ChristmasEveC.24.12.2021

Revd Rex A E Hunt
eMail:  rexae@optusnet.com.au  OR  rexae74@gmail.com
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The Other Lectionary’ - a suggested ‘southern hemisphere’ Lectionary (with a few Resources added) offered in parallel to,
or even replacement of, the RCL which is in standard use by many

Check out Articles for some past writings on Christmas

A GATHERING LITURGY FOR THE
CELEBRATION OF LIFE

...in the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.
It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself”

24 December 2021. Christmas Eve. (White).
The Banquet of the Cosmos

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 of the (N) Nation, past, present, emerging,
and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.

First Peoples Statement to the Nation 2017 called “Uluru Statement from the Heart” HERE
A Response from Common Dreams5 Conference of Religious Progressives,
Australia/South Pacific 2019  HERE

And we recognise and give thanks that we humans
are creatures of the Earth living in the ecosystem
—flowers, trees and insects; land, waters and mountain range—
that is unique to (NN).
May we honour one another and honour life itself.

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

A Liturgy for a Blue Christmas/Long Night Service can be found HERE


GATHERING

Rich and Striking Visuals
          “The function of beauty… is to make us aware of a reality which is richer and deeper
          and more marvellous than anything we can dream or conceive.” (Henry N. Wieman)
          Artwork OR Floral/Symbols display (cloths, candles, stones, wood, leaves, flowers, earth, water) OR projection of Film/Video 

Gathering Music

Silence

If in the Southern Hemisphere
Entry into the Celebration
The gong is struck three times

From the east to the west,
flowing towards all people on earth.
comes the gentle light of hope
born in human form.  (Dorothy McRae-McMahon/Adapted)
All  Watch and see, the wonder of the gift.

On this Christmas Eve may we celebrate
the richness and diversity of life.

If in the Northern Hemisphere
In darkness seeds are drawn to germinate,
flowers prepare to bloom and our dreams unfold.
All   Darkness is gift.

In darkness, the edges blur. Boundaries between reality and fantasy,
 between friend and stranger become fluid, opening new possibilities.
All   Darkness is gift.

In darkness, when our eyes rest, our ears become more attentive to the sounds of story,
of lullaby, of wind, of loved ones breathing in the night.
All  Darkness is gift.

In the darkness, we find space for reflection;
for deep, dream filled and refreshing sleep.
We are bidden to journey into the unconscious.
All  Darkness is gift.

In the darkness of the womb, we were formed in great complexity.
Under the cover of darkness, many creatures have their being.
Only in the deepest darkness, can we see the star- studded sky.
All  Darkness is a gift of grace.
On this longest night, we celebrate the many gifts of darkness
.  (
Non-Theistic Liturgy)

Music of Reflection

CHRISTMAS EVE...
Christmas Eve is a time for candlelight.
It is a time when one desires little more
than family and soft music.

Who can say what passes through our hearts on Christmas Eve?
Strange thoughts.
Undefinable emotions.
Sudden tears.

Christmas Eve is a time to be quietly glad.
It is a time to wonder, to give thanks,
and of quiet awakening to beauty
that still lives on through the strife
of a war-torn world.

And Christmas Eve is also a time for memories and remembering.

For some, the memories are of loved family members
who have died, and the festive season
makes the pain of those losses ever more real.

For others, the memories are of happier times than we know now,
felt as the anguish of broken relationships,
the insecurity around employment,
the anxiety of illness or poor health,
or the emptiness of loss after drought or bushfire.

All these feelings are with us this night as we gather in this sacred place.
Here we are safe to feel what we feel:
to acknowledge our sadness,
to share our concern,
to release our anger,
to face our emptiness,
and still to know that God by what ever name,
is made present in the caring thoughts and deeds of others.

So let us  be and share and remember and receive,
assured that we are not alone in our life experiences.

Silence
A brief period of silence is kept

Bowl of Tears
As a symbol of the memories of those loved and lost
we place this bowl of tears in this special place.
A bowl of water is put in place

Remembering Candles
This first candle we light
to remember those whom we have loved and lost.
(First candle is lit)

We pause to remember
their name,
their face,
their voice,
the memory that binds them to us in this season.
All   May God's caring love surround them.

This second candle we light is to mend the pain of loss.
The loss of relationships,
the loss of jobs,
the loss of health
the loss of home.
(Second candle is lit)

We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God,
asking that from God's hands
we receive the gift of peace.
All  Refresh, restore, renew us Gracious God,
and lead us into the future.

This third candle we light
is to remember ourselves this Christmas time.
(Third candle is lit)

We pause and remember the past weeks and months and years:
the disbelief,
the anger,
the down times,
the poignancy of reminiscing,
the hugs and handshakes of family and friends,
all those who stood with us.

We give thanks for all the support we have known.
All  Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness.

This fourth candle we light
to remember the gift of hope
which the Christmas story offers to us.
(Fourth candle is lit)

We remember that God is our companion, who shares our life,
blessing us, and fills us with longing and with courage.
All   Let us remember the One who holds us in love.

May the warmth of these candles radiate
A ray of hope,
A spark of joy,
A glow of love,
To all earth’s inhabitants...
 The gong is struck three times

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 these 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, 10. Terrorist Attacks, 11. Science/Cosmology
(iii) Specific resources on Terrorism HERE
(iv) On Wonder, Awe, and Nature
HERE

Hymn/Song The people stand as they are able, to sing
"God Molds the Shapes of Life"  (Tune:  66.66.88)                                                      38 TMT
God molds the shapes of life,
drawing the flow of tides,
firing the sunlight's blaze,
glazing the night with pride:
God gives the love which warms and moves
the patterned rhythm life provides.

Ponder the rising sap
changing to leaf's decay;
think of the winter's death
turning to spring's new day,
and in these cycles find the shapes
of all God dreams and all God makes.

Pulse of the veins and lungs,
seasons of human hearts -
patterns that intertwine,
shaping our thought and art;
all these are part of nature's flow -
the life of God we reap and sow.

Sing to the God of change,
chaos, and fine design;