Thursday, 31 March 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 27 March 2016

Call to worship Based on Isaiah 65

I am making a new heaven and a new earth.

The events of the past will be completely forgotten, they will never come to mind. ​​

This is the same God who raised Jesus Christ,

whose Spirit is making all things new.

Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah

Hymn TIS 380 Yours be the glory, risen conquering Son In this hymn we praised God for his glorious victory which continues day by day in our lives.

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving

Yours is the glory, O God, for raising Jesus from the dankness of death.

Risen Lord, we worship and adore you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

Prayer of Confession/Words of Assurance

A confession that we have not returned the goodness God has offered us. We have not protected the weak and suffering. Help us Father.

Friends believe the good news of the gospel!

Give thanks to God for he is good - for his love lasts forever!

Hymn TIS 242   Lord of the Dance He is the One who directs our lives and this creation in ways we cannot ever anticipate.

Bible Readings Lyn read to us: John 20:1-18 and ​​​Acts 10:34-43 both these readings refer to the Resurrection. John tells us of Mary's encounter with the risen Lord and in Acts we are told this message of victory over the forces of darkness is for everyone. We don't have to be Aristocracy or amazingly talented or to have achieved great success for this gracious God to reach out to us with His promise of eternal life, starting now.

Sermon  The empty tomb - sign of hope and transformation After considering Jan's message a second time, I decided that a section toward the end was worth recording in detail.

Jan asked us: What's does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you? How do you understand what Jesus has done for us? She added: As we have travelled along the path leading to the cross, we were aware that Jesus knew that his time had come, to give his life up, that his death would bring about a new beginning in our relationship with God.

If we don't take up the promises offered to us, this has been all for nothing. It was out of love for us that all these events took place but we have to offer our lives to God so that they can be transformed by Him. Those chains will just fall off. But this is not going to be forced upon us. Anyone reading this will have probably made a commitment, asking for God to transform their lives. But what happens if, each day, we take back part of our lives to control ourselves. God is not going to push his way in there either. Leave it all with him.

Hymn TIS 209 And can it be, that I should gain Voices swelled as we brought to mind all that we have gained through God's mercy and Grace.

Musical interlude while we thought upon the many issues that we need to hold up to God.

Prayers of Intercession- Val prayed for the leaders of this country and of our Church. She prayed for Jan as she leads us at Marsden Road. She turned our thoughts to those suffering in different parts of the world and the victims of recent violence.  Then she led us in prayer for the personal concerns of members of our congregation before we joined in The Lords Prayer

Hymn TIS 392 At the dawning of salvation We praised God for the confidence we can have in His triumphant love.


Christ is alive! We will never be alone and this, our church, can be raised to a new day.

May the life of Christ be found among us, walking beside us as we go.

May God the Creator gift us with creativity and the courage to be true disciples of Jesus.

May the Holy Spirit enrich us to bring resurrection life born of love.

Song TIS 720 Halle, halle, hallelujah

We concluded with this song full of joy reflecting the eternal freedom we have been given and reminded of today.

We added just a little more to our celebrations through fellowship together at Morning Tea, where hot cross buns were served in the Hall.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 20th March 2016

Call to Worship:   
As we gather here, today, let us look for the signs of the Christ passing through our life in a humble but holy presence.  Let us create a passageway in our midst and fill it with signs of our commitment to honour this Christ, the Human One.  Let us worship our God. Amen.

Prayer of Invocation:  
This was a prayer where the invitation; ”Come Holy Spirit Come!” was given.

Hymn  TiS 724                       “Hosanna, Hosanna”

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving: 
Lita prayed about our memories of God’s great works of salvation which make us feel so close to Him we feel like we too should lay down our coats and wave palm branches in celebration of the wonder of the life of Jesus who came to save us.

Prayers of Confession & Words of Assurance:  
Lord Jesus Christ, when our words and actions reflect a reluctance to confess you publicly as Lord of our lives: Forgive us
When we fear that humbling ourselves, would be seen by others as weakness, or some kind of defect in our character: Forgive us
When we have betrayed your love for us through our lack of love for you, for others, and for ourselves: Forgive us
When we find ourselves glossing over the events of your passion and death because we look forward to Easter as a time to enjoy holidays and have fun. Forgive us
When we fail to take seriously the gravity of sin and the radical call to servanthood:  Forgive us.
Gracious and loving God, empower us with the Holy Spirit so that our lives continually glorify you and our tongues forever confess Jesus as Lord. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness: Hear the good news: “Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave...and became obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross.” Through his obedience we are therefore freed from whatever sin enslaves us. Thanks be to God

Children’s Message:  
Lita threw her coat on the floor and involved the children in a discussion about the kinds of people who came to wave palm leaves and throw their coats on the ground for Jesus to walk over as he was seated on the donkey.  These were the gathered people of God, just like the people in our church here this morning.
Hymn TiS 164                        “The Great Love of God is Revealed in the Son”
Daniel Thambyrajah Niles was born in Jaffna, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1908 and died in 1970.  Family members were converted from the Tamil religion to Christianity several generations before his birth and he graduated from a theological college in Bangalore, India. After further study for a doctorate in London, he became very involved in student evangelism and the World Council of Churches. 

Offering / Prayer: 

The offering for God’s work, was taken up by Laurel and Phil, with help from the children; Lita blessed, “A modest symbol of our joy that Jesus saved us – with this money to be used for God’s glory to help people in need.”

Bible Reading:          Read by Glen              Philippians 2:5-11 (Page 916)  
                                                                        John 12:12-16  (Page 823)

Reflection:                             “What’s Your Story?”

The essence of Lita’s reflection was that “As Jesus walked the road that would lead him to the cross, he carried with him the stories of the people.”  These were the people for whom God wanted to give a gift that could not be taken away – to be the perfect atonement of their sins.  They were people just like us – people with a story – people like us that God holds in his heart.
Lita told us, “We can almost put some faces in the crowd gathered on that day. They were those people he healed (the blind, the leper, those with evil spirit, the Samaritan woman, the woman who bled and was healed, the woman being stoned but saved by Jesus, Zacchaeus, maybe even Lazarus).  As she named the people who may have been in the crowd, Lita reminded us that the cry of ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!’ is a cry of ‘Save us! Save us!
“The Christ that walked that road also knows who we are, what our journeys are like, just like He knew and understood the lives of those who came to shout 'Hosanna!' on that day.  He holds our pain, suffering, sickness, struggles, our good times and bad times and our need for deliverance and forgiveness.”
It is for this reason he walked that difficult road on that day. Even though he knew that in a few days, he would be arrested and crucified.  All for us; each of us!  The gathered people on that day were similar to the gathered people here in Marsden Road Church today.  Like them, we all carry our stories and we bring them before a God who understands and is able to do something good about these stories.”   Yes – Lita told us the same old story we hear every year on Palm Sunday, however she made it very personal, as she involved us and reminded us that all we need to do to have God take up our suffering and pain as we struggle on our journey, is to call out in prayer and we will be saved.

Hymn:                                     “There is a Redeemer”
There is a Redeemer Jesus, God's own Son  Precious Lamb of God  Messiah, Holy One
This hymn was written by Melody Green who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, the child of Russian refugees.  Melody calls herself a Jewish Christian and says, "My family history has played a large part in shaping my heart to absolutely disdain all types of persecution, prejudice, and injustice. Some things are just wrong. My spirit told me this long before I even met the Lord.”

Prayers of the People:  After a musical interlude played by Elaine, Lita led the prayers of Intercession today.  We were reminded that we must live our lives in humility following the example of Jesus and listen to the cries of Hosanna “Save Us” from our fellow men as we seek ways to help and save people in need for many reasons throughout the world.  Lita prayed that our congregation would remember the blessings of last week as we look forward to the coming Holy Week.  We prayed for all the diverse requests listed in the “red books” as they had been passed through the congregation during the service and then we shared together in the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

Hymn TiS?                                         “The Servant King”   
Graham Kendrick is a prolific English Christian singer-songwriter and worship leader who is the son of a Baptist pastor.  He lives in Tunbridge Wells and is a member of Holy Trinity with Christ Church, Tunbridge Wells.   Many of his hymns, like this one, have a gentle lilt and a simple but compelling message.
“This is our God, the Servant King,  He calls us now to follow Him,  To bring our lives as a daily offering  Of worship to the Servant King.”

Benediction:  Our blessing asked that as we go forward into the new week and leave this church we live our lives and lift our hearts in hope.   Amen.  Amen.  Amen.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 13 March 2016

Welcome Warwick welcomed us all, explaining that the service would be a little different because Jan is on sick leave.

Call to worship

I will bind you to myself forever with integrity and justice,

with tenderness and love.

I will bind you to myself with faithfulness

and you will come to know me.

I will say: You are my people.

And we will answer: You are our God.

For once you were outside mercy,

but now you have given us mercy. (Adapted from Isaiah 43)

Hymn TIS 227 May Jesus Christ be praised A song of pure praise, written by someone who doesn't need any special reason to raise their voice to God or to spread the word about praising God. They are clearly experiencing the joy of knowing God's presence

Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving

Warwick gave thanks for God's great generosity to us, and spoke of our wish to offer something special back. We feel so unworthy but realise that as God serves us, we are being taught to serve others. He then acknowledged the breadth of God's generosity, realizing we are never without God's gifts.

Prayer of Confession/Words of Assurance

Warwick confessed for us, that we often resent the generosity of others to Him and His work. Sometimes we think our gatherings should be simple so as not to distract us from their central purpose. He then prayed for us, that each of us will grow so as to be able to welcome the different ways of others and appreciate their contribution to God's work.

He then assured us that "We are held in love and grace now, Yes, we are forgiven!"

Thanks be to God.


Warwick thanked God for his goodness to us; for his generosity that extends beyond anything we can imagine or deserve and then asked for blessing upon our gifts and ourselves as givers. Amen.

Hymn TIS 468 We are your people, spirit of grace This hymns speaks of the wonder of God's grace changing us into people who can be his hands and voice. It speaks of the richness and diversity of our church and how that same richness and diversity can serve God in so many ways.

Bible Readings Colin read to us, firstly from Philippians 3:4b-14. where Paul chides the Philippians for trying to outclass each other. He points out that according to the law he is blameless and so that if anyone could claim special status it is him. But he doesn't. He counts it worth no more than rubbish because he knows that it's God's grace that we have to rely on, not our own efforts. He also makes the point that trying to attain perfection is not for this world

John 12:1-8  Here is the story of Lazarus' sister, Mary's generosity to Jesus. It is recorded that Judas resented the generosity, saying the money could have been better spent on the poor. (A personal note here: it is said that Judas was stealing the money. If he was, why did they leave the money with him? I suspect this has been added to cement his reputation as a baddie.) Jesus steps in, making the point that there are times when generosity is the right thing.

Sermon Because Jan was unexpectedly unable to be present it was decided that a sermon recorded for Project ReConnect would be used. Coincidentally that sermon was recorded by me, so it was an odd experience for me to sit and watch and listen to myself.

The first question to be considered was why we attend church. People attend for different reasons, some sincere, some insincere. The Philippians had begun and grown as a church for all the right reasons but were then sidetracked by considerations they had learnt from secular society, such as who was the most important and who should have the most say. Sound familiar? Paul affirmed the Philippians because he knew they were committed at their core but pointed out that although he had every right as someone who kept the law 100%, to claim superiority, he didn't because only God's grace was of any effect.

He then went onto the furphy, that it's possible to attain perfection this life. It's not.

Then I ended the sermon: So friends, keep in mind, it is God's grace that raises up each one of us. It is his love that we should be showing to each other and to the world and it upon his spirit we should be relying for guidance in our way forward. Amen.

Hymn TIS 665 Jesus Christ is waiting A clear message of where we can find Jesus today so as to shower our gifts upon him.

Musical interlude A time, while Andrew played, for the congregation to variously contemplate their individual concerns.

Prayers of Intercession Ruth led us: Dear Lord we pray for Jan: we pray for her healing. Ruth acknowledged God's willingness to listen to our prayers and concerns and prayed that he would make us open to hear his voice and the voice of those who need our love and prayers. Ruth prayed for the healing of those injured in mind and body. She prayed especially for children who have never known peace. She gave thanks for all the things we take for granted and prayed for God's help for those that have none of them. She prayed for those who suffer because of the weakness of someone else or themselves. Lord, please help us to pray with honesty and to wait for your answer with trust and patience.

Hymn TIS 687 God gives us a future We bounced into this hymn, reflecting the confidence we can have in God's support for us as we seek to do his will, following the path he has set us,

Blessing The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship and vitality of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever. Amen.

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

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 6 March 2016

I wasn't able to attend church on Sunday but I thought I would write some personal reflections.

Firstly, I would like to say how uplifting the services are on any day. Even on days when my powers of concentration are low, the hymns lift me above whatever physical problems may be causing my vagueness.

Also, even when I can't focus enough to take in every point of the minister's sermon or every line of the prayers, there are always sections I am able to key into.

Then there is the fellowship of the other members of the congregation which is so very warming.

So, I need to be in a very poor state before I decide I am better off not leaving the house.

And last Sunday was a communion service, which meant missing it made me feel the loss more keenly. During these services I am more aware of God's presence. During any service God's voice can be heard through the hymns, sermon and prayers and the will of the congregation to join into the service, either actively or as participants raises a sense of why we are there, and that in turn raises an awareness of the one we are worshipping.

But in the communion service we are directed to think upon the whole reason for our being Christians; to think upon the reason why we are part of this story that has been passed down for 2000 years and why it has continued to be passed down; to think upon the sacrifice that was made by Jesus to ensure that his message would continue down to us, so that we can become whole people.

In the communion service we focus on God's love for us.

That is enough in itself, but as well, through the sharing and through serving of the bread and wine to the people we are made more strongly aware of the bonds that hold us together as a congregation and of our love and care for each other.

That's why I felt the loss of not being able to be present so keenly. I missed a time of building and mending; a time of restoring relationships - not necessarily broken ones. All relationships whether between our God and ourselves or between each other need a maintenance programme and the communion service is part of that.

It is a time to focus on what is most important to us. I am sorry I couldn't be there.