Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Marsden Road Unitng Church 28 June 2015

Today Tara led our service. I was not able to be present but I have read the full text and have been overwhelmed by the power of the message carried in each section of the service. Rather than tamper with the message of all the parts to reduce the blog to the usual two pages, I have simply copied the sermon. Let your imagination colour in the missing parts - declarations, prayers of praise and confession, words of assurance and all the hymns, which convey God's voice as effectively as the sermon.

Readings: Ephesians 2: 19-22, Matthew 28: 16 - 20

Sermon: Pilgrims on a Journey

Our first reading is set down to be read in this year on the anniversary of the inauguration of the Uniting Church the gospel however comes from the first Assembly of the UCA, the first President, Davis McCaughey, used this as his text for the inaugural address.

Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nationsand I am with you always, to the close of the age". Jesus' last statement recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew became the basis of the first sermon preached in the Uniting Church. In this remarkable sermon, Dr McCaughey began by speaking of the authority of Jesus. To quote,

"This is a claim not simply for your allegiance and mine. It is an assertion about the nature and manner of the God who reigns in human history."

What a good reminder that is to not get too caught up in our local circumstances. There is a big picture -  we have been charged by Jesus to Go Forthand make disciples. To be people in the world.

The inauguration sermon goes on to discuss the way Matthew links the Exalted Christ with the mission of the church. It states,

"the first thing is that we should hear the word of the risen Christ about himself, the second is that we should hear afresh the call [to] the church to go out into the world on his distinctive mission.

McCaughey then considers that part of Christ's command which says, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." He comments:

"To say what it means for our day requires intellectual discipline and spiritual vigour. In this Uniting Church in Australia we enter into a tradition, catholic, reformed, evangelical, in which those who have gone before have not been afraid to confront the world with rigorous thought and spiritual commitment."

It has been said that in that statement alone there are all sorts of implications. Just one of the implications is that surely we are commanded to ground people firmly in the faith. We can never be content with a vague, wishy-washy feel-good spirituality. Our task is not to be nice to people in the hope that they might accept our invitation to "come to church"; our task is nothing less than to initiate people in the kingdom of God. We proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit in making disciples, not because we are concerned about institutional decline, not because we are nostalgic for the great days of the 1950s, not because it would be nice to have more young people in the church, but simply because Christ commands it - and we dare do nothing less. That is both a serious task, and a joyous responsibility.

For our forebears the road to Union was long they prayed and pondered and wrestled and reflected on just what basis Christ was calling his church together and how the church would articulate and reflect this calling. At the time of Union there was excitement joy and an expectation that God was doing a new thing in the church.

There was a boldness in this church -  at its inaugural assembly  we made a statement to the nation and in part it read:

We, who are members of the First Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia address the people of Australia in this historic moment. The path to unity has been long and at times difficult, but we believe unity is a sign of the reconciliation we seek for the whole human race.

We affirm that the first allegiance of Christians is God, under whose judgment the policy and action of all nations must pass.

We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere - the family of One God - the God made known in Jesus of Nazareth the One who gave his life for others".

There was a boldness and a definite view of who we are and the direction in which God was calling. This boldness is found in that tremendous document the Basis of Union.

We are revisiting part of it today as a reminder of who we are in the Uniting Church.

At the very beginning it recognises that the three uniting denominations are seeking to bear witness to that unity which is both Christs gift and his will for the Church, hereby enter into union under the name of the Uniting Church in Australia. 

They pray that this act may be to the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

They praise God for his gifts of grace to each of them in years past; they acknowledge that none of them has responded to Gods love with a full obedience; they look for a continuing renewal in which God will use their common worship, witness and service to set forth the word of salvation for all people.

To this end they declare their readiness to go forward together in sole loyalty to Christ the living Head of the Church; they remain open to constant reform under his Word;

and they seek a wider unity in the power of the Holy Spirit

This first paragraph is not something trapped into a time of the past it is as meaningful today as it ever was. It continues to say that our precedents commit their members to acknowledge one another in love and joy as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, to hear anew the commission of the Risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, and daily to seek to obey his will.

And then that the church of God is committed to serve the world for which Christ died, and that she awaits with hope the day of the Lord Jesus Christ on which it will be clear that the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.

So there we have it as the church we have a large task ahead of us to serve the world for which Christ died and to await with hope the day of the Lord Jesus.

This week I have completed the Resource Ministry training where we explored what church looks like today and how we might fulfil that calling. Today the church is in a very different place to what it was 38 years ago. Like other denominations we struggle to attract younger members and resourcing is diminished.

The church of today needs to explore better equipping of lay people enabling them to identify and use their gifts. As we relate to the wider community we look for partnerships to engage with people so together we can connect with areas of need.   

This may sound difficult but the wider society needs the church just as much as we need them.

The Basis of Union reminds us  Why the church exists?

This is not a simple answer it is two fold one relating to the being of the church and the other to its function.

The being of the church: Identity in the action of God the church only exists because God through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit calls it into being.  Our forbears put it this way in the fourth paragraph:

the Church is able to live and endure through the changes of history only because her Lord comes, addresses, and deals with people in and through the news of his completed work.

Then they further affirmed in the fourteenth paragraph:

Since the Church lives by the power of the Word, she is assured that God, who has never left himself without witness to that Word, will, through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, call and set apart members of the Church to be ministers of the Word.[para 14a]

And succinctly answering why the church exists?   Through human witness in word and action, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ reaches out to command attention and awaken faith; he calls people into the fellowship of his sufferings, to be the disciples of a crucified Lord; in his own strange way he constitutes, rules and renews them as his Church. [para 4]

We exist as a church because we are a New Testament people who with the apostles and all the saints know ourselves to be living between the time of Christs death and resurrection and the final consummation of all things which Christ will bring; the Church is a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal; here the Church does not have a continuing city but seeks one to come. On the way Christ feeds the Church with Word and Sacraments, and it has the gift of the Spirit in order that it may not lose the way.

We are a pilgrim people, on a journey not alone but with God and each other. As pilgrims in the Uniting church we have a commitment not just to walking the path but also to living out our faith we uphold reconciliation between peoples and with God.

As pilgrims disciples we also reach out to the needy, lift up the broken hearted and seek to reflect Gods love and grace in the world.

I dont know this congregation but I have no doubt that you are keen to be faithful disciples. I can see that you are pilgrims who look to the nourishment that comes from Gods word. Margaret (and Joan) puts together a blog from the service each week so that those who are not physically present may be fed too.

On the anniversary there is much more that could be said, for me what will remain at the heart of our celebrating is to remember to walk with others so that we never walk alone. I hope that all who follow us in this church will look to us and find that we were faithful disciples and pilgrims adapting to a new age. May we not loose site of the command to go into the world, to make disciples remembering that Jesus is with us to the end of the age.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 21st June 2015

Call to Worship  In the Call to Worship, Sandra reminded us of the amazing truth that God chooses to befriend small human beings like us - and prayed that we will be given Grace to glorify God in every part of our life and our being.

Hymn  TiS 100                       “All creatures of our God and King”
William Henry Draper translated and paraphrased a poem based on Psalm 148 and written by St Francis of Assisi in 1225.  William Draper was a Church of England Minister near Leeds and probably wrote this hymn between 1899 and 1919.  As we sang the Alleluias and our voices, with the music of the piano and the organ rose to fill the space – the words of the call to worship resonated – and perhaps I was not the only one who thought – if we life our life with Alleluias we can fill the world with God’s Love.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving:  In these prayers, Sandra reminded us that we have so much to be grateful for and that we need only to read or listen to the news to realize how much of a struggle everything in life is for so many people in the world.  We praised God that we have “the opportunity to be agents of love to those people we encounter in our little corner of the world.”  
Prayers of Confession & Words of Assurance:  Sandra prayed for our forgiveness when we try to hide from God – even when we need Him the most.  Sometimes we blame God instead of listening for His reassurance and it is then; “we need to be calm to receive the strength you give to each of us at the point of our deepest need.”    We were assured of God’s forgiveness if we confess our sins and hear God’s words of Grace.

Announcements:  We were updated on the final amount raised for Frontier Services by our enthusiastic lamington makers.  We were invited to help to lift the living standards in Third World countries through providing opportunities for education, by attending the “Simply Sharing Tea” on Sunday 12th July at 6.00 pm.  

Children’s Message  Sandra certainly gained the attention of the children with her lively “fishing story” taken from a real life fishing expedition with her father.  Although terrified, she finally listened to her father whose careful instructions helped her to save the boat from being swept away with the current.  “Life is a boat and we are all in it together and what happens – happens to all of us together.”  The children will have understood that clear message – to listen for God and he will show you the way.  

Offering / Prayer:  Val and Pat were our stewards this morning and were helped by two dear little girls who held the offering plates up for Sandra to bless as they exchanged a “secret” look of shared achievement.     Chris and Chrisanthi then took the children out to Sunday Kids.

Hymn TiS 711                        “Lead us Heavenly Father Lead Us”
Of the almost 2,000 hymns written by James Edmeston, this is the one that is probably known and loved the most.  It does have a quiet calm and hopefulness to help us face the storms of life and many of his other hymns reflect such an understanding of life.  James Edmeston was born in 1791 and was educated as an architect and surveyor, and continued to work at his profession until his death in 1867. 

Bible Reading:                      Mark 4: 35-41  (page 760 in the New English Bible) Colin read to us from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible this morning.  We all know the essence of this familiar story presented under the title, “Jesus calms a storm”.  But have we ever considered being in a boat as a metaphor for life as Sandra suggested to the children?

Reflection:                             “All in the same Boat”

Sandra suggested we close our eyes and think; “About the ‘boat that you are metaphorically in’ here in this place today – this building, this Church, this congregation.”  How many decades have some of us been meeting here – yet do we understand that we are invited here by Jesus to try and discover what the Kingdom of God should look like – so we can be His people – His disciples?  Maybe, like the crowds of people who were described in today’s reading and the earlier chapters of Mark’s Gospel, it is we who are tiring Jesus to the point of exhaustion!  It was Jesus who asked to be rowed to the other side of the lake and he was so tired he fell asleep but his disciples did not hesitate to wake him up and accuse him of not caring and letting them drown.  

I wonder if we find it hard to answer the challenging question Sandra asked of us.  “How many times in life are we so concerned about the safety of our own little boat into which we thought we had invited Jesus – when in fact he had invited himself – do we accuse him of not caring enough about us?   Of being totally unaware of what life has thrown at us?   Of leaving us to sink or swim without offering us even the smallest lifeline?  How many times have people apparently abandoned their faith when the boat they had carefully constructed and maintained appears to be sinking?”

Sandra referred to the famous Holman Hunt painting which shows Jesus knocking on a door that is almost invisible in the tangle of vines and weeds.  Do we hide from Jesus and are we so keen to exercise our individuality in this society that talks of the empowerment of the individual, that there is, as Sandra suggested; “A temptation to think the initiative rests with us as to whether we seek out God or not.”

In the story of Jonah who was  fleeing from God, he paid to escape on a ship which subsequently ran into a severe storm which threatened the lives of all onboard and Jonah asked to be thrown from the boat so calm could be restored.  Sandra reminded us of this - before asking the challenging question: “Do we in our times of trouble want to throw Jesus overboard because of his apparent unconcern for our fears?”

 I really appreciated the emphasis Sandra gave to the presence of the other boats and the notion that; “Jesus knew – and even though he was not apparently in their boats – they were indeed “with him”.  I also appreciated the opportunity that she presented for us to think laterally and accept the challenges presented in today’s reading by applying it to our own lives and also to the Uniting Church.  Sandra called the Uniting Church a “Vessel which set sail some 39 years ago – launched after, some 50 years of planning and discussion – and yet - which today appears to be facing storms which are causing many to question the structure of the vessel itself.”  Perhaps as Sandra suggested we should ask some hard questions like; “Who is in the boat, and who perhaps like Jonah should be thrown overboard?”  “Is Jesus in fact still in the boat?”   I like the idea of looking closely at the way our own lives and our own moral compass reflect the word of God rather than our lives being overwhelmed by man-made “rules” – even those of well intended Church Leaders.  I will think hard about Sandra’s final question; “Which boat are you in? And who is in it with you?”  AMEN.

Hymn TiS 674                        “Inspired by Love and Anger”
John Lamberton Bell is a Minister of the Church of Scotland and is a modern hymn writer who belongs to the Iona Community.  Some of his hymns, like this one, really throw out a challenge to us as we sing and take notice of the message. 
God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach? 
And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?   
And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know? 
And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?”

Prayers of the People:  Today Sandra led these prayers and began by reminding us of the way God rescues people and of the way His love for people never ends.  Our prayers included all who grieve and we were reminded there are so many different ways and reasons to grieve.  Even while we are still sad we can offer forgiveness, as the good people in the American Church where the terrible tragedy happened this week, are beginning to forgive.  We prayed for those who suffer from mental illness and those who are engulfed in misery and for those people we know and for people and churches throughout the world.   Then we shared in the much loved Lord’s Prayer.

Hymn TiS 431                        “Thanks to God whose words were spoken”  
This hymn written by Reginald T Brooks in 1954 was inspired by John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  I like the way the tense changes in the last verse and “God has spoke; God has spoken” becomes; “God is speaking; God is speaking.”  What a timely reminder for us to take away from the service so we can listen for God so he can show us the way.

Blessing    Sandra exhorted us to go forth into the world with Peace to overcome the storms of life and to share the Blessings of our risen Christ.   Amen.

Blessing Song TiS 779:       “May the feet of God walk with you.”

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 14 June 2015

Respect for Seniors Week

Welcome Jan welcomed us to the service, the theme of which was caring for and respecting seniors

Call to worship

The Lord answers you in the day of trouble

The name of the God of Jacob protects you

May he grant you your hearts desire;

And fulfil all your plans.

May we celebrate with joy the victory of God

In the name of God set up our banners.

Let us worship God together, in songs of praise.

Hymn TIS 137 For the beauty of the earth. We sang this song of praise for all the gifts God bestows upon us. It is really easy to forget that He is the author of everything we enjoy in our lives. We are inclined to write them off as naturally occurring as though God didn't have anything to do with them or we may think that some person is being very gracious to us, forgetting that it is God working through them.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving
Jan led us in thanking our Creator God who provides for us beyond any fullness of our expectations. She gave thanks for this world that resounds with his glories and for the dream of a human community living in love and peace. She gave thanks for the Divine Life lived in us and confessed our deep regret that we have deluded ourselves and as a result have betrayed God's hopes for us. For this she begged forgiveness and the chance of a new day to do God's work in this world which is lost in emptiness and silent in the face of injustice. She asked again for forgiveness and the grace to remember our calling.

Words of assurance In God through Jesus Christ we are now forgiven and offered a new beginning. Amen and again Amen.

Announcement A most important announcement was that Pat has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal. Well deserved. Congratulations Pat. It was fitting then that Pat announced the final figures for the Lamington Drive - $2187.58. Congratulations everyone concerned. These funds will go to Frontier Services to help in that excellent work.

Childrens talk Jan drew attention to the purple stole she was wearing which  symbolised  the theme of thinking about older citizens. She told the children that today we were thinking about the older people in our community. We were reminding ourselves of the care and respect we should give seniors and that they might have some knowledge younger people could use.

Hymn "Lord of the years Thanking God for his care and guidance through all the years from infancy to older age. Thanking him for everything that enters our lives to guide us on our way, provided by his generosity.

Bible Readings- Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 and Mark 12: 28 - 34 were read by Jack. If you are a fan of Pete Seeger or The Seekers you will know the Ecclesiastes passage well. It provided the lyrics for Seeger's Turn, Turn, Turn which became a worldwide hit because it resonates so well with human experience. Life has its seasons. It is a rare person who doesn't experience all of them.

Sermon- Our times and seasons- the giftedness of our ageing and showing respect.

Jan began by reminding us of well known phrases about time: I haven't got time to do this! The years just seem to go by so quickly and go faster as we get older! Time is of the essence! It was the best of times and the worst of times! The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near! His time had not yet come!

Our lives are marked out by time. Jan referred to a way of marking out the year. In the Church we are in the season of Pentecost, in Winter looking forward to Spring, sometimes called Ordinary time.

Having referred to the pressure of modern living, Jan reminded us of the song "Turn Turn Turn" based on Ecclesiastes which reflected on the inevitability of the experiences each of us encounter in life. The songwriter was focused on the Vietnam War and his view that it was time for it to be over.

Jan then turned her attention to why we stumble when we begin to ponder the meaning of time. It is that our time is limited. Human life is finite and so we grapple to make a positive contribution. She then spoke to those present, celebrating their giftedness and the blessing their lives have brought.

It takes much wisdom to know the right time to act. But Ecclesiastes says it takes greater wisdom to face facts, to accept our finite and creaturely status. Jan then directed us to scripture including Paul's "When the right time had come, God sent his son...in order that we might receive adoption as children. (Gal 4:4). Jan went on to explain the relevance of the reading from Mark and ideas coming from that but space has restricted how much can be recorded.

She completed the sermon by telling us "Time is God's gift to us...Wherever life takes you in ordinary time, the seasons of your life are held in God's hands...."

Hymn TIS 547 Be thou my vision. A reflection on the Ecclesiastes passage, looking to God who provides everything we need in all areas of our being. Life is a complex business and only the creator knows the safe passage through.

Offering Thanks and praise was given for all the years and the many blessings. Gratitude was expressed for all our gifts, love and grace, showered upon us. Jan prayed that the offering would be used in love for neighbours near and far.

Musical interlude played while we thought on our private needs - our own and those close to our hearts.

Prayers of Intercession- Dan's prayer referred, as through the rest of the service, to the theme of the seasons of ours lives, acknowledging God's place as the source of all we need and his faithfulness in every moment from beginning to end. Dan then turned his attention to the needs of the people known to the congregation and then we joined in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 154 Great is your faithfulness Picking up the theme of God's hand in all creation again, we praised God for his faithfulness for all things necessary to our lives.

Blessing. The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you,

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace. Amen.

Blessing Song -TIS 778 Shalom to you now, shalom my friends What a wonderful blessing as we left each other.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 7 June 2015

The theme of today's service was "Listening to God's Call", and that theme was evident as the service continued from the Call to Worship to the benediction. The Call to Worship provided an opportunity for the congregation to respond as one, praising, thanking and acknowledging their reliance on God's strength.

The Hymn TIS 216 "Rejoice the Lord is King" continued the response to God's greatness with the exhortation to "Rejoice" in God's power to overcome in all situations.

As Jan led the Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving we were reminded that our God is the God of all...the God of all who have been, of all who are, and of all who are to come...and that he reaches out to us in a personal way, for which we respond in gratitude.

In the Prayer of Confession Jan prayed for us, confessing that we know that discipleship demands a new way of being to other people but that we find that difficult because of our human ways. She confessed that we forget that loving God is our first priority, to seek to do that at a deeper stronger way. But then the words Hear the Words of grace reminded us that Our sins are forgiven for which we gave thanks.

A response to Listening to God's Call became action as Sylvia and Stephen obeyed that call, bringing their little boy Billie for Baptism.
As the Baptism service proceeded first Sylvia and Stephen, then the people, and the Godmother were asked for their promise to nurture Billie in his Christian journey, to which all agreed, accepting an important Call from God.

To affirm the position of Billie and all children, especially those present in the Kingdom of God, Hymn TIS 491 "Father welcomes all his children" was sung, which reminded us that because of our baptism we were set on a path of daily responding to God's Call.

Communion followed and the singing of responses during Communion and the Baptismal service added a dimension of commitment as all present added their voices to the strength of the response. 

The words of the Institute of the Sacrament reminded us of the great love that binds us to God and to each other, refocusing our commitment on God's love for us and our need to respond to the Call of that Love. As the congregation moved to the Communion rail, that response manifested itself physically as it did vocally during the singing of the responses at the beginning of The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving.
During this Prayer as Jan gave thanks for us, we were reminded of Christ's sacrifice and the implication of that for us: "Make us one with him, one with each other, and one in ministry in the world," the Lord's Prayer spelled out what had gone before and gave them time for each to pray to be made fit for that ministry.

The singing of Hymn TIS 531 "Sent forth by God's blessing" was done with gusto, a reflection of the renewal experienced in the preceding parts of the service.

Ruth brought the Bible Readings to us from Psalm 139: 1-6; 13-18 and Mark 4: 26-34 especially chosen for today's very special service. The Psalmist speaks in awe of God's knowing of his every part and every movement and of his unassailable relationship with God. The reading from Mark gives us the words of Jesus, telling the mustard seed analogy, explaining that the Kingdom can start as such a little thing but become greatness itself, encouraging even the most weak at heart, to step out to be part of that growth.


Jan drew our attention to the special nature of today's service: A Baptism and Holy Communion and pointed out that both readings were about new life and our relationship with God. Jan then pointed to the fact that both readings were about the mystery of life...how it begins and how it continues. She called our attention to the Creation of which we are stewards, but for which it is difficult to know how to act, because of the confusing plethora of information available.

The Psalmist saw God's hand at work in Creation and was in awe. Jan referred us to our ability to have some knowledge of how God brings life and nourishes it today and challenged us as to how we are responding to God's grace in our lives.

For the first time we heard Jan's singing voice as she gave us a few lines of "From little things, big things grow." She then spoke of the various nutrients needed and the time required for a crop to grow, reflecting on the similarity of our spiritual growth.

Jan then focussed on the Mustard Tree. Providing shade, food and safety for small animals, the grown Mustard tree is a bit messy. A bit like our lives sometimes. God's community is a place of nourishment and hospitality.

"Keep letting God's Spirit in, to renew and fill you, so that your life will flourish...to bring more goodness into our world."

Lynell then played a very evocative rendition of Amazing Grace while we prayed our private prayers after which Grahame led the Prayers for the People: "Holy God, Father, Mother, Parent" Grahame prayed that God would watch over us and Billie's family...and for parents worldwide that they will help, tolerate, encourage and accept differences. He prayed for teachers that they will encourage their students to explore the world around them, living the life we are given. He offered a plea that we will act in God's way to our environment and to the marginalized people of the world. He then prayed for us all. That we will be the people we are meant to be. His attention then turned to the Pupil Free Day Activity and all those involved, followed by all those in need: the sick, the suffering, the unemployed, the mentally ill, and finally for the personal concerns of the congregation.

Our final hymn was an echo of our theme of Listening to God's call.

Hymn TIS 130 "We plough the fields and scatter" It finishes with "Help us in our  thanksgiving to use your gifts with care, to serve as friends and neighbours, your children everywhere." Simple words - huge message.

Jan then pronounced the blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you,

The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you,

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace.


To seal our renewed commitment we sang Hymn TIS 781 "Father bless us as we go, Jesus walk beside us. Holy Spirit guide us."


A moving service.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 31 May 2015

Psalm 29   We viewed a video of evocative images demonstrating the printed text which was superimposed on the visual representations. God's almighty creative power shone forth reminding us that God is sufficient for anything that arises in any of our lives. Even though the most powerful imagery falls short of projecting the wonder of God, it gives us a hint points us in the right direction.

Call to Worship 

Prayer of Approach

Andrew gave thanks, making the comparison of our insignificance against God's great glory and offered out genuine gratitude for our ability to approach that glorious One. 

HYMN ​​​TIS. 132: "Holy, Holy, Holy" Holy holy holy, Lord God Almighty, Early in the morning to you our praise shall be...All your works shall praise your name in earth and sky and sea.

And all we have to do is look with receptive hearts and minds and creation's praise to its creator will fall in upon us.

Prayer of Adoration, Confession and Assurance

For us, Andrew prayed to our loving God who is everything, who is our all. To God who is beyond our understanding and who is our inspiration, we offered our worship. To this God who is more eager to forgive than we are to confess, we, through Andrew, did confess our failure to be live up to our profession of faith. We asked this God to have mercy on us and enliven us as is promised to us in scripture. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Offering A token of God's generosity to us was returned and blessed to the work of his will in the world around us.

Hymn TIS 422 "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine" Sung with gusto, reflecting the authenticity of the conviction of the members of the congregation, secure in the knowledge that their lives are in God's hand.

Bible Readings Marcia

Isaiah 6: 1 - 8 Isaiah experienced God's presence accompanied by heavenly beings in a way that pierced him to his heart and revealed his own need to him and his total inability of meeting that need himself...but God moved to cleanse him and make him fit for His service. Is his response our response? Here am I. Send me.

John 3: 1 - 17 Another reading that cuts clean through to the essence of why we follow the message of Jesus. Like Isaiah we must give up on any hope of redeeming ourself, and as this passage says, be born anew into a new life through the generous, healing hand of God.


Kaye drew our attention to the two readings which are two of the most gripping readings in the Bible and to the fact that it was Trinity Sunday. After speaking briefly about Isaiah and the mystery of the Trinity she spent the greater portion of the time on the gospel reading, walking us through it verse by verse, allowing us to be part the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. Rather than draw out the essence of the sermon myself, I am including Kaye's closing words, which deliver the crucial part of the message to us. 

Is this about my story as well, maybe your story?

Is he or are we afraid that being born from above will mean losing control?  Nicodemus liked control; he liked knowing who was righteous and who was a sinner, what to eat and what not to eat, with whom to associate and whom to label "unclean."  We like to try to stay in control of our own lives.

To him and us, Jesus' comparison of being born from above being like the action of the wind was probably a frightening one because the wind is unpredictable, wafting away items to which we have become attached and blowing in others we would not have chosen.
Being born of the Spirit is about a way of living out the life of God in the world. When we see like this, we see the connection between Jesus and God and we see God in Jesus not trying to compete for adoration in the market of miracle workers, but seeking to establish a relationship of love and community. The focus is life. The means is relationship. The motive is love.

Hymn TIS. 411 "Filled with the Spirit's Power" A prayer that the Holy Spirit will fill us and energize us as it did the early Christians that we will reach out to everyone everywhere, telling of Jesus' invitation to receive the promise of a new life. Amen.

Prayers For Others Ruth prayed for us to our Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit with grateful hearts, giving thanks for his presence as we face challenges. She prayed for peace between nations and people, that we all will learn to live lives of obedience. Ruth prayed for those that mourn; the unemployed; for Jan as she leads us and for safe travel for those away from home. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer. I'm always amazed what a difference prayer makes, and I have really no idea why. But it never fails to make a difference.

Hymn ​​TIS. 658 "Here I am Lord": This hymn is a challenge to our hesitancy and anxiety. At the same time it is an invitation to step up and step out in God's will to move closer to His kingdom come. I wonder how much we think about this pledge once we walk out the church door, when the responsibilities of everyday life take up our attention?

Commissioning and Benediction

 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.

What a lovely way to bid farewell to each other as we leave the service.