Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 22 SEptember 2019


We acknowledged our first people and their care for this land high is sacred because it was created by the God of all.

Call to Worship

Whoever is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much; and whoever is unfaithful with a very little is also unfaithful in much. May we, who are asked to give an accounting of our lives, be found faithful...

Hymn TIS 90: I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath. A declaration of a life long devotion to our creator. Singing this on a Sunday is reasonably easy to do, but living it day by day needs attention to our focus on the Spirit’s urgings and action in keeping with those.

Opening Prayer

With reference to scripture, we called out to God for healing because there is none other that can provide that sort of healing anywhere in Creation.

Prayer of Confession

We acknowledged God’s ways as being unfathomable to us and beyond us in degree. We then confessed how hard it is to pray for the people we find hard to love but how we yearned to be faithful stewards. We then asked forgiveness for missing the mark. Day by day we need to do this. We intend to be faithful stewards but just can’t seem to keep focussed.

“Heal our brokenness and our self-centred ways, for you alone are our one true physician, and you alone can make us well. Amen.”

Sometimes I’m surprised by how how self- centered I am.

 Declaration of Forgiveness

 “The author of our salvation, the one who weeps for us and for our world, is the God of compassion. God meets us in our need and heals our many failing. Rejoice and be glad. Thanks be to God! Amen.”

The Peace

 When we offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for others, we discover a peace that passes all understanding. Let us share signs of this peace as we pass the peace of Christ. Peace be with you!
And also, with you

The children’s talk began with reference to the balm of Gilead. This was a reference to a God being the final balm to heal those inner wounds and hurts when all other soothers fail. We may try to fill that inner emptiness in a thousand ways but we will still feel empty and at a loss until we respond to God’s invitation of healing.

Offering Prayer

God of manifold blessings, you provide for our every need, and call us to be good stewards of your many gifts. May we be found faithful in a little, that we may also be faithful in a lot…

Hymn TIS 665: “Jesus Christ is waiting” It is so easy to say the words but so much more difficult to see Jesus in the ordinary daily situations where we are called on to act with God’s love.

The Service of the Word

 The First Reading: Jeremiah 8.18 - 9.1We may well cry in our national and international situations: “Hark, the cry of my poor people.” and “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician here?”

The Gospel Reading: Luke 16.1-13 This reading is mostly a mystery to me but the final declaration is quite clear: Nobody can serve two masters.


Preaching the WordLost Again - Luke 16:1-13

The following is an abridged version of  Rev. John’s words:

This is a difficult parable—if not for first-century ears then at the very least for moderns. How could the master praise the manager when he had lost so much?..Is Jesus endorsing the behaviour of the manager, suggesting that his followers secure the future for themselves by dishonest means?...However: “make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth” means that the manager has now, and has always had, a choice: he could have used the wealth—either his master’s or his own— for the good of his master, himself, and most of all for God and creation (which includes debtors). The manager, however, let the wealth become the master instead of making it a means to the master, or to the “Master.”

Hence, Jesus points out that “no slave can serve two masters,” that no person can “serve God and wealth” (Luke 16:13). In the light of Jesus’ call to first-century people and to us to serve God rather than our wealth, what shall we do? Most of us have money, and

perhaps all the listeners and readers of this passage and my musing have lots of “stuff.

Do we ALL sell our homes and CARS. If we do (and stretch that to mean all our possessions.) who will provide for the poor? Who will offer hospitality? Who will transport the elderly? ......

Hymn TIS 534:Love is his word, love is his way” In fact, God is pure, undiminished, love.

Intercessory Prayers

Often these prayers reveal the deepest fear of loss of those who have added their prayer requests to the prayer sheet. This is when we are most aware that God is our only “balm”.

Hymn TIS 672:Lord of earth and all creation.” Another call for God to direct the daily decisions of those who run the organizations of our lands.


Go forth and be faithful in a little that you may also be found faithful in much. Go to be faithful in much that you may be entrusted with the wealth and welfare of others. Go to be faithful with the wealth of this generation, that you may be given the true riches that come from above. Go to be faithful children of light, that you may know the grace, hope, and peace of the one who is truly faithful, in the name of Jesus Amen.


HymnTIS 780: “May light come into your eyes.” … signaling that we have, at last opened our minds to God’s teaching.


Friday, 20 September 2019

Marsden Road Uniting Church Sunday Service 15 September 2019

Dermot called our attention to the presence of the Holy Spirit with us, making our church a Holy Space where we have gathered to meet our God. Following that we sang

Hymn AHB 28 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”, that being the purpose of our gathering.

We then prayed a Prayer of Praise and Adoration and Confession which began with the words:

“God of Creation - who abides over and in all that has been made

God in whose image we are made

And in your image we are given minds that wander and hearts that desire

And there is freedom - freedom to think and wonder and want...”

The prayer continued, but what Dermot was making clear was that we are free to seek in all directions in this Cosmos that God has created, to satisfy that yearning inside of us, and it is our choice to make the God of all the One to satisfy all our yearnings.

Dermot completed his prayer thus:

“God, who has gifted us and cursed us with freedom, you have not abandoned us to that freedom but have revealed in Jesus the nature which can be ours - no-one need be left out of the grace of Christ, except by their own foolishness...”

Hymn AHB 10 “ All People who on Earth do Dwell.” God’s love is for all and all are meant to respond.

Bible Reading

1Timothy 1: 12-17 The words of a repentant man, acknowledging God’s mercy.

Luke 15: 1-10 The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. God is not satisfied until each and everyone of us have turned back to a life of full joy.


Dermot spoke, comparing the idea of God represented in the various lectionary readings for the day. “The Lectionary readings suggested for today make a fascinating collection - I had to resist not including them all - they seem to almost represent two different worlds, and maybe they do as they straddle a long time and arguably pivot on the life of Jesus.”

Dermot spoke of Jeremiah where God is supposed to have described us as “foolish” and “stupid children” and then a few verses later God is said to be fiercely angry and to have “laid in ruins” cities seemingly because the neglect of the people had made the fruitful land a desert.

Also in Psalm 14 God is said to look “down” to see if anyone is wise but has found all have gone astray and are perverse.

There are many places in the Old Testament where God is said to be angry with humankind and to be set on punishing us.

As Dermot says: “All this stuff about sin and God (sic) punishment. Mind you, we will also see God’s forgiveness - somehow humanity has been allowed to continue.”

But in today’s readings from Timothy and Luke speak of God’s mercy to a blasphemous persecutor and God’s grace to all, even those seen as living against God’s laws such as tax collectors and “sinners

We could think that the Old Testament speaks of an angry, punishing God and that the New Testament speaks of a God of love.

But from the first times, the concept of God is built from the God ‘over there on the mountain’ to the transcendent God who is faithful and is known as Abba/Father.

Dermot leads us to the God whose aim is to bring us to repentance as represented by the Timothy reading of an image of a man on his knees “tearfully acknowledging the forgiveness of God.”

There are descriptions in the Old Testament of God telling his representatives to destroy an enemy but I, like Dermot cannot think of the God, who is love, inflicting any sort of “punishment” on anyone.

 Actions bear consequences and as humans who know very little, we often create disasters of our own making. Then there are natural disasters which occur because that is the way the geology and meteorology of this planet acts. Illnesses are caused in many ways, some of which may be our own fault but some a matter of being in the wrong place, such as being on a bus where someone else is sick or living near a place that is unknowingly polluted. Or for many other reasons. None of these are punishments sent by God. 

God simply is reaching out to us, wanting us to repent and turn back to enjoy a happy relationship with him. (Or her or whatever form God takes because a God is above the restrictions of humans.)

Hymn AHB 399 “Father in Heaven” Asking for God’s blessing (which is promised to us).

Then in the Prayers of the People Dermot addressed the concerns of the church Nation- wide and those of our own Congregation.

Hymn AHB 480 “Forth in Thy Name go.” Our every act should be with God’s purposes in mind.


As we walk from this Holy Place, this Holy gathering,

Let us all walk with Christ as we share the love and grace which we

know is the mark of God present in and about us, in Jesus name.


Blessing Hymn “Now unto him”

Now unto Him Who is able to keep, Able to keep you from falling. And present you faultless Before the presence of His glory With exceeding joy. To the only wise God our saviour Be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen



Thursday, 12 September 2019

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 1 and 8 September 2019

I have not been able to keep writing my blogs as usual for some time and this week I am going to combine Rev. John’s sermons from the 1st and 8th of September as the basis for today’s reflection.

In his sermon on the 1st September, Rev. John began by reminding us what the writer to the Hebrews said about our lives as Christians and how they should be spent emulating the life of Jesus.

Rev. John also reminded us that so often people and Christian communities turn inward and becomes concerned about the things of self, forgetting Jesus’ message to love one another regardless of our fears of and judgment about others. Sometimes it has been out of misplaced concern for purity, forgetting that Jesus was more concerned about showing compassion for the rejected of society than rejecting them.  When we look at people who, in our eyes, are breaking God’s commandments, we would do well to think about what has brought them to the place where they are, and how they are suffering in their hearts as a result. 

 Then Rev. John pointed to other concerns individual Christians and churches should keep before them:

“In addition to the call for hospitality and social concern, the writer of Hebrews here takes the occasion to remind the community of various other matters that can easily fracture individual and community life. Then there is frugality, which can cross over the line into an unhealthy and spiritually deadly love of money.”

Of course we should not squander God’s gifts but equally, we should not cling to them so that they cannot be used to build The Kingdom.

 “This is a powerful set of concerns.” As Rev. John pointed out hospitality and concern for those less well off had been foundation principles of the Jew’s religion and weren’t invented by Jesus, but then and now people needed to be reminded of what their God expected of them. 

Rev. Johns next words are very true:

 “There seems to be a growing intensity in the fear of strangers in this generation. We have become preoccupied with the risk of opening our borders, churches, homes, and lives to the stranger. We speak of the stranger as an “alien,” which has become a pejorative term.

 Truth is, except for the Aboriginal tribes and the Torres Strait Island peoples, all our forebears were aliens. Hospitality for the stranger, the poor, the homeless, and the oppressed is a virtue proclaimed by the Australian people.“

But when push comes to shove, how do we act? With true hospitality! Or out of misplaced fear of anything a bit different such as the colour of the top millimeter of a persons’s skin or the food they have learned to eat as a matter of availability?

Time to think deep and hard.


Rev. John’s sermon on 8th September was quite complex but the words that jumped out and grabbed me concerned my behaviour as a disciple of Jesus.

For starters, God comes first, before Mother, Father, Husband or Wife. It’s not that we are not to care for those people or love them but when there’s a conflict between the requirements of God and the requirements of anyone else, God’s requirements are those that we fulfill.

Then there’s our behaviour towards others:

Rev.John, speaking about the reading for the day said: “During his time in prison, St Paul wrote a letter to the worshipping community who met at Philemon's house. He describes a new family member in Christ named Onesimus, a runaway slave. Paul claimed him as an adopted son and is asking Philemon and the community to receive Onesimus not as a slave, but as an equal partner in the community of Christ. St Paul calls all Disciples of Christ to a higher standard of love, one of forgiveness...”

Once we are disciples of Jesus, we are motivated by something quite different from the rules of secular society. God IS Love, and that love, which is graciously flooded over us, should motivate all that we do. But that will only happen if we keep our focus on God.

Rev. John spelled this out:

“We are the earthly vessels for God to use as witnesses to God's continuous acts of love. Disciples are responsible for preaching, teaching and manifesting the word of God and loving all people regardless of race, creed, colour, class, social status...”

And our acts of love are not going to be effortless and maybe empty words. As Rev. John said:

 “As disciples we accept the costly grace of God, where we are called to act. We cannot stand by idly and not protest at the social ills of our communities. We cannot be bystanders as homeless, uneducated and abused children grow into illiterate, unemployed adults. We cannot stand by silently and accept institutional racism, social economic injustice and constitutional changes that serve the privileged few. We, the disciples of God, cannot stand by and quietly accept the deviant, hateful, political slurs against such as the poor, women and ethnic people.

 We cannot accept the political structural corruption that erodes our neighbourhoods, destroys our families and endangers the future of social security for the elderly. As disciples, we are called to experience costly grace by being God's prophetic voice in a world unplugged to God's love. We are called to scream from the rooftops for equality and justice for all people in the love of Jesus Christ!”

As I said initially, Rev. John’s sermon was quite complex, but just this much has left us with enough to keep us challenged to live authentic lives as true disciples of Jesus. Living out God’s love as we are loved. We may not think others do not deserve our love and effort but think again about Almighty God’s graciousness to each of us.