Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 6 August 2107




Call to Worship

(Joanne Carlson Brown, The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

As for me, I shall behold your face. . .. When I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

 Why have you come this morning?

We have come to encounter the Holy One.

You know you’ll never be the same if you do.

We have come to wrestle with our faith, our doubts, and even our convictions.

Then come; let us venture into this time of worship and prepare to encounter God face to face.


Hymn TIS 578: “How firm a foundation, you people of God” God is our rock. Everything else and everyone else can fail us but God, we can always depend on. Always.


Opening Prayer:

 O God of night-time visits and daylight assurance, we come to this time of worship to wrestle with who we are, and who you call us to be. Search our hearts and know us thoroughly. We long to meet you face to face, even if the encounter leaves us forever changed. With open ears and ready hearts, touch us with your words and transform us with your presence. Amen.


 A Prayer of Confession

 God who sees, knows, and touches us, we have many things in our lives that we are not proud of.

We are scared to come before you with all that we are. We are frightened that you will judge us and find us wanting. We are afraid of your rejection or abandonment.

Forgive our shortcomings, large and small.

Reassure us that you are always present with us, that you always love us and want only the best for us.

Forgive our fearful reluctance to open ourselves fully to an encounter with your holy presence.

Wrestle with us, touch us, and awaken us to your love— a love that never lets us go. Meet us face to face, that we may be forever changed. Amen.



Declaration of Forgiveness

Dawn comes, and we will see God face to face. We will behold the face of unconditional love. In this meeting, we will understand the depth of God’s reassuring forgiveness. And in this understanding, we will be changed for good.

Thanks, be to God! Amen



The Peace

A flash of brilliant light, a mushroom cloud rises. Nothing will ever be the same.

We dedicate ourselves to work for peace as we boldly proclaim:

“Never again.”

Forgive our inhumanity.

May wars cease as we work to be peacemakers and not merely peace hopers.

Touch us, O God, and we will never be the same. In life and in death we are not alone.

Thanks be to God.

In gratitude for the gift of eternal life, let us greet one another with signs of peace. The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.



Invitation to the Offering

 Loving God, take our hearts and set them on fire. Take our lives and transform them. Take our church and resurrect it with your life-giving Spirit. Take our gifts and use them for the fulfillment of your vision

of peace and unity. Amen.


Hymn TIS 138: “Eternal Father, strong to save” The theme continues. We can rest in God’s eternal arms, in full security that we will be cared for as none other can care for us.



I have included the service so far, almost as Rev. John delivered it today, because everything that was said and sung touched my heart so poignantly and I thought it would do the same for those who read it. We continued on with the Service of Communion. This never fails to quieten my soul. Whether it be the mighty prayers, the historical events remembered or the reverence of the people celebrating the service, I am stilled. Somehow, there are so many centres to this service. Jesus Christ and his willingness to turn his face to Jerusalem is clearly at the centre of our attention. The effect of that sacrifice on our lives and then as we are offered the bread and the wine, each of us is given the impression that it is just for us. Hallelujah!


The Service of the Word.



The Readings: Genesis 32:22-31. Romans 9: 1-8. Matthew 14: 13-21 brought to us by Lyn.



The first reading about a man wrestling with God no doubt has a traditional meaning and message. However, as one who has wrestled with God, I can say that it leaves a mark like the limp of the man in this reading, that never goes away. No matter how things around me are or how much I would like to sulk in a corner because things aren't as I would like them, I can't say that I don't know my maker. I am stuck.                      

To take Paul's message and place it in a modern context is difficult because there are so many possibilities. I think the message that is coming to me is to let God run his world. Do as we see God guiding us to do and then leave the rest to God.

And the third reading for me says that I (and each of us) have been given resources. Use them to serve others.



Preaching of the Word - God is Good.

Rev. John made these points:

* After a long and exhausting day, Jesus’ disciples come to him and suggest that the crowds be sent away so that they may go into the villages and buy food.

*Jesus answers, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

* The disciples protest. Jesus then tells them to bring him what food they have,

*Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that it is their job to help feed those who are hungry.

*It’s not someone else’s problem to fix.” The body of Christ is called to help those who are hungry

*Don’t send them away

*Jesus says to us, no matter how meagre our resources “Bring them to me.”

*God can raise up amongst us what we need.

And in those words I heard God’s voice.



Hymn TIS 530: “Now let us from this table rise” The words that leapt out to me were ‘renewed in body, mind and soul’.


Grahame played to provide background for our thoughts and prayers.



Intercessory Prayers

Rev. John prayed to God who is steadfast in love, giving thanks for answered prayer. He continued, bringing before our God, all those affected by war, terrorism, disaster and famine. He prayed for the homeless, the addicted and everyone afflicted in any way, that leaders will see fit to dispense mercy and justice to right wrongs that create the circumstances in which all these terrible evils flourish.

He prayed for those who are close to us and that our gifts will be used for those in need.

He prayed that we will welcome anew all those who come to the table with us, that we will provide the nourishment of fellowship and friendship. We then joined in The Lord’s Prayer.


Hymn TIS 201: “King of glory, King of peace”. To love may never cease. Amen to that.



Benediction

Go forth, knowing that God has heard our cry and will give us the strength to follow God’s call. Go forth to touch the lives of others, as our lives have been touched by God. Go and be the face of God to a world that so desperately needs the loving, affirming face of God. And may the wrestling God be with you always. Amen.


Hymn TIS 778: “Shalom to you now” May God grant you every good thing. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 30 July 2017



Gathering God’s People

For the last few weeks I have been hampered in my ability to get things done, in any sphere, by a nasty cold which fogged up my brain. However, in the little reading I did get done, there was a discussion about our experience of the worship service being one that should lead us to live a life more like that of Jesus.

But does it? Of course, there are those occasions when we are challenged by the Spirit to examine our lives and in doing that, we have an opportunity to be more like Jesus, but how many of us go to a service with that intention?

Many attend worship services in the hope of being uplifted or inspired to face the week ahead with purpose. A good intention, but possibly not one that should be our first. Others are less self-oriented and go to church to worship, glorify and give thanks to our Maker, the source of all that is good. That is getting close to the best reason for being there but if we could follow through that intention with looking for the effect that worship could have, that is, to be more like Jesus, I think we would have nailed it.

For some, the idea of being more like Jesus might seem so far out of reach, but we have to start somewhere and many of us have been fortunate enough to meet people who, because they started “somewhere” and continued to yield to the working of the Spirit are noticeably more like Jesus now.

This growth is spoken of in the Call to Worship of this week's service:

 (B. J. Beu and Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

“Waiting is seldom easy. Yet, in the process of waiting, we discover new growth. The Spirit moves and breathes, and treasures are sometimes discovered. As we wait this day, may God’s miraculous presence be revealed in us and through us.”

The first hymn reflected the purpose often seen as the highest one in coming to worship.


 Hymn TIS 93: “Praise the Lord, you heavens adore him”


Then the Opening Prayer moved us further along the path, asking to be shown the way (to be like Jesus):

 Holy One, your kingdom always takes us by surprise— like a mustard seed growing into a great shrub where the birds of the air can build their nests; like a treasure hidden in a field, or a pearl of great price. May we desire your kingdom more than we value worldly things, through Christ, who shows us the way. Amen.


The Prayer of Confession

Here John asked that our hope be transformed into action: another way of asking for us to be changed. And then as our forgiveness was affirmed we were reminded that:

“Nothing can separate us from the love of God: Not death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come. No power on heaven or under the earth can separate us from the love of Christ: Not height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.” That being the case, then, as we walk with God, we become more like Jesus because that example is constantly by our side.


 Offering

The offering is a time when we show ourselves to be like Jesus - giving for people: giving for the sake of God and for other people. None of this that we give may come back to us but the giving itself changes us for good - to be more like Jesus.



Hymn TIS 106: “Now thank we all our God” Reminds us that God is with us from the time of our birth, guiding us on our way


The Service of the Word

Readings:  Genesis 29: 15-28. Romans 8.26-39.  Matthew 13: 31-33; 44-52

 All these readings carry a message but the one John focussed on was the one from Romans. John spoke of a recent personal experience where he had to draw deep from within to get through the time and showed how God lifts us up at such times.


Sighs for Help - Romans 8:26-39

My own thought is that some burdens are so heavy that we can only act as Jesus would in those situations if we are lifted up and carried through them by God.

John's perspective was this:

“Romans offers words of comfort and reassurance to those of us who carry heavy burdens. At times, we are all too aware of the brokenness of our world. We know that our lives are marred by sin, and we experience suffering in our daily lives…Paul seems to have addressed these words to people like us. They bear witness to the compassionate heart of a pastor, trying to encourage a community during some of the most devastating trials that life offers.”

(Where) 'God’s grace breaks into our lives most powerfully.

 “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for Words.” What a wonderful gift God has given to us, that even when our words fail, God’s Spirit is present in ways beyond our human understanding.'


Hymn TIS 547: “Be Thou My Vision” The message is clear.

Music to lead us to prayer followed while we all sat in our own silence.


Intercessory Prayers

This is a time when, regardless of the details of the prayer each week, we pray that we and all other people, will act more like Jesus to make this world one of welcome, safety and warmth for everyone.


Hymn TIS 658: “I, the Lord of sea and sky” God hears our plea to be less us and more like Jesus,


Benediction.

Like treasure hidden in a field, Christ offers us the kingdom of God.

All things work together for good for those who love God.

Like a pearl of great price, Christ offers us the kingdom of heaven.

All things work together for good for those who wait for God.

Like a mustard seed that grows into a great shrub, Christ offers us the realm of God’s blessing.

All things work together for good for those who abide in God’s Spirit.

And may the Holy Spirit fill and inspire you with the wonderful knowledge that nothing is able to separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ.



Hymn TIS 780: “May the light come into your eyes”.

Amen to that, and through this may we be made more like Jesus.