Tano and Eli light the Easter candle, Eden Garden, SSUC, 2022.
Photo: Anne Camac
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Tano and Eli light the Easter candle, Eden Garden, SSUC, 2022.
Photo: Anne Camac
Moses foreshadowed this day when he said:
God blessed the seventh day.
This is the blessed Sabbath.
This is the day of rest,
on which the Only Begotten rested …
(Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday)
‘I he kei tāu pe ‘a Sīsū,
‘I hono kolosi;
‘O feinga pani efua;
Mo e ta‘ata‘a.
Na‘a ne kumi au
‘E Sīsū ‘i he ‘akau
Pea kuo ne hanga ‘o ‘ilo
‘I he mata ‘o e tao.
Hangē, na‘e ‘iate au,
Ka na‘e ‘ikai si‘i lea,
Ka na‘e ‘asi mai.
Ko ho huhu‘i mo‘oni,
‘A hoku toto ni;
Pea ‘oku ou mate ni;
Ke ke mo‘ui ai.
Sīsū, ‘oku pehe ni fau,
‘A e ‘ofa ‘ahai?
Koe‘uhi, k eke mate,
Ke mau mo‘ui ai!
Ko eni, ‘Eiki k eke ma‘u,
‘A e hia ko au;
Ko ho tamaio‘eiki au,
Pea fai ma‘u ai pē.
Let us acknowledge the sovereign and unceded lands and waters
of First Nations peoples …
Placing the sticks from Gadigal land
and using the chat function to acknowledge Country …
God who sees all there is,
you understand us most deeply.
We cherish, then, at a deep level
what our baptism means.
Keep us close to Christ
who bears good news
We hear seven readings (four from scripture and three contemporary) … allowing time between the readings … for silence … perhaps to offer a silent prayer (in honour of a loved one who has recently died), to lament or confess …
One who is born of human parents
has a short life full of troubles.
It blossoms like a flower and quickly withers;
it flees like a shadow, and disappears.
Why do you now bring your gaze upon it,
and bring it into judgement with yourself?
Who can make the unclean clean?
You created humankind with numbered days;
our months are predetermined
because you set the bounds on our time.
Take your eyes off me, give me some space,
so that, like the day worker, we can complete our task.
Trees always have hope; once felled,
there is the chance of a new sprout with tender shoots.
Even with the root rotting underground
and a withered stump half alive,
yet it will bud at the scent of water,
and put out branches like a new plant.
But people die and decompose;
once dead, where are they?
As water evaporates from the sea,
and rivers go dry during drought,
so humans lie down and never rise again.
Until the heavens are no more,
they won’t awake or be roused from their sleep.
If only you would hide me among the dead,
and conceal me until your rage cools down –
then set a time to remember me again!
When people die, will they ever live again?
All the days of my struggle I wait for my release.
In you, Adonai, I took refuge;
never let me be disgraced!
In your justice, deliver me!
Turn your ear to me!
Hurry! Rescue me!
Be the rock I hide behind,
be the walled fortress that saves me!
Because you are my rock, my fortress,
and for the sake of your Name,
lead me, guide me!
Pull me out of the trap they set for me,
for you are my refuge!
My times are in your hand,
save me from the hands of my enemies and persecutors.
Smile on your faithful one,
save me in your love!
Remind yourselves of what Christ suffered while among us, and equip yourselves with a similar attitude. For if you suffer in the body, you have broken with sin and, as a result, you won’t spend the rest of your life on human desires, but on the will of God. You dallied long enough in the past, living the kind of life some Gentiles choose: licentious living, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and following false gods. In all this, they consider it odd when you don’t leap into the same flood of dissipation, and they slander you. But they will eventually answer for it before the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. This explains why the Gospel was preached also to the dead – that though judged in the flesh like the rest of humankind, they might live for God in the Spirit.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, let your love for one another be constant, for love covers a multitude of sins.
… Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus – but a secret one, for fear of the Temple authorities – asked Pilate for permission to remove the body of Jesus, and Pilate granted it. So Joseph came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus by night – and he brought about one hundred pounds of spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the Jewish burial custom.
There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb where no one had ever been buried. Since it was the day before the Sabbath and the tomb was nearby, they buried Jesus there.
Tongan hymn …
5. Sarah Ferguson, ‘I left Ukraine in silence – leaving a country and people in dire distress’, Four Corners, ABC, March 28, 2022.
The old people all talk at once. They have been sheltering in basements for days and have fled today with just the clothes they are wearing. For many, their whole lives are contained in the apartments they have abandoned. One old lady is overwhelmed and lowers her head onto the back of the seat in front of her, her face disappearing into the fur hood of her purple coat. She is crying softly.
I wish I could spend longer with them. It isn’t safe for them or us. Their suburb is half-destroyed. All the Ukrainians who have been forced to leave say they want to return home, but will there be anywhere to return to?
‘We Are Going’
For Grannie Coolwell
They came into the little town
A semi-naked band subdued and silent,
All that remained of their tribe.
They came here to the place of their old bora ground
Where now the many white men hurry about like ants.
Notice of estate agent reads: ‘Rubbish May Be Tipped Here.’
Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.
They sit and are confused, they cannot say their thoughts:
‘We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers.
We belong here, we are of the old ways.
We are the corroboree and the bora ground,
We are the old sacred ceremonies, the laws of the elders.
We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told.
We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires.
We are the lightning-bolt over Gaphembah Hill
Quick and terrible,
And the Thunder after him, that loud fellow.
We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon.
We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low.
We are nature and the past, all the old ways
Gone now and scattered.
The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.
And we are going.’
Divine love is not something visible, whose form we must imitate; instead, it is a weary remainder seeking form, the shape of which must be continually imagined …
To witness this sacred story is also to receive it for the truth that it tells: love remains, and we are love’s witnesses …
The [space of Holy Saturday] is the descent into hell, the furthest reaches from all sources of life … From this space, a different vision of life can be glimpsed. It is life as remaining [abiding as in ‘Abide with Me’]. This transformation, this redemption in the abyss of hell, is not about deliverance from the depths but, instead, about a way of being in the depths, a practice of witnessing that senses life arising amid what remains …
Perhaps the divine story is neither a tragic one nor a triumphant one but, in fact, a story of divine remaining, the story of love that survives. It is a cry arising from the abyss. The question is: can we witness it?
We remain together, in the depths, open to life arising … We have a song of the depths to sing … and a black cloth to keep, bands of cloth lovingly stitched together … perhaps the textured strands we have woven are the stories of God’s people, our stories, our experiences of being in the depths? … Perhaps we feel our way in faith … towards … something new …
We unfold and place the black cloth on the altar-table.
SONG ‘When human voices cannot sing’
When human voices cannot sing
and human hearts are breaking,
we bring our grief to you, the One,
who knows our inner aching.
Receive the protests, share the pain,
abide amidst the suffering.
Make real for all your steadfast love,
and hold us in our mourning.
Set free our spirits from all fear,
from clouds of dark despairing,
and let the light Divine show paths
to justice and to healing.
Abba God in heaven, glory to you!
Your rule of love renews the earth.
In your name, we take part in that renewal
helping, and not harming,
caring, and not coercing …
We pray that we might receive with thanks
the bread we need,
the money we need,
the warmth we need …
We pray that forgiveness and freedom
flow through our lives.
Teach us that in sharing life
we live life to the full …
Remind us that evil is subtle.
Still, we are not trapped by it,
that love is stronger than hate,
justice other than revenge,
true peace the work of your Spirit.
We now leave space for the Spirit to speak and act … our black cloth remains unfinished …
We take leave of our work of grieving to make a small fire outside (using the Gadigal sticks), then light the Easter candle from the “camp fire”.
We process to the “camp fire” …
READING: “The First Peoples had already encountered the Creator God before the arrival of the colonisers; the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony. The same love and grace that was finally and fully revealed in Jesus Christ sustained the First Peoples and gave them particular insights into God’s ways.” (UCA Constitution, Revised Preamble, 2012)
The Easter candle is lit. We process back into the church …
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!
“As marked … on the Easter candle, the wounds [of Christ] will display forever that the victorious divine love is a vulnerable love, imparting a peace and joy that the world cannot give” (Brendan Byrne SJ, Life Abounding).
We leave in silence …
The Easter candle will remain lit and visible for the next half hour or so … Please remain in the church and online for as long as you need …
No Blessing is given here; it waits until the end of the Easter Vigil
(dawn on Easter Day).
God is love.
There is love to share
and there is more to love.
Go in peace. Amen.
The pulpit laptop is muted and moved closer to the candle …
Collect by Abner Cox.
‘When human voices cannot sing’
by Shirley Murray.
Lyric reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License # A-737036.
All rights reserved.
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