Category Archives: Resources

Resource: Being actively and ecologically responsible

The Season of Creation in the month of September

With Love to the World is a locally-produced resource which provides short commentaries on the biblical passages offered in the Revised Common Lectionary, which is used by mainstream denominations of the Christian church around the world. The four passages offered each week are read in worship and one or more of them usually form the basis for the sermon in that service of worship. The publication seeks to prepare people to think about the passages in the week before they hear them in Sunday worship.

The next issue of With Love to the World will contain material submitted by a group of contributors who have been working with the usual four lectionary passages, but also with an additional three biblical texts which feed into the overall theme of Creation. These passages have been chosen because this theme is the focus for the month of September each year in churches around the world.

This year, the Creation theme has been expanded to include, not only the four Sundays of September, but also the weeks around September, from Pentecost 11 (in mid August) through to Pentecost 23, just before the festival of the Reign of Christ brings the church year to an end in November.

As a complement to the four passages offered each week from the Revised Common Lectionary (Hebrew Scripture, Psalm, Epistle, and Gospel), a further three passages are included in each week’s selection of seven passages for reading and reflection. These additional three passages are all drawn from Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). These scriptures have their origins in a culture and society which was closely connected to the land, where people lived in harmony with the annual cycle of agricultural seasons. Their intimate knowledge of land, sea, and sky is reflected in the understanding of animals, fish, and birds, and in the knowledge of “events of nature”.

This extended Season of Creation issue of With Love to the World is intended to assist readers to grapple with how their lifestyle and their personal practices cohere with the need to respect the creation and to live a life that lessens their carbon footprint. Scripture encourages and challenges us in this regard. The series of passages through the 13 weeks are intended to build a strong understanding of God’s love for the creation, and God’s expectation that people of faith will live with ecological responsibility.

The 14 contributors are theologically-astute, environmentally-active people from five states across the continent, who have written thoughtful and informed commentaries on the passages for the week. The issue begins with a reflection on the creation story of Genesis 1 from a First Peoples perspective. Each week, a different writer invites us to consider how scripture informs our discipleship and can shape our environmental awareness and action.

If you are looking for a way to focus your thinking on how to live in harmony with the whole creation, and deepen your discipleship practices of sustainability and environmental responsibility, through a daily reflection on a scripture passage—why not subscribe to With Love to the World?

With Love to the World can be ordered as a printed resource for just $24 for a year’s subscription (see http://www.withlovetotheworld.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Ordering-and-paying-for-Website-7.vii_.2020.pdf) or it can be accessed on phones and iPads via an App, for a subscription of $24.49 per year (go to the App Store or Google Play). For subscription enquiries, contact Trevor Naylor on 02 9747 1369 or wlwuca@bigpond.com

For a discussion of the biblical passages used in the Creation 2022 issue, see https://johntsquires.com/2022/05/29/the-season-of-creation-in-with-love-to-the-world/

John Squires, Editor  0408 024 642

editorwlw@bigpond.com

http://www.withlovetotheworld.org.au

oOo

 

A Progressive Easter Liturgy – Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson

Easter Liturgy

[Power Point images]     Easter 2022

Quiet music

 

PP     The God of Easter – Introduction

What on earth can we do with Easter?  What can progressive Christians say about the story of Easter?  Looking at it from any angle the church presents, brings us face to face with traditional creeds and doctrines.  It’s not for nothing that Easter liturgies are the central observances of the church.  Everything the church traditionally believes about Jesus as Christ the Saviour, is based on beliefs originating from the events of Easter – as set out in the gospels.

But before the gospels, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul passed on a formula – that according to the scriptures (what else but the Hebrew Scriptures – the Old Testament) “Christ died for our sins.”  Also that “he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”   Problem is, none of that appears in the Hebrew scriptures.

But Paul then includes a list of people to whom he says Christ had appeared, including, last of all, to himself.  Paul had clearly never heard the story of the crucifixion itself, or a story of an empty tomb.  He doesn’t mention them. But that’s understandable.  That story was not written until decades after Paul died.

It’s the story of Easter that brings Paul’s writings into focus.  The problem was that Paul wrote like a philosopher writing a treatise.  So it’s fair to say that without the story of Easter as told by gospel writers, there’d be no such thing as the religion called Christianity.

The Easter story was told first by the gospel writer Mark, based on Paul’s writings.  Mark’s work then, is the foundational document for Easter.  Other gospel writers took from him events as he outlined them (some historical, some not), put their own spin on them, and reached similar yet differing conclusions.   For that reason, we’ll refer to parts of Mark’s Easter story – from Palm Sunday, to Good Friday, to Easter Saturday, to Easter Day.  Even so, it won’t surprise you that this will not be a traditional Easter liturgy.

I would imagine that from childhood, most of us have memories of Easter – rituals, music, readings, imagery – from Palm Sunday through Holy Week, to Good Friday and then to Easter Day.  Those kinds of memories have shaped Christian understandings of Jesus.

Perhaps surprisingly though, Easter is not just about Jesus.  Equally, perhaps even more so, it raises questions about God.  What ideas about God are behind the traditional Easter events?  There’ll be opportunity to talk about that later this afternoon.  But we’ll proceed through this liturgy with an essential question in mind: Who was the God of Easter for Jesus?

No doubt Jesus knew he risked horrific death – if he promoted ideas opposed to the godship of Caesar.  And that’s precisely what his teaching is about – overturning the power of top-down hierarchical society and giving first place to the poor and downtrodden.     On the other hand, Paul’s proclamation of Jesus as the Saviour Christ was primarily concerned with the resurrection of the dead ‘in Christ’ – meaning life after death – a far safer topic in the Roman empire!

Jesus was in a very different situation from Paul’s.  From his entry into Jerusalem until his execution, Jesus travelled a dark and dangerous road.  Our question is: what kind of God did he believe went with him?

Relying on Paul, the church traditionally says it was the God who orchestrated the whole thing – who gave Jesus no choice but to go on to an agonizing death – so he could be raised from death and everyone would know he was the Christ, the literal Son of God – eventually to be known as the second person of the triune God.

So what?  What good would that do for the people of planet Earth?  Certainly not much at all, for non-believers in Christ the Saviour.   From its earliest time the church was interested only in people who agreed with its teaching about Jesus as the Christ.  The reward for those people would be a visa for heaven.  For everyone else – the church offered nothing – except perhaps, hell and damnation.   Paul’s writings include nothing about Jesus’ message of love for the world, only Paul’s focus on the death and resurrection of ‘Christ’.  The climax of the gospels is also the resurrection of Christ, not Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of heaven on earth.

So Easter was always guaranteed to be an exclusive Christian thing – excluding the majority of earth’s people.  What kind of God would preside over that?

PP     Dark Journey

Let’s be reminded now of the gathering darkness into which Jesus walked.  He went into Jerusalem with friends, but essentially he walked only with his God.

Audio – Vivaldi’s Adagio Molto.

(Green cloth on table, with leafy branches and little wooden donkey)

PP     Palm Sunday – what was Jesus’ motivation?

Mark 11: 7-10: Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.  Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

What happened to the palms?  Mark just calls them ‘leafy branches’.  Never mind.  Whether Jesus arrived in Jerusalem at Passover time or months before that, at the time of the Festival of Booths, when palm branches are waved, is nowhere near as important as why he went to Jerusalem in the first place.  After all, he was entering the lions’ den – the jurisdiction of the Temple leadership.  Most importantly, he was walking into the seat of Roman power in Judea.  So what was he doing there?  What did he bring with him that was worth risking death?  Not just any death, but the worst kind of death depraved Roman authorities could dream up.

Jesus’ motivation must surely have stemmed from the kind of God he had come to know throughout his life.  In everything we know about Jesus of Nazareth, and in everything we know of what he taught, lie the clues to his motivation on what we call Palm Sunday.   Quite simply, Jesus stood up and spoke out of love for humanity, on behalf of God, whom he had come to recognise as Love.   He did it for love.  He inspired countless people to do likewise.

Let’s consider four of those who have followed Jesus into dangerous places.  They knew what Jesus was doing two thousand years ago.  They loved the kind of God he loved.   Each in their own way, they followed Jesus to the utmost.

PP     Bonhoeffer – ‘we are not to simply bandage the wounds’

First, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who tried to rid the world of Adolf Hitler.  Bonhoeffer did not just feel sorry for people hounded to death by the Nazis.  He tried to do something to end the suffering.  Attempting to assassinate Hitler put Bonhoeffer in harm’s way.  He was hanged by Gestapo thugs.  He knew that could happen.  He did it for love.

PP     Kayla Mueller – God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine

Second, Kayla Mueller.  Young Kayla left her home in the US to become a human rights worker.  In 2012 she went to Syria with an organisation called ‘Support for life’.  She was captured by IS.  After reportedly undergoing unspeakable atrocities for over two years, Kayla’s body was found.  She was only 27.  Her motivation for going there?  In a letter to her father, she said, “Some people find God in church.  I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine.”  She did it for love.

 

PP     Martin Luther King – ‘everything Hitler did in Germany was legal’

And third, Martin Luther King.  King knew he put thorns in the side of the establishment when he stood up for the human rights of black Americans.  He opposed laws that unjustly favoured white Americans.  He endured prison, danger, dreadful insults, and eventually death, at the hands of hatred.  But let’s remember that he did it for love of white people too – that they would find their best non-violent selves when the option of violence was removed from the civil rights movement.  He followed the non-violent teachings of Jesus.  He did it for love.

PP     Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Oscar Romero was Archbishop of El Salvador (in Spanish, “The Republic of the Saviour”).  He crusaded boldly against social inequality and atrocities perpetuated by the state, and was a marked man.  On the night of March 25th, 1980 (38 years ago last night), Archbishop Romero was standing at the altar in a hospital chapel when a gunman broke in and shot him dead.  No one has ever been prosecuted, the assassin having been an agent of the state.  Oscar Romero did what he did out of love.

PP     Seats of power

Seats of unjust power were not confined only to ancient times – they are all around us even now.  Take a moment of silence to consider what it means to follow Jesus’ example in our age.

(removal of the green cloth, and placement of cross on black cloth) 

PP     Good Friday – why did Jesus risk this?

Mark 16: 20-24: After mocking Jesus, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him out to crucify him.

The multiple crosses in this image are deliberate.  They remind us that Jesus’ execution was not unique.  Thousands of unfortunates were nailed or tied to pieces of rough timber until they died.  This was standard practice in the Roman empire if the authorities believed someone was opposed to the power of Rome.  Jesus would have known exactly how crucifixion was done and how dreadfully and slowly the victims died.  After all, he came from the Galilee where many rebels against Roman brutality and injustice originated.  They advocated the violent way of trying to overcome the Roman occupation.  There can be little doubt that some people he actually knew were crucified on roadsides, in full view of the passing public.

The difference was that Jesus resisted the power of Rome through non-violence – for love he recognised as God.   All the same, in the end he was slowly and agonizingly crucified until his life went out of him.

 PP     He has died –

Audio – Solemn bell tolls 6 times

PPx2 ‘Jesus, you hang upon a cross’ by Shirley Erena Murray

Recommended tune: St Columba TiS523

Let’s remain seated as we sing

 PP     We remember Jesus’ courageous faith.

We remember Jesus’ courageous faith in the goodness of God, and in the goodness of humanity.

All: We remember him.

PP     In Memoriam –

In your own time, you are invited to take your sprig of rosemary or your flower, and come forward to place it by the cross, in loving memory of Jesus and his love for all people, not just for those who believe in Christ the Saviour.

(Audio – My silent cry’– violin music – until all have sat down).

PP     Easter Saturday – where was Jesus’ God?

Where was the God Jesus loved, when the devastated, grieving friends gathered together for comfort and strength, on the dark day following Jesus’ death?  Did Jesus’ entreaties/searching question of God just prior to his passing continue to resound in their heads?  Had God forsaken them?  Did God evaporate with the death of their beloved teacher, guide and friend?  Where was the God Jesus loved in the darkness of their sorrow and despair, borne of the injustice they witnessed and their apparently broken dreams?  But in that time of friends gathering together perhaps they reflected on Jesus’ teaching and ministry; reminding them of the nature of God; bringing them some comfort and strength.    Silence (1 min)

PP     This day is the between time

This day is the between time – the dark time between death and new life.

Between what is gone and what is to come,

Between despair and hope.

Between the seed planted and the seed springing up.

Can we claim that hope in our own dark times?

Let’s sing about our fears for the world as it is now, its flooded towns and war, and our hope as followers of Jesus.

PP x 5  ‘We lay our broken world’  by Anna Briggs 

Recommended tune: Carlisle TiS234

PP     Walking into the light

When did the darkness begin to lift for Jesus’ friends and first followers?  Was it after one day, or two?  Or after a month, or a year?   Mark’s story says it was on the third day after the crucifixion.

Mark 16: 1-8: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here.  Look, there is the place they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”  So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.

We don’t know how long it took the followers to realise something vital – something absolutely vital – for their own future, and for the future of the teaching for which Jesus had died.  Something woke them from their despairing sleep.  Something encouraged them get up and start walking – out of the devastation and hopelessness into a new future as followers of Jesus.  What was that something?  We can only think it was their growing awareness that what Jesus had given them lived on!  That it was indestructible!

His body no doubt was lost in the dust of Jerusalem, along with other victims of crucifixion.  But his message lived on!

And so they began to walk and talk again – as he had taught them.  At first they walked slowly and hesitantly, aware that what they were doing placed them in very great danger.  But they went on.  They walked with the God Jesus loved.  They carried his message to the world.

The music we will hear now, called Psalmus Ode, is in Latin.  It asks God to be with those who are walking slowly – in despair or danger.

(Audio – Psalmus Ode – first 2:30 mins)

(removal of black cloth and cross, and placement of candle on white cloth)

 PP     Easter Day – a day of rejoicing.  Did Jesus’ God rejoice?

Easter bells – audio

And so, into the light.  Traditionally, this is the day when Christians rejoice.  Everyone remembers singing ‘Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son.  Endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.’  Again, this is a Christians-only celebration.  Not for anyone else – not for Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus, or Buddhists or people of no religion.  Again, we must ask whether God would rejoice in the reasons traditionally given for celebration on Easter Day.  We have considered the new beginning that gradually dawned on Jesus’ original followers.  But the church has called it an immediate ‘victory over death’, teaching that Jesus himself returned to life on earth, before going ‘up’ to heaven.   Whichever way we may see that story of what is known as the resurrection, again there is a concentration on life after death for believers in Christ the Saviour.  That comes ahead of and often in place of, Jesus’ determination to make life on earth for all people, the best it can be.  To accomplish that, Jesus had a message for everyone.

PP     Jesus told the world

Jesus told the world what the world thought unbelievable – that God is kind, humble, compassionate, forgiving, just, non-violent, peaceful, faithful and enduring.

Jesus discovered that the God of what we call Easter has a name –

that name is Love.

PP     Where does this leave us?

Is it time for seeds of loving action to gather their strength?

Is it time for taking hold of love and walking the talk?

We will pray this three-part prayer together.

PP     Spirit of life

Spirit of life, we are thankful for the earth and sky,

For all that sustains and nourishes us on this planet.

PP     Spirit of peace

Spirit of peace, we are grateful for inner stillness and times of thoughtful reflection that nurture and shape us.

 PP     Spirit who is love

Spirit who is Love, we are grateful for Jesus, who spoke words of love and lived the way of compassion.

He showed us how to challenge the forces of evil.

PP     We light this candle in gratitude for Jesus

Candle is lit in silence.

Silence (1 min) 

PPx3 God is love, let heaven adore him.  Tune: Abbot’s Leigh

This is one of the few hymns that actually states: ‘God is love’.

So it’s a natural.  It’s one of the best Easter Day hymns we could sing.

Let’s all stand and sing it!

PPx4 Blessing for Easter

A blessing for Easter.

(PP = powerpoint slides)

________________________________________________________________

As author of this liturgy I give permission for it to be used by groups to make available a meaningful observance of Easter

for non-traditional/progressive  Christians.

I cannot share the powerpoint slides as some of the images are subject to copyright.  That applies also to words of hymns indicated in the script and to the words of a poem that I have read as a Blessing for Easter.

Other blessings can be substituted.

Lorraine Parkinson, April 2022

oOo

         

Initial responses: Values driving youth

SOME EARLY FEEDBACK

The emerging responses to our request for material and survey show youth values falling into the following categories (maybe they are similar for many adults):

Relationships – with friends, family, work place people, teachers and include openness, trust, generosity, caring, openness.

Social – relating to the rest of the world – justice, freedom, respect, community, responsibility. abuse of power, discrimination, greed, current generation leaving for future generations

Young people are saying they want more – empathy, love, respect, loyalty of friends, and honesty.

They are already actively applying their values through social media.

Older youth are wanting to be treated like adults. They are looking for a purpose in life with males and females thinking differently. Males more than females are seeking wealth. Females more than males are seeking to make a contribution to society.

The Mission Australia annual survey of 20,207 15 to 19 year olds in 2021 gave the following overview:

As in previous years, responses to the Youth Survey 2021 reveal that, in general, young females have more heightened concerns than young males about some issues and were more likely to
experience certain negative outcomes. This includes in areas such as confidence in achieving study or work goals and barriers to achieving their goals, concerns about coping with stress, mental health and body image, and unfair treatment due to gender. The experiences
and concerns of gender diverse young people were even more heightened in relation to all of these and additional areas.

While the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were connected to education, valued their family and friends and felt positive about the future, they also reported more and deeper challenges than their non-Indigenous peers, including being less likely to
feel happy or very happy with their lives. Particularly concerning is the higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents who reported having been treated unfairly in the past year compared with non-Indigenous respondents (47.1% compared
with 33.6% of non-Indigenous respondents). Half (52.5%) of those who had been treated unfairly said the reason was race/cultural background.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young females had more heightened concerns and were more likely to experience negative outcomes in a number of areas than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young males, including concerns about mental health and related issues. Of particular concern, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female respondents
experienced comparatively low levels of happiness and comparatively high levels of stress.
The marked differences based on gender and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status indicate that policy and service responses to the issues and concerns raised in the Youth Survey need a nuanced approach. The inclusion of data for gender diverse young people this year has
highlighted some particular challenges for this group.

These findings remind us that diversity has to be specifically recognised and included in the development of strategies, programs and policies for young people. It is incumbent on us all – governments, health professionals, community services, businesses, schools, members of the
community – to create welcoming environments that are responsive to the needs of all young people, whatever their background and circumstances. Young people need to be at the centre of policy and service design and development, to bring their unique perspective to bear on issues that affect them and on the development of solutions.

Most important issues:
COVID-19 45.7%
The environment 38.0%
Equity and discrimination 35.4%

Full report of Mission Australia Survey.

Please keep your input to this project coming and thanks for finding time for this.

Paul Inglis

oOo

A Progressive Worship Resource for Season of Creation

George Stuart has kindly made available to us a suggested liturgy, also leadership notes with biblical commentary as well as notes for the leader to follow when preparing, etc. We appreciate his ever generous gifting of his work and can expect more. This time the material is aimed at use on Humanity Sunday and he is working on further Season of Creation resources (September – October) including for Animal Sunday, Cosmos Sunday, and a few others.

Humanity Sunday – For leaders of the church service

These Sundays are Season of Creation Sundays, so, each different aspect of creation is the focus of each Church Service.  This Humanity Sunday gives the church a golden opportunity to celebrate the mysterious wonder and the beauty of humanity.  It is also important to take this opportunity to confront the challenges and responsibilities that fall on all humanity regarding our fragile and threatened environment.

Aims and objectives

 Main Aim.  To engender a sense of awe and amazement of humanity, to celebrate the complex unity as well as the potential of human beings and then to be thankful.

Other important aims are,

  1. To explore what ‘dominion’ and ‘made in God’s image’ mean, in the context of the Genesis readings, and in doing so, compare the 2 creations stories in Genesis.
  2. To prompt reflection on the different ways of living within our fragile environment.
  3. To acknowledge the godly dimension of all that is.
  4. To significantly discern the gospel’s Good News for the day.

Resources offered   (The leader is encouraged to choose from these resources and use them.)

  1. Background reading and commentaries on Bible readings.

 Quotations from Bible commentaries are included because, with more lay people conducting church services, they would probably not have the private theological libraries that many clergy have.

 Thoughts and information about the human being.

Background reading, some of which is used in the suggested liturgy.  Choose what you wish.

  1. Suggestions for congregational participation.

Dialogues, individual contributions, and a children’s game are all included in the suggested liturgy.

  1. Lyrics to traditional hymn tunes.

4 of my sets of original lyrics are used in the suggested liturgy.   Norman Habel has also written many lyrics that could be used. Some of these can be accessed in the Seasons of Creation services, on the internet. http://seasonsofcreation.org/

  1. Prayers and Prayer suggestions.

A Creation Prayer, and suggestions for other prayers are included in the suggested liturgy.

  1. A suggested liturgy.  

The suggested liturgy below takes about 45 minutes, which includes time for congregational participation, the children’s game and Prayers of the People, etc.  It is suggested that, without interrupting the flow of the service, short commentaries could be given, to explain some of the Bible readings.  The dramatized reading in the liturgy below has been taken from the Uniting Church’s Seasons of Creation services, on the internet.  My suggested liturgy follows the lead of the services on the internet, by giving opportunity for members of the congregation to participate, and by having dialogues and the dramatized reading.  Doing something a little different!

 Resources detailed

Continue reading

REVIVING LITURGY WITH THE SENSUOUS TEXTURES OF LANDSCAPE…

A (Zoom) Presentation to a Group in Melbourne

from Rev Rex Hunt

Also available at https://www.rexaehuntprogressive.com/articles_collection/reviving-liturgy-beyond.html

BONEY AND SPINDLY! REVIVING LITURGY WITH THE SENSUOUS TEXTURES OF LANDSCAPE…

I have learnt much about liturgy from my three young grand children.

And wisdom from poets, among them being

Mary Oliver (1935–2019), Dennis McCarty, Catherine de Vinck,

and the Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue (1956–2008).

 

Take any three year old for a walk, say… along a beach or bush track.

Don’t plan to be in a hurry.

 

Every twig or seashell.

Every muddy pool of water.

Every minnow, dragon fly, or small lizard to cross your path

will be an occasion for closer ‘looking’ and ‘excitement’ and ‘wonder’.

Children intuitively apprehend the truth that we are all part of nature.

 

So following the ‘advice for living’ from Mary Oliver…

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

Such attention and experience comes from being immersed in what is,

and seeing the overlooked.

Such attention is scientifically informed.

Such attention is what helps shape good liturgy.

 

As natural beings among diverse other natural beings, we humans are at home in nature.

Not long home from post graduate studies in Germany—the year was 1931—

and still shaping his ‘mystical naturalism’, theologian Bernard Meland (1899–1993) wrote:

“Have you ever communed in the first person with this total wealth of living life about                             you? Have you ever stood with awe and wonder before the unbounded totality of all reality—this ongoing process we call the universe, feeling your own intimacy with all                               its life, thrilling with the realisation of the magnitude of that relationship, relating you to all the world’s life, past, present and future? If you have, you have experienced first- hand religion.” (Meland 1931:665; Meland 1934:234)

Meland suggests the natural world has the capacity to inspire a response,

an expression of our awe of nature, of our attraction to the mystery of existence,

to something intangible, called ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ from humans.

He was also highly critical of religion that fostered

a sense of strangeness toward the natural world.

Continue reading

Reflecting in Song on COP26

“Blue Planet, Rising, Soaring through the Cosmos” (Tune: ‘Londonderry Air’, 11.10.11.10.11.10.11.12)

by Andrew Pratt See Hymns for our Planet

Blue planet, rising, soaring through the cosmos,

was lent in trust for us to tend and care

while children, young in wisdom, call in anguish,

for all they see now fills them with despair.

The wonder of the sky has drawn us upwards,

our eyes diverted by the moon and stars,

and as we dream we lose our moral compass,

and in our greed we grasp creation, call it ours.

 

Time runs away, our life on earth is finite,

young prophets calling, needing us to act

are crying out, lamenting for our planet,

while ‘adults’ sleep, denying fear and fact.

Still others stand, immune, ignore the future,

absolved from fault for all that comes to pass.

When will we grasp the need for urgent action,

see clearly, not net curtained, or through frosted glass?

 

While sands of time run down, are gone and finished,

in fear of change we hanker for the past,

but life on earth is threatened by inaction,

as lethargy and greed resist and last.

Good God forgive us for each fault and faction,

unwillingness to change to save this earth.

God give us ears to hear the words of wisdom

that we might save this planet, cradle of our birth.

(Andrew Pratt 29/10/2021 – Responding to Greta Thunberg ahead of and following COP 26)

Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.

oOo

 

A conversation about a progressive communion event

One of our subscribers, Karel Reus, is on a quest for progressive expressions in liturgy. Recently he has put together an introduction to the The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (see “Approaching the Eucharist” below), and is wondering if a conversation is possible between like-minded progressive liturgists.

Please make suggestions, offer ideas, ask questions or give a personal opinion. We do have the work of Rex Hunt, see When Progressives Gather Together (2016) or William L. Wallace’s Sacred Mass, the Salt of the Earth Liturgy from St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC, the thoughts of T.Mark Dove in his Communion Invitation, or that including children by Ana Gobbledale, but your thoughts are as valuable as any, so please help Karel (and others) in his quest.

Approaching the Eucharist by Karel Reus

Pay attention, my friends!

Come with me!

We enter a darkened room –

just oil and candle light

and shadows.

A dozen or so homeless itinerant men

in a rented or borrowed apartment.

They sit on the floor –

cross-legged on threadbare rugs –

and the odd cushion.

The seder meal is laid out before them,

matzos, bitter herbs, taking pride of place,

and bread, no doubt,

and wine, for sure –

laid out by the women;

the invisible women out in the kitchen

sharing secret women’s business,

while the blokes share stories and yarns

about their travels,

and events along the way -88

and they also share the bitter herbs

of Passover – remembering –

while together they intone:

She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad.

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One

Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.

Impress them upon your children.

Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.

Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Take note!

Their teacher, their rabbi, leans in.

There is something on his mind:

you can see it written on his face –

then with right hand only he deftly tears the bread

and lifts the piece.

We have it on good authority, by way of St Paul:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The bread is broken and lifted up

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’

The rabbi leans in again –

this time to raise a cup –

no chalice this, but common-or-garden kitchenware,

infused by his words:

The cup is raised

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

and Paul sums it up for all the ages:

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

No record is kept.

No one takes notes.

No motions are moved,

but they know that the earth has moved;

that the rabbi has set something in motion of immense importance,

and we watch and obey and remember.

The atmosphere has changed

as the contest of life with death plays out before them

and a tangible sense of betrayal

hangs in the air.

Rabbi Yeshua feels the walls closing in – tomblike;

he longs for fresh air and he suggests a walk in the garden….

With the benefit of hindsight, we know he will not return – in the flesh, that is.

oOo

The Updated 8 Points of Progressive Christianity

Note: Progressive Christianity is inherently always evolving and progressing. Please take these lightly but seriously. They are not dogma, they are simply a starting point to establish conversations and a foundation of values and beliefs that we have observed Progressive Christians generally share. It’s ok if you don’t agree with all the words or all the parts. We support your authentic path. You can use these in your faith communities and with family and friends to talk about what it means to you to be a Progressive Christian in today’s world. Here is to always progressing!

[from ProgressiveChristianity.com 2020, co-created with Progressive Christian pastors, theologians, scholars and visionaries]

By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who…

1. Believe that following the path of the teacher Jesus can lead to healing and wholeness, a mystical connection to “God,” as well as an awareness and experience of not only the Sacred, but the Oneness and Unity of all life;

2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience “God,” the Sacredness, Oneness and Unity of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom, including Earth, in our spiritual journey;

3. Seek and create community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:

Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
Believers and agnostics,
Those of all races, cultures, and nationalities
Those of all sexual orientations and all gender identities,
Those of all classes and abilities,
Those historically marginalized,
All creatures and plant life;

4. Know that the way we behave towards one another and Earth is the fullest expression of what we believe, therefore we vow to walk as Jesus might have walked in this world with radical compassion, inclusion, and bravery to confront and positively change the injustices we experience as well as those we see others experiencing;

5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning with an open mind and open heart, than in absolutes or dogma;

6. Work toward peace and justice among all people and all life on Earth;

7. Protect and restore the integrity of our Earth and all of Creation;

8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love on this journey toward a personally authentic and meaningful faith.

oOo

Kairos for Creation

Kairos for Creation – Confessing Hope for the Earth
The Wuppertal Call


If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their
sin and heal their land
” – 2 Chron. 7:14.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is
here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us
the ministry of reconciliation
” – 2 Cor. 5:17-18
Preamble
From 16 to 19 June 2019, 52 participants from 22 countries and from different confessional and faith traditions gathered in Wuppertal, Germany for a conference entitled “Together towards eco-theologies, ethics of sustainability and eco-friendly churches”.

In Wuppertal we were reminded of the courageous confession of faith articulated in the Barmen Declaration (1934) against the totalitarian, inhuman and racist ideology of the time. Barmen continues to encourage us today for “a joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free grateful service to his creatures” (Barmen 2).
We shared stories from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania. We heard the cries of the earth, the cries of people vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially children and the elderly, the cries of youth demanding intergenerational justice and the concerns of experts over current trends.
We recognize the urgency of the years that lie ahead, nevertheless express the courage to hope and are compelled to call the global ecumenical movement towards a comprehensive ecological transformation of society.

Kairos: A decisive turn in the pilgrimage of justice and peace
The ecumenical movement has long committed itself to a pilgrimage towards justice, peace and the integrity of creation. These goals will require urgent steps on the road ahead. The urgency of the crisis calls us to read the signs of the time, to hear God’s call, to follow the way of Christ, to discern the movement of the Spirit and, in response, to recognize the positive initiatives of churches all around the world.
The symptoms of the crisis touch on all the building blocks of life and are there for all to see:
• Fresh water is contaminated; glaciers are melting; oceans are polluted with plastics and are becoming acidic so that corals reefs are bleached (water).
• Land is degraded through unsustainable agriculture and unhealthy eating habits, extractive economies ruled by global financial powers, deforestation, desertification and soil erosion;
animals are groaning and creatures are being genetically modified; fish populations are
depleted; habitat loss leads to the unprecedented loss of biodiversity (earth). Both the land and the health of people are being poisoned by industrial, agricultural, municipal and nuclear forms of waste and by pesticides and chemicals. An increasing number of people is forced to migrate and to become climate refugees.
• Global carbon emissions are still increasing, greenhouse gases are accumulating in the
atmosphere and climates are disrupted (air).
• It is the still increasing use of energy from fossil fuels that is driving such changes (fire). The delicate systems of balances in creation has been disturbed to an unprecedented extent in the Anthropocene. We have transgressed planetary boundaries. The earth seems no longer able to heal itself. Creatures are groaning in travail (Rom. 8:22).

For the full statement go to: Kairos for Creation

oOo

Centre for Radical Christianity

CRCOnline

CRCOnline provides theological, liturgical and spiritual resources for anyone who wants to live with the questions rather than being told definitive answers; be rooted in the life, work and radical values of Jesus of Nazareth; celebrate the diversity of the Jesus community and engage with issues using the discourses of the contemporary world.

Explore the latest resources below and browse/search all resources using the menus. Find the resources that suit you: from prayers and spiritual reflections to in-depth theological articles, sermons to book reviews, media links to liturgies.

CRC was established in 2003 and based at St Mark’s Church Broomhill, Sheffield, UK. Its purpose was to explore the meaning of the Christian faith in the 21st century and to offer a fresh vision of an open and inclusive church, unafraid to ask the big questions.

St Mark’s CRC was committed to:

  • living with questions rather than finding answers
  • being rooted in Jesus of Nazareth
  • including and celebrating diversity in the community of Christ
  • engaging with issues using the discourses of the contemporary world.

CRCOnline promises to carry on exploring, commending and understanding the Christian faith and living in this spirit, engaging in critical yet creative dialogue between a living tradition reaching back to Jesus and the challenges and opportunities of our contemporary world, with the aim of helping people understand more what being followers of Jesus means today.

Go to: CRCOnline to examine the Resources around – Mysticism and Contemporary Spirituality, Embracing the Other (Jesus inclusivity), Eucharistic Prayers, Easter and Epidemics, Heaven is a Hologram, Prayers in time of Pandemic, etc.

oOo