Rejoice with Glorious Expectations.
Welcome and Introduction Stephen welcomed Nigel to Marsden Road today and Nigel began with the
Call to Worship: (Based on Psalm 148) The prayer of a full heart, praising God for every good thing. "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will among all people."
Hymn 224. "Joy to the world" An attempt to express the joy of receiving the Lord of all and, however inadequately, to speak of and show appreciation for the wonders of his love.
Prayer of Praise and Adoration A time to stop and marvel at the greatness of God's love for us, a love that each year brings forth from us a response of praise. A response articulated through worship; through loving and hospitable acts.
We praise God for his great gift of love, Jesus Christ, who brings to birth in us love for him and for each other. We look to an unknown future knowing we can embrace it with confidence, because God has blessed our lives.
"For these blessings we offer our praise and thanksgiving in Jesus' name and for his sake. Amen."
Hymn 227 "Hark the herald angels sing", a more measured declaration of the effect of God's entry into history and a song of praise for that. "Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings."
Epistle Pat read Colossians 3: 12 - 17, where we are enjoined to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient but above all, loving and: "Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts...And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him."
Prayer of Confession. Reflecting the intent of the epistle, asking forgiveness for when we have failed to be what is needed. "Strengthen us with the Holy Spirit so that whatever we do, in word and deed, we do in the name of Jesus, our Lord..."
A period of silent reflection followed.
Assurance of Forgiveness That we follow the commands of the Colossians reading is in gratitude to "the good news that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven."
Thanks be to God.
Gospel: Again Pat read to us, this time from Luke: 2: 41 - 52, the account of Jesus at the age of twelve, not returning with his parents from a journey to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover, but staying on, talking, at an adult level, with the learned men. His parents were beside themselves with panic when he went missing but his reply to them revealed where his core lay, even at that young age, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" If only we could stay true to our course at all times.
Message: Rejoicing with Glorious Expectations. Nigel explained that he had chosen his theme as echoing his anticipation of a new job he is starting this year as an ordained deacon in the role of Uniting Church Chaplain under Uniting Care at Westmead Hospital.
To begin with he focused on the event of the adolescent Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem after the Celebration of the Passover and worrying the life out of his parents and making it clear that in his mind he was where he should be-in his father's house.
Despite the fright, Mary recognized Jesus as beginning to mature and "treasures this special moment in her heart"
Nigel also referred to the story of Samuel, another child promised by God who is quoted as growing both in stature and favour with the Lord just as it is written in Luke that "Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour"
Nigel invited us to recall a time when a young person known to us began to emerge into their adult person, accepting the responsibilities of what would become their life's work.
Nigel concluded: "So, today I invite you to remember and hold onto these special moments you have experienced in your life and then to look at and connect with Mary and her journey of seeing her son become the Saviour of the World.
This same Jesus speaks into our lives today and we can join with Jesus through the Spirit, Rejoicing in Glorious Expectations of what God is going to do in and through us in this world with the people God loves."
Hymn 141 "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing." "...he sets the prisoner free..." and as a result we ask for help in proclaiming his name throughout the world, a task that should follow naturally, but it's that weak flesh problem again.
Prayers of the People. Ruth gave thanks for the many blessings of 2012 and the knowledge of God's presence with us at all times throughout the year.
She gave thanks for God carrying us through the hard and difficult times and asked that in the year to come we will be given ears to hear the cares of those around us and look after those who struggle in life, especially those with financial problems who are trying to do the best for their families.
She prayed for the leaders of the world whose decisions affect so many and for our own church community for patience and guidance in dealing with those around us in our daily lives.
Ruth asked for care for the sick among our loved ones and friends and safekeeping for those away from home. Then followed
The Lord's Prayer. A prayer in itself but also a reminder of what prayer is about - and that it isn't a wish list of things to make our lives more comfortable
Offering and Offertory Prayer In gratitude we offer back to God of the bounty he as given us and pray that we will be faithful witnesses like Simeon and Anna.
Hymn 238 " Angels from the realm of glory.." A message that God appears to whomever he pleases, whenever he pleases and that our part is to "...worship Christ the newborn King."
Benediction: "The love of God clothe you and bless you,
The peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
The Holy Spirit weave new purpose in your lives."
(The full liturgy used in this service on which this reflection is based, remains the property of Moira B Laidlaw and can be found on http://www.liturgiesonline.com.au)