When I began this project it was meant to be my reflections on the Sunday service at Marsden Road UC but very quickly became a record of the service with reflections added and sometimes, only the odd comment.
I have decided to return to the reflection style of writing and hope that is acceptable to the members of MRUC who are unable to attend service and use the reflection as a way of staying in touch.
Dan began the service by reminding us that we were God's guests at a celebration to which all are invited and to which we are invited just as we are.
I see two messages here. For each of us, within or outside the church: there is no need to be "good enough" or a "church-going type" to join Christian worship. We don't have to wait until we think we have passed some "Christian" test. Just come.
For these of us who do attend. It's God's celebration, and we have no monopoly on it. God welcomes all and so should we and that's not just before and after church.
Today, the hymns, readings and the sermon were a flow of thought, each complementing the other.
The first hymn (AHB 25) was a song of praise, sung with light hearts, thanking God for freeing us from darkness and asking for his guidance in living our lives as he requires.
For myself, I find the times when I notice I am not living up to God's requirements, follow times when I have wandered off on my own way, without checking with the "GPS". As, at any time, it's always worthwhile to follow the maker's instructions.
After this Dan led us in prayers, first a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, followed by a prayer of confession. I always find this a helpful time. As we run along in life it is easy to ignore the need to constantly acknowledge God's due place in creation and the need to daily turn to him for direction and to pray for the Holy Spirit to show us the way we should conduct ourselves. A time like this focuses our mind and spirit.
In the confession Dan, on our behalf, asked for forgiveness for those good things we have neglected to do and those bad things we have done. Nothing new here folks! Why do we keep getting into this position? No answer needed. We all know why.
Fortunately, as Dan pointed out, God is willing to make us whole and restore us to a state of proper being. Give thanks for that.
Hymn AHB 176 Singing of our belief in a man who was just like us in so many ways but because of his unwavering focus and obedience, lived a life that we would like to live but fail to. But maybe, if we commit ourselves to a life hand in hand with our maker, and keep looking to him, even with our predictable lapses, we may live a life something like that man did.
The Readings delivered by Jack were from Luke 4:14-21 and 1 Peter1:3-16.
Luke speaks of Jesus reading in the temple of the prophesy of his place in history. We can look at this as a confirmation that Jesus is the appointed one and that we are following the right path or we could look at it another way, showing our confidence in God's transforming power and apply v 18 to our own lives. We are not here to toddle along from week to week. We are here to extend God's kingdom on Earth.
The passage from Peter is an eloquent, confident and forceful piece of writing, leaving us in no doubt as to the direction we should take. Read it. It is not an easy word but will bring comfort in its sureness.
The Sermon followed, with Dan referring to a saying from the Danish thinker, Soren Aabye Kierkegaard - "Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards". Dan suggested that in some way that's how Jesus was living his life in the Luke reference, looking to the present and future but valuing the lessons of the past.
Dan pointed out that through our knowledge of the past we can know we are involved in the faith community; we are part of God's kingdom, but that we can also live in hope for the future.
The Kingdom has come and is coming. The Kingdom is here but not in its fullness.
Another spin on the quotation that occurred to me, is that, as people, we not only don't learn from the past mistakes of others in past years, we don't earn from our own mistakes.
How often do we try to fix things by doing more of the same? We need to change and there is only one way we can do that so that it has a good outcome. And we all know what that way is. And we all know that we may not like the change that is required. Worse, we may not be able to even imagine the nature of the change that is required. Only one way through that one too.
And for anyone still wondering about that, the next hymn makes it plain.
Hymn AHB 537
May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day...sorted.
The notices were then given and one particularly worth remembering is that of the Friendship Circle morning tea on March 10.
In the Prayers for the People, Pat focused on the timely issue of Australia Day and all we have to thank God for in this country and on the disasters that are making life hard at the moment for some of us. She gave thanks for the volunteers who soften the blow in these disasters and who, in some cases, save lives and livelihoods. Pat then asked for God's hand on the teachers and students returning to school: on his church and on the members of this congregation and their loved ones.
Hymn TIS 687, sung with confidence, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us into the possibilities of the future.
Let us embrace all that God has in store for us - not fear it or shrink from it.
Dan then offered the Blessing and Benediction, sending us out to look forward with joy, celebrating all that we have received.
Amen. Amen. Amen.