Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church July 7

Helen welcomed us all and the notices were given out, including one for the "Simply Sharing" meal on July 14 at 5.30 pm, aimed at supporting a project to create scholarships for theological study places for women throughout the Pacific.

Call to Worship  Sing praises to the Lord, all you, his faithful ones.

                            Weeping may linger for the night, but the joy comes with the morning.

                                                                                                                     Psalm 30:v.4

Hymn TIS 134 "Praise my soul the king of heaven"..."ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven". Really, you couldn't knock back an offer like that, could you?...praise the everlasting King!

Prayer A prayer to the creator God, marvelling that the one who sustains the entire universe; restores, forgives, supports and strengthens us. He who knows and understands our every weakness, is quick to bless. "God of grace, we humbly offer you our praise and thanks. Amen. 

Scripture Reading 2 Kings 5: 1 - 14 was brought to us by Ruth. This is a reading of many details and you would be well advised to read it in full, but the section in the bible is headed "The Healing of Naaman". Two aspects of this story caught my attention: firstly Naaman sought physical healing but ended up with belief in God's power to heal. The second aspect that came home was that when Elisha didn't make any sort of ceremony of the healing but sent a messenger to tell Naaman to wash in the Jordan seven times, Naaman  became angry and refused to do anything so simple and had to be convinced. It sometimes seems so hard to humble ourselves and simply ask for forgiveness. But then it also seems equally difficult sometimes to accept something so freely given. But that's the way it is. We can do nothing to earn or "work off" our cleansing and healing.

Reflection  Helen focussed on the story of Naaman, first setting the scene in the north kingdom where 10 of the 12 tribes had settled.

Naaman was a leader in the adjoining kingdom of Aram, who could be relied upon to win battles and was well thought of in his country and by his king. Israel and Aram were not at full scale war but there were regular border skirmishes and during these, people were regularly taken captive to be work as slaves. It was by this way that an Israelite girl came to be Naaman's wife's servant.

This turned out well for Naaman who was suffering from an incurable skin disease when the girl told Naaman's wife he could be cured if he went to Israel's prophet. Naaman took the idea to his king who saw it as an excellent way of protecting a loyal and good man, and so sent him off with generous gifts and a letter to the King of Israel.

The Israelites were in a period of worshipping no one or anyone but when the King received the letter he was furious because he, at least, still recognized healing as a God-given talent which he knew he didn't have. He put the request down to a war-mongering effort on Naaman's king's part and so tore his clothes.

However, Elisha heard of it and sent a message to calm the King and to tell Naaman to go to him. What happened there is described above in the bible reading section.

Helen showed us how this was a message to the Israelites who were ignoring God. God wants a relationship with each person; he wants us to love him. Naaman wasn't one of his people but he sought healing and as a result, believed.

God loves us all. When He looks at Australia what does He see? Where are our hearts?

Are we trying to love God and each other? Does God see division or are we 'one' together?

How do we show our love for God at church? By simple things like praying and singing.

We have to remember: Love The Lord your God with all your hearts and your neighbour as yourself.

Prayer  An acknowledgement of our own limitations and wonder at being chosen to do God's extraordinary work. Helen continued, asking God to give us faith in ourselves and asking for forgiveness when we are held back by fear. "Lord you have called us. Give us the courage to step out in faith." Amen.

Hymn TIS 595 "O Jesus I have promised" A hymn that resonates with all of us. We so much want to carry out God's plan but are so easily distracted or frightened off. "Speak to reassure me"..."O guide me, call me, draw me,"

Communion  Introduction: Helen began by reminding us that a purpose of sharing in the communion is to remember that we are called also to share our faith with others. She also reminded us that however inadequate we feel, God provides and it is His strength we rely on.

"Let us lift our hearts.    We lift them to The Lord

 Let us give thanks to The Lord our God.    It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We are the body of Christ. Around the table, we enact our faith. The body broken is restored to wholeness: lifeblood poured out brings healing to our world."

A time of Silence

Passing the Peace  Helen explained that at the table we receive God's peace made flesh and that we would then share that.  "The peace of the Lord be with you...And also with you" We then reached out in peace to each other.

There followed a special time brought to us by Helen and Ruth, both speaking of our being transformed so that we will take our place more fully as God's people, reviving our vision of community.

The Words of Institution

These were read from Mark 14:16 - 25 by Colin ..."he took the bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, Take, this is my body. Then  he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them,...This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’”

Prayer over the Elements

"Lord, like us, there is nothing special about the elements before me. Everyday bread and grape juice. We ask now for your life giving, transforming Holy Spirit to enter each person here today, transforming the everyday and ordinary into the sacred. Together, as we share the elements, may we remember Christ's sacrificial love for each one of us."

The Distribution The people were served in the pews.

Hymn TIS 530 "Now let us from this table rise" Having been renewed we should "choose again the pilgrim way." We have been here today with a purpose. Let us not short circuit that purpose by reverting to previous behaviours.

Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer Pat asked that we should keep in mind the less fortunate and gave thanks for those who help the needy. She gave thanks for the beautiful weather we have been enjoying.

She asked for God's blessing on the Church worldwide and on own congregation as we seek out a new minister. Pat asked for God's hand on Helen and Graham as they move into a new phase of their lives.

 She then held up the health concerns of people known to the congregation and then led us in the Lord's Prayer.

 "Your will be done" are the words that echo in my heads continually. They can be quite off putting when I would rather it was my will. 

Helen then bound the sections of the service together moving onto The Freewill Offering.

"We respond to Your generosity to us, with these gifts and our lives...accept and use our offerings for your glory"

Hymn TIS  188 v. 1 - 3  "Where the wide sky rolls down" The God I love blessing the country I love.

Blessing "...May we go forth from this place open to the grace that calls us, surrounds us, and surprises us.

Hymn 188 v. 4 "Now people faith, come gather round"...." Australians, whatever your culture or race, come, lift up your hearts to the Giver of grace"


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