Friday, 30 September 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 18 September 2016

Welcome Mae welcomed Norman McDonald, one of MRUC's past ministers as part of our Anniversary celebrations.

Call to Worship - (Safiyah Fosua. Kindle Edition., Abingdon 2016)

Friends! Co-workers! Brothers! Sisters! Followers of Christ! Saints of the church! Welcome, one and all! Welcome home! Welcome to this place of worship which it has been for nearly 150 years and will continue to be a place to be refreshed and encouraged. This is a place of acceptance and love! Blessings of grace and peace to you all!

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Grace to you, and peace from God our maker and from the Lord Jesus Christ! Welcome, friends and co-workers in Christ! Greetings, brothers and sisters!

​We come to rejoice in the love and encouragement of our family in Christ. We come for the joyful reminder that God accepts and loves us.

Opening prayer
God of love, we are your family, brothers and sisters all, sharing in your vision and work. We give you thanks for the many ways you have loved and blessed us, encouraged and renewed us over the last 150 years and we pray will continue to do. We thank you for the times we have experienced joy, and for the knowledge that you love and accept us. We bring our joy and gratitude to you today as we sing our thanksgiving and praise. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession
Jesus Christ, giver of love and peace, we are grateful for your vision of humankind— a vision that embraces all, leaving none behind.

You call us your brothers and sisters, even when we do not recognize this truth. Forgive us when we look down on others, failing to see them as our sisters and brothers.

Forgive us when kinship is not a priority in our lives. Open our hearts to everyone in your family, that they may become our family, too. In your name, brother of us all, we pray. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
The blessings of grace and peace are ours, through God our maker, and Jesus Christ our saviour. Forgiven and peace are ours.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

The Peace
Friends, co-workers, sisters, brothers, followers of Christ, saints of the Church, let us greet one another with the peace and love of our brother, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn TIS 390: “Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord” The gospel in a thumbnail sketch.

Memories of Marsden Road:​​Rev. Norman​
Norman spoke of his ministry at Marsden Road which was less than half a year. He said that he had arrived feeling cranky. It had been 20 years since he had been involved in a congregation and he was tired and frayed from the job he had been in during the intervening time. He said that he realised later, that his time at Marsden Road gave him new enthusiasm and energy for his new placement.

Offering Prayer
Pour out your Holy Spirit, and bless the gifts we return to you now. May they be as a soothing ointment for a hurting and broken world. Amen.

Hymn TIS 590: “What a Friend we have in Jesus” A hymn that has brought assurance to many of us from our earliest years. This is no. 4 of our favourite hymns and no. 1 for Joan Davis.

Anniversary Banner​:​​ Kaye spoke about our anniversary banner and the significance of its elements and the memories of people in the congregation, some of whom have been here between 40 and 60 years.

Bible Readings Were brought to us by Susan.

​​​​James 2: 1-10, 14-17 Speaks about how we treat each other. Do we discriminate between people in the basis of their worldly attractiveness? Whether we are acting in the church or out in the world, we need to remember the Golden Rule.

​​​​Mark 7: 24-37 An account which gives us quite a different perspective of Jesus and his mission. The Syrophoenician woman, a gentile, pleaded with Jesus for healing for her daughter. Jesus pointed out that his message was for the Jews but she wasn't to be dissuaded and reminded Jesus that the dogs ate the crumbs that fell from the table. This woman was ahead of others in her understanding and her plea was fulfilled.

Men’s Singing Group: “The Old Rugged Cross” Hymns often say what we can't say for ourselves and when they are sung with such skill and feeling, we are helped in understanding the message as it is in each of our lives.

Reflection:​​​ "Saints Alive - even the outsider” Norman spoke about the woman in the Mark reading: how she would have looked a little different; had an accent; had a Greek education; a sharp intellect living within a closed Jewish community - an outsider. Jesus has been criticized for his racist and rude behaviour in this story but perhaps he was laying the groundwork for the woman to write the rest of the scene,  She saw in Jesus what she needed: compassion and healing. And she received it.

God's care and compassion is not just for the in-group. Ethnicity, culture, language are of no account. God's grace is for all.

Are we going to be like the Pharisees who walked to the other side and left the beaten man by the road?

Today it's time to raise our voices for asylum seekers. The woman in today's story challenges us.

Hymn TIS 693: “Come as you are” - That's how I want you. I remember saying to a minister that I didn't think I should keep coming to church because I'm not good enough. She pointed out that God called me as I am. Oh!

Jack brought us the Prayers of the People  and we said the Lord's Prayer together.

Hymn TIS  220: “This, this is the God we adore”  A declaration about the God upon whom we depend for everything.

Benediction​​​ Rev Norman

Sung Blessing: “May the Feet of God Walk with You”

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25 September 2016

Processional Hymn

Hymn TIS 351 "Lift High the Cross" During the singing of this hymn the cross was  brought to the sanctuary.

Welcome to visitors Jack welcomed Rev. Graham Ellis, our minister for the day and the Walker and Baker families who came especially for this service.

Responsive Prayer of Praise.

O, give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name:

tell among the people what things he has done.

Sing to him, O, sing to him, O sing praises:

And tell of his marvellous works.

Call to mind the wonders he has done:

His marvellous acts and the judgements of his mouth.

Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting:

And all the people say Amen. Praise the Lord.

Almighty God, we praise you for Jesus Christ, the foundation and cornerstone of all we believe and long for:

We praise you, O God....

Graham spoke about Bill Walker and his contribution to the ministry of the Uniting Church.

He directed our attention to the cross which he had carried into the church. It was the work of Bill and a gift to Nth Ryde Uniting Church. Graham pointed out the careful crafting which had gone into the cross, a symbol of Bill's care for the church and its people.

Collect of the Cross

Almighty God, you called your church into being, that your people might know you.

and make your name known, and blessed us with the witness of your servant, Bill Walker.

Grant that we, following in his footsteps, may learn to take hold of the cross, embrace the truth that is eternal, and show our faith by our actions.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Carolyn and Colin then led us in an appreciation of the stained glass windows by relating their history and speaking of the people in whose names the present windows are dedicated, reminding us of the faithfulness of people over time.

Hymn TIS "Love Divine all loves excelling" A prayer to be the blessing that others have been for us.

Scripture: Luke 16: 19 - 31 The account of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man hadn't much time for Lazarus despite seeing him every day, but when he ended up in damnation and seeing Lazarus in Heaven, he wanted his help. I think we are supposed to hear a message about having to respond God's call in this life. I don't know what to make of this passage but my view is that God's merciful, welcoming arms are always open.

Sermon "Saints Alive" Graham began with a line from Judith Wright's "The Slope", "will you deny the burst of glory in the world and man?" Graham told us that the title of today's sermon arose from a conversation "Saints Alive - The Eternal in Time" and also pointed out that 150 years doesn't just happen. He said that Eternity had broken through in these saints. He compared the "quantity" of "everlasting" with the 'quality' of 'eternal' and reminded us that Jesus was about 'quality' and continued by saying that in Bill Walker, quality had invaded time.
Graham remembered a church camp (which he says should be law because of their great benefit) where he conversed with Bill; when the essence of Bill was addressing the essence of Graham and visa versa. It was a matter of being and truth exchanging with being and truth.
And Graham said that essence was found in the construction of the cross. Graham spoke of many people whom the church acknowledges and added Bill Walker to that list. Graham then spoke of the window dedicated to the Walkers and how God's spirit comes to us through art, and how those windows raise an awareness of what is being celebrated and reminded us of John Wesley's words "The best is yet to come." God blessed us with the witness of Bill Walker.

Will you deny the burst of glory in the man Bill Walker?

The Offering During the offering the choir will sing "All Praise to Thee"

The Family Remembers Bill's son spoke of the many memories he and the family had of  Marsden Road. He spoke about many instances where Marsden Road Church had been a blessing to the family and how they had benefited in so many ways from their time here.

Hymn AHB 519 "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" Another prayer, addressing our God to whom we can turn - always.

Prayers of the People were led by Margaret who began with a reminder that God is waiting to hear us and then turned our prayerful attention to the needs of our own community and the world around us. We then joined in The Lord's Prayer

Graham then pronounced the Benediction to which we responded with the

Threefold Amen.

Hymn TIS 455 "For all the Saints who from their labours rest" Those who have blessed us by the foundation they have laid.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 September 2016

It is usual to try to fit this blog into two pages but I'm not sure that I can. On the other hand, looking through my notes on the service, I realise that some of my own abbreviations are a bit cryptic for me, so some things may be left out.

The first hymn was Hymn TIS 179 "Praise with joy the World's Creator" our theme for the day.

Rev. Helen was back to stir us up and did it in style, as she often did when she was our regular minister. This was another service where a previous minister has been invited to recall their time with us and take the service as part of our anniversary celebration.

Helen welcomed us "God be with you" and of course we responded "And also with you."

She then paraphrased Psalm 103, giving God the glory for all his blessings, forgiveness, healing, and the redemption he offers to us - flawed people, longing for wholeness. She thanked God for wrapping us in goodness and keeping us always young in his presence.

Alerting us to the active nature of all the words in the Psalm, Helen invited us to name God's action in our lives. We did this and our spirits rose as we acknowledged all the blessings God heaps upon us daily.

Somewhere in there we sang Hymn TIS 181 "Come, O God of all the earth: come to us O righteous one," asking for God's hand upon all that happens at this time.

Helen then prayed, confessing our lack of appreciation for all God's care for us and for only seeing our own efforts, failing to give God the glory. She asked that God will guide us back and then we said the absolution together.

The Men's Choir then sang "Great is thy Faithfulness" reinforcing our reliance on God's action in our lives and we all appreciated the opportunity to reflect in the theme from a offering perspective.

The Offering was then received and Helen asked that it be blessed and be a blessing for others.

Helen spoke about saints, past and present, and how they and we all share or have shared the joy and laughter; courage, bewilderment, anger, sorrow and tears that make up the journey of any who seek to pursue to truth. She then spoke about her 5 years at MRUC and the shared faith she experienced with us, meeting people who saw things differently, enriched by their contribution. And while she was remembering how we learned to question our faith and our understanding of it, slides were shown of her time with us: the one of Helen in the swimming costume and another with Ruth, both dressed as Angels, brought back memories of the creativity of Helen's ministry to us and how we heard God's voice through it all.

Helen went on to speak of, acknowledge and give thanks for the enormous contribution of Graham Edgerton to all that happened during those five years, with slides showing Graham lifting one heavy item or another and contributing in such a practical way to the creative approach Helen took to everything she did.

Helen then remembered the congregation as people who began to believe in themselves as Children of God who could be a blessing to others.

Phil then read from Genesis 12:1 - 9, the story of Abram, at an advanced age, leaving his home to make a new place to live at the command of God.

Helen pointed out that Abram could have big-noted himself at achieving such a monumental task which required such energy and commitment at his age. But he didn't. He praised God. A lesson for us there. We spend a lot of our time congratulating ourselves on the splendid job we are doing without thanking God or praising him for using us as his hands in this  world and giving us the gifts with which to carry out the work.

Phil then read Luke 10: 17 - 20, the account of the seventy returning from the mission on which Jesus had sent them, excited about the miracles they had achieved. Jesus told them that while that was all very good that their real joy should have been because they were now hand in hand with God their maker.

Helen took this up, imagining the scene and then reminded us of the many times we look at the amazing things "we" have achieved, forgetting that it is God's work and that we should be blessing his name for all that happens.

Carolyn led the Prayers for the People beginning by asking God to quieten our minds and acknowledging the great blessing God is in our lives. She continued thanking God for all he is and does, drawing it together with thanks for his walking with us each moment and the promises he gives for the future.

She expressed our sense of how precious God is to us and asked that we will be equipped for all challenges: that God will be always walking with us and inspiring us. She then asked God's blessing on refugees in their suffering and finished with a plea for God's guidance for Rev. Candy and Rev. Helen. We then joined in the Lord's Prayer.

We then moved onto the Communion Service remembering those who has passed on from this congregation and that as we are joining in Communion here with each other in the community present, we are also joining with the community past.

We joined in Hymn TIS 599 "Take my life and let it be" Our commitment to our theme today of our lives and all we do being for the blessing of God's name.

Helen took us back to that night when Jesus was betrayed. When he broke bread and poured out the wine, sharing it, naming the bread as his body and the wine as his blood which was to be shed - for everyone.

The distribution then took place as we silently thought upon the affect it has had our lives.

What does the future hold? It is given by God.

Hymn TIS 687 "God gives us a future" It is up to us to grasp all that God offers us.

Helen then sent us out to see what God has in store for us in that future and to respond to the future in the spirit of adventure.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 August 2016

Before I begin the blog proper, I should say this is a week late but since I couldn't attend the service on Sunday I wanted to give people an idea of the way things are going.

Another thing you must know is that between Grahame's playing and the congregation's singing, this was made a special service even before John and Peter made their very worthy contributions.

Call to Worship

What if? What if the stranger in the pew is really Someone Test Driving our church to see how we are?

What if God really did appear in a dream to the couple in the back telling them that you and your church could be trusted to care. What if we really do entertain Angels unawares?

Hymn TIS 457 "The Church's one foundation" - is Jesus Christ our Lord. If we could keep this in front of our eyes at all times, many problems would never arise.

Lynelle then led the Anniversary choir in "Joyful, Joyful", an offering that was very well received and which lifted the hearts of many people present.

Opening Prayer

John led us acknowledging our need to be present and accept God's invitation to be like John Newton: once blind but now able to see. For this he gave thanks.

A Prayer of Confession

John confessed for us our need for special attention and then we joined in, asking forgiveness for our stupid pride. We then asked forgiveness for forgetting that we are God's servants, here to tend to the needs of others. This opportunity to confess together each week surely lightens our load.

Declaration of Forgiveness

Remembering that those who are exalted will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted, we were further reminded that, in the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

The Peace

The peace of Christ be with you all. And also with you. And with that, we offered the hand of peace to each other.


God, here we are, offering in hand, standing with faith that what we offer to you matters to the work of the kingdom...Most Holy God, we ask that you use these gifts to increase your kingdom, and to increase our faith in your work. Amen.

Then as part of our Anniversary services, Rev. Peter Oliver took the rest of the service.

At the beginning of the service, when Elaine introduced Peter, she said he and his wife had been role models. She remembered how he had woven movies into him sermons making them more relevant and how they had started off nurture group which still runs every second week. Peter also spoke of his memories as a young minister.

Jean McKinnon

Alan read from an account of an interview with Jean McKinnon who was with MRUC from 1983-85 and again in 1989. She remembered that she was somewhat reticent to come to MRUC because she was a "sleeves-rolled-up" kind of girl but that her memories of her time with MR were great. Alan had a bit of trouble, becoming a little choked up with the reading, indicating the enormous affection for Jean that still exists at MR. There were many memories, including the good exercise she thought she gained from the vibration of the organ when played by Grahame, adding that MR has the best acoustics, ever. She is remembered as a grandmother figure who wore her faith on her sleeve and who was non-judgmental in her treatment of others, saying: Thank God we have the faith and love and obedience which links us together.

Peter then spoke again saying how glad he was to be amongst us again. He remembered the mistakes he made at the beginning, one being that when he visited a member of the congregation with an elder, he rearranged the chairs to suit the positions suggested in his counselling training, only to realise those chairs were NEVER moved.

He then, remembering his ordination, recalled despite having powerful mentors in the ministry, that he had asked lay people in the congregation to be involved in the laying on of hands. He now supervises ministers to prepare them for being able to relate to their congregations and deal with the very difficult situations which can arise: splits in the leadership; difficult church councils; people arriving on your doorstep.
He expressed his hope that this celebration would reinforce an even deeper sense of clergy and lay people committed to faithfully serve the risen Christ together. Peter continued speaking about his experiences as a minister, for which there is not space here but left us with a very important thought: My prayer for you and me is that our optimism is being more and more grounded in Christ rather than our own efforts and that celebrations will reflect that deep thankfulness for the one who accompanies us on this journey. Amen.

Hymn TIS 650 "Brother and sister, let me serve you." This should be our first thought and prayer because, in serving each other, we are serving our Lord.

Prayers of the People

Jack led us, saying that the crux of religion is that God is love: a love that can conquer anything. He prayed for aid in keeping the great commandments. He asked for comfort for those with health problems; for Joan who has been in hospital for some time and for others who have ongoing health issues. He prayed for those suffering because of the drought and the unemployed and carers who are burnt out. May they all be granted the peace that passes all understanding. Then we joined in the Lord's Prayer.

Hymn TIS 442 "All praise to our redeeming Lord" No matter how often we sing something like this, we secretly think anything that looks like success is down to us. Is God running the World or not?

Peter then pronounced the blessing: May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.

Then together we blessed each other: Now unto him who is able to keep you ...