The Call to Worship Hugh called us to Worship by reading responsively from the beautiful Psalm 147
Leader: Praise the Lord! It is good to sing praise to our God;
People: It is pleasant and right to praise him.
Leader: He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.
People: He has decided the number of the stars and calls each one by name.
Leader: Great and mighty is our Lord; his wisdom cannot be measured.
People: He raises the humble but crushes the wicked to the ground.
Leader: Sing hymns of praise to the Lord. Play music on the harp to our God.
People: His pleasure is not in strong horses, nor his delight in brave soldiers;
Leader: but he takes pleasure in those who honor him, in those who trust in his constant love.
All: Praise the Lord! It is good to sing praise to our God.
Hymn TiS 156 – AHB 91 “Morning has broken”
This beautiful hymn with words by the English author, Eleanor Farjeon and sung to a traditional Scottish Gaelic tune is often sung at services for children. As we reached the last verse I thought about what a difference we could make to our lives if we could indeed embrace every day with elation and praise and “own” God’s daily re-creation! Perhaps a life changing thought for 2015?
Mine is the
sunlight, mine is the morning Born
of the one light,
saw play Eden
Praise with elation, praise every morning God’s recreation of the new day
We were invited to stay for a special farewell morning tea for Hugh and
Yoonhee; who we have come to love and appreciate during their time with us at
We have been truly blessed by the
ministries of our caring and generous “fill-in” leaders. Marsden Road Church
Prayer of Adoration and Confession: “Creative God, breath of all life; all things are created through you.” This beautiful prayer went on to declare that God who walked this earth as a child and lived through laughter and sorrow as we do, sustains us and deserves our Praise and Worship.
Offering / Prayer: “As God brought his son as a gift to us, so let us bring our own offerings to God.” “O God. You have blessed us beyond measure; bless now these gifts from our hands and hearts; that we might join you in your ministry and be your light to all who sit in darkness. Amen.”
Men’s Quartet: “Just a Little Talk with Jesus”
Our quartet singers have enjoyed Hugh’s enthusiasm as one of the group and today they sang a Gospel song with suggestions that could also form a worthwhile “habit” for a better 2015. Will we always remember that “A little talk with Jesus” will make things right, and wash away our “fears and doubts” as our souls are filled with “A little light from heaven”?
Blessing for Ella: Ella is Susan & Stephen’s one year old granddaughter (child of Sarah), who was born in
and will soon return to be baptised there.
This was a beautiful moment for the church family which has loved and
nurtured all of Susan and Stephen’s children since their birth. Wales
Hugh reminded us that Jesus said to the disciples, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the
belongs to such as these. I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter
it." “Let us therefore ask for
God's blessing for Ella, so she will continue to grow in wisdom, age, and grace
in the eyes of God and of all who know her.” kingdom of God
Hugh prayed; “When Ella is reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, bring her into your own spiritual family, the Church, there to become a sharer in your kingdom and bless your name for ever. Lord our Father, Bless Ella and her parents and her grandparents and all her extended family, so she and all others in her family will bring many blessings to many people around them. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Hymn TiS 143 “Immortal, Invisible, God only wise”
This hymn was inspired by the words in 1 Timothy - 1:17; “To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.” The hymn, which is sung to a Welsh melody, was written by Walter Chalmers Smith, who was ordained on Christmas Day 1850. In 1893 he was elected Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.
: John 1:1-18 (page 809) Reading
Stephen read the Bible passage – the essence of the message being that God himself came to us in the birth of Jesus Christ, and brought us the opportunity for abundant life and healing.
Reflection: “The Word became Flesh”
Hugh reminded us that we can always live our life with confidence that; “We will always be known to God through his Son, our friend, Jesus Christ. It gives us an assurance that we will be welcomed and accepted by God always... all because of His Son, our friend, Jesus Christ.”
He asked how we can remember Christ in the rush and bustle of the modern secular Christmas? He reminded us that the Christmas message has come to us in the form of human flesh. God has come to dwell with humanity. Put quite literally; “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent with us.” And the best part is that is: as His tent is a moveable dwelling place, “God’s presence will always follow us wherever we go or move. … even in the moments of the most shadowy darkness in our life.”
Hugh noted that the Bible reading says in verse 9 that “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world”. He went on: “Friends, please be reminded again that the Word brings light into the darkness, so we can see and know the way. What a promise! What an assurance! No longer do we need grope along an uncertain path. No longer do we need flounder in the shadow of the darkness because - the Word became flesh and pitched his tent with us.”
“The true light that gives light to everyone, including you and your families, came into the world. That was what really happened on the very first Christmas day.”
Having just “lived through” the secular and Christian rituals of yet another Christmas, surrounded by family and friends from all parts of my life, I really appreciated the thoughts Hugh presented about how; “Christians need always to be Christianizing Christmas. Sometimes Santa Claus has loomed so high that he has hidden the manger. In the bars and gambling dens hang “Merry Christmas” signs. In homes, churches and schools Christians need always to be Christianizing Christmas. The tinsel should not be allowed to eclipse the Word of God.” I think we could all think about that carefully as we approach another year in our lives!
“No matter how extreme are the worldly Christmas celebrations that go on around us, we should never forget that Christmas is all about a heavenly gift, the true, one gift, that God has given to us and to all humanity...! In Christ, God became clothed in human flesh. People now see God with their eyes. God has put on skin. God is down to earth in Jesus Christ. In other words, in Christ, God was now available to humans physically.”
Finally Hugh reminded us: “The world's memorable people are not only talented, but down-to-earth and approachable. In Christ, God has made Himself approachable. In Christ, God came... down to earth, becoming accessible to all.” How enlightening it was to spend time after Christmas to consider that; “Christmas is about that gift – a gift God did not give just for fun or celebration. God sent us the gift because we were people who were struggling in the darkness. Dear friends in Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our friend forever, the true light of the world will continue to show us the way to go, and we will always know that we are going to be alright. Amen.”
Prayers of the People: Our prayers were led by Mae who reminded us that even as we move into a new year we have the assurance that we are living always in the presence of God. As Mae addressed the prayers from the church family, she asked for Blessings on Hugh and Yoonhee and expressed our thanks for Hugh’s loving care for us and for his special ministry of music.
Then we shared the comfort of the Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TiS 256: “From Heaven You came, helpless babe”
As always, this hymn presents an invitation to us all; “To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.”
The Benediction & Blessing Hugh invoked the Benediction and Blessing and asked that we carry the light of Peace with us and live within the light of God’s Love in the coming year and work through Him to continue in His Ministry to our last breath. Amen.
Retiring hymn TiS 720: “Hale, hale, hale”
I suspect I was not the only person who shed a tear or two as dear Hugh enthusiastically conducted and clapped us through his favourite retiring hymn for the last time.