Monday, 26 May 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25 May 2104

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25th May 2014

The Call to Worship was also a Prayer of Adoration and thanks for the beautiful day, the people, the Marsden Road Church and the opportunity to come together in Worship to experience the presence of Christ as we make a community to be the body of Christ!

Hymn  TiS 155                                   “How Great Though Art”

This hymn comes from Psalm 92:5 “O Lord, how great are Thy works!” … and is a wonderful evolution of a Swedish poem inspired by a storm and written in 1885 by preacher, Carl Gustav Boberg and later sung to the melody of a Swedish folk song.  A British Missionary in Poland, Stuart K. Hine heard a Russian version in the 1920s and translated and added to the poem to give us this memorable hymn.  My husband and I experienced such a storm on Mount Dalsnibba in Norway - and without knowing about the history of the hymn - its words and music sprang immediately into my mind.   We stood in awe, feeling like we were indeed in heaven, with the world at our feet as we were buffeted by the fierce, cold inhospitable wind.  The magnificence captured me and I have never felt so close to God!

Prayer of Confession  We confessed our sins and prayed for God to give us clear minds and open hearts to live our daily lives as his disciples. “Hold us to You and build our relationship with You and with those You have given us on earth.  Through Jesus Christ out Lord. Amen.”

Offering / Prayer  Nerida and Alan were helped with the offering by three children and Hugh asked for God’s Blessing on our gifts.

Children’s Address:  Although challenged by the failure of technology, Hugh “painted” the children a clear message in words that the best way to serve God is to be good to the people around you – the people you live with every day.  If you love God’s people you love God!

Hymn TiS 526                                    “Bring forth the Kingdom”

Words & Music written by Marty Haugen, © 1986, GIA Publications, Inc. This song invites us to live, shine, grow and love to bring forth justice in the Kingdom of God and be the salt of the earth.

After this the Children went out to Sunday Kids with their teachers.

Bible Reading:                                  Acts 17:22-31 (page 858)   John 14:15-21 (page 825)   Before reading from Acts, Warwick told us of the “goose-bump” feeling of being involved in history that he had felt just last week as he walked along “The Way of St. Paul” in Athens.  In this reading, Paul begins by saying; "I see that in everything that concerns religion you are uncommonly scrupulous."  Religion, for the people of Athens, was an extremely important matter. The Greeks had different gods for almost every aspect of life and they even built and dedicated objects of worship 'To an unknown god,' hoping to pacify any forgotten god.

The reading from John told of the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit to be an Advocate after Jesus died and rose from the dead - to leave his disciples again to return to His Father.  “The man who has received my commands and obeys them – he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father; and I will love him and disclose myself to him.” 

Reflection:                                         “What thoughts would you share?”

Hugh invited us to speculate on what we would pass on to those we love if we knew we were soon to die and leave their sight.  It is interesting to wonder what you would do if given this chance for a final “lecture”.  You could use the opportunity to share things about your life and what was important; you could speak about the blessings that came to your life through those you love; you could speak about the many aspects of your Faith – or you could even “waste” that precious time making excuses for what you may have meant to do.  I think this kind of prioritising is something in which we should invest some serious thought.

Many commentaries point out that today’s scripture lesson from the Gospel of John “is a key portion of Jesus’ Last Lecture.”

The scene was the Last Supper. Jesus has gathered with his 12 disciples in an upper room in a house in Jerusalem. Sensing that the end is near, Jesus says, “I am with you only a little longer.”

Hugh painted a good picture of the reactions of the disciples who didn’t understand and began to suffer “extreme separation anxiety” as Jesus explained his coming death.

Seeing their distress and being aware that the road ahead would be demanding, Jesus, in his last lecture, comforted his disciples and reassured them that they would not be alone.  In verse 16 of today’s reading, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father and he will give you a helper, to be with you.”

In explaining the difficulties of translation from Greek to English, Hugh told us of additional meanings for the Greek word for “helper”.  It also means, Comforter, Advocate, Supporter, Exhorter and Counselor. This Helper /Advocate/Comforter/Counselor is what we call the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost.

In his last lecture, to mitigate the trauma his friends would soon experience, Jesus assured them that God’s Spirit would take his place and would be with them forever.

After telling his disciples, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  

This reassurance that, although the physical presence and assurance this has brought them will soon be gone, Jesus will soon return through God’s Spirit; has formed the basis of our Christian journey until the present time.  

Hugh told us; In a nutshell, there has been always consistency and coherence in the lives of millions of millions of churches and their members throughout the Christian church history, though they have been expressed and practiced slightly differently according to their cultures and traditions.  The sole reason for this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

Because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s Prayer has been prayed for twenty thousand years; the communion of the Lord’s Table has been remembered and practiced and the Gospel stories have been declared and retold far and wide.   

The Holy Spirit is the interior urging that motivates us to act in Christ-like ways. God’s Spirit gets under our skin when we are sitting on a fence between the world and God’s Kingdom; God’s Spirit pricks our conscience when we treat someone unfairly or ignore people in need.  God’s Spirit also prompts us to check in with a friend who is struggling and to stand for a just cause. God’s Spirit urges us to take care of God’s creation and to be generous with our wealth.

We must act as people of God’s Kingdom and ignore negative voices within us that “clamor for attention” and be “aroused by God’s Spirit”.  “You are part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.”

Further, the Scriptures indicate time and again that the chief way to express our love for God is to love our neighbor.  God’s Spirit calls upon us to take others’ pain as our own and act on it. ONLY THEN, we can prove our love for God is real and genuine. Only then, we can prove to the world that we belong to God.

Prayers of Intercession:  Ruth led our prayers for the world with mention of many of the troubled places and the people worried by war and unrest.  She prayed with us in our hope for the people who lead us in all parts of our lives to show compassion and love and strength.  Then Ruth prayed for all those personal concerns and for the people we know who need our prayers for many different reasons.  Then we all joined together in the Lord’s Prayer.

Hymn TiS 658                        “I, the Lord of Sea and sky”

“Here am I, Lord. Is it I, Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.   I will go, Lord, if you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.”

This hymn was written by an American, Dan Schutte in 1981 and is based on the words of Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3.

The Benediction & Blessing    We felt very blessed by the messages in the service today and left after the Benediction to share our Christian love at our usual morning tea gathering in the hall.

Hymn TiS 720                        Halle, Halle, Halle-lujah


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 18 May 2014

Call to Worship

"Look up and see the heavens open to us;

 Sense the mystery of God's presence with us.

            It is our custom to gather, that God may uplift us:

            God is our refuge, in whom we trust.

 Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid;

 Celebrate the good news: Christ is risen.

            We will not fear losses or suffering;

            We are raised with Christ to new life.

 Come to Christ, the living stone, rejected by many.

 Come to Christ, chosen by God, and precious to us.

            We rejoice in God's steadfast love.

            We are glad for God's faithfulness that redeems us."

Psalm Reading Ps 31: 1-5  A plea for God to hold us close and a declaration that God is our only help.

Hymn TIS 626 "Lord of Creation" A reiteration of the Psalm praising God for his mighty power and a declaration that we have thrown in our lot with him, to be all that he wants us to be, and to do what he wants done.

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Confession

A prayer, praising Jesus for his steadfastness and commitment to us, acknowledging that we are sometimes like stones, hard and sharp and sometimes flinty, fragile and brittle. Confessing that sometimes we throw stones to cause pain and that sometimes our sin is of default rather than intent. Andrew asked for God's healing touch and then reminded us that once we were not people at all and that now we are people of God. And that as such: Our sins are forgiven.


Our response to God's great gift. Live in the light. These offerings are a means whereby more of God's precious children will know his liberating light.

Hymn TIS 602 "O Love that will not let me go." I rest, I give thee back. I yield, I trace and feel, - I lay in dust life's glory dead. It's all about God.

Scripture Reading: John 14: 1-14; 1 Peter 2: 2-10. In John we are assured a place with the Father. We are also told that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are also told that if we know Jesus, we know the Father. Apply any theology you like to that, it will not matter. It places us on firm ground. 

Peter tells us, "Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk"... Because "To you then who believe, he is precious;" Position, popularity, style, wealth, houses, cars etc won't do it, only the real thing.


Andrew began by pointing out that with the news this week, we could easily be distracted from pondering the more important things of life. As important as the issues of the day are, where do we stand as followers of Christ? Where is this taking us? To the text from Peter, the person, Christ chose to lead the Christian movement once our Lord was no longer visible.

Peter wrote or dictated this letter to be read by people with a memory of Jesus during his Earthly ministry but who had left Palestine because of persecution. These people had nowhere to worship so Peter presents new images - images which can centre us today.

In v.9  Peter says we are a Chosen Race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation - breathtaking descriptions - what does he mean? He means that we are the People of God, regardless of nationality and as such we are chosen for the privilege of fellowship with God. We are chosen for obedience and we are chosen for service.

Peter also says we are a priesthood but not one that rules, we are to be one that serves. And finally we are to be holy, as in being a 'whole' person - a person who has high regard for God - getting our priorities right - trusting God - being obedient to the truth - ridding ourselves of malice - honouring everyone in genuine love. Mind - blowing!

Hymn TIS 459 "In Christ there is no East or West" God is the God of all, and it is our responsibility to serve all.

Prayers of the People and The Lord's Prayer

Andrew led us in praying for support for all human endeavours that support God's work. We prayed for those people living in Turkey suffering from the mining tragedy - for the families and nations in conflict - may peace prevail. We asked for help in Ukraine, Syria and Egypt, especially for Peter Greste and his family. We prayed for all those connected with the ferry disaster in S Korea; with the missing Malaysian plane and for Australian leaders of all our various departments. We prayed that all employees will be treated fairly and that we, each one of us will act with justice, compassion, fairness and kindness. To God, Andrew prayed for us: Teach us your ways, may we be guided by your truths.

Hymn TIS 207 "Jesus shall reign" We know it well and that it all comes down to: Let every creature rise and bring the highest honours to our King, angels descend with songs again and earth repeats the long amen.

Commissioning and Blessing

"God has prepared a place for you:

 Go out to live as citizens of God's realm.

       Into God's hands, we commit our spirits.

       In God's work, we would spend our days.

 You are a chosen people, gifted by God's grace;

 Through you, the family of faith may grow.

       We are believers, and thus priests of God;

       Others will know they are God's own through us.

 Be empowered as you examine the scriptures;

 Declare the wonderful deeds of God in your life.

        We are ready to live for Christ Jesus.

        We will share the steadfast love we have received.


May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.

May the soft winds freshen your spirit.

May the sunshine brighten your heart.

May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you,

And may God enfold you in the mantle of his love.

Retiring Hymn

"May the feet of God walk with you"




Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 May 2014


Today Hugh and the congregation had to overcome a couple of hiccoughs, so the service wasn't quite as Hugh planned. However, we had a blessed time together. We were not able to have the usual Call to Worship but I have included it because I think it is one of the loveliest parts of the service.

Call to Worship

Leader:  Shepherding God, lead us through the valley of the shadow.

People: Lead us into the way of life.

Leader:  Shepherding God, guide us away from greed and envy.

People: Lead us into peace and justice.

Leader:  Shepherding God, lead us to the table you have set.

People: Lead us to the table of forgiveness and grace.

Leader:  Shepherding God, you are the gate.

People: Lead us to you: lead us into eternity. Amen

Hymn AHB 70 "All Things Bright and Beautiful" became a lesson to ourselves about the world God has given us: not just the things mentioned in the hymn. This planet is God's great gift to us.

In the Prayer of Adoration, Hugh gave adoration to God for his love and grace and the works of his hands, just as we had sung in Hymn 70, and gave thanks as we came to worship. He asked that our eyes would be opened and that we should respond accordingly.

Hugh then led us in Confession of our ingratitude, our spiritual blindness, for our selfishness, our lack of imagination and for all our sins against God and our fellow people. Hugh then proclaimed the Assurance that Jesus came to forgive, not condemn and as a result, our sins are forgiven.

As another type of worship the Offering was received, returning to God's work a little of his bounteous blessings to us.

The Bible Readings were from 1 Peter 2: 19 - 25 and John 10: 1 - 10 and were brought to us by Grahame. The reading from Peter, told us that there was no credit in suffering when we did wrong but if we followed Jesus' example, and accepted suffering as a result of righteousness, then we will have God's approval. The reading from John spoke of Jesus as the shepherd, our true leader, who opens the gate of life for us.

The Mens Choir then gave an offering in song, "I Know that my Redeemer Liveth", another way of bringing God's voice to us.

Reflection Hugh honoured Mothers' Day with a story about how a mother Mallard Duck will fly away if her family is threatened, offering herself as a decoy, bringing attention of a mother's willingness to sacrifice herself for her children.

He then turned his attention to the Gospel reading, observing that sheep are not very good at organizing their own lives and need the direction and protection of a shepherd, adding that in the Palestinian environment sheep need 24/7 care all their lives. In John, Jesus presents himself as the shepherd - The Good Shepherd - always there to care for us. Hugh then told a terrible joke to illustrate the problem for us if we don't know the key to the Gate to Life.

"Jesus Christ is the Shepherd, the Gate. He is the way, the truth and the Life - the only way to new life. 

Hymn AHB 451 "Lord Jesus Christ, You have come for Us" summing up the service so far, of Jesus willingness to be everything for us.

Hugh led the Prayers for the People approaching God on behalf of the congregation, our community, our country and the world. He then gave us the opportunity to offer our own silent prayers: a very special time for all present as we drew close to God, bringing before him our individual concerns. Hugh offered prayers for those close to members of the congregation with special needs and we then joined together in The Lord's Prayer, praying in the way Jesus taught us. 

Hymn AHB 399 "Father in Heaven, grant to your children" a prayer for God's support in all aspects of our lives and in maintaining our relationship with him.

Benediction Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord by serving those around you and:  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all and your family and your friends, now and forever more.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 4 May 2014

Call to Worship

Leader:  Dear People of God, what shall we do?

People: We shall praise God who hears our prayers, who draws near to us, and brings new life out of death.

Leader: Dear Friends in Christ, how shall we live?

People: With the confidence of God's beloved children, with security and joy of God's saving Grace.

Leader:  Sisters and Brothers, what is the promise?

People: New life, forgiveness of sin, the Spirit as gift!

Leader:  Dear Children of God, how shall we praise?

People: We lift our voices and our hearts in love, thanks, and praise!

All:        We will live out Jesus' Resurrection!

              We will praise Him as long as we live! Amen.

Today Hugh brought us a message of God's unconditional love. To prepare our hearts and minds we began with the Hymn "Be still for the presence of the Lord", focusing on the need to be still and  reverent before the Holy One, the One whose glory can be revealed to us, if only we humble ourselves and leave ourselves open to his work.

In keeping with this, Hugh then led us in a Prayer of Adoration, reminding us of the great magnificent holiness in whose presence we were and are. Something not to be taken lightly nor someone who can be approached in any way other than with total frankness. He knows us through and through, anyway.

Following this we joined in a Prayer of Confession, asking for wisdom and guidance and admitting that we are not always ready to pass on the great blessing of God's love to others. For this we asked forgiveness, pleading for God to shine his Spirit through us for the benefit of others and the furtherance of his Kingdom.

Hugh then said The Words of Assurance, asking that the "Word of our Stillspeaking God continues to burn in our hearts and then, based on the promise made to us, told us that we could be confident that our sins are forgiven.

After the Offering, which was dedicated to God's work, with, "Let our gifts be the seeds of the living and enduring word of God...", Lyn brought to us the Children's story using a Dr. Seuss book to illustrate that God loves us as we are, which theme was continued in the Hymn TIS 491 "Father welcomes all his children" offering love and life to all.

Alan then read to us from Acts 2:14a, 36 - 41 and 1 Peter 1: 17 - 23. The message in Acts was clear. Follow Jesus, commit to him and enjoy new life. But more, cease from daily creating the same world that sent him to the cross. Peter says, in part: "Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another, deeply from the heart." That's not just the people we like or the people in our church. We have been loved - it is for us to love others.

Hugh then delivered his Sermon, speaking of the extra-ordinary price that was paid to set us free and our responsibility to let others realise that freedom is real and worth having through our love shown to them. Hugh used several examples of real stories to demonstrate how that gift of love to others must work and to impress upon us that the gift of love we have been given cannot be held onto selfishly as that is a contradiction of the gift itself. Hugh reminded us of John 13:35. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." It's the number one rule.

One of the stories Hugh told was about a priest who, when he was ordained, adopted the name of his friend who saved his life by smothering a grenade with his own body. Our name is Christian for the same reason.

Grahame then led us in Prayers for the People, remembering in particular the strife-ridden areas of the world such as Syria and Ukraine where people are suffering so badly, and asking for God's blessing on our leaders and community care-givers. He then turned to the personal concerns of the congregation, following with The Lord's Prayer.

Communion began with the  Hymn TIS 511 vv 1,2, &, 4 "Let us break bread together with The Lord" a song showing the logical extension of taking part in this service: break bread, drink wine, sing songs and work together for the Lord. This was followed by the offering of The Peace between members of the congregation, putting into immediate effect the command to love one another.

The Table was then Prepared and the people drawn into the service with:

The Spirit of The Lord is with You

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Hugh then prayed, rehearsing the events of Jesus' saving ministry. After the response of the congregation, Hugh prayed again, telling again the events of the last supper.

Let us proclaim our faith. Christ has died: Christ is risen: Christ will come again.

Following the Distribution we were reminded that we were, afresh, members of Christ's body and his agents in the world.

His love led to the events we were commemorating: our responsibility is to show that love to others, that they will come to realise it is for them too.

Our final Hymn TIS 650 vv 1 - 5 " Brother, sister let me serve you" reflected the point of Jesus' sacrifice which we had just remembered, the theme of Hugh's sermon and our way of showing the love that has been showered upon us to others.

Hugh sent us out with the Benediction:

Friends, rejoice in the mothering and fathering love of God! Rejoice in the victorious life of our risen Saviour! Rejoice in the power of the Spirit. Go, living in the love of Christ! Go, serving in the name of Christ! Let your love of God embrace Your children, Your family, Your enemies, Those who are far off, Those who are strangers met on the road. May your lives praise the Lord!

Hymn TIS 781 "Father, bless us as we go"

Father, bless us as we go,

Jesus walk beside us,

Holy Spirit guide us.