Helen welcomed us all and the notices were given out. Pat gave us semi-final figures of 560 doz. lamingtons made during the lamington drive (that's just short of 7000), raising about $2400 for Uniting World Project for the work in the South Sudan, saving the lives of mothers and babies. Warwick announced a meeting of the Church Council for June 11 which will be with Presbytery to discuss the future for Marsden Road and Graham didn't make an announcement about bus driving training. (He said he would next week)
The Call to Worship Psalm 8: 3 - 9
God has made us a little less than Himself, to be His stewards on this Earth! Wow!
We really don't behave to that standard very often, do we? In fact, sometimes, some of us act less nobly than the most base beasts. It really behoves us to reach out for God's help to live up to this standard.
Hymn TIS 142 "Glory be to God the Father" All praise to God. Not even a little bit to us. It's very tempting to think any success must be, at least partly, because of our talent or hard work but everything flows from the Lord of Light.
Commissioning of Elders - Joan and Mae
Helen began by asking the congregation to consider their gifts and then went on to say that the Church believes we have been given these gifts to build God's Church by serving others.
Helen then introduced the two newly elected elders and proceeded with the commissioning by asking the two to make certain vows.
The Vows - The Elders
Do you confess anew Jesus Christ as Lord?
Do you believe you are called by God through The Church to this ministry?
Will you seek to live and work within the faith and unity of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?
Do you adhere to the Basis of Union!
Relying on God's grace do you promise to carry out the duties of your office? I do.
The Vows - The Congregation
Will you, the members of Marsden Road Uniting Church, accept Joan and Mae as elders?
Will you encourage them in love, and support them in their ministry,
serving with them the one Lord Jesus Christ? We will.
May God give you the strength to fulfill these vows; and to him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus from generation to generation for ever. Amen.
Act of Commissioning Those elders and appointed people to join with the minister in the laying on of hands, come forward. Prayers were offered by these people giving form to the support offered pledged by the congregation.
Hands are laid on the head of each candidate.
Helen says: Joan receive the Holy Spirit for the ministry of elder. Amen.
Mae receive the Holy Spirit for the ministry of elder. Amen.
Aaronic Blessing TIS 776
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Declaration In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I declare you elders of the Uniting Church in Australia, in the Marsden Road Congregation.
Helen went on to say that, having different gifts, and being at different stages in life and dependent on our different situations in life, we may understand God differently.
Perhaps each of us understand a different facet of God's glory and are able to minister differently because of that.
Hymn TIS 182 "Bring many names" A hymn to the many forms God takes in our lives, serving our many and various needs: attending to each of us as though we were the only person on the planet. A big ask. But God is great. The only one sufficient to the task.
Prayer of Praise and Confession A prayer, thanking God for the many ways creation reveals the glory of the One beyond anything we can imagine.
"Forgive us for filling our lives with events and activities that block you out.
For lacking confidence in your presence as we face life's challenges."
Words of Assurance "It is God who forgives and holds us.
Christ came into the world to save sinners.
Hear then Christ's words of grace to us:
"Your sins are forgiven". Thanks be to God.
Scripture Reading Alan read to us from John 16: 12 - 15. Jesus was explaining to His disciples that there was more to be told but that it would need to wait until the coming of the Spirit, who would guide them (and us) in all things. Jesus went on to say that the Spirit would glorify Him and that the Father and Him (Jesus) were one. A thumbnail sketch of The Trinity.
Reflection Helen pointed out that the word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible but the concept does, (as it did in the reading). The idea of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as the Trinity, is one we can't just seem to get our head around, so we look for different ways of thinking about it and expressing it.
Helen then made the point that the way we see the Trinity is the way we see God and informs the way we approach God. The first model offered was that of a triangle, with the Father at the top and Jesus and the Holy Spirit on each corner of the base. Helen described this as the "Business Model" with God as the "boss", the "head".
The next model suggested was that of a straight line, a little like the layout of some churches, especially the Orthodox churches with the sacred space at the front, signifying the Father, with the Communion Rail, symbolizing the position of Jesus through to the Holy Spirit near the back of the church. Helen confessed she found this model unhelpful, although she knew it suited some people, because it makes the Father farther away - not so much a personal God.
The equilateral triangle model, with the positions of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
interchangeable, depends on the focus of the particular denomination. Traditional churches place the Father at the top, while Evangelicals put Jesus at the top and the charismatic, the Holy Spirit.
However the model Helen preferred is the circle with Father, Son and Holy Spirit on the circumference and us in the middle, so when we pray we pray from within the circle, we don't have to search for God. We are praying in God and God is in us. We are becoming one with God. We can be assured that that's how close God is.
Poem Helen then read a poem, "Without You" by Thom M. Shuman. Space does not allow its inclusion here, but it is well worth following up.
Hymn: "Maker of All Things" by Elizabeth J. Smith from "Songs for a Hopeful Church" much the same sentiments as the poem. God meeting our every need. Giving our life meaning, keeping us close.
The Freewill Offering and Prayers for Others followed, then
Hymn TIS 179 "Praise with Joy the World's Creator" Not "A Man for all Seasons" but "A God for all Seasons". God is our all! God provides all! God knows all!
Commissioning: God loves relationship. It is in relationship that we know God and in relationship God knows us. We draw closer to God as we draw closer to each other and the closer we get to each other, the more we know God. This is our journey.
Blessing TIS 779 "May the Feet of God walk with You"