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 précis 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! … ”

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