Monday, 20 August 2012

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 19 August

The theme for the service today was "A Discerning and Wise Heart.  "It was about the choices we make in life and how they affect our future. What are the moral choices for society?  How do we make choices?  It was about the need for a quietness and time for reflection which will ensure that our actions are more purposeful.

Colin welcomed us all with the hope that we would come to know God better through our worship and extended a special welcome to Carolyn who was taking the service.

Carolyn familiarised the congregation with her relationship with MRUC and exhorted us as People of God that we make the most of our time together - with each other and with God- to seek wisdom.  When I think about it, that is probably the best way to approach each minute of the day but as the saying goes  --"When all else fails, read the instructions".

Hymn 40  "I sing the almighty power of God" had us singing of the power and the wisdom of God who is always present; always caring; always guiding...into wisdom.

Carolyn led the Opening Prayer in which we thanked our Lord for being the God of wonder and delight and then, with our heart, with our soul, with our mind and with our strength we expressed our gratitude for all that God is and asked to be able to discover that anew.  Thanks was given for all the gifts and resources we are given and we prayed for guidance in sharing these gifts with others.

The Prayer of Confession was a time to acknowledge that God is the God of creation who gives us life but a time also of confession that we do not appreciate any of it at times.  We sought forgiveness and asked for guidance to experience and recognise God's wisdom in every moment of our lives.  The Assurance of Pardon was given and we thanked God for the spirit of wisdom.

Hymn 337 "Your words to me are life and health"  reminded us that listening to God's word gives health to our spiritual lives, guiding and teaching us God's wisdom and will.

Lauren read from 1Kings 2; John 6:51-58; Ephesians 5:-5-20.    These readings began with Solomon succeeding David and thanking God for His care for David but when Solomon's turn came to ask for God's help, he asked for Understanding and Discernment, an example to all. Then in John, Jesus is presented to us as the Living Bread, the nourishment for our spirit and in the context of today's service, the source of understanding and discernment. Finally Ephesians gave us, in practical terms, advice on living wise lives.

Carolyn then prayed that having been brought to praise God, that we might listen for God's wise and discerning guidance, away from the distractions of life - and that our words and thoughts would be acceptable in God's sight.

In the Reflection that followed it was pointed out that the readings focussed on having a wise and discerning heart as Solomon had, realizing he had to be more aware of the people of God for whom he was responsible.  (apologies here for not only the pedantic use of "whom" - I tutor high school English - but also the overuse of "discerning" but I don't know enough good synonyms).

But how do we achieve this discerning heart?  Carolyn suggested that we should keep singing the Lord's song. That is, we should keep God as our focus and keep close to Him so that His will can permeate our hearts and minds.  That way we will be able to stay true as we are tempted to do evil and as we live in a world where evil exists.

The situation of the Asylum Seekers was offered as a situation where we should show wisdom by acting as Jesus would act, by identifying with them and taking their suffering upon us.

Carolyn referred to Deepak Chopra's insight in the Eighties that science wasn't the answer to everything, that 2000 years could not be ignored. Accordingly as Christians we believe that a life in Christ transforms us, makes us discerning, (there's that word again) makes us wise.

Moving on, Carolyn referred to secular society's stress on "my rights, my needs" instead of looking to the common good.  This perspective was then applied to the government’s intervention in the management of the lives of our indigenous people.  Was that for the good of the people whose lives it disrupted and whose adult dignity was taken away or for the political good of the government?  (you might be amazed at the degree of interference in Aboriginal lives this entailed including the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act -that in itself is enough to give pause.)

How do we obtain a discerning and wise mind: Seek God's spirit through prayer; keep our hearts and minds open to God's work in us and have Christ as our example and leader.
When we look to God in this way we can help those wounded by life: the hungry and exploited; the lonely and those affected by war and the homeless.  We can also find ways to help or influence those around us in the community.

Hymn 328 "Filled with the Spirit's power, with one accord"   in this hymn the Spirit's power constrains us to confess our Lord as our unifying power and to work together for the good of the whole church and to show love to all.

The Offertory followed with a prayer of gratitude for all we have received and a prayer that our gifts could be used to share in God's work.

The Prayers of the People followed reiterating that our song to God will energise our journey, keeping our eyes on the Lord, to bring harmony and reconciliation and at the same time to encourage others to look to God.  With this in mind we continued to pray for the needs of those close to us.

Hymn 465 "All my Hope in God is founded" tells us to put all our trust in God and that anything of this world or of our own making amounts to nothing.  We sang of God not only enduring forever but of how He shows Himself in the details of each day, which is the reason we should sing His praise.

We were sent out to make the most of these times, seeking wisdom and giving thanks. We were then blessed and left singing "may the feet of God walk with you" blessing each other as we went.

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