Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 24 December 2017



Hymn 265: O come, O come, Emmanuel
Hymn 286 All verses: Light one candle for hope

Hymn 302: The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

Hymn 161: Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord

Hymn 282:The voice of God goes out…”

Hymn 777: May the grace of Christ our Saviour,


Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2011)

Host of Hosts, from sunrise to sunrise, and generation to generation, we are your people.

You have been with us wherever we have gone. You will be with us wherever we may go.

You planted us in a land flowing with milk and honey, then you planted our salvation in Mary's womb.

Jesus, who is the Christ, is planted firmly in each one of us.

Our souls magnify the Holy One.

Our spirits rejoice in God, our Saviour.



Rev. John spoke to the children about their names and the meaning of their names and some other names. When parents name their children they do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the eldest boy takes a name that is passed down from generation to generation. I am named after both my grandmothers. Other names are given in the hope that the child will grow up to be the person of the meaning of the name such as ‘grace” or “courage”.


Rev. John told us that in the Bible it says that God gave Mary the name she was to give her child -  “Jesus” - which means “the Lord saves” which indicated the reason that Jesus was to be born.
We may not have such a name but God knows each one of us as closely as Mary and Jesus were known. Also, just as Jesus had a reason for being born so do each one of us have a reason for being here. We have our own place in this world and our own task in building God’s kingdom.


In the first of the Bible readings from 2 Samuel 7, we hear that the Ark of God had always been in a tent but that a place was to be built to keep the Ark in one place, signifying that God’s people were to stop roaming where they would need to carry The Ark with them. From then on they would be able to stay in one place and The Ark, a sign of God’s presence, would remain with them.


God is with us wherever we are. The idea of God being in one place has developed as people realized that God is with all creation, everywhere. Therefore we can be assured that God is with us, anywhere we are. Wherever we are, we can depend on God watching over us and guiding us if we look for that guidance which can come to us in a variety of ways. It can come through other people, through our reading, through listening to other people speaking, through our God-given talents or simply as thoughts appear in our heads.


Another way of looking at that story is that we can stop roaming, looking for wholeness and fulfillment, when we settle with God. Then the emptiness stops.


The second reading and the one Rev. John spent time with focuses on the very ordinary people God uses to play out the amazing drama of redemption. We may think we are not worthy or talented enough but we only have to be willing.


Coming up to Christmas we having been lighting the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and finally, today, Love. These are not the prerogative of the rich, educated, or the “cool crowd”  but are characteristics anyone who opens themselves to God’s handiwork can experience and thereby show God, and all that knowing God offers, to the world.



Be strengthened according to the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Go, do all that you have in mind, for the Holy One is with you. Nothing is impossible with God.

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.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 17 December 2017


The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is traditionally a Lutheran practice, although it has spread to many other Christian denominations.

It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles, sometimes with a fifth, white candle in the centre. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Many Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services.

At Marsden Road, we have been observing this tradition over past weeks. Lighting first the Candle of Hope, we signalled our hope and expectation that as we celebrate the coming of the Word into the world, so at this Christmas, that Hope will be renewed.

The next week we lit the Candle of Peace,  Peace that only our God can bring. This week we lit the Candle of Joy.

Joy is hard to come by. We may be pleased, elated, even happy, but Joy is something else and it was this that Sandra spoke about in the service she led on Sunday.

In her talk to the children, Sandra raised the possibility that that we may be known as the “Peacemaker” or the “Joyful”. This world can only get a hint of what God has in store for us if it is reflected in the people who claim God as their Lord.

I remember someone saying something along the lines of Christians are people who should be making others wonder about why they are hopeful, peacemakers, and joyful. We should be making others curious about our difference from the rest of the world. But are we?

 Sandra spoke about an experience she had in the course of her working day. She was attending a lunch and found herself at a table of rowdy, noisy, happy, elderly folk who were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Across the room was a table of other elderly folk, who were described to her as the “good people”, the people who went to chapel and bible-study: all looking as though they were witnessing the worst disaster imaginable. No joy there to make people curious about where it was coming from.

Sandra raised the point that if we are the bearers of the Hope and Peace that is the promise of Christmas, and know the Light brought into the world at that Christmas time so long ago, surely we will also know Joy.

Sandra told of experiencing that Joy during walks where she can hear and feel Creation speaking to her. She repeated such an experience with the blooming of the Jacaranda trees.

I know what Sandra is talking about. Jacarandas don't do it for me but there are times when I know God is present, simply through the surrounding created world. Even parts of the world in which some cannot see life, such as mighty cliffs or the beauty of some human creation (the work of a God-given gift) I can sense the divine reaching out to us all. It makes me want to sing (better done within though, with my voice).

Sandra’s message here is to enjoy what we have been given. Don't take anything for granted.

I know many people who look for joy through stuff they can buy at a shop, the stuff that gets old and needs replacing. And all the while they have gifts in abundance which can bring such joy. But we have to do more than just look around. We need to see what we are offered.

An important alert that Sandra gave us is that we are to be witnesses to the Good News. We are not just to be retelling history. There must be something of truth that shines from us that witnesses to what the gift that came on the first Christmas can do in a person’s life. Otherwise, why bother?  There are many good stories but what we have is more than a story, we have an invitation to live anew.

Sandra reminded us of how certain John the Baptist was of the One who was coming and the change that Man would bring. Are we? Do we have that life within us that makes people wonder what has reawakened us to Hope, Peace and Joy? Are we bearers of Hope, Peace and Joy?

Sandra challenged us: Let us be all that we are meant to be at this season and always.







Friday, 8 December 2017

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 December 2017

These words called us to worship

The day foretold is coming.

When our tired eyes will behold a fire, a blazing star in the eastern sky!

The one foretold is coming.

Whose light will shine through the deepest gloom.

The day is at hand!

Your redemption is drawing near!


The service kept close to the idea of an illuminating presence among us. The lighting

of the First Advent Candle gave a visual manifestation of that and the hymns we sang

throughout the service:

“God of mercy, God of grace show the brightness of your face”
 “Light one candle for hope”

 “Father, we give you thanks,”

“There’s a light upon the mountain”

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

 “Shalom to you”

all spoke of God's enlivening power in our lives which brings enlightenment to our hearts and souls.  This enlightenment points to what can be, and carries with it the hope for all that is good…… a salve to a hurting inner being, bringing healing.

With this comes JOY!

But that joy can be compromised because we lack the courage to act according to that enlightenment, and so we call on God to make our confession of failing to live to the full.


          Loving Creator, you call us to hope in your salvation, and rejoice in your promise of the birth that is to come, but we are afraid.
You invite us into a world where justice and righteousness prevail, but we turn away in fear.

We long for an easy path into your promised world, but you warn us that there is no easy way.

Birth new life within us, Holy Midwife, that we may abide in hope, and in your perfect love — the love that casts out fear.

And because of God’s great mercy, we can be assured of forgiveness and

restoration of our relationship with our Lord.


Declaration of Forgiveness

God’s mercy and steadfast love endure, strengthening our hearts and overcoming our fears. God will remove every obstacle that keeps us from being the body of Christ.

Thanks, be to God! Amen

And with assurance comes Peace which we can share with each other.


The service of Communion impressed upon us the reason that we are able to call

on God for restoration of our relationship. God’s generosity in sending his message

through Jesus of  Nazareth, who, in the face of death, did not turn aside from God’s

will. We can do nothing to restore ourselves: only God’s merciful action in our lives

can do that.


The Rev. John spoke of the hope that we wait for and reminded us of the various

things we wait for, none of which compares with the hope we wait for which came

with the birth of Jesus.

The earthly things we wait for bring passing satisfaction. Sometimes, we realise, that

having waited, we were wasting our emotional energy. But the joy that God can give,

which was embodied in Jesus, brings sure, lasting, peace and joy. That peace and joy

are the result of our being brought into the light out of the darkness we were living in.

Rev. John then alerted us to the task that comes with the coming of the light. We may

not sit passively waiting for something to happen but be alert and embrace the gift

which is offered. Then we must radiate that light into the world.

Rev. John finished with these words:

The sense of darkness and despair leads to ennui, to inaction, to paralysis. The reality of Advent, however, is the admonition to be on guard, be awake, be alert. God has chosen to need us to make God’s love, presence, compassion, and power tangible. We cannot afford to be sleepwalkers. Time is too precious; God’s people are too precious! Our lives are meant to make a difference in God’s world, no matter how small that difference may seem to each of us. Maranatha! The Lord is coming.


At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ coming into this world to spread the message of

enlightenment and the love which accompanies it. We are commissioned to pass on

this message and the promise of the joy it can bring. And so:



Go into the world awake to the signs of God’s invitations to new life. Know that the reign of Christ draws nearer with each right action we choose.

And the blessing of God almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always.  Amen