Lectionary Text and Prayers for Australia: John 2:13-22
God, in our zeal for your "house", the Body of Christ around the world, we join with our brothers and sisters in Australia, who have suffered through devastating fires and are now in the process of healing and recovery. May you make your presence know to them as they seek you in prayer. And may we walk with them in solidarity this Sunday using this liturgy:
LIFE AFTER THE FIRES
WE ARE GATHERED
We are the people
who face life after the fires.
We are those whose lives
will never be quite the same again.
We are gathered here to grieve,
to claim the ground of our lives in a new way,
to support each other
and to be part of the creation of the future.
The Christ who has walked the way of human pain
will be with us here,
weeping within our tears
and holding us in love.
Let us remember this country as it was
and our lives as they were
before the fires.
Let us place our symbols here
in loving memory of our world as it was then,
when the greenness surrounded us
and the bush creatures and birds were our companions,
and life felt safe for us all:
The green cloth is spread down the aisle and the people place
The memories which they have placed on the cloth (see above).
This is the truth.
Our lives will never be quite the same again,
even though we will journey on together.
The stories have been shared
and yet no words or images
can ever really capture or express what we have lost.
While we play this quiet music,
let us grieve all those things which are no more,
which have been damaged,
or which will be a loss for us for some time to come.
Music is played
We will hold in love all that is gone from us
with respect, with honour, with tenderness and with grief.
We will gather its beauty into our good memories
to carry with us into the future.
Now, in the silence, let us reach out
to touch the heart of a God
who waits to comfort us.
A silence is kept
O God, as our Loving Parent,
we believe that you are with us now.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
O God, life is often so painfully ambiguous.
When tragedy strikes, we sometimes cannot help
but anxiously ask what we have done to deserve this.
We pray today that we will know with confidence
that you would never wish fires of destruction upon us.
Embrace us in ways which restore our faith
and which help us to live, in confidence,
with the awesome freedom of your creation
rather than imagining a punishing God.
Send us your Holy Spirit this day
with gifts of wisdom, healing and comfort, we pray.
We especially remember before you these people and situations:
The people pray
Show us ways of caring for all those who grieve and suffer, O God,
and open our lives to share what we have with those in need.
Renew us for the days to come,
that we may lift up our heads and begin again in hope.
This we pray in faith.
In the power of a loving God,
we will survive the future,
as we have the past,
and in the same spirit with which we faced the fires.
A song could be sung, a poem read
In a silent moment,
let us bring to mind what we see among us
which will carry us forward in faith:
A silence is kept
Now let us take these green leaves (or flowers),
name what we see among us for our future survival and strength
and place them over the symbols of our past.
Let us place them gently
as a covering of peace over that which we have lost.
Let us place them in confidence as signs of the renewing of our life.
The people do so
LET US GO OUT
As the bush springs green again,
restoring its beauty to us as a gift,
as the seeds are broken open by the fire
for the beginning of new life,
and as we bring together all that is among us
for the future in this place:
let us go from here,
stronger than when we came,
holding on to those who have lost the most,
ready for all that is to come
and walking firmly into a new day.
Let us go in courage, hope and peace,
surrounded by the love of God.
And may the God who never leaves us nor forsakes us be with us,
the Christ, who wept for the loss of a friend, walk before us
and the Holy Spirit heal us and bring us a new dream.
With love and prayers from Dorothy McRae-McMahon
For other information and resources on the fires in Australia, click here: http://globalministries.org/news/eap/australia-black-sat-ash-weds.html
Global Ministries International Partners:
Churches of Christ in Australia: committed to making the love of God known to the world as revealed through Jesus Christ http://cofcaustralia.org/cofc-cms/
Uniting Church in Australia: providing a witness for social justice and multi-cultural expression in Australia's diverse population http://www.uca.org.au/
Churches of Christ Theological College: celebrating 100 years of ministerial education http://www.cctc.edu.au
Global Ministries Missionaries:
None at the present time