Friday, 23 August 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 18 August 2019

Lynette Graham led our service today and spoke about her confronting experiences when she visited her son and his family in Kenya, where he works with the Kenyan Anglo/Catholic Community, ministering to people there who are suffering from severe disadvantage. 

Lynette said one of the disturbing and unavoidable experiences was the smell, revealing a community without the privileges we enjoy in our community. The Governor started a clean up programme of the river, which when completed would provide clean water, edible fish and all the other benefits that go with a healthy river.

One of the most horrifying aspects of the river clean-up was the number of discarded bodies retrieved from the river: people of all ages including babies. This was just one of the many types of rejection of people witnessed in Nairobi. Old people were rejected as were babies and children: simply because the family had no way of supporting them.

However, hope was provided by the Mission Community who cleaned up the area around which they lived; who helped people gain skills to use in finding jobs; who did maintenance work in the children’s homes; fed local young people who came on a daily basis; who ran Bible studies to give people  hope for their spiritual selves. All of these gifts to people especially the young ones give them a start with which they can possibly go out and live independently.

As well, the Mission helps and maintains the Imani Children’s homes which has 7 rescue and rehabilitation centres which cater for all the children who have no one to care for them.

There can be no worse start in life than to grow up  knowing that you have been rejected by the ones who brought you into the world. I can’t begin to imagine the extent of the damage to the inner selves of these children done by their feeling utterly rejected and alone in the world.

Fortunately there are those who have heard the a Gospel message that in as much as we feed, visit, comfort, clothe, house, those that are rejected, we do it to Jesus himself. And furthermore, they have acted upon that message, rejecting none, and welcoming all.

This is not just a story of hope given to those that have none. There is a challenge here for us. We may not find a way to support the Kenyan Anglo/Catholic Community or the Imani Children’s Homes, or a group I haven’t written about, The Little Sisters of the Poor who run a Nursing Home but it is our responsibility to respond to Jesus’ message that whatever we do to nurture someone (or reject them) we do it to him. It is that serious. We must respond in whatever way we can.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 August 2019

“Gracious Lord, you have promised to always be with us wherever we live and work, in times of drought and flooding rains, in times when we are gathered with those we love and in times when we are isolated and alone. Hear the praises we bring you as we gather to celebrate your presence within the congregations, we are part of, at home and in the places where our Bush Chaplains and volunteers engage with the people of remote Australia.”

 From the rising of the sun . . .

God speaks, calling out to the earth.

At the beginning of each new day . . .

God speaks, calling us to life and service.

Even with the setting sun . . .

God speaks, reminding us that we are not alone.

As we gather for worship this day

God speaks, inviting us to love freely and to become true treasure on earth.

Despite God’s faithfulness and absolute constancy we look to idols. We may not realize that we have, but instead of worshipping God, we worship the church music, or the minister, or some Godly person, or even the Bible itself. None of these are God, even though they may bring us God’s message or even God’s love. Look to God, the only One.

Opening Prayer

May the Creator Spirit continue to hover over this land of many contrasts, cultures and peoples.

May Christ walk alongside us as we move in His presence. May the cool wind of the Spirit refresh, replenish and restore our souls.

And may the land speak to us in such a way that

we may see, feel and hear God the Creator, God the Spirit and God the Son in the cool evening murmur of the breeze.

Praise be to God.

 And may we seek God and only God, not representations that bring God to us.

The Peace

 Let us share the treasure of love and mercy with one another as we offer the peace of Christ. Peace be with you! And also, with you!


 Launch Quiet Church for this Friday. These are opportunities, among other things, to sit quietly and seek God, and God alone without any distractions.

Offering Prayer

As we offer these earthly treasures back to you, transform these gifts into love and mercy by the power of your Holy Spirit and the gift of your miraculous love. Turn these earthly treasures of human currency into heavenly treasures of love and justice to bring your realm here on earth. Amen

And may these offerings motivate people to seek your outstretched hand and accept your invitation for an eternal friendship.

The Service of the Word

The First Reading: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

The Gospel Reading: Luke 12: 32-40

These readings brought to us by Grahame, tell us of people who had a relationship with God. May we not look to them but to the Author, not matter how much that may scare us. Remember, God is ... Love.

Preaching of the WordDo Not be Afraid (the words in quotes are Rev. John’s the others are mine.)

" ‘Don't be afraid. I will give you the Kingdom. Use your stuff so that you have permanent benefit from it. You will be happy if you are ready for my return.’ Or, to paraphrase it in the simplest way, don't be afraid, enjoy your stuff forever and be happy.

 This sounds wonderful. Our problem is that none of us can do this. Most of our lives are spent in a never-ending journey, searching for something that we hope will give meaning to our lives. Most of us are like the characters in the Wizard of Oz. We look like lions; except we are afraid. We are bright and shiny on the outside, but don't have any of the internal characteristics that help to bring fulfilment. We are tin woodsmen. Or, we are most agile but really don't have wisdom, like the Scarecrow. And some of us, much like Dorothy, are just lost and trying to find a way home.”

Most of the people who are reading this have professed some level of following Jesus for some time, if not all our lives. I think now is the time to step up and look God in the eyes, face to face. It is that that scares us silly, not sacrificing anything of this earthly life, but having a mature relationship with our Maker.

 " ‘Don't be afraid.’" A bold person shared a reflection about the cross. The person said ‘I came to understand that the cross is a test for us. We had God right here with us, in the person of Jesus. God was here to lead and love us out of this mess we are in. And what did we do? We killed him.’

 I wonder if why I struggle not to be one of those yelling out is that there is something in me that can't stand absolute love and goodness, even though I crave it. Yet, God’s answer to my failure is love, forgiveness and presence in my life forever. When I reflect on my failure in the cross, and God's answer, then I can know that I need never be afraid of any failure ever again. I have already failed completely, and God loves me and is present with me, it would be silly and a waste of time to be afraid.”

Think about these words: we are afraid, but God has shown us nothing but love. God has been nothing but amazingly patient with everyone of us. It’s time to look at that squarely and act upon it, stretching out to take the hand of God who has done nothing but love and love us for all our lives.

 “As we grow in love, we grow less and less fearful. As we grow in love, we discover

ourselves focused more and more on eternal relationships. Perhaps, it is scary to think about living this way, but remember the first thing the angels say, "don't be afraid."”

 Hymn TIS 780: May light come into your eyes. Amen to that!


Friday, 2 August 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 28 July 2019

Gathering God’s People

 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 honourably in this place.

From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus,

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2016)

Rev. John referenced the shooting of new life in a forest to try to explain the visions of God’s Grace as it suddenly comes to us:

the warm embrace of God’s limitless love—a love that is all-forgiving, all-encompassing, all-embracing.

and then to us who rail against the world’s injustices:

Come in, angry people!

This is a safe place to vent your fury.

Come in, hurting ones!

Here you will find compassion and grace to heal your wounds.

Come in, all who are in need of love and peace.

Here, we gather as children of the living God.

Hymn TIS 555:  Put all your trust in God

 Opening Prayer

 We pray to God for what we want and we are given what we need. We are still clueless despite years of looking for the way.

Prayer of Confession

Dear God, you have every right to be angry with us. We have such good intentions, but we continue to mess up. Forgive us, God.

We joyfully sing of your love on Sunday morning, but by Monday, we’re feeling lost and unlovable.

Forgive us, God.

We preach tolerance and compassion, but we find ourselves raging at the guy who cuts us off in traffic. Forgive us, God.


Declaration of Forgiveness

Then you forgive our sins, and once more show us how to forgive others. You offer us a vision of truth and love meeting together, and you invite us into their warm embrace.

Thank you, God.

As your forgiven people, beloved children of your promise, you renew us in holy love.

Thank you, God. Amen.

The Peace

 Peace is a gift beyond price. In Christ, we find peace as we are reconciled to God. Let us share this precious gift with one another in joy and thanksgiving! Peace be with you!

And also, with you!



Loving God, you nourish our famished souls by listening to our humble prayers.  We come asking, seeking, and knocking with the full knowledge that you are ready to respond to our supplications.  You deliver us from evil by nourishing our hearts with forgiveness and our minds with understanding.  You prepare a heavenly table for all who believe in the mighty acts of your Holy Son.  Bless these gifts so that your children will feast at the banquet which awaits in your eternal home.  Amen

 Hymn TIS 162: Thank you for giving me the morning

 The Service of the Word

The blog so far has been more a summary than a reflection and that is because I would like to reflect on the Bible Readings myself.

Colossians 2:6-15

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 

The reading continued from here but space does not allow reflection on all of it.

The first thought  which occurred to me was that we need to continue to live our lives in God. Day by day we need to look at our lives and recommit each part of it to Christ. It is so easy to sink back into little actions of selfishness. Initially it could be because we are tired or ill that we act in what we think are our own interests but we don’t need to stay there. We need to turn around and reach out to the one who shows us the true way. That is the way that builds us, not only into the people God wants us to be, but into the people we can be so happy with ourselves.

Then the second thought that occurred to me was to do with not being taken captive through philosophy and empty deceit. When we read the bible it is so easy to take an interpretation handed to us by someone else. We need to ask who the words were written for; we need to ask why those words were written and when those words were written. The answers to all those questions will have bearing on how the words can be interpreted. We need to work hard at finding the answers to all those questions to find out the real message of God and not what someone else wants to push upon you.

I had intended to reflect on both readings but I’ve run out of space

Hymn TIS 550: Our Father, God in heaven

Intercessory Prayers were followed by The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn TIS 414: There’s a spirit in the air


Go in peace, knowing that you are forgiven people. Go in faith, knowing that God hears your prayers and understands your needs. Go in love, knowing that God

invites you into the holy embrace of truth and righteousness. Go now as children of the living God to serve others in Christ’s name. Amen.

 Hymn TIS 780: May light come into your eyes