Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 27 July 2014

Hugh began by paying tribute to Mavis who has just celebrated 90 years of living a Christian life, spreading God's love to those around her.

Call to Worship led by Hugh

L:  Give thanks to the Lord, proclaim his greatness; tell the nations what he has done.

P:  Sing praise to the Lord; tell the wonderful things he has done.

L:  Be glad that we belong to him; let all who worship him rejoice.

P: Go to the Lord for help; and worship him continually.

L:  You descendants of Abraham, his servant; you descendants of Jacob, the man he chose:

P:  Remember the miracles that God performed and the judgments that he gave.

L:  Dear children of God. The Lord is our God. Let us worship him together.

   The Lord is with you;

P:  And also with you!

Hymn "Be Still for the Presence of the Lord" A reminder that we are before the Holy One and on Holy ground. So, Be Still. This is an opportunity to experience God's very presence: to know holiness about us: to experience God's light, shining on our very being, illuminating all things. Our chance to hear God's voice to each of us, moulding us, directing us.

Prayer of Adoration Hugh prayed, proclaiming God's name, the name of the Lord of all. The Lord who is glorious, who is our rock, who is faithful and perfect. The Lord who is beautiful and who can do no wrong, asking that he would be with us as we worshipped together and to accept our hymns and prayers, but most especially, our hearts, in Jesus name. Amen

Prayer of Confession (All)

Dear Heavenly Father, we lower our heads before you and we confess that we have too often forgotten that we are yours. Sometimes we carry on our lives as if there was no God and we fall short of being a credible witness to You. For these things we ask your forgiveness and we also ask for your strength. Give us clear minds and open hearts so we may live our life and relationships as your Kingdom people.  Remind us always that we are your children.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Offering Hugh, on our behalf, offered our thanks for God's love and grace to each one of us and to each of our families and friends. He gave thanks for God's loving support of our congregation, asking for his blessing on our offering, and that it should be used for the sake of God's kingdom and be a blessing to many people.

Hymn TIS 703 "As the deer pants for the water" Another type of confession, as we admit that we are nothing without God's strength and direction. As we admit that our show of bravado to the world: our facade of being in charge is all just that, and that all we want and need is God in and through our lives.

Bible Readings: Kaye read to us from Romans: 8: 26-39. If you need encouragement, this is one reading that will lift you up. I recommend that everyone read it in full because there is no possibility of doing it justice in a summary. The last two verses show its power. "For I am convinced the neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52 A number of analogies to explain, through everyday situations, concepts relating  to the Kingdom of Heaven. The mustard seed that grows into something much bigger: no matter how lacking in talent we think we are, that could be us. Then, the Kingdom is something of such value that it's worth trading everything else we have to be able to acquire it. But then it seems that some will not see that value and will cling to things that, in eternity, are worthless.

Reflection Hugh focused his reflection on the parable of the treasure a man found in a field, which was possible in the time of Jesus, because there were no banks and people buried their wealth where they thought it would be safe. Because some people died before retrieving their wealth if was possible for someone else to discover it and claim it. To do so the lucky person would need to buy the field, and so, the story. This story is impressed on the hearers even further with another tale of a man that sees a pearl of unsurpassed value. In both cases the men sell everything they have to acquire the treasure.
The kingdom of a Heaven is like that. To belong is worth more than everything you have or could have. Hugh stressed that we have to discover this treasure and that it is for now, not just after we die. He illustrated his next point with another story about a Texan farmer, who was in despair, because of his inability to survive during a particularly bad time. The farmer had nothing. Nothing, that is, except an enormous reserve of oil under his farm that he knew nothing of. The Kingdom of Heaven is within the grasp of us all - free. All we have to do is give up our grasp on everything else. Many people pursue the Kingdom for a lifetime but never embrace it, to live in the joy it offers. We have often heard the first point of the hidden treasure but Hugh's last point of embracing the gift we have been given may be the one we need to give serious thought to,

Hymn TIS 717 "Give thanks with a Grateful Heart" a simple message of thanks to God and the result of his reversal of the world's order into the heavenly order where the weak are strong and the poor, rich because those things are measured so differently in God 's eyes.

Prayers for the People and the Lord's Prayer Chris prayed to our most gracious and loving Father, asking for protection for our fragile planet and its resources. He asked that people should be rescued from the tyranny of grief and for support for those suffering as a result of war, oppression, poverty and disease. He turned our attention to all the airplane crashes and the discord in the Middle East and asked that the suffering of those involved should be relieved. He thanked God for meeting our needs and for his blessing on all who need comfort, hope and companionship. He prayed for those known to our members and then we joined in the Lord's Prayer

Recognition of Rev. Beth as Minster in Association Hugh thanked Beth for agreeing to become our Minister in Association and for her continued presence with us and then made a presentation to her recognizing her new role. In reply, Beth thanked us for our friendship and proclaimed that "God is Good"

Hymn TIS 666 An echo of the last hymn. "We are marching in the light of God". That makes the rhythm we follow quite different.

Benediction - Hugh - Lord our Father, give us the mind of Christ that we will see things in our life through that mind and plan our lives accordingly.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and those you love, now and always.

Retiring Hymn TIS 720 "Halle, halle, Hallelujah"  and we have so much for which to give thanks and praise.





Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 20 July 2014

Carolyn welcomed us all to worship and acknowledged the traditional owners of the land.

Hymn TIS 181 "Come, O God of all the Earth: come to us, O Righteous One;" A song to the One who is the Lord of all the Universe, to fill the earth with righteousness and bring alive His love within us, drawing us all together.

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Confession

Praise to you, the light of the world and the hope of the nations, who, despite the chaos that exists, is eternally just. Your steadfast love endures; your realm prevails; may we always praise you, remaining awake to your love within our lives.

Most gracious and merciful God, we come to you in times of
struggle and pray for  deliverance so that we are not brought down. We rely on you to hold us close to you that we do not lose our sense of who we are. We are sorry for those things that come between us and seek your wisdom. Teach us the truth. May we find reconciliation, forgiveness and fullness of life. Amen


Our sins have been dealt with once and for all. Let us live as children of light.


Our young worshippers collected the offering and Carolyn prayed that our thanks-offering would be received, as it is given as love and service to others.

The children's talk was given and then the children forwarded out to Sunday School as we sang: "I've got a voice to sing out loud" as we have the whole of ourselves - all to praise our God. Doing it is sometimes difficult because we focus on ourselves instead of God's will for us. A song like this makes us stop and think.

Readings Psalm 139: 1 - 12, 23 - 24 The realisation that God knows everything. Everything we do; everything we think; everything we almost think and almost do. And there is nowhere we can escape this scrutiny. Everywhere we go, all about us is known. But we can depend on God to be with us, every second, every place, always. And even though we know it is happening anyway, we ask God to seek into every secret part of us - it is our only hope.

Matthew 13: 24 - 30; 36 - 43 A message about the intended crop and the weeds which grow together. Carolyn's reflection on this situation opened up new possibilities for all of us.


Carolyn spoke from her life experience to illustrate the Matthew reading and the most telling example concerned the "growing together" of the crop and the "weeds". She pointed out that the parable is not simplistic. Our roots are intertwined. The soil is the same, the tending is the same. Every human being carries the possibilities of good and evil. A weed is an ordinary plant growing in a place where we don't want it to be. 

"In the intertwining of roots in the earth, where there is a depth of God's being, we are called to be a presence that lives, teaches and offers hope. This means being able to hold to our Christian virtues of truth, generosity and forgiveness."

The parable teaches us that God's goodness will prevail, however it is not our task to judge. Our task is to love and not let our humanity be poisoned or our relationship with God be broken in any way.

Hymn TIS 136 "There's a wideness in God's mercy" Gods mercy is beyond anything we can imagine. Continuing the theme of Carolyn's reflection, we should be focusing our energy on drawing others into the arms of our merciful Lord.

Prayer for the People Carolyn prayed to our loving God with our concerns for others in this world which is in confusion and turmoil. She prayed for the victims of hate, and all other evil or just victims of circumstances. She prayed that God would drive evil from our midst and that His presence would provide healing and hope. She prayed for the safety of those moving about; for the victims of all the disasters worldwide; for the bereft and for those confused and worried by war. Carolyn prayed that God would encourage conversations that bring about reconciliation. She prayed for those in chronic pain; for those with personal concerns; the worried, the confused, the homeless;  and asked for God's gentle touch on all those longing for healing and restoration; and for those alone in this world. Carolyn prayed for the concerns of the congregation. She then thanked God that He hears and answers prayers according to His perfect will and led us in the Lord's Prayer.


Hymn TIS 609 "May the mind of Christ my Saviour" A prayer for the mind, word, peace and love of God to dwell in us, with our looking only unto Jesus. That sounds like an unbeatable plan. If only we could be faithful to it.

Commissioning Go into the world to seek the lost. Proclaim the good news of God's love and mercy. Show forth the light of salvation. Lift up the fallen. Declare the never-ending reign of God.

Benediction May the Glory of God, mother and father, rest upon us. May the love of Christ be within us. May the power of the Spirit keep us strong. Amen


And then as we left we blessed each other:               


Now unto him who is able to keep. Able to keep you from falling.

And able to present you faultless before the presence of his glory

With exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour. Be glory and majesty,

Dominion and power, Both now and forever.



Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 13 July 2014


I wasn't able to attend this service but Hugh supplied me with most of it in writing so I gained by being able to appreciate it although I was absent and also had the basis for this reflection.

 Call to Worship

The Lord be with you:

And also with you.

A greeting of blessing and goodwill to start us on the journey of this worship service.

Hymn TIS 161 "Tell out my Soul, the greatness of the Lord". The poignant attempt to adore, worship and declare the blessings of God's Grace.

Prayer of Adoration

Hugh, speaking for us, expressed thanks and gratitude for our existence and the opportunity to meet together in worship, just as we are. He gave thanks that we are each known to God, regardless of our circumstances and part of a His grand design. Accordingly, and most humbly on our behalf, Hugh asked God to accept our worship, praise, hymns and prayers.

Prayer of Confession (together)

"Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Have mercy on us and forgive us, Lord, that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Such relief to be able to approach our maker and receive forgiveness.

Hymn TIS 685 "Lord I come to you". A plea and thanks for its fulfillment that God will change and renew us through the power of his love. What wonderful hope that we can be raised beyond our flawed selves.

Bible Readings Isaiah 55: 10 - 13. God compares His word to the rain that does not return to the atmosphere until it has worked its way through a series of living things. Don't think we can bat God's word away. It will swirl about, disturbing our soul, doing its work.   Matthew 13: 1 - 9, 18 - 23. Both these passages speak of the different responses to God's message. Sometimes it seems to die in the air as it is spoken, sometimes it flourishes for a while and still other times it flourishes within the person who hears it. Which are we - it's our choice but once a person reads God's word they don't forget it and although it seems like a great sacrifice to some people to respond in a positive way, it's actually an amazingly liberating experience.


Hugh's reflection focused on the reading from Matthew and the fate of the seeds that were sown by the farmer. The seeds were all the same but some didn't even start growing, some started then failed, while others flourished. The seeds could have all flourished but those that didn't, failed because of other factors. That points the story back to each of us. When it comes to the word of God, our hearts and minds are those other factors. Then Hugh expanded this comparison by explaining that bamboo has to be nurtured for five years before it surfaces and is visible. And then it takes off in a way we could never imagine. It grows twenty five metres in one season and on up to forty metres. This is the story of our church. We have to be faithful and keep nurturing our church, believing that our work will bring forth growth and fruit in God's time.

Prayers for the People

Hugh prayed on our behalf asking for help to be good stewards of our planet, God's creation. Hugh prayed for our leaders, that their decisions will be guided by a vision of the common good. He then turned attention to our church, asking that as its people and its leaders, we will all feel God's presence in all we do. He then prayed for forgiveness for anyone that should harm us and went on to pray for the special needs of those known to each of us, finishing with the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 745 "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God " The gospel in a nutshell and praise that this message of hope is available to us.

Hugh then pronounced the Benediction and we rounded off with

Hymn TIS 720 "Halle, Halle, Hallelujah" Thank you for relief from the many flaws that go with being human. With gratitude we welcome your work in our hearts.




Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 6th July 2014

The Call to Worship  Hugh led our Worship today and called us to spend time with God. 

Hymn  TiS 526                                   “Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us””

Patrick Appleford wrote the words for this hymn especially for Holy Communion.  The simple message of the birth of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection is told with a positive promise of the power that will come into our lives if we follow His commands - and walk in the path of the Living Lord”.   While working in the Docklands in East London in the 1950s Patrick Appleford strived to write in such a way as to bring the Gospel message to troubled young people who had become estranged from the traditional paths of “the Church”.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession:  From the moment we awake to face the day ahead, you are with us, through good times and bad,  Your presence enough for our needs.
Every day we will praise you; And extol your name for ever
Through the hours of the day, in our travels and work, you are with us always.  In decisions we make, even in mistakes we make, your wisdom is enough for our needs.
Every day we will praise you;  And extol your name for ever
As we lay down to rest at the end of the day, you are with us, as we lay our fears at your feet, Your peace is enough for our needs.
Every day we will praise you;  And extol your name for ever  - Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
Lord God, your love for humankind present in the beginning of all things, extends throughout history and touches even my life.   Your love sees failings and forgives.  Your love feels pain and wipes away our tears.  Your love knows grief and comforts the sorrowful.  Your love sees sin and still loves the sinner.  Forgive us when we fail to live lives that reflect your love.  Forgive us the many times when we take for granted all that you have done for us.  Transform us through your Spirit and empower us to serve you and serve those around you this day and all days.  We ask it in your Son’s name, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Offering / Prayer:  With our offering we thanked God for all we have been given and for time, place, people and church in our lives.

Men’s Choir:                                   “A Wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord”

Malcolm, Grahame, Stephen and Hugh sang in such perfect harmony, with expert sensitive piano accompaniment from Mavis; that I wished that they could keep on singing.  This is another one of the 8,000 hymns written by Fanny Crosby who we mentioned two weeks ago (Blog 22nd June).

Hymn TiS 491                                    "Father welcomes all His children"
Robin Mann, who wrote this hymn, is an Australian writer of modern hymns and songs and he and his wife Dorothy call themselves “down-to-earth” and “commonplace” Christians”. They are both musicians and work to motivate and inspire worship and meditation in many countries.

Bible Reading:                                  Romans 7:15-25a (page 878) Matthew 11:16-19  (page 734)
 Read for us by Jack.  “Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of this body doomed to death?”  God alone through Jesus Christ our Lord! Thanks be to God! (Romans)
“How can I describe this generation? They are like children sitting in the market place and shouting at each other.”  (Matthew)


Reflection:                                         “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”
Hugh explained that the people of the New Testament times would have understood the world of agriculture and the idea of a yoke which was used for oxen to plough or for humans to carry heavy loads.  “They would have been able to tangibly imagine the yoke of the oxen carrying a plow through a field. They could also remember the feeling of the wood digging into their back as they carried heavy objects or buckets of water.”
The Jewish people of the day studied the Scriptures avidly and followed the plethora of laws and rules for their religion.  Their relationship with God was defined by these rules, yet Hugh told us that all these learned men with their rules and studying of all the religious laws; “totally got it wrong”.  He went on to remind us; “We follow Christ not because he established a new religion, but because He promised to be with us in our entire lives. What more guarantee would you need in this short life in such an uncertain world?”
He went on to say: “In today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus still calls us to follow him. And He also calls us to take His yoke.  Think about it for a moment.  When you have taken His yoke, it will never ever be possible for you to proceed or advance all by yourself.  Once you are under His yoke, you have to walk right next to Him at all times regardless.”  
What an idea to consider.  If being a Christian is simply “following Christ, who knows us best, loves us most, and died for us and lived again for all of us”, we should surely eagerly accept the conclusion of Hugh’s thoughtful reflection.
Christianity is a way of life. Our religion is all about our relationship with Christ.  And following Christ is the best and surest way to keep up our relationship with Him.  Take His yoke and walk with him side by side, whatever comes in your way, wherever He leads you.
Of course, there will be rough roads ahead of you sometimes. There will be a storm coming some other time. There will be sometimes steep slopes awaiting you, and some of them might look never ending.  But count on me, friends. You will end up being just fine. Your life will be Just Fine. Because… Christ will be always, virtually always with you.

I could not help thinking of the words of that often quoted poem, “Footprints in the Sand”.  I am sure my path “through the sand of life” has many single sets of footprints – thank God!
Remember the reassurance of the final verse?
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, 
and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you. 

Prayers of the People:  Pat led our prayers for the people this morning.  She spoke of the blessings we enjoy - like warm houses, security, health services and so much more.  She commended to God in prayer - all who are willing to move from these kinds of blessings and go out of their comfort zone to bring help and Your love to the people of the world who are “overlooked”.  Pat also prayed for the people known to the Marsden Road Church family who are in need; before we all joined together in the Lord’s Prayer.

Communion Hymn TiS 511              “Let us break bread together”
There are many different variations of this African American spiritual which probably dates back to the eighteenth century; although the tradition of singing it at communion services is said to have begun after the American Civil War.  This hymn always suggests that we could adore and praise God with much more abandonment than we of Anglo-Saxon heritage usually allow ourselves to practice.

After the Passing of the Peace the table was prepared and the bread and wine were blessed by Hugh for the people to come forward to receive Communion after the traditional words about the first communion meal and the proclamation of our Faith:
Christ has died:  Christ is risen:  Christ will come again
Prayer after Communion:
We thank you that you have fed us with this holy bread and wine, the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ our Savior.  We now become members of His Body, and thus His agents in this 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 659                                    "The Lord is my Shepherd"

The Benediction & Blessing    We were sent out by Hugh with the comforting words:  “The grace of Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and go with you this day and all the days ahead.” Amen.
Retiring hymn:                                   “May the feet of God walk with you”

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 29 June 2014

Today we were especially privileged for our service to be taken by a Tongan group from Auburn Uniting Church. They delivered a service of great warmth, touching our hearts with their amazing music.


Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today, come into stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.

Hu mai 'Eiki, Hu mai 'Eiki. Hu mai 'Eiki, Hu mai 'Eiki, Hu mai kia au, Sisue

Hu mai Sisu, kiate au Nofo he loto ni 'o'ku

Call to Worship

Leader: I will sing to the Lord for he has dealt with me richly

All:        I will praise the name of the Lord Most High.

Leader: Jesus said that whoever welcomes one of his followers, welcomes Jesus himself.

All:         Welcome to our worship (welcoming other members of the congregation)

Leader: Whoever welcomes Jesus, welcomes God.

All:        Welcome to our worship (turning to others)

Leader: Whoever offers even a cup of cold water to one of God's children, will be blessed

All:        All are welcome here! Let us worship God.  

Hymn TIS 59 "All people who on earth do dwell" A hymn of instruction to praise, know and approach the Lord our God without fear - and why can we say this? "The Lord our God is good; his mercy is forever sure;" whatever our burdens - whatever our fears - whatever: the Lord is the only one we can utterly depend on. His love is available for anyone in any need. Just ask.

Children's Story

Never mind the children- the entire congregation was charmed by a story with which all families are familiar. The child who does exactly the opposite to what the parent tells them. The message: better listen to and obey God now. BUT the best part was the chorus. Sita led us in "Father Abraham had many sons. Had many sons had Abraham. I am one of them and so are you- So let's just praise the Lord----with ACTIONS - what joy!

Prayer of Adoration

A prayer, acknowledging God as source of all that is good through his grace, be it at work, or anywhere else, expressing our adoration of  him, the creator of all things and reminding ourselves that God knows everything there is to know about us. God who offers us new life.

Prayer of Confession

"Almighty and Merciful God, we have sinned against you and strayed from your ways like lost sheep." This prayer continued with details of the kinds of sins we commit every day but that first sentence said it all. We are unable, in our own strength, to live the life of a fulfilled human.

Prayer of Assurance

An assurance that forgiveness is ours.

Musical Offering The Tongan group sang two hymns, enthralling us with their amazing ability to create a place of holiness through the quiet warmth of their beautiful harmony.

Bible Readings and Reflection Ruth brought the readings to us and then Joye delivered his thoughts on the Genesis reading. The gospel reading, taken from Matthew 10:40 - 42 is the text from which our Call to Worship was taken and Genesis 22:1 - 14 is a well known story to most of our congregation. In this account, God tests Abraham's loyalty and devotion by telling him he should sacrifice his son. Abraham begins to follow this instruction, preparing for the sacrifice. The boy, Isaac, questions the lack of a lamb to sacrifice - Abraham, utterly sure of God, answers that God would provide, which he did. Joye brought this story to us with the message that "God will provide". When we see the job God has for us to do, we need not be anxious about our ability to do it - God will provide.

Hymn TIS 685 "Lord I come to you" A song that follows the thought of the reflection: that the power of God's love is sufficient for us to proclaim, "I'll rise up like the eagle and I will soar with you - your spirit leads me on - in the power of your love."

Prayers of the People

Margaret introduced the Prayers for the People with a prayer of St. Francis "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace" following with a plea for God's hand to work in those countries experiencing the insanity and hell of war and God's blessing on all those who work for peace in the world. After this we each prayed quietly in our place for our personal concerns and then Margaret concluded with prayers for the church everywhere, concluding with The Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 155 "O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy hand has made" You know the rest and you can imagine how the congregation used this well known hymn, that for many, was there when they began their journey as a Christian, to proclaim their love and adoration for God, in full voice. (Especially Lynell)


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever more.

Hymn TIS 779 "May the feet of God walk with you"


A word to those who receive this write-up each week. I will be in and out of Sydney over the next few weeks. Joan may be able to write the blog some weeks. (You will recognize her style - it's much better than mine) but some weeks there may not be a blog. Please be patient. )