Sunday, 14 December 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 14 December 2014

Call to worship

Shout with joy to the Lord

His faithfulness endures forever

Sing with joy to the Lord

We celebrate His promise to set captives free

The Lord our God is faithful

Let us be joyful and give thanks always.

Hymn- TIS 210 O for a thousand tongues to sing The triumphs of his grace are life and health and peace: you would wonder why we hang back and refuse to grasp the promise of such a life. We really are pretty thick sometimes, thinking we have a better way.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving. Jan thanked the God of Wisdom for the relief being able to celebrate the reality of his being. A being far beyond us in majesty and whose love surpasses anything that exists. You would wonder at the time and resources we give to other things that look real when we know this.

Prayer of Confession/Words of Assurance Jan confessed for all of us, the times that we fail our Lord and God and the times we fail our own expectations. She thanked God for his unchanging nature and that Jesus came to show us another way. She confessed how we hesitate to act and even though we hear the message of hope and healing: how we live with uncaring attitudes, basing our assessments of others on materialistic values rather than seeing people as being made in God's image. Jan asked for forgiveness, placing our hope in Jesus and message. She asked for healing restoration and blessing. Then she told us to hear Christ's word of Grace. "Our sins are forgiven". Confessing is easy compared with accepting forgiveness but the process isn't complete until we do.

Lighting the Advent candles- Candle of joy was lit by Max. At this time was born: our Mighty Counsellor; our Everlasting Father; the Prince of Peace. Joy to the world.
Sometimes when joy is offered to us, we would rather complain about some insignificant negative than welcome the joy. We are really a weird mob.

Bible words for today for children Oliver read Psalm 18 v.24: This is the day the Lord has made. And every day and every thing!

Offering Oliver and Callie gathered the offering which were offered for God's work with thanks and praise for all the good things we have received. We are so good at thinking we have earned things or that something is just there and don't recognize the wonderful gifts we have been given.

Hymn TIS 447 Lord your almighty word. God's Word, God's Grace. With them comes light but not if we don't  listen; not if we don't humbly bow to change; not if we don't open our hearts and minds to anything God's work in our lives.

Bible Readings- Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. An uplifting word of promise to all of us. In public we can always put in a good show and a brave face but what are we in private (which is never private from God). Are we broken-hearted and mourning because of unfulfilled promise or loss? Have we given up on what we believed could have been? Good news is at hand. It's still ours to believe and act on.

​​​Luke 1:39-55 The words given to Mary "Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed." Why? Because he has filled the hungry with good things, things that satisfy like nothing from this world can.

Sermon- Waiting with expectation and Joy  At the beginning of Jan's sermon a saying was posted in the screen: "The worst part of life is waiting. The best part of life is having someone worth waiting for" Think on that awhile.

Jan began by speaking about the gifts of creation we enjoy in Australia and, as a result of overseas travel, how it is clear to her what security and stability we enjoy here. This led to a reflection on how comforting it would have been for the people of Judah to hear that God was going to provide a way home for them from exile. The effect of the return was freedom and the chance to worship as they had previously and rebuild their nation. So. Rejoice! We, here, are reminded that God is faithful and will bring joy out of pain and suffering and that he also brings unexpected blessings, as he did to Mary and Elizabeth who shared their amazing news with each other.

The stories of Mary and Elizabeth point us to the sorts of attitudes we should have - trusting in God; rejoicing in his plan for us even if it looks as though the way ahead will be difficult.

Jan then challenged us: "What are the things that you are waiting for in life?
Are you waiting with joy and expectation for what God is doing in your life at the present? Is the waiting hard, lonely, faithful or a struggle? It may be risky or costly, but as we are[1]  reminded both in Isaiah and Luke, we keep faith and trust alive and growing." Amen.  It is all very well when we see God's plan unfold before us but when we don't know what is happening or if anything is happening it can be very difficult.

Hymn- TIS 268   Joy to the world, the Lord is come. "Let every heart prepare him room" or it's been for nothing.

Prayers of Intercession- Jan prayed to our loving God as we came with our hearts looking outward to others in the community, that all will experience his healing touch and know his presence and peace. For us, Jan prayed for individuals known to us, that God will be near them, gathering them close, so that they will know his presence. She prayed for those with mental health problems, that they will, with patience, experience acceptance. She prayed for the lonely that they should have a deep sense of God's presence and that the local community will be open to the Good News and be given hope and purpose through God's message. Jan prayed for the church at its various levels, for wisdom and faithfulness in its decision making. She then turned her attention to places of war and strife and to the refugees and asylum seekers who look for new homes as a result of the conflict around the world, asking that world leaders will make wise decisions and instigate prompt processes, respecting the basic human rights of these people. We then joined in The Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 272 "Come thou long expected Jesus" Our affirmation that we receive the gifts that Jesus' birth brought to us and our confession that without those gifts we are nought.

Blessing May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son our Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and amongst you always. Amen

Blessing Song TIS 778 Shalom to you now, shalom my friends


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