A small number joined the members of the Shepparton Interfaith Network on evening of Friday 22 December to offer prayers and blessings for those for whom Christmas is not the traditionally happy event.
The Summer Solstice was on Friday, 22 December 2017 at 1:57 am in Uluru, the heart of our nation. In terms of daylight, this day is 3 hours, 10 minutes longer than on June Solstice. In locations south of Equator, the longest day of the year is around this date.
On this night, or any other time this service is presented, we remember those for whom the holidays are not joyful; those who are are lonely, in mourning, feeling alienated and cast apart from family celebrations; they are experiencing depression and sadness and yet are often compelled to “put on a happy face” for others, denying their true feelings. We recalled those who have settled in Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley and who are away from their loved ones and family. Offerings and prayers were made for those who do not speak English, and were having strong feelings of separation and loneliness at this time. We also recall those on Manus Island, Nauru, and those serving members of the Australian Defence Forces in theatres of conflict.
Leader: In this scripture Jesus shares the parable of the feast to which many are invited but choose not to come, and others who have felt alienated are invited to the feast. In God’s divine order, all are invited; no one is excluded.
Reader 1: Luke 14: 15-24
Leader: When burdens get piled on top of other burdens, the load can crush us. In his promise, Jesus offers us help to carry our burdens and responsibilities. We do not have to bear them alone, he will always help us.
Reader 2: Matthew 11: 28-29
Leader: Our world, with its hurts and hatred, is not the way God would have us live. God’s kingdom promises something so startlingly new that it takes our breath away. Those who weep now will not weep later. There will be no need of tears.
Reader 3: Revelation 21: 1-7
We light four candles tonight in remembrance of our loved ones. We light these candles for our own needs. We light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories and one for our love.
Reader 1: This candle represents our Grief. We own the pain of losing loved ones, of dreams that go unfulfilled, of hopes that evaporate in despair.
Reader lights a candle………….a brief silence follows
Reader 2: This candle represents our courage. It symbolizes the courage to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, to share our feelings honestly and openly with each other, and to dare to hope in the midst of pain.
Reader lights a candle………..a brief silence follows
Reader 3: This candle represents our memories. For the times we laughed together, cried together, were angry at each other or overjoyed with each other. We light this candle for the memories of caring and joy we shared together.
Reader lights a candle…………a brief silence follows
Reader 1: This candle represents our love. The love we have given, and the love we have received. The love that has gone unacknowledged and unfelt,
and the love that has been shared in times of joy and sorrow.
Reader lights a candle……………..a brief silence follows
Comforting God, wrap us in your presence in this time of remembrance. With these candles, help us find your light, a light that will guide us day-by-day, step-by-step, as we try to live life fully and wholly. We cherish the special ways in which our loved ones have touched us. We thank you for the gift their lives have been to us. Now comfort us. Encourage us. Empower us. AMEN.
Leader: Go in peace, knowing that the God, whose love created this world, sent Jesus into the same world to be our friend, companion, and Saviour. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
BeyondBlue, the organisation that promotes good mental health, tackles stigma and discrimination, and provides support and information on anxiety, depression and suicide to everyone in Australia.In collaboration with Monash University and the Movember Foundation they have developed a free app called BeyondNow
This app – BeyondNow – can support a person experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings with a safety plan to help them get through the tough moments. Many experience the Christmas New Year period as stressful, so equipping people with a resource such as this maybe timely. BeyondNow is designed to be used as part of an overall mental wellbeing and safety strategy and is ideally created with a health professional when the person is feeling calm and relaxed. The app puts the safety plan in a person’s pocket so that it can be accessed and edited at any time. It can be emailed to trusted friends, family or health professionals to provide additional support and reminds people of their reasons to live, enjoyable activities and coping strategies. Click here for more information.
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