Call to Worship
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Let us come to the Lord with thanksgiving. Amen.
This is a call I would do well to listen to each day, to focus on all that I have to be joyful for and to remember that God knows what He is doing
Hymn: "Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy one here" (David Evans). We are told that God is our friend so it is good that songs like this remind us that God is not like other friends. God is Holy. We should sit still and listen. We should stop all the asking and telling. We should stop all the busyness. We should listen and open ourselves to His work.
Prayer of Adoration and Confession Hugh expressed our intention to come before God to pray to and adore Him, knowing that even though God is mighty, he is still concerned for the smallest and weakest of all. Hugh asked that God's great wisdom should lead and guide us, shepherding us until we are home with Him, the author of love so deep and boundless. Hugh confessed for us, our constant stepping aside from God's plan for us and the bad condition in which that leaves us. He confessed, for us, our many human sins such as when we criticize others for faults which we have ourselves, wandering in darkness. Hugh asked that we be forgiven and, in confidence, declared that God had done so.
Hymn TIS 229 "Jesus loves me, this I know" This hymn was included for the children but it can give comfort and assurance at any age, knowing that God is with us in every step we take.
Bible Readings Isaiah 42: 1 - 9 In the light of the present events worldwide and even in our own country and state, we would be forgiven for thinking that God has given up on the people of this planet. For those of us who have started thinking this way, the reading from Isaiah is the antidote. "He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth;" but here is the scary part: " I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,...I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind." That's us!
Matthew 3: 13 - 17 This is the one! Listen to Him!
Reflection - Hugh began with reference to New Year Resolutions which many people make, hoping to take a better direction in life. Because they regret their actions, or lack of them, in the previous year, people resolve to live in a better way but because of the failure rate of sticking to these resolves, many people avoid the custom.
As a group, we could see this time as a time for change, a time for new beginnings. This could be the time for the church to try a new approach, a new way of being church. We need to decide the type of change: gradual or sudden but remembering that with change, comes hope of development.
The reading from Matthew described baptism and in Colossians baptism is spoken of as dying and coming to life again - raised with Christ.
On a day to day basis, we can apply this promise - we may fail one day, and rise again the next to continue living according to the true path. There is always hope. With baptism comes the hope of a new life, but we are not capable of making that happen by ourselves. Some people have suggested positive thinking as a way to a better life but this does not bring about fundamental change in us. We need God for that. Change is powerful but true change cannot come about without God.
Today, sixty percent of Christendom are considering this reading, and when we read that God declared, "This is my son..." we should remember that it is also the case that we are His children through baptism and that God will continue to call us His dear children.
Hymn TIS 687 "God gives us a future" Hmm. In case any of us were thinking that we could start drifting off message, diluting the lesson we had received so far, here is a song that swings us right back on track.
Offering It is only right that in gratitude for all our many blessings we should return a portion for the work of the church.
Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer Hugh led this prayer, asking for God's blessing on the Marsden Road congregation, the Uniting Church in Australia and all other churches, asking that God would grant wisdom to the leaders so that we may share the good news to more people in a new way. Hugh prayed for peace in this troubled world with conflicts and differences of opinion causing pain for so many. He asked that these people be blessed with better lives and that the leaders of warring sides be reminded of God's presence. Hugh prayed on our behalf for the hungry and suffering, especially little children, asking that God would keep them in His arms. He concluded by praying for those known to us suffering the everyday difficulties of life, asking that we will be a blessing in their lives. This time of prayer was concluded with The Lord's Prayer
Hymn: TIS 465 "Father in Heaven, grant to your children". A prayer for us to be made into the sort of people who can respond faithfully to today's message. We are not alone in this mission. God has not given the command and set us asail. He is not just our guide and counsellor, He is the one who makes us into the people who can do the work.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Amen. Amen. Amen.