Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 29 October 2017


Today’s service was the result of a combined effort of many people of goodwill.

Margaret was unable to deliver the sermon and so Warwick did that for her and he did that very well too and we were very blessed by the outcome. Today I want to pay attention to the prayers and the reflection.

After acknowledging the Barramattagal people, the traditional carers of the land we continued:

The Gathering of the People of God.

Call to Worship

Let us start this service well, by reminding ourselves: That it is not we who chose Christ,

but Christ who chose us,

That we are not here because of our goodness but because of Christ’s grace,

That we are not here to enlighten ourselves, but to allow Christ to enlighten us,

That we have not come to be entertained but to worship God with heart, soul, mind and strength. Amen ~ written by Bruce Prewer


Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. We thank you that you have enshrined your name in our hearts

That we will always be looking to you and longing for that wholeness That only you can provide. We open ourselves to you, in this place, Lord.

May your Spirit enter into and direct our worship today.


Prayer of Adoration and Thanksgiving -Alexis

You, loving God, are the ground of our being and the river of life;

P. You both steady our roots and draw them to seek the living waters.

You are like the sunlight enticing us taller P. And like the breeze rustling our leaves.

You are with us through hard seasons of summer heat,

P. And in the nights when winter’s frost ice the landscape

your love warms and sustains us. P. You are everything to us.

O let our gratitude be great, let our praise be plentiful, let our worship be wonder-full!

Through Christ Jesus your ever-living Son. Amen! — written by Bruce Prewer


Prayer of Confession.

Together: O God

We confess the blindness that is not even aware of our offences; The pride that dares not admit that it is wrong; the selfishness that can see nothing but its own will; the self- righteousness that knows no fault; the callousness that has ceased to care;

the defiance that does not regret its own actions; the evasion that always tries to make excuses;  the coldness of heart that is too hardened to repent.

God, we have failed and let you down. Our plea- be merciful to us. Amen.

Words of Assurance.

Through God’s generous mercy your sins are forgiven  Take hold of this forgiveness

And live your life in the power of the Spirit.


Lord, generosity and kindness are the characteristics of your way of being. We thank you for all the blessings we enjoy and ask that these offerings will be used in your service for the building of your kingdom.

Reflection - Margaret - “The Big Picture” delivered by Warwick.

The reflection began by setting the scene and providing background to the conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees and Pharisees in Matthew. That made it clear that though Jesus had angered the leaders by preaching and living out God’s liberating message, he wasn't going to stop even under threat to his life. In reference to the attitude of the leaders to not being able to answer Jesus’s question:

They really wouldn't have liked that. They were shown to be short of expertise in their own area…in public. This would not be the end of it.

Whenever, I hear a bible story I think about what character in the story I would be.

Where would we fit in these stories?

It could be something touched you early in today's reflection and that's where God is talking to you. It may be that it happened later in the reflection. Or if you are like me, there is something about each character you can identify with.

I have completed more formal education than most Australians, and yet there are times when I am absolutely floored by my own stupidity.

I need the sort of help in life that the law was meant to give to the Jews. Rules guide me. Especially ones like not braking as I'm steering around a corner. That did not come naturally to me. And when my little granddaughters are acting up I have to control my voice and hug them close to find out the cause of the problem. (BTW it's usually that we are late with their food and they are hangry).

And there are times when I worry that I'm being like a Pharisee or Sadducee. I pray that when that appears to be the case, my will may be thwarted and that God’s will may be done.

But there are times when I remember that Jesus is my Way and I try to do what he would do. If there's anything I've learnt in that formal education I spoke about, it's that it's impossible to even imagine how much more there is to know. For that reason, I lean on the only One who does know.

Lord, speak to each heart here today. Show each of us what our next step should be. For the sake of your kingdom. Amen

Prayers of the People (excerpt)

O, Lord, we reach out to grasp your outstretched invitation to be one with you.

We place our will within yours and ask that your wisdom will inform all our actions.

May that wisdom inform the decisions of all leaders worldwide, nationally and locally. We pray for the leadership of your church, especially here at Marsden Road. Bless John and Wendy, our elders and our councils and committees as they seek direction for our congregation here.

O, Lord, we reach out to grasp your outstretched invitation to be one with you.

Words of Mission

Now go into the world with confidence, trusting that Christ is walking with you.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy  Spirit be with you, now and always. Amen









Monday, 23 October 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 1 and 15 October 2017

Two recent services at MRUC focused, at least in part on the parable of the Two Sons told in Matthew 21.  Rev. John Candy spoke on October 1 and then Rev. Bill Ives spoke on October 15

Near the start of Rev. John’s service was a prayer: “ We gather in your presence, Christ of compassion, thirsting for your living water. Flow through this time of worship with your grace and wisdom. Nourish us with words of truth and challenge.  Strengthen us to go forth in humility and love as your servants working in the world.”


This set our hearts and minds upon our purpose at that time, a purpose which directed the lives of all present but having been said, renewed our awareness of our goal as Christians

Rev. John focused on the story of the two brothers in Matthew 21, one who said he would do the father’s bidding but didn't and then the other who refused to do as his father asked but then did it. As far as the application to our lives is concerned, one is no easier to get on with than the other. Rev. John’s point was that the awful part is that sometimes, despite our profession of allegiance to Jesus, we are both.


All too often many of us fail to embody in our lives what we say we believe with our lips.”


We don't recognize this because all too often, we only let the loyal servant parts of our lives float up into our consciousness. The times when we are not what we profess, stays hidden from our own view.



The good news is that God loves us anyway.”

That love is what will power us to live the life of God’s servant Sunday through to Sunday with “arms stretched out in love to one another.”

And so we were dismissed with: “May we go forth with the mind of Christ and the love of God…” .


Rev. Bill Ives began with the same bible passage but went straight to the reason Jesus was telling the story at that time. He was making the position of the Jewish leaders clear. “He is going to tell them that they have the wrong slant in things.”

Rev. Ives linked this to God’s calling of the People out of Egypt.  God called them out of slavery into freedom but that required the people to say “Yes” to God. Just as the father couldn't build his farm without a “Yes” from his sons, so God needed a “Yes” from his people.


We were challenged: “Will you say “Yes” to God and mean it?”

Rev. Bill then threaded his way through the Liturgy, showing how we come to hear God’s word to us and showing us our opportunities to say “Yes”


In the Prayers of the People we show how we will put ourselves into our prayers to serve a desperate world, which is realised in the “Sending Forth”.


The need for action was illustrated through the words of the chorus from “The Pirates of Penzance” where a frightened police body singing “we go, we go” until it is pointed out that they don’t  actually go.


Perhaps they are keeping their inability to act buried deep away from their own sight.


Rev Bill admitted that going out may entail sacrifice, spoiling our own comfort, “ But God calls us as he called his son, Jesus.”


The message couldn't be clearer.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 8 October 2017

I was unable to attend this service but was moved by the written message that I received.

Gathering God’s People

 Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2011)

O Lord, you are God. There is no other God but you.

We renounce all that we have allowed to come between us.

O Lord, we worship you. We praise and honour your name.

We worship you on this, your holy day.

For your love, for your word, for all that you have given:

O Lord, we thank you and praise you. We love you.


Hymn TIS 745: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”


Opening prayer

Almighty God, your word bursts forth into our lives like a glorious sunrise. You speak, and our hearts rejoice. You command, and our eyes are opened. The sound of your voice brings revival to our souls. Your words are purer than the finest gold. True and righteous one, living Word, light our way. As we listen to your Spirit, may the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our hearts be accepted in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

With this short Prayer, I was immediately transported to a different place. How easily we can forget what God means to us and what God does in our lives. This prayer, and ones like it, can draw us back.

A Prayer of Confession

No matter how righteous we imagine ourselves to be, Lord, your perfect word reveals our imperfections all too clearly.

No matter how hard we strive to fulfil the requirements of your law, we always fall short. We have forgotten that righteousness and perfection come not from rules and regulations but from faith.

We have ignored the truth that your righteousness comes from faith.

Open our eyes to see that all we have accomplished is nothing compared to knowing Christ as our Lord. Let us count everything as loss, that we might gain heaven and be found blameless in Christ.

In the name of the Saviour we pray. Amen.

And with this, we rest in God, relying on divine strength to achieve that which is impossible on our own.

Declaration of Forgiveness

Take heart; have faith. The goal is in sight. Press on to take hold of it, as Christ has taken hold of us. Have no fear; leave the past behind. Reach out for what lies ahead, for the prize, for the life to be found in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Thanks, be to God!

And the burden is lifted! And so, having made our peace with our creator, we are able to reach out to others.

The Peace

 Make the joy of God's love & forgiveness complete: share with one another the love that Christ shares with us.

Peace be with you! And also with you!

Offering Prayer

Almighty God, you gave us your commandments and asked us to live according to your holy will.  As part of your design for honourable living, we participate in this simple act of giving.  We dedicate ourselves to living lives of honesty and peace.  Amen.


Hymn TIS 641: “This is my will, my one command”


The Service of the Word

Readings: Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20. Philippians 3:4b-14. Matthew 21:22-46.

Firstly, Exodus brought to us the Ten Commandments. These are very straightforward and easily applied to our lives, but it is amazing how we can deceive ourselves into believing that we are keeping them, when we so far from doing so.

If we only had this passage for guidance (Philippians) and followed it, I think we would do very well. If it's not in God’s plan, then it's of zero importance to us and while we are not able to live the life we should, we are on the right path.

Matthew brings us a very serious message. Where do we fit into this story? Are we faithfully representing the landowner or are we the tenants who are self-serving and who will have everything taken from them and given to others.

Rev. John’s Reflection (in part)

God does not want the tremendous seed planted in us to fail to bear fruit. God looks for the harvest, both in our hidden depths and in the wide world around us… God does not place on us an expectation we cannot fulfill. God does not simply demand fruitfulness from us, but provides all the conditions by which this can happen. God cares deeply for his vineyard. It is on this basis that he looks for the harvest. This expectation is not a demand it is a longing.


Hymn TIS 609: “May the mind of Christ my Saviour...”

There followed the Prayers of the People and the The Lord’s Prayer 


Hymn TIS 606: “Son of God, eternal Saviour” Tune -  Ode to Joy



Hear the voice of the Creator, the mighty God, the One who built the vault of heaven, who set the sun on its blazing course through the skies! Hear the words of life, declared not by speech or language or voice but written on the heart! Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own lives! Amen.


Hymn TIS 779: “May the feet of God walk with you,”