Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 7 January 2018


This Sunday is the first after the Epiphany. An epiphany is an experience of suddenly becoming aware of new knowledge or, as some would say it, a time of gaining new light.

This was the concept on which Rev. Bill based the following


Call to Worship

Arise, shine: for your light has come

And the glory of the Lord is risen upon us.

“From the rising of the sun till its going down, my name shall be great among the gentiles” says the Lord of hosts, “and in every place incense shall be offered to my name and a pure offering

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: those who follow me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”


That is, Jesus is the source of all knowledge, all understanding. The response to that could be: “Knowledge and understanding of what?” The answer to that is not quite straight toward because while it could be said that it is knowledge and understanding of the important and fundamental issues, that would miss the mark. If we think about the “light” itself instead of any subject, we approach the meaning more closely. Jesus bestows upon us, a state of being in which we perceive ourselves and the way we operate in this world, in a totally new way. A way defying description. A way which only makes sense to those who have opened themselves to its experience.


This was reflected in the collect used:


Collect (Together)

Almighty God, your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  May your people, illumined by your word and sacraments, shine with the radiance of his glory, that he may be known, worshipped and obeyed to the ends of the earth; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.  AMEN


We can speak about the above in different ways. We may pray that we will act in a God-like way. We may be constrained to show friendship to the friendless and operate from a place of love but whatever we ask for, or pray to be it all comes down to God’s light acting through us.


Rev. Bill reminded us of a story that told of a time when three men experienced a new understanding of a natural event; an event that was to change their lives forever:


“These men from the East journeyed to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him”.  

You see, they saw an object in creation that revealed something of God, something that made them want to worship.  A created thing led them to worship Christ.”

Their experience brought them joy and when we experience something similar it is very difficult to tell someone else why it has been on a different level from other experiences.

As the Rev. Bill put it: “It is enough to say “Here’s a mystery, a wonder. It’s way beyond me; it’s about something so much bigger than I am.”

Rev. Bill continued to speak about the possibility of other epiphanies, when we know something more than the ordinary and then linked this to the Communion service which was to follow:


We approach the Table of the Lord.

We can remember what happened for the wise men – the light, the insight, the epiphany.  It happens, in what we do here at the Communion Table.

1. The Epiphany of the World. From out of the world, God’s created creatures - we take ordinary things – bread and wine but in this sacrament they take on a special meaning – they represent the body and blood of Jesus.

2. The Epiphany of the Word. We take the Word of God  as the authority for what we do.  The words of institution given by St Paul who quoted the very words of Jesus, his very instructions to obey -Take Bread, take wine – do this in remembrance of me.

3. The Wonder of the World, and the Word.  Here we meet with the very same Jesus of Bethlehem and like the Wise men we worship.  As Horatius Bonar, the Scottish minister wrote in his much-loved hymn:

Here O my Lord, I see Thee face to face.

Here would I touch and handle things unseen.

Here grasp with firmer hand the eternal grace

And all my weariness upon Thee lean.

Indeed by eating the bread and drinking the wine we get a firmer grip on Jesus. And thus are ready, after the wonder of Worldly creatures, Word and Worship, we are ready for

4. The Way ahead.  We  go from here a new way, because our direction is more clearly set for us, having been with Jesus, who now goes with us into the unknown way, the New Way.

Too soon we rise; the symbols disappear;
The feast, though not the love, is past and gone.
The bread and wine remove; but Thou art here,
Nearer than ever, still my Shield and Sun.

The commonplace, our everyday life, is shot through with the glory of God, And it is right here to bring us into fellowship with our Living Lord.


So how is it with us?. Is that our experience, or do we struggle each day to be better Christians?  Is the commonplace shot through with the glory of God? Are we in fellowship with the living God?

Think hard upon those questions.

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