Monday, 26 May 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25 May 2104

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25th May 2014

The Call to Worship was also a Prayer of Adoration and thanks for the beautiful day, the people, the Marsden Road Church and the opportunity to come together in Worship to experience the presence of Christ as we make a community to be the body of Christ!

Hymn  TiS 155                                   “How Great Though Art”

This hymn comes from Psalm 92:5 “O Lord, how great are Thy works!” … and is a wonderful evolution of a Swedish poem inspired by a storm and written in 1885 by preacher, Carl Gustav Boberg and later sung to the melody of a Swedish folk song.  A British Missionary in Poland, Stuart K. Hine heard a Russian version in the 1920s and translated and added to the poem to give us this memorable hymn.  My husband and I experienced such a storm on Mount Dalsnibba in Norway - and without knowing about the history of the hymn - its words and music sprang immediately into my mind.   We stood in awe, feeling like we were indeed in heaven, with the world at our feet as we were buffeted by the fierce, cold inhospitable wind.  The magnificence captured me and I have never felt so close to God!

Prayer of Confession  We confessed our sins and prayed for God to give us clear minds and open hearts to live our daily lives as his disciples. “Hold us to You and build our relationship with You and with those You have given us on earth.  Through Jesus Christ out Lord. Amen.”

Offering / Prayer  Nerida and Alan were helped with the offering by three children and Hugh asked for God’s Blessing on our gifts.

Children’s Address:  Although challenged by the failure of technology, Hugh “painted” the children a clear message in words that the best way to serve God is to be good to the people around you – the people you live with every day.  If you love God’s people you love God!

Hymn TiS 526                                    “Bring forth the Kingdom”

Words & Music written by Marty Haugen, © 1986, GIA Publications, Inc. This song invites us to live, shine, grow and love to bring forth justice in the Kingdom of God and be the salt of the earth.

After this the Children went out to Sunday Kids with their teachers.

Bible Reading:                                  Acts 17:22-31 (page 858)   John 14:15-21 (page 825)   Before reading from Acts, Warwick told us of the “goose-bump” feeling of being involved in history that he had felt just last week as he walked along “The Way of St. Paul” in Athens.  In this reading, Paul begins by saying; "I see that in everything that concerns religion you are uncommonly scrupulous."  Religion, for the people of Athens, was an extremely important matter. The Greeks had different gods for almost every aspect of life and they even built and dedicated objects of worship 'To an unknown god,' hoping to pacify any forgotten god.

The reading from John told of the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit to be an Advocate after Jesus died and rose from the dead - to leave his disciples again to return to His Father.  “The man who has received my commands and obeys them – he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father; and I will love him and disclose myself to him.” 

Reflection:                                         “What thoughts would you share?”

Hugh invited us to speculate on what we would pass on to those we love if we knew we were soon to die and leave their sight.  It is interesting to wonder what you would do if given this chance for a final “lecture”.  You could use the opportunity to share things about your life and what was important; you could speak about the blessings that came to your life through those you love; you could speak about the many aspects of your Faith – or you could even “waste” that precious time making excuses for what you may have meant to do.  I think this kind of prioritising is something in which we should invest some serious thought.

Many commentaries point out that today’s scripture lesson from the Gospel of John “is a key portion of Jesus’ Last Lecture.”

The scene was the Last Supper. Jesus has gathered with his 12 disciples in an upper room in a house in Jerusalem. Sensing that the end is near, Jesus says, “I am with you only a little longer.”

Hugh painted a good picture of the reactions of the disciples who didn’t understand and began to suffer “extreme separation anxiety” as Jesus explained his coming death.

Seeing their distress and being aware that the road ahead would be demanding, Jesus, in his last lecture, comforted his disciples and reassured them that they would not be alone.  In verse 16 of today’s reading, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father and he will give you a helper, to be with you.”

In explaining the difficulties of translation from Greek to English, Hugh told us of additional meanings for the Greek word for “helper”.  It also means, Comforter, Advocate, Supporter, Exhorter and Counselor. This Helper /Advocate/Comforter/Counselor is what we call the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost.

In his last lecture, to mitigate the trauma his friends would soon experience, Jesus assured them that God’s Spirit would take his place and would be with them forever.

After telling his disciples, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  

This reassurance that, although the physical presence and assurance this has brought them will soon be gone, Jesus will soon return through God’s Spirit; has formed the basis of our Christian journey until the present time.  

Hugh told us; In a nutshell, there has been always consistency and coherence in the lives of millions of millions of churches and their members throughout the Christian church history, though they have been expressed and practiced slightly differently according to their cultures and traditions.  The sole reason for this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

Because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s Prayer has been prayed for twenty thousand years; the communion of the Lord’s Table has been remembered and practiced and the Gospel stories have been declared and retold far and wide.   

The Holy Spirit is the interior urging that motivates us to act in Christ-like ways. God’s Spirit gets under our skin when we are sitting on a fence between the world and God’s Kingdom; God’s Spirit pricks our conscience when we treat someone unfairly or ignore people in need.  God’s Spirit also prompts us to check in with a friend who is struggling and to stand for a just cause. God’s Spirit urges us to take care of God’s creation and to be generous with our wealth.

We must act as people of God’s Kingdom and ignore negative voices within us that “clamor for attention” and be “aroused by God’s Spirit”.  “You are part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.”

Further, the Scriptures indicate time and again that the chief way to express our love for God is to love our neighbor.  God’s Spirit calls upon us to take others’ pain as our own and act on it. ONLY THEN, we can prove our love for God is real and genuine. Only then, we can prove to the world that we belong to God.

Prayers of Intercession:  Ruth led our prayers for the world with mention of many of the troubled places and the people worried by war and unrest.  She prayed with us in our hope for the people who lead us in all parts of our lives to show compassion and love and strength.  Then Ruth prayed for all those personal concerns and for the people we know who need our prayers for many different reasons.  Then we all joined together in the Lord’s Prayer.

Hymn TiS 658                        “I, the Lord of Sea and sky”

“Here am I, Lord. Is it I, Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.   I will go, Lord, if you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.”

This hymn was written by an American, Dan Schutte in 1981 and is based on the words of Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3.

The Benediction & Blessing    We felt very blessed by the messages in the service today and left after the Benediction to share our Christian love at our usual morning tea gathering in the hall.

Hymn TiS 720                        Halle, Halle, Halle-lujah


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