Hugh welcomed us to worship and pray together, reminding us of the power of community praise and prayer.
Call to Worship
"Leader: Come, we gather to meet our God this day.
All: Even when we might be home reading the paper...
Even when our work beckons us...
Even when our bodies ache with pain...
Even when things around us don't seem promising...
We come to meet you today, God.
Leader: Come, as we make God the focus of our lives.
Come, as we open the Scripture for guidance.
Come, as we pray, praise, repent, and forgive.
Dear friends in Christ. Let us have worship together.
The Grace of the Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
Hymn TIS 693 "Come as you are" An invitation to all, no matter what. However undeserving we feel, we are loved and welcomed.
Prayer of Adoration Hugh prayed on our behalf, addressing God as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the most beautiful and most powerful one, who despite His greatness is prepared to listen to us. Hugh then prayed that God would help us truly worship Him.
Prayer of Confession Appropriately, we said this confession together. We may think some are worse sinners than others but in God's eyes we are all flawed and all need to ask forgiveness. The sins Hugh had written into this confession were the ordinary old garden variety ones...that cause God as much grief as those we humans judge much worse. We are not OK. We all need God's cleansing power.
"Forgive us, Abiding Love. We think we are so wise with the choices we make, only to end up with all that keeps us from you. Your Word has come, to fill our speech with grace, with hope, with peace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Assurance and Pardon
Leader: Day to day, God offers mercy and hope. Moment to moment, we are surrounded by God's never-ending love. Friends in Christ, trust the Good News for you this morning: "Our sins are forgiven."
People: Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.
Hymn TIS 614 "O God of love" vv. 1&3 A prayer that we will live as though we are in God's presence, so that everyone in every nation will follow His will, living as neighbours to bring about universal friendship. I have often thought that all this needs is an act of will. All we need to do is to say we will get on with each other. Forget the argy bargy. Forget the so-called negotiating. We just need to do it.
Bible Readings Trudy brought us Corinthians 1: 10 - 18 and Matthew 4: 12 – 23. The reading from Matthew covers the calling of Simon and Andrew and James and John, who responded and followed him immediately. What did this man have that they did this? In Corinthians, Paul's directives imply that there had been much division in the group and his instruction was to stop such silliness because it could undo the whole purpose of the mission Jesus had given him and others.
I think we should think on that for a long time.
Reflection Hugh began with an account of an event that occurred in 1977. Arthur Burns, the then U.S. Ambassador to West Germany and an advisor to presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan was asked to close a prayer breakfast in prayer. People were interested in how he would respond, given that he was Jewish. He took the prayer saying, ""Lord, I pray that Jews will get to know Christ, I pray that Muslims will get to know Christ. Finally, Lord, I pray that all Christians in the world will get to know Jesus Christ. Amen." Calling yourself a Christian is not enough, you must get to know Jesus Christ - and live like Him.
Hugh then spoke about a man who did know Christ and did live like Him: William Wilberforce, who considered leaving politics for the ministry because he wasn't sure how a Christian could live out in the secular world but was advised to stay and exercise a Christian influence in that position. We all know the result - the abolition of Slavery in most of the British Empire.
Then Hugh turned to the calling of the disciples as in the readings and then posed the question of how many people are defined by their jobs. Some people are so keen to "keep up with the Joneses" that they have no leisure time. Could it be that work is not meant to be the centre of our lives? Are we as wise as the four disciples who figured that out?
Most Westerners know about God in some way. Many profess to be Christians although they never attend church. That is, they have never encountered Christ. The New Testament is witness to what can happen when we encounter Christ. But meeting is not enough, a relationship must develop and we must follow Him regardless of the outcome.
"Lord, we pray that Jews will get to know Christ. We pray that Muslims will get to know Christ. Finally, Lord we pray that all the Christians in the world and in this land and in this church will truly and truthfully know Jesus Christ. Amen."
Hymn TIS 647 "Comfort, comfort all my people" A promise and an offer that God can and will comfort all our hurts.
Offering Our attempt to return but a little of God's rich blessings upon us, and our prayer that our offering be used to further God's work.
Prayers of the People Margaret prayed: "Dear loving God whose grace brings light to our darkened world, we would listen for your voice, but find it so difficult to be receptive to its sound. Open our ears, make our hearts and minds such that we will absorb and perceive your will for each of us.
Today we remember our fellow creatures in need and look for what we can do to be your voice and hands to meet their needs. We celebrate the work of (the various Australians of the year). May their leadership in 2014 provide not only the impetus for greater things but widen their own perspective on their areas of passion, and provide an example to others. Margaret prayed for the perpetrators of the violence we hear of in Sydney each weekend, asking that God will speak to the hearts of these young men, showing them a different way of being men.
She added that all of us will see that honour is in loving kindness, forgiveness of others and ourselves, and in bringing healing through God's power.
She prayed for the victims of the greed of others and prayed that God would speak to the hearts of the greedy, to rid the world of the terrible things that greed causes.
She then prayed for our church, ourselves and those known to us who are suffering and then we joined in The Lord's Prayer.
Hymn TIS 468 "We are your People" A declaration on our part that we will dedicate ourselves to working together, using all the talents each of us has to offer to show that God is alive in the world.
Benediction Hugh prayed that God would bless us and take care of us. That He would look upon us with kindness and graciousness; that He show us favour and grant us peace.
Then, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and your family and friends and those in need on this planet, this day and forever. Amen
We then sang: May the feet of God walk with you, and His hands hold tight.
May the eye of God rest on you, and His ear hear your cry.
May the smile of God be for you, and His breath give you life.
May the child of God grow in you, and His love bring you home.