Saturday, 16 June 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 10 June 2018




Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2015)

Come! Here you will find a family of faith where you will always belong. Come! Here you will find friends who will love you as a child of God. Come! Here you will worship a King who rules with equity. Whoever you are, and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

 All who need a place to belong . .               Come join the family of God.

All who seek spiritual brothers and sisters . Come join the family of God.

All who strive to grow in faith and love . . . Come join the family of God.

All who are unsure and feel unworthy . . .   Come join the family of God


Hymn TIS 693: “Come as you are”


Opening Prayer

Loving Mother, Caring Father, in the midst of our brokenness, knit us together as your family. Heal our wounded hearts, that we may welcome the strangers into our midst and treat them as beloved sisters and brothers. 


Prayer of Confession

Sovereign God, we so often lose our way.

You seek to be our King— to lead us on right paths; to teach us the ways of truth and life; to shelter us from our foes, yet we look to the rulers of this earth for leadership, wisdom, and strength.

You seek to be our comforter— to love us as our Father; to nurture us as our Mother; to shelter us as our Brother; to assure us as our Sister, yet we look elsewhere for love, compassion, and hope.

When our government fails us, and our families disappoint us, you alone remain faithful and true. Open your arms to us once more, O God. We will be your people, and you will be our God and King.


Declaration of Forgiveness

Christ looks to each of us and says: “Here are my mother and my brothers. Here are my father and my sisters. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, mother, father.” As the family of God, as brothers and sisters of Christ, we are loved and forgiven by our gracious God. Thanks, be to God!


The Peace

As the family of God, let us share signs of familial love and compassion, acceptance and forgiveness, as we pass the peace of Christ.

Peace be with you! And also with you!


Hymn TIS 738:My Jesus my Saviour’ (Shout to the Lord)


The Service of the Word

The First Reading: 1 Samuel 8:4-20

The Israelites wanted to be like everyone else and have a king. They told Samuel that his sons weren't following him so they wanted their own king. God told Samuel that that's the way they were. They had rejected him from the beginning so God directed Samuel to warn the people what kings did which was take the sons and daughters to carry out his commands and take the slaves to work for him as well as  takeover land and raise taxes. Anyone in their right mind would have woken up to the pitfalls of such a situation but the people demanded their king anyway,

 

The Gospel Reading: Mark 3:20-35

Jesus’ family were not impressed with his performance nor were they happy about all the attention he was getting. They decided that he had lost his sanity and went to take him away. The teachers said he was using the power of the devil to do his works but Jesus set them right by pointing out that it wasn't possible for Satan to drive out Satan. He went on to speak in parables along the same line but the radical move came when he was told that his family were outside wanting him and he reached out to those around him and said that they were his family.


Preaching of the Word

Who Really is the Strong Person?

The following is a shortened form of Rev. John’s sermon.

So, who do you think was the strongest man in the Bible? Are you thinking of the book of Judges and the guy with long hair who could kill a lion with his bare hands? …Leadership has often been decided on physical strength over history and the true strengths often needed for leadership were ignored. This must have been on Samuel’s mind in this morning’s reading (concerning the people wanting a king)

After hundreds of years of crying out to God, this people seemed to have forgotten the one who not only answered their prayers, but the only king who has the supernatural power to answer them. The elders wanted a human king like all the other nations..

Like many of us today, however, the Israelites were not willing to be led by God while they waited for the King of kings whom God promised. Through the miracles, signs, and wonders that God had shown them throughout their liberation from multigenerational oppression, the Lord more than proved that he had all the attributes they were seeking in a leader.

 The term power is a constant in everyday language. We talk about power in the contexts of business, government, even the church. As the Gospel of Mark reminds us, however, only Jesus Christ has true power. Through Jesus, we have the gift of forgiveness of sins. When Jesus died on the cross, it would seem as if He had been defeated. But on Easter Sunday morning the rest of the message was received. Jesus defeated the enemy! And we can rejoice today. The World’s Strongest Man has defeated our enemy!


Hymn TIS 609 'May the mind of Christ my Saviour'


Intercessory Prayers

We prayed for the needs or those around us in the world, followed by the


Hymn TIS 613: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy’


Benediction

With God as our King,

we go forth to build God’s kingdom.

With our inner nature renewed,

we go forth to proclaim God’s glory.

With our sisters and brothers in Christ, our mothers and fathers in the faith,

we go forth to be Christ’s family.

Go with God.

 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 June 2018





Rev. John began by bringing to our attention God’s knowing everything about us, even before it happens, before we do it or before we say it.

 

This brought to mind other thoughts: Why do we try to run our own lives when God is the author of everything and even knows when we are going to depart from his ways… and the consequences of such actions? This in turn jogged my memory about: “When all else fails, follow the instructions.” The maker knows best how creation, including us, should operate.

 

I was also reminded of jokes such as ones about people trying to push the “pull” door and getting nowhere, all leading to a total lack of effective result. But we still continue doing the wrong thing, no matter how often the result of such action ends badly.

 

Then there is our almost laughable habit of trying to hide our sins, silliness, and mistakes from God. Really! This is so silly, firstly because God knows everything about us and secondly, because God loves us fiercely anyway because God is love and can do no other.

 


Almost immediately another thought sprang up. Not only does God know everything about me and loves me but God knows everything about everyone and fiercely loves them too. Even people I don't like. Even people I disapprove of. Even people who I would judge are breaking God’s laws. The corollary to this is that if God loves these people then I should too. They may irritate me. I might irritate them. But we need to love one another. And not just because God demands that we do, but because the world works best that way.

 

It is said that we are the children of God. Think about how we love the children we know. We love them despite their errors and mistakes. That's how God loves us, only times a million trillion.

 

We are to love others…not because of anything about them but because all people are worthy of love as demonstrated by Jesus’ attitude and actions to people during his earthly ministry.

 

That not only makes a better and happier world but it makes a better and happier  life for the people we love and not so amazingly, it makes a better and happier us. 

 

All those thoughts came to me because of Rev. John’s introduction but then when we sang, a further aspect was added: “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy”. God’s mercy, his forgiving love for us is not just wide but beyond “the measures of the mind”. Our minds are capable of imagining or inventing anything and everything but God’s merciful love is beyond even that; beyond any limit.

 

That merciful love was demonstrated when Jesus, setting his face to Jerusalem and facing certain death, continued to spread the message of God’s kingdom. In some parts of the world ordinary Christians can be in the same position.

 

In Australia, we are not likely to be killed for continuing to spread the Word of God, although if in doing so we offend desperate people we could lose our lives, as some have. But for most of us the worst that is likely to happen is that we may be judged fools or miss out on a promotion because we are unwilling “to play the game”.

 

However, regardless of the cost of following the command of our God, we cannot do anything else. We can hardly deny the truth we know because it lands us in a difficult position. When torture and death have been the outcome of staying true, many have denied their faith and we all understand the dreadful fear they experienced, but on the other hand we also know that under the surface they knew the truth is still the truth.

 

Jesus and others did not turn away and it was Jesus’ love for us that motivated his courageous strength. It was that love which was celebrated in the part of our service that followed. It was that love we remembered and celebrated as we broke the bread and drank the wine…a ceremony that strengthens the bonds between us and our Lord and between each other, building the church and in doing so, God’s kingdom.

 

As Rev. John said after the Communion: “This has been no ordinary meal. It has been one in which we have been fed and nourished with the life of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. May we go from this table, refreshed and eager, to share that life with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen”

 

Rev. John’s sermon was about the value of the Sabbath and how it isn't something about which to make difficult-to-follow rules but a day like all others when we are to do good. It is a time, like all others, when our actions are to lead to healing not to harm. As Rev. John said:

 

“Our gracious God values life and has set apart a day each week for doing that which “saves life.” I hope we can come to know what this means for us and our life. I hope and pray we are able to learn how to think about the Sabbath as a day for saving life, to come to know how we might faithfully honour the purpose of the Sabbath, without falling into a legalism that extinguishes the very life of the Sabbath. May we be someone who “saves life,” not just in special times, but in all times. May we be a channel of our God’s healing power in every aspect of life.  Amen.”

 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 27 May 2018


 



I always like to include these first prayers. I think the people who can't attend church gain great benefit from these words which are shared during the service.

 

Readings:

The First Reading: Romans 8:12-17

The Gospel Reading: John 3:1-17

 

Gathering Gods People

Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2015)

Greetings, divine beings! Give glory and power to the Lord!

Let heaven bow down to the Lord’s holy splendour.

Greetings, human beings! Give glory and power to the Lord!

Let earth bow down to the Lord’s holy splendour.

The Lord will give strength to Gods people.

The Lord will bless Gods people with peace!

 The voice of God created the universe. The voice of God calls us to worship, and we cry:

Glory!

The voice of Christ names us as sisters and brothers. The voice of Christ calls us to worship, and we cry: Glory! Glory!

The voice of the Spirit claims us as children of God. The voice of the Spirit calls us to worship, and we cry:

Glory! Glory! Glory!

 

Opening Prayer

 Holy and awesome God, you are too amazing for us to comprehend! We thank you for the majesty, the power, and the glory of your divine presence. We are grateful that you came to us in the person of a tiny, human baby. You sent your own Son to enter fully into our lives. Our connection with Christ continues through the power of your Holy Spirit— the life-giving Spirit that transforms us into brothers and sisters of Christ, full partners in the glory of your divine love. With hearts overflowing, we thank you! Amen and amen.

 

 

Prayer of Confession

God, you come to us in a blaze of glory, but feeling unworthy of your presence, we cower and hide.

You invite us to become one with Christ, but in our fear of the demand to take up our cross, we pull back from you.

You offer us the gift of new life, but we roll our eyes, convinced of our knowledge of human biology and the impossibility of resurrection.

You manifest yourself to us in so many ways, but we have become experts at dodging, avoiding, and rationalising our refusal to follow your ways. Forgive us, Holy One.

Come to us once again, we pray. Open our eyes to your glory. Open our hearts to your love. Open our minds to your divine presence in our lives. Amen.

 

Declaration of Forgiveness

God’s own child was born on earth, in our midst, as a sign of Gods deep and abiding love for each one of us. Through the witness of the Holy Spirit, we claim this love for our own. We are the forgiven and loved children of God.

Thanks, be to God.

 

Rev. John talked today about whether we, as a church, function as an organization or an organism. He introduced this idea by referring to the individualistic way Australians operate, even to the extent of  local congregations not being able to think of themselves as part of a worldwide “organism”.

 

He went on to say that many people take on or are given jobs in the church which reflect their daily occupations.

 

This leads to people fulfilling “functions” rather than building the kingdom. We fail to open ourselves to welcome all into the kingdom because we stay in our little “world”.


 

This has been something I have been
considering for some time. The Christian
Church is unbelievably diverse in its
expression. If we travelled from country to
 country, especially outside the European
world, we would see churches which seem
unrecognizable to us as a church, that is
because our idea of what a church is, is so
 culturally bound.

 


That's not such a problem if we are only confining ourselves to think about Christians from different lands but if we look into that type of “classifying” more closely, we would resound that we exclude certain people from those we would consider being part of our congregation because of trivial differences. What does it matter what a person wears? What does it matter whether a person speaks grammatically (or softly or loudly). What does it matter whether someone is a bit gauche and bursts out at inappropriate times.

 

Jesus opened his arms to us all. When we are thinking that someone is not quite right for our congregation, put Jesus in our place and think what he would do.

 

I really worry that in our attempts to be “Christian” sometimes we are being most unChristlike.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 13 May 2018


Gifts for the Family.
 
 
In Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour, much is made of thank-you notes, especially thank-you notes for wedding presents. One of her sample letters reads as follows:
 
Dear Aunt Patience:
Rhino and I are thrilled with the magnificent silver sugar shaker you sent us. It adds not only beauty and dignity to our table, but amusement, too, as some of our friends who are both ignorant and daring have not waited for the berries to be served but have shaken it over their meat. "This could only have come from your Aunt Patience," said one, and we were proud to say that it had. Rhino joins me in thanking you for your kindness. We look forward to having you in our new home.
Love,
Daffodil
 
Most of us have gotten gifts that we weren't quite sure how to use. We smile politely, say "thank you very much," but think to ourselves, "What on earth am I supposed to do with this?" With any luck, the giver will notice a look of perplexity on our faces and give us some clue as to the intended purpose of the item. But, just as often, we are left to figure it out for ourselves. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don't, and there are times that we just never find out how this beautiful but strange gift is supposed to be used.
 
I would bet that it wasn't too different for Jesus' disciples in this week’s scripture from the gospel of John. Pentecost Sunday is a day when Christians give thanks for God’s many blessings, for the Church in which we are nurtured and through baptism are made members. Christians believe we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit -- and the question is asked. "What on earth am I supposed to do with this?" Nobody had ever received that gift before. There was no helpful lady at the registry at Myers or David Jones to tell them just why they should have this particular item and how to use it. And so, when Jesus breathes on his followers and gives them this amazing and perplexing gift, he tells them right away how to use it -- to forgive sins and to be bearers of peace.
 
When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is not ours to keep tucked away for our private use. The Holy Spirit is a gift that is to be shared generously and lavishly. Like the fine china and beautiful linens, we give and receive as wedding presents, the Holy Spirit is given as a token of the day on which we take vows to live in unity with Christ. And, like those beautiful dishes and tablecloths, the Holy Spirit is a sign that our lives with the Lord will be lived not in isolation, but in gracious and loving service to other people.
 
You know Marriage legally forms earthly and visible families within communities, groups of people who promise to be together in good times and bad, to balance each other's talents and abilities, so that in sharing and giving of what they have and who they are, they will live a life that is fuller and more satisfying than any life they could possibly imagine having alone. Graciously with the very best of what we have and the various talents of each person we are called to make the whole thing work. This doesn't happen in isolation, but in consciously living in the wider community of family and for Christians this is God's family.
 
We bring the beautiful and precious gifts of our baptism to the banquet table of God's family. Each of us has something different and distinctive to bring to this table. Each of us has something to give thanks for and we are called to share those blessings that we have received. At God's table, every colour, shape and texture of dinnerware -- from the finest gold-banded china to hand-thrown pottery, and even paper plates -- is needed, wanted and welcome. Until everyone has a place setting at the table, a place specially designed for that person, there is something missing at the feast.
 
We are to offer the gifts that we have as a welcome addition to the life of the family of God, and to rejoice that it makes our life together fuller and richer than any we could possibly imagine if it were absent. Pentecost seems to be the season in which we celebrate such things. We look to the desire that all our lives will be richer and fuller than it was before and that we are also enriched by each one’s presence and gifts among us.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 13 May 2018





Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)

We want to celebrate Mothers as a wonderful gift from God, but we want to be certain that we recognise mothers – and likewise, families in general – as a gift from the God who has created all things. So today, as we are called to worship by the scriptures, we’re called to worship a God who loves us and welcomes us into his family.

Clap your hands and shout to God with loud songs of joy.

Sing praises to God, who fills the world with forgiveness and grace.

Christ is alive. He is risen from the dead.

The Holy One calls us to worship and praise.

Baptised with the power of the Holy Spirit,

we live with Christ in our hearts.

Clap your hands and shout to God with loud songs of joy.

Sing praises to God, who fills the world with forgiveness and grace.

 

Hymn TIS 106: "Now thank we all our God" I have noticed that when I keep looking for my blessings and thanking God for them, the impact is far greater than if I accept them as a given.


Opening Prayer

 God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ lived in a family in Nazareth: Grant that in our families on earth we may so learn to love and to live together that we may rejoice as one family in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Prayer of Confession

Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Holy One has set.”

Yet we keep searching for signs and omens, trying to predict the future instead of living fully each day.

Jesus said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Yet we are more concerned with following the proper procedures, than with opening our hearts to those around us.

Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

Forgive us, Holy One, when we try to shape the world according to our desires, instead of asking for the power to do your will.


 

Declaration of Forgiveness

The Holy One enlightens the eyes of our hearts,
 that we may know the hope to which we are
alled. In the name of Christ, you are forgiven. Thanks, be to God!


 

The Peace

 In the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ, let us share signs of peace with one
another. Peace be with you! And also with you.

 

Hymn TIS 457: "The Church’s one foundation" An article I read recently stressed the centrality of God in our church. The point made in that article was that too often God gets forgotten and the church itself becomes the centre. That is no more or less than idolatry.

                  

The Service of the Word

As it was Mothers’ Day Rev. John spoke on the topic of families and family relationships. No family is perfect and there is friction from time to time in any group of people living together. (My nephew who was serving in the military overseas made this point at one time, saying that he was having trouble with his constant companion…..his pistol.) In fact there are times when we become so irritated with a family member we can hardly put up with their breathing heavily. A friend told me of a family car trip where her son became quite angry because his brother was looking out of “his window.”  Sometimes these times of friction come down to personal preferences but at other times someone has done something very wrong.

The Rev. John had this to say about that:

We do not fail or even sin that grace may abound. But when we fail to live by God’s call we can start again, and we can be sure that grace abounds as we repent. Seemliness is no closer to godliness than cleanliness, and it is a comfort to know that no failure, no sin, no wound can separate us from the love or purposes of God. Even the holy family—Mary, Jesus, and Joseph—were beset by intrigue and rumour. Mary and Joseph were not yet married when she became pregnant. That is not to suggest that, as I heard one preacher say, unwed pregnancy is "OK," only that in and of itself unwed pregnancy does not disqualify us from serving God.

 

Hymn TIS 137: “For the Beauty of the Earth” For everything that brings joy - every good thing- thanks be to God.

Grahame led us into prayer with music and there followed the Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer. This is such an important time for us when we can each draw close to the One who loves us so much.

 

Hymn TIS 526: Lord Jesus Christ" Focussing our hearts and minds on the centre of all things.

 

Benediction

May the Lord who brought us to birth by his Spirit,

strengthen us for the Christian life.

May the Lord who provides for all our needs

sustain us day by day.

May the Lord whose steadfast love is constant as a

mother's care,

send us out to live and work for others.

And the blessing of God Almighty.

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be with you and remain with you always. Amen

 

Hymn TIS 779: “May the feet of God walk with you,” And with this we blessed each other as we parted.