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Pentecost

Over the past few weeks, I – like many others – have become increasingly aware of the significance of constraints or boundaries or limitations in our lives. In the movement from death to life to life in its fullness, I am deeply challenged (again) by the identity of the Church as the pilgrim people of God and inspired by the imagery of God’s Spirit as breath or wind – invisible but tangible, uncontainable.

The gathering for Pentecost Sunday defies some of those constraints as technology enables some to meet beyond traditional sacred space and geographical boundaries for a time of conversation and contemplation through poetry, prayer, music, silence, and nature. 

This week, the service will not be recorded but I share some of the curated elements here for you to be drawn into this time in your own time and way through different voices, traditions, and experiences. If you would like to be part of the gathering, it takes place on Sunday from 9:30a.m. (with 30 minutes of opening music) to 11a.m. (G.M.T +10) and you are welcome to comment here so that I can send you an invitation to Zoom (requires computer with microphone and camera or smartphone). 

May the Spirit of God with and within you, move you.

***

Songs for worship

Poem: Pentecost is Every Day

I share and share and share again
sometimes with a new language
which, if you are so open
will take you behind the sky
and award you cartwheels across the sun
I give and give and give again
not restricted by the church calendar nor concocted ritual
I have no need of anniversaries
for I have always been
I speak and speak and speak again
with the sting of purity
that can only be Me
causing joyous earthquakes in the mourning soul of [hu]man
I am and am and am again.

Stewart Henderson, The Lion Book of Christian Poetry

Visual Prayer

Featuring names for the Holy Spirit from Richard Rohr’s book The Divine Dance. During this time, it is recommended that you move your body in some way in response to what you feel happening within you e.g. stretch, hold out your hands, follow the moving images on the screen with your finger, sway etc. Pay attention to which words or images really move you.

Prayer of presence (progressive)

We gather today
mindful of a creative,
energising magnificence
at work in all places:
– in the vastness of the universe,
– in the evolutionary development of life on earth,
– and in every breath we take.

In this Great Mystery
we are one with everything and everyone.

We open our hearts and minds
to this creative Presence,
this energising Power
in the depths of our own being, 
knowing that 
we need not ask it to “Come,”
but rather
knowing it has always 
been here with us in life,
in being,
in spirit,
in love.

We gather in memory of Jesus
who knew this Presence in his own life,
who recognised its presence in the lives of others
and who urged his listeners 
to call upon this Presence within them
to transform a world of sorrow,
a world of pain,
into a world of joy,
a world of promise and hope.

Today we give thanks for 
the Jewish men and women 
who took up the challenge
of transforming their world,
who kept the dream of Jesus alive. 

Michael Morwood, Prayers for Progressive Christians

Sacred Story

Adapted from http://www.barnabasinchurches.org.uk/pentecost-seven-signs-of-the-spirit-a-reflective-story/

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:19-23, New International Version

Questions to reflect on:

  • I wonder which of these signs of the Spirit you like best.
  • I wonder which of these signs you think is the most important sign.
  • I wonder if there are any other signs we could have to have all the signs of the Spirit that we need.
  • I wonder where we see these signs in the world around us.
  • I wonder how we can be a sign of the Spirit in the world.

Signs of the Spirit

As we pray for others, I invite you to pick up your pen/pencil and paper if you have one close at hand. As the words of the prayer are offered, without lifting your pen from the paper scribble an unfurling, unfolding, moving line in whatever way you are moved to. Alternatively, after the time of worship, tie pieces of string or ribbon outside in a spot where the wind will move them this week and you will be reminded of what you have prayed for. 

Praise to you Gentle breeze of the Spirit
For you blow where you will.
I hear the sound of you but
know not where you come from 
or where you go.
Let me be aware of your presence
as your breathe across my life this day,
though I can never grasp you.

Be still in the silence and aware of the Love with and within ……

By your breath of life which infuses all living things,
as I inhale the spirit of the people I meet,
may I exhale your love.
As I inhale the news of today, 
may I exhale prayer like incense rising.
As I inhale rumours of war,
may I exhale supplications for peace.
As I inhale the air which the leaves of the trees give to me,
may I exhale care for all that bears leaves.
As I inhale the same air of the creatures around me
may I exhale freedom from all that causes suffering.

Inspirer of the Universe,
by your grace, may we breathe your loving purpose this day.

Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel of the Year.

Blessing

May the God of creation warm your heart like the campfires of old
Bring wisdom and peace as shown to the first peoples of this land
Shake off the dust from the desert plains by the refreshing rains
Followed by the glow and warmth of the sun
Let the light of God show us the right path and stand tall like the big
River gums drawing life from the ever flowing waters.

Uncle Vince Ross, commongrace.org.au

Christ the King Sunday

To those who kneel before the throne in worship ….

Today marks the end of the liturgical year and we celebrate it by remembering just who Jesus is. 

He is the image of the invisible God – the epitome of love, defender of the weak, worker of miracles.

He is the firstborn over all creation – the one from whom light and life flows; the one who speaks and brings beauty and order and purpose into being. By him and for him all things were created – even the authorities of this world for whom he groans when they use their power and position to use and abuse and tear down and oppress.

He holds all things together – from the stars and moons and planets of our ever-expanding universe, to people of different tribes and languages, to families broken by the death of a loved one, to the unnatural gaps in the world like the divide between the rich and the poor.  He reminds us that we are all interconnected.

He is the head of the body, the Church.  He is the one from whom we take our example and our lead; the one who teaches us how to live; the one who gives us our mission and our meaning; the one who holds together our different gifts, our different passions, our different dreams.

He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead – a God of unimaginable power and possibility; the one who can break every bond that imprisons us, who can resurrect every area of our lives in which we have given up hope, who can open up opportunities for new ways of being and thinking and doing.

The fullness of God dwells in him that he may open our eyes to the fullness of life – to the rest and restoration of gentle rivers and green pastures, to the pressing and cleansing presence of his Spirit in our woundedness, to his comfort in the valleys so dark and full of shadows that we fear we will be lost in them forever.

He is the one who shed his blood on the cross that all things might be reconciled to him who with dying, tortured breath declared, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

This is who Jesus is. Worship him today as your King.

Yours in Christ
Yvonne 

Season of Creation Series

September saw a spectacular worship series unfolding in the Pilgrim sanctuary as we shared with many congregations of different denominations around the world in the Season of Creation.

Under the theme of “The Wisdom of Creation,” we traversed the rising oceans, marvelled at the abundance of plants and animals with whom we enjoy the world, were moved by the sounds of the storm to pray for rain at this time in our land*, wondered at our place in the cosmos, and counted our blessings with the animals – both up at Galore Hill in the wide open spaces and in a somewhat different, digital service at Pilgrim.

Each week, we shared through prayer and song in the groaning of the Earth and listened through Scripture to God’s hope for this very good creation. We were challenged by climate champions from all walks of life who are passionate about environmental justice and listened for ways in which we can each contribute toward a world in which all people, creatures and the Earth can flourish.

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On Friday, the 20th of September, we held an early morning love feast for the earth and some of our members participated in the Global Climate Strike in support of our youth and as an expression of our commitment to be part of Christ’s reconciling work for all creation.

A helpful resource for people looking to participate in the Season of Creation in September 2020 is the UnitingEarth website.

The Earth is precious to God.
May we protect and preserve it
until every creature finds perfect peace
in Christ.

Yours in Christ,
Yvonne

 

* The next day, as I conducted a funeral for a lifelong farmer in one of communities in the Southern Region, his family and friends were deeply moved by the rain falling constantly  on the open grave into which they had thrown handfuls of wheat.

 

 

Southern Region Gathering @ Galore

written by G. Thomas

On Sunday, 29 September, the Congregations within the Southern Region of the Uniting Church in Australia were invited to meet to celebrate the Season of Creation.

In highlighting God’s Creation, we met in the natural environment upon Galore Hill – a substantial geological feature on the plains near Lockhart.

The event was attended by our Rev Yvonne Ghavalas, and 38 members of various Worshiping Communities from Lockhart, Pilgrim (Wagga Wagga), and Henty-Culcairn.   Other denominations were also represented. Our ages ranged from very young to very senior !

The service saw our camping chairs circled around the improvised altar for prayer and praise with our music delivered by the modern creation of mobile phone and mini speakers.

Yvonne had posted illustrations of animals of God’s Creation in various places around the venue, each with a prayer composed by a child. We were sent to view these, singly or in two’s or three’s to view, reflect, and to make our own prayer offering for these creatures.

Yvonne then led us in reflecting on our place in the Creation story and concluded the service with Communion. 

We all shared lunch and conversation with sandwiches and BBQ sausages and the ambience of the natural environment.

As a person who can find connection with God much more meaningful in remote areas than in a people-constructed building, I found the occasion very uplifting.

This occasion for gathering together members of Southern Region Congregations was one of three that Presbytery plans to hold annually and was a great opportunity to spend time breaking bread and getting to know a little of each other and fostering the relationships that make each Congregation more effective. By encouraging others and by sharing ideas and alternative approaches to the achievement of Christ’s mission we grow individually and collectively.