Friday, 3 May 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 April 2019

 

Gathering God’s People began with Music to set the mood for the time together.

After that we acknowledged the First People who had cared for the land and prayed that those who follow God’s guidance, in turn, guide us.
 

Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2019)

Out of despair comes hope. Out of fear comes affirmation. Out of threats comes conviction. Out of our hearts comes praise.

This was followed by a responsive affirmation that in the midst of all our uncertainty, we will remain positive in our praise of God and our prayer for a growing faith.

TIS Hymn 256: “The Servant King.” Our king who showed us the way to be.

Opening Prayer

This prayer affirmed  God as life-giving, and life-affirming, asking that we be filled with hope for the new life given by the work of Jesus. It asked that our hearts will be opened to this never-ending, unconditional love during this time of worship and ever in every day.

Prayer of Confession - abridged

 “Forgive us our doubts, our fears, and our reluctance to witness to you and to the Risen Jesus.

We pray for the courage and conviction of those first disciples — disciples who overcame their fear and doubt to become mighty witnesses.

Lord, we believe; help our unbelief. Amen.”


Declaration of Forgiveness

The one who loves us and frees us will not leave us in despair and doubt, but will fill us with all joy and conviction. Let us praise and witness to the Holy One— the one who says I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; the one who is with us always.

Thanks be to God!

There was then a declaration and a sharing of The Peace.

 Offering

We have been called to be witnesses to our faith. We have been called to do so with joy and praise. With hearts full of thanksgiving for all that we have received, let us commit ourselves and our resources to enable the church to be that fearless witness.

TIS Hymn 407:“Breathe on me, breath of God” To be filled anew with God’s life is the focus of our Christian life.

The Service of the Word

 The First Reading: Acts 5:27-32: the disciples are interrogated by the council but Peter’s response is that they are doing what they have been commanded to do, which is to offer relief from people suffering from their guilt, when forgiveness is freely available.

The Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31. This reading covers the event of Jesus appearing to the  disciples who were hiding behind locked doors from the Jews. Thomas wasn't present so didn't believe but did later when he saw for himself . The words for us are : “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (Christine)


Preaching of the Word – A Risen Christ Makes All the Difference!

Rev. John began:

The season of Easter allows the church to look intentionally at how the early church understood the Easter story and what difference that experience made as it sought to witness boldly to its truth and power.

 Following the Resurrection, John answers the question as to what difference the resurrection of Christ makes in the lives of those who come to believe it. On the same evening of that first day of the week, the followers of Christ huddled together behind locked doors in fear of the religious authorities.”

This was reflected in the Prayers for the People which was partly written by Caroline and then completed by Wendy as they thanked God for the support that is  given to us in our weakness and times of not reaching out ourselves.



 
       Rev. John’s words referred to scripture and thanks was given in the P for the P that scripture which is a concrete guide to our living, the realistic playing out of what Rev. John was saying about the difference that living through the Easter Story made to the lives of those who were there then.

 
Later Rev. John said:

The church is commissioned by Christ to witness to the power of resurrection living. John wants the church to claim the purpose for which it was created and commissioned. John wants the church to trust the presence of the Holy Spirit as it seeks to lead and guide its ministry to a broken and hurting world. Such is the nature of the church and who Jesus calls it to be.

This too, was reflected in the Prayers, as Wendy and Caroline led us in supporting, not only family and others known to us but people in need of support and comfort all over the world.

Rev. John then covered the story of “doubting Thomas” with which we are familiar. This ended with words which will uphold us to be God’s people doing God’s work: “My Lord and my God!” A risen Christ makes all the difference!

TIS Hymn 516: Here, gracious Lord, we see you face to face

This was the actual place for the prayers followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Familiar words guiding our thoughts

TIS Hymn 228: Crown him with many crowns

Benediction

May God who is Alpha and Omega, who is, and was, and who is to come, fill you with faith and conviction. May the Risen One fill you with peace and joy, that you may affirm your faith. May the Spirit be breathed upon you and give you peace.

And may that same Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep always Amen.

 

Thursday, 25 April 2019

19th April 2019 - Good Friday 9.30 am We do not know what we are doing.



Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship
         
We have gathered this Good Friday to remember the betrayal, humiliation and crucifixion of Jesus. We have gathered to experience anew the events that would change the world.  May we experience all the pathos of that day and may we participate in its meaning together.

Where is the light that shines in the darkness? Where do we turn when all hope is lost?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
We were the hollow echo of hosannas once spoken in love.

Were you in the garden when the disciples fell asleep?
We were the betrayal in Judas’s kiss.

Were you in the courtyard when the cock crowed?
We were the denial on Peter’s lips.

Were you among the scoffers when Jesus was flogged?
We were the whip in the soldier’s hand.

Were you in Pilate’s chamber when he washed his hands of Jesus’ fate?
We were the hatred of the crowd and the indifference in Pilate’s heart.

Were you with the powers of this world when the soldiers dressed Jesus as a king?
We were the mockery in the crown of thorns.

Were you among the spectators at Golgotha?
We were the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
We were the silence when no bird sang.

Hymn TIS 123: Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side

Author: Katharina von Schlegel; Translator: Jane Borthwick (1855)

1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav'nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Shadow of Condemnation

Reading: Luke 23:32-34

Prayer:
Forgiving Christ, when the world condemns us, when wrong is done to us, when we carry the weight of things that are too much to forgive, come along side us in the darkness, and give us the grace to be forgiven and forgiving.

Hymn TIS 347: We sing the praise of him who died
Thomas Kelly

We sing the praise of him who died,
of him who died upon the cross;
the sinners’ hope, though all deride:
for this we count the world but loss.

Inscribed upon the cross we see
in shining letters, “God is love”;
he bears our sins upon the tree;
he brings us mercy from above.

Shadow of Separation

Reading: Luke 23:35-43

Prayer:
Reconciling Christ, we are weighed down by sin and separation, a world that is not at peace, people who are not whole. You reached out to the thief, you welcomed him to God’s side. Come alongside us in the darkness, and bring grace and peace to everything that is broken.

Hymn TIS 730: Jesus, Remember Me when you come into your Kingdom
TaizèCommunity


Shadow of Sorrow

Reading: John 19:25-27

Prayer:
Loving Jesus, we carry the weight of the people we love, concern for their sorrows and suffering. Our care for them is deep, and sometimes there is not much we can do. Come alongside us in the darkness, and cradle the ones we love in your strong hands.

Hymn TIS 357: When his time was over, the palms lay
Robin Mann
When his time was over the
palms lay where they fell.
As they ate together he told
his friends farewell.
Jesus, though you cried out
for some other end,
Love could only choose a cross
When our life began again.

Shadow of Despair

Reading: Mark 5:33-34

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, you know what it is to feel that God is far away. You know what it is to call out for God’s presence. Come alongside us in the darkness, and help us call out for God.

Hymn TIS 342: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Isaac Watts

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Shadow of Suffering

Reading: John 19:28-30

Prayer:
Suffering Saviour, in all our thirst, in all our sickness, in all our longing, in all our pain, you are there. Come alongside us in the darkness, and walk with us through all our suffering.

Hymn TIS 345: Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Based on an African-American Spiritual

Were you there when
they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when
they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me
to tremble, tremble, tremble;
were you there when
they crucified my Lord?

Shadow of Death

Reading: Luke 23:44-49

Reflection -  Quotes to give us all “Food for thought” from John’s Sermon
To hear the words we have heard this morning or even to read them is to step on holy ground… How can one hear this story of stories without fear and trembling?

What great sorrow and shame overcomes us who witness the flogging of our Lord, the spitting and the hitting! The perpetrators were people who a few days before were applauding him. These are the people who followed him to hear his words, to touch his garment, to feel the strength of God that flowed through him. And now, the mob violence has taken over perfect goodness is met with perfect hate and fear. The terror of evil seems to be triumphing…

How the heart aches for those who have ignored this solemn day and night! How can one plumb the depths of His love without allowing the heart and mind to recognise the great suffering that resulted from such love.

In our scriptures, one cannot help but notice the details that could have come only from an eye witness. The fear of Pilate, his struggle to appear in control. His fascination with this man who stands before him battered and bleeding, but thoroughly in control himself; these are before us as they happen. And as a counterpoint, we hear Peter, what are you doing? How can you be so faithful through this? As though in him we recognise ourselves.

It’s frightening to realise that Caiaphas knows that he is dealing with the power of God, and very deliberately he sets out to crush it. Otherwise all his power, and all he has built as a career, will disappear. Power is not easily given up.

And those who have religious power have an even more difficult time relinquishing it. This is what has caused so much bloodshed in the name of God through the ages.

We hear with a poignant simplicity: "There they crucified him and with him two others." Here is a question; do we hear the hammer on the nails? Do we see the flesh being torn, the ligaments sheared, the bones crushed? What a horrible way to die. It defies all our powers of imagination.


On this holiest of days, we don't need words. We need to feel. We need to acknowledge the shadows that hung over Jesus and hang over us. To allow ourselves to feel. To feel his pain, for it was real; to feel his aloneness; to feel the terrible darkness that descended on the earth when the Son of God died.

Out of that death comes life. But first we must walk through that terrible death. Caiaphas made the choice to stay powerful in the eyes of the world and sold his own soul. Pilate made the choice to ignore the stirrings of his conscience. Jesus made the choice to obey God, to enter the darkness of death for our sake.

And we must follow. Otherwise, we will not taste resurrection. Amen.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, even in death, you are there. When we mourn, when we are afraid, when we come to our own end, you have been there, too. Come alongside us in the darkness, and carry us through death to life.

Hymn TIS 600: O my Saviour, lifted from the earth for me
William Walsham How

Prayer:
All you who pass this way
Look and see, the shadow of sin
All you who pass this way
Look and see the weight of the world
All you who pass this way
Look and see, the suffering of our Saviour.
All you who pass this way
Look and see, the sorrow of Jesus Christ
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. 

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.                                          Amen.

Hymn 341: “My song is love unknown” V 1,2,3,4 and 7
Samuel Crossman

My song is love unknown My Saviour’s love to me
Love to the loveless shown That they might lovely be
O who am I That for my sake
My Lord should take Frail flesh and die

Dismissal


Hold fast to hope. Hold fast to one another.
For God, who has promised, is faithful.
The day of God approaches. Go in peace.
               


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 24March 2019


 

The service began with an acknowledgement to the original carers of the land who were grateful to the land and its creator for all it offered them and replayed with care and reverent respect.

The Call to Worship declared that God, knowing our hunger and thirst, provides generously for us so that we will be satisfied and praise God for that.

So in the Opening Prayer we prayed to God that our hunger and thirst will be met in a way that satisfies our whole being.

However in our Confession we admitted to seeking to satisfy our hunger and thirst in transitory ways that left us still hungry and thirsty. For this we asked for forgiveness:

Help us abandon our careless ways and self-seeking schemes that we might return to you, our provider and sustainer.

In response Rev. John declared our forgiveness:

God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our abilities.

Even in our brokenness, God provides a path to wholeness.

When we confess our shortcomings, God has mercy on us and is generous with forgiveness.

Through Christ Jesus, we are forgiven.

Thanks be to God!

Then having found our peace we offered that peace to each other.

Offering Prayer

As we enjoy the rich feast you have provided, we know that there are those who want for food and drink. Multiply the offerings we share today, that they may bless those in need. May the spiritual nourishment we receive today strengthen us for continued service in your name.

The Service of the Word.

The First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9

The Gospel Reading: Luke 13: 1-9- brought to us by Christine.

Preaching of the Word Planting Seeds of Hope

Rev John spoke of living an intentional life as a disciple of Jesus. He began by relating the story of an immigrant to New Zealand from Iran who despite his many regrets at leaving his home and all the difficulties of making a new life in another land and culture, did so because of the danger of remaining in his home country.

And because he intentionally made a new life in New Zealand and made choices for that to come about, he was able to do so successfully and as a result enjoys a new life.

Rev. John then said:

 In much the same way, following Jesus is an intentional act. It is a choice and as Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Following Jesus is an intentional, thought-out decision that leads to a new way of life…

To a certain extent, this means we ought to be deliberate with the choices we make. One of the expectations of discipleship is that we are actively involved in a relationship with God where we are making wise choices to help this relationship grow. Should we choose to be passive in our faith, we are in a sense letting life pass us by without embracing the opportunity to receive the gifts…

 The intentional choices made today are like seeds of hope that will blossom tomorrow

When we think about this we could relate it to the story of the tree the owner ordered to be destroyed. The manager pleaded for another year to fertilize it and care for it. This week someone suggested the tree hadn't borne fruit was that the manager had neglected it up until that point. Perhaps our spiritual lives haven't blossomed and borne fruit because we have neglected them. A point to ponder.

Making a real investment in the faith is an issue in our time, but we are not alone.When Jesus teaches about becoming one of his followers, we must recognise that he is teaching this lesson to his own disciples…

 Jesus is inviting his disciples into a deeper, more serious form of discipleship. Jesus is speaking about commitment and dedication. If you are one of those people attending church who have not invested in the church, then perhaps this scripture is teaching you to get invested. Investing in the faith comes with a price…

So, just “turning up” isn't all that is required. We must intentionally attend to feeding our souls on the nourishment offered by God, however that comes to us.

 We say no to ourselves so that we can say yes to God. I witnessed my friend Bruno make sacrifice after sacrifice for the good of his family and his faith. He might have had a promising career in his homeland because of his college education, but he gave this up so that he and his family might live in freedom… 

Makingthe most of our life in Christ involves sacrifices and intentional choices. Each day we have the opportunity to choose whether or not we will follow the way of Christ. Fortunately, we are helped in this decision by the church, which teaches us to live intentionally. The church encourages our participation in Christian practices like prayer, worship, ministry, and hospitality.

That may mean less time spent in other pursuits but also it certainly does mean more time listening for God’s guidance, in whatever form that may come.

Benediction

Our search for God continues.

Our hunger and thirst will return.

Seek God in all places. Seek God with your whole being.

We will call on God and know that God is near.

And may that same Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep always.

Amen.

 

Friday, 22 March 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 17 March 2019


 

Today I took my cue from two readings, Genesis 15: 1-12, 17-18 and

Luke: 13: 31-35 looking at how simply the people of that time interpreted natural events.

 Now even though the people of the Old Testament were interpreting natural events wrongly, they were right on the money when it came to walking daily with God.

A little advice about waiting on God:
 



I will make no further comment on that it's not really unusual to have to sit quietly to build a relationship with God. We don't make friends with each other if we don't give time to those relationships.

 

From day to day we have to interact with the people and things around us to get through life. That comes with the usual ups and downs; successes and failures, and so in the daily rush it's hard to think of ourselves as citizens of heaven, but even so, all those ups and downs; successes and failures at an earthly level do not affect our relationship with God. Jesus did not let his Earthly work interfere with his Relationship with God. He was told that Herod was after him but his response was that Herod would just have to wait because he knew from his daily walk with God that his earthly work still had time to run.

Of course we should value our physical existence and the gifts we are given but we need to remember our primary concern is to look after that physical existence and those gifts to continue building God’s kingdom.
 
In the New Testament we are exhorted over and over to live as though we are already citizens of heaven and that's because we are: God’s kingdom start here and now.

Paul told the Philippians to imitate him and his mob. Hmmm. To be fair he meant to imitate him and his followers in living close to God but even then I would feel safer taking my cue from Jesus himself.

We are in Lent. This was the time when it is traditionally believed that Jesus was on a trajectory to Jerusalem.

Where he knew he would die.

He also knew that if he stopped telling the truth He had learnt through his relationship with God, and went off to live in obscurity he wouldn't have to die.

Jesus lived side by side with God . The truth came to him from his daily, close, patient walk with God. He would have had to turn his back on that and deny all he knew to be true to escape death.

How would we be in such a situation? How highly do we value our relationship with a God and our citizenship in Heaven, whether it be here on Earth or in the afterlife? How highly do we value the truth?

Jesus could not give up his relationship with God. He could not stop telling the truth or living by it. He may have escaped death in the cross but if he had taken the other path, he would have shrivelled up and died anyway.

You may think I am setting the bar too high. That it's all very well talking about the fortitude Jesus showed which came from his close relationship with God. God is far more understanding of our frailties than we are. Feeling not good enough or a failure doesn't help at all. Each time we falter we should reach up for help in finding our feet again. God’s love and support will provide the strength for us to continue and every time we go through that process we will learn a little more about how close God is to us and how God is there for us

Monday, 4 March 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 17 February 2019

 Call to Worship.

Out of the ordinary aspects of life , we are called into this place-  for this is a special place in which God has been waiting. Waiting for each one of us. In the presence now of God, surely all that we can do is offer our praise and worship. And at the name of Jesus, we must bend our knees in submission and faith. Let’s sing:  

Hymn TIS 231“At the name of Jesus” And until they do it's up to those who do to see that God’s will be done.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

 God  - in this place we are invited to meet you – to encounter the truth of who you are – your love for all humanity. If we are open to such a message – if we are willing, then we must be impacted, lifted out of our ordinariness. We must become new - with new energy and understanding, for when we meet your truth, when your Spirit works in us, we must be changed…

God help us to help the poor, the hungry and the excluded as we live for you in this place. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Offering For the building of God’s kingdom.

Hymn TIS 210“O for a Thousand Tongues” Today there are far more than a thousand and there are those that praise God but don't know that they are doing so when they praise God’s handiwork or the work of people who are inspired by God.

Bible Reading Luke 6: 17-26

Message

Dermot began by setting the scene of the reading, of the people who had so little, not just so little in a material sense but so little spiritually, who went out to hear Jesus hoping that “this time” they would find an answer to their poverty.

Two thoughts immediately sprung to mind. Firstly, how often do we try to enrich our “flatness” with things that only have to be replaced when they wear out or break or simply disappoint because once we own them…nothing has changed. The message Jesus preached was and is the answer to that. “Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven…”

Then the other thought was that how in the midst of our feeling deprived or flat or missing something, we don't give a thought for those people today who have little more than the people Dermot spoke of. In our own country here are people who either walk out take public transport…everywhere…not just when it's convenient. They NEVER buy food or drink when they are out. A family birthday means everyone turns up for lunch to honour the birthday person but the meal is the same simple meal as always. And then when we think further afield, there are the people in countries about which we know little. In a documentary I watched not long ago, a little boy was setting off for school, kilometres away with a bottle of water. His grandfather handed him half a slice of flatbread to take with him for the day. There was no sense that either of them thought they were deprived or in some terrible situation. Perhaps they found their richness in heaven.

Dermot seemed to agree:

As I read this passage again, I found myself imagining you, who are gathered here, being the people who left your village or your town this morning to head out along a dusty road, joining with others, possibly with a clay jar of water?? – and a piece of flat bread, to head out to where a wandering Rabbi/preacher was to speak.  And why did people go to that effort? Because they were hoping to hear something which might be valuable – which might change their lives.

Was this what it was like for you this morning?   You came hoping to hear something nourishing, something which might be impactful?  You might be a very different crowd to that which came out to hear Jesus, but I wonder whether you might indeed be in fact doing the same thing – seeking after God intervene in their lives.

Dermot continued, linking Matthew and Luke in a way to explain what seemed different messages. Space does not allow us to follow that here. What Dermot said next was:

remembering that Luke’s Gospel has particular concern for the needy and outcast – that is, that God has a particular concern for those in need, for surely what we are encountering is a revealing of the nature of God, then here’s a thought

– maybe, just maybe, it is this message which is the reason Jesus had to die! Maybe for speaking such words, Jesus could not be allowed to live. Maybe these words were too offensive or challenging to the powers who moved against him for them to simply ignore Jesus and let him continue to spread such stuff.

Who would think it today? Aren’t these words simply words of advice and of compassion? NO! We must realise that in such words Jesus was standing face to face with the powers of the day – the powers which exercised control of the political and the religious framework for the whole community. And these powers and authorities are directly criticised by Jesus - they had to put a stop to him.

………

May God forgive us - but we see abusive exercise of authority by one over another in international affairs – and in our national politics – and in our State politics – and local affairs – and even in our families. It is the same drive for power, status, ego, etc and the same sort of fears and lack of trust which motivates such disease at every level of human society – and it all arises from an unwillingness to know and accept others with a respect and concern which should be given to all – we are all children of the same God and bear within us the gift of life and potential to know the nature of God as revealed in Jesus.

It is for us to understand our weaknesses and whatever our age and whatever our place in the community, to speak and do what we can to better those who are in need, whether poor (or poor in spirit) – whether hungry – or whether those who are rejected. For to do so is to become what we are meant to become – this is what Jesus taught to that crowd 2000 years ago

Hymn “Lord of the Dance”

Prayers of the people and Lord's Prayer One of the most important parts of the service but if we leave if at that, it is not enough. We must act where we can

Hymn TIS 272 “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Benediction

God calls us to a task of sharing goodness and compassion– to do so is to abide in God’s own nature. Let us go out then with a loving concern borne of our love of God in Christ. Amen.

Going out Hymn

Now unto him

 
 

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 March 2019


Apply the Mountaintop Experience.

 

Put yourself in the Holy Land - 2,000 years ago as we can in our imagination and as we read the passage from Luke 9: 29-36 from the lectionary for this week. Imagine that you are one of Jesus' leading disciples. He calls you apart from your colleagues to go with him on what turns out to be a great adventure. You start walking, happily chatting, and following him toward the high country. At the start, you figure, this is one more time when Jesus needs to get away from the crowds - to rest and refresh and restore his spiritual strength. You, too, are ready for a rest.

 

When Jesus leads you to the destination, you recognise it as a holy place of your faith-set apart for connection with the greatest meaning life has to offer - a place to encounter God. You begin to think that maybe this is not going to be an ordinary retreat, even by Jesus' standards. Suddenly you see Jesus changed - his face has changed and has become dazzling white. You are not sure what to make of this. But you know something extraordinary has happened.

 

Then, you are startled again to see the two most honoured leaders of your faith, Moses and Elijah, long dead, standing there beside Jesus. You do not know what to think or do. Your friend Peter suggests setting up dwellings so they could stay there permanently. But before anything else can happens, you hear the voice of God-"This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"  Now you know the purpose of this adventure. Here is the answer to what you should do.
 
t is clear that you are not to look to Moses and Elijah-not to look back to the old, but to reach forward to the new, listening to this beloved one of God, this Jesus and listening to him only. Then, it is time to go back down the mountain and return to the others. They will be the same, but for you everything is different. God has done a new thing. Everything in your life is transfigured - transformed - changed - to a new reality of God.

 

It is meant to be easy for us, as followers of Jesus, to put ourselves in the place of James or John or Peter. We go through the same kind of adventure in our daily lives; we recognise the same Lord. And we hear the same message from God: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"

 

We too have our "mountain tops." Each of us needs places and times set apart for us to take a good spiritual breath. Often this can happen in the midst of worship or Bible study or prayer groups or whenever we gather with fellow believers or even as we share an experience with God’s creation. The "mountain tops" of our lives are also represented by times when we are alone with only silence around us-not with a radio blaring or a television yakking or a computer clicking. This is our personal prayer time and time for meditation and reflection - being still so we know God for what God is, specifically, in our lives. If you have ever sat upon the mountain top or in the bush and watched and listened as the new day dawned in all its glory will now what I am referring to.

 
All of us though, too, gain recognition and insight into God when we go to these mountain tops set aside as holy places and holy times for us to focus on God. In the stillness of our quiet and solitude as we watch and wait we learn to see and hear what our God says and does and how God moves us. The presence of God can astonish us in the beauty of creation and the generosity of the love we are surrounded by.

 
 
And we too can listen most attentively to the beloved of God. In these times of quiet prayer and meditation and self-examination, we listen for the words and the truths of our Universe and our God through Jesus. We do this through reading and reflecting and through studying the examples of others whom we Christians call the saints. We connect with the saints of old and the godly people of our own day and communities by opening ourselves to recognise the power of the spirit moving among us and those around us, changing lives to better reflect values of God s kingdom.


However, we too must come down from our "mountain tops," knowing what is possible for us in every part of our lives. We can count on the amazing power of God to transfigure and transform and change what is old into what is new-what is ordinary into the extra-ordinary, into what can be.

The truth of the Gospel affirms that each and every one of us - even if we are lost, blind, misguided, self-centred, and arrogant - can really be transformed into God's beloved children and his faithful disciples. God can transform our sadness and frustration and despair into joy and hope. God can transform our apathy and lack of concern for God's commandments into an active love that brings God's kingdom more closely into being. God can transform our weakness and fear into courage and strength. God can transform our earthy, broken humanity into faithful members of the Body of Christ.

 

We live our lives at the base of the mountain. If we have heard the transforming word of God we will continue to listen to Jesus our Lord and we will pray continually the collect connected with today's Gospel.