Helen welcomed everyone to this service to which younger adults had been especially invited.
The notices were given out and we found that the Operation Christmas Child appeal was finalised at 66 boxes - what an effort!
Helen gave notice of a Bible Study for the new year and we voted on the options.
Then Helen Called us to Worship, encouraging everyone to see the Christian Life, no so much as a destination as a journey and to see true worship as being found in sharing the moments when we sense God's presence.
We began the day's worship in song: Andrew on Piano, Roger and Alice on vocals, backed by Roger on guitar and Oliver on "descant" guitar providing leadership for a bracket of vibrant hymns that had many a pair of toes tapping and I do believe I saw more than the odd swaying of the hips. The young people enjoyed it as well.
The first hymn was praise to the conquerer of darkness, praying that we could be used to shine that light out into the world.
The second was a hymn of thanks, calling God, "Blessed" in acknowledgement of the lives of "plenty" we live and by analogy calling on God to be as bountiful when we find ourselves in a spiritual desert.
The last hymn "Amazing Grace" harked back to that last thought, thanking God, humbly, for His Grace that saves us from the people we would be otherwise.
This time of sharing was followed by the Prayer of Invocation where we declared our consciousness of God's compassion and readiness to receive us at any time, with all our shortcomings.
We asked for help to live our lives, to face possible ridicule and failure and to remain alert to the needs of those around us.
We prayed for hope, courage, focus and joy as we refuse to be dead in the midst of life.
Kids Time Out Graham led this, setting a series of relays for two young volunteers, increasing the difficulty, each time, with Helen making the point that sometimes we try to fit too much into the finite time we have with the result that we never feel as though we do anything well.
Hymn MP 936 "Teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart,
to move in the power of Your Spirit,
to walk in the light of Your Presence,
to dance to the beat of Your Heart.
to love with Your heart of compassion,
to trust in the word of Your promise,
to hope in the day of Your coming,
to dance to the beat of Your Heart."
We are all usually very determined to do as we see best, and although we pray for God's guidance in making decisions and taking action, this hymn puts us in a state of allowing God to have us live as he would, in every conceivable aspect of our existence.
Scripture Reading Sylvia delivered the words of Mark 10: 46 - 52. The account of Jesus healing Bartimaeus of his physical blindness. When Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, Jesus asked him "What do you want me to do for you?" There's a question! What do we really want?
Reflection Helen described the background of Mark as being the earliest and shortest of the gospels and pointed out that everything that is written there is written there for a purpose.
Jesus is represented as homeless, unmarried, unemployed and in a hurry
In this incident the beggars are lined up along the way and Bartimaeus calls out because, although he is physically blind he is not spiritually so. " Son of David, have mercy on me!" Bartimaeus knew who he was calling out to and asked to be able to see again.
Jesus' answer shows how easy it is if we truly believe - " Go; your faith has made you well." the energy in this healing and the focus of this beggar are in contrast to the behaviour of the disciples who have just been fighting over who is the most important.
Also the openness of this healing is in contrast to the secretiveness of the healing in chapter 8, showing a growth in faith. A growth from being quiet about the ministry to being openly triumphant about what is possible in God's name - a challenge to the people Mark is writing for.
Helen pointed out that we are all on a path and on that path we will meet Jesus.
Our God is different to those others believe in. Our God comes to us. Jesus is God on the move and wherever we are, God will come to us - What do we want Jesus to do for us?
We were then given the opportunity - the challenge, to write out what we wanted Jesus to do for us and these written requests were offered up.
Hymn TIS 609 "May the mind of Christ my Saviour" The same prayer as we sang in the previous hymn. May God enter into and guide every aspect of our lives. What people we would be if we really opened ourselves to such a possibility! What a church we would be!
Freewill Offering We dedicate our lives and all that we have to the work of life, of love, of peace. Receive our gifts and lead us in wisdom and courage.
Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer Noelene led us, giving thanks that we could worship together and experience the church as family, asking for blessing on all present, the regulars and those who had come for the special service.
Prayer was offered for those in the distress of war or famine around the word and we asked that our eyes be opened to what we can do to help.
We prayed for those made redundant, that they should be given guidance as to how they should cope with the future; for family and friends; for travellers; for the
Uniting Church in and, at Australia Marsden Road for Helen and Graham and all our leaders.
Blessing May the God of all time give you space and rain on you with his blessings.
Hymn TIS 569 "Guide me O thou great Redeemer" This morning the bar has been set high and our only prospect of achieving such heights is with God steering our lives.
Hold me Lord
Hold me in your arms, Lord
Bless me with your love.
Whisper in the quietness, Lord
Bless me with your word.
Lead me through the darkness Lord
Bless me with your light.
Touch me where I hurt Lord
Bless me with you healing.
And through your blessings, Lord
may we grow and learn
to know your presence
always walking with us. Amen
Go in Peace.