Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 26th July 2015

Call to Worship         Jan reminded us that we were all WELCOME and that Christ was here in church with us this morning and He is the cornerstone on which we should build our lives.  The idea that; “We are being built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God” reminded me of the “slogan” we sometimes like to use at Marsden Road Church; “The Church is not a building – YOU are the Church”.  Certainly something to remember as Jan invited us to; “Come and worship the living God whom we delight to worship and praise.”

Hymn  TiS 187                       “Let all Creation Dance”
This modern hymn was written by Brian Wren who is Emeritus Professor of Worship, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia and a Minister of the United Reformed Church (U.K.).   After sitting up late last night to watch the Tour de France riders pass through the grandeur and majesty of the French Alps, the poetry of the words of this song certainly resonated with me  “… for nature’s art in glory grows, and newly shows God’s mind and heart.” 

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving:  Jan prayed about our need to Praise our Creator God as we seek His Sabbath rest.   She reminded us of our carelessness in not always appreciating the abundance of life’s riches and taking time to just “lay down our tools” and breathe as we give thanks for each new day and the stillness of winter.  With hope we can remember that in the darkest days of winter, new life is quietly forming - waiting to spring forth. 

Prayers of Confession & Words of Assurance:  After leading us to confess our sins and reassuring us that God’s love is always there; Jan reassured us that our sins are forgiven.  Thanks be to God!     

Announcements:  We heard that last week’s Simply Sharing Tea had raised $540 for the work of Uniting World and we were reminded that our special Friendship Circle Morning Tea today will be celebrated with home made soup and bread rolls and lots of talking and sharing with friends.  Ruth introduced two special visitors, her cousin Sue and Father John, an Irish Priest and Missionary.

Children’s Message  Jan encouraged the children to come forward and help her “build” a brick wall on the front of the alter.  On the “bricks” was a short text from Ephesians that had made a great impression on Jan’s thinking when she was at Sunday School.  Ephesians 2: 8-9  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -  not by works, so that no one can boast.”   

Offering / Prayer:  Laurel and Phil were our stewards this morning and they were helped by two of our children.  The offering was blessed and the children left for Sunday Kids with a special Blessing.

Hymn SIS Book 1 185                       “Bind us together Lord”
Bob Gillman wrote this hymn which has a recurring line we should all try to live; “Bind us together Lord, Bind us together with Love.”     

Bible Reading:                      
Psalm 14         Page 407       Ephesians 2: 11-22     Page 912
Kay read the not so “feel-good” Psalm 14 which makes no excuses about “Man’s wickedness” and then the New Testament reading from Ephesians Chapter 2 which introduces us to the hope that comes from peace, tolerance and understanding the situations of others.  What a message for our world today we can hear in the last two verses. “In him the whole building is being bonded together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you too are being built with all the rest into a spiritual dwelling for God.”  

Reflection:                             “Jesus brings us together into God’s household”
The concept of Jesus bringing us together in God’s household is made easier for me to understand after being a part of the Marsden Road Church Family for almost 50 years.  Like any family, some have lived out their full life span and died, some have died prematurely from illness or accident and some have died through tragic circumstances.  We have welcomed many many new families into God’s household and new babies have also arrived – all to be embraced with God’s love and the care and love of the current members of God’s household here.   Of course, sadly as humans, we have no doubt failed some people, but our goal has always been to seek help and forgiveness for our shortcomings and do our best to bring God’s love to each person.  
This has nothing to do with the building, which is historic and beautiful; it is the people who have always made this church matter in this changing community in a rapidly changing world. 
Through her Reflection on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Jan directed our thoughts to the challenges and the importance of coming to understand and respect the language, customs and culture of all people with whom we must live with tolerance, respect and acceptance.  She said;
“We belong to a large household that belongs to God, with others from every nation and race in the world, which we sometimes catch a glimpse of when we worship together in other places around the world when travelling and experiencing something of being part of a worldwide family.  This household should be organic, growing, vibrant and be a place where people experience and know that God is present.  Not in the sense of buildings or properties, but in the relationships that begin and develop and deepen.
We need to be growing spiritually and to be actively involved in the work that God is doing around us in peoples lives, building people into his household.  The Christian community, the church, has continued and survived over the centuries because faithful people have lived out the truth of the gospel and have remained firmly grounded in the life of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  They have been willing to share that love with others, so that others become Jesus disciples too and we are all called to witness to that love and Grace.  In an age of individualism, we must not lose the distinctive love and support, fellowship and companionship of being with other Christians on the journey of faith.  Christ promised to be with us always and His Spirit is at work in us and continued to walk with us into the future.  Let us keep that vision before us as we follow Christ.”

Hymn TiS 674                        “Forward together we will go”
This is a modern hymn with words by Rev. Dr David Manton and sung to a familiar tune.  The message is one for “our time and place”.  “Forward together, we will go, Pilgrims of faith, to risk and dare.  Jesus you call us, we’ll go out, Off’ring to others love and care.”

A Greeting from Father John;  Jan invited Father John, an Irish Priest, who went with a Polish Priest, as a missionary to Tanzania ten years ago, to speak to us about the work our miracle lamingtons were able to do for the Maasai people in 2008 when our mid-year lamington drive proceeds went to the Irish Mission supporting him.  Over the years our lamingtons have done amazing things in many places – but it was a joy for us to hear how the making of cakes he had never heard about had helped Father John to: “Bring the Love of God to God’s people in a bleak community where there were many similarities in their way of love.”

Father John is now going to work to show that God’s Love has no barriers in a mission in the Philippines, after a short trip home to Ireland.  It was wonderful to meet him and welcome him to Marsden Road Church to share our worship.  I was pleased to learn that Ruth and Ian had seen to it that finally Father John had the opportunity to taste one of those mysterious and magical lamingtons for himself.

Prayers of the People:  Today Chris led these prayers and began by presenting to God the many needs and concerns of those people and situations which had been written in our red prayer books. He then prayed that our congregation will be led by the Holy Spirit and that we will listen and love God – not praying to try and make God do what we want – but acknowledging that God is wise and wraps His loving kindness around us even in our darkest moments.  Then we shared together in the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

Hymn TiS 477                        “Jesus calls us here to meet Him”   
John Lamberton Bell is a prolific, modern hymn-writer and is a member of the Iona Community.  Some of his hymns, including this one, have been written in collaboration with Graham Maule.

Blessing    Jan sent us home to: “Go with God to discover new Life in Christ.”   Amen.

Blessing Song TiS 778:       “Shalom to you now, shalom my friends.”

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