Monday, 31 March 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 30 March 2014

Stephen welcomed Ace Kim and the other members of the OneHeart congregation who had come to take the service.

Ace then spoke to us of his journey from the time he was at Epping West UC and his vision that led him to his ordination and his leadership of the OneHeart congregation which is meeting at Eastwood UC at the moment. He told of seeing our lovely church and feeling the presence of God around it and how he was glad to be finally worshipping with us.

He spoke of the service that was to follow being different and probably louder than we are used to but hoped that we would be able to glorify God through it. He added that the beauty of God is everywhere, that we are all the children of God and thanked the young people for their passion in expressing their love of God.

Hymn "Amazing Grace" sung a little differently; differently enough to make the meaning leap out anew. Are we still amazed? Are we even still thankful?

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Grace led us in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour, our mighty Lord, who offers love and forgiveness to all and who is clear for all to see in his amazing creation. On our behalf she gave thanks that Jesus, the Son, had come to save us and was present with us. She asked for God's forgiveness for the guilt which we confessed for our constant foolishness and gave thanks that we can approach boldly, confident that we will be renewed and refreshed. Grace asked that we should be challenged in our mission to serve in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Ace declared: your sins are forgiven

Offering In a reference to his children, Ace reminded us that we come into this world with nothing and everything we have is a gift from God. After our offering was gathered by our "very young people" Ace offered it back to God for his work out of the abundance of his great blessing.

Hymn "Lord I lift up your name on high, Lord I love to sing your praises.

            I'm so glad you're in my life, I'm so glad you came to save us."

When we sing hymns, are we motivated as the author of this hymn was, or are we motivated in some other way or do we just sing?.sometimes it's just good to rethink our position.


This was followed by a video clip of the work of the OneHeart ministry showing the diversity of nationalities and age groups who worship together and their various activities including work in the community.

Heng then gave his Testimony of being quite opposed to Christianity and also of being tongue-tied in company. Then he became very attached to a young lady who unfortunately did not want to continue their friendship. Heng became very depressed and cried and cried. His mother, who was a Christian, handed him a bible and told him to open it anywhere and read. He read the story of the man born blind and the questions Jesus was asked about whose fault it was. Jesus' answer was that it was not the fault of anyone but that God should be glorified. He saw the parallel with his own situation and so started his Christian journey. Then he became involved in OneHeart and in no time he was able to speak freely in social situations and now is able to work for the OneHeart group, a changed man.

Bible Reading Val brought the reading to us: Psalm 23: We all know it well. Often we hear it at funerals but it has more to say than our relationship with God at our dying. It speaks of our lifelong walk with him and the many blessing he heaps upon us during that journey.

Ace spoke to us, confessing his ignorance of the role of a shepherd until well into adulthood. He knew God was his shepherd and that meant that he was his guide and leader and protector but it was only when he visited an Australian sheep station that he saw a shepherd in action - on a huge property where he couldn't walk its width, it was so big; where the shepherding was done in a ute, bumping over a rough dirt road.
It was on this farm that Ace found out that sheep are different from a lot of other animals in that they can't defend themselves in any way. They need a leader- they are not only weak but they have no idea of finding their own way. Anything here sound familiar? Yep! All of us! Without our shepherd leading, guiding, supporting and protecting us we all end up in trouble.

Ace then thanked the people at Marsden Road Church for the opportunity to worship and share together. He prayed that the Lord would lead and guide us, pouring out his love and grace to give us strength for our journey.

Hymn When peace, like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.

           Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well it is well, with my soul.

Amen to that. Whatever comes, God is with us.

Prayers for the People Val led us, praying for God's love and care for those far away, those travelling: for all those in need that they will be given hope and strength and that those who are alone will feel God's presence. She prayed that the worldwide Christian church should serve with love and sensitivity.  Val then prayed for local concerns and for those known to our church who are suffering and in pain.

Ace then blessed us: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

                                   The love of God

                                   And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

                                   be with you all.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.


Amen. Amen. Amen.



Monday, 24 March 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 23 March 2014


Hugh welcomed us all to the Service and invited the people to greet each other briefly – he soon had to call a halt, saying with a smile; That’s good enough!”

Call to Worship (Responsive reading from Psalm 95)  Beginning: Come, let us praise the LORD!  Let us sing for joy to God, who protects us!  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and sing joyful songs of praise.  For the LORD is a mighty God, a mighty king over all the gods. He rules over the whole earth, from the deepest caves to the highest hills.

Hymn  TiS 52                                                 Let us sing to the God of Salvation!

This hymn of Praise written by Richard Bewes is a real celebration of Psalm 95 and Hugh encouraged us to sing with one side of the church holding and harmonizing the word P-R-A-I-S-E in each line of the chorus while the other side sang:   Praise our Maker, Praise our Saviour, Praise the Lord our everlasting King. Every throne must bow before him, God is Lord of everything!  We were all amazed by the beautiful sounds of Praise that we offered to our God and we could see that Hugh, with his imaginary baton; Malcolm on the piano and Andrew on the organ really enjoyed helping us to make such an harmonious and joyful “noise”.

Prayers of Adoration & Confession          

Our prayer focused on the Grace and Love of God who is with us each day with compassion and guidance and provides brightness for each moment.  We prayed that God’s Spirit will fill our hearts and minds with joy, thanksgiving and praise.

We confessed our personal sins in silence and asked forgiveness for our sins against God and our fellow people. 

Declaration of forgiveness:  “Christ died for us, the sinful. Christ lived again for us, the righteous.

Offering / Prayer  Hugh invited us to express our gratitude to God with our offering and Chris and Chrisanthi and a lovely group of children waited on us and were blessed - along with our gifts.

Children’s Address:  After reminding us we are indeed all God’s children and our Worship will go on to the end of the world, Hugh had us all singing again; this time in a round in four parts.  “Row, Row, Row your boat” never sounded like such fun before and the smallest of the children loved the feeling of community and cooperation.

Hymn TiS 229                                                Jesus loves me this I know

We nostalgically sang this hymn which reminds us all how easy it is to believe - if we don’t complicate and over-think things.  It somehow took us all back to simple child-like faith and belief in the Bible as God’s word.  The children went happily off to “Sunday Kids”.

Bible Reading:                                              John 4:5-26

Malcolm read the well known story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
Jesus said; “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never suffer thirst any more.  The water that I give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life.” 

Reflection:                                                     “Jesus and the Samaritan Woman”

Hugh began the reflection with an explanation of the 40 days of Lent as a time of preparation for Easter by reflecting upon Jesus, his suffering and his ministry, his life, death, burial and resurrection.  He told us that the story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel is also part of the journey to his death on the cross.

Hugh shared his fascination about the history of the town of ‘Sychar’ in Israel, where around 300 people still calling themselves Samaritans live today and where Jacob’s Well still marks the place where Jesus stood and had this significant encounter.  There is no dispute about this spot and Samaritans, Muslims, Christians and Jews all agree that this is the place where the story took place.  I agree - it is fascinating to contemplate standing where Jesus stood and it helps me to focus on the significance of this encounter in which Hugh told us Jesus deliberately “crossed the line”.  The line he crossed in speaking to the Samaritan woman was both a racial and a gender line and it broke a very strict taboo to every Jew at that time.  This was a line drawn by the society of the time and it involved the breaking of common law and civil law. 

The most important thing in taking away the real message of this story is to ask ourselves “WHY” so we can grasp the mindset of Jesus and understand the lessons that he wanted to teach the people of his time.  The taboo had grown out of centuries of hostility and unfriendly and worsening attitudes from Jews, who resented the way Samaratins, who were also descendant of Israel, had opened themselves up to the wider world and were no longer of pure Jewish blood.  They were, Hugh told us, receptive and adaptive to different cultures.  Surely a trait that we try to follow today, but in many cultures progress has been depressingly slow as we have experienced, even in our own lifetimes.  Our 11 year old grandson was speechless recently when we talked about Rosa Parks who challenged American society in 1955 and refused to sit at the back of the bus.

No wonder the woman was surprised when Jesus approached her and said; “Hello woman, could you give me a drink?”  No wonder the disciples were “greatly surprised to see Jesus talking to her”, when they returned to the well.

“Authentic evangelism flows from a mindset that acknowledges the ultimate value of people - forgotten people, lost people, wandering people, up-and-outers, down-and outers - all people. The highest value is to love them, serve them, and reach them.” Hugh shared this quote from George G. Hunter, who one of the great modern scholars in evangelism and mission.  Hugh went on to say that he believes Jesus crossed the line to show the people of the time that; “Loving people, helping people and making others happy and acknowledging their value was his mission and his biggest law.”  As we approach Easter we should ponder on the willingness of Jesus to do this even at the expense of his own life.

“Are we able to take up this evangelical challenge at our church in Marsden Road, Carlingford”,  Hugh asked?  Will we take it as our mission to reach out to the people and love them, accept them, serve them and offer them our genuine Christian friendship, and do whatever it takes to help them to experience ‘God is love and He is real’.

Dear friends in Christ. Do you still remember what Jesus said to Peter in their first encounter? He said: “Peter. Follow me and I will teach you to catch people.”   Jesus is still calling you: “Follow me. And I will teach you to catch people”  Amen!

Hymn TiS 640                                                            Kneels at the feet of His friends

The gentle swing of the folk tune from Ghana in this Hymn written by Tomas Colvin, a Scottish Missionary, with its lesson about who are our neighbours and how we should serve them, certainly cemented in our minds Hugh’s call for us to reach out and “catch people” and learn to value all kinds of people.

Prayers of Intercession:  Noelene prayed for the people who have been lost in the plane that has vanished mysteriously and for their families and friends.  She prayed for those trapped in war torn countries, for people without enough food, for people without work or security and for all who are sick.  She brought the needs of the people mentioned by the congregation before God and prayed for our leaders in our church and in Australia.   We then said the Lord’s Prayer together.

Hymn TiS 650                                                            Brother Sister let me serve you

As I sang this hymn written by Richard Gillard, I was struck by thoughts of the blessings we sometimes deny others by being too independent and dismissive of their need to serve us.  This is probably a hard lesson for many of us to learn.  This hymn, also called “The Servant Song” is gentle and prayer-like.

Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to

let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road; we are here to help each other

walk the mile and bear the load.


 The Benediction & Blessing                                

The Benediction advised us to “Go out and share with others” - and with a renewed spirit of evangelism we sang the Blessing; May the feet of God walk with you.                                                                                     Amen.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 16 March 2014



Call to Worship

Dan prayed to our God, the God of Abraham and Sarah, who sent them on a journey of faith, who also sent his Son, Jesus, to live among us. Jesus, who died but now lives within us, opening the way to a new life.

Hymn AHB 3 "All creatures of our God and King" A song of praise prompting all corners of creation who owe God thanks, and those who have even the most remote hint of appreciation of all that flows from him, to praise him for it- not simply politely, but in full voice.

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving

Dan led us again in a prayer to our Eternal God, who sent Jesus to show us his true nature, through whom we came to see a new reality, who mended our broken selves, who set free those in bondage to sin and who included the previously excluded. Dan prayed that we would know the touch of God in our lives and see that Jesus showed us that there is no limit to God's love.

Prayer of Confession

Dan made the point that the world's standards are not God's standards and that while we live in this world, we will constantly fall short of God's standards. For this he asked forgiveness - for our contributing to the insanity of the world and for thinking that we can deal with it by ourselves. Dan then prayed that we be kept holy to be a powerful witness to God's Word. 

Assurance of Forgiveness

As it says in John, whoever has the Son has life, and those who believe in him are not condemned.


The offering was taken up and dedicated to the work of God at Marsden Road Uniting Church and to the work of God in the wider world, with thanks for God's many blessings.

Hymn AHB 176 "A man there lived in Galilee" This is Jesus, the one who provided the template for what we should want to be, but can't be, no matter how hard we try. But if we hand ourselves into his care and ask for his guidance, we may at least start along the path.


Elaine brought the readings from: Genesis 12: 1 - 7 The Lord said the Abraham "Go" and Abraham "Went" not knowing anything about what was in store for him. That's faith. If only we could keep it that simple.

John 3: 1 - 17 We must be born anew. Not just a polish, not just a bit of 'work' done, not just a change of the rules we follow - born anew.

Sermon Living by faith involves trusting God and taking risks, but there is an upside -

eternal life. 

Dan began by describing Nicodemus as being used by John as a sort of straight man for Jesus - the man who asks the questions so the protagonist can deliver the information to the audience. This whole incident of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night is written as a narrative about a man well versed in the Law; someone who knew the Torah by heart and was used to debating theological matters at length: a man, well educated as he was, who could still not get his head around Jesus' message, but could not be seen to be seeking explanations from this itinerant preacher, so came under the cover of darkness.

The message was straightforward but still difficult for anyone who has not stepped out in faith to claim it: you must be born again - not physically but of the spirit.

Then Dan returned to the Old Testament reading. Abraham and Sarah were told to leave the place where they were settled, to go to a place they didn't know and to be the beginning of a great nation. How could that be when they hadn't any family. But they believed God and went. They took a big risk but it all happened.

So, how do we become born anew - not by our own effort anymore than being born physically was by our own effort. Nor by being born to Christian parents or by keeping the rules or by doing good - but by allowing God to renew us - breathe unto us a new spirit.

"God wants us to know that there is a new life to be had and a whole new world that is coming that we can help create, as we live by faith in Christ. As it was with Abraham and Sarah, there is a whole new land out there for us and all we have to do is trust in God and keep walking where he wants us to go."

Hymn AHB 56 "Amazing Grace" The song of someone who believed and is amazed by the difference. Not just an improvement. New from the inside, out. Safe in the knowledge of being where they should be.

Prayers of the People

Dan prayed to God on our behalf, speaking of the many things on our minds today that bring fear: the conflict in the Middle East and Chechnya; and the conflict in the Ukraine concerning the Crimea and Russian interference along with the conflict in the Sudan. For us, he prayed for a peaceful resolution to all of those situations and for God's will to be done. He then turned to the concerns of the members of the congregation and prayed for the family and friends experiencing illness and difficult times along with the homeless and all experiencing any illness, especially those battling depression and its invisible consequences. For us, he prayed for the future of Marsden Road Uniting Church and the calling of our new minister - in Jesus' name. Amen

Hymn TIS 658 "I The Lord of the Sea and Sky" A question about how will God work his will in the world. And the answer: "Here I am Lord"

Blessing and Benediction

May the protection of God surround you.

May the joy of Jesus infill you.

May the harmony of the Holy Spirit resound in and through your life.

Now go to live and serve the Lord.

Threefold Amen

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 9 March 2014


Call to Worship a responsive prayer:

Leader: Gentle... People: yet powerful...Leader: Lowly...People: yet almighty...

Leader: Shepherd...People: yet King.

Leader: In your gentleness, guide us. People: In your power, strengthen us.

Leader: In your lowliness, strip from us our selfish pride which only destroys us.

People: In your greatness, lift us up that we might aspire to greater things.

Leader: O God, who is our shepherd and our King;

People: O Christ, who was crucified and is now risen from the dead.

Leader: O Spirit who comforts and empowers;

People: O great One in Three, Holy Trinity, this hour, set us free to worship. Amen

Leader: Dear people of God's Kingdom, let's worship God together: The Lord be with you... People: And also with you. Amen.

Hymn TIS 147 "To God be the glory" God has done great things! He created everything that exists in its amazing beauty but that isn't what this hymn is referring to. God has redeemed us from our broken, damaged state and offered us forgiveness - all we have to do is accept that forgiveness. And this hymn praises Him for that.

Do we claim that forgiveness and give praise to God for making such an amazing gift available. Many of us do in a worship service but how many of us sit down with God, one on one, and have that conversation on a personal level?

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

In this prayer Hugh led us in confirming our intent to worship God in many ways during the service, then appealed to God for his help in making us realise anew the strength of Jesus devotion to us, shown through his sacrifice for us. Then thanks was given for our relationship with God and Hugh asked that we be empowered to show God as a living god, to the world. We then confessed the gravity of our sins and asked for forgiveness and cleansing.

Offering. Simply returning to God, what is his.

Hymn TIS 717  "Give thanks with a grateful heart" Again the focus is on God's work of sacrifice by which we are made whole and fit to live with Him. As the hymn says, regardless of any material possessions, we are made rich; regardless of any physical or worldly power, we are made strong.

Bible Readings Psalm 32. "Rejoice" - Happy are those whose transgressions are forgiven. As the psalmist says, if we try to hide away, there is no relief from our tormented situation but if we open ourselves to God (who knows all about us anyway) and ask for forgiveness, we will be surrounded by His love.

Matthew 4: 1 - 11.The temptation in the wilderness. And the answer to this temptation and any we may experience: Away with you, Satan...Worship The Lord your God and serve only him.

Reflection: Hugh spoke to us about "Jesus' first day on the job" when he was confronted with three major temptations, the most basic and fundamental temptations in life.

"Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the Wilderness, to be in communion with God and to reflect upon his upcoming ministry." It was during this time that Satan confronted Jesus.

Hugh made the point that this time demonstrated that innocence and goodness are not synonymous: that true goodness comes out of a struggle with evil, which is what happened during these temptations. Hugh also added that if we think about the temptations that we encounter they usually fall into one of these types.

Stone to bread: after fasting for so long this would have been a real challenge. Satan was asking Jesus to misuse his power but we are not made for things, we are made for intimacy, for family. Hugh reminded us that in this fast moving world we can easily lose track of who we really are.

Fall on Rocks: this is a temptation to misuse scripture. We must never use scripture to judge others or justify our own self-willed behaviour.

Serve the Wrong Master: this is a strong temptation in the Western world, where we are often offered an opportunity for "success" or "wealth" or "comfort" if only we will serve someone or something other than our Lord.

"Being a Jesus' follower means living with temptation for the rest of your life" but we can conquer them by following Jesus.

Hymn TIS 256 "From Heaven you came, helpless babe" vv 1,3,4. A hymn focussing our attention on the coming Easter and the events of that time and the implication for our lives.

Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer

Hugh prayed to Almighty God that he will reconcile all things unto himself so that his love and compassion may be made known to all. Hugh prayed that the church should be made strong and that the leaders of our nation will execute justice and righteousness.

He asked that all people be made free from oppression and live in peace and then prayed for those known to us who are in need. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hymn TIS 745 "Seek ye first" A reminder of key scripture to focus our minds on our true path: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God"; "Ask and it shall be given to you" and "We shall not live by bread alone". And praise to God for showing us that way.


"The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you; and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit go with you for ever and ever.        Amen."


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 2 March 2014


Hugh welcomed  us all in the name of Jesus Christ, reminding us of our holy purpose in worshipping together this day.

Call to Worship

Hymn "Be still, for the presence of the Lord" We speak to our own hearts, calling our senses to order because God is with us. A way of gathering ourselves in reverence, reminding ourselves that we are on holy ground and of the power and glory of our Lord at work among us.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

As one, we addressed the "God of all nations" acknowledging his creative power and expressing our gratitude for the expanse of creation and the contributions many of our fellow humans have made to our lives and the lessons they have taught us. We then addressed God himself, stating our intent, as part of his kingdom, to worship him, blessing his name and confessing our individual and joint sins which, with those of the rest of mankind, have created the disasters that horrify us daily. We asked for forgiveness for our every sin in Jesus' name. Amen

Hugh Jesus was born among us, to save us, not to condemn us. Our sins are forgiven.


Hymn TIS 643 " I want to walk as a child of the light" Our stated intention to "walk as a child of the light" and then the only way to achieve that: " the Lamb is the light of the city of God; shine on my heart Lord Jesus"

Bible Readings Psalm 99; Luke 6: 17 - 26; These were brought to us by Phil who read to us of God's kingship and power. We forget that he is not going to impose that power on us but it is available to lift us up and carry us through our hard or even terrible times - all we have to do is ask. Then in Luke we are reminded of the Godly way to live and warned that if we have the good opinion of the world, we may be off on the wrong track.

We do like to have the good opinion of others. It is so seductive, look out!

Reflection. Hugh introduced his word for today by referring to the very common occurrence of suffering that occurs in the lives of most people and the effect it often has of drawing those people to God. Then with reference to Jesus preaching, he pointed out that during Jesus' lifetime 30% of people were destitute. But Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor". Which doesn't seem to make sense. What was he talking about? Here in Australia we are among the 6% most privileged people in the world but we don't appreciate any of it.

Hugh then stated some statistics about other countries: life expectancy of 49 and people with only a fifth of the income they needed to live. But not only are the poor blessed but "woe to the rich". In this world, that's us. This can be very challenging.

In this world riches are an indication of success and poverty failure. But Jesus saw it the other way around from the beginning. He spent a lot of time with the poor and dispossessed. That did not sit well with the establishment. They were not pleased with Jesus but to the poor he was their Hero.

God has an intense interest in our circumstances. Perhaps we should look to where we are poor. God can't do anything with people who are self satisfied and self centred. We should be carriers of the Good News to others. We should be letting people  know through our interest in them, that God is totally interested in them. Today we are invited to join Jesus ministry.

Prayers for the People. Laurel prayed, thanking God for the past week and all the blessings that have been ours, often with the benefit of modern technology.  She prayed on our behalf for the uncertain, the worried, those whose jobs are under threat, for refugees and those trying to buy a home. With her we prayed for those who give aid to these people and also for the people in places torn by conflict. Laurel asked for God's guidance for the people of MRUC and all our leaders. We then prayed for those known to the congregation for the Lord's support in their various states of need. In Jesus name, Amen

Communion The peace of the Lord be with you

                       And also with you

Let us offer one another the sign of peace.

Hymn TIS 511 "Let us break bread together with the Lord". The crucial line: "Lord fill all our living with your life." Without that we are lost.

Preparation of the Table

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation: through your goodness we have this bread to set before you, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God forever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation: through your goodness we have this wine to set before you, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become for us the cup of salvation,

Blessed be God forever.

Hugh then continued with the story that underpins this service, concluding with:

"Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, forever praising you and saying:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest. Blessed us he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

Hugh continued with the passion story, concluding with a prayer that God transform the bread and the wine so that we will be transformed to be God's kingdom people.

The Distribution followed by

The Prayer after Communion

"We thank you, Lord that you have fed us with this holy bread and wine, the Body and Blood of your Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour. We are now members of his Body, and thus His agents in the world. Lord our Father, bless us so we will be a blessing to many people around us. Help us to live your Kingdom life, so they will get to know you better through us. In Jesus Christ we pray Amen"

Hymn TIS 627 "Praise and thanksgiving" vv. 1,3,4 Thanks to God for his goodness in so many ways. We are inclined to think that things like the water and air, sun and moon are part of the basic package but every part of creation is a gift from God as is the wisdom he offers through the bible, through hymns, through other people. Remember to give thanks.


The power of The Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you this day and forever.

Go in peace to serve the Lord by living and serving your neighbour. Amen

Then we sang to each other:

"May the feet of God walk with you"