Call to Worship Lita opened our Worship this morning, telling us she was feeling “Happy and Excited to be visiting us again.”
We sing of your steadfast love that never ceases - Praise the name of the Lord!
We lift our hands to the God of all ages - Praise the name of the Lord!
We will embrace each moment and worship with unfettered hearts. Praise the name of the Lord!
Lita acknowledged the many different feelings and experiences that our week had brought and asked God to accept us each for what we are and what we can give today.
Hymn TiS 154 “Great is Your Faithfulness”
Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960) was a man whose fragile health made his life difficult; so this wonderful hymn is a lesson to each of us about accepting the great gifts for life that come through God’s great Love. His friend William Runyan, composed the music because he was greatly moved by the words and it was published in 1923. George Beverly Shea made this hymn speak to the hearts of many people through the Billy Graham evangelical crusades in the middle decades of the 20th century. Like me you might remember the crusades.
Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving: It was easy to hear these prayers with our hearts, after the experience of singing about God’s amazing Faithfulness. Lita thanked God; “For bringing us here in this place, because here we experience loving one another – O what joy it must bring you when we come together before you in unity.”
Prayers of Confession & Words of Assurance: Lita led us to confess our sins – known and unknown and asked for courage for each of us to rid ourselves of the sins “that hold onto us so tightly”. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. When we sincerely repent and ask God for forgiveness through Christ, Jesus declares, ‘Your Sins are forgiven’.”
Children’s Message Using familiar “emoticons” to depict happy, angry, sad and excited faces, Lita talked to the children about “feelings” and asked them to raise the relevant emoticon faces as she talked about Job and his feelings. She finished by asking them to always remember; “God never leaves us no matter how we are feeling - because God loves us.”
Offering / Prayer: Nerida and Alan were our stewards this morning and when the offering was blessed Lita also offered a prayer to dedicate the Christmas Gift Boxes our church family has prepared to send overseas to bring joy to many poorer children and families.
Hymn 185 SinS 414 “The Steadfast Love of the Lord never Ceases”
This little hymn, written by Edith McNeill, is also inspired by the same passage in Lamentations which inspired Thomas Chisolm in our first hymn.
: Job 38: 1-7, 34-41 Page 399 Hebrews
4: 12-16 Page 936 Reading
Joan read the Bible passages for us this morning in a compelling way - and on reflection and upon revisiting this whole chapter, it is an amazing tirade where the Lord speaks to Job about the magnificence and intricate dovetailing of God’s entire creation. I realize I have always worn blinkers when Job was mentioned because I thought everything about his story was all about complete misery. This was followed by the reading from Hebrews which begins; “For the word of God is alive and active… It sifts the purposes and thoughts of the heart” and finishes with the thought that Jesus was sent to be one of us and live and understand the temptations and difficulties of life on earth. He was tested in every way.
Reflection: “I’ve got you! – OR – God holds us during our weakest moments”
Lita told us she would share a personal reflection on the story of Job and I found this approach gave me a much more sanguine view of Job and his woes - I still had lingering negative feelings about this miserable story going back to childhood - so turning this into a story that talks about; “The kind of God that we have – a God who is the source of hope; a God who creates, and renews and nurtures; who knows us and all creation so well and is able to completely bring together his entire creation in wisdom and love” brought a bright light to focus on the real meaning of the message Job and his many woes can deliver. “It talks about God’s goodness and sovereignty; a God who is strong and mighty but also gracious and merciful.”
Lita asked us if we have ever had such suffering that we, like Job, have felt that we had lost God. Yes we all know that life can be very hard and very complicated – and sometimes like Job we rant a little at God for deserting us.
Lita gave us some examples from the Bible about the way God is with us. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” We heard how; “Life can be fragile, but God is always strong!” Proverbs 18;10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” We heard that experiences can sometimes be bad; “But God is always good!” Psalm 145;9 “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”
“Job really wanted God to explain to him why he was suffering. He asked that if he was faithful, why then did he have to go through such a difficult situation. And then God spoke. But God’s answer was certainly not as Job expected. God told him things that human beings cannot fully know. He told of his creation in the deepest sea, on the highest mountains, things big and small, the funny ones, the wild and the endearing.” He told him in that magnificent way expressed in Job Chapter 38 of all the wonders - and somehow Job understood. Job understood that; “God is always good and God is always in control; that God is sovereign and God cares about our everyday life; that God knows and cares for every single part of his creation; that God is mighty yet merciful; that the complexities in life are known to God and he can make things work for good for everyone and everything he created. And most of all - that God is always there for us, even though we sometimes do not feel it.”
“In Christ, God is saying to us today – ‘do not be afraid, I’ve got you. I’ve got you in my strong arms. I’ve got you in my loving arms. I’ve got you in my saving arms.” AMEN.
Hymn TiS 590 “What a Friend we have in Jesus”
We continued in our reflective feelings by singing this greatly loved hymn, written by Joseph Medlicott Scriven, while remaining quietly seated in the pews. After several great tragedies, Joseph lived a life of sacrifice and devotion, giving away everything he could to those people in need and physically helping those who needed help - for the rest of his life.
Before we share in the Prayers of Intercession it is our tradition to listen to a reflective organ interlude. Today this was interlude was played, in celebration of a lifetime of Faith, by our old friend Tom, who will turn 100 during this week. Jack spoke a little about Tom and invited everyone to his 100th Birthday Party at morning tea after the service. Around 25 of Tom’s family members were with him and his ‘church family’ for the service today and some even travelled from his original homeland of
to join the celebration. Knowing that our friend Betty who will soon
be 101 was also with us in the service today – I certainly spent my time
reflecting on the positive Christian influence these two fine centenarians have
shared with us all. Wales
Prayers of the People: Today Lita presented these prayers for the people of our church and for the world. There were prayers for those people we know, and the people and situations throughout the world, whose needs touch our hearts. We were reassured that God knows each of them by name and will hear them when they call. Then we shared together in the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TiS 619 “Have Faith in God My Heart”
Blessing Lita sent us home with the words: “Spring up! Resolve to live confidently and with faith in the goodness of God. Throw off your cloak! Be ready to say yes when life offers you transformation. God bless you with refuge in time of need and joy in time of good fortune. Christ hear you when you cry and attend to you with compassion.” Amen.
Sharing in the joy of Tom’s Birthday Party was a blessing to us all. Jack reminded us that Tom was born in the first year of World War 1 when times were hard. He had the misfortune to be seeking his first job at the time of the Great Depression and he has faced many challenges in his 100 years. Coming to live in
the age of 70 would certainly have been a big upheaval in his life. What life lessons Tom can pass on about the
importance of faith and hope and hard work!
I just love his gentle smile, his happy chuckle and his friendliness to
everyone - all the time. Australia