Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 24 November 2013


Call to Worship

"Ldr. Strength through vulnerability. Peace through pain.

 All. Jesus is the image of the unseen God.

 Ldr. Justice through questioning. Light through darkness.

 All. Jesus is the image of the unseen God.

 Ldr. Courage through truth. Love through reconciliation.

 All. Jesus is the image of the unseen God."

                                            Ruth Burgess, "Candles and Conifers", Wild  Goose Publications.

Hymn TIS 216 "Rejoice the Lord is King" A celebration of the greatness of our God. Believe it and rejoice!

Opening Prayer A plea that we will see the truth and be open to God's vision.

Prayer of Confession

"With humble hearts, trusting in grace, let us confess our sins before God and one another:"

This was an interactive prayer asking for forgiveness for our lack of discipleship, for not showing God's love, for not listening to Him, for trying to run our own show, and for using God's work for our own ends.

For this we asked forgiveness.

Assurance of Forgiveness

We hope for forgiveness and we are certain of forgiveness. "We have been rescued from the power of darkness".

"Know that you are forgiven, and be at peace." Thanks be to God.


Hymn TIS 28 "God is our strength and refuge" A declaration of our faith in God as the answer to anything life can turn up. Sit still and listen.

Scripture Reading: The readings today were delivered by Pat. Jeremiah 23: 1 - 16. Harsh warnings for those who lead God's people astray. And the promise of a true leader.

Colossians 1: 11 - 20. The word that the promise from Jeremiah has been fulfilled and praise for Him who has fulfilled the promise.

Luke 23: 33 - 43 The Crucifixion: the deriding of Christ by the soldiers and the insight of Jesus' fellow condemned that He is God. Look closely. Which are we - really?

Reflection Unfortunately, I was unable to attend today's service so what follows is my attempt to summarise Chris' notes.

Chris pointed out that today marks the end of the church calendar with Reign of Christ Sunday. We have been led by the seasons through the life, death, resurrection and ministry of Jesus. The relevance of this has been that we have learned as disciples of Jesus, to live our lives like Him.

Today's passages focus on a. From judgment to promise: b. Description of situation to its solution: c. From what people have messed up to what God is still able and willing to accomplish.

In each passage is the same idea of an ending and a new beginning; a new possibility beyond our past and our present, each speaking of reconciliation in a restored relationship.

This Sunday used to be called Christ the King Sunday but the connotations earthly kings and queens throw up do not fit with the image of Jesus' sovereignty. Jesus is close to us and involved in our lives. He lived simply and was/is not cut off from the people.

He was chosen as king because of his ability to relate to the people (today, us). He stood for a different way of being valued to the point of giving His life.

"To celebrate the Reign of Jesus...let that rhythm of life we have encountered beating through the scriptures and beating vibrantly in the life of Jesus, beat boldly in our hearts.


Hymn Sans2 "The Life of Jesus"  (George Stuart) A song of the example Jesus set, showing us how to live our lives. We have all heard it said, "God is love" and Jesus showed us how that love works in this world.

The Offering and Prayers for the People were expressions of the obedience of the congregation to live as Jesus did.

Go Forth

Hymn TIS 547 "Be Thou my Vision" A plea that God's way will inform everything we do, so that we will show His love to the world.

Sending Forth (interactive)

"Ldr. Our God reigns.                                    All. Our God reigns.

Ldr  Our God believes in us.                         All. Our God believes in us.

Ldr. Our God loves us.                                  All. Our God loves us.

Ldr. Our God sends us.                                 All. Our God sends us.

Ldr. Our God blesses this world through us. All. Our God blesses this world through us.

Ldr. Our God reigns.                                      All. Our God reigns.         Amen.

Hymn TIS 779. 

"May the feet of God walk with you and His hand hold you tight.

May the eye of God rest on you, and His ear hear your cry.

May the smile of God be for you, and His breath give you life.

May the Child of God grow in you, and His love bring you home." Amen.

Aubrey Podrich















Sunday, 17 November 2013

Marsden Road Uniting Church 17 November 2013


Kaye introduced Suzanne our guest minister, who issued the

Call to Worship Uniting in Worship 2

"True belonging is of God, source and end. God is light:

Let us live in light.

True forgiveness is in Christ, healer and joy. Christ brings new life:

Let us celebrate life.

True power comes from the Spirit, inspiration and hope. The Spirit gives peace:

Let us receive peace.

Hymn TIS 181. "Come O God of all the Earth" God, author of all goodness and the energy that powers the universe: we ask that the creative power that achieves all we see about us  enter our lives and mould us into people who show your love to the world.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession Seasons of the Spirit, Wood Lake Publishing Inc.

Suzanne led us in thanking God for giving us a vision of what might be and the good health to work to realize that vision. She asked that in times of fear and misery that these visions sustain us.

My problem is that in times like this I look away from God and do a very childish sulk, lengthening my time of misery and making my journey back all the harder.

Suzanne then led us in confessing our inability to see ourselves in God's image and our tendency to forget the loving relationship we have with God, dwelling on past grievances and ignoring the offer God makes to us, forgetting to look to God, (who is the answer to everything)

"We forget to call on your name. Forgive us, gracious God. Amen.

If only we could keep this in mind at all times then we could avoid a lot of the damage we do to ourselves.

Words of Affirmation

Before we call to God,

God promises to answer.

Even as we pray to God,

God hears our prayers, our hopes, our fears.

Surely, God is our salvation.

We will trust and not be afraid, for God is our strength and might; and yes, God is our salvation.   Amen

Hymn TIS 609 "May the mind of Christ my Saviour" May God live in, dwell within, rule, and fill me so that "(I may) run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe, looking only unto Jesus as I inward go."

 I find the prospect of being so taken over by God's Spirit terrifying: being infused with the Spirit of our powerful, pure, creator - even though he is wholly love - is more than I can cope with.

Bible Readings. Ruth brought today's readings to us.

Isaiah 65: 17-25 The promise of a new creation where everything will be as it is meant to be. It is certainly something we long for but I think we are meant to be part of the creation of this new order and I don't think we are always heading in the right direction.

Luke 21: 5-19 Jesus prophecy of the destruction of the temple and a warning not to be led astray by false prophets. Jesus predicts chaos and persecution of those who follow Him but protection for them. Very difficult to think about. When were or are these things to happen? What form are these events to take?

Reflection Suzanne began by placing the NT reading in context, near the climax and conclusion of Christ's ministry, when the disciples were wanting to know what was going to happen. They were looking for assurance but as this reading reveals they met a prediction of destruction around them and of their own persecution. Not exactly good news and certainly information sure to raise levels of anxiety.
Suzanne then referred to the natural disasters that happen around us, which we find hard to comprehend and which raise many questions for us. What should we do to prepare for such events? Are they preventable or part of the natural order? Are they getting worse?

Suzanne canvassed the issue of "fear". When we are fearful  we are faced with choosing between reaching out to others and self protection.

Often after prayer and action to follow, we are left wondering about how much difference we have made and often feel helpless.

Should we immerse ourselves in suffering with others or get on with our own lives, recognizing our limits and trusting in God to take care of things?

Because of the exposure of calamities, crime and conflict in the media, we have come to see the world as a mean place. We have been given reason to FEAR.

This fear can be used to have us support a fight against a perceived threat. It can be used to manipulate us. This type of disordered fear is a problem.

On the other hand, Suzanne pointed out that fearlessness may indicate that we love nothing but on the other hand fear can also be an over-reaction. For example, we hear of people buying guns to protect their families, thereby creating a more dangerous world.

Suzanne made the obvious statement that the solution is to create a safer culture.

As it is, people strike pre-emptively: they look after themselves rather than practice Christian hospitality. Their lives become contracted.

However, Jesus encouraged his disciples to witness to God's love, even when all seems lost.

Christ called his disciples and calls us to be a pilgrim people: Christ calls and sustains us. His costly love has given us a gift of great hope. This love of God is testified to in Christ's death which challenges us, as we journey through life in this world, not to fear but to bring comfort and peace.

Hymn TIS 414 "There's a Spirit in the Air" Be confident - get on with the job we have be given.

Offering Thanks to God for His generosity, a prayer that we should be mindful of all that God offers us and a plea that we should be faithful in our stewardship.

Prayers for the People and the Lord's Prayer Suzanne offered prayers for the destitute, homeless, refugees and those in the midst of warfare and natural disaster, that they may be sustained as they survive each day with a sense of hope and peace. She prayed for those who care for such people that they will be granted wisdom and compassion. That those who suffer anxiety and depression will be given meaning and purpose in life. Suzanne led us, praying for comfort for the lonely, isolated and the grieving and those that care for the vulnerable older and younger members of our community. She then prayed for the concerns of the local church and people known to our congregation followed by the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 678 "God gives us a future" "Daring us to go" That's where the new creation is coming from - us working in God's strength and guided by His Spirit. (I think)


The grace of Christ attend you; the love of God surround you;

the Holy Spirit keep you; this day and forever.

Go out into the world in the power of the Spirit; in all things, at all times,

remember that Christ is with you: make your life your worship

to the praise and glory of God. Amen

As is becoming our gambit, and a comforting one, we prayed for each other as we ended the service with the words of "May the feet of God walk with you"











Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 10 November 2013


Ian introduced Annette, who led the service today, beginning with the

Call to Worship

"'Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; God's greatness is unsearchable' (Psalm 145:3)

Within this mystery we gather. Before this mystery we bow. Friends of Christ, let us take renewed courage in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and through the ever faithful love of God.

Prayer Author of all that is, spoken word of all that has been, and will be, and giver of life in all its fullness, be present to us within this sacred time and space. Be the creativity of our thoughts. Be the courage and shaper of our words. Be the fire of our imaginations, all in the service of your love to the world. Amen."

I have printed these two introductory pieces in full because for me they attempt to convey God's unfathomable and bounteous fullness of creativity, diffused with love, and the prayer that all this may be water to our dry souls.

Hymn TIS 203 "Fairest Lord Jesus" In this song we speak of all God's creative ability, raising up all that is fresh and beautiful. This same creative Spirit can refresh our inner being, bringing us back to life - all we have to do is ask.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

This began with the words of the psalmist, praising God for His glorious splendour, inspiring us in the knowledge that the purity and goodness of God prevails.

But then Annette confessed for us that so often we forget that we can have this firm confidence and succumb to doubt, anxiety and even despair. Through Annette's words we confessed to relying on a second-hand faith, not relying on encountering God through prayer. For this Annette asked for forgiveness for us and asked that through God's Spirit  we might find a better way. We were then assured that "The Lord is gracious and merciful...Our sin is forgiven, our brokenness made whole." Thanks be to God.

Hymn TIS 414 "There's a Spirit in the Air" A lesson to all of us to give God credit for all those good things we all have and acknowledge that it is His love that motivates people to get up and get going.

Bible Reading Haggai1:15b - 2:9 read by Stephen who was keen for this book to be the shortest in the OT but it seems Obadiah is - but having looked at both I would say its a close thing.

Haggai gives the people God's message to be strong in the knowledge that God is with them and will make their people greater than it had been in past glorious days.

A message many of us need when we have suffered a serious setback.

Reflection Annette's message grew out of the above reading. She reminded us through a variety of examples how things change. She reminded us how landscapes change (have you ever visited a seaside place 20 years after last being there- there can be big changes in the landform). Annette's pointed to the change in what is considered a family home. She continued this theme in revisiting the changes in church attendance and relevance. She also spoke of her travels to Israel and how Jerusalem had changed throughout history.

This brought out the point that change is a fact of life and as such is a part of Church life. Some people want to change but don't know how. Others think they know how but are in disagreement with others who think they have a better way. Others don't want to change. But if we look around, it is obvious that change is happening everywhere, all the time and if we don't change we will be left standing flat-footed.

Annette made the observation that when the church enters a period of change that people are inclined to lose courage and wonder if God is truly present in the church. But this is normal part of life even in OT times.

Haggai brought a message of courage, hope and unity when the people, released from captivity, returned to find their city in ruins.

Annette then challenged us. When we think about the church in its glory days, are we discouraged by the low attendances now? There are changes ahead. In our own church we are about to welcome a new minister. Things will be different, maybe that will make them difficult for some.

DONT WORRY. From Haggai - '"Be strong, all you people of the land," says The Lord, "and work. For I am with you," declares The Lord Almighty."'

Or, as I gave been reminded several times through my life: God knows what he is doing.

Hymn TIS 474 "Gather us in" A prayer for God to take us in our very human state, where we don't appear to be capable of carrying out His work, and gather us in.

The Offering was then given as another way of worshipping God and followed by

Prayers for the People Laurel led us, thanking God for the good times and His presence during stressful times. Special mention was made of the plight of the people in the Philippines and groups like the Red Cross and World Vision and their need at this time. We were reminded that it is easy to forget ongoing crises once they no longer figure in the headlines or on television. However, millions of innocent people still suffer from food shortages and the destruction caused by ongoing warfare.

God's guidance was sought for people making decisions in the wake of the bushfires and that this may be a time to show hope and God's love.

Laurel prayed for those in violent situations - the victims of shootings and unprovoked assault and the police and Ambos who have to cope with it all. Laurel held up the school leavers and asked for God's presence for us all in our everyday situations, mentioning the blessing team effort brings, such as experienced during the Lamington drive.

Laurel asked for God's hand to guide all those ministers moving from their present church to another and in the choosing of a new minister for MRUC.

Prayers were then offered for those known to us and for all those troubled in mind and body, leading into the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 547 "Be Thou my Vision" A hymn for all occasions, asking God to be in there at every stage of our journey, initiating, guiding, strengthening, inspiring. It's really only when we run off on some tangent of our own that we run into trouble, isn't it?

Benediction May, then, the Author of life, the spoken Word of life and the generous Giver of life be for you and go with you into this new unfolding week. May your faith be strengthened and your courage be an inspiration to all.

Benediction Song TIS 779  "May the feet of God walk with you" I think we know our way round this one. Amen.






Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 November 2013


We Gather to Worship

We  are called to worship:

"Leader: God, you search us and you know us, you have called each and every one of us to seek you and love you evermore deeply, and so we come to worship you here this morning.

All: Open our ears, Lord, we long to hear you.

Jesus, come to us, meet us here in this place, stay with us and change us.

Open our eyes, Lord, we long to see you.

Spirit of truth, inspire us always in the ways of truth and justice.

Open our hearts, Lord, we long to know you. Amen.

Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday.

Hymn TIS 125v 1,2,4,6.  "The God of Abraham praise" In praise of God's overarching greatness. His greatness of power, love and grace and His preparedness to reach out to the lowliest of us.

Prayer Chris began by leading us in giving thanks for the many ways God sustains us and then confessed on our behalf of the many times we have failed to respond to God's love. We then, each, thought back through the week to the occasions when we did not show God's love to others and expressed our sorrow for that. (Taken from Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday)

"Hear the good news: because we have been buried with Christ in the waters of baptism, we are raised to new life in him. Forgiven, and freed, live lives worthy to your call, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, seek to do good."

We Listen for a Word from God

We meet Zacchaeus - Luke 19:1 - 10. Val read to us this familiar story. The crowd was following Jesus. A short man, who wasn't popular with the crowd because he was in cahoots with the Romans, acting as a tax gatherer for them, wanted to see Jesus, so climbed into a tree. To his and everyone else's surprise, Jesus called him down and went back to his house and shared a meal with him. The upshot was that Zacchaeus pledged to make good any losses he had caused people and as a result, Jesus declared, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham."

Hymn AHB 551 "I sing a song of the saints of God" A song in praise of all those famous saints and the ordinary ones too. And most importantly a pledge to be one too and all that entails. Do we dare?

As we read Paul's letter  Val read this time, from 2 Thessalonians 1:1 - 4, 11 - 12

A letter addressed to the saints (those living for God), giving thanks for them and promising  to support them in prayer that Jesus would be glorified in them and they in Him. Read it, it is addressed to you who live according to God's will.

Reflection Chris spoke about his work supporting people who found themselves having to negotiate with Centrelink. He said he thought that the Centrelink staff was at times lacking compassion and then, this year became a client himself. He spoke of the long waits to do 5 minutes work with them; of the frustrations and the need to hold his temper in check at times. Then he said he realised the staff did not have much control over what they had to do. The rules had to be tough, because there were people who would be keen to exploit the system and the staff were there to prevent this happening. He then made the point that we can easily pre-judge and misjudge people.

Then a big surprise. Chris told us that the translation of the passage where Zacchaeus pledges, "...half my possessions...I will give to the poor" could just as validly be translated as, "I give to the poor". Therefore it could be that he is already acting honorably and his neighbours are misjudging him because they don't know everything about him. Which turns the message into a challenge to each one of us. Be careful, all of us, we don't know all there is to know about the lives of others.

We Begin our Response to God's Word

Hymn SANS230. "The life of Jesus shows a way" Its easy enough to make a pledge to be a saint but how can we tell what such a life entails. This hymn points us to the fool- proof way. Follow the life of Jesus.

In our Giving and in our Prayer we responded to God's Word.

We Share in table fellowship with Jesus.

Hymn TIS 505 "Jesus invites his saints to meet around his board" Let us praise him whose redeeming powers transforms our lives and in whom we are all one.

Share in Communion

Chris gave praise on our behalf and acknowledged the glory and honour that are rightly God's. Chris spoke of God's many creative acts and his many mercies to us and his faithfulness through everything that happens. He recalled the names of many known saints from the bible and those whose names are unknown. Chris recalled the many freedoms God has gifted to us. In response the congregation sang:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of The Lord.

Hosanna in the highest. 

Then Chris reminded us of the events of the evening of The Last Supper and the institution of our tradition of breaking the bread and sharing the wine.

"When we eat this bread and drink from this cup, we experience anew the presence of the risen Christ and look forward to his coming in final glory."

The breaking of the bread:

The bread we break is the sharing in the body of Christ.

The cup we take is a sharing in the blood of Christ.

The gifts of God for the people of God.

Prayer after communion

"Gracious God, we praise, worship and adore you for the food received at your table.

We go from here, strengthened, refreshed, and empowered by your Spirit to be true and joyful witnesses to Jesus Christ. We look to that day when, with the great company of witnesses that surround us, we may eat and drink and be glad with Him in the glory of your kingdom. This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen"

Final hymn TIS 779 "May the feet of God walk with you and His hand hold you tight.

                                   May the eye of God rest on you, and His ear hear your cry.

                                   May the smile of God be for you, and His breath give you life.

                                   May the child of God grow in you, and His love bring you home." Amen.



Roots-Resources for weekly lectionary.

Church of Scotland - Starters for Sunday

Feasting on the Word

Communion Liturgy adapted from Moira Laidlow's Website - Liturgies on Line for 4/5/2008 Easter 7AM and Feasting on the Word.