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Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 24March 2019

March 28, 2019 - 8:11am

The service began with an acknowledgement to the original carers of the land who were grateful to the land and its creator for all it offered them and replayed with care and reverent respect.
The Call to Worshipdeclared that God, knowing our hunger and thirst, provides generously for us so that we will be satisfied and praise God for that.
So in the Opening Prayer we prayed to God that our hunger and thirst will be met in a way that satisfies our whole being.
However in our Confessionwe admitted to seeking to satisfy our hunger and thirst in transitory ways that left us still hungry and thirsty. For this we asked for forgiveness:
Help us abandon our careless ways and self-seeking schemes that we might return to you, our provider and sustainer.
In response Rev. John declared our forgiveness:
God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our abilities.
Even in our brokenness, God provides a path to wholeness.
When we confess our shortcomings, God has mercy on us and is generous with forgiveness.
Through Christ Jesus, we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!
Then having found our peace we offered that peace to each other.
Offering Prayer
As we enjoy the rich feast you have provided, we know that there are those who want for food and drink. Multiply the offerings we share today, that they may bless those in need. May the spiritual nourishment we receive today strengthen us for continued service in your name.
The Service of the Word.
The First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9
The Gospel Reading: Luke 13: 1-9- brought to us by Christine.
Preaching of the Word Planting Seeds of Hope
Rev John spoke of living an intentional life as a disciple of Jesus. He began by relating the story of an immigrant to New Zealand from Iran who despite his many regrets at leaving his home and all the difficulties of making a new life in another land and culture, did so because of the danger of remaining in his home country.
And because he intentionally made a new life in New Zealand and made choices for that to come about, he was able to do so successfully and as a result enjoys a new life.
Rev. John then said:
 In much the same way, following Jesus is an intentional act. It is a choice and as Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Following Jesus is an intentional, thought-out decision that leads to a new way of life…
To a certain extent, this means we ought to be deliberate with the choices we make. One of the expectations of discipleship is that we are actively involved in a relationship with God where we are making wise choices to help this relationship grow. Should we choose to be passive in our faith, we are in a sense letting life pass us by without embracing the opportunity to receive the gifts…
 The intentional choices made today are like seeds of hope that will blossom tomorrow
When we think about this we could relate it to the story of the tree the owner ordered to be destroyed. The manager pleaded for another year to fertilize it and care for it. This week someone suggested the tree hadn't borne fruit was that the manager had neglected it up until that point. Perhaps our spiritual lives haven't blossomed and borne fruit because we have neglected them. A point to ponder.
Making a real investment in the faith is an issue in our time, but we are not alone.When Jesus teaches about becoming one of his followers, we must recognise that he is teaching this lesson to his own disciples…
 Jesus is inviting his disciples into a deeper, more serious form of discipleship. Jesus is speaking about commitment and dedication. If you are one of those people attending church who have not invested in the church, then perhaps this scripture is teaching you to get invested. Investing in the faith comes with a price…
So, just “turning up” isn't all that is required. We must intentionally attend to feeding our souls on the nourishment offered by God, however that comes to us.
 We say no to ourselves so that we can say yes to God. I witnessed my friend Bruno make sacrifice after sacrifice for the good of his family and his faith. He might have had a promising career in his homeland because of his college education, but he gave this up so that he and his family might live in freedom… 
Makingthe most of our life in Christ involves sacrifices and intentional choices. Each day we have the opportunity to choose whether or not we will follow the way of Christ. Fortunately, we are helped in this decision by the church, which teaches us to live intentionally. The church encourages our participation in Christian practices like prayer, worship, ministry, and hospitality.
That may mean less time spent in other pursuits but also it certainly does mean more time listening for God’s guidance, in whatever form that may come.
Our search for God continues.
Our hunger and thirst will return.
Seek God in all places. Seek God with your whole being.
We will call on God and know that God is near.
And may that same Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep always.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 17 March 2019

March 22, 2019 - 9:19am

Today I took my cue from two readings, Genesis 15: 1-12, 17-18 and
Luke: 13: 31-35 looking at how simply the people of that time interpreted natural events.
 Now even though the people of the Old Testament were interpreting natural events wrongly, they were right on the money when it came to walking daily with God.
A little advice about waiting on God: 

I will make no further comment on that it's not really unusual to have to sit quietly to build a relationship with God. We don't make friends with each other if we don't give time to those relationships.
From day to day we have to interact with the people and things around us to get through life. That comes with the usual ups and downs; successes and failures, and so in the daily rush it's hard to think of ourselves as citizens of heaven, but even so, all those ups and downs; successes and failures at an earthly level do not affect our relationship with God. Jesus did not let his Earthly work interfere with his Relationship with God. He was told that Herod was after him but his response was that Herod would just have to wait because he knew from his daily walk with God that his earthly work still had time to run.
Of course we should value our physical existence and the gifts we are given but we need to remember our primary concern is to look after that physical existence and those gifts to continue building God’s kingdom.  In the New Testament we are exhorted over and over to live as though we are already citizens of heaven and that's because we are: God’s kingdom start here and now.

Paul told the Philippians to imitate him and his mob. Hmmm. To be fair he meant to imitate him and his followers in living close to God but even then I would feel safer taking my cue from Jesus himself.
We are in Lent. This was the time when it is traditionally believed that Jesus was on a trajectory to Jerusalem.
Where he knew he would die.
He also knew that if he stopped telling the truth He had learnt through his relationship with God, and went off to live in obscurity he wouldn't have to die.
Jesus lived side by side with God . The truth came to him from his daily, close, patient walk with God. He would have had to turn his back on that and deny all he knew to be true to escape death.
How would we be in such a situation? How highly do we value our relationship with a God and our citizenship in Heaven, whether it be here on Earth or in the afterlife? How highly do we value the truth?
Jesus could not give up his relationship with God. He could not stop telling the truth or living by it. He may have escaped death in the cross but if he had taken the other path, he would have shrivelled up and died anyway.
You may think I am setting the bar too high. That it's all very well talking about the fortitude Jesus showed which came from his close relationship with God. God is far more understanding of our frailties than we are. Feeling not good enough or a failure doesn't help at all. Each time we falter we should reach up for help in finding our feet again. God’s love and support will provide the strength for us to continue and every time we go through that process we will learn a little more about how close God is to us and how God is there for us
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 17 February 2019

March 4, 2019 - 10:29am
 Call to Worship.

Out of the ordinary aspects of life , we are called into this place-  for this is a special place in which God has been waiting. Waiting for each one of us. In the presence now of God, surely all that we can do is offer our praise and worship. And at the name of Jesus, we must bend our knees in submission and faith. Let’s sing:  
Hymn TIS 231“At the name of Jesus” And until they do it's up to those who do to see that God’s will be done.
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
 God  - in this place we are invited to meet you – to encounter the truth of who you are – your love for all humanity. If we are open to such a message – if we are willing, then we must be impacted, lifted out of our ordinariness. We must become new - with new energy and understanding, for when we meet your truth, when your Spirit works in us, we must be changed…
God help us to help the poor, the hungry and the excluded as we live for you in this place. In Jesus’ name Amen.
Offering For the building of God’s kingdom.
Hymn TIS 210“O for a Thousand Tongues” Today there are far more than a thousand and there are those that praise God but don't know that they are doing so when they praise God’s handiwork or the work of people who are inspired by God.
Bible Reading Luke 6: 17-26
Dermot began by setting the scene of the reading, of the people who had so little, not just so little in a material sense but so little spiritually, who went out to hear Jesus hoping that “this time” they would find an answer to their poverty.
Two thoughts immediately sprung to mind. Firstly, how often do we try to enrich our “flatness” with things that only have to be replaced when they wear out or break or simply disappoint because once we own them…nothing has changed. The message Jesus preached was and is the answer to that. “Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven…”
Then the other thought was that how in the midst of our feeling deprived or flat or missing something, we don't give a thought for those people today who have little more than the people Dermot spoke of. In our own country here are people who either walk out take public transport…everywhere…not just when it's convenient. They NEVER buy food or drink when they are out. A family birthday means everyone turns up for lunch to honour the birthday person but the meal is the same simple meal as always. And then when we think further afield, there are the people in countries about which we know little. In a documentary I watched not long ago, a little boy was setting off for school, kilometres away with a bottle of water. His grandfather handed him half a slice of flatbread to take with him for the day. There was no sense that either of them thought they were deprived or in some terrible situation. Perhaps they found their richness in heaven.
Dermot seemed to agree:
As I read this passage again, I found myself imagining you, who are gathered here, being the people who left your village or your town this morning to head out along a dusty road, joining with others, possibly with a clay jar of water?? – and a piece of flat bread, to head out to where a wandering Rabbi/preacher was to speak.  And why did people go to that effort? Because they were hoping to hear something which might be valuable – which might change their lives.
Was this what it was like for you this morning?   You came hoping to hear something nourishing, something which might be impactful?  You might be a very different crowd to that which came out to hear Jesus, but I wonder whether you might indeed be in fact doing the same thing – seeking after God intervene in their lives.
Dermot continued, linking Matthew and Luke in a way to explain what seemed different messages. Space does not allow us to follow that here. What Dermot said next was:
remembering that Luke’s Gospel has particular concern for the needy and outcast – that is, that God has a particular concern for those in need, for surely what we are encountering is a revealing of the nature of God, then here’s a thought
– maybe, just maybe, it is this message which is the reason Jesus had to die! Maybe for speaking such words, Jesus could not be allowed to live. Maybe these words were too offensive or challenging to the powers who moved against him for them to simply ignore Jesus and let him continue to spread such stuff.
Who would think it today? Aren’t these words simply words of advice and of compassion? NO! We must realise that in such words Jesus was standing face to face with the powers of the day – the powers which exercised control of the political and the religious framework for the whole community. And these powers and authorities are directly criticised by Jesus - they had to put a stop to him.
May God forgive us - but we see abusive exercise of authority by one over another in international affairs – and in our national politics – and in our State politics – and local affairs – and even in our families. It is the same drive for power, status, ego, etc and the same sort of fears and lack of trust which motivates such disease at every level of human society – and it all arises from an unwillingness to know and accept others with a respect and concern which should be given to all – we are all children of the same God and bear within us the gift of life and potential to know the nature of God as revealed in Jesus.
It is for us to understand our weaknesses and whatever our age and whatever our place in the community, to speak and do what we can to better those who are in need, whether poor (or poor in spirit) – whether hungry – or whether those who are rejected. For to do so is to become what we are meant to become – this is what Jesus taught to that crowd 2000 years ago
Hymn “Lord of the Dance”
Prayers of the people and Lord's Prayer One of the most important parts of the service but if we leave if at that, it is not enough. We must act where we can
Hymn TIS 272 “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”
God calls us to a task of sharing goodness and compassion– to do so is to abide in God’s own nature. Let us go out then with a loving concern borne of our love of God in Christ. Amen.
Going out Hymn
Now unto him
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 March 2019

March 4, 2019 - 10:29am

Apply the Mountaintop Experience.
Put yourself in the Holy Land - 2,000 years ago as we can in our imagination and as we read the passage from Luke 9: 29-36 from the lectionary for this week. Imagine that you are one of Jesus' leading disciples. He calls you apart from your colleagues to go with him on what turns out to be a great adventure. You start walking, happily chatting, and following him toward the high country. At the start, you figure, this is one more time when Jesus needs to get away from the crowds - to rest and refresh and restore his spiritual strength. You, too, are ready for a rest.

When Jesus leads you to the destination, you recognise it as a holy place of your faith-set apart for connection with the greatest meaning life has to offer - a place to encounter God. You begin to think that maybe this is not going to be an ordinary retreat, even by Jesus' standards. Suddenly you see Jesus changed - his face has changed and has become dazzling white. You are not sure what to make of this. But you know something extraordinary has happened.
Then, you are startled again to see the two most honoured leaders of your faith, Moses and Elijah, long dead, standing there beside Jesus. You do not know what to think or do. Your friend Peter suggests setting up dwellings so they could stay there permanently. But before anything else can happens, you hear the voice of God-"This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"  Now you know the purpose of this adventure. Here is the answer to what you should do. t is clear that you are not to look to Moses and Elijah-not to look back to the old, but to reach forward to the new, listening to this beloved one of God, this Jesus and listening to him only. Then, it is time to go back down the mountain and return to the others. They will be the same, but for you everything is different. God has done a new thing. Everything in your life is transfigured - transformed - changed - to a new reality of God.
It is meant to be easy for us, as followers of Jesus, to put ourselves in the place of James or John or Peter. We go through the same kind of adventure in our daily lives; we recognise the same Lord. And we hear the same message from God: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
We too have our "mountain tops." Each of us needs places and times set apart for us to take a good spiritual breath. Often this can happen in the midst of worship or Bible study or prayer groups or whenever we gather with fellow believers or even as we share an experience with God’s creation. The "mountain tops" of our lives are also represented by times when we are alone with only silence around us-not with a radio blaring or a television yakking or a computer clicking. This is our personal prayer time and time for meditation and reflection - being still so we know God for what God is, specifically, in our lives. If you have ever sat upon the mountain top or in the bush and watched and listened as the new day dawned in all its glory will now what I am referring to.
 All of us though, too, gain recognition and insight into God when we go to these mountain tops set aside as holy places and holy times for us to focus on God. In the stillness of our quiet and solitude as we watch and wait we learn to see and hear what our God says and does and how God moves us. The presence of God can astonish us in the beauty of creation and the generosity of the love we are surrounded by.
  And we too can listen most attentively to the beloved of God. In these times of quiet prayer and meditation and self-examination, we listen for the words and the truths of our Universe and our God through Jesus. We do this through reading and reflecting and through studying the examples of others whom we Christians call the saints. We connect with the saints of old and the godly people of our own day and communities by opening ourselves to recognise the power of the spirit moving among us and those around us, changing lives to better reflect values of God s kingdom.

However, we too must come down from our "mountain tops," knowing what is possible for us in every part of our lives. We can count on the amazing power of God to transfigure and transform and change what is old into what is new-what is ordinary into the extra-ordinary, into what can be.
The truth of the Gospel affirms that each and every one of us - even if we are lost, blind, misguided, self-centred, and arrogant - can really be transformed into God's beloved children and his faithful disciples. God can transform our sadness and frustration and despair into joy and hope. God can transform our apathy and lack of concern for God's commandments into an active love that brings God's kingdom more closely into being. God can transform our weakness and fear into courage and strength. God can transform our earthy, broken humanity into faithful members of the Body of Christ.
We live our lives at the base of the mountain. If we have heard the transforming word of God we will continue to listen to Jesus our Lord and we will pray continually the collect connected with today's Gospel.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Unitng Church 24 February 2019

February 26, 2019 - 9:04pm

The theme today was “love”. God’s love which has raised us up to minister to others, so that they will find God’s love for themselves. One of the first statements the Rev. John made during The Call to Worship was:
“Love is an all or nothing proposition. Only by loving your enemies as well as your friends do you live as children of the Most High.”
This theme was continued through the Opening Prayer:
 “Inexhaustible source of love and life, be with us in our time of worship as we seek the love it takes to walk in the ways of your Son. Help us love our enemies and bless those who wrong us, for we cannot do so alone. Teach us the joy of treating others with all the same respect and goodness with which we hope to be treated. May our every word and deed make known that we are your beloved children and vessels of your love. Amen.”
which both acknowledged God as love itself and the source of all love. At the same time the prayer called on God to show us how to love as God loves us. But we needed to Confess our inability to do so as God would want us to do because of our human frailty.
“Teacher of hard truths, it is difficult to let go of our anger toward those who prosper through deceit and unscrupulous ways:
It is not easy to make ourselves believe that the meek will inherit the earth, when they are being crushed by the unjust systems stacked against them.

We long to see the vindication of the righteous
and the prosperity of those who work selflessly
 to bring your realm here on earth.
We yearn for the day when all people will
treat one another as they wish to be treated.
 Help us live into that day, Holy One, even
when it is difficult, that your love might
 shine like the sun through our lives and
our ministries. Amen.”
But having confronted our lack and having
asked for forgiveness, we were able to reach
 out, knowing that we are forgiven and can
pass that generosity onto other children of God.
“Let us be known as children of the Most High by sharing our love with all as we pass the peace of Christ.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!”
We were gathered today to welcome Otis into the family of God and God’s love. Because there is only one way to be so joined the parents were asked if they had made the necessary steps to claim membership of God’s family for themselves and their little boy:
“Do you turn to Christ? Do you repent of your sins? Do you reject selfish living, and all that is false and unjust? Do you renounce all that is evil? Do you believe that the gospel enables us to turn from darkness and evil and to walk in the light of Christ?”
When they answered all these questions in the affirmative, John prayed:
“Almighty God deliver you from the powers of darkness and lead you in the light of Christ to his everlasting kingdom. Amen.”
Then knowing Otis would receive proper guidance from his parents, Rev. John continued:
 “Otis, may the Lord open your ears to hear his word and your mouth to proclaim his praise.”
We then showed our love in a practical manner through our offering according to Jesus words:
“Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure. . . running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
This sense of generosity beyond what was necessary was continued in the Bible reading from Luke which admonished us to love without any sense of reward or return…even those who were our enemies.
The Preaching of the WordUnimaginable Love continued along the same line:
 “To love our enemies prevents us from acting out of our own self-interest. It means that compassion and forgiveness are at the very core of our faith. It means that to do harm to others in any way is totally out of the question. It means that we live by a higher standard, one that leads us to a new and different world which transcends the one in which we live. To follow this principle is humanly impossible.”
The same message was reflected in the Prayers of the People, led by Wendy. Not only was the main body of the prayer focused on love to others but the prayer requests of the congregation were little packs of love, wishing peace and God’s comfort on those we know who are suffering in some way.
  This was emphasized in the following hymn, “Joy to the World.” Joy cannot exist without peace and love.
 “Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the faint hearted; support the weak;
help the afflicted; give honour to all; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.  
Then we sang a blessing to each other:
HymnTIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
May the feet of God walk with you, and his hand hold you tight.
May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear your cry.
May the smile of God be for you, and his breathe give you life.
May the child of God grow in you, and his love bring you home.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 3 February 2019

February 13, 2019 - 10:33am

 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 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,
Call to Worship - (B J Beu and other Source)
God has been with us and knew us before we were even born. The one who calls us to love has been loving us longer than we have drawn breath. Sink into the arms of Love this day and trust the hand that holds you.
Therefore we worship God in every way, in every action and thought. Not because we should, but because God’s love in us generates that worship from within us.
Hymn TIS 28: “God is our strength and refuge.” No matter how dark, dangerous or difficult, or even easy life is, we haven't the strength or wisdom to go it alone. And God is our only helper
Opening prayer
 Wrap us in the arms of your love, Holy One, as we gather in worship this day. Teach us to be patient and kind in our actions, and humble of heart in all of our ways. Help us see and know ourselves as well as you see and know us, that our words may be true, and our love may be pure. Build us into a community that bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things in the name of Love, which never ends. Amen.
 A Prayer of Confession
 God of truth and love, when we yearn for certainty in an uncertain world, remind us that we know only in part; when we long for others to see things our way, remind us that we see in a mirror dimly; when we seek to impose our ways upon others, remind us that we have failings of our own. Harken us to your voice once more and reveal to us the truths that you alone can see. In your holy name, we seek your guidance now. Amen.
 Declaration of Forgiveness
The one who formed us in our mothers’ wombs looks upon us with love and seeks our highest good. Rejoice in the good news that we are fully known, and that we are loved with a love that heals all wounds and breaks down all barriers that lie between us. Thanks be to God!
The Peace
 Now faith, hope, and love abide as signs of God’s care for us. Let us share these signs with one another as we pass the peace of Christ.
The peace of Christ be with you.The peace of Christ be with you always.
Source of every good gift, you have watched over us all the days of our lives— guiding our ways, protecting us from harm, and showering us with your blessings. Receive these offerings from our grateful hearts, and bless the world with our heartfelt thanks, that all might know your amazing gift of love. Amen.
Hymn TIS 153:“God is love, let heaven adore him” This song acknowledges God’s love and the world’s need for it.
                   The Service of Holy Communion
This service has many parts and many purposes and many effects. We remember and in remembering we are reminded of our purpose in life and our dependence on God to live that life to the full. We are reminded that we are all equally welcome at God’s Table and equally loved. 
A Prayer after Communion
By your Spirit, make us one with Christ and with one another, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at the heavenly banquet. Through Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory are yours, almighty God, now and forever more. Amen.
 The Service of the Word
First Reading:1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Gospel Reading: Luke 4: 21-30
The Preaching of God’s Word
Rev. John, using a reference to the Peanuts comic and Charlie Brown’s difficulty in
explaining or even talking about love, spoke of the mystery of love.
It may be difficult to explain or define but we all know when it is absent. Likewise when
Rev. John spoke of how, in our attempt to say something about love, we turn to poetry or
painting, do we do when we want to represent the full strength of its absence.

Today I was relaxing, looking at Facebook and saw a group of very rough looking people
spend a great deal of time and care with the only tool they had, a pair of tin snips,
gently prize a tangled cord from around and inside a waterbird’s beak. Not a smile, not a
gentle look from any of them. But they were showing great love to that bird.
Rev. John said “Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, captivates our imagination. We read these words and before we know it, we are being read by them. We read, and we recognise the depth of what they say. We realise the poignancy and truth of Paul’s message.
 How easy it is for us to forget that these words were written to address congregational struggle and division. They were not written as a sentimental note on the latest wedding card but to speak to the profound truth of the gospel in daily life. We forget that Paul wrote these words to a congregation in ferment…”
So, regardless of whether we like or approve of someone. Regardless of whether we value their work inside or outside the church, remember God loves them because of their intrinsic value as one of God’s created. We can't do anything less.
Hymn TIS 398: “Come down, O Love divine” God’s love through us is the way.
Intercessory Prayers and the Lord’s Prayer
Hymn TIS 473: “Community of Christ, who make the Cross your own.”
God sends us forth with words of love on our lips. Christ sends us forth with acts of love in our deeds. The Spirit sends us forth with the spirit of love sustaining our very lives. Go in the power of God’s love and be ambassadors of Christ’s love and peace, and may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with and remain with you always. Amen.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday ServiceMarsden Road Uniting Church 10 February 2019

February 13, 2019 - 10:20am

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 be blessed.
From breath to song, from step to dance,
May those who follow Your Songlines guide us on the journey of living honourably in this place.
From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus.
Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2019)
From fishing fleets and busy harbours, God gathers simple sailors. Through persecution and injustice, God calls brave prophets. When we least expect it, Christ gathers us in, and calls us to follow him. Let us gather and answer Christ’s call. Called by God, we have come to worship. Called by Christ, we have come to follow. Called by the Spirit, we have come to rejoice. Called together, we will listen and pray.
Hymn TIS 693: “Come as you are.” A hymn of great encouragement. Just as we are. No matter how badly we think of ourselves, we are invited.
Opening Prayer
Holy God, we gather to sing your praise and hear your word. Speak to us now, that we may be wise enough to perceive your call. Strengthen us now, that we may be brave enough to answer when you call. Guide us now, that we may follow where you would have us go. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
 Master, we have worked all day and night, for many months and years. We yearn for a heavy catch, a full church, an abundant feast. Forgive us God, when we are too tired to cast our nets one time; when we are too stubborn to do things a little differently. Have mercy on us, when we are too afraid to dive into deep waters and take a risk. Grant us grace, that we may proclaim your word, work for your kingdom, and trust your promises. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Do not be afraid! Christ has called. Christ has redeemed us. Christ will save us all.
Thanks be to God!
The Peace
Those who place their faith in the Lord are blessed. Let us share this blessing with those around us as we pass the peace of Christ.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
Whom should God send? Who will go for God’s people? Here we are, God is
counting on us. Let us share our gifts and our offerings in answer to God’s call.
Increase the strength of these gifts, and the strength of our ministries, O God. Expand the nets of our love, that we may reach deeply and share abundantly. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen
Hymn TIS 658: “I the Lord of Sea and Sky” Send me. I'll step up. So often we think that the message means someone else. Someone more talented, someone with more time, someone more confident. No it means me.
The Service of the Word
Bible readings (delivered by Laurel)
The First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13)
The Gospel Reading: Luke 5: 1-11
 Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13)This needs to be read in its entirety to appreciate how challenging and even frightening it can be to hear the call of God. But God doesn't ask us to do anything for which we will not receive strength and support.
Luke 5: 1-11. An example of how we can get it so wrong. The fishermen were experienced and were so sure that Jesus couldn't be serious. However, the results proved their expertise out and they were forced to rethink their whole lives.
 Preaching of the Word - Call to Transforming Love
Rev. John’s message was about trusting God’s voice. We may not think ourselves good enough for the task but then, apart from not trusting God to support us and guide us, so often we at mistaken about the nature of the task. Trust!
Once we listen and follow, Rev. John said:
For we are never the same once we have listened to what Christ has commanded! We are never the same once we have acknowledged our true condition. We are never the same once we place our lives in Christ’s hands.
 It is a truth that sustains us in our journeys, and it is a truth that will keep and protect us during the rough seas of our lives.It is a truth that will take us beyond the religious trappings of our world and into the loving arms of our Master, the One who calls us to follow him into the deep places and catch people for him. Amen.” 

Rev. John went on to say:
 “We are called to be a people who have experienced
that same transforming generosity and love. That same Jesus has invaded our "space" and affected our day-to-day lives. There's been a moment, perhaps a
whole lot of moments when God in Jesus has touched us even in the parts of our lives we have foolishly thought to be "nothing to do with religion".
Hymn TIS 132: “Holy, Holy, Holy.” And when all turns out well, the praise goes, not to us with our new found mission but to God.
Music to lead us to prayer
During this time we prayed our private prayers after which Rev. John led us in the Prayers of the People, followed by The Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TIS 387: (Tune: Turo) “Christ is alive Let Christians sing” And sing we did, Rev. John’s message had touched hearts and minds.
Listen for God’s word. Answer Christ’s call. Go into the deep and love courageously. Rejoice in the harvest of grace! And may Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep always Amen.
HymnTIS779: “May the feet of God walk with you”: Our prayer for each other.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Baptism of Jesus and Epiphany

January 18, 2019 - 11:15pm
Sunday 13th January, 2019
Today, we considered the epiphanies, times where God was revealed to people who were changed forever by the experience.
It was my privilege to lead this service, and I kept the hymns and prayers to reflect the theme.
Following is an excerpt of the reflection I offered.
To begin with I shared techniques I had been taught to help understand bible passages when the help of commentaries was not available. The most useful of these is to ask why the passage was written.
Now what was the purpose of the writings that we have read today?
In Psalm 29 the phrase “the voice of the Lord” is repeated many times. The commentators I read agreed that the phrase referred to the thunder accompanying a storm which has rolled off the Mediterraneanand is hitting the coast, from where it shakes the cedars of Lebanon in the north before it swings south to cast bolts of lightning in the southern wilderness.
It was to  proclaim God’s power in this world, where the knowledge that such power exists everywhere in everyday events, was an assurance to the people of Israelin exile.
Everywhere they looked they were suffering from being a captive nation so they needed this assurance that their condition was only temporary and their God was still in charge.
Isaiah was also written to a captive people. A captive people who despite regarding themselves as God’s people were constantly being invaded, attacked, kidnapped, or exploited by other nations. And so this is a mighty declaration that there is a bigger picture. This is a message of restoration and promised protection, spoken with authority that cannot be bested.
Now look at the New Testament to Luke and Acts. In these books Luke is laying out the background and the task ahead for Theophilus.
And so, with the background established for all the readings, I want to focus on one of them and then draw them all together.
John the Baptist was baptizing and Jesus was baptized after which a voice spoke to Jesus affirming him as the son of God in whom God was well pleased and there was an experience of the Holy Spirit being present. Jesus was from that time on, God on earth for us. The people didn't know that in so many words but they listened to Jesus and followed him.
Last week Rev. Bruce Roy spoke of the Epiphany of God to the Magi. The Magi knew they were seeing truth. When people were in Jesus’ presence, they knew they were experiencing truth.
Think for a second or two about why you are still a Christian. 
Why do you still turn up here on Sundays? Why do you keep giving to others? Why do you pray? But don't leave it there. When you go home, think about it at length, because sometimes there is much more to an answer like that than we suspect. Think about your “stuckedness”. What truth have you experienced?
The second point follows from what happened after Jesus’ baptism. When he called people, they followed him. Why did people react as they did to Jesus? What was it about him?
That's difficult to answer because we can't really put ourselves back there, but I think there's a way to find out.
Think about the people you have met in your life who drew your attention because they had a special quality other people don't have. They may not all have been Christians but today I am thinking about Christian people who make the rest of us stop and sit up. People who make us wonder why they can be the way they are.  People who are consistently a bit different from the rest of us.
Invariably they exemplify the life Jesus taught us to live.
They are genuine in every respect.
They are authentic Christian souls. They are people who do not resist that power of God that the Israelites were so aware of.
They are lamps to our feet and to all who they meet.
Jesus was that and more. More without end.
And because of Jesus, we are reminded that we have received grace upon grace from God's fullness to share with the world in which we live. That's what these people do and that is what Jesus did as a result of the Spirit given to him at his baptism.  
It may seem that the task is too hard. That too much that is bad prevails. Here's where those Old Testament assurances will keep us going. God is still in charge. 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 30 December 2018

January 4, 2019 - 9:31am
 Kaye and Andrew visited Marsden Road Uniting Church this week where they are always very welcome as they bring with them their message of hope.

Today Kaye delivered the sermon and introduced it by placing the readings for today, from which she preached, in the context of the UC lectionaries for 2018. This is important for us to understand its place in our teachings.
Then Kaye showed us how Luke had deliberately used key words to stress the significance of the account in Luke, (chapter 2) of Jesus in the Temple. Again, these choices are not random and point our attention to the main ideas.
Jerusalem”, where this account takes place is central to Jesus’ life story and many crucial events take place there.
The “Passover” is central to Jewish practice and the time when the very important stages of Jesus life take place.
Jesus was “twelve”, a number significant in many ways for Jews.
Jesus was missing for three days, another significant length of time for the Christians who followed the teachings of the ones who first responded to Jesus and the “Temple” which was central to both the Jewish and a Christian stories in both a concrete and representative way.
Kaye also raised the use of “your father” in reference to Joseph and My Father’s house in reference to Jesus relationship with God.
By pointing out and explaining these and other references, Kaye set the scene and its significance within the Jesus Story.
Using this foundation Kaye was able to use the parallel between how we move off from our Christmas celebrations back to our everyday routines with how we move off from our contemplation of Jesus’ birth too quickly.
Not only do we move off from our special Christian celebrations but we do this each Sunday as well. When we arrive home on Sunday after church, often lunch becomes the focus of our attention, rather than contemplating the service of worship we have just shared. Like any important experience, it would do us all a service if we sat and thought through that experience later.
She reminded us that after the trauma of losing the 12-year-old Jesus and then finding him speaking with confidence to much older men in the Temple, Mary  “pondered all these things in her heart”
The implication is to stay with the account of Jesus’ birth and childhood and consider their importance to us.
Kaye took this time to ponder the story in the reading.
Friends and family travelled together to Jerusalem for the Passover, in one way, an exciting time to catch up with everyone. But once the festival was over, the people headed home, as we do after Christmas.
But something happened to break the festive mood, Jesus was missing. Most parents have experienced the panic, even only for a short time, of not knowing where their child has gone.
Finally, after a long search, they found him, sitting in the Temple, nonplussed as to why they wouldn't know where he would be. But his answer, including the words “My Father’s house”, stopped Mary in her tracks. And she continued to ponder those words.

What does it mean for us to be in “my Father’s house”? What is the significance of the events of the first Christmas and of the youthful Jesus to us.
And what does it mean each Sunday as we gather to worship together? These gatherings aren't just habits but have deep meaning which can only be appreciated when we think through them later.
We were thankful that Kaye brought our attention to the need to sit with these thoughts, and to ponder them, to find their deeper significance to our lives.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs