Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 September 2014



 



Call to Worship

L: The Lord be with you.

P: And also with you.

Hymn: TIS 693 Come as you are We are loved - just as we are. We are welcome - just as we are. If we respond, we can be healed and restored. Just a little step

 Prayer of Adoration and Confession   Hugh Park

"Lord our Father, we are here together in this worship to celebrate our life and our faith and this community. The songs, the praises, and the prayers we bring with us this morning are our expressions of our firm faith in you as your kingdom people. Make us leap again with joy in your presence and mould us again into your image through which you created the world and all the things in it."  Hugh then appealed to God to give us a sense of awe in his holy presence and asked that we see a vision of what God wants of us. On our behalf, Hugh confessed our tendency to seek approval rather than risk disapproval for our Christian principles and confessed that we try to hide things. We have sinned against you and our fellow people. Lord have mercy on us and forgive us.

Jesus was born among us and is here with us now, to save us, not to condemn us. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned.

Offering We offered back to God just a little of his generous blessing to us, that it may be used to further his work in the world

Bible Readings: The readings were brought to us by Terry: Matthew 21:23-32; An interesting reading. First Jesus challenges the authorities to say in whose name he speaks but they don't even try, knowing they will lose the argument either way. Then he tells the parable of the two sons, one of whom agrees to do what his father says and then doesn't and the other who refuses but then does what the father wants. Then Jesus really upsets them, saying tax collectors and prostitutes are getting into Heaven before some people who think they are assured of a place. I sometimes think about the people who claim no religion but are out there doing the jobs some of us who claim to be Christians should be doing. Philippians 2:1-11 An amazing reading. I can't do justice to it here except to say that through it, we are exhorted to take on Christ's humility - a seemingly impossible task but what a world it would be if we did.

Before the Reflection we were shown PP church humour. Quite a feat to imagine ourselves as twins of Christ - re-united after 2000 years.

Reflection ​​Hugh Park​​ - I am reminded of the Gospel of John, ch 3 verse 16, that reads: For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.  It says: God loved The World so much that he gave his only Son.  In a word, the church began to exist because of Gods unstoppable love toward the world. And verse 17 of the same chapter goes a bit deeper, God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its saviour. What it says is this: the ultimate purpose of Jesus Christs presence in our human world is not to judge, but to save.  Not as judge, but as saviour. 

Quite intriguingly, a modern commentary on this verse claims that the most equivalent term to the word save should be help in our contemporary society.  Yes. HELP.

If we take this back to the verse 17, then, it could read like this: God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its HELPER. And Im sure if the world begins to learn Jesus as helper not as judge, many things will be differ.

CHRIST HAD AN ATTITUDE OF HUMILITY. And, in practical terms Paul goes more concrete: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves . . . 

I dont need to tell you how rare this kind of attitude is. In this world there are many people who only look out for number one. They dont break laws. Theyre faithful to their spouses. They keep the law, but in their dealing with others, it is very important that they win at any cost.

Famous author C.S. Lewis wrote, True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

You see, humility is not feeling bad about yourself. Humility is not putting yourself down either. Putting yourself down is self-abasement.

Humility. True humility is focusing on others and desiring for them the same benefits as you enjoy. Humility is always a win/win game. To have the attitude of Christ is to have a spirit of humility, that He has shown to humanity to the point of risking his own life.


Listen again to what Paul says this morning. Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another's interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had. To believe in Christ is to live out his attitude. The attitude of humility. The attitude of considering others better than ourselves. The attitude of looking out for others benefits as long as we breathe on this planet. 

Hymn: Change my heart O God A prayer that God will change us so that we are more useful servants in his kingdom. Warning: Change can be painful.

Prayers of the People and Lords Prayer Joan​​ led us: Dear Heavenly Father,

We give thanks that we can indeed come to you this morning; Just as we are.

We have come here this morning to praise you, to seek comfort, love and forgiveness and to renew our faith and count our blessings.  At this difficult time, we pray for the freedom of all people on earth to worship in safety and show restraint and tolerance towards each other.

We have also come to ask for guidance as we see a world that is sometimes bewildering and scary.  It can, at the same time be full of beauty and joy beyond our comprehension - and scarred and ugly and hard to understand - as we see and hear about people who abuse each other and thoughtlessly abuse the abundant resources you provide for us.

We pray the worlds leaders will work together across national borders and religious differences for the good of all the citizens of the world.

We pray these leaders, and indeed all of us - will cooperate to improve the life and conditions of all people, and to preserve the beauty and wonders of your world.   

This week the Uniting Church Synod for 2014 began in Sydney with the induction of Rev Myung Wha Park as the moderator to lead the synod and serve the church with God's wisdom and Christ's servant attitude for the next three years. Now is the special time when we send up our prayers for the people who have been in our hearts and prayers this week.

Amen

These are only excerpts from Joan's prayer. Space does not allow for the whole prayer, which comprehensively focused our attention on the needs of those around us, reminding us at the same time of God's grace operating through his servants which can meet all needs.

This prayer was followed by The Lord's Prayer

Hymn: TIS 658 I, the Lord of sea and sky Our true response. Very scary! Leaving ourselves open to God's will for us!

Benediction

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. 

And, the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be yours now and forever

 

Hale, Hale, Hale (TIS 720)

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 21 September 2014



Kaye and Andrew led our service today beginning with the

Prayers of Thanksgiving

A prayer was offered to the Holy Friend of all, approaching him with joy and thanksgiving: acknowledging the Glory that is his and offering our prayers of gratitude In songs from loving hearts. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Hymn TIS 168 "For the fruits of all creation" A song of thanksgiving, naming many of the gifts with which God blesses us. The ordinary gifts we receive each day and which we often take for granted or think we have earned. Thanks to God.

Kaye and Andrew then drew our attention to the day being The International Day of Peace and gave the people time to turn to those near them and offer them the hand of peace.

Prayer of Adoration

Instead of a spoken prayer we watched a series of visions of God's almighty creation; his greatness in evidence in each one. Accompanying this were the words of "A Wonderful World"

Prayers of Confession

Through Kaye and Terry we prayed to the Holy One, calling on him who is eternal and ever present and who knows no borders. We confessed that we fail to acknowledge him for all he is and confessed that it is fear that make us feel so small: that it is doubt that invades our thinking as we face the daily round. We asked that God would remind us of his presence and help us to see him and to act courageously in the name of Christ. That  through us and in his hands Christ will be made present in his: forgiveness, healing, encouragement, peace and forgiveness.

Assurance

This is truth. God is in Christ. Not counting up our sins, but pardoning our offences. As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us. With Christ as my sure authority I declare to you:

Your sins are forgiven.

Offering

Father God, we receive from you more than we deserve or could ever earn. Bless these gifts and use them to further your work in the world that many more will come to know you.

Hymn TIS 390 "Allelulia" Give thanks and praise! For the new life we are offered in our forgiveness from sin.

Bible Reading

Chris read to us from Exodus 16: 2 - 15 and Matthew 20:1 - 16. Exodus tells us that after a couple of months in the desert, the Israelites had forgotten about the terrible life from which they had been liberated and started complaining and blaming Moses and Aaron for the conditions they were suffering. The result was that God provided. But his will concerning what was provided had to be followed. The Matthew reading concerned the labourers, some who worked all day and some who only worked one hour, receiving the same wage. Both stories are about God's ability to meet all needs and that it is not a matter of our deserving anything.

Reflection

Kaye and Andrew recalled events from their youth that appeared unfair. Kaye then told of a recent event which she ranted and raved about because she thought she was being treated unfairly. That brought their discussion to the matter of "Justice". They pointed to the different meanings of the word: equality, as in receiving equal pay for equal work: merit, as in receiving the same units of pay per hour or per task: or pay depending on the knowledge and skill needed and therefore the time spent in training. When we think about justice this way, it is a matter of counting and calculating. Justice, God's style is quite different. Because of God's generosity the reward is the same regardless of when we enter the kingdom. Jesus' disciples pointed out that they had left everything to follow him and suggested that that should give them some superior claim on whatever it was he offered, but he said it wasn't like that and the first could be last, and the last, first. Further, there's only one prize - Gold - being in God's presence.
This is because God's love is unconditional and big enough embrace us all, just as we are. Kaye and Andrew went on to talk about something very important - our fundamental discomfort with generosity. We like to think we deserve what we get; that we earned it. This way of thinking doesn't work with God. We have to humble ourselves, admit our unworthiness and accept his generous acceptance of us. Prayers for the People


Kaye prayed for those people who are in the Defence Forces, charged with keeping peace - and also for the friends and family who love them. Then the prayer went on for all those people closest to us and covered all the most ordinary and mundane concerns. I (Joan is speaking now Margaret had to leave early)  thought the practicality and everyday-ness of this part of the prayer was really meaningful. We then prayed for people we don't know, strangers and enemies. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 650 Servant Song: "May the Feet of God walk with You" What a gift to offer to another person!

The Benediction had a response: "O give thanks to our God who is good-whose love stands firm forever." We were told that "Thanksgiving transcends all our pain and suffering." Amen

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 14 September 2014




Call to Worship (Responsively. Psalm 95)                     

L: Come, let us praise the Lord!

Let us sing for joy to God, who protects us!

P: Let us come before him with thanksgiving

and sing joyful songs of praise.

L: For the Lord is a mighty God,

a mighty king over all the gods.

P: He rules over the whole earth,

from the deepest caves to the highest hills.

L: He rules over the sea, which he made;

the land also, which he himself formed.

P: Come, let us bow down and worship him;

let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

L: He is our God;

P: We are the people he cares for,

the flock for which he provides.

Hymn: TIS 745 Seek ye first the kingdom of God All three verses remind us to keep our focus on our real mission. This is God's church in which we enrich our lives through this special communion between ourselves as a community and our God. The purpose of this is to refresh us in spirit to do his will, in this church community and the wider community.

 Prayer of Adoration and Confession                 Hugh Park

Gracious and ever-loving God, your presence gives us strength for each day, your compassion brightens our every moment and your word provides us with the guidance we need.  Lord, help us at this time to focus on the love you have revealed through your Son Jesus Christ. 

Send your Spirit upon us and fill our minds with thoughts of your goodness and our hearts with joy and thanksgiving that we may truly praise your most holy name and show forth your light to all those whom we encounter this day - and in all the days to come.                 We ask it in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Confessing sins in silence.

Declaration of forgiveness: 

Christ died for us, the sinful. Christ lived again for us, the righteous.

 The living Christ is Gods guarantee to us that our sins are completely forgiven. Dear friends, I say it again this morning in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Your sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

 Offering

Hugh thanked God for all our amazing blessings and asked that our offerings would be used in his service. He then prayed "Bless the gift and bless the giver."

Hymn TIS 229 Jesus loves me this I know. This hymn was chosen for the children but its simple, straightforward message lays down the basic foundations for our lives.

 
Bible Readings: brought to us by Grahame Forrest. Romans 14:1-12. Those who live their lives according to God's will should not be the target of others who live their lives according to the same will, but expressed differently. God has a different plan for each of us. Look after that plan for you and let God look after any correction that needs doing in others. Short and sweet.  Matthew 18:21-35. God has forgiven you. It is your obligation to forgive others. Other people are forgiving us daily for the way we offend or annoy them (perhaps in our ignorance). Pay it on.

 Reflection ​​Hugh Park​​

Hugh related fictional stories to illustrate the points of the readings. He spoke of sailors at sea in huge waves hearing the cannon crashing about below decks, damaging the insides of the ship. He then suggested that much of the damage we do to ourselves is on the inside and went on to relate the story of a student who, having committed a horrible crime ended up confessing because he could not bear the damage his guilt was doing to him. Another story highlighted the value of remembering the good that is done to us and letting go of the bad things that we suffer at the hands of others. Harboring guilt, resentment, hate only damages us - let go - forgive.

Hymn: TIS 640 Kneels at the feet of his friends We are commanded to serve. That can be humbling, especially when there is no sign of thanks or any understanding of how much it may have cost us in time or energy to provide that help. Just think of what God goes through putting up with our foibles. As above. Pay it on.

 Prayers of the People and Lords Prayer       Hugh​​

Almighty God, through your Son Jesus Christ you have created all that exists: Reconcile all things unto yourself, whether on earth or in heaven, that your tender compassion may shine on those who struggle in their lives in this sinful, complicated world. Lord, have mercy on them and us, that well join together in hands to make this world a better place for everyone, whom you created in your own image.

Remember your holy covenant, O God, and come to all your people to set them free, that members of every language, nation and tribe may be saved from oppression and live in peace, so that this world will resemble your Kingdom as time goes by.

And we continue our prayers in the Prayer that Jesus has taught us:

 
Hymn: TIS 650 Brother, sister, let me serve you (vv. 1,2,3,4 & 5) How sincerely can you sing this? As far as some people we know its easy. But that's not what service is about. Perhaps we need to forgive before we can serve others in God's name. He is not interested in grudging, foot-dragging, "Oh, All Right!" service. Forgiving can lift a big load from your shoulders and then you can serve with joy.

 
Benediction

Hugh sent us out, saying that we were God's hands and feet. He then charged us to go in peace, blessing us and saying: May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always.

Hymn TIS 779

May the feet of God walk with you"

and his hand hold you 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 breathe give you life.

May the child of God grow in you

and his love bring you home.

 

 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 7th September 2014

The Call to Worship   Hugh called us to worship, asking that the “Light of Christ, awaken us this hour to the glory of Your presence in our midst …” and “Empower us to move from darkness to light, from sin to new life. May Your light within us shine through into worship this day, as all days. This we pray in the name of the Word made flesh, the light which is the light of all people. Jesus Christ”.  Amen.

Hymn  TiS 52                                     “Let us sing to the God of Salvation”

This hymn was written by Rev. Richard Thomas Bews who was born in 1934 and has continued to spread praise and joy through his hymns and many books.  The words of this hymn challenge us to; Praise our Maker and to acknowledge his power and strength as Lord God of everything.  Try reading Psalm 95, the inspiration for this hymn, which has as a heading; “Call to Worship”

 

Announcements:  We heard the good news that our dear Beth is making excellent progress in her recovery in hospital.  Jack brought us news of the collaborations and business of Presbytery during the week and we heard about the “Guys and Gals Breakfasts” next Saturday morning.  Lyn spoke about the Equinox Outing to Bowral which is coming up to celebrate spring (and our $2.50 Seniors Transport tickets if we are lucky enough to have one).

 

Prayer of Adoration and Confession:  Creator God, we glimpse your beauty in setting sun, mountain top and eagle’s wing.  We sense your power in thunder crash, lightning flash and ocean’s roar.  Creator God we praise you.  Precious Jesus, we see your love stretched out upon a cruel cross.  We stand in awe at your sacrifice, pure love poured out for humankind.  Precious Jesus we praise you.  Holy Spirit, we see your power in lives transformed, hearts on fire.  We listen for your still, small voice, comforting, guiding, calling.  Holy Spirit we praise you.  Amen!


Hugh reminded us that God’s Love sees failings and forgives, feels pain and wipes away our tears, knows grief and comforts the sorrowful, sees sin and still loves the sinner.  God forgives us when we live a life that fails to reflect that great Love or takes it for granted.  In answer to our appeal to be transformed through God’s Spirit, we joyfully heard the news; “We are loved, accepted and forgiven; we are welcomed home again and again.”  Amen.

Offering / Prayer:  After helping Nerida and Shirley with our offering, the children went to Sunday Kids following the Prayer.

 

Men’s Choir                           “Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door”

Stephen, Malcolm and Grahame sang this African-American Spiritual in beautiful harmony and I heard the words as an invitation to us all to go out in God’s name and knock on the doors of people in need.  If we choose we can “Knock like Jesus”.

 

Bible Reading:                                  Romans 13: 8-14 (page 882) Matthew 18: 15-20 (page 743)
The passage from Romans read for us by Elaine certainly gives us scope for serious thought about the way we live each day.  I took a personal prĂ©cis away in my mind: “We should live each day well - as if it were our last.   I didn’t feel so sure about the “Biblical way” of settling grievances as told in the reading from Matthew’s Gospel.  From many other references in the Bible - we know that tax gatherers and pagans were not well regarded, but as Matthew himself was a tax gatherer, forgiven and taken as a disciple by Jesus, this message is probably about the hope that we can find if we endeavor to live a heavenly life here on earth.

Reflection:                                         “Where two or three are gathered together”
Hugh told us he loves the New Testament for its practicality and he speculates the reason for this was the humanity of the disciples who often needed Jesus to explain everyday problems in simple ways.  “Sometimes Christians disagree in the congregation of believers. Sometimes they quarrel. Sometimes they hold grudges against each other. The Scripture for today says that we must never tolerate any situation in which there is a breach of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community.”
The point that Jesus was making is that because we are Christians we should have the ability to peacefully resolve our differences.  This is what should set us apart.
Hugh went on; “We spend a lot of time in our pulpits talking about how Christians are admonished by Jesus Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their enemies.  When in actuality, right there in the pew side by side are Christians who hold grudges, hang on to petty hurts, refuse to forgive and love each other within the fellowship.  And when they do this, church and Christianity and the whole practice of religion for them is not the joyful experience it ought to be. They miss a large dimension of belonging to God's family.
This particular portion of Matthew (18:15-18) gives us a whole scheme of action for the mending of broken relationships within our "family of God" called the Christian fellowship.”
“The real point of today’s story is, I believe,  that we might be in conflict because we are humans but we are still to be one minded toward the Lord in our ministry and service.”
Hugh then went on to read from verses 19 and 20 of chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel:
Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
After reminding us that wherever we are Jesus Christ is right there with us, even if we are not with other people at home or at work, Hugh told us; “There are more guaranteed ways to be in Christ’s presence. You need your fellow Christians for that.
The Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 4:12 put it this way: ‘A cord of three strands is hardly broken.’
Yes, it’s really true. A bundle of sticks cannot be easily broken. We need our fellow Christians. We need a community. We need the church. We need Sundays. We need worships. Because where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, he is right with us and right among us.
Let us not forget, dear fellow Christians, a Sunday service is where we are gathered to worship God our Father.  And at the same time it is where we are gathered to become more powerful and more authentic as believers; it is where the presence of the Lord is most guaranteed in this doubtful world.  Amen!

Prayers of the People:  Kay led our prayers for the people today, praying for fathers who hold a special place in the hearts of their children.  She prayed for the troubled world and asked for strength and guidance for us to take God’s Light into the world.  All people in need were remembered along with those whose names were written in our red prayer books.

In preparation for the Communion Meal, we exchanged a Sign of Peace with those around us before singing the Communion Hymn.

Hymn TiS 538                                    "Feed us now, Bread of Life"

Communion Prayer:
Father, we give you thanks and praise through your beloved Son Jesus Christ, your living Word. You have created all things through Your Son, our Savior. By the power of the Holy Spirit he took flesh; born as a human, he lived on earth and went about among us; he opened wide his arms for us on the cross; he put an end to death by dying for us; and revealed the resurrection by rising to new life; so he fulfilled your will and won for you a holy people.
Together we proclaimed our faith and took turns kneeling at the sanctuary rail to receive the meal:
Christ has died: 
Christ is risen: 
Christ will come again.

Hymn TiS 653                                    "This is a day of new beginnings"
This hymn with words written by Brian Arthur Wren, was perfect for sending us out with a spirit of starting over and allowing God to make all things new as we leave the past behind and seek new and better pathsA bit like - “drawing a line in the sand”.


The Benediction & Blessing    May the Lord walk before you to guide you, hover over you to protect you and your families, and live within you to strengthen you, and the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit go with you now and forever.  Amen.



Retiring hymn TiS 720:                                 “Halle, halle, hallelujah! … ”