Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25th August 2013


Helen welcomed us all and the notices were given including one about Operation Christmas Child. Anyone who would like a box into which to put items for a child for Christmas, please see Pat.

Hymn TIS 106. "Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices"

This hymn is a bit of a fave with me. A hymn from a people assured of God in their lives, in control. A few times, when I have wondered about what is going on around me, I have just settled for, "God knows what He is doing".

Prayer of Praise and Confession

"Eternal God, you are the one who reigns, who guides and who blesses. When we pause and glimpse your stature and selfless being we are amazingly insignificant. Yet Lord, we strut around full of our own importance, believing our way is the only way. We believe we have the right to dominate and hurt others, so OUR will prevails - little if at any time, seeking or being open to your will.

Forgive us Lord.

When will we learn?

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us.

Words of Assurance

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom. 5:6)

Hear then Christ's word of grace to us:

Your sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God"

Hymn TIS 465 "Father in Heaven, grant to your children" Grant to your children: What? Ponies for Christmas? A parking space? Good exam results? An impressive house or car?

Don't think so. God isn't in that business. God doesn't give us the things we want: God gives us the things we need.

Helen then explained that she saw, in the readings, images of God in all stages of our lives.

Scripture Reading Terry delivered the readings today. Jeremiah 1: 1 8. God has known us from before our birth and knows what is in store for us but, more importantly, will be with us at all times.

Reflection Helen explained that she was to explore how God is with us from before we are born, throughout all our lives. God told Jeremiah, a mere boy, that He had holy plans for him: that Jeremiah would be the prophet for a nation. Jeremiah couldn't see that as any sort of possibility. He protested his lack of talent and influence but God settled that with, "I will be with you".

Helen recalled her anger when, after the anticipation of the birth of her first granddaughter, the little girl's medical difficulties made Helen think that they had not received the love of God as we are promised. However Helen came to realise that God doesn't say that there won't be problems but that He will be with us through all of them.
And that relationship begins from before we are born. Helen's mother prayed for her from her conception and Helen believes that shaped who she is.

Recently I have had a bit of an operation and there have been a couple of unexpected complications. At first these caused me extreme anxiety, but last week I was sitting very still one morning and it hit me that I was loved and cared for by the God of the universe. I hardly dared breathe for fear of disturbing the exquisite beauty of it all.

God knows us in the womb - God has a plan - He'll be there looking after us.

Hymn TIS 158 "God has spoken by His prophets" Through His word that does not change,  our rock. He has spoken through Jesus, God revealed. He has spoken through His spirit, directly to our hearts. How can we miss hearing Him?

Freewill Offering

"Like Jeremiah, we often think that we have very little to offer. Help us provider, God, to rise to the occasion, offering all that we have and all that we are in your mission of love to the world."

Scripture Reading Psalm 71: 4 - 7 A plea for God to rescue us from any threats to our safety. In a place like the one we live in, we are not in huge physical danger: as a rule Australians aren't in physical danger. But we are in danger of losing our backbone; our integrity is under threat. We are under threat from the greedy and the unscrupulous.

It's amazing what prayer can do.

Reflection  Helen sees this as the way we are in midlife, running around trying to attend to all our responsibilities, asking God to get us out of the mess we are in and onto our feet. As is often the case, in a time of trouble, the psalmist has turned to God, asking, as in the version being used, for God to be a guest room to which he could retreat, a lovely picture of God providing a space for salvation.

Hymn MP 352 v.1,2,4 "I've found a friend O such a friend" A friend beyond any other we can have, who seeks us out because He loved us forever. A friend who sacrificed Himself so we can live forever, under His guidance, according to His counsel. Now that's a friend we all need.

Scripture Reading Luke 13: 10 - 17 Jesus heals a woman who has been bent double for eighteen years and is immediately set upon and accused of breaking the Sabbath. Then Jesus gives a lesson on the real relationship between God and people. It isn't one of our obeying demanding rules. It's about us accepting the love of God.

Reflection Helen explained that this reading shows us what the Kingdom of God is like. The Pharisees saw the Kingdom of God as a place for the Holy and so people were expected to obey all the rules, down to the tiniest ones, to be Holy enough. However, Jesus turned that idea on its head in this event. By healing the crippled woman, He showed that the Kingdom of God is about freedom and wholeness and, to be free and whole, we will need to change from the way we are. Helen then invited Graham to help her demonstrate how our journey with God is a lot like dancing with a partner. Sometimes we hold God close to us;
sometimes we step away from God but keep hold of Him, sometimes we face Him but from afar. If we think about the varying dance positions, we can use our creative imagination to explore the possibilities of our life's journey with God.

Prayer for Others and The Lord's Prayer Val prayed for all those we love and care for: those far away, those travelling, those who are sick and elderly, those who are housebound,
those who feel rejected and the unemployed. She prayed to God, our strength, to support all. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 242 v. 1,3,5 A song about the joy of living a life with God. "Dance then wherever you may be; I am The Lord of the dance said he; and I'll lead you all wherever you may be, and I'll lead you in the dance said he."


May the Lord of the Dance, live in you and you in him, forever.

Amen. Amen. Amen. 


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 18 August 2013

A welcome was extended to all and Robyn gave the Call to Worship  thanking God and giving praise and thanksgiving for all our blessings. Thanks was given for food and family, church and faith as well as the beauty of the earth about us. It is so easy to think these things "just are" and remain unaware that they are precious gifts.

Hymn AHB 109 "Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord!" A hard call, given that we humans simply cannot appreciate God's greatness. We can, if we keep our hearts and minds attuned, remain alert to God's many blessings in our lives and in the world around us. That is difficult enough in itself, given our tendency to take things for granted or to give credit to "our own amazing talent" for what is due to the Lord.

Children's Talk Robyn spoke of those who worry, worry, worry and forget that they have a Father who cares for them.

Hymn AHB 92 "God has spoken by His prophets, spoken His unchanging word," God has also spoken to us through Jesus Christ and through His Spirit. I have taught science for years and the appearance of God in creation both in created things - living and non-living, as well as in the workings of creation, spells out so much that words cannot. We have before us evidence of God's unchanging steadfastness; His creativeness and untarnished, illuminating, glorious power.

Bible Reading Jack Elliot read to us from Hebrews 11: 29 - 12: 2 and Luke 12: 49 56.

The Hebrews reading is well known, with the author listing all those through Biblical history  whose faith remained firm in God. With that in kind we are encouraged to "...let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith..." Enough said.

The Luke reading is far more unsettling. Jesus is declaring that He has come to cause division and then accuses the people who pretend great wisdom by being able to interpret the signs of the weather of hypocrisy because they cant  see what was happening before them.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession Robyn led us in this appeal to the Blessed God of the Universe who created us and this radiant jewel, our planet Earth. We thanked him for the Australian people, the lessons we have learnt; the work we have to do and the people we have to love. We prayed: Merciful God, hear the words of our hearts. There are so many false images of love and some of these are even represented as the love of Christ. We prayed to live another way; the true way of Christ. Amen. Jesus offered peace to His anxious disciples - this can be ours. "Your sins are forgiven!"

Hymn TIS 595 A confession of our commitment and a prayer for Jesus to be near: to feel, to hear, and to see the path laid down for us. So that we will not be distracted or be tempted to stray.

Message Robyn spoke to the bible readings, directing our attention to Jesus' statement that He had come to disrupt the world and cause division. Following Jesus can cause our  alienation from those around us. On a personal note, just today I attended a meeting where a young man told of how he had given up a lucrative career in the public service because he couldn't stomach the decisions he had to make about asylum seekers. Belonging to God can make life difficult but then Robyn pointed to the other reading and its reference to those who had suffered alienation and far worse, but remained true to their calling. Having been called by God, makes any other demand on us lose its power.  

Hymn TIS 407 "Breathe on me breathe of God"  A prayer that God will work in us so that we will be fit to live with Him and an implied acknowledgement that we cannot do this by ourselves.

Offering and Dedication. A prayer by Robyn to our gracious Father that He will fill our hearts with love for our community and show us the best way to use our offerings

Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer Robyn prayed on our behalf, giving praise for the wondrous diversity of creation, asking that we be good stewards of this gift. She prayed for the people of Oceania, particularly the Maori and Australian Aborigines, that their history and cultures should be respected and that it should be remembered that their cultures have existed for tens of thousands of years. She prayed that the lives of the Australian Aborigines will be improved and that they will again be a proud people, who will feel part of Australia. Robyn gave thanks for the personalities of the people from Oz and NZ, praying that politicians should value their people and that Christian people will open their hearts and minds to people who want to come to live here. Robyn prayed for guidance for MRUC at this time of change and for people everywhere suffering from illness. We then joined in The Lord's Prayer.


Blessing: Hymn TIS 755

You shall go out with joy - and be led forth in peace,

and the mountains and the hills shall break forth with singing.

There'll be shouts of joy, - and the trees of the field shall clap, clap their hands (repeat)

and you'll go out with joy.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 August 2013


We were all welcomed and the notices were given out including one that Robyn Harvey is to take next week's service.

This was followed by the Call to Worship taken from Psalm 50: Gather to me my faithful ones, Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Hymn TIS 675 "Lord, the Light of your love is shining" an acknowledgement of, and praise for the affect of God's presence in our lives, illuminating the dark areas and releasing us from the burden of the ignorance that darkness enforces upon us. A prayer that the light of God will continue to blaze on our lives, changing us, mirroring His light onto the world about us.

Prayer of Praise To The Lord of Light: the only answer to what would seem impossible situations: we worship you.

We give thanks for all those influences that lift us out of our despair: that make us want to reflect that light to those around us.

We fail without meaning to and suffer terribly as we stumble around, knowing the living death of alienation.

When all else fails we ask forgiveness and God gives Himself without judgement and timidly we begin again on our true path

Wonder. Joy. Love.

Baptism of Aidan  Ruth announced that Alysia and Martin had come to present their son, Aidan for Baptism. Helen then explained that Baptism is a sacrament of the church; that Jesus himself was baptised and that he had told us to baptise others. She confirmed this by reading Matt.28: 18-20.

Helen explained that Baptism is Christ's gift. That it is the sign by which the Spirit of God joins people to Jesus Christ, and incorporates them into his body, the Church.

The parents then asked that Aidan be baptised in the faith and family of Jesus Christ and affirmed their belief that the Bible guides unto follow Jesus Christ.

Helen then, touching Aidan's ears and mouth addressed him, "Aidan, may The Lord open your eyes to receive His word, and your mouth to proclaim his praise."

The congregation proclaimed their belief by saying the Apostles' Creed and while Ruth poured the water, Helen traced the importance of water: in creation, in the flood, and in the Exodus, asking that the water, by the power of the Holy Spirit, would be a place of blessing and salvation for Aidan.

Aidan was then baptised in the name of the Father, And of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, after which the parents, Godparents and the congregation made their promises to support Aidan.

Aaronic Blessing The Lord bless you and keep you;

                               the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you;

                               the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Hymn E.J SMITH  "All praise to you, Christ Jesus vv. 1,3,4 A song to Christ Jesus, our all. The One whose grace brings sense to our lives. The One whose call cannot be ignored and whose renewing affect cannot be denied. And then a prayer that we will stay close, so that God's message will be known to all.

Scripture Reading Luke 12: 32 - 40 delivered by Colin. An entreaty to make out treasure in heaven, for then that is where our heart will be. Also, an entreaty to live our lives as though we will meet our Saviour in the very next moment.

Reflection  The Thief

With reference to today's reading, Helen explained that the community being addressed by Luke was suffering internal pressures. These were Gentiles amongst which were some wealthy individuals. This people were all generously donating to the work of the church but were expecting Jesus to return quite quickly. When He didn't, they started to question what was going on.(was this a scam?). By this time Jerusalem and the Temple had been obliterated and so these people were asking, "If this can happen to God's chosen, what could happen to us Gentiles". So Luke is assuring them that all is well- that their Father wants to give them all, and that they should lay up their treasure in Heaven, where it will be safe.

Luke tells them to keep giving and keep looking forward to the promise- don't give up for we don't know when the Master will come- He will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. And when He comes, He will serve us.

Faith is risky but when Jesus comes all the material things will disappear, so there is not much use clasping them close to us now.

Bank up God's love. Change direction. Look to the Kingdom coming.

Prayer  Jesus, teach us how to live our lives so that we are always prepared for and welcoming of your surprising presence.

Teach us to live each day as if it were our last.

Hymn TIS 687  "God gives us a future" Daring us; for a new life; leaving behind yesterday; fear and doubt must not hold us back; God gives the strength; meets the challenge; loves us into action; till we choose God's life and find our future there. Scary stuff. Unless we take a big faith-filled leap, we will cling to our old selves and our old ways forever.

Freewill Offering God of Light, may these offerings offer hope to those in darkness. Amen

Prayers for Others and The Lord's Prayer (paraphrase)

 A prayer to the one who is our all, for inspiration to pray and act with the compassion of Jesus Christ. There followed a prayer for the starving and those that scrabble around for food. For those who lack the freedom to live normal dignified lives. For those who have not been able to make their way and use their skills, so as to feel valued, in such a fast moving world.

"Bread of life, there are some who are spiritually hungry, who yearn for some faith and passion, who search for your meaning and your name, who look for someone they can trust and hunger for something worth worshipping. Please satisfy their hunger with the bread of life.

Response Holy friend, sift our prayers and turn our hopes into deeds.

And to you, bountiful God, Father and Provider, Christ and Saviour, Holy Spirit and Friend, be honour and glory, worship and praise, from now to eternity." Bruce Prewer

The Lord's Prayer

Hymn TIS 315 "Mine eyes have seen the glory" We know it well. A declaration of our experience. A declaration of our confidence in God's power to triumph over evil in the world and in our hearts. Hallelujah!

Blessing May the peace of the one who is Mystery, open our eyes to the beauty in the ordinary, and open our ears to the call of those in need of our care.

Dismissal Go in peace, to love and serve The Lord.

TIS 779 May the feet of God walk with you...

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 4 August 2013

Helen welcomed us and the notices were announced including one about the Musical Society holding its church service at Marsden Road next Sunday, August 11 at 7pm. As they say, "All Welcome". Also the Church Council meeting has been moved to August 20.

Call to Worship Psalm 107

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever...

For God satisfies the thirsty and the hungry he fills with good things.

Hymn TIS 134 "Praise my soul the king of heaven" The same line grabs me every time - "ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven"... If that isn't enough, what is!

Prayers of Praise and Confession In groups, and with reference to the Call to Worship we shared how we have experienced those things mentioned in Psalm 107.

Helen closed with: God of love and steadfastness, God who is good. God who longs to immerse us in your love and warmth.  Thank You.

We both know it is undeserved, for we take things for granted, focus on our own plans, and forget your presence.  Forgive us, we pray.  Amen

Words of Assurance  Every day the sun rises - a new day and a new start, from the God of grace.

We then sang together: The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning,

Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord, Great is Thy faithfulness.

Scripture Reading.  Hosea 11: 1 - 11 read by Jan, we are told of God's voice poignantly recalling His care for Israel and Israel's lack of awareness of what they had been given, showing no appreciation or loyalty. He speaks of the consequences to follow but also, in His great love,says he will not destroy them and that they will return to Him.

Hymn TIS 121 v. 1,4 "God Himself is present" These verses remind us that we are in the presence of God. It is the time to worship in deepest reverence and renew our surrender.

To offer ourselves as a temple to Him that Is; to Him that brings Light to our being.

Reflection "Love to the Loveless"

Helen set the scene of the Northern Kingdom run amok. They were doing very well, thank you very much...Baal. They had incorporated Baal worship into their traditional worship, including magic in an attempt to make God do what they wanted. But in this passage it is made clear that God is a God of relationships. He is not interested in their sacrifices or performances. Neither does he want mixed feelings towards Him. God, your God wants your heart. But Israel didn't want to know. The images in the bible passage are of a nurturing, caring God, but the more God called, the more Israel rebelled.

God is part of our lives; He aches with us; He remembers the loving care He has given us and which He gave Israel. God longs to reach out but Israel's rebellion angered Him. And consequences followed but God, in His great love, could not desert them and promised to take them back.

We forget. We don't see God's presence. We have a God who loves us so much that He died so nothing would stand between us. If we have fallen away, God is there, God is gracious. God's grace is there for us each new morning.

It is so easy to take what we have for granted, and feel proud of our achievements, forgetting the enduring strength, hope and guidance we have received from God.

So let us give thanks.

Hymn TIS 717 "Give thanks with a grateful heart" A song of thanks, for all we have been given and all that as been done for us.

Freewill Offering Lord, for all of your blessings we thank you. Take and use these gifts to bring glory to your name.

 Affirmation of Faith

Most of the time

A declaration of our belief - in a most human way - We believe, well, most of the time: in an imminent Friend who will never forsake us; who, while one with us, is Divine. Thanks be to God.

Prayer for others and the Lord's Prayer. Jack gave thanks for Helen; her imagination; her innovative approach and indeed, her unpredictability. He reminded us of the newspaper articles she had shown us in a previous service of the many things going very wrong around us. At the time he had wondered why people can go so badly astray. He had come to the conclusion that is was because of bad choices, lack of respect, irresponsibility and of people not having the faintest idea about valuing relationships. And so he prayed for people everywhere, that they will avoid such disasters. He then prayed for the particular needs of the congregation and then we all joined together in the Lord's Prayer

Communion Helen welcomed all to share in communion and then we sang

Hymn TIS 511 v. 1,2 "Let us break bread together"..."As we travel through this land, all God's children hand in hand, Lord, fill all our living with your life."

Communion - We remember the bread of life (Joyce Rupp, Out of the Ordinary)

A Responsive Reading (paraphrased)

Our acknowledgement of the reality of God as the source of everything that sustains us and enriches our lives; the One who meets our deepest need with His love. The One who offers us life from the depths of our despair. The One who is our spiritual energy and wakens in us a need for truth. This bread reminds us. Sharing this bread, which must be broken, gives us strength and transforms us. This bread binds us together in community and proclaims that the ordinary is a mask of the holy. This bread asks us to be aware of our journey and be patient with it, giving ourselves up to the nourishment offered, so that  we will become deeply wedded to compassion. To remember we are waiting here for our true home.

"And finally, we remember: That our hearts are filled with gratitude for this good gift. Within us all that is holy cries out. Come, Bread of Life, Come!"

Hymn TIS 511 v 3,4 "Let us sing songs together"..." As we travel through this land, all God's children hand in hand. Lord, fill all our living with your life"


The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Amen. Amen. Amen.