Monday, 27 May 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 26 May 2019

My apologies for the length of this today but I couldn’t leave anything else out.

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

 From river to ocean, from campfire to hearth,

May the First People who have cared for this Land,

where we worship, the Wallumedgal, be blessed.

From breath to song, from step to dance,

May those who follow Your Song lines guide us on the journey of living honourable in this place.

From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus.

Call to Worship(Abingdon Worship Annual 2016)

Rev. John challenged us to think upon the following:

What would your life be like if you made a home for the Holy Spirit in your heart and mind? What would our worship life be like if we made a home for the Holy Spirit in the heart and mind of our congregation? What would our world be like if the love and justice of God ruled in every nation? Let us imagine such a life and such a world as we worship the God who lives in us today.

Having done that there followed a responsive prayer asking for exactly that to be done.

Do we carry that invitation into our daily lives? Do we open up a personal invitation to the Spirit on a minute by minute basis? What a difference that would make.

 Hymn TIS 452:God of mercy, God of grace.” Both an invitation and a word of praise.

 Opening Prayer (abridged)

...We have heard of the mighty acts of those who received the gift of your promised Holy Spirit, and we are amazed. We dare to invite this same Holy Spirit into our lives, to teach us and to guide us that we too may learn of God’s love and justice. By the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, may your word make a home in us today. Amen.

 Prayer of Confession

 Rev. John acknowledged on our behalf that God had made his living word known to us. After which, in a responsive prayer which went to the depths of our hearts we confessed personally:

Without your mercy, we have no hope, no future, O God.

You have shown us the way of peace, but we have chosen paths of greed, exploitation, and hostility between peoples and nations.

Without your mercy, we have no hope, no future, O God.

You have shown us the way of salvation, but we have embraced practices that lead to death: Lying, idolatry, faithlessness, cowardice, sexual immorality, murder, drug abuse . . .

Without your mercy, we have no hope, no future, O God.

Have mercy on us, according to your loving-kindness. Forgive our sins and restore us by your grace, that we may resist the powers of evil, live in your light, and keep your word. Amen.

 Declaration of Forgiveness

Then we were assured and comforted with these words:

 With justice and equity, God forgives everyone who earnestly repents of their sin. May God’s face shine upon us and save us from our sin.

Thanks be to God! Amen.

The Peace

Jesus said, “Live in me and I will live in you.” As we greet one another with the peace of Christ, rejoice that Jesus Christ lives in each one of us.Peace be with you!

And also, with you

Invitation to the Offering

 When Lydia became a believer and was baptised in the faith, she invited Paul and his companions to stay in her home. Generous giving naturally follows believing! May our giving joyfully reflect our believing.

To offer is the thing. To have to be asked takes so much
 away from any gift and reveals a  lack of generous spirit.

Offering Prayer

Gracious God, we thank you for the abundant blessings
 you bestow upon the earth. As we offer these gifts, in thanksgiving and praise, we pray that they will be a blessing to others. Through our gifts, may the word
 of your goodness spread to the ends of the earth that all
people may know of your love and make a home for you
in their hearts. Amen.

Hymn TIS 408: “O breath of God, breathe on us now”
 It seems to me that the Spirit is the God I know: the God
that refuses to let go and demands that I keep to this path,
 no matter how imperfectly.

The Service of the Word.                  

Readings: Lyn Colless

The First Reading: Acts 16:9-15. Some people talk about his as our imagination opening up the Truth to us. If we look back through history it seems God has pointed men and women to the Truth this way whether they have been loyal followers or not.

The Gospel Reading: John 14:23-29. Following what I have said above and my own imperfect loyalty, I wonder if in God’s amazing generosity, truth is given for the benefit of all, to people who don’t merit its revelation because they have the resources to use it for the rest of God’s creation.

Preaching the Word – No Longer an Orphan - John 14:23-29

Rev. John spoke about wondering how he will feel when his mother is no longer living. He related that a person he had read about who as a child was really quite frightened of such a prospect. When the death of that person’s parents did take place he wasn’t scared but was certainly lonely and he turned to scripture for comfort.

“He read the passage that I have preached from many times during funerals and many of you have heard regularly. John 14:1-6.

 In this particular passage, Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure. Later in the passage that is used in funerals we have our scripture for today. Jesus is leaving them and they will feel alone— “orphaned”—having lost their Master, their Lord. Jesus is acutely aware of their pending experience of grief, loss, and sense of abandonment. It is then that Jesus offers them assurance that God will not forget them and will bless them, by telling them, But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not   let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (14:26-27).” One of the great promises from God to humans is that God will be with us.

 ...Sometimes we forget to continue reading the chapter 14 as it continues to offer words of comfort. The man I had been reading talking about earlier did. The sharp sense of feeling alone for him diminished and for many of us diminishes. We can feel peace in our hearts. This man went on to say that as he kept praying and reading these two verses, he experienced the Holy Spirit gently soothing his spirit. For this man it was more than a wonderful feeling; he experienced the Holy Spirit flowing into my being like fresh, soothing water.”

Rev. John related a story of a person finding peace through such a reading and through community with friends at church. We know many such stories.

 “The good news of Jesus Christ is that in God’s kingdom there are no orphans, no lonely people, no abandoned children, no forgotten elderly, and no rejected individuals. In God’s kingdom, we have a caring Parent who never forgets us and never abandons us. Praise be to God!”

Hymn TIS 451: “Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us” This hymn soothes and calms.

Intercessory Prayers

Ruth Henderson, relying on the promises of today’s readings and sermon, prayed for the people of God’s creation, worldwide: for their guidance, their healing and their comfort.

We then joined in THE LORD'S PRAYER

Hymn TIS 607: “Make me a channel of your peace” God’s way of being assurance and comfort to the world.


May your heart be a home for Christ. May your home be a place where God’s love abounds. May your heart and your home so abide in God’s love that everyone who knows you will say, “Look! God lives here!”

And may that same Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep always Amen.

Hymn TIS 780: “May light come into your eyes”


Saturday, 25 May 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 19 May 2018

Alan led our service today, beginning with the

Call to Worship, which were
Jesus’ words to us that we should love each other. It is a short exhortation
but greatly challenging. It’s one thing to say that we should love each other,
but to do it as Jesus has loved us, is on a different level. Often we can quote
such words without realizing their weight.

Hymn TIS 137 “For the beauty of the Earth” A song
of praise, reminding us of all the gifts we have been given.

Prayers of Adoration and Praise.
Psalm 148, said responsively, drawing in the congregation and raising the evocative
plane of this prayer as it resonated with each person. 

Alan continued to lead us as we became more aware of our inability to meet God’s
standard and praised God for forgiveness freely offered. Sometimes as we make our way through our lives, we fail to acknowledge that we have not loved our neighbour as Jesus loved us. We think we are as good as the next person but fail to acknowledge that we are simply broken people and are failing that sacrificial standard set by Jesus.

As we acknowledged our transgressions, Alan, on our behalf, asked for forgiveness.

Declaration of Forgiveness.
We were reminded that God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, 
but to save the world through him. We humbly accepted that release with:
“Thanks be to God”

We then shared that peace we had received with each other.

Hymn TIS 428 “Help us Lord, to learn” Not only from the Service of the Word to follow but 
of our own brokenness and need for healing and for forgiveness.

The Service of the Word


Elaine brought the Bible readings to us:

Acts 11: 1-18
Peter explains the vision he had which revealed that all are acceptable at the Lord’s Table. 

John 13: 31-35 I
give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved
you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are
my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Hymn TIS 217 “Love divine, all loves 
excelling” Another
reminder that every time we start congratulating ourselves on how wonderful we are, God wants us to open ourselves to be more than we can ever be through our own strength. 


I’d like to use the translation of Alan’s heading
“By this shall all men know” as it is in the NRSV. “By this everyone will know”.         

However, what will be “known” is the most important part: “that you
are my disciples”. Does everyone know that we are his disciples?

Alan recounted an interesting experience he had in England, of
climbing into a “priest’s hole”, a small place used to hide priests from
persecution by Protestants in Tudor times. The recount was made even more
interesting by Alan’s account of the arrival of a Cardinal while he  was there, 
who would have not survived during the persecution because he was a little 
on the tubby side and wouldn’t have fitted into the space.

Alan further reminded us of the many persecutions of one group of Christians
against another that went on for years at enormous cost to the world and its

I knew much hatred was spilled out, one group against another, but I
had no idea of the cost to the world. (And we can believe all Alan has to tell
us because when I knew him years ago he was a history teacher.) 

If we weren’t humbled by the prayer for forgiveness earlier in the
service, this was enough to make us crumble, asking for forgiveness that humans
could be so horrible to each other. (And we can’t take refuge in “it wasn’t
us”. If we had been there, it would have been us.) 

As Alan said: “we have not done well in hearing the words of Jesus”.
In fact it would seem that we haven’t heard them at all.

Later in his sermon, Alan said we use and misuse the word “love” so
carelessly and thoughtlessly that it can become almost meaningless and went on
to cite Martin Luther King Jr in saying that in loving others as Jesus loved
them does not mean we have to like them. 

That is so, and something I have learned is that loving someone is not
a matter of finding that person attractive in some way, but simply a matter of
will. We can simply decide that we will love another person to serve them as
Jesus served others. 

Alan had much more to say but space means I need to close here.
Today’s message is vital. Take notice and act upon it.

Hymn TIS 699 “A new Commandment I give unto you” This hymn allowed us to
let the words of the sermon sink in.

Prayers of the People

Alan prayed that the Government will, whatever the results of the
election, govern and work for the good of all Australians. He prayed for all
those who care for people and the people of our country regardless of culture
and country of origin.  

He asked for God’s blessing on John and Wendy and our whole
congregation as well as the needs of those known to us, finishing with the
Lord’s Prayer

Sending Forth

Hymn TIS 416 “Great God, Your Spirit is like the Wind” emphasizing God’s
influence in all things. 

Blessing and Dismissal
Christ gave his followers a new commandment:

Love one another as I have loved you.

So go to be the people of God, and may all know that you are Christ’s disciples
by the love that you show for each other.

Go in peace to live and serve the world. 

Hymn TIS 779 “May the feet of God walk with you.” An expression of our


Friday, 3 May 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 April 2019


Gathering God’s People began with Music to set the mood for the time together.

After that we acknowledged the First People who had cared for the land and prayed that those who follow God’s guidance, in turn, guide us.

Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2019)

Out of despair comes hope. Out of fear comes affirmation. Out of threats comes conviction. Out of our hearts comes praise.

This was followed by a responsive affirmation that in the midst of all our uncertainty, we will remain positive in our praise of God and our prayer for a growing faith.

TIS Hymn 256: “The Servant King.” Our king who showed us the way to be.

Opening Prayer

This prayer affirmed  God as life-giving, and life-affirming, asking that we be filled with hope for the new life given by the work of Jesus. It asked that our hearts will be opened to this never-ending, unconditional love during this time of worship and ever in every day.

Prayer of Confession - abridged

 “Forgive us our doubts, our fears, and our reluctance to witness to you and to the Risen Jesus.

We pray for the courage and conviction of those first disciples — disciples who overcame their fear and doubt to become mighty witnesses.

Lord, we believe; help our unbelief. Amen.”

Declaration of Forgiveness

The one who loves us and frees us will not leave us in despair and doubt, but will fill us with all joy and conviction. Let us praise and witness to the Holy One— the one who says I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; the one who is with us always.

Thanks be to God!

There was then a declaration and a sharing of The Peace.


We have been called to be witnesses to our faith. We have been called to do so with joy and praise. With hearts full of thanksgiving for all that we have received, let us commit ourselves and our resources to enable the church to be that fearless witness.

TIS Hymn 407:“Breathe on me, breath of God” To be filled anew with God’s life is the focus of our Christian life.

The Service of the Word

 The First Reading: Acts 5:27-32: the disciples are interrogated by the council but Peter’s response is that they are doing what they have been commanded to do, which is to offer relief from people suffering from their guilt, when forgiveness is freely available.

The Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31. This reading covers the event of Jesus appearing to the  disciples who were hiding behind locked doors from the Jews. Thomas wasn't present so didn't believe but did later when he saw for himself . The words for us are : “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (Christine)

Preaching of the Word – A Risen Christ Makes All the Difference!

Rev. John began:

The season of Easter allows the church to look intentionally at how the early church understood the Easter story and what difference that experience made as it sought to witness boldly to its truth and power.

 Following the Resurrection, John answers the question as to what difference the resurrection of Christ makes in the lives of those who come to believe it. On the same evening of that first day of the week, the followers of Christ huddled together behind locked doors in fear of the religious authorities.”

This was reflected in the Prayers for the People which was partly written by Caroline and then completed by Wendy as they thanked God for the support that is  given to us in our weakness and times of not reaching out ourselves.

       Rev. John’s words referred to scripture and thanks was given in the P for the P that scripture which is a concrete guide to our living, the realistic playing out of what Rev. John was saying about the difference that living through the Easter Story made to the lives of those who were there then.

Later Rev. John said:

The church is commissioned by Christ to witness to the power of resurrection living. John wants the church to claim the purpose for which it was created and commissioned. John wants the church to trust the presence of the Holy Spirit as it seeks to lead and guide its ministry to a broken and hurting world. Such is the nature of the church and who Jesus calls it to be.

This too, was reflected in the Prayers, as Wendy and Caroline led us in supporting, not only family and others known to us but people in need of support and comfort all over the world.

Rev. John then covered the story of “doubting Thomas” with which we are familiar. This ended with words which will uphold us to be God’s people doing God’s work: “My Lord and my God!” A risen Christ makes all the difference!

TIS Hymn 516: Here, gracious Lord, we see you face to face

This was the actual place for the prayers followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Familiar words guiding our thoughts

TIS Hymn 228: Crown him with many crowns


May God who is Alpha and Omega, who is, and was, and who is to come, fill you with faith and conviction. May the Risen One fill you with peace and joy, that you may affirm your faith. May the Spirit be breathed upon you and give you peace.

And may that same Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep always Amen.