Monday, 21 September 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 30 August 2015

Call to Worship Rowena called us to worship with a poem about using the years we have to the best effect. One verse: "If we could just slow down enough / to consider what's true and real, / and always understand / the way other people feel./ and be less quick to

anger, / and show appreciation more / and love the people in our lives / like we've never loved before

Hymn: TiS 474 "Gather us in" We all have our flaws which prevent us from being complete but we are welcome here this morning to ask God to 'draw' us close in this service to mend us and heal us. It's hard to see ourselves but if we open ourselves to God's probing light we will know what we wants us to do so that we will be the people we should be.

Opening Prayer Rowena addressed our generous God whose will it is that we should be blessed with justice and peace and who is with us in all our experiences, declaring that we  know that it is God's will that all should have this blessing.

Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon Time to entrust ourselves, 'warts and all' to God's saving grace. Rowena prayed to God to forgive us when all the unimportant things distract us from our true mission. Especially when people call out for compassion, and we aren't listening. She finished by saying "Strengthen us with the Holy Spirit to be fruitful and active witnesses to Jesus in all we do and say."

Our sins are forgiven Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Tis 607 'Make me a channel of your peace' We are God's hands and mouth. Our faith should tell our family, friend and neighbours of the peace that he offers. Listen to what James has to say in the readings.

 Hymn: TiS 681 "Lord let me see" Lord let me see, hear, care, learn, and love. Let me see the person behind my prejudices and assumptions. Let me hear their needs and their joys. Let me care about and for all other people. Let me not assume I know but be open to learn. And more than anything let me love all if God's creation.

Readings: Elaine read to us from: Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23. Jesus' disciples are seen breaking the law but Jesus' makes it clear that nothing in this earth is unclean and that impurity comes from within. It's something to make us think. All the "shoulds" we impose on ourselves and other people just take the joy out of the gifts God has given us. James 1: 17-27. The author is letting rip, telling people just how it is. How can we possibly confess faith if it does not translate unto works? Faith constrains us, forces us to act.

Sermon: Hearers and Doers Rowena's first point was that Jesus taught that obedience to the law is really a matter of the heart. James was a very practical theologian and his advice is designed to "help people transfer head knowledge and heart knowledge into the 'how-to' of everyday life." He sees grace as the foundation of faith but that more has to be done...we have to act. We have to let our lives speak "Let your values come alive in your local and global communities." Rowena told us that we have to be hearers and 'doers'. Not that works replace faith but that works are the evidence of faith. Rowena referred to John Wesley who said that " of piety, like worship-which express responsive love for God  would deepen our live for others, while works of mercy would deepen our love for God.

James "focuses on the practice of faith and a key theme throughout James is the contrast between hearers and doers of the Word."

Rowena said "To be called and led by God's Spirit beckons us to be doers of God's Word." God's generosity to us shows us how to be generous to others. We act for God in this world. What we do matters.

James gives practical examples "be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger." (Ouch!). How well do we listen or do we just sit, waiting for a break so that we can speak? God is slow to anger, and abounding in love.

"Ultimately I believe that James is really about living a life in response to the good and perfect gift that has been given to us in God."

Prayers of the people & Lords Prayer  Margaret prayed, echoing the sentiments of Rowena's sermon, looking to our God who is the author of peace, to enlighten our hearts and minds so that we will act in a way that reflects Jesus' lessons taught through his words and deeds. She prayed that we will not think so much about ourselves and our rights and our hurts but look to the needs of others, showing God's generous love to the world. She upheld those known to the congregation for God's care and prayed for the leadership of our country and church. We then joined in The Lord's Prayer.

Hymn: TiS 572 "O Thou who camest from above" Kindle the flame of your love and let it blaze in our hearts that the people of this world will see it gleaming through us and draw them to you.

Commissioning and Blessing
Go out, and be doers of the Word. Cleanse your hearts of all imperfection, be quick to listen and learn. And as you move into the week ahead, welcome the Word that God implants in you, and bring it to birth in acts of mercy and compassion.

And may God pour grace upon you and bless you forever; May Christ Jesus reveal to you the Truth of God's ways; and may the Holy Spirit fill your life with passion and love.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord, in the name of Christ. Amen

Retiring hymn  Now unto him who is able to keep

                           Able to keep you from falling.

                           And to present you faultless

                           Before the presence of his glory

                           With exceeding joy.

                           To the only wise God our Saviour,

                           Be glory and majesty,

                           Dominion and power

                           Both now and forever.



Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sunday 20 September 2015

I was unable to attend the service at Marsden Road Uniting Church today because of family responsibilities but I thought I would firstly pass on the hymns and bible readings that were being used in the service and then do a little reflection of my own.

The bible reading was Luke 24: 15 - 43

The hymns were from the Australian Hymn Book

138 And can it be

416 Father we give you thanks who planted

419 The Lamb's high Banquet

173 I will sing the wondrous story. 

The reading from Luke wasn't from the Lectionary Readings set for the day but given that I wasn't present and haven't any idea of Chris' approach, I decided I would turn to the Lectionary Readings and write a few thoughts about them.

Proverbs 31: 10 - 31. This is a well known reading about the virtues of a good wife. The reading says such a wife is "more precious than jewels" and that her husband can put his trust in her and will gain from her presence in his life. The passage goes on to outline the sort of things that go to make such a woman.

She is up early, organizing the household; she procures food; she makes good investments; she stays up late spinning and sewing so that her household are warmly clad in cold weather; she and her husband are well dressed and admired socially; she also makes clothes for sale; she speaks wisdom. All of these attributes are put down to her devotion to God.

I'm exhausted. I couldn't keep up with such a demanding existence but perhaps the message is true, as is usual in the bible. Being diligent and organised usually means that we can live a more secure lifestyle than if we just meet the challenges of life as they appear before us. There's a well-known motto: Be Prepared. I'm not sure what the husband in the story did with his day but in today's world it is expected that he is as equally vigilant of the needs of his household as his wife.

In Australia, servants are a bit thin on the ground so it is good that both the male and the female of a partnership not only are skilled up and competent in tasks that are normally assigned to their gender but also can perform the basic tasks normally assigned to the other gender --- for safety sake and the sake of the budget. Women get sick so guys need to know how to get a meal on the table and wash and iron clothes. Not the ball gowns..but enough to keep the show in the road.

Equally, the ladies need to be able to change light bulbs and get the car serviced and filled with petrol. It also helps if you, like me, are past changing tyres (which I did a lot of in my youth) to at least know where the spare and the jack is and the tools are to do the job. We will all benefit from strong team work.

Psalm 1 is a reading that resonates with us all. It's a bit like eating well. We know how much better we feel when we are eating the correct foods. Then why don't we do it all the time? And we are all the better from following God's way for us.

"Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night...In all that they do they prosper." Ps 1.

The peace of mind and comfort of heart that comes from doing it God's way, can't be beaten. Anyone can do it. It's sometimes difficult discerning what God's way is, but prayer, reading, talking with holy friends are some ways of finding that way.

James 3: 13 - 4: 3, 7-8a This reading makes you wonder what the people were up to. They don't even sound civilized and yet the letter was addressed to "The Twelve tribes in dispersion" and began "My Brothers and Sisters."

If we read the list of sins of which these people are accused we need to be careful that we don't dismiss the ones of which we aren't guilty and forget to acknowledge the ones of which we are guilty. We can get into habits that really don't help anyone and dismiss such acts as "that's just me". Come on! With God's help we can all be more like Jesus.

Mark 9: 30-37 This passage begins with Jesus' prediction of his death which nobody could understand but then moved on to his having to straighten out the disciples about "how it is". Given the objections of the people to the self-importance of the various authorities it is amazing they were seeking importance for themselves. Jesus laid it out.

Whoever wanted to be first, had to be last and servant of all and
added that whoever welcomed a small child welcomed him and whoever welcomed him, welcomed him who sent him.

The rules of this world are reversed. It is easy to get the basic message into our heads but applying it in every aspect of our lives can be very inconvenient and difficult to do. It's very hard to welcome people we don't like or people who do things differently or worse still, people who think differently. We know how it should be..they have to fit in with us.

Maybe not.

Maybe we have something to learn from them.

Blessings upon you all. Have a safe and happy week.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 13 September 2015

Welcome Today's service focussed on the children who had been baptized during the last few years at MRUC and how they were welcome, not just today but every day within the congregation. Jan had designed a service to accommodate their inner needs and to speak to them as growing people. In doing so she also delivered a message that spoke strongly to all members of the congregation.

Call to worship

The heavens are telling the glory of God

And the firmament proclaims Gods handiwork.

Yet their voice goes out through all the earth

And their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19

My mind ran on, thinking about the joy brought to parents, grandparents and all who meet the lovely young creations of our God who were the centre of attention in today's service. The liveliness in their very being and the hope they bring for the future lifted us all to another plane.

Hymn TIS 156 Morning has broken Praise to God for his enlivening presence amongst us, especially noticeable at the beginning of the day.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving

Another way of praising God. Sometimes we are very aware of the great blessings God showers upon us but forget to give thanks. A huge temptation is to think the wonderful gifts offered to us are a matter of 'nature' or that we deserve them. Nup! Say "thank you" for God's loving generosity to us

Prayer of Confession and Words of assurance

If we are sorry and admit that we have crossed the line and then ask for forgiveness, it is ours. It's that complicated (or that simple).

Remembering our Baptism

A DVD Clip from Vicar of Dibley. Series 3 Spring episode Scene The Christening

Was your baptism like this? You may not even remember it if you were a baby.

What did we do? Jan led the parents and children who had been baptized at MRUC through the Baptismal liturgy, reminding them (and all of us) of the commitment we all have made.

She also reminded us all of Gods love and grace for us in Jesus, thats with us every day and gave out little cards and a token for each child.

Song God Gives Bk 1 No 4 The Butterfly Song' a song to thank God for making me "me". We all have good stuff going for us and we should be thankful for those gifts and talents we have and not be bothered about the ones other people have.

Bible Reading  Alan brought us the readings: Psalm 19:7-10. Following on from the "Call to Worship" we hear of God's laws and wisdom on which we should not try to 'improve'. Say after me: "I am not wiser than God."

Ephesians 6:10-20. Using the battle uniform of a Roman soldier as a metaphor, Paul tells us to be strong in God's power. To be true and to be righteous. To tell out the Gospel of Peace, keeping true to our faith in Jesus who has shown us the way to salvation


Talk/reflection - Staying strong for Jesus with power point slides and Roman soldier costume. Oliver helped Jan display the soldier's protective battle gear, as she led us through the Ephesian's reading, encouraging us to take the words to our hearts and build our lives on the message they brought us. The belt of truth that holds everything in our lives together. To this we add the breastplate of righteousness so that we can believe in
ourselves. We need the shoes so that we are ready to run to spread the good news. The shield of faith is so important to protect us from any harm which might come to us from things around us and the helmet is needed to protect our knowledge of God as is the Sword of the Spirit that leads us in the right way. And finally - we must pray, trusting in Jesus to be with us every step of the way. 

Song- God Gives Bk 1 No 16 Put on love everyday A very practical message to us all, to make carrying love with us each day as routine as putting on our jumper or other item of clothing. The other side of the message was to let that love show

Musical interlude for private prayer and contemplation.

Prayers of Intercession- Jan prayed for needs of the church, the congregation and the world after which we joined together in The Lords Prayer

Hymn TIS 491 Father welcomes all his children Our Father welcomes us each day anew and each day anew we have a responsibility to remember our commitment and what that means in a practical way in our daily dealings.

Blessing The blessing of God the Creator, redeemer and life giving Spirit, be  with you now and always