Sunday, 28 July 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 July

Joan has again generously written up the service for us.

Call to Worship – Psalm 85:7-11  “Oh Lord, show us thy true love and grant us thy deliverance.” This was an optimistic start to our service as we responsively read these few verses with Andrew leading us.
Hymn TIS 56“O sing a new song to the Lord, for wonders he hath done” more optimism here!
Prayers of Praise, Thanksgiving – Yes it was worth getting out of our warm bed for this!
Confession and Assurance – Through Andrew, we asked - among other things for the ability to forgive others.  We asked God to allow us to be Ambassadors of Healing.
And the Assurance – God loves without reserve – our sins are forgiven.
Children’s Address – It was a challenge for Andrew to get across the concept of the kind of prayer we should pray to such young children; even when he talked of praying for a fine day so that their outdoor Birthday Party may be a success – but Mum’s nodding of her head showed that she understood the temptation to pray for a fine day for the party without considering that a nearby farmer might need rain to save his crops.  The children’s address was certainly relevant to the adults.

Hymn TIS 648“Help us accept each other, as Christ accepted us

                            Teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace”

Scripture Reading – Luke 11:1-13   Ruth read the scripture passage which is headed; “About Prayer” in the New English Bible.  “… ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.”  An optimistic end to the scripture reading lead into Andrew’s Reflection.

Reflection – “Teach us to Pray” – Andrew began with a true story about an encounter with a customer at the Wentworthville Opp Shop where he was volunteering.  She was a devout Catholic woman who complained there was never a Priest available to hear her confession at 9.15 each morning after she dropped her children at school.  Was that a reasonable expectation?

William Barclay’s writings were of help as Andrew explained the three distinct parts of the prayer that Jesus taught his Disciples to pray.  Luke’s version of these events is quite short but there is praise and thanksgiving in the first part with, “Father thy name be hallowed; thy kingdom come.”  The second part, “Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins” speaks of supplication and petition and the third part, “For we too forgive all who have done us wrong, and do not bring us to the test” - speaks of confessions and forgiveness and the concern we should have for others.

Andrew told us he is currently lecturing on the Reformation at the Centre for Ministry and that Martin Luther, who was a monk, really knew the importance of prayer.  He said; “I have so much to do each day I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer.”   This comment of Martin Luther stopped me in my tracks.  As the daughter of an Anglican Priest I often questioned the need or even the wisdom of my father’s long and inflexible twice daily devotion ritual.  To my young mind it seemed odd that even when he was running late and had much to do and a deadline to meet, the bedroom door was still shut fast and the time was found for his personal devotions no matter what.  So this comment attributed to Martin Luther really made me think that it is a hard to discipline ourselves and many of us fall short and short-change God and ourselves in prayer. 

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” was another Martin Luther quote mentioned – and yes!  I believe that I would too!  If we lose hope and optimism we must surely also lose faith. 

Andrew returned to William Barclay’s “Plain man’s book of prayer” to discuss the three “laws” of prayer.  We must first be honest.  Secondly, we must be definite in prayer and name the gifts and the sins we are seeking to pray about.  Finally, we must be prepared to engage in self examination.

“When we pray we must accept that God will not do for us; that which we can do ourselves”, Andrew said.  I am sure I was not the only person who silently echoed that old adage; “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”  We can’t expect to pass our exams if we don’t study!  If we have studied it is reasonable to pray for calm thinking and good memory retention under the stress of the exam.

The final thoughts were powerful and encouraging. “Prayer is the co-operation of our effort with the Grace of God” and “Prayer brings power and endurance”.  Here we were encouraged to think that although when Jesus prayed to be spared the ordeal of the cross this prayer was not answered – he was given the strength and endurance to bear the pain of all our sins.  And we must also accept that we don’t always get the answer we want.  We were directed to consider Proverbs 30 Verse 8 which says; “Put fraud and lying far from me; give me neither poverty or wealth, provide me only with the food I need.”  Here we were invited to think about the differences between wants and needs and also about our spiritual sustenance. 
Hymn TIS 464 – “Seek O seek the Lord, while He is near,

                             Trust him, speak to Him in prayer and He will hear.”

 How reassuring are these words written by the Australian poet James McAuley.  Thanks Grahame for telling us about him during the announcements.

Announcements – As often happens this became a time of sharing when we were asked to pray about the nomination and election of three new elders and the upcoming AGM for the Congregation.   We also learned that the final figure raised by the “Simply Sharing” Tea was $450 for the “Uniting World Project – Transforming Lives through Leadership”.

Offering and Dedication

Prayers of the People – These Prayers were lead by Chris who began with Praise, effused Faith and called us to grow to reflect Christ and to yield to God and take everything to him in prayer.  He referred to the “red books” where we list our prayer requests and carried these requests to God for us.

Hymn TIS 104 – “While morning still is breaking and day replaces night …

your Spirit pour within us, and let the gifts of grace - to those good actions win us that best may show your praise. 

Blessing and Benediction – The service finished with the singing of:

Now unto Him, who is able to keep

Able to keep you from falling

And present you faultless

Before the presence of His glory

With exceeding joy

To the only wise God our Saviour

Be glory and majesty

Dominion and power

Both now and forever


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