Monday, 26 February 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25 February 2018

Ill health prevented my attendance, so as far as I can, I will let Rev. John’s words speak for themselves.
Call to Worship
(Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)
God’s voice calls to us, naming us in holy love. Christ’s voice chastens us, correcting us when we lose our way. The Spirit’s voice sounds within us, drawing us back to the paths of righteousness. God’s voice heals us, naming us as God’s own.
From generation to generation, God names us and claims us.
Let heaven and earth praise God’s holy name.
From our earliest steps, Christ guides our wayward feet. Let all who draw breath come back to the Lord.
From death to life, the Spirit sets us free.
Let the faithful rejoice in God’s holy covenant.
From generation to generation, God names us and claims us.
Let heaven and earth praise God’s holy name.
Hymn TIS 52: “Let us sing to the God of salvation”
Opening Prayer (reduced)
Spirit of the ages, as you called to Abram and Sarai, renaming them according to your purposes, call to us this day. Open our ears to the sound of your voice….
Prayer of Confession (reduced)
God above every name, when our vision dims, and we prefer human thoughts to your thoughts, heal our eyes of faith.
Grace above every grace, when our suffering closes us off from the joy on the other side of suffering, grant us your strength to follow Christ in hope and promise.
Declaration of Forgiveness
By saying no to ourselves, and picking up our cross to follow Christ, we find ourselves. By saying yes to the good news of God’s Spirit working within us, we find faith and wholeness. God’s promises are sure; God’s love eternal.
Thanks, be to God!

The Peace
Let all who would become Christ’s followers deny themselves and follow Christ in love and grace. Let all who seek freedom pick up their cross and follow him, even when the road is long. On this journey, let us turn to one another and share signs of grace and peace. Peace be with you! And also with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you)
Offering Prayer
Bless us this day, Eternal God, that we may be a blessing to a world in need. Bless our gifts and our offerings in your name, that they may light the way home for those who have wandered far and lost their way. As these gifts go forth to do your work, may they help others hear you call their names and bring them peace. Amen
Hymn TIS 412: “God sends us his Spirit to befriend and help us”
The First Reading: Romans 4:13-25
The Gospel Reading: Mark 8:31-38
Just Who Is This Man?
“…there must have been a good deal of speculation about who Jesus was. All of his activities, separately and together with his disciples, had to have attracted the attention of many. Certainly, we know the authorities took notice. Just who was this man, Jesus?
Finding out exactly who Jesus was brought the disciples more than even they had bargained for when they answered Jesus’ call…Jesus had to continue his teaching to reveal to them the true nature of his mission on earth and, by extension, the mission both for the disciples and us as well. Just as Jesus in his healing ministry gradually opened the eyes of the blind man at Bethsaida, so he gradually revealed to his disciples and others the nature and implications of his journey and way. They must be prepared to deny themselves, to abandon any thoughts of self-centeredness…
What Jesus asks of each of us is that we follow him, keeping our eyes on him who endured everything for us. Wherever life's path takes us, we are to let his love and his light, be our guide. How trusting and faithful are we? Can we do better? Let us try during this Lent to be the disciples Christ calls us to be, disciples who truly follow Jesus to the cross.
Then truly nothing in this life can touch us for, as St. Paul says, "Whatever may happen, in Christ we prevail. Neither death nor life, neither things present nor things yet to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen
Hymn TIS  657: “God of Freedom, God of Justice” (Picardy)
Following the Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer…
Hymn TIS 456: “Your hand, O God, has guided...”
Hear the voice of God calling your name.
We will follow where God leads us.
Hear the voice of Christ claiming you as his own.
We will live as brothers and sisters in faith.
Hear the voice of the Spirit sending you forth.
We will go where the Spirit sends us.
Go forth, called, named, and claimed by God.
Hymn TIS 780: “May light come into your eyes”

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 18 February 2018


Rowena introduced her theme with a poem which I think is worth printing in full. 

Call to Worship: Reaching for Rainbows – Ann Weems

(Rearranged to reduce size)

I keep reaching for rainbows. Thinking that one of God’s good mornings

I will wake up with rainbow ribbons in my hair, With my hurts painted over in hues that only angel wings could brush, With black obliterated and chaos hurled beyond the rainbow and my vision. But I keep reaching for rainbows...The world created in a myriad of colours: The hungry fed, The dying held, The maimed walking, The angry stroked, The violent calmed,

The oppressed freed, The oppressors changed, And every tear wiped away.

I keep reaching for rainbows, But instead of colours in the storm, Grey and black infiltrate and dirty the sky, And I hear human voices wailing in the darkness ...Just the same I know the promise of the rainbow. I keep thinking I’ll turn the corner one day And find a litany of rainbows Flung across the sky. Hosannaing back and forth Through all the ages and Out into eternity forever amen! Every tear wiped away – It’s God’s promise

When we become rainbows to each other.  Amen.


Rowena then followed this with a prayer of Adoration, seamlessly continuing the theme of God’s goodness overcoming the darkness that humans carry with Prayers of Adoration:

Let us pray:

God of storms and rainbows, God of rain and sunshine, God of all creation we worship and adore you.  We gaze in wonder at the beauty of your creation and marvel at stormy skies transformed with the vibrant colours of a rainbow.  Like Noah and his family, we praise you for this everlasting sign of your love and care for the whole creation in your desire to preserve and not destroy life.  And at Jesus’ baptism, the sky again revealed your love when you identified him with the same Spirit who empowers and strengthens each of us.  For all these assurances of your love for us and for the whole creation, we praise and worship you, O God, in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, Amen.  from

We had been each given a slip of paper on which was printed a rainbow and on each band of the rainbow, sins of which we are all sometimes guilty.

At this point we were invited to make personal confession and take that piece of paper with our confession and offer it to God. We placed those confessions in a bowl and then took another Rainbow printed paper where the bands of which were overprinted with the words: love, creativity, joy, peace, faith and wisdom, all characteristics which grow from the good the Spirit can infuse into us.

Interestingly the first slip of paper was just that…paper, which could disintegrate quickly. The second piece with the solid virtues which can sustain a life of light was laminated to protect it from weathering. The symbolism of the exercise was clear.

Also clear, was readiness of the members of the congregation to accept the opportunity to lay their burdens at the feet of the only one who can relieve us of the sin that is the result of our flawed humanity

Rowena then exhorted us, in the coming week: “to focus on the good things on this card and look to how you can bring them more into your daily living.”  Then:

So, in this way, the time of confession and lifting of burdens was to go with us, even as we proceeded with the rest of the service and our lives after the service.

In her Reflection, Rowena offered:

 We enter and the cross, we cling to the signs of God’s covenantal love.  Seasons of the Spirit – SeasonsFusionLent * Easter 2018 copyright (c) Wood Lake Publishing Inc.2017

Rowena offered many wise and helpful words but space does not allow me to pass all of them on. Let me finish with

In the amazing cosmic moment when sunlight and raindrops interact in just the right balance, like a prism, to create this thing of beauty, God says, “remember.....” remember my promise! Seasons of the Spirit – SeasonsFusionLent * Easter 2018 copyright (c) Wood Lake Publishing Inc.2017

Monday, 12 February 2018

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 January 2018


I was drawn in immediately the service began by the Call to Worship and the parts of the service which followed:


Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2009)

By this I have known the presence of the Lord:

in the rising of the sun, in the smile of another’s face,

in the touch of a hand or the sound of a laugh,

in the scent of a flower holding the promise of spring.

By this I have known the power of the Lord:

in the healing of hurts, in the forgiveness of sin,

in the giving of gifts beyond all expectation,

in the shower of love that comes from God’s Son.

Let us give thanks to the Lord with all of our heart!

Let us worship our God, whose presence and power

endures forever!

We see God around us in many ways but fail to see that one way others see God is through ourselves. Are we failing to show God to others?


Hymn TIS 52: “Let us sing to the God of salvation” I wonder if we are living out the theme of this hymn? Are we living lives of praise? If we are, we couldn't fail to show God to those around us.


Opening prayer

Almighty and most merciful God, we give thanks that you know us and love us. Help us, through the power of your Holy Spirit, grow deeper, wider, and fuller in our knowledge and understanding of your ways. Help us, through the bestowal of your divine Wisdom, bring others closer to you and to your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.


And there it is! If we make this our minute by minute attitude to walking with God, I think our church would be a better witness to our God.


Rev. John then gave the children’s address (to the adults). He told about the pecking order in a chook yard and made a comparison between that and the functioning of society.

He spoke of the violence and aggression. Sometimes that is not so easy to identify and sometimes we don't believe that we are behaving in such a way because the aggression is quiet, the violence is emotional or intellectual.


When Rev. John began his sermon he spoke of experiences anyone of us may have had, where a charismatic leader caught our attention. In my experience that can happen simply because of the personal appeal of the leader. Or it may be that the leader makes their message so relevant to our way of thinking that we think we have found the good oil.

But when Jesus spoke to the people of his time or to people of today through hymns, scripture, preachers, creation or the lives of others, what drew and draws people is a recognition of truth.

Rev. John went on to speak of the ramifications of committing ourselves to that truth. We have to surrender our own personal desires and commit ourselves to the person of the one who is the foundation of all that is. The One who is love and light: the One who gave all that we could live a new life.

This commitment to truth is a very personal thing between each of us and our Lord who is truth.

And we need to commit anew each day. That is because we human beings are just so good at forgetting whose we are and who we need to connect with daily to continue living that truth.


This theme was continued in:


Hymn TIS 560: “All my hope on God is founded”  If only we could keep that before us each day!

Then the Benediction.  We have to act to share our treasure:


Go on; get out of here! God’s prophet, God’s Son, calls

us to teach others of God’s power and might.

From this worshipping fellowship, we go into the

community, seeking to tell others our stories.

Go on; get out of here! Share how God has transformed

you. Invite others to become disciples of this new


We will invite others to share our journey, even if it

scares us to death.

Go on, I mean it; get out of here! Share how God has

brought you to knowledge and wisdom of new ways, new

opportunities, new ways of being.

We go with joy. We leave in peace. Amen.


Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 February 2018

Today I would like to pay particular attention to the prayers and hymns because I am usually not able to say much in the space available.

Both prayers and hymns give us the words to express what we are unable to do on our own.

Rev. John introduced the Call to Worship with these words:

Chariots and horses of fire . . . a prophet taken up into heaven . . . a gospel unveiled . . . Moses, Elijah, and Jesus shining brighter than the sun . . . the time approaches and now is. Watch . . . listen . . . perceive . . . God is with us. Nothing is as it seems.

signalling that something beyond our
understanding is involved when God becomes known to humankind.

Depending on our particular bent, God will
come to us in a way we can understand.

For some of us that is through words, for others through music, for others through
creation itself or through the myriad of ways
 God is with us. However, because of God’s greatness we only glimpse a little at a


Call to Worship

 The glory of God is too great for you to bear.

We are not afraid. We will not turn back.

The mystery of God runs too deep for you to fathom.

We are not deterred. We will not turn back.

The fiery chariot of Elijah is not for mortal sight to see. We are blessed with the eyes of faith. We will not turn back.

Come then, and worship our God, who took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind.

We will worship the Lord, who transfigured Moses, Elijah, and Jesus to shine like the sun


Even though God is great beyond anything we can imagine, as expressed in the first hymn: “Jesus shall reign where’re the sun”, we are invited to approach and fellowship with that Divine presence. How good is that!


 Opening Prayer

 God of mighty tempest and devouring fire, you come to us shrouded in mystery. Just as Elisha followed Elijah until he was taken up into heaven, we will follow Christ up the mountain to behold his glory. Who are Moses and Elijah that we should not join their ranks among the faithful? What is to prevent us from shining with Christ this very day? Give us eyes and ears of faith, Holy One, that we may see the heavens open and hear your voice, calling us to follow your Son. Amen.


Whenever we are touched by God, we know there is so much more to life over and above the daily trivia and dross, which is expressed in the


Declaration of Forgiveness

Through the light of the one who was transfigured to show us the power and glory of God, we find a way through the wilderness of our doubt and confusion; we find strength for the journey and courage for the road ahead. Thanks, be to God!

This Light is the subject of the next hymn: “Jesus the light of your love is shining.” Having the effect expressed in the line: “Set us free by the truth You now bring us”

It is that freedom from all that weighs us down that we all long for.

This theme was continued in the


Offering Prayer:

Light of Light, when we grow accustomed to dwelling in the shadows and painting with drab colours, you bless us with your radiance and the vitality of your love. Illumine these gifts, Holy One, that the world may see your light shining through our offering. Illumine our very lives, O God, that we may remain restless until we shine like Christ upon the mountain, until we follow Elisha’s footsteps and behold your glory. Amen.


In my experience, we are made restless until we reach out to the only source of Light and Love. And if we stray, that restlessness will return until we find the only cure.

And that comes in our own mountain top experiences. As Rev. John said:


 “We too have our "mountain tops." Each of us needs places and times set apart for us to take a good spiritual breath.”


But even when we are aware of God’s presence the mystery remains, inspiring the words of hymns like:

“Immortal invisible, God Only wise.”


The words of the next hymn: “Lord your almighty word” are a guide to finding God and God’s Light and Love to show to the world and thereby commune with God and build God’s Kingdom…now….here.


The words of the Benediction drew the service together and sent us on our way:



 Go forth with the courage to climb the mountain of God.

We will walk in the light and truth of Christ.

Go forth with ears to hear the voice of God.

We will hear the call to follow Jesus.

Go forth to live as people who shine with Christ’s glory. We will leave footprints of light as we walk.

Go forth in expectation and hope, for God goes with you, and may the blessings of that God go with you, Amen.