Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 30 November 2014

Call to Worship

L. The spectacular mercies of the Advent Christ be with you all.

And also with you.

L. That we may be glad whenever the Lord Jesus comes to us;

May Christs own goodness be consolidated in our hearts.

L. That we may honour God together with our sisters and brothers of every race;

May the Lord increase our love for each other and all humanity.

Hymn: TIS 155 How Great Thou Art (v. 1,2,4) Each time I sing this hymn I am reminded of the amazing gifts we have had bestowed upon us and how we take them all so much for granted. Not only do we take for granted the gift of this planet but we lose the sense of the great treasure we have been given in God's love.

Prayer of Adoration 

Bradon prayed on our behalf to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reflecting on our failure to appreciate all that God is to us but acknowledging that we have, however imperfectly, experienced God's glory, truth and forgiving love. And so, we offered our adoration, praise and thanksgiving.

Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon

"Because most of us are slow learners, lukewarm believers, yet effusive excuse-makers, let us pause, take stock, and confess our sins. Let us pray.

Because we have sometimes busied ourselves religiously,

as if the success of Gods kingdom depended solely on us:

            Lord have mercy.

            Lord have mercy.

Because we sometimes opt out, and with a perverse piety

leave everything up to God and the holy angels:

            Christ have mercy.

            Christ have mercy.

Because your mercy is over all your works, and your grace is greater

than our pride, foolishness and weakness:

            Lord have mercy.

            Lord have mercy."

"My Friends, stand up straight, lift up your downcast eyes, your redemption is at hand. In Christ Jesus our sins are forgiven and the final victory is assured.

Thanks be to God."

"May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all people,

that we may be free from shame and holy at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."

I have kept this section almost as Bradon delivered it. Too good to do anything else.

Hymn: TIS 158 - God Has Spoken by His Prophets. God speaks to us in so many ways. One way that humbles me is when he speaks to me through the kindness of other people.

Offering. We returned a little of God's mountain of blessings to us, for the work of his kingdom.

Bible words for today Oliver read from Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you. These word evoke confidence and comfort.

The Advent Candles

Bradon explained that in lighting the first of these candles we were remembering that Advent was a reliving of the promise given for all - we are reliving the anticipation of his coming. Hope for us all,

Hymn: TIS 265 O Come, O Come Emmanuel. A plea and invitation to Jesus to do his work amongst us. Are we ready? Are we really sincere in praying those words? We can't pray them and then stand in the middle of the road, blocking Jesus' way.

Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16. The day is coming. If we take that as a personal message if could mean today - now. Think on that. Luke 1:26-38. There is much in this reading. The announcement of the birth of someone who began a new kingdom on Earth. That is mind- blowing enough. But that an insignificant young woman should be the way it would come about is a lesson to everyone hearing these words. Ordinary people like we are have been commissioned to bring the Kingdom of God to the world. There is a thought.

Sermon: Bradon reflected in his life, speaking of the times he spends waiting - as we all do from time to time. He spoke about the time we spend waiting in the Uniting Church, with an example of his recent experience of having a meeting about a meeting. He then related this concept of waiting in the season of Advent when we are reminded of those who waited for the coming of God. The Bible is full of people who were waiting for some great happening. The people waited to leave Egypt.
They waited in the wilderness to enter the Promised Land. They wait for the coming of Israel. But then the word comes to Mary - the waiting was almost over. But after nine months - which can be very fast - or slow, the world had to wait another 30 years. Surely the waiting was over - surely the kingdom was going to be restored. When Easter Saturday arrived the disciples were perplexed - surely this was it! Are we still waiting? Think of all the world's problems. With the help of Dr. Seuss, Bradon reminded us of all the things we wait for.

Is that how it is for us?  Are we just hanging about waiting for God to act? Look again. Jesus came to pronounce the arrival of God's Kingdom. It's here. It's happened - but only partially fulfilled. We have seen the possibility but we're in a type of shadow.

We should think about our waiting a little like waiting on tables - serving. It's a time to work - not a time to have hope but to give hope. A time not to be hanging onto the past but a time to be creating the future for all. Today is our day!

Prayer of the People & Lords Prayer: Bradon prayed for those for whom time goes too swiftly: for those for whom time goes too slowly. He prayed for political prisoners waiting for justice. He prayed for our loved ones - for the sick - for the churches who want to return to past glories that they will focus on new things for the future, Bradon prayed for the bereaved - for those who think their anguish will never end. And then he prayed for the concerns of our own community and we joined together in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn: TIS 572 O Thou Who Camest From Above. The hymn says if all: Thou who came from above: kindle a flame; trembling to its source return, in humble prayer and fervent praise; stir up thy gift in me; ready for thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love. What people we would be!

Benediction: Bradon prayed to the God of hope that we will all be filled with joy and then sent us out in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Closing 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 breathe give you life.

              May the child of God grow in you,

              and his love bring you home. Amen.




Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 23 November 2014

Today was the last Sunday in the church year, which is called "Christ the King" Sunday. In the Sydney North Presbytery this Sunday has been set aside for a "pulpit swap". Ideally, congregations would visit other churches to experience different ways of worship but it has been judged as easier for the ministers to do the swapping and tell other groups of how their church is doing the work of God. One use Nicholas' church at Eastwood makes of the PP screen is to present some of the words of the service in Korean and Chinese. While this is not our need at the moment, it is one we could keep in mind for the future.

Nicholas began the service with the Call to Worship declaring how the God of All, the God of Creation calls us, gathers us together. He followed this by speaking of the many different reasons we have for responding to that call: some prosaic such as being on the roster for the day: some out of a deeper need: some to listen to how those who have gone before us have experienced times like this.

Nicholas then explained that sometimes his church uses different hymns to express our walk with God in a changing world where a changing theology has developed. We then sang:

Hymn "Blessed are the Poor among you" from Gifts of Love 8. A reflection of the Beatitudes on how blessed are we that hunger for God's goodness in any way because he will respond to our need and how we will be joyful as a result of the blessings we receive. At the same time this hymn is a warning to those who have been given much and who don't
use it to make this world a better place, with the prayer that God will help us to see the world through his eyes.

Prayer of Adoration, Confession and Assurance

A prayer to the God of all that was, that is and that is yet to come that he will rule forever and that today he will draw us to him, showing us how we can be renewed in friendship and community.

For us, Nicholas said that as we marvel at God's love, patience and mercy and  being assured of his love and care, we reaffirmed our relationship to him. Nicholas then asked that in this world that is so divided in so many ways that God would make his alternative clear; his world based on love.

On our behalf Nicholas acknowledged that to create God's world, we need to take risks because it is our way that hinders God's work. So often we claim to belong to Jesus but our lives deny that. Nicholas then prayed that we should be led to be a caring compassionate people full of inspiration and vision of what God's kingdom should be.

Ruth and the kids then brought us God's words for today "The Lord is good and his love  is everlasting" Ps 100 v.5

Nicholas then spoke of the challenge of finding appropriate songs for children and said that there were many DVDs for the young, showing us one called King of the Jungle by Colin Buchanan. Not just the king of the jungle but the king of the sea and the air and of everything!

Reading brought to us by Warwick: Matthew 25: 31-40. A double warning. If we continue to lead a life focussed on ourselves and not on God we will suffer in the end. That is straight forward and understood by most people but the second warning is harder to heed. Focusing on God means focussing on other people. Not those people who can offer us some material profit but those who are in need. Whatever we have been given has been given to us to share.

Sermon Nicholas began with a reference to this being Christ to King Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year. During any year Jesus constantly challenges us: are we living according to the way of God or are we living according to the way of the world. What would the world be like if we lived according to God's way? That's the possibility that Jesus showed us all during his ministry. Nicholas then went on to speak about the year that has passed at Eastwood UC and what they had explored in church. Firstly he referred to "Acts". He said they had looked at the core values of the community and thought about whether those values were appropriate for the church now, given that the context for mission had changed. He identified one core value as sharing our faith and drew an analogy between going fishing and managing an aquarium. We were told to be fishers of men not keepers of an aquarium - there's a challenge.

In Acts people spoke about their faith to others - are we doing that now?

In Acts there was a spirit of generosity: they shared everything. What  if everybody gave to others of their good things that have come from God? What a world it would be!

In Acts there was a spirit of inclusiveness. Everyone was welcome. Acts reveals the diversity of people in the church. Look around - do we have that diversity now?

When the Ethiopian asked to be baptised, Phillip did so - then and there. Phillip didn't wait to fill out forms and make sure the regulations were being adhered to. Respond to the needs of people. Don't hesitate. The people in the early church were empowered - we are too when we respond to the vision God gives us.

The Christian message says the world can work differently. The question is whether or not we are going to let our personal concerns stand in the way of that happening?

Nicholas went on to speak about the rest of the year at Eastwood but I thought it better to recount the first part in detail rather than give a sketchy outline of the whole year (to fit the space I have). But I would like to pass on some important points.

Focus on the little ones - the weak - the deprived - the sick - the vulnerable. Jesus is our model. Discern abilities. Expect grumbling. God sustains us. Be a community that asks questions .Take risks and be productive. Remember- acts of compassion are a sign of God's presence. When you think of how far to extend yourself, think of Jesus ridiculous love and extravagant grace. We are not to conserve what we have - we are to transform it.

Participate with God and each other in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Hymn the sacred role of ministry "Ministering to Christ" from Sing a New Song 3:78

A song about real ministry: of caring for the broken, the afflicted. Of remembering that Christ is a different type of king. He does not come in splendid robes. He comes as a refugee, as an outcast, as a vagrant. When we support those who have gone astray we minister to Christ.

The quartet sang to us " What a friend we have in Jesus". The men's time and effort that goes into these items speaks to us of their commitment to us and God.

Prayers for the People
Grahame read prayers that had special meaning to him and then  asked for God to breathe on us and gave thanks for God speaking to us in the ordinary situations of life. He asked God to be with us in all our experiences and asked for God's loving arms to hold us when life gets too much.

He asked for special blessing on those with special burdens such as the sick and lonely. He prayed for those in residential care and asked for God's aid as we light our candles to lighten the world.
Offering we returned a little of our many blessings as part of our following the way of Jesus and gave thanks for those whose sacrificial offerings have given us what we have.

Hymn TIS 256 The Servant King (from heaven you came) Chorus: This is our God, the Servant King he calls us now to follow him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.

Nicholas then pronounced the Benediction and we concluded with a prayer for each other "May the feet of God walk with you". Blessed and blessed.





Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 16 November 2014


Call to Worship Psalm 96: A declaration of God's greatness and the command to all to acknowledge that. It seems a strongly worded passage but it's really the most gracious invitation to walk in liberty, with the obvious result of remaining in darkness if we do not accept that invitation.

Hymn: TIS 209 "And can it be that I should gain?" "My chains fell off, my heart was free". This will resonate with so many people. We live burdened with stuff we often can't identify but then because God, in his grace reaches out to us, those burdens are lifted and we walk out to freedom. "Bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ, my own." YES!

Prayer of Adoration, Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness

On our behalf Mark prayed, thanking God for his holiness and greatness, who had by his word brought everything into being. Mark gave praise that God was holy and pure and prayed that we could also be holy and pure. Mark thanked God that he is gracious and merciful and that Christ embodied that reality, asking that we be taught how to adore God  and live in awe of his holiness and mercy. Mark thanked God that we can know him and live for him, acknowledging him as Father and holy. Mark asked for God's help each day that we should take account of our lives, which are littered with mistakes and deliberate sins. Mark asked that as we came in repentance, God would allow us to know his forgiveness and restore our relationship with him. Mark then assured us of our pardon.                        

Hymn: TIS 147 "To God be the Glory" Because all that is good comes from him. This world is marred by the evil people do but God's goodness shines through and gives us hope that that goodness will prevail.

Offering and dedication Mark prayed that the offering which is from God's blessings to us  will be used to further his kingdom. We often think we have earned the good things we have, but they are God's gift to us. Be thankful.

Bible words for today ​​​​Ruth and Oliver: "Well done, my good and trusty servant." The words we will all hear after living according to God's will.

Hymn: TIS 609 "May the mind of Christ my Saviour" May the mind, word, peace and love of God dwell in us. If only our fears, insecurities and selfishness didn't get in the way, what people we would be!

Bible Readings: Val read to us from:1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Paul is talking to a group who are worried about when Jesus will return and how the timing of that return will affect their salvation. He says that they should not concern themselves about that but continue to live in the light which is our salvation and that they should support each other in their endeavours to do so.  Matthew 25:14-30 The parable of the servants who were entrusted with the master's money while he was away. Most used the money to make more for the master but one hid it, in fear he would not have it to return to his master. Did he get into trouble!! The lesson is that we have been given talents, gifts and skills and that we should use them to further God's kingdom. We weren't given these gifts to feel good about ourselves. We are to use them for God's work.

Sermon: Be Prepared As spoken of in the section above on the Bible Readings, Mark explained the worry the Thessalonians were having in regard to their salvation and how  that fitted in with Jesus coming again, which they were expecting at any time. They were concerned that anyone who died before Jesus returned would miss out but Paul assured them that they need not worry about anyone who had gone before - that shouldn't be their concern. In any case, nobody would have any idea when Jesus would return, so it was pointless spending time thinking about it. The thing they (and we) should attend to is ourselves and the way we live. Mark referred to people who had famously lived in darkness - Christopher Skase, Alan Bond, and Rene Rivkin - and who were all found out and disgraced before the whole world - with Skase and Rivkin dying badly. But then the point was made that we don't have to be concerned about that because we are living in the light.
Mark spoke of churches, cults and books that focus on the second coming but again, we won't know when that will happen so all the time and effort these people devote to their speculations is wasted. Our focus should be the main message - God's redeeming grace. The world is full of distractions: mindless television programs, advertisements offering everything to give us fulfilling lives - forget the lot. We are assured that if we persist in the light and do not live in darkness we will be ready. And we are obliged to help each other and give support to each other. Focus on those two messages.                                      

Prayers of the People & Lords Prayer   Mark prayed for the concerns around the world causing suffering to so many, asking for peace to bring comfort to those people. He remembered the sick and suffering and their carers, asking for strength for all. Thanks was given for the rain that has brought relief from the bushfires. He prayed for God's support for all those living and preaching His word, that they will be faithful. Mark prayed for all those who are sick, that their treatment will be effective and also thanked God for answered prayers, continuing his intercession by naming those known to the congregation. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer, itself a way of grounding us in our chief concerns for ourselves and to each other.

Hymn: TIS 276 "Theres a light upon the mountains"  An expression of the sure hope that God's kingdom will prevail. If we look around we can see glimpses of it leaking into  the darkness of this world.

Benediction Mark sent us out, reminding us that we are redeemed because of God's graciousness and mercy and to live in the light in the world so that God's greatness will be revealed.

Retiring hymn TIS  779  "May the feet of God walk with you." We blessed each other with prayers that God will walk with each individual one of us throughout the week. That is the support Paul was talking about.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 9 November 2014

Call to worship                                                       

Leader: In awe we proclaim your name, Holy Jesus.

People: We worship you as our Lord and Saviour.

Leader: We ask to feel your presence in this place, to sense that your Holy Spirit is with us now.

People: Blow, Holy Spirit, blow. Change our hearts, challenge our minds,

             and bring us closer to you.

All:        We worship and adore your holy name. Come, Lord Jesus.

Hymn: TIS 132Holy, holy, holy A confident declaration of God's holiness. Although we cannot appreciate that awful state of being we shout our belief in it because we have seen what just a glimpse of it can do to our lives.

Prayers of Adoration

Hugh prayed, acknowledging God's greatness and wondering at the fact that he loves us, even when we are little babies. We have nothing to offer him but his love is given to us freely. Very hard to take that in.

Prayer of Confession                                                             

We prayed together: Holy One, we confess to you that often we make excuses for not following the way you have called us to go. We have tried to bargain with you to make the burden lighter.  We confess that we too often do not look for you in the face of others, nor allow others to see you in our own actions. Too often we have doubted your presence and failed to worship you with our lives. Make us more complete and faithful followers of you. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen. If we stop and think about it, while we don't steal other people's money and don't murder, we do treat those about us badly in little ways every day - through our own weaknesses, or our own frailty, by being thoughtless, simply by not paying attention. Not big planned, deliberate mistakes but ones that can cause hurt.


Words of Assurance and Pardon Hugh

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. For as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Upon these words of pardon, I declare that in Jesus Christ our sins are completely forgiven. It is an amazing gift. That each time we turn to God for forgiveness, we receive it.


Hugh blessed our offering, dedicating our little gifts to God's great work.

Children's Story

Marcia told the children the story of Jonah and the whale, bringing to the attention of all present, the importance of obedience to God's will, pointing out that when we aren't obedient things go bad (like ending up in the belly of a whale)


Hymn: TIS 675Lord, the light of your love is shining It is that light and that light only which can illuminate the darkness that spoils everything which could be so good in this world but which is ruined by the selfish behaviour of humans.

Scripture Readings: Ruth read to us from Amos 5:18-24; and Matthew 25:1-13. The first is a stern warning about observing the rituals and customs of worship and then thinking we are so holy that we can welcome judgement day. God's only interested in our devoted relationship with him. That comes first, last and in the middle. The Matthew reading, while being a detailed story, has a short warning: Be ready. Don't delay acting. Do it now.


 Sermon Hugh : "Let me begin my sermon with a question for you. What if Christ should return today? Would that be good news for us? Would that be good news for the Baptists or the Methodists or the Roman Catholics or the Jews? Would it be good news for the rich or for the poor, for the law abiding or those in prison? If Christ should return today, who would be rejoicing? An obvious question, you say, but be careful. The answer may not be as obvious as you may think.

The people of Israel in the time of Amos the prophet were piously looking forward to the day of the Lord. Amos warns them, however. "Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord." That day has some surprises. It is as if a man escaped from a lion, only to meet a bear.  Amoss tone turns more straightforward. "The day of the Lord is darkness and not light" 

What if Christ should return today? For whom would it be good news?" Jesus taught us it was the simple deeds of kindness that build his kingdom. Humble deeds. Little things we do each day to be his hands and words in this world

We don't have to be full of energy, getting mountains of work done, although those people who do accomplish great stuff for God. We are a church of old people but we can spread God's love very effectively by our little acts of kindness, caring for our neighbours - inside and outside the church.

"Have you ever seen the wonder of migratory birds in "V" formation flying south for the winter? Ever wonder how they reach their destination without fail. As I understand it, there is not one lead bird. Rather specialists say that birds can fly so far and so long, because each one helps the flock by taking his turn as leader."

There's a lesson there for us. We should not just leave the work of the church to the committee members or to the people who normally do it but offer our contribution too.

"What if the Lord should come today? Obviously it will be good news to those who have learned to give, to share, to love, to look beyond their own needs to the needs of others."

"What if the Lord should come today?

The powerful and prestigious and the rich may not really look forward to that day. But the humble folk, the giving folk, those who have loved God and loved their fellow man, those who have sought to light a small candle in a world of darkness, these are those for whom the coming of the Lord will be a grand occasion." Step up. Offer your talents.

"Amos lived in a time very much like our own. Those who "lay on beds of white ivory" felt they were self-sufficient. They were secure. They could not imagine that the day of the Lord would threaten everything they hold dear.

We could profit from their blindness. Perhaps the best thing we could do this approaching Advent season would be to question whether we are standing in a right rank.

Ask yourself this question: What if the Lord really did come today? Will it be good news?  Or will it be full of surprises?"


Prayer of the people & Lords Prayer   Hugh

"Holy God, we approach you in humility, aware of our limitations; aware that in spite of all of our shortcomings you have blessed us, made us like you, and nourished us, all because you love us. We are thankful for your everlasting love towards us and towards all humanity out there." Hugh then gave thanks for all of God's blessing to us, including all the simple joys and all those people who through their care and kindness make this world a better place. After Hugh prayed for our personal concerns, we joined in the Lord's Prayer.


Final Hymn: TI 256From heaven you came This hymn shows us how Jesus lived the life he wants us to live. "This is our God, the Servant King, he calls us now to follow him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King."



May we readily see Christ in others,

May our lives be itself a benediction to others for your glory.

May we be blessed to be a blessing to the world.


God the Father enrich you with his grace,

God the Son make you holy in his love,

God the Holy Spirit strengthen you with his joy now and for ever. Amen


Retiring Hymn: TIS 720Hale, hale, hale

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 2nd November 2014

The Call to Worship  
Hugh led us into Worship with a responsive reading from Psalm 107: 1-7; 35-37 
Leader:  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his mercy endures for ever.
People:  He gathered them out of the lands; from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Leader:  Some wandered in desert wastes; they found no way to a city where they might dwell.
People:  They were hungry and thirsty; their spirits languished within them.
Leader:  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
People:  He put their feet on a straight path to go to a city where they might dwell.
Leader: He changed deserts into pools of water and dry land into water-springs.
People: He settled the hungry there, and they founded a city to dwell in.

Leader: They sowed fields, and planted vineyards, and brought in a fruitful harvest.
People: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his mercy endures for ever. Amen!

Hymn  TiS 130                                   “We plough the fields and scatter”

All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;

then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all his love.


This well loved hymn written by the German, Matthias Claudius, was translated into English in 1869.  This “Harvest Hymn” has always been a great favourite of film producers who always seem to include a verse or two in any movie where they want to convey a spirit of community in their story.  I smiled as I sang and looked around at our church family.  I remembered the story of the widowed Nellie Shipway who walked many miles across the fields to Marsden Road Church each Sunday, in the early part of the 20th Century.  When she died in 1946 at the age of 82, her family gave her church its memorial font which is still used by the Marsden Road Church Family.  While all the fields and orchards are now gone and increasingly replaced by high-rise developments - our spirit of community continues to thrive and grow.  During the last 48 years I have often felt that sense of community as the church family has shared in many baptisms.  Two of our own children and one grandchild were baptised in Nellie’s Font.  Wonderful memories of tradition and community everywhere!

Announcements:  We were reminded that our Lamington Drive next week will provide help to the Parramatta Mission to feed the hungry and homeless people in our community.  We were also invited to a special morning tea after the service, to help celebrate Betty’s 100th Birthday and Marcia’s 90th Birthday.  Kaye does a wonderful job in organizing these happy “parties” for us all.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession:  Hugh prayed for God to; “reach into the darkness with hope, truth and light” and to use His almighty love to “move mountains, cross seas and breathe life in the darkest places.”  Hugh asked that; “we give you our lives in this worship” so God can use our lives to reveal God’s blessings to the world.  Amen.  We asked for and were given forgiveness for our sins as we vowed to remember that love for God and love for our neighbours are the same thing. 

Offering / Prayer:  The offering was taken by the stewards and children and the

Important Bible Words for the Day were read once again by Oliver, with help from Elaine.

Joshua 3: Verse 9; “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.”  We all repeated the Important Bible Words and the children went to Sunday Kids.

In recognition of All Saints Day and the Marsden Road “Saints” through 189 years of continuous worship in this place - the men’s Quartet, Malcolm, Grahame, Hugh and Warwick sang “When the Saints go Marching In” and invited us all to join in the final chorus.

I looked around at some of the other memorials and windows dedicated to the memory of some friends I had worshiped with in this sacred place and felt the love in this place.

Hymn TiS 745                        “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
We really enjoyed singing this hymn as a round, although, with reading the words from the screen we did mix ourselves up a little, but it still sounded harmonious and was great fun.

Bible Reading:                                  Matthew 23:1-12  (page 748)
Pat read the very clear and unmistakable message about pride and pretence and the lesson about the true value of real humility.

Reflection:                                         “God is not impressed with pride”
This Reflection was well timed for a society that seems to have become a little carried away with pride in its achievements.  Hugh spoke of the way we might describe ourselves and suggested most would respond with a description of their vocations and positions.  He spoke of the longing for respect we have, but warned this should not lead us to see ourselves as superior to others. 
Cultural bragging rites, was the term Hugh used to describe our need to be “top dog” in some area of our life.  This need for progression and being “the best” leads to a need to impress others and a feeling of superiority.  In short, like the Pharisees in today’s reading we can become hypocrites and believe we are a step closer to God than those who are not as well educated, respected or accepted in society.
Hugh agreed it is good to succeed, it is good to want the best for your company, family or community, but pride is always a danger.
“God is not impressed with pride. God is not interested in how great you are. He is interested in how great others are as a result of your life.”   
In telling a story of a teacher who learned to love her pupils, even those who were not so appealing, Hugh demonstrated how this teacher made a difference by making individuals feel important.  “She let God use her as an instrument of his love, an instrument of encouragement.”    “If you want to be somebody, put others before yourself. It is as simple as that.”
What an important lesson that is for all of us to understand and act upon every day!
In acknowledging that we live in a competitive society, Hugh stressed it is not sinful to want to “get to the top” – but the real problem is just how you get there.  He reminded us that, as Christians are always under a microscope and asked; “Are you living a life worthy of being called a child of God?  Or are you just wearing a mask?” That certainly is a question worth our serious consideration and an honest answer!

Hugh shared the motto of his high school in Korea which was founded 130 years ago by an American missionary named ‘Appenzeller’.  “The greatest among you will be your servant” was an an inspirational motto from the Bible.  Hugh also reminded us we should retain our humility, making reference to a well known Indian evangelist’, Sadhu Sundar Singh who received many accolades.  This saint said; “The donkey went into Jerusalem, and they put garments on the ground before him.  He was not proud.  He knew it was not done to honour him, but for Jesus, who was sitting on his back. When people honour me, I know it is not me, but the Lord, who does the job."   May we all follow his example in our own lives!
Hugh concluded with Mark’s version of today’s reading from Matthew.
Mark 10: 42-45;  “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles have power over them, and their leaders exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be the servant of the rest, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, he came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   Amen.

Prayers of the People:  Our prayers were led by Delma who acknowledged on our behalf that we need so much comfort and strength from God because we are surrounded by fear and uncertainty – with our God - the only real certainty we have.  The prayer was for us to listen to our Heavenly Father and to become people of His great love.  We asked for blessings for people who help us and help in other lands and give comfort, strength and courage.  We prayed for the people who are helping with the Ebola crisis, for the church and its people and for the people from our own “little church with a big heart”.  Then we shared the comfort of the Lord’s Prayer.

Communion:  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 for ever.
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 for ever.

Before taking Communion at the alter rail we proclaimed our Faith:
Christ has died: Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Hymn              “The Summons”   A song of the Iona Community written by John L. Bell  in 1987. 
This certainly is a call that invites a positive response from us whenever we sing it in our worship.
Will you come and follow me If I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know And never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, Will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown In you and you in me?

The Benediction & Blessing    Hugh sent us from the service with a feeling of renewal as he invoked the Benediction and Blessing.  Amen.

Retiring hymn:                                   “May the feet of God walk with you”