Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 November 2018



Society’s Fringe Dwellers
 
This week's blog is by Rev. John Candy.



Often, something positive eventually comes from a disaster. This does not mean that the disaster was Gods way of achieving the positive. The birth of David results from Ruths union with Boaz (encouraged by Naomi), but the biblical events preceding that— Sodom and Gomorrah, Lots incest with his daughters, the famine and death of Naomis family— are not Gods preferred method of bringing grace into the world.

 

If we look at Divorce despite it not being ideal and not what God wants for us it is necessary because of our choices and mistakes. The way God calls us to live as shown in the life of Jesus seems so perfect, yet we are forgiven as we struggle to live in a holy way. Out of divorce can come positive things as we evaluate our own mistakes in the relationship and work towards not making them again. Out of the pain can come positive growth that enables the person going through divorce to be much more fully present and available in their following relationships including maybe a new partner.

 

One of the first widows I ever understood to be a widow was young. She was someone I had known in the community and her husband died of a heart attack while playing basketball. He was twenty-nine. Suddenly, the notion of widowhood became clear to me. It was not that a woman simply outlived her husband, but that there was a blank space at the table, an empty side of the bed, a phone number that goes unanswered, conversations that become one-sided. Widows and widowers of all ages and circumstances frequently surround us. And we forget their status.

 


We forget that they are among those considered most vulnerable and most wise in Scripture. We forget that Gods heart is with them. It is critical to remember that her beloved, deceased partner may not have been a saint, but she will still grieve. That the person still living is still thinking of their loved one, even if you are afraid to bring up the subject. That she may grow accustomed to her new state, but never stop missing the ones who rest in light. Being widowed, being left out of partnership, should not mean being left out of community.

 

Let not the community of God forsake those who mourn. It is not enough to say God is with them. We are to be the hands, words, and consolation of the Spirit with widows, orphans, and strangers. Throughout his ministry, Jesus called to attention those on the margins of society, those who had previously gone unnoticed, the poor, the blind, the lame, the beggars, the lepers, military personnel, and widows. Its a reminder particularly as many of us in Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand) will be marking Armistice or Remembrance Day which falls this Sunday. These are the same people we find on the margins of our societies today. Those who still are excluded, those whom society looks down on or simply ignores. A widow, living in poverty created by the institution charged with her care. An aged person placed in a Home as there is no one to manage things for them or even visit them.

 


This gospel reading from Mark 12 that continues today doesnt seem like good news: A widow giving her all to a corrupt institution, an institution that fails to care for her as it is supposed to do. But she gives anyway. And Jesus commends her giving. He commends her and condemns the system. Jesus holds her up as an example of how small but significant acts can break down a cycle of injustice and corruption.

 

In the culture of Jesus, widows were non-people. Without a man to support or validate them in society, they were non-beings. Vulnerable and invalid, it was easy not to see them. It is easy not to see the people on our streets living without shelter, food or clothing. Its easy not see the desperation of the refugees trying to reach countries where they might be better off. Its easy to blame the poor, the immigrants, the refugees, the disabled and many others who are suffering. Yet, Jesus not only notices widows on many occasions during his ministry, in this weeks text, he actually uses a widow to teach trust and reliance on God.

 


This gospel is not talking to us about a comparative giving table, steering the prosperous to give more. It is encouragement for those who go against the grain, who practice subversion in whatever way they can, even in the face of injustice. Who, by their subversion, make inroads into creating justice and fairness for all Gods people. It doesnt always take placards and a lot of shouting for trends and policies to be reversed. Persistent, simple subversion also does the trick.


 


Monday, 5 November 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 4 November 2018


MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCH SUNDAY 4th NOVEMBER.

 

Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)

 

Look to the saints of God for direction. Trust in the saints of God for guidance. Be the saints of God for the world.

 Look, here is our God, the One we have waited for.

Let us be glad and rejoice in our salvation.

Come feast on rich food and dine on fine wine.

Enjoy the blessings of the Lord, the vindication from our God.

Come! Let us worship the Lord.

 

Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart”- That is, those who have opened themselves to God’s healing touch, allowing a new beginning. That can happen as often as we allow God into the deepest part of our lives.

 

Opening prayer

God of new beginnings remove the shroud that separates us from one another and from your mighty presence, that we may see you as you are. Wipe away our tears and take away our disgrace, that we may come before your throne with hearts full of song and souls ablaze with joy. Help us to live as those who are prepared to die and enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that whether living or dying, our hearts will always belong to you. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession

Wellspring of tears, you know well our grief and our longing to see you face to face.

O how we wish you would come down and save us. In our pain, we have grown impatient. In our sorrow, we have doubted the depth of your love. Forgive us, Patient One, when we forget that Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.

Renew our faithfulness, Holy One, when like Mary and Martha before us, we despair of tasting the joy of eternal life.

Open our mouths to exclaim with delight: Here is our God for whom we have waited! We need your grace to complete us. We need your love to make us whole. Amen.

 

Today we were thinking about All Saints Day. The Bible readings all, in different ways, turned us to the thought of possible renewal…new beginnings.

Saints are those who seek to live their lives according to God’s will. It's not the same as learning to play better tennis or golf by taking some advice. The only way we can live according to God’s will is by opening ourselves up to being remade in the way God intended in the first place. A bit like a retrofit but there's a more demanding element. Because we are humans we keep undoing the remaking and need to turn back for another work of God in our lives.

I often wonder who this God is and how we can become alloyed with the divine holiness. I have no idea about the form God takes. I think God dwells in Creation somehow. God isn't some person living “out there” but on the other hand, my experience tells me God is available here and now to do that work of renewal as often as it needs doing and as often as we humble ourselves to that divine work.



 

This is what Rev. John had to say:

“Do we accept that when God shows up, healing happens, hope springs forth, and new life emerges? In todays text from Isaiah, in the midst of Isaiahs message of judgment, we are reminded of the power of a vision. When God shows up, the text points out, life will change. Pain will be replaced by rejoicing. Death will be no more. God will dry our tears. When God shows up, life will not be difficult; it will not be such a struggle. When God shows up, life will look more like a feast. And, not just any feast, but a feast with the finest foods, vintage wines, and multiple courses, and rich, opulent desserts.”


 

Today was also a day when we celebrated communion.
By doing that we remembered that Jesus, knowing the truth,
 knowing the solution to the perpetually destructive
behaviour of we humans, set his face unto Jerusalem.
He didn't turn aside, knowing what the outcome was
 going to be. He couldn't stop telling the truth, even if it
meant he would die.

 

That's how important the truth is: it's there where renewal is
found and there is only one totally reliable source.

 

Hymn TIS 780:
“May light come into your eyes.”  That's what happens when we accept renewal.
MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCH SUNDAY 4th NOVEMBER.
 
Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)
 
Look to the saints of God for direction. Trust in the saints of God for guidance. Be the saints of God for the world.
 Look, here is our God, the One we have waited for.
Let us be glad and rejoice in our salvation.
Come feast on rich food and dine on fine wine.
Enjoy the blessings of the Lord, the vindication from our God.
Come! Let us worship the Lord.
 
Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart”- That is, those who have opened themselves to God’s healing touch, allowing a new beginning. That can happen as often as we allow God into the deepest part of our lives.
 
Opening prayer
God of new beginnings remove the shroud that separates us from one another and from your mighty presence, that we may see you as you are. Wipe away our tears and take away our disgrace, that we may come before your throne with hearts full of song and souls ablaze with joy. Help us to live as those who are prepared to die and enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that whether living or dying, our hearts will always belong to you. Amen.
 
A Prayer of Confession
Wellspring of tears, you know well our grief and our longing to see you face to face.
O how we wish you would come down and save us. In our pain, we have grown impatient. In our sorrow, we have doubted the depth of your love. Forgive us, Patient One, when we forget that Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.
Renew our faithfulness, Holy One, when like Mary and Martha before us, we despair of tasting the joy of eternal life.
Open our mouths to exclaim with delight: Here is our God for whom we have waited! We need your grace to complete us. We need your love to make us whole. Amen.
 
Today we were thinking about All Saints Day. The Bible readings all, in different ways, turned us to the thought of possible renewal…new beginnings.
Saints are those who seek to live their lives according to God’s will. It's not the same as learning to play better tennis or golf by taking some advice. The only way we can live according to God’s will is by opening ourselves up to being remade in the way God intended in the first place. A bit like a retrofit but there's a more demanding element. Because we are humans we keep undoing the remaking and need to turn back for another work of God in our lives.
I often wonder who this God is and how we can become alloyed with the divine holiness. I have no idea about the form God takes. I think God dwells in Creation somehow. God isn't some person living “out there” but on the other hand, my experience tells me God is available here and now to do that work of renewal as often as it needs doing and as often as we humble ourselves to that divine work.
 
This is what Rev. John had to say:
“Do we accept that when God shows up, healing happens, hope springs forth, and new life emerges? In todays text from Isaiah, in the midst of Isaiahs message of judgment, we are reminded of the power of a vision. When God shows up, the text points out, life will change. Pain will be replaced by rejoicing. Death will be no more. God will dry our tears. When God shows up, life will not be difficult; it will not be such a struggle. When God shows up, life will look more like a feast. And, not just any feast, but a feast with the finest foods, vintage wines, and multiple courses, and rich, opulent desserts.”
 
Today was also a day when we celebrated communion. By doing that we remembered that Jesus, knowing the truth, knowing the solution to the perpetually destructive behaviour of we humans, set his face unto Jerusalem. He didn't turn aside, knowing what the outcome was going to be. He couldn't stop telling the truth, even if it meant he would die.
 
That's how important the truth is: it's there where renewal is found and there is only one totally reliable source.
 
Hymn TIS 780: “May light come into your eyes.”  That's what happens when we accept renewal.v


Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 October 2018




Acknowledgement of First Peoples

 From river to ocean, from campfire to hearth,

May the First People who have cared for this Land be blessed.

From breath to song, from step to dance,

May those who follow Your Songlines guide us on the journey of living honourably in this place.

From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus,


Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2012 and 2018)

God who restores, who heals, who makes us whole, open our eyes to your work around us. Be in our praying, in our singing, in our proclamation, and in our silence. Open our eyes to see your kingdom coming into the world.

 Jesus has come to town. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!

He invites us to join him on his journey. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!

Come and be healed and see with new eyes. Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!

 

And then we sang of our reliance on God. Or, at least, how our highest calling is reliance on God. Why do we think we know better so often?


Hymn TIS 112: “Through all the changing scenes of life”


Opening Prayer

 Triune God, through Jesus Christ, our great and eternal High Priest, we give you praise and consecrate ourselves to follow you. As we worship you and celebrate your glorious resurrection, open our eyes so that we may see – open the eyes of our mind to learning and understanding; open the eyes of our heart, to your love and compassion; open the eyes of our soul, to see our spiritual selves during our time of worship. Amen.

Consecrating ourselves to God is not something to be done flippantly or without deep thought. It means that we turn aside from our own wishes and wants to seek God’s will in all things. It isn't a once-only event. We are called on daily to hand ourselves over to God’s plan for us and The Kingdom.

And to ensure that this continues to be so, and knowing how often we do stray from that commitment and consecration, we need to open ourselves and our failings to God and seek forgiveness.


Prayer of Confession

 Mystical, transcendent God, there is so much of life we simply do not know.

In our arrogance we utter what we do not understand.

Rescue us, O Lord, from our afflictions.

Rescue us, O God from our self-inflicted wounds. Have mercy on us, Son of David, Son of God, and save us by your unending grace. Amen.



 Declaration of Forgiveness

 Cry out to Christ, our great High Priest, for he has saved us. Our faith has made us well, brought us forgiveness and granted us peace. Thanks be to God.


Hymn TIS 547.  “Be thou my vision.” Keeping in track. Asking for the true path.


READINGS: Job 42:1-6, 10-17 : Mark 10: 46-52

Job says to a God: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  3 “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 

A good lesson here for all of us. We don't have the knowledge and wisdom we need to do God’s will in God’s kingdom. We need to ask for guidance.

The lesson from Mark leans in the same direction:

Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 49 Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.51 Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ 52 Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Remember, when we read the Bible we are looking for God’s voice and God’s message to us. I think it's clear here: The blind man asked to see and Jesus gave him sight. Usually, it's not physical sight we need, its spiritual sight. It works the same way.

Rev. John shared this with us:

“But when I share, through honest and open prayer, my frivolous or grave or noble or childlike wants with a gentle and loving God, God will use even these to increase my faithfulness, to uncover my hidden wounds, and to affirm my created goodness. Maybe, even, God is doing the wanting in me and through me; and my calling is to discover what the wanting is teaching me about who God is and who I am.”

John also told us of seeking guidance from a friend rather than turning to God. Talking to the friend was a way of avoiding God because he was afraid he would get it all wrong before God. I think this is a common experience. We hide our lack of knowledge and understanding from God, or so we think, but who better to turn to when we are in need?


Hymn TIS 223  “How sweet the name of a Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear.” The very hymn to hear and sing at the point to settle our troubled hearts and minds.


Laurel brought us the Prayers of the People. She brought before us and our Lord current concerns. God invites us to say what our needs are. Even if we have looked past our real needs, God will see our true needs. And so it is with confidence we were able to join Laurel in her prayers for those suffering in different ways.


Hymn TIS 160Father all-loving and ruling in majesty.” God is not one to fear. God is in charge and will hold us in the palm of his hand.

 

Benediction

 

Go as the church, as Jesus' entourage, following where he leads. Everywhere he goes he leaves healing and hope in his wake. Go, and listen, and learn, and love. And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you always, Amen

 



 


Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 21 October 2018




 Today’s service was led by Wendy Pearce, who welcomed Heather Pinto from Eastwood Christian Community Aid who had come to speak to the  Congregation about the work of CCA.


Acknowledgment of First People

Leader: We acknowledge the Burramattagal people, the first inhabitants of this place, part of God's good creation. We honour them for their custodianship of the land, on which we gather today.

People: You set humanity at the heart of your creation, O God; charging us with stewardship of all you have made. We give thanks for those who have heeded your call.


The Gathering of the People of God.

Call to Worship

In the midst of a world where people hunger and thirst . . .

come worship a God who feeds the hungry.

In the midst of a world where people are abused and oppressed . . .

come worship a God who calls for compassion and justice.

In the midst of a world filled with wars and rumor of war . . .

come worship a God who desires nothing less than peace for the world.

In the midst of a world of spiritual emptiness . . .

come worship a God who gives life meaning.

Come worship a God whose grace and love know no end.






Invocation

With what shall we come before the Holy One,

and bow ourselves before God on high?

God has shown us what is good.

What does the Holy One require of us,

but to do justice,

and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with our God?

 

The Prayers, hymns and other parts of this service were directed to the theme of serving others and the address given by Heather showed us how we can do this through CCA. As a congregation I see our greatest strength is in our service to others but we are humans and from time to time, we grasp our time, money, energy and possessions to ourselves, turning from the path of service to a path of selfishness.

And so after a prayer and hymn acknowledging and praising God’s goodness and greatness, we confessed to God our lapse from the way we are supposed to follow.




Prayer of Confession

All:

Eternal God, our judge and redeemer, we confess that we have tried to hide from you, for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves and apart from you.

We have turned from our neighbors and refused to bear the burdens of others.

We have ignored the pain of the world and passed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed. In your great mercy, forgive our sins and free us from selfishness,

that we may choose your will and obey your commandments;

through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

We then turned to God for assurance of forgiveness.


Prayer of Assurance

—from A Wee Worship Book, pp. 19-20 © 1999, by WGRG The Iona Community (Scotland). Used by permission of GIA Publications, Inc

Leader: Among the poor, among the proud, among the persecuted, among the privileged,  Christ is coming to make all things new: That the kingdom might come, that the world might believe, that the powerful might stumble, that the hidden might be seen: Christ is coming to make all things new. Within us, without us, behind us, before us, in this place, in every place, for this time, for all time. Christ is coming to make all things new. Our sins are forgiven! Thanks be to God.





Offering and Prayer

Generous God, we give you thanks for all the gifts that you give to us – the gifts of life and love, the gifts of your grace coming to us in Jesus Christ. Accept and bless these gifts and our lives as we offer them as our grateful response. Amen

 

The Service of the Word.

Bible readings  Glen Henderson

Isaiah 58 This reading admonishes the people for seeking glory for showy religious behaviours but they are set back on their heels and told that serving the poorest and the lowliest is true service to God.

Luke 10: 25-37 This exchange took place hundreds of years after the utterance of the words in Isaiah but the young man still hasn't understood, like so many in every age. Maybe because showy temple/church actions are easier than true service.


Address

Heather Pinto outlined the various types of help given to people in our district who are having a tough time and added that counselling was given so the that people who needed help have a better chance of making independent decisions for themselves, thereby giving them the gift of dignity along with the gifts of material
things.






The Lectionary reading theme for October has been “All are Welcome” and the questions posed are:

What does a welcoming Christian Community look like?

What are you prepared to give up to follow Jesus?

What is your experience in the ministry of serving others?

When in need of healing, what do you do? How is your faith?

The questions prepare us for being the people who can heal ourselves and then be fit to serve others. We can give people water from an empty bucket.

 

The service was closed in prayer for others…another type of service…and the singing of hymns

The last two hymns were : Hymn TIS 650Brother, sister let me serve you”. and

Hymn TIS 658 “I, the Lord of sea and sky” which tied it all together.

 

 

   

 

 

 
 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 14 October 2018


 

 

MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCH SUNDAY 14th October.

Gathering Gods People

 

Today I was unable to attend this service, so for the first section, I have given you the direct words of the service so you can be blessed as were those who were present on the day.

 

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

 From river to ocean, from campfire to hearth,

May the First People who have cared for this Land be blessed.

From breath to song, from step to dance,

May those who follow Your Song lines guide us on the journey of living honourable in this place.

From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus,

 

Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)

Still Im not annihilated by darkness; [God] has hidden deep darkness from me.

 In times of trouble, in times of joy ...we call upon the name of God.

With steadfast faith, with wavering doubt ... we call upon the name of God.

Basking in Gods presence, aching in Gods absence ... we call upon the name of God.


 Hymn TIS 727: In the presence of your people


Opening Prayer

 Holy One, we call upon your name this day. When you seem most absent, we yearn to hear your voice. When you seem most present, we long to follow your teachings. Be with us now. Strengthen and guide us, that we may trust your call and follow your lead. In doubt, in trust, but most of all in hope, we pray. Amen.


 Prayer of Confession

 Mysterious One, we cry out in our times of need—

for hope in times of despair, for faith in times of doubt, for comfort in times of grief, for grace in times of sin, and for love in times of loneliness. Answer our cry.

Be our refuge and our help. Restore our lives.

Revive our hope. Return us to the path of discipleship, where we may walk with you anew in confidence and joy.

In the name of Christ, our rock and our redeemer, we pray. Amen.


Declaration of Forgiveness

Draw near to Christ, who is our mercy and our grace, for in Christ, we are restored and made whole. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven and reconciled to God.
Thanks be to God!


 The Peace

 Creating us all as equals, and calling us to be generous in our faith, the Lord invites us to offer gestures of welcome as we share the peace of Christ.

Peace be with you! And also with you


Hymn TIS 589: Jesus calls us! Oer the tumult

                  

 

 

The Service of the Word. I have deleted much to concentrate of the following part of the service.


Hebrews 4:12-16

 12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart…16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Mark 10:17-31

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions…

Preaching of the Word


Ask a Simple Question - Mark 10:17-31

A summary of some of Rev. John’s words to the congregation:

Haven’t you ever wished that you could get this one shot? That you could cut through the crowd all around Jesus, go right up to him and ask the one question youve always wanted to ask? I cant count the number of times someone has found out that I am a minister and then blurted out,

Can I ask you a question? What does the Bible say about . . .?The character in this passage asks a simple enough question, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

 One problem with this story is that we dont quite know what to do with Jesusanswer! 

If we interpret the passage in this concrete way, however, Jesusinstructions to the man dont quite fit with the rest of the passage or with what we know about Gods grace. Surely, we do not pay our way into the kingdom of God, into the Resurrection. Whatever eternal life is about, it is not a financial transaction. Eternal life is a gift from God. Interpreting this passage as a simple pay-as-you-go deal makes God into an extortionist, not a loving parent. We have to keep looking to understand what Jesus means here.

 Perhaps Jesus is pushing us to see that we cannot earn our way into the dominion of God no matter what we do. … This passage is about more than our internal attitude toward money. Jesus really does call us to give, to share, to sacrifice.

My own view of this is that Jesus simply wanted the young man to offer all that he was and had to God. All we are and have is a gift from God and our part is to relinquish our grasp on whatever that is so that God can make use of it in the building of the kingdom.


 Benediction

 Go now in hope. Go now in love. And may the peace that passes all understanding guide you along the way. And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you always.


Hymn TIS  779: May the feet of God walk with you