Call to Worship (Responsively between men and women)
Men: Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Women: Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Men: Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Women: Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
Men: For He is our God,
Women: And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
All: Let us come to the Lord with thanksgiving. Amen.
Hymn: "Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the holy one is here (David Evans)." A hymn with a gentle command to remember that we are on Holy ground and to alert us to the possibilities of what we can experience if we open our hearts and minds.
Prayer of Adoration and Confession Hugh Park
"Our God and Heavenly Father, we come before you this morning to praise you and adore you." Hugh continued praising God for his wisdom and his guidance through our many experiences of life. He, on our behalf, acknowledged, as far as we humans can, God's great love for us. He went on with thanks to speak of God's compassion which despite our many flaws and stumbles, holds us close to him. "We confess that sometimes we are weak. We confess that sometimes we are greedy; we want more and more and more and often neglect other people in need."
"Forgive us dear Lord, for our sins and our selfishness and our insensitivity.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen."
Offering A little of God's bounteous blessings to us returned for his service.
Powerpoint “A creative Calendar of Seniors…” a little lightness to lift our spirits. Photos from a calendar where seniors dressed as characters from well known films in iconic poses, reminding us that there is God-given life in us still - and we can still be of service to God and to our neighbours.
Hymn: TIS 229 Jesus loves me, this I know. As the children left for Sunday Kids and Mini Kids, a hymn that they can understand and to which the child in all of us responds.
Bible Readings: Joan Sams. Psalm 1: Check it out. A comparison between the experiences of good and wicked people. A recent item on the Internet showed that when things are unfair not only do those who are treated unfairly suffer, so do those who hand out the unfairness. Being wicked does not bring any rewards but being obedient to God brings security and peace.
Matthew 22:34-46 The two great commandments. Love God. Love our neighbour. That includes really irritating family and relatives. It includes people whose customs and food are different from ours - even people with different political views!
Hugh began by directing our attention to all the war, murder, torture and persecution that has been carried out throughout history in the name of religion. And it's still happening: fundamentalist Muslim militants, the Middle East conflict, the hostility between India and Pakistan, the genocide in Africa and all the other hostility across the world.
Hugh remembered a photo of President Bush praying for the American soldiers, while in Iraq Saddam Hussein was praying for his country and soldiers who would be attacked by the American soldiers. (During WW1, the British soldiers were fighting for God, King and Country against German soldiers who were fighting for God, Kaiser and Fatherland.) Hugh spoke about discrimination against Jews in American Country Clubs and the Existence of our White Australia's Policy. (While this is no longer in legislation, it doesn't take much to find that it is still alive and well, even among Christians who would teach that we are all children of God.) The silly part is that the whole point of the policy was to keep Australia as a white CHRISTIAN country.
"Well today, every religion I know of sees itself as a beacon of light for the rest of the world. Every religion we know of talks about love: love of their god and love of their people. If ever the world needed to hear the Gospel, I believe it is now. A lawyer asked Jesus a question in an attempt to test him. ‘Master, which is the great commandment?’
Jesus answered him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the laws and the prophets.’”
“Would you say that was love for God or love for neighbor? We know now they cannot be split apart. They cannot be separated “. I have met Christians who talk about being sensible and not wasting money on people who are not going to manage it well, Christians who talk about only associating with Christians in case they become corrupted. Fortunately for us Jesus didn't take that view.
"If you do not LOVE your neighbours as yourself, you are not actually responding to God’s love toward you. Yes. Our love for God is primary and our love for neighbours is our response to that Love.
REMEMBER WHENEVER YOU DO AN ACT OF LOVE TO ANOTHER, YOU DO IT UNTO CHRIST. God loves us through Christ. We love God through our neighbor. To try it any other way does not work.
That is the Gospel of God’s love that Jesus Christ our Lord showed to us and to all the world. Amen.”
Hymn: TIS 685 "Lord, I come to you" Our plea that the power of God's love will change us into people who will be able to keep the two great commandments. It's hard to sing that and mean it. We really do like our own way.
Prayers for the People and Lord’s Prayer Laurel led us in our prayers for God's people near and far. For people in trouble spots who cannot be ignored because we now have so many ways of knowing all that happens all over the world. Laurel directed our thoughts to the situation in Ukraine and to the Ebola crisis, praying for all those who are in a position to help, especially political leaders. That they will make wise decisions. We prayed for the scientific teams developing a vaccine against Ebola and for the medical staff who have to face traumatic situations.
Laurel prayed for us to be peace-makers and that here at home our leaders will provide the financial, medical and other help needed for a peaceful society.
Laurel directed our thoughts to those young people sitting for exams and considering their careers.
We then prayed for the church all over Australia, especially in country areas but also in our own congregation at Marsden Road. Then we turned our thoughts to those known to us who are ill or in pain, concluding with The Lord's Prayer.
Have no fear, whoever you are, wherever you go,
The Lord is your strength and your comfort.
God the Creator made you; God the Saviour heals you;
God the Spirit sends you. Go now, for he is with you. Amen!
‘Hale, Hale, Hale’. A joyful way to go out to serve the Lord.