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Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 9 December 2018

December 10, 2018 - 9:12am

 This week's blog is by Rev. John Candy
 
Comfort in Our Anxiety.
 
Look around. This place is filled with those who thank God every time they think of you. By the Lord’s grace and compassion, this place is filled with those who hold you in their hearts, those whose prayers for you are filled with joy. Share the peace of Christ Jesus with one another. (From the service today.)


  
We have seen all sorts of really traumatic and difficult things over this past year and it would not be difficult to become anxious and depressed. Yet we have also seen things that encourage and bring hope such as the rescue of the soccer team boys in Thailand. So as the stress and hectic rush leading to Christmas begins to overwhelm us, we are reminded in scripture not to be anxious. The Apostle Paul tells us not to be anxious—not to worry—about anything. But we tend to be people who worry about everything.
 
We worry about what will happen if someone doesn’t show up for the big family Christmas dinner (and also about what might happen if they do!). We worry about getting into the right school or university and about the financial aid package coming through. We worry about the cancer coming back and about our company being bought out. We worry about the security of our jobs and the safety of our kids. The congregation I serve has had a difficult year with the death of a number of deeply faithful and involved members who had been part of the fellowship for 30 to 40 years and the distraction of problems with the local Council. I would not be surprised if a number of our members were worried about what the future will bring and how long we can last as an entity despite over 150 years of life as a congregation.

  
With so much to worry about, how is it that St Paul of Tarsus can tell us not to worry and not to be anxious? When Dietrich Bonhoeffer sat in his Nazi prison cell, he penned a poem that included these words to the effect that we fearlessly wait, come what may, because God is with us on every new day. St Paul, writing to the church in Philippi from his own prison cell, says something similar. Why is it that we need not be anxious or afraid? Is it because whatever we are worried about is really “no big deal”? Or because God guarantees that everything will turn out for the best? Or even because God won’t give us any more hardship or pain than we can handle?


No. St Paul says that we need not be anxious or afraid because “the Lord is near.” That is the good news to which everything else in this text is tethered. “The Lord (our God) is near,” even while we wait for him to come in all his fullness. In fact, St Paul says, he is as close as a prayer. And when God’s children take their worries and anxieties to the Lord in prayer, he will exchange their anxiety for his peace and calm their worried hearts with his love.
 
The sight of a mother cradling a squirming child in her arms and singing lullabies over him until he finally goes limp may be one of the sweetest and most serene things we can witness in this life. It’s a scene as old as time, and perhaps it is what the prophet Zephaniah had in mind when he wrote one of the final (and most famous!) verses of his book: “The LORD your God is in your midst …. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). When heard in the context of the other lectionary passages for the Third Sunday of Advent, God’s often anxious and worried children can receive these words as an invitation to climb into the lap of their heavenly parent so that our heavenly parent might sooth them with the songs of his love and care.

 

Then, having heard these songs, they might offer him one of their own, perhaps borrowing words from the prophet Isaiah: “God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2). While the Apostle Paul seems to be doing everything, he can to free us from anxiety, John the Baptist seems to be doing everything he can to create anxiety in us. John’s words are so full of alarm, he seems so determined to set us on edge. For John, the news that “the Lord is near” is not only a promise that ought to comfort the afflicted. It is also a promise that ought to afflict the comfortable!
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 2 December 2018

December 7, 2018 - 9:52pm

  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.
 
In making this acknowledgement we are declaring our awareness that God has been available to all people throughout all time. The first people knew of God’s intention for Creation long before they heard the word “God” and because of their authentic response to the Voice they heard were able to act in the way God wanted. That's all God asks. We don't need deep theological training. We simply need to be genuine in our seeking and in our response to the Voice wherever we find it.
 
First Sunday of Advent (Promise)
 Advent is here, and the wait for the birth of the Christ has begun
 As we light the first candle, we are reminded of God’s promise of a Saviour.
 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
God’s promise of hope is for all people; together, we anticipate the day of his coming.
Holy God, you have promised to bring salvation and justice to your creation.  As we wait for the arrival of the Saviour, may we live as those who have already been saved by your grace – and may we share that grace with others.  Amen.
 
Hymn: TIS 289 “Christmas is Coming” – Verse 1 In joining in this short liturgy we focused our minds on the coming pivotal event in the History of the world and the Human race. With the birth of Jesus of Nazareth everything changed.
 
Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)
 The time is coming and now is when God’s promises will be fulfilled. Rejoice, the time is here.... even if it is not yet fully realised. Into this time, we come—ready to listen, ready to open, ready to love. The time is coming and now is when we will be part of God’s promise fulfilled.
 It’s time to get ready. It’s time to worship. It’s time to get ready. It’s time to be strong.
It’s time to get ready. It’s time to love.
Let’s worship together, that God may strengthen our love this day.
 
The service proceeded as usual: we approached God in prayer. We confessed our sins and asked for forgiveness. And then we worshipped with our offerings, after which we entered into the Communion service. The lines that jumped out and grabbed me were these:
“Because our bread has come from one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.
The cup over which we give thanks is a sharing in the blood of Christ.”
 
It is our responsibility to remember that we are one body. We are the Church and whatever we expect of the church, we are asking of ourselves. Not just as we, as an individual want to see things done or events take place but as part of that body, the church. That needs wisdom. Holy wisdom. From God.
 
            Rev. John spoke of: Seasons of Hope: Hoping Against Hope
He conceded that hope seems beyond us if our focus is on all the twisted behaviour of people.
“When we look at the darkness that surrounds us—when we consider all the violence and wars and hatred and disease and poverty and, well, hopelessness that is the canvas upon which God intends to paint—then hope itself seems absurd. We are easily convinced that God simply can’t cover that much darkness.”
However, we are not hoping for the successes of this world, we are seeking the things of the Spirit.
“What we are talking about is a hope that reflects the power of the Resurrection. As Christians, we celebrate everything throughout the year against the backdrop of the Resurrection. At this time of year, when we are contemplating the birth of Christ, we do so with the clear message that this is one who has come to defeat the darkness, to drive back the powers of evil and to bring victory in the face of death.”
 
This was reflected in the Prayers for the People as Caroline prayed “Thank you for Your faithfulness to guide us and see us through times of uncertainty, for lifting us up, and setting us on high.” Caroline also reminded us that scripture is a treasure trove of promises and hope. She then referred to this season of expectation when we prepare to welcome Jesus once again, the author of all hope. And having faith in that hope, Caroline laid out the needs of our friends and family, asking, in that hope, for God’s comfort and support during the difficulties these people are experiencing.
 Benediction
Signs are all around Christ is coming soon.Signs are all around.
Christ has come to earth. Signs are all around.Christmas is almost here.
Signs are all around. Christ’s love is needed now. Signs are all around.
Calling us to love. Signs are all around. Leading us forth with love. Sending us forth in peace.
Go in the name of Christ and Christmas love. Amen
 
Hymn TIS 780: May light come into your eyes.
 
 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 25 November 2018

November 29, 2018 - 11:17pm


Christ the King Sunday
Today our focus was “Christ the King” which was reflected in the sermon, readings and hymns. The following hymns are all well known and give praise and thanksgiving for the joy Jesus brought to the world.
Hymns:
Hymn 275: Hail to the Lord’s anointed
Hymn 293: Unto us a boy is born! verses 1, 2, 4 & 5
Hymn 216: Rejoice the Lord is King
Hymn 279: The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices
Hymn771: Now to him who loved us
 
I have selected a sentence from each reading which resonated with me:
The First Reading: 2 Samuel 23:1-7.  “One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.”
The Gospel Reading: John 18:33-37 “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
 
Christ came to be our King. We have come to be Christ’s people.
The King of kings calls us to follow him. We have come to be Christ’s people.
Christ came to be our King. We have come to be Christ’s people.
 
Opening Prayer
Mighty Sovereign, we approach your throne to behold your glory. Open our eyes, that we
might witness your Son coming with the clouds to rule with justice and righteousness. Open
our hearts, that we may rejoice in your covenant, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning. Amen.
 Prayer of Confession
 Almighty God, we are intoxicated by power—
the power to dominate, the power to control, the power to punish, the power to reward, the power to have our own way.
We live in a powerful country with powerful leaders and a powerful military.
Forgive us when we lose sight of what true power is all about. Forgive us when we forget that Jesus is our true and only King.
Help us refasten our gaze on Christ’s kingdom, that we might work to bring this kingdom here on earth.
In the name of the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, we pray. Amen.
 
This is a very strong prayer where we confess that we have tried to usurp Jesus role and have tried to rule the world. No wonder things have come unstuck. We can't even run our own lives without running into trouble. We are such small people. Someone once said to me that there is something wrong with humans. If is only when we face that fact and hand over the reins to the creator that things can go right.
 Declaration of Forgiveness
 The Lord made a covenant with King David, promising faithfulness to his descendants. In Christ, we have a new covenant, assuring us forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace. In Christ, our true king, our lives are made whole.
Thanks be to God!
 
Preaching of the Word - Famous Last Words
“…King David’s final words, as they are remembered by his people and written in scripture are eloquent and worthy of Israel’s great shepherd/poet. The most significant thing is the blessing they carry. The blessing is a useful reminder, even today, of the gifts and blessings available to not only the leaders of God’s people but to all the body of Christ. David’s words also imply that God has expectations of individuals, and those expectations must be taken to heart…
David was not the front-runner to succeed Saul as king, as he was young with no experience or hereditary rights. Most of the neighbours looked at him as that kid who spent most of his time outdoors with the sheep…
But Samuel, after looking over Jesse’s older sons, had David called in from the fields, and this suntanned, rough-clad poet, who probably smelled like the sheep he cared for, was judged by God to be beautiful…
David’s life, then, teaches us not only what it is to be a shepherd of God’s people, but also what it is to be human.
Jesus did not call himself king. He called himself a servant and proceeded to wrap himself in a towel and wash the feet of those who came to dinner with him. He did tell his followers what kind of people made up his kingdom: not the proud and greedy but the children, the poor, the abandoned, the lowly.
This is worth remembering as we attempt to serve a God in the world. We are not promised recognition or status and certainly not wealth. Sometimes we may not even receive thanks. Our reward is in being the hands and mouth of our God.
 
Prayers of the People
In these prayers we turned to God to lift this world up above the mess that prevails. We asked for God’s help and comfort for those suffering in war, drought, illness or because of any evil wrought by selfish people. And we asked that God uplift all those working to alleviate the suffering caused by that selfishness. We prayed for those close to us and then joined in the Lord’s Prayer.
 
Benediction
The mighty one of Jacob sends us forth.
We go with God’s blessing.
The rock of Israel sends us forth.
We go with God’s blessing.
The Alpha and Omega sends us forth.
We go with God’s blessing.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you always, Amen
 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 18 November 2018

November 19, 2018 - 10:13am

 
Today's Blog is written by Rev. John Candy.



When we woke up this morning, many of us stepped into a world of expectations. This was not a conscious decision; it's just where we live, in a land where life is so good we have the luxury of taking many things for granted. The air conditioning stayed on, so we could awake to a comfortable room temperature; and if it was dark when we awoke, we reached for a light switch, so the invisible dangers could be revealed. Then we walked into a room with running water inside the house. On a Sunday some of you will be even listening to my voice over the sound system you expected and hoped to work so you could hear me when I turned the switch on. However this Sunday will be different in that we are in Melbourne but the expectations are still there.
 
So many things we expect in life we just take for granted until something doesn't work. The alarm doesn't go off. It's hot in the house. The light switch is non-responsive. We panic for a minute. We get frustrated. Then we think, "This is not how my day is supposed to be. My life is supposed to play out in such a way that I have all that I need to be comfortable. However, this morning, somebody or something flipped the script. And now I have no power when I'm supposed to have power."
 
Most of the rest of our world plays out a very different script; a minor power outage is disappointing. Outside of our country or outside of our neighbourhood there are problems and concerns many of us can't even begin to comprehend. There are illnesses that can't be treated, people dying in need of food, political and civil unrest, and overt exploitation and abuse of humanity and nature. A power outage in most of the world is a good day. Yet many of us see the discomfort and shock of power outages in this country, natural disasters like hurricanes and weather-pattern changes, wars in places where wars have been waged since the beginning of recorded history, and some of us interpret these events as "the sign of the times."
 
Where we live, 'be alert' became more a catch-cry in the 'war against terror' or a tool in the weaponry of road-safety campaigners, than an issue of spiritual 'safety'. What kinds of spheres do we need to be alert in where we live? What do we expect our world to be like in such an environment? One field in which we certainly need to remain spiritually alert and informed about our expectations is in the face of the multitudinous cranks out there, peddling extremist, fundamentalist versions of what Jesus is on about.
 
Not just in what we consider 'extremist' churches, but within mainline ones these days. The recent debates and news about abuse issues and about same gender acknowledgement are some examples. It can happen!
 
It doesn’t just happen out there somewhere but can happen right here amongst one’s own community.  How can we live in our time and God's time at the same time, in the world and in the church as Christ's Body, and do it free from fear? 'Perfect love casts out fear' says John. Persecution of Christians these days in some of our societies is just as likely to come from fundamentalist protestant or catholic factions within churches more than from outside.
 

Those out there in the wide margins can still persecute and the possibility is growing within in some quarters. The places where misguided people try to draw in church margins tightly round fellow Christians. Isn't it ironic that that's the way Jesus' warnings may be fulfilled today? That Jesus speaks of wars, earthquakes, and famines, as 'the beginning of birth-pangs' could be a helpful way of exploring the pains that our world still - as always - labours under. We have become very comfortable with the expectation that all will remain the same or get better. I really wonder where our focus might be. Is it in the expectation of all the comforts being there and available all the time?
 
On the other hand, is it on where God calls us to be and is it on the most important thing of God’s great love for us. What do we really have to bear to bring something worthwhile to birth? Have we even thought about it? Have we thought about what it is we are meant to be doing here and now?  As distinct from theological philosophising, what practical and constructive steps must we take to 'endure to the end'? I will leave you with some more questions to ponder over the next weeks before our focus is taken to shops and parties and gifts and all the other trappings of our western Christmas lifestyle.
 
Are we as Christians or even those outside the faith listening for what we say and working out how we act in love as we face those whom we meet day to day? And what is this end that Jesus talks about? Whom, is the end for and is it important? Is the Christian call to be working to enable God’s kingdom to be here and now in his love the most important thing? Is this scripture passage too close to the bone?
 

 
 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 11 November 2018

November 14, 2018 - 12:14am


Society’s Fringe Dwellers This week's blog is by Rev. John Candy.


Often, something positive eventually comes from a disaster. This does not mean that the disaster was God’s way of achieving the positive. The birth of David results from Ruth’s union with Boaz (encouraged by Naomi), but the biblical events preceding that— Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s incest with his daughters, the famine and death of Naomi’s family— are not God’s preferred method of bringing grace into the world.
 
If we look at Divorce despite it not being ideal and not what God wants for us it is necessary because of our choices and mistakes. The way God calls us to live as shown in the life of Jesus seems so perfect, yet we are forgiven as we struggle to live in a holy way. Out of divorce can come positive things as we evaluate our own mistakes in the relationship and work towards not making them again. Out of the pain can come positive growth that enables the person going through divorce to be much more fully present and available in their following relationships including maybe a new partner.
 
One of the first widow’s I ever understood to be a widow was young. She was someone I had known in the community and her husband died of a heart attack while playing basketball. He was twenty-nine. Suddenly, the notion of widowhood became clear to me. It was not that a woman simply outlived her husband, but that there was a blank space at the table, an empty side of the bed, a phone number that goes unanswered, conversations that become one-sided. Widows and widowers of all ages and circumstances frequently surround us. And we forget their status.
 
 
We forget that they are among those considered most vulnerable and most wise in Scripture. We forget that God’s heart is with them. It is critical to remember that her beloved, deceased partner may not have been a saint, but she will still grieve. That the person still living is still thinking of their loved one, even if you are afraid to bring up the subject. That she may grow accustomed to her new state, but never stop missing the ones who rest in light. Being widowed, being left out of partnership, should not mean being left out of community.
 
Let not the community of God forsake those who mourn. It is not enough to say God is with them. We are to be the hands, words, and consolation of the Spirit with widows, orphans, and strangers. Throughout his ministry, Jesus called to attention those on the margins of society, those who had previously gone unnoticed, the poor, the blind, the lame, the beggars, the lepers, military personnel, and widows. It’s a reminder particularly as many of us in Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand) will be marking Armistice or Remembrance Day which falls this Sunday. These are the same people we find on the margins of our societies today. Those who still are excluded, those whom society looks down on or simply ignores. A widow, living in poverty created by the institution charged with her care. An aged person placed in a Home as there is no one to manage things for them or even visit them.
 

This gospel reading from Mark 12 that continues today doesn’t seem like good news: A widow giving her all to a corrupt institution, an institution that fails to care for her as it is supposed to do. But she gives anyway. And Jesus commends her giving. He commends her and condemns the system. Jesus holds her up as an example of how small but significant acts can break down a cycle of injustice and corruption.
 
In the culture of Jesus, widows were non-people. Without a man to support or validate them in society, they were non-beings. Vulnerable and invalid, it was easy not to see them. It is easy not to see the people on our streets living without shelter, food or clothing. It’s easy not see the desperation of the refugees trying to reach countries where they might be better off. It’s easy to blame the poor, the immigrants, the refugees, the disabled and many others who are suffering. Yet, Jesus not only notices widows on many occasions during his ministry, in this week’s text, he actually uses a widow to teach trust and reliance on God.
 


This gospel is not talking to us about a comparative giving table, steering the prosperous to give more. It is encouragement for those who go against the grain, who practice subversion in whatever way they can, even in the face of injustice. Who, by their subversion, make inroads into creating justice and fairness for all God’s people. It doesn’t always take placards and a lot of shouting for trends and policies to be reversed. Persistent, simple subversion also does the trick.

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 4 November 2018

November 5, 2018 - 10:13am

MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCH SUNDAY 4th NOVEMBER.
 
Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)
 
Look to the saints of God for direction. Trust in the saints of God for guidance. Be the saints of God for the world.
 Look, here is our God, the One we have waited for.
Let us be glad and rejoice in our salvation.
Come feast on rich food and dine on fine wine.
Enjoy the blessings of the Lord, the vindication from our God.
Come! Let us worship the Lord.
 
Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart”- That is, those who have opened themselves to God’s healing touch, allowing a new beginning. That can happen as often as we allow God into the deepest part of our lives.
 
Opening prayer
God of new beginnings remove the shroud that separates us from one another and from your mighty presence, that we may see you as you are. Wipe away our tears and take away our disgrace, that we may come before your throne with hearts full of song and souls ablaze with joy. Help us to live as those who are prepared to die and enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that whether living or dying, our hearts will always belong to you. Amen.
 
A Prayer of Confession
Wellspring of tears, you know well our grief and our longing to see you face to face.
O how we wish you would come down and save us. In our pain, we have grown impatient. In our sorrow, we have doubted the depth of your love. Forgive us, Patient One, when we forget that Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.
Renew our faithfulness, Holy One, when like Mary and Martha before us, we despair of tasting the joy of eternal life.
Open our mouths to exclaim with delight: Here is our God for whom we have waited! We need your grace to complete us. We need your love to make us whole. Amen.
 
Today we were thinking about All Saints Day. The Bible readings all, in different ways, turned us to the thought of possible renewal…new beginnings.
Saints are those who seek to live their lives according to God’s will. It's not the same as learning to play better tennis or golf by taking some advice. The only way we can live according to God’s will is by opening ourselves up to being remade in the way God intended in the first place. A bit like a retrofit but there's a more demanding element. Because we are humans we keep undoing the remaking and need to turn back for another work of God in our lives.
I often wonder who this God is and how we can become alloyed with the divine holiness. I have no idea about the form God takes. I think God dwells in Creation somehow. God isn't some person living “out there” but on the other hand, my experience tells me God is available here and now to do that work of renewal as often as it needs doing and as often as we humble ourselves to that divine work.


 
This is what Rev. John had to say:
“Do we accept that when God shows up, healing happens, hope springs forth, and new life emerges? In today’s text from Isaiah, in the midst of Isaiah’s message of judgment, we are reminded of the power of a vision. When God shows up, the text points out, life will change. Pain will be replaced by rejoicing. Death will be no more. God will dry our tears. When God shows up, life will not be difficult; it will not be such a struggle. When God shows up, life will look more like a feast. And, not just any feast, but a feast with the finest foods, vintage wines, and multiple courses, and rich, opulent desserts.”

 
Today was also a day when we celebrated communion.
By doing that we remembered that Jesus, knowing the truth,
 knowing the solution to the perpetually destructive
behaviour of we humans, set his face unto Jerusalem.
He didn't turn aside, knowing what the outcome was
 going to be. He couldn't stop telling the truth, even if it
meant he would die.
 
That's how important the truth is: it's there where renewal is
found and there is only one totally reliable source.
 
Hymn TIS 780: “May light come into your eyes.”  That's what happens when we accept renewal. MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCH SUNDAY 4th NOVEMBER.   Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)   Look to the saints of God for direction. Trust in the saints of God for guidance. Be the saints of God for the world.  Look, here is our God, the One we have waited for. Let us be glad and rejoice in our salvation. Come feast on rich food and dine on fine wine. Enjoy the blessings of the Lord, the vindication from our God. Come! Let us worship the Lord.   Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart”- That is, those who have opened themselves to God’s healing touch, allowing a new beginning. That can happen as often as we allow God into the deepest part of our lives.   Opening prayer God of new beginnings remove the shroud that separates us from one another and from your mighty presence, that we may see you as you are. Wipe away our tears and take away our disgrace, that we may come before your throne with hearts full of song and souls ablaze with joy. Help us to live as those who are prepared to die and enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that whether living or dying, our hearts will always belong to you. Amen.   A Prayer of Confession Wellspring of tears, you know well our grief and our longing to see you face to face. O how we wish you would come down and save us. In our pain, we have grown impatient. In our sorrow, we have doubted the depth of your love. Forgive us, Patient One, when we forget that Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Renew our faithfulness, Holy One, when like Mary and Martha before us, we despair of tasting the joy of eternal life. Open our mouths to exclaim with delight: Here is our God for whom we have waited! We need your grace to complete us. We need your love to make us whole. Amen.   Today we were thinking about All Saints Day. The Bible readings all, in different ways, turned us to the thought of possible renewal…new beginnings. Saints are those who seek to live their lives according to God’s will. It's not the same as learning to play better tennis or golf by taking some advice. The only way we can live according to God’s will is by opening ourselves up to being remade in the way God intended in the first place. A bit like a retrofit but there's a more demanding element. Because we are humans we keep undoing the remaking and need to turn back for another work of God in our lives. I often wonder who this God is and how we can become alloyed with the divine holiness. I have no idea about the form God takes. I think God dwells in Creation somehow. God isn't some person living “out there” but on the other hand, my experience tells me God is available here and now to do that work of renewal as often as it needs doing and as often as we humble ourselves to that divine work.   This is what Rev. John had to say: “Do we accept that when God shows up, healing happens, hope springs forth, and new life emerges? In today’s text from Isaiah, in the midst of Isaiah’s message of judgment, we are reminded of the power of a vision. When God shows up, the text points out, life will change. Pain will be replaced by rejoicing. Death will be no more. God will dry our tears. When God shows up, life will not be difficult; it will not be such a struggle. When God shows up, life will look more like a feast. And, not just any feast, but a feast with the finest foods, vintage wines, and multiple courses, and rich, opulent desserts.”   Today was also a day when we celebrated communion. By doing that we remembered that Jesus, knowing the truth, knowing the solution to the perpetually destructive behaviour of we humans, set his face unto Jerusalem. He didn't turn aside, knowing what the outcome was going to be. He couldn't stop telling the truth, even if it meant he would die.   That's how important the truth is: it's there where renewal is found and there is only one totally reliable source.   Hymn TIS 780: “May light come into your eyes.”  That's what happens when we accept renewal.v

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 28 October 2018

October 31, 2018 - 7:27am



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 2012 and 2018)
God who restores, who heals, who makes us whole, open our eyes to your work around us. Be in our praying, in our singing, in our proclamation, and in our silence. Open our eyes to see your kingdom coming into the world.
 Jesus has come to town. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!
He invites us to join him on his journey. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!
Come and be healed and see with new eyes. Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!
 
And then we sang of our reliance on God. Or, at least, how our highest calling is reliance on God. Why do we think we know better so often?

Hymn TIS 112: “Through all the changing scenes of life”

Opening Prayer
 Triune God, through Jesus Christ, our great and eternal High Priest, we give you praise and consecrate ourselves to follow you. As we worship you and celebrate your glorious resurrection, open our eyes so that we may see – open the eyes of our mind to learning and understanding; open the eyes of our heart, to your love and compassion; open the eyes of our soul, to see our spiritual selves during our time of worship. Amen.
Consecrating ourselves to God is not something to be done flippantly or without deep thought. It means that we turn aside from our own wishes and wants to seek God’s will in all things. It isn't a once-only event. We are called on daily to hand ourselves over to God’s plan for us and The Kingdom.
And to ensure that this continues to be so, and knowing how often we do stray from that commitment and consecration, we need to open ourselves and our failings to God and seek forgiveness.

Prayer of Confession
 Mystical, transcendent God, there is so much of life we simply do not know.
In our arrogance we utter what we do not understand.
Rescue us, O Lord, from our afflictions.
Rescue us, O God from our self-inflicted wounds. Have mercy on us, Son of David, Son of God, and save us by your unending grace. Amen.



 Declaration of Forgiveness
 Cry out to Christ, our great High Priest, for he has saved us. Our faith has made us well, brought us forgiveness and granted us peace. Thanks be to God.

Hymn TIS 547.  “Be thou my vision.” Keeping in track. Asking for the true path.

READINGS: Job 42:1-6, 10-17 : Mark 10: 46-52
Job says to a God: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  3 “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 
A good lesson here for all of us. We don't have the knowledge and wisdom we need to do God’s will in God’s kingdom. We need to ask for guidance.
The lesson from Mark leans in the same direction:
Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 49 Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.51 Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ 52 Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Remember, when we read the Bible we are looking for God’s voice and God’s message to us. I think it's clear here: The blind man asked to see and Jesus gave him sight. Usually, it's not physical sight we need, its spiritual sight. It works the same way.
Rev. John shared this with us:
“But when I share, through honest and open prayer, my frivolous or grave or noble or childlike wants with a gentle and loving God, God will use even these to increase my faithfulness, to uncover my hidden wounds, and to affirm my created goodness. Maybe, even, God is doing the wanting in me and through me; and my calling is to discover what the wanting is teaching me about who God is and who I am.”
John also told us of seeking guidance from a friend rather than turning to God. Talking to the friend was a way of avoiding God because he was afraid he would get it all wrong before God. I think this is a common experience. We hide our lack of knowledge and understanding from God, or so we think, but who better to turn to when we are in need?

Hymn TIS 223  “How sweet the name of a Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear.” The very hymn to hear and sing at the point to settle our troubled hearts and minds.

Laurel brought us the Prayers of the People. She brought before us and our Lord current concerns. God invites us to say what our needs are. Even if we have looked past our real needs, God will see our true needs. And so it is with confidence we were able to join Laurel in her prayers for those suffering in different ways.

Hymn TIS 160Father all-loving and ruling in majesty.” God is not one to fear. God is in charge and will hold us in the palm of his hand.
 
Benediction
 
Go as the church, as Jesus' entourage, following where he leads. Everywhere he goes he leaves healing and hope in his wake. Go, and listen, and learn, and love. And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you always, Amen
 


 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 21 October 2018

October 24, 2018 - 6:10am



 Today’s service was led by Wendy Pearce, who welcomed Heather Pinto from Eastwood Christian Community Aid who had come to speak to the  Congregation about the work of CCA.

Acknowledgment of First People
Leader: We acknowledge the Burramattagal people, the first inhabitants of this place, part of God's good creation. We honour them for their custodianship of the land, on which we gather today.
People: You set humanity at the heart of your creation, O God; charging us with stewardship of all you have made. We give thanks for those who have heeded your call.

The Gathering of the People of God.
Call to Worship
In the midst of a world where people hunger and thirst . . .
come worship a God who feeds the hungry.
In the midst of a world where people are abused and oppressed . . .
come worship a God who calls for compassion and justice.
In the midst of a world filled with wars and rumor of war . . .
come worship a God who desires nothing less than peace for the world.
In the midst of a world of spiritual emptiness . . .
come worship a God who gives life meaning.
Come worship a God whose grace and love know no end.






Invocation

With what shall we come before the Holy One,
and bow ourselves before God on high?
God has shown us what is good.
What does the Holy One require of us,
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with our God?
 
The Prayers, hymns and other parts of this service were directed to the theme of serving others and the address given by Heather showed us how we can do this through CCA. As a congregation I see our greatest strength is in our service to others but we are humans and from time to time, we grasp our time, money, energy and possessions to ourselves, turning from the path of service to a path of selfishness.
And so after a prayer and hymn acknowledging and praising God’s goodness and greatness, we confessed to God our lapse from the way we are supposed to follow.




Prayer of Confession
All:
Eternal God, our judge and redeemer, we confess that we have tried to hide from you, for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves and apart from you.
We have turned from our neighbors and refused to bear the burdens of others.
We have ignored the pain of the world and passed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed. In your great mercy, forgive our sins and free us from selfishness,
that we may choose your will and obey your commandments;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen
We then turned to God for assurance of forgiveness.

Prayer of Assurance
—from A Wee Worship Book, pp. 19-20 © 1999, by WGRG The Iona Community (Scotland). Used by permission of GIA Publications, Inc
Leader: Among the poor, among the proud, among the persecuted, among the privileged,  Christ is coming to make all things new: That the kingdom might come, that the world might believe, that the powerful might stumble, that the hidden might be seen: Christ is coming to make all things new. Within us, without us, behind us, before us, in this place, in every place, for this time, for all time. Christ is coming to make all things new. Our sins are forgiven! Thanks be to God.





Offering and Prayer
Generous God, we give you thanks for all the gifts that you give to us – the gifts of life and love, the gifts of your grace coming to us in Jesus Christ. Accept and bless these gifts and our lives as we offer them as our grateful response. Amen
 
The Service of the Word.
Bible readings  Glen Henderson
Isaiah 58 This reading admonishes the people for seeking glory for showy religious behaviours but they are set back on their heels and told that serving the poorest and the lowliest is true service to God.
Luke 10: 25-37 This exchange took place hundreds of years after the utterance of the words in Isaiah but the young man still hasn't understood, like so many in every age. Maybe because showy temple/church actions are easier than true service.

Address
Heather Pinto outlined the various types of help given to people in our district who are having a tough time and added that counselling was given so the that people who needed help have a better chance of making independent decisions for themselves, thereby giving them the gift of dignity along with the gifts of material
things.






The Lectionary reading theme for October has been “All are Welcome” and the questions posed are:
What does a welcoming Christian Community look like?
What are you prepared to give up to follow Jesus?
What is your experience in the ministry of serving others?
When in need of healing, what do you do? How is your faith?
The questions prepare us for being the people who can heal ourselves and then be fit to serve others. We can give people water from an empty bucket.
 
The service was closed in prayer for others…another type of service…and the singing of hymns
The last two hymns were : Hymn TIS 650Brother, sister let me serve you”. and
Hymn TIS 658 “I, the Lord of sea and sky” which tied it all together.
 
 
   
 
 
  
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 14 October 2018

October 18, 2018 - 9:32am

 
 
MARSDEN ROAD UNITING CHURCH SUNDAY 14th October.
Gathering Gods People
 
Today I was unable to attend this service, so for the first section, I have given you the direct words of the service so you can be blessed as were those who were present on the day.
 
 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 honourable in this place.
From greeting to Amen, from silence to chorus,
 
Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)
“Still I’m not annihilated by darkness; [God] has hidden deep darkness from me.”
 In times of trouble, in times of joy ...we call upon the name of God.
With steadfast faith, with wavering doubt ... we call upon the name of God.
Basking in God’s presence, aching in God’s absence ... we call upon the name of God.

 HymnTIS 727: In the presence of your people

Opening Prayer
 Holy One, we call upon your name this day. When you seem most absent, we yearn to hear your voice. When you seem most present, we long to follow your teachings. Be with us now. Strengthen and guide us, that we may trust your call and follow your lead. In doubt, in trust, but most of all in hope, we pray. Amen.

 Prayer of Confession
 Mysterious One, we cry out in our times of need—
for hope in times of despair, for faith in times of doubt, for comfort in times of grief, for grace in times of sin, and for love in times of loneliness. Answer our cry.
Be our refuge and our help. Restore our lives.
Revive our hope. Return us to the path of discipleship, where we may walk with you anew in confidence and joy.
In the name of Christ, our rock and our redeemer, we pray. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
Draw near to Christ, who is our mercy and our grace, for in Christ, we are restored and made whole. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven and reconciled to God. Thanks be to God!

 The Peace
 Creating us all as equals, and calling us to be generous in our faith, the Lord invites us to offer gestures of welcome as we share the peace of Christ.
Peace be with you! And also with you

HymnTIS589: Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult
                  
 
 
The Service of the Word. I have deleted much to concentrate of the following part of the service.

Hebrews 4:12-16
 12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart…16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Mark 10:17-31
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions…
Preaching of the Word

Ask a Simple Question - Mark 10:17-31
A summary of some of Rev. John’s words to the congregation:
Haven’t you ever wished that you could get this one shot? That you could cut through the crowd all around Jesus, go right up to him and ask the one question you’ve always wanted to ask? I can’t count the number of times someone has found out that I am a minister and then blurted out,
“Can I ask you a question? What does the Bible say about . . .?” The character in this passage asks a simple enough question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…
 One problem with this story is that we don’t quite know what to do with Jesus’ answer!… 
If we interpret the passage in this concrete way, however, Jesus’ instructions to the man don’t quite fit with the rest of the passage or with what we know about God’s grace. Surely, we do not pay our way into the kingdom of God, into the Resurrection. Whatever eternal life is about, it is not a financial transaction. Eternal life is a gift from God. Interpreting this passage as a simple pay-as-you-go deal makes God into an extortionist, not a loving parent. We have to keep looking to understand what Jesus means here.
 Perhaps Jesus is pushing us to see that we cannot earn our way into the dominion of God no matter what we do. … This passage is about more than our internal attitude toward money. Jesus really does call us to give, to share, to sacrifice.
My own view of this is that Jesus simply wanted the young man to offer all that he was and had to God. All we are and have is a gift from God and our part is to relinquish our grasp on whatever that is so that God can make use of it in the building of the kingdom.

 Benediction
 Go now in hope. Go now in love. And may the peace that passes all understanding guide you along the way. And may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you always.

HymnTIS  779: May the feet of God walk with you
 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday Service Marsden Road Uniting Church 30 September 2018

October 1, 2018 - 2:28am



 
Today we were led in our worship by Howard, from Uniting World, who had come to raise our awareness of the work of Uniting World and how we could play a part in that work.
 
While doing that we also became aware of our place among the world’s people and our responsibility to others. Further, Howard’s presentation led us to be aware of the possibilities for service and a change in perspective which could emerge when we listen to the words of Jesus.
 
Howard began with an acknowledgement of the traditional carers of the land upon which we were worshipping. Europeans came to Australia to civilize the people who were living here as well as exploit any resources. The first resource Australia provided was to be a long way from England and so an excellent gaol.
 
When we consider both of those intentions in the light of the gospel, the inhumanity of each is appalling. As the scripture which inspired Hymn TIS 686 says, “For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” God paused after creation and saw “that it was good”. All people are God’s creation. All people are God’s children. We are charged with giving comfort to all God’s children.
 
But the intention of the European’s move to Australia was to isolate the prisoners and to kill any hope they may have had of returning to family. That was so cruel.
 
They may have thought they were from a superior culture or as Christians, (even if they weren't exhibiting much Christianity) were superior and therefore had the right to squash 60000 years of culture of  the Aboriginal people. What were they thinking? Did they imagine the Aboriginal people were cut off from God?
 
God speaks to all souls in creation. How people interpret the voice they hear is different from place to place and not always an accurate representation of God’s voice and message. However nobody has a monopoly on truth. Great cautionshould be shown.
 
Certainly the congregation today showed their knowledge of their relationship with God as they sang Hymn TIS 100, “All Creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and sing”. And sing we did…with gusto!… Reflecting our enthusiasm for and knowledge of the life-giving grip of our God upon us - and our gratitude for that new life.
 
These themes were played out in the stories told and films shown about the lives of two couples. One couple live in Indonesia and the other in Western Papua. Both lived in utterly deprived circumstances. However, because they received assistance from Uniting World, each has been able to create a life where they have shelter and a sustainable source of food and income.  Without outside help this wouldn't be possible. The help is available because there are people in places such as Marsden Road Uniting Church who recognise God in their neighbours and therefore their obligation to provide them with shelter, food, clothing and water among other things as though they were giving those things directly to God.
 
The result not only brings hope to the people who receive help but the changes it brings in their lives inspires and uplifts the people who provide it. A hymn such as TIS 111“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation, O my soul praise him for he is your health and salvation.” expresses this.
 
All concerned recognise the source of the goodness resulting from one group of people obeying God’s will, recognizing God in other people and acting towards those others as though those were actually God. The all-pervading goodness uplifts everyone.
 
The result of doing good to bring hope to others leads to hope for all concerned, as we recognise God in each other.
 
And so we can sing with generous hearts, Hymn TIS 779:
“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 breath 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 23 September 2018

September 26, 2018 - 4:48am



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 (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)
Blessed are those who meditate on God’s ways, for they are like trees planted by streams of living water, bearing fruit in due season. Happy are those who draw near and grow strong in the Lord.
Draw near to God and grow strong in God’s presence. Seek God’s wisdom and know joy as God draws near.
Live as trees planted by living waters, and Christ will give you peace.
Rest in the shade of the Tree of Life, and Christ will lead you home.
Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.
 
Hymn TIS 107:  “Sing praise and thanksgiving”
 
Opening Prayer
 Source of wisdom and understanding, plant us by your streams of living water, that we may bear the fruit of peace and mercy in the seasons of our lives; …Place your wisdom and understanding within us, that we may be far more precious than jewels to those in need of your healing love. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
 We live in a world, O God, that looks for wisdom and understanding in all the wrong places.
You teach us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, yet we strive for these things above the virtues of industry, mercy, gentleness, and service…

Declaration of Forgiveness
When we draw near to God, God draws near to us. God blesses us with humility, gentleness, mercy, wisdom, and understanding. Draw near to God and touch the inexhaustible love of God.
Thanks be to God!

The Peace
When we make peace, we sow the seeds of justice by our peaceful acts. Let us sow the peace of Christ this morning, as we share signs of our commitment to justice and mercy.
Peace be with you!
And also with you
 
 
A Word with the Children/Young People
Rev. John told the story of children walking along the street, holding their precious toys. One girl was cuddling her China doll which was knocked from her hands. The result was predictable…the doll smashed, breaking the child’s heart with it. But her friend remained with her, sharing tears of grief. We can rarely mend problems god other people but we can grieve with them. Letting them know that we share their pain and are reaching out to support them.

Invitation to the Offering
 With the wife from Proverbs, who is far more precious than jewels, let us open our hands to the poor and our hearts to the needy. Let us sow peace in our world through the gifts and offerings we collect this day.
 
 Hymn TIS 650:  “Brother sister, let me serve you.”

                  
The Service of the Word
James 3:13 - 4:3
 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.  
Mark 9:30-37
  35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

 
Preaching of the Word
Can Goodness and Wisdom Coexist? –
Here, I have selected just one of the many points Rev. John covered today and drawn his words on that subject together..
James in his letter tries to show the natural link between goodness and wisdom. The combining of wisdom and goodness is not something we want to restrict. We have a contrast of two kinds of wisdom: heavenly/godly wisdom with earthly/evil wisdom. Like the early church people, we want to know how to gain heavenly/godly wisdom.
This distinction between goodness and wisdom is one that has never occurred to me but when we attached “worldly” to “wisdom” all becomes clear. But the “wisdom” of the Bible’s Sophia fits the bill. That wisdom is God’s wisdom, wisdom coming from God. That sort of wisdom goes hand in hand with goodness and the holy action that follows.
.
Hymn TIS 609:May the mind of Christ my Saviour” Amen to that. Isn't that the point of listening for God’s voice?
 
 
 
Music to lead us to prayer: This is a time for each of us to draw near to our God. A time of quiet to absorb the words we have heard in the readings and the sermon or to contemplate our own concerns and bring them before God.
 
Hymn TIS  256: “From heaven you came, helpless babe”. And yet we are so unwilling to become helpless before our Lord and be guided by God’s will. We try so hard to find our own solutions.
 
Benediction
 Having drawn near to the God of love, we go forth to bear fruit in due season. Having drawn near to the Spirit of wisdom, we go forth with humility and understanding. Having drawn near to the Presence of mercy and grace, we go forth as children of compassion and peace. Go with God.
 
Hymn TIS 780: May light come into your eyes
 
 
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