Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 September 2016

It is usual to try to fit this blog into two pages but I'm not sure that I can. On the other hand, looking through my notes on the service, I realise that some of my own abbreviations are a bit cryptic for me, so some things may be left out.

The first hymn was Hymn TIS 179 "Praise with joy the World's Creator" our theme for the day.

Rev. Helen was back to stir us up and did it in style, as she often did when she was our regular minister. This was another service where a previous minister has been invited to recall their time with us and take the service as part of our anniversary celebration.

Helen welcomed us "God be with you" and of course we responded "And also with you."

She then paraphrased Psalm 103, giving God the glory for all his blessings, forgiveness, healing, and the redemption he offers to us - flawed people, longing for wholeness. She thanked God for wrapping us in goodness and keeping us always young in his presence.

Alerting us to the active nature of all the words in the Psalm, Helen invited us to name God's action in our lives. We did this and our spirits rose as we acknowledged all the blessings God heaps upon us daily.

Somewhere in there we sang Hymn TIS 181 "Come, O God of all the earth: come to us O righteous one," asking for God's hand upon all that happens at this time.

Helen then prayed, confessing our lack of appreciation for all God's care for us and for only seeing our own efforts, failing to give God the glory. She asked that God will guide us back and then we said the absolution together.

The Men's Choir then sang "Great is thy Faithfulness" reinforcing our reliance on God's action in our lives and we all appreciated the opportunity to reflect in the theme from a offering perspective.

The Offering was then received and Helen asked that it be blessed and be a blessing for others.

Helen spoke about saints, past and present, and how they and we all share or have shared the joy and laughter; courage, bewilderment, anger, sorrow and tears that make up the journey of any who seek to pursue to truth. She then spoke about her 5 years at MRUC and the shared faith she experienced with us, meeting people who saw things differently, enriched by their contribution. And while she was remembering how we learned to question our faith and our understanding of it, slides were shown of her time with us: the one of Helen in the swimming costume and another with Ruth, both dressed as Angels, brought back memories of the creativity of Helen's ministry to us and how we heard God's voice through it all.

Helen went on to speak of, acknowledge and give thanks for the enormous contribution of Graham Edgerton to all that happened during those five years, with slides showing Graham lifting one heavy item or another and contributing in such a practical way to the creative approach Helen took to everything she did.

Helen then remembered the congregation as people who began to believe in themselves as Children of God who could be a blessing to others.

Phil then read from Genesis 12:1 - 9, the story of Abram, at an advanced age, leaving his home to make a new place to live at the command of God.

Helen pointed out that Abram could have big-noted himself at achieving such a monumental task which required such energy and commitment at his age. But he didn't. He praised God. A lesson for us there. We spend a lot of our time congratulating ourselves on the splendid job we are doing without thanking God or praising him for using us as his hands in this  world and giving us the gifts with which to carry out the work.

Phil then read Luke 10: 17 - 20, the account of the seventy returning from the mission on which Jesus had sent them, excited about the miracles they had achieved. Jesus told them that while that was all very good that their real joy should have been because they were now hand in hand with God their maker.

Helen took this up, imagining the scene and then reminded us of the many times we look at the amazing things "we" have achieved, forgetting that it is God's work and that we should be blessing his name for all that happens.

Carolyn led the Prayers for the People beginning by asking God to quieten our minds and acknowledging the great blessing God is in our lives. She continued thanking God for all he is and does, drawing it together with thanks for his walking with us each moment and the promises he gives for the future.

She expressed our sense of how precious God is to us and asked that we will be equipped for all challenges: that God will be always walking with us and inspiring us. She then asked God's blessing on refugees in their suffering and finished with a plea for God's guidance for Rev. Candy and Rev. Helen. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer.

We then moved onto the Communion Service remembering those who has passed on from this congregation and that as we are joining in Communion here with each other in the community present, we are also joining with the community past.

We joined in Hymn TIS 599 "Take my life and let it be" Our commitment to our theme today of our lives and all we do being for the blessing of God's name.

Helen took us back to that night when Jesus was betrayed. When he broke bread and poured out the wine, sharing it, naming the bread as his body and the wine as his blood which was to be shed - for everyone.

The distribution then took place as we silently thought upon the affect it has had our lives.

What does the future hold? It is given by God.

Hymn TIS 687 "God gives us a future" It is up to us to grasp all that God offers us.

Helen then sent us out to see what God has in store for us in that future and to respond to the future in the spirit of adventure.

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