The reign of God is like a landowner
who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for the vineyard.
After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage,
the landowner sent them into his vineyard.

The owner went out about nine o’clock
and saw others standing idle in the marketplace; he said to them, 
‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’
So they went.

The owner went out again about noon and about three o’clock, and did the same.

And about five o’clock the owner went out
and found others standing around; and said to them,
‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’

They said, ‘Because no one has hired us’
to which the owner replied:
‘You also go into the vineyard.’

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to the manager,
‘Call the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and then going to the first.’

When those hired about five o’clock came,
each of them received the usual daily wage.

Now when the first came,
they thought they would receive more;
but each of them also received the usual daily wage.
And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us
who have borne the heat of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them,
‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong;
did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
'Take what belongs to you and go.
I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.
Am I not allowed to do what I choose 
with what belongs to me?

'Or are you envious because I am generous?’

Contemporary Exploration

Silence for Personal Reflection


Litany of Praise (Environment) (Optional)
The people stand as they are able

Le  The Earth. . . is a sparkling blue and white jewel… laced with
slowly swirling veils of white… like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery.  (Edgar Mitchell, US Astronaut)

All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Ri   O moving force of Wisdom, you encircle the wheel of the cosmos,
you encompass all that is, all that has life, in one vast circle.  
(Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)

All creation is a song of praise to God (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Le  It could be that god has not absconded but spread, as our vision and understanding of the universe
have spread, to a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle, powerful in a new way,
that we can only feel blindly of its hem.  
(Annie Dillard, naturalist writer)
All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Ri  …stardust is not just fairy-tale magic; it is what we are really made of  (Elisabet Sahtouris, Ecofeminist)
All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Le  Great Spirit… give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is!
…all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike…

This is my prayer; hear me! 
(Black Elk, Oglala Sioux)
All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Ri   There is not anything new to be born.  It has been within you from the beginningless beginning.
It has only to be awakened, to become aware of itself in you.  
(Zen saying)
All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Le  …for in God we live/ and move/ and have our being.  
(Acts 17:28)
All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
Ri  …When you stand in the presence of the moon, you become a new creation.
…The elementary particles of your body have absorbed an influence and in that sense they - and you -
are brand spanking new, a human being resonating everywhere with moonlight.  
(Brian Swimme, physicist) 

All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)

Le  We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/
And know the place for the first time.  
(T. S. Eliot, poet)

All creation is a song of praise to God.  (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)
(Source unknown. Reproduced from

Sharing 'The Peace'
Let us take a moment to celebrate each other.
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  People stand as they are able, to sing
When Love is Taught in Parables"  (Tune: 'McKee', 86 86)
When love is taught is parables,
and hope in history,
we thank you, God, for trusting us
with Jesus' memory.

When broken people speak their need
and pray to be made whole,
we thank you, God, for Christ, who heals
our body, mind, and soul.

When hearts are lifted, wine is poured,
and common bread is blessed,
we thank you, God, that in this meal
we share in heaven's feast.

When Christians claim the Spirit's power,
and faith, now fed, can grow,
we thank you, God, and go in peace,
to share the peace we know.  (Elizabeth J Smith


Just as the Rainbow(Tune: ‘Colours of Hope’,  D C Damon)    22 PaT
Just as the rainbow, bright with its promise,

holds in its prism spectrums of light,
so do our human cultures and colours
bring to each other depth and delight.

Colours adorn us, colours define us,

colours enliven nature's own art,

colours divide us, stark in their meaning,
black and white judgments tear us apart.

Fear of the stranger, unspoken anger,

shades of misgiving show in our face,

colours of blood have stained our traditions,

led us to conflict, race against race.

God give us eyes to value our neighbour,

judging no colour, image or skin,
but where the heart is, open to friendship,
care and connection making us kin.

God give us wisdom, luminous thinking,
 prizing this rainbow, sensing its scope,
 finding the gold in icons of others,

 working to paint the colours of hope.  
(Shirley Erena Murray)
People sit


Our offerings for the celebration of life in this place and beyond,
shall now be received

The landscape of life is near filled with the presence of the sacred:
a daffodil in bloom,
a single green gum leaf,
the red and green flash of a rosella.

May we too be a people of adventure and life,
offering courage and hope in unexpected places.

With the Children
Children gather on the conversation mat


"Somewhere someone:"
The kingdom of love is coming because:
All  somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind,
somewhere someone shares with another in need,
somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate,
somewhere someone is patient - and waits in love,
somewhere someone returns good for evil,
somewhere someone serves another, in love,
somewhere someone is calm in a storm,
somewhere someone is loving everybody.
Is that someone you?

Reflections and Prayers
Care Candle:
We are people of all ages who enter this space
bringing our joys and concerns.
Joys and Concerns shared

Focused Thoughts:

Listening Response:
In this abundant blessing
All We share the joy.
In this, our time of need,
All May love abound.  (Gretta Vosper/wwg)

And so we take this flame and light our special care candle.
The Care Candle is lit

v2   When we are grieving or sad,
When we are challenged,
When we need help,
The flame of this candle guides us out of the darkness.

v3   When we are cheerful,
When we celebrate,
When we accomplish a great task,
When we return to a place that makes us happy,
The flame of this candle reminds us
to share our happiness with others.  (Adapted. A Palmer)

The 'Abba' Prayer:  (Optional)
You are invited to pray in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, and in your original language, as that is appropriate

All   God - heart of the world:
revealed through every aspect of creation:
understood through our awareness.

May we honour the holiness of creation and act accordingly
so that your love is reflected in the way we live.
May we always be thankful for the food we eat
and the friends we have.
May we forgive those who transgress against us
and be forgiven for our own.

In the freedom of love may we live as your heartbeat
and not be compromised by hesitation.
Through our freedom, may your justice
be seen and heard and experienced
forever and ever.  Amen.
  (Sherri J Weinberg)


Hymn Colourful Creator  (Tune: ‘Houghton’, 65 65D)       190 (v1-2) TiS
Colourful Creator, God of mystery, 
thank you for the artist teaching us to see
glimpses of the meaning of the commonplace,
visions of the holy in each human face.

Harmony of ages, God of listening ear,
thank you for composers tuning us to hear
echoes of the Gospel in the songs we sing,
sounds of love and longing from the deepest spring
Remain standing

Parting Words
Time has now come for us to leave this sacred place.
As we do, may we embrace the challenges
of our lives and our world...
The Community Candle is extinguished

Hold again the river stone in your hands as you go forth into this week.
v2  Will you care for creation?
All We will care for creation!
We will nurture the rivers!
We will celebrate life!

v2  This we know, the earth does not belong to us,
All We belong to the earth.

Words of Blessing
Go in peace to claim the life of Christ within your midst:
and may the earth be warm under your feet,
the rain bring the gentle flowers
of the bush bright around you,
and the wind blows as the breath of the Spirit before you.
Amen. May it be so.


Rainbow Blessing
When you explore the mystery
ofCompassion permeating the universe
may you discover that the cosmos has a soul.
A purple coloured cloth - Cosmic Compassion - is put in place beside all the other coloured cloths from previous weeks

v1  May the compassion of the cosmos,
and the empathy of Earth,
stir within you a consciousness
of a spiritual force in nature
that shares pain,
heals hearts,
and nurtures hope.  (Norman Habel/rm)

Hymn (Cont) Colourful Creator  (Tune: ‘Houghton’, 65 65D)      190 (v3-4) TiS
Author of our journey, God of near and far,
praise for tale and drama telling who we are,
stripping to the essence struggles of our day,
times of change and conflict when we choose our way.

God of truth and beauty, Poet of the Word, 
may we be creators by the Spirit stirred, 
open to your presence in our joy and strife, 
vessels of the holy coursing through our life.
  (Ruth C Duck)
The people sit after the hymn

'This Week' at (NN)
Birthdays and anniversaries
Significant events
Journey candles


Morning tea is now served.
You are invited to share in this time of fellowship.

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

I recommend the use of LicenSing -
Copyright cleared music for churches

Some of the resources used in shaping this liturgy:
(AA) Alleluia Aotearoa.Hymns and songs for all churches. Raumati. New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, 1993.
Binkley, C. G. & J. M. McKeel.
Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals. An international curriculum on the life and teaching of Jesus. Santa Rosa. Polebridge Press, 2001.
Christ, C. P.
She Who Changes. Re-imagining the Divine in the World. New York. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Habel, N. Rainbow of Mysteries. Meeting the Sacred in Nature. Kelowna: Copper House/Wood Lake Publishing, 2012.
Inclusive Readings. Year A. Brisbane. Inclusive Language Project. In private circulation, 2004.
Iona Community.
Iona Abbey Worship Book. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2001.
McIlhagga, K.
The Green Heart of the Snowdrop. Glasgow. Wild Goose Publications, 2004.
(PaT) Murray, S. E. A Place at the Table. New Hymns written between 2009 and 2013. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 2013.
(TEL) Murray, S. E. Touch the Earth Lightly. New hymns written between 2003 & 2008. Carol Stream. Hope Publishing, 2008.
(TiS) Together in Song. Australian Hymn Book 2. Sydney. HarperCollins Religious, 1999.
Vosper, G.
With or Without God. Why the way we Live is more important that what we Believe. Canada: Toronto. HarperCollins, 2008.

Web sites/Other:
Palmer, Cooley. UUA Worship Web. Boston. <>
Sherri Weinberg. 2007. St Paul's Presbyterian Church. NZ: Devonport.
Norman Habel. Creation Liturgies. <>
Andrew Pratt, "O River Mother...", Blog site. UK. <>
"When Love is Taught in Parables". Elizabeth J. Smith. Songs for a Hopeful Church. Brunswick East. Acorn Press, 1997.