Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas 2015 Marsden Road Uniting Church

With respect to this blog, I really took on a task I couldn't complete. I wanted to make a personal reflection based on all three Christmas services but there was simply too much material to cover. Then Christmas wasn't quite as I expected it to be, so the following is the result.

In the weeks approaching this Christmas season I resolved to concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas and, while taking part in the exchange of presents and celebratory meals, I would keep my mind and heart open to God's message to me during that time.

Doing that turned out to be more difficult than I thought. Physical problems resulted in my ending up in a great deal of pain and instead of spreading God's love to those around me I became taciturn and irritable. Then, maybe as a result of that pain, but certainly because of having lived more years than the rest of my family, I found I couldn't keep up.

Then there is all the terrible news in the media: avoidable traffic accidents; mistreatment of people, especially children, by other people; wars; financial dishonesty; the appalling attitudes to refugees and asylum seekers and the disgusting amount of money spent on "partying" which could have been spent much more effectively elsewhere. I almost lost the message of Christmas in it all.

However, I realized that these are the very circumstances that caused Jesus' appearance on Earth. There's nothing new about any of the situations mentioned above. It is exactly because we are the way we are and exactly because the world is the way it is that Jesus came to show us a new way. The hope he brought wasn't a once and for all thing. Each new generation and each individual has to learn the lesson taught by Jesus and the life he lived.

As Jan said in the Christmas Day prayer of Intercession: "The beauty and joy of Christmas shows up the stark contrast between the hopes we celebrate and some of the realities of our world. We will not be discouraged or afraid. We will trust the good tidings that come to us here, and commit once again to be bearers of blessing to a world in need."

And because we are the way we are, we needed to confess our many unloving thoughts and actions and ask, in Jan's words "Forgive us, loving God...we wait in humble faith to receive your kindness, O God.

As was said at another time. Our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. Because of this, despite our many failings, we could genuinely sing God's praises with enormous enthusiasm.

We sang, on Christmas Eve, "O Come all, ye Faithful," despite not always being faithful, and with just as much enthusiasm, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," with heartfelt wishes for "peace on Earth" and "God and sinners reconciled" despite not always being the bearers of peace and despite deliberately stepping out of the path God has set before us.

And it's OK. But how can it be Ok? Because God knows our weakness. "This Christ knows all that we face and walks the way with us, calling us towards a new day."  And we are forgiven! We are forgiven! We are forgiven! Thanks be to God. 

As Jan told us in Christmas Eve, it is time to push the pause button and to concentrate in three things. We should be thankful. Even the most unappreciative of us could list a number of things for which we can be thankful. Then we should reflect on the hope Jesus brought us as a people and as an individual and finally, we should be positive. We should be positive because it is "life-transforming." And because it helps us "grow the good in and for others...help transform the world in the power of God's spirit."

But even with that message, my Christmas went off-track even before the Christmas season was complete. But there is always the potential to follow the right path; we always have another chance to repent and seek God's will.

We sang the carol, "We three Kings of Orient Are" on Sunday and it made me think that we are given so many signs to follow that lead us to God. And we want to follow those signs. We know God is the answer to that yearning to be whole. We have no doubt about that at all. Yet when it comes to following, we always have reasons for going down side-tracks or taking a break from the journey. Total commitment is so scary!

Yet, there is never any end to God's willingness to hold out his arms to us.

We confess that we do not act in peaceful ways, that we sometimes prefer darkness to God's Light and that we think we have the right to choose who will make up God's kingdom. And because he is merciful, we are forgiven for it all.

So. Jan was able, in full confidence, to send us out:

"Go into the world with a spirit of strength and hope, determined to be the children of God and filled with dreams of a new day."

Amen, Amen and Amen to that.





Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 20 December 2015

"Come, let us sing to the Lord a new song, for God does marvellous things.

God hears us and remembers us, with steadfast love and faithfulness.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth good news for all."

"Loving God, we come today with our hearts alight with anticipation; our spirits rejoice in you, for you have done, and will continue to do marvellous things.

We rejoice that you offer hope to those who are captives; sight to those who cannot see; liberty to those oppressed by burdens too heavy to bear; and acceptance for those spurned by society.

Lord we cannot help but feel the stirrings of your coming as we prepare to celebrate so come to us Lord Jesus come!"

SONG TiS 272:
"Come thou long-expected Jesus." Following the prayer, we sang with great enthusiasm, inviting Jesus into our hearts knowing that only he can meet that great longing and bring about that genuine freedom we all seek.

Sandra led us in this prayer: "Merciful God your plans are so much bigger than we can ever imagine we still dream dreams that are far too small dreams which reach no further than the corners of our own small comfort zone."   Sandra went on, confessing our inability to comprehend fully what we seek or the gift that is offered to us. And then:

"Remind us O God that you have come into your world and that you are with us now and to the end of time. Amen."

Remember that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and restore us to a right relationship with him. Hear then Christs word of grace to us:  Your sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

Ian and Glen together, led us a step further into the story of Christmas with the lighting of the Candle of Peace

We returned just a little of God's bountiful blessing to us...we have so much to be thankful for and asked that it be used to spread the news of God's coming into the world and the blessing that offers. The men's group sang Rise up Shepherds, a message not only to the shepherds of old and their call to seek out the God-Child but also a call to us, to which we must respond.

Norma read Luke 1: 39-55 This reading incorporates the well known Mary's Song of Praise, evoking the sense of wonder and awe she experienced, allowing each of us to experience the same, along with a sense of expectancy and hope that the promise of Jesus' birth brings.

Can you hear the Music?? Sandra began by asking: "How are you?" The answers were varied, many connected with the work attached to preparing for family celebrations.

For me, I'm anticipating Christmas by thinking about how I can have an authentic experience of the time that celebrates the bringing of hope and joy into this broken world. Christmas services always have a joyful ring, with carols and hymns sung with enthusiasm and the familiar stories told in familiar ways, but is that the same as experiencing that unique hope and joy that the birth of Jesus of Nazareth brought?

Saying the same thing but in a different way, Sandra asked us: Can you hear the Music? She spoke of her love of the Advent readings with the promise they carry. Readings that have their own special music.

She spoke of HOPE  -   "Are we not living in the midst of times when the world needs HOPE like never before?   Every news bulletin shouts of death and destruction fear and hatred and the name of God is invoked to justify all of it?

The world lives with a fingers crossedkind of hope surely some world leader some Government agency some Council of Nations will solve the crisis human kind has brought upon the world.  That is not HOPE that is wishful thinking."

 "Advent 1 responds with resounding bass notes it is GOD in whom we hope God to whom we must turn God in whom we must trust for the salvation of the world his world.

The 2nd week of Advent opened with the crashing chords from Handels Messiah!   The Lord whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple...we feel the stirrings of anticipation..."

Sandra then spoke of John the Baptist who was given the job of announcing the coming of the Lord and as we hear in the Messiah, making the way straight for the coming of the Lord.

She asked if we were beginning to feel the music. I was, and the Peace and the Joy, the themes of the next two weeks of Advent.

"To-day as we reflect upon the nature of our hope, see through the shallowness of the kind of peace the world offers and feel our souls begin to sing for joy, we are brought to our knees at the  unexpectedness of lovefor today in Advent 4 the music bursts out of one ordinary young, unmarried, pregnant woman and from her heart and soul comes one of the most treasured songs in all of scripture:- Mary's Song of Praise or as many of us know it, The Magnificat. Sandra spoke to Mary in response opening up the story of Jesus and what his coming meant for Mary, Jesus and the world. How dangerous it was and would be. How disturbing Jesus would be. And how we want to be part of that disturbing, dangerous, joyful song.

"So sing, Mary.  Go right ahead and sing.  Despite the risk, Despite the danger despite of all that is yet to come.  Despite the pain.   Sing, Mary.  And lead us in your song."    Amen.

SONG TiS 161:
Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord. It was as though the congregation had been waiting to tell the world as we stood and sang with full hearts and voice, constrained to do justice  the words we were singing.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE A quiet time while each of us searched our hearts and minds.

As people of every generation prepare for the birth of a newborn child into their lives, so we too O God would prepare for your coming: We bring today our prayers for your world. You laboured and brought forth the earth and all its goodness. Help us to cherish all that you have made. May your new life in us be brought to birth in justice and righteousness, that the earth may be set free from destruction and death, and all your people live in freedom, safety and peace. You brought the church into being and commissioned us to bear your love to the world. Help us to be faithful to our calling. May be feel the stirrings of new life within us, as we wait in joyful expectation of the mystery of your coming help us to proclaim your glory to the world. At your birth there was no room for you with the rich and powerful, and so you came to the lowest and the poorest; help us to find room in our hearts for the lonely and the forgotten; the sick and all who suffer.  Show us how to be your presence in transforming their grief, despair and pain into new dignity, comfort and hope. Sandra then prayed for the concerns of the congregation and led us in the Lord's Prayer.

SONG TiS 276:
"Theres a light upon the mountains." By this time the congregation had heard the music and it reverberated throughout the church in the words and music of his hymn.

"Go now, to await the celebration of the coming of Christ into his world.  Find ways to lift up the lowly, and fill the hungry with good things.  Let your soul magnify the Lord and your spirit rejoice in God your Saviour.

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you, and remain with you always.  Amen."

TiS 779 May the feet of God walk with you. An opportunity for us to offer God's help to our neighbours.


© 2015 by Sandra Batey

Monday, 14 December 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 13th December, 2015

Call to Worship  
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The king of Israel, the Lord is in your midst.
You shall fear disaster no more.
The Lord, your God is in your midst,
He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love.
(Based on Zephaniah 3: 14-17)

Hymn  TiS 210                       “O for a thousand tongues to sing”
When one of Charles Wesley’s 6,500 hymns appears on the Hymn Board and on the screen, we all stand a little taller and draw in a deeper breath before we begin to sing.  With Andrew’s encouragement from the organ we did our best to sound like a choir of 1,000 singing God’s praise.
Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving:  Jan told us that because God is in our midst, we should use his strength, trust him without fear or worry about anything; be filled with expectation and hope and let our gentleness - given through God’s strength be known to everyone.
Prayers of Confession & Words of Assurance:  Jan prayed and asked our forgiving God to hear our confessions of our failure to love and trust and follow His way to peace - as we seek forgiveness for fighting and worrying because Love is our true calling and birthright.    We heard with thanks that our sins are forgiven.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Advent Candlelighting: May and Joan relit the candles of Expectation and Hope and then told us about the candle of Joy as they lit today’s third Advent candle.


Children’s Message:  Jan followed the theme of the last three weeks in using a globe of the world to take us to a place where the Christmas Bowl donations will be used to provide basic needs to those in peril.  We “travelled” to Burma and heard about young children being taken from their families and trained as soldiers or being put in goal.  We also watched a short video about the important work that will be done through our gifts of money.  Jan reminded us it is not really about the money – it is the people that matter and the Christmas Bowl helps us to support God’s work.  

Offering / Prayer:  Carolyn and Colin helped the children with the offering and Jan’s prayer noted our thanks and gratitude for all the good things we have in our lives.

Hymn TiS 303                        “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
It’s always a good day when we can song two Charles Wesley hymns and it really begins to feel like Christmas when we sing this Christmas Carol in the church service.
Bible Reading:                      Isaiah 12: 1-5   Page 513        Luke 3: 7-18   Page 780
Dan read the Bible passages from Isaiah and Luke this morning.  The passage from Isaiah is about praise and joy and thanks for refuge and deliverance.  “And so you shall draw water with joy from the springs of deliverance.” The words from Luke were more harsh and insisted on proof of repentance and a “price to pay” for their baptism by John.   

Reflection:                             “Be transformed from the well of God’s salvation”
Jan began her reflection by painting a word picture of her own Australian garden where native birds visit to drink and splash in a bird bath installed many years ago.  She went on to wonder how hard it is for these birds and the possums, rabbits and visiting bandicoots to find reliable life-giving water every day.  We were reminded that, as city dwellers, we can sometimes take water for granted, but for our Australian farmers it is a constant struggle to water the crops and animals that are ultimately what we rely upon for our sustenance. 
Jan told us that reading about the wells of salvation in Isaiah during the week had reminded her of the strength and commitment of the women in 3rd world countries like Tanzania, where she was a teacher many years ago.  These women walk many kilometres every day with large bowls of water balanced on their heads.  They bring this life-giving water from wells, so they can care for their families. 
“The image of water is used in many places in the Bible because it is so essential to life.  In Isaiah 12 in today’s reading, we hear of God’s salvation as being like a well, which we draw from deep down in the ground, to give us water which is life giving.”  Like Jan, I had not really thought much about salvation as being like a well so I really appreciated her thoughts when she said; “What a beautiful image of clean fresh water, deep down being drawn on for life and vitality, to quench thirst, to clean, to cook with and to renew life.”  “Water from the well can revive us again and again throughout the day.”  Perhaps this is a bit like drawing in a deep breath, smiling and renewing your resolve when things get tough.
Isaiah 12: verse 2: “Surely God is my salvation, I will trust and will not be afraid, for the Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.”  After reading this verse, Jan went on; “This will make us thankful even when things may get difficult, for we know God had done great things for us and promises to be with us at all times.  As water transforms a dry dusty area to one that is full of plant life, growth and fruit, so God’s Spirit brings about true joy and hope as we allow God’s salvation to impact on our inner being.  Like the well in the centre of the city, so God is in our lives and seeks to be in the communities in which we live, as we share and remind them that God is real.”  Sometimes we withdraw and choose not to enter the centre of the city and share our joy and our love and our possessions.  Then it is time to take a draught from the well of salvation!

Jan reinforced the “water theme” in her reflections on the preaching of John the Baptist and presented the idea of being fully renewed and cleaned with the baptism washing away the old life to bring new lives of sharing, giving and holiness. Jan reminded us; “John’s message to us today is to be transformed by the work of God within us, that the wells of God’s salvation which would come most fully in Jesus, are always there for us to draw on and create renewal and life for us in powerful ways that bring hope and joy.  John came to point us to Jesus Christ, who would come to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire, one who is more powerful than himself.  It is through the power of Jesus in us that we can draw on the deep wells of love, grace and forgiveness which God’s salvation brings.  We can be transformed from within, to be the people who God wants us to be, as we accept Jesus’ power into our life.  It is only as we come to drink again and again that we find new life in God.  May we find the joy that wells up within us for life and communion with our Saviour and Lord.  At this Advent time, may we praise him for the love and joy his life in our midst brings us.”  Amen.
Hymn TiS 270                        “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry”
Charles Coffin was born at Buzaney in France in 1676 and died 1749.  He was principal of the college at Beauvais in 1712 and was rector of the University of Paris in 1718. Many of his Latin poems were translated and became much loved hymns. The words of this hymn are a joyful heralding of the coming of Jesus and what this will represent.  I sang and watched the candles of expectation, hope and joy as they flickered these special messages to take home with us today. 
Prayers of the People:  These prayers were led by Jan for people and situations throughout the world.  She prayed for people whose situations we understand and for God to give us an understanding of ways we can help in situations as yet beyond our personal comprehension.  We prayed for the people we know and for those who are sad this Christmas and for safe travel for those taking a journey at Christmas time. We shared the Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TiS 52                          “Let us sing to the God of Salvation”   
Richard Thomas Bewes was born in Kenya and lived there as the son of parents who served as missionaries.  His secondary education in England was completed at Ridley Hall Theological College, Cambridge.  After his retirement as Rector of All Souls, London, his services to the Church of England brought him the recognition of the Queen when he was awarded an OBE in 2005.  This particular hymn is just full of joyful praise, worship and thanksgiving and is based on Psalm 95.
Blessing    Jan sent us out into the new week with “Our strong and gentle God to go with us” and to “Share freely all that we have and to be instruments of peace in a frightened world” Amen.

Blessing Song: TiS 781       “Father Bless us as we go” 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 6 December 2015

Call to worship

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

Who has come to his people and set them free.

To show mercy to our forebears,

And to remember Gods holy covenant.

We are free to worship God without fear,

Holy and righteous before God all the days of our life.

(Adapted from Luke 1 -Song of Zechariah)

SIS 587 Make way, make way for Christ the King Graham Kendrick. Make way for him who changed everything forever, which could only happen because people welcomed him into their lives

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving A prayer thanking God for sending Jesus into the world, revealing his nature and will to us. He showed God's truth, and by the Holy Spirit, we are strengthened for life's journey. You are God and we praise you. Amen

Prayer of Confession Holy and awesome God, you have done all that is necessary for salvation. You lift us up, you enable us, and in Christ, you allow us to be victors over temptation. Forgive us if we seem ungrateful. We admit that we are unworthy of your goodness to us. Forgive us and make us new, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Words of Assurance Christ is God's pledge of salvation. Let us celebrate the freedom won for us. Thank be to God. Amen

Thanks be to God.

Advent Candlelighting- Jan & Joan lit the second Advent candle, the Candle of Hope symbolizing the hope Jesus brings to the world.

Christmas bowl - Zimbabwe Jan reminded us that we are supporting the farmers in southern province who need support in providing food for the population.

HymnTIS 533 I come with joy to meet my Lord The love that made us, made us one. Bound together, we will go our different ways to live and speak his praise.

Communion  1 Corinthians 11: 23 "For I received from the Lord what I also handed onto you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when  he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."

I always find this service almost overwhelming in the impact it makes upon me. The sense of oneness with God and with my fellow worshippers is so deep.

Bible Readings Delivered by Warwick. Malachi 3:1-4 These words must have brought great hope to those Jews who had been faithful to God but who despaired at the lack of faithfulness among other Jews and among the Priesthood, . ​​​

Luke 1: 68-79. Luke 3:1-6 The announcement of the birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah's song of praise. Then the beginning of John's ministry, announcing the coming of Jesus. Then the world changed.

Sermon- Preparing the way for Jesus coming- how are we getting ready? Jan introduced her message with a reminder of the sorts of preparations that are made for visits by VIPs. She went on to tell of the preparations that were made for the coming of Jesus. In Malachi we hear of how the rebuilding of the second Temple had not fulfilled the expectations of everyone and much was still amiss among the people and the priests, in terms of their worship of God and obedience to the law.

In the middle of this, God promises a messenger. This messenger was to prepare the way of the Lord. "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap" both of which had the function of cleansing and purifying. We are all probably aware of John's special birth and his different lifestyle and strong ministry, which was foretold in the Song of Zachariah, part of which says "...to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke1: 77&79.

"There are always such great hopes and dreams for each new life that begins, that we can pray for each one of us to fulfill the role and purpose God has in mind for us...". John's baptism was a call to repentance and forgiveness, a sign of what Jesus would accomplish through his  "teaching, his example and ultimately by his death and resurrection."

"John the Baptist proclaimed a message of repentance and forgiveness", this now being available to us through God's great love, and laying upon us the responsibility to proclaim that message to others, through actions and words.

Christmas is a time we can show this love in many ways. How can we share the gifts of hope, peace, love and joy?

Hymn TIS 636 God has spoken to his people, hallelujah Every reason to praise him. He has reached out to us, offering us a life of wholeness.

Offering Of God's great blessings to us we offer back a little to aid in his work in the community.

Musical interlude before prayer when we reflect on our private concerns.

Prayers of Intercession Grahame asked us, at this time, to reflect upon the transformational impact of the birth of Jesus and prayed that the good news of joy will be known to all facing injustice. He prayed that all will know peace and asked for God's hand on TEAR partners in Asia and Africa. He prayed for all fleeing persecution and violence and pleaded for just government policies. He then turned to the concerns of the congregation and asked for God's blessing on Jan and the church leadership and on Max as he leaves us to join a new church.

Hymn TIS 272 Come thou long expected Jesus

Blessing The blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you, always.

Blessing song TIS 778 Shalom to you now

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 29 November 2015


At this beginning of Advent, Jan welcomed us, God's people to worship and celebrate the coming of Jesus.

Call to Worship

We wait with joy for the Lord's coming,

In you O God we put our hope and trust.

The Lord who offers love and forgiveness,

The one whose power can move mountains and calm the sea,

We put our hope in you.

Our God who heals and cares for the poor and homeless,

In you O God, we put our hope and trust.

Hymn TIS 265 "O come, O come, Emmanuel."  As we welcome Jesus into the world with this hymn, I think of how we welcome him daily into our lives, to grace our thinking and feeling as we reach out to those around us offering God's love.

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving Jan prayed for us, speaking of how Advent is a time of promises and possibilities, when all sorts of things and all types of people are ready to flower, ready to emerge. For this we will wait and watch prayerfully expectant. It occurred to me that there are times when we fail to turn to God and ask for his guidance and creativity in our lives. It was for this neglect that Jan asked forgiveness and declared that because of God's grace that forgiveness is ours.

We responded Thanks be to God.

Our other Jan, then explained the origin of the lighting of the Advent Candles and referred to other symbols of Christmas such as Christmas bush.

Alexis then lit the Candle of Expectation.

For my family, this is the time when we write a Christmas letter, sharing with friends and family all the blessings God has bestowed upon us in the past year and for which we are grateful. 

The Announcements followed, including one about the time of fellowship that would follow the service during the Friendship Circle Morning Tea and also one about having raised approximately $2400 in the Lamington Drive. Well done everyone!

During the Offering the Men's  Group sang, reminding us that all of us have been given talents we can offer to God's service.

We then sang Hymn TIS 164 "The great love of God, is revealed in the Son" This Son came to this Earth to redeem each one of us and by flowing through us lightens burdens and creates new people, fit to show God to the world. 

Readings: Brought to us by Stephen: Jeremiah 33: 22-16 "This is the word of the Lord." God promised that "this place of waste" would by God's power "be pasture for shepherds resting their flocks." God is about healing and restoration. Our country. Our city. Us. The planet. All Creation.

Luke 21: 25-36. The Evangelist tells his listeners that just as we know when summer is upon us that we will know when the Kingdom is coming. For me that is now, evidenced by people rising up against injustice to others and to the planet. I'm not expecting extraordinary events but simply people choosing God's way to make a kingdom operating according to his will! Evil only prevails for so long before God raises up leaders to reverse its effects.

Sermon Jan spoke on the theme of "Keep travelling with Jesus, seeing the signs of his coming." Jan focussed our attention on today being the beginning of the Church Year, when we start preparing for the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus and that we are the Church of Jesus.

Alluding to the reading, Jan spoke of the various signs of the changing season, which led on to thinking about the many predictions of the coming of Jesus in the Old Testament. The Jeremiah reading refers to a time when the cream of the Jewish people had been taken into exile and the Temple had been destroyed. They thought God had deserted them but they came to realise that God was with them...always...with or without a Temple. Similarly, we can worship God wherever we are (not just in church or in our daily devotions) but in and through our daily activities.

The Jewish people had to wait while God did his work among them before they had their land returned to them. We may have to wait too, while God carries out his plan for us, whatever is going on around us, God holds us close.

We keep on travelling because we know God has given us work to do but we can only do that work through his love and grace flowing through us. "It is only as we enter into a relationship with God through Jesus, that we find the power to change and we then allow God to give us forgiveness and peace." And then: "As God works in us, we can help bring about God's justice and righteousness into the world."

So, with another Advent "Let us draw near to God, trust God's promises and keep travelling with Jesus into this new time of seeing what God is and will do to keep bringing hope, peace, joy and love into the world." Amen.

As One Voice Bk 2 No. 3 "Christ be our Light" Longing for light, we wait in darkness. Longing for truth we turn to you. Make us your own, your own holy people, light for the world to see. We humans long for what is missing. The greatest discovery we can make is that that longing can only be met by God.

Musical Interlude A time for private prayer and contemplation.

Prayers for the People Ruth led us in prayer to out Almighty God and Creator, offering worship to him, our Heavenly Father, thanking him for his grace and mercy and expressing our expectation for the coming celebrations of Jesus' coming to be one of us. She prayed for all those in harsh circumstances, asking that they be given comfort by the Prince of Peace. She then prayed for those known to members of the congregation and for the leadership of MRUC, after which we joined in The Lord's Prayer

Hymn TIS 272 "Come thou long expected Jesus." "Let us find our rest in thee...joy of every longing heart...now thy gracious Kingdom bring...raise us to thy glorious throne." Enough said.

Blessing The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always.

For You the Deep Stillness

For you, deep stillness of the silent inland

For you, deep blue of the desert skies

For you, flame red of the rocks and stones

For you, sweet water from hidden springs.

From the edges seek the heartlands

and when you're burnt by the journey

may the cool winds of the hovering Spirit

soothe and replenish you.

In the name of Christ,

In the name of Christ.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 15 November 2015

This service was my offering and therefore I am going to try to share as much as I can with you.

Call to Worship.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;

they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baka,

they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

till each appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84


Jesus said: 'Come unto me all that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11: 28-30

Hymn TIS 231 "At the name of Jesus" (all hymns: Lyn)

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving

Our God of all, who is our east and west, our height and depth, we thank you that you are the constant in our lives.

When everything else seems to be confused, we can depend on your faithfulness to us. When life seems to be throwing up insoluble problems, we can depend on you for guidance.

We thank you for the bountiful gifts of goodness you shower upon us: the enlivening sight of blue sky, the freedom in the smell of wet grass, and the comfort of a caring hand in ours.

We give thanks for that warm gladness that comes upon us when we are in the company of other believers, secure in the knowledge that you are with us.

We praise you for your goodness that saves us and this world from its path of destruction and we praise you for your creative power that stirs our inner life and infuses us with joy.

We praise you for your healing touch that can mend and restore broken lives but most of all we thank and praise you for choosing to walk with us, transforming such ordinariness into lives of abundance through your grace. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

"Lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3: 5&6

We have seen the example you have given to us in Jesus, who has shown us what human life can be like and in that is our hope.

We mean to follow that example, Lord, glorifying your name, but in the rush of everyday life, how often we look to our own so-called wisdom. We know better, Lord, and experience tells us that our way always fails us, but we persist and only turn to you when everything else doesn't work. There are words that we have said for which we are sorry. There are actions which we have taken for which we are sorry but most of all, we are so very sorry for the hurt we have caused. Forgive us, teach us, remind us, help us build paths of truth by relying on your grace. Lead us into your presence, that we may know your will and live accordingly, for we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Words of Assurance

Hear then God's words of grace to us: Our sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn TIS 272 "Come thou long expected Jesus"

Prayer for Illumination
O God, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit,

That as the scriptures are read and your word is proclaimed, we may hear what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Bible Readings: Psalm 16; Mark 13: 1-8 Malcolm.

Sermon.  My reflection focussed on the reading from Mark and his purpose in encouraging the Roman Christians who were facing the first of the brutal persecution. I pointed out that Jesus predicted violent opposition and that Mark was assuring the Roman Christians that they were right in still following Jesus.
I then pointed out that modern leaders, Christian and otherwise, had been assassinated for defending just causes and while we may not have to die for our faith we may suffer in other ways. And our reward? To see this I turned to the Psalmist whose confidence in God's continued blessing and whose confidence in God being the only source of good gives us a firm foundation for trusting God utterly. Amen and Amen.

Hymn TIS 589  "Jesus calls us o'er the tumult"

Prayers of Intercession and The Lord's Prayer Here we placed ourselves in God's presence and expressed our gratitude for the outpouring of his spirit upon us. We referred to the recent terrible events and asked God's hand on all those suffering people. We prayed for God's Church and its leaders that they be given strength and wisdom in these times when so many need encouragement. We prayed for those living in rural areas and asked that their special needs be met and for those known personally to us and then joined in The Lord's Prayer

Hymn TIS 105 "Let all the world in every corner sing"

Blessing Margaret - Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Sung Blessing TIS Hymn 778 Shalom.