Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Marsden Road Uniting Church Sunday January 17, Epiphany 2

Call to Worship:
We are the Body of Christ, gathered in celebration of your transforming presence through which we can become new people, reaching out in love to a waiting world.
Life can be enlarged and enhanced, bearing witness to the creativity of God and the wonder of the Holy Spirit.
People: Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Hymn TIS 121                      "God himself is present"
Let us now adore him. A reminder to ourselves of why we have come today.

Prayer of Invocation:   Ruth
Holy Spirit of God, hover over our lives and bring to us all that we need, to be your true people.  
People: Come Holy Spirit, come.
For we cannot be who we long to be without your presence among us.  
People: Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Breathe your peace within us, and inspire us with your wisdom, inviting in us your passion for good.  
People: Come Holy Spirit, come.Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving:   Glenn
Thanks be to you, Holy God, as we discover with gratitude small signs of your divine life within us and among us.
People: Thanks be to you O God, from whom all goodness comes. Amen.

Prayer of Confession:  Margaret
O God, who listens to us as we face our humanness with honesty, we confess that we are not always open to your enlivening work. Sometimes we would rather cling to our comfortable ways. Help us step out into whatever possibilities you have for us. Help us believe that you will always support us whatever risks we take, in your name.
People: Forgive us and bring us to a new day, O God. Give us the faith to act as your people and to believe that we can support each other. Amen

Words of Assurance:  Margaret
God, in Christ, understands our journey and the vulnerability of our humanness.
Grace is always waiting for us, when we come in humble prayer. Our lives are restored to hope and promise. For we are forgiven
People: Thanks be to God.

Hymn TIS 64:                       "O Bless the Lord, my soul"
Again, reminding ourselves of all God's many blessings to us and praising him for them.

Readings:  Pat:                    Psalm 36: 5 - 10; the Psalmist has been in a bit of a pit, telling all the evil people what is in store for them but in this part of the psalm he remembers God's blessings on his own.  John 2: 1 - 11 The account of Jesus first public act after his baptism: the turning of water to wine. Not quite what we were expecting.  But there are lessons there for all of us.

Sermon:   Margaret: 
Are you a Water Christian or a Wine Christian? 

This service was mine and I took a different view of the bible reading from the usual one. I think I was being tapped on the shoulder by God about my own Christian life but I thought what I was thinking was worth passing on.  Water is unique and essential to life on earth and so are "Water Christians" to the faith.  But wine is richer, richer in colour and aroma and can add richness to other things such as a casserole.  Also it comes in so many varieties.  So it occurred to me that because of this richness and variety, this is the sort of Christian who would be of greater service to God's' kingdom. This is the sort of Christian who could contribute to a richer Church.  But to be a wine Christian we need to open up every last little bits of our lives to God. That takes courage. Are we up to it?  The condition of God's church depends on it.

Hymn TIS 398                      "Come down O Love Divine"
Having heard the challenge, this hymn provides us with a way of giving an invitation for God to fully renew us.

Offering:  Margaret : Now let us bring our gifts to God and to others in grateful thanks for all we have received. O God, we place these our gifts into your hands. Guide those that use them for the continuing life of the church.

Prayers for the People:   Margaret prayed for the leadership of our church and our country and the leaders worldwide that they will all be guided by God's Spirit.  She then asked for God's hand to guide in local concerns.  Margaret asked for God's blessing on the church at Marsden Road and all that belong to it, including its leaders and then turned our attention to the personal concerns of the congregation.  Then we joined in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 212:                    "Christ whose glory fills the skies" 
Not so much just an invitation but an affirmation that we know God is ready to act and that we are willing for his glorious work in our lives.

Blessing:    Margaret : Let us go forth, holding each other in love.
Let us lift up our hearts in hope for new visions of who we could be as Christ's Church, confident that Jesus has walked this way before us.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you, and remain with you always.  Amen."

Blessing Song: 781   "Father bless us as we go, Jesus walk beside us, Holy Spirit guide us." And to show we mean it, we sang it twice,

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 10 January 2016

Call to worship

God is present in our midst! God shares in our joys and our sufferings.

God is present in our midst! The Spirit is blowing through our Synod.

God is present in our midst! Christ is calling us to follow.

Let us move with God, Let us transform our communities,

Let us unite for the common good, As we bring our worship, thanks and praise! (Based on Liturgy from Synod Mission Plan)

Hymn TIS 442 All Praise to our redeeming Lord This hymn reminds us that we have been commanded to work hand in hand with each other in harmony, depending on God's grace to guide and inspire us. So often we just rush ahead without consideration for either our neighbour or even God himself.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving

Thanks was given for all God's gifts but at this time the grace and refreshment of Baptism. Thanks was given for God's great love that gives us the inspiration to see a new future and see the world differently. Sometimes, when I am despairing of all that is going on in Australia and the world, it is only the inspiration of God that makes me realise that good is possible and that good people are working to make the world a better place in the face of all that is bad in the world.

Prayer of Confession

Confessing that we are not worthy of the blessing of baptism. It is always a comfort to me that my worthiness or unworthiness plays no part in God's plan. I only have to be open and willing and God's grace is freely given. And the amazing thing is that God doesn't wait until I am 100% open and willing. I only have to respond just a little and he is prepared to bless abundantly.

Words of Assurance

The love of Christ burns with passion which is enfolded in a love which knows no ending. Christ the Human One knows all that we face and enfolds our lives each day with the great gift of pardon. Thanks be to God.

DVD Geese

Elaine showed us a brief video on how the behaviour of geese in flight provides a model of pastoral care. They share the burden of leadership. They look after their sick and ailing. It was an interesting lesson: given the care of an animal group for each other, how much more should we care for each other.

Hymn TIS 494 In water we grow Reflection on the role of water in our lives but more importantly to its role in baptism. "Our old self goes under, in Christ dead and drowned. We rise, washed in wonder, by love clad and crowned."

Bible Readings These were brought to us by Jack. Isaiah 43:1-7 A promise from God to Israel that he will protect them - no matter what.

Luke 3:15-17, The people became very excited over John but he said it wasn't him but one who would come after him: He will Baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand. 21 - 22 Jesus was baptized but something different happened: You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

Sermon "Being baptised by the Holy Spirit and fire! What does that mean for us? Epiphany is a time to "reflect on the way in which Christ began his ministry to all people." It is also a time to think upon our own baptism and call to discipleship.

John was baptizing in obedience to God as a sign that people needed to be cleansed of their sins and the way the Jewish religion was practised. They needed to turn away from their purely outward form of religion. Perhaps we could think about this from time to time. Are we just going through the motions or are we leaving ourselves open to guidance of God's spirit in us? "John the Baptist's ministry could be linked with the Essenes who were a Jewish monastic community...were seeking to separate themselves from much of the corruption of the Jewish religious system..."

"John's comments were: The Messiah was more powerful than John, and John saw himself as the servant of Christ...the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire, not just water...The Messiah would be involved in a sorting out process...The Messiah would call people to be faithful to God."

Time to reflect on our own baptism. Jan had done some research "people...would be fully immersed and overpowered by God's spirit within, where God would write his law on our hearts and minds...Jesus ministry enabled God to break through in the most powerful way...he promised the Holy Spirit would be poured out...Pentecost was a life changing event for those who received the Holy Spirit, and for us when we came to our faith commitment. Baptism reminds us that we are deeply loved by God...God's grace is freely given...but we know we will sometimes fail..God and each other...but there is always room for forgiveness and restoration. Are you drawing on the grace that God has for us, letting the wind of the spirit blow the cobwebs away and being fired up for a year of service and blessing?

Hymn TIS 270 On Jordans bank the baptists cry Praise for everything that has happened in the story above. Because of all these things, we can be free of our burden of sin and energized to live a life of service.

Prayers of Intercession Jan prayed for all areas of our church life, finally asking: Send your Spirit upon us, O God, that we might image you in all that we do. She then prayed for the personal concerns of the congregation and then we joined together in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 168 For the fruits of all creation Thanks for all God's gifts, both material and spiritual and the opportunity to share with our neighbour.

Blessing This time of blessing always draws the service to a close and prepares us for the week ahead.

Blessing Song TIS 781 Father bless us as we go, Jesus walk beside us, Holy Spirit guide us."

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 January 2016

Call to worship

Great and wonderful are your deeds, Lord God.

Just and true are your ways.

Who shall not revere you and praise your name O Lord?

Let us worship you wholeheartedly with open hearts and minds. (Psalm 148)

Hymn TIS 100 All creatures of our God and King A song about a gentler world. That we may live in such a world, at least at a spiritual level.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving

Jan on our behalf, offered our praise to God for his creation, which praises him through its  magnificent existence.

Prayer of Confession

We have confidence in God's mercy to forgive us when we shy away from new possibilities  which would grow our souls. We all know our habit of clinging to the familiar and missing out on so much. Forgive us and lead us into wisdom. Amen.

Words of Assurance

We are forgiven, so we must love and forgive. Thanks be to God. Amen

Hymn Star Child In fact, every sort of child, representing every one of us and being our pathway to the Lord of all.

Holy Communion Iona liturgy

This was a Communion Service that made me feel so accepted and so comfortable in my participation. Of course, we have no worthiness in our own right to be in God's presence at any time but the wording of this service made it clear that God reaches out to us as we are.

"It is the table of the Lord and all those who love him...sharing with the poor...the table of communion with the who have much who would like to have who have who have not been for a long who have tried to follow who have failed...come..,"

We then directed to the bread, "This is my body which is given for you." And then to the cup, "This cup is the new relationship with God, sealed with my blood." We were directed to share both.

This service then traced God's many mercies to us through time until today as we shared at this table.

In response we blessed God's name: "Holy, holy, holy Lord of power of might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory, All glory to your name. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." The bread and wine were blessed with reference to their healing, renewing capacity, changing us into people graced by God. We were then invited to participate in that holy meal.

Bible Readings Luke 2:41-52​​ The account of Jesus staying back in the Temple to discuss theological ideas with men much older and wiser and worrying the life out of his parents at the same time. That isn't the point of the story but that's how it starts. ​​​Colossians 3:12-17 A message to live at peace with our fellow Christians (and, I think, our fellow humans and other living things). Nobody has any special claim on God's gifts to this world, so acknowledge and value each other...even the annoying ones, because, guess what? We are all annoying to someone sometime. Somewhere there is someone who think our ideas silly. It's not just for the people on whom we choose to pass judgement. (Warwick)

Sermon- Reflections on the year, and stepping forward with God. Today I took the opportunity to reflect at length on the Communion service which has left less room for other things but it was a beautiful sacrament. Jan stated her intention to reflect on the year past, take stock, and assess the possibilities for the year to come. She pointed out the benefit of committing this to God in prayer. She directed our thinking to the time in each of our lives when God left us with no other option other than to give ourselves to him and the peace it brought. For some of us that took years, for others, nothing like as long. Jan spoke of the qualities of Christians which are needed if a church is to grow, which were covered in the Colossians reading, so that we reflect out God's love to others.

Jan spoke about out how we at MRUC fulfilled our mission in 2015. As I sat there I thought that for a small congregation we did very well. But God doesn't allow for such self-congratulations and expects us to grow so that our church can grow.

Jan then spoke of possible new ways of serving the community in God's love and asked us each to consider any ideas we might have. God doesn't give us skills to have us sit back and do nothing with them.

Hymn TIS 526 Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us In wonder that God should take human form, to live the life we live, and die at Calvary rather than step back from the mission to bring holiness to this broken world.


The small offering we can make of our many blessings from God to spread his love to all.

Musical interlude before prayer while we considered our own needs and those of others and while we thanked God privately.

Prayers of Intercession There's no space to cover this properly but Margaret prayed for God's hand on all people suffering in any way, even those whose suffering is self-inflicted.

Hymn TIS 305 Let earth and heaven combine Let all creation praise God who is beyond our comprehension and whose merciful gift of grace is the greatest gift of all.

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.

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

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 on you and his breath give you life.

May the child of God grow in you and his love bring you home.