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Sunday 27th September 2020 - “Walking the Walk”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - 7 hours 28 min ago

 The First Reading: Exodus 17:1-7 The Gospel Reading: Matthew 21:23-32  Hymn TIS 618: What does the Lord require? 

Walking the Walk   On Sunday 27th September, the Rev. John began his Reflection/Sermon by asking those watching him speaking on Zoom, listening via a telephone link, or reading his words which asked us to “Imagine you are watching television and a commercial comes on” and then he went on to describe an idyllic scene which was cleverly orchestrated to convince the viewers that buying their product would deliver “salvation – buy our product and it will save you from your harried, over-scheduled existence and lead you to this “perfect” life”.  

Of course we all know that life is not always perfect, yet each of us must admit that we have sometimes been enticed by clever advertising.  Quite recently, I was convinced by a TV advertisement that a new salted caramel biscuit with a well-loved name and international reputation would be quite delicious – instead I was very disappointed and felt let down and only finished the small but expensive packet of these biscuits to avoid waste.  I suspect the product has not been a great success because, after the initial six to eight weeks of blanket advertising, I have never seen these disappointing biscuits mentioned on TV again.

In the Exodus story mentioned by the Rev. John, the Israelites had no doubt been looking forward to a better and perhaps even “perfect” life as they journeyed out of Egypt, but as we discovered - when things became hard; “The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord ?’   But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’”

As “The Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” – the majority of us have expressed doubts from time to time when things go wrong.  I feel sure that many distressed people have questioned God about the current Covid 19 pandemic and asked how he could have unleashed such illness and struggle upon the world. 

During his sermon, the Rev. John went on to tell us a “modern parable” that described ‘someone’ like we have all seen come to worship at our church and grow in enthusiasm and goodwill, but who gradually found that everything was getting too hard.  Their religious fervour gradually waned, so that they may have slowly drifted away, with us barely noticing that one day they just stopped coming altogether.  The “modern parable”  went on; “He still believed in God and felt love for God but didn’t know how to integrate these pieces into the rest of his life. It all seemed like it was too hard, too much.” 

We should wonder why this person did not keep looking for a closer walk with God in our church community and ask; Do we always “walk the walk as well as talk the talk?” 

The Rev. John said; “Jesus gives a telling example of response to God’s love in his parable today about the two sons being asked to work in the vineyard. The first son tells his father outright that he won’t do it, but then has a change of heart and goes and does it anyway. Whereas the second son tells his father he will and then never does. It’s a pretty extreme example, but it gets the point across. Jesus tells this to the chief priests and elders – who rejected John the Baptist and were rejecting Jesus – in order for them to be caught in their own web of deceit. Jesus asks them, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” and they know they are trapped because the answer, of course, is the first son. He ended up living his life faithfully; he didn’t just talk about it or say things to appease his father.”

We often do similar things in our own lives. “How many of us have told someone we would pray for him or her and then got distracted and didn’t? How many of us have thought or talked a lot about helping the marginalised in our neighbourhood, but haven’t? How many of us have been puzzled when people who were once zealous about their faith faded away, and we intended to contact them but never have?

We all have good intentions. But as Jesus teaches us in our gospel reading today, our intentions don’t really matter. It’s our actions that are grounded in and flow from our relationship with God that count – individually and as a community.”

As Christians; perhaps we should encourage the alternate idiom; “Practice what you preach” as a greater motivation than other versions of “Walk the Walk” which is essentially saying “PROVE IT”.  Other such sayings that have great relevance to the expression of our genuine reactions are, “Actions speak louder than words” and “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”  A different interpretation of that saying is that the difference between what someone intends to do and what they actually do can often be called procrastination.

A few years ago, when my husband and I sorted through some old papers, we unearthed a “to do” list from more than 30 years ago - and the amazing thing was there was absolutely nothing on the long list that still needed to be done, yet not one job had been ticked as completed.  Although we laughed about it and recognised our serious faults of procrastination, we agreed that so called wise quotes are very much like statistics really; you can find one to support almost any argument you wish to make.  I consider myself a reasonably decisive person; however, I can nod my head in agreement with almost all the dozens of quotes on procrastination that I unearthed via Google.  I think the ‘tongue in cheek’ quote; “One of the greatest labour-saving inventions of today is tomorrow”, which is attributed to Vincent T. Foss, perhaps best fits the sad tale of our old unchecked list of jobs.  Although my mother, if she was still with us, would have opted for the often wisely quoted; “Procrastination is the thief of time” theory?  My mother dusted the house and swept the floor each day – it was like a religious ritual.  I have often wondered and imagined how much time would have been saved if she had procrastinated and done it only when her “round tuit” came conveniently to hand.

As we moved our fingers down the lines of writing on our list, we shed tears of laughter as we noted our soft blue British Wolseley didn’t need polishing - there have been around six replacements for that particular car since then.  More good news - the next thing on the list didn’t need doing either – the fuchsia garden that needed weeding and spraying for the black caterpillars that regularly stripped the leaves each time we felt a little smug about how pretty the garden looked, could be crossed off too.  Our daughter’s “new” bedroom was built over that spot some 30 years ago and the rose garden near the back patio didn’t need weeding either.  The sunroom extension was built over that nearly 20 years ago.



Neither did the wrought iron on the front patio need painting because the lounge room extension covered that patio at the same time the fuchsia garden was lost.   Almost doubled up with laughter, we crossed all the remaining jobs off the list with a flourish, feeling really good about all the time we had saved by not doing those jobs either.  Continuing to build rooms onto the house to avoid weeding the garden or painting, may sound a little extreme but it just goes to prove - if you put some things off long enough you never have to do them at all! 

However, the serious, older and hopefully slightly wiser me must now agree with the quote of Edward Young, which my very busy house-proud mother would have approved; “Procrastination is the thief of time; year after year it steals, till all are fled, and to the mercies of a moment leaves the vast concerns of an eternal state. At thirty, man suspects himself a fool; knows it at forty, and reforms his plan; at fifty chides his infamous delay, pushes his prudent purpose to resolve; in all the magnanimity of thought, resolves, and re-resolves, then dies the same."

My reality is; I believe all people who achieve the things that are important to them in life, gain personal satisfaction and harbour warm feelings of fulfilment as well as setting a good example.  It is for each of us to live according to our own truth. 

However, I would like to share one final quote that may never make its way into the ‘endless list of quotes on everything’ to be found on the Internet.  It is an often repeated quote from a lady who can always find a reason to procrastinate when there is housework to be done.  If you know me well, you have probably often heard me say: “When I lie on my death bed I will not be saying, I wish I had done more housework!”

Thank you Rev. John for asking us if we are “Walking the walk”; We say we are Christians, but how do we know? How do others know? God has given us the gift of our lives and we are called to respond.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbthcrhrrOU  You may like to click on the link and listen carefully to the words of Hymn 618 TiS.  “What does the Lord Require?” “Do justly; Love mercy; Walk humbly with your God.”

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 17 - 27 September 2020

 Marsden Road Uniting Church 

Carlingford  

-------------------------------------------------

Walking the Walk

Sunday 27th September 2020

Pentecost 17 Sunday-year of Matthew 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

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

Call to Worship

(The Abingdon Worship Annual 2011) 

Come, now is the time to worship, to gather and to praise.

We gather to give glory to God!

Come, now is the time to worship, to sing and to pray.

We gather to give glory to God! 

Give ear to God's teaching. Listen to God's words.

We gather to hear stories of old.

Give voice to God's glory. Sing of God's deeds.

We gather to sing praises to God.

Prepare for God's work. Answer Christ's call.

We listen and learn, worship and praise, in order to serve in God's world. 

Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart

                        (Tune – Franconia)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpnU2auc3Rk

1.  Blest are the pure in heart,

For they shall see our God;

The secret of the Lord is theirs,

Their soul is Christ’s abode.

2.  The Lord, who left the heavens

Our life and peace to bring,

To dwell in lowliness with men,

Their Pattern and their King;

3.  Still to the lowly soul

He doth himself impart

And for his dwelling and his throne

Chooseth the pure in heart.

4.  Lord, we thy presence seek;

May ours this blessing be;

Give us a pure and lowly heart,

A temple meet for thee. 

(Words: John Keble [stanzas 1 & 3]; William Hall [stanzas 2 & 4]. Tune: “Franconia”, “Harmonischer Liederschatz”, 1738)

Opening prayer

     We gather in your presence, Christ of compassion, thirsting for your living water. Flow through this time of worship with your grace and wisdom. Nourish us with words of truth and challenge. Strengthen us to go forth in humility and love as your servants working in the world. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of ages past and days to come, when we grumble and groan, we are like children of the Exodus; when we doubt your authority and question your call, we are like priests and elders of old.

Forgive us. Make us new in your grace, and clothe us with your compassion. Open our eyes to your presence and our minds to your guidance, that we may have the very mind of Christ. In Christ's holy name, we pray. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness

Give ear to Christ's promise: God's realm is open to all— tax collectors and prostitutes, sinners and slackers. When we open our hearts, and give our lives to Christ, God's forgiveness is truly ours. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven!

Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

Make the joy of God's love and forgiveness complete: share with one another the love that Christ shares with us.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: God is our provider.

Object: The children will play the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. 

How many of you have ever played the game Rock, Paper, Scissors? People all over the world play that game. Not just children either -- even adults play the game. Did you know that there is an international tournament each year and players from all over the world come together to compete in Rock, Paper, Scissors? Yes, Rock, Paper, Scissors is a very popular game.

As you probably know, each player holds one fist in front of him and hits it with his other fist three times. Then, on the fourth time, the player's top hand forms either a rock, paper, or scissors. (Demonstrate each as you say the words.) This is how you know who wins: a rock smashes scissors, paper covers a rock, and scissors cut paper.

Let's play! You can all play against me and you can keep track of how many times you win. Ready? One, two, three, go. Okay, I made a rock. If you made paper, you win. If you made scissors, I win. If you made a rock, we tied. (Play the Rock, Paper, Scissors for a few minutes.)

The great thing about Rock, Paper, Scissors is that any one of them can be a winner. I have a real rock, paper, and scissors this morning. If you are going to write a letter, a rock or scissors wouldn't be much help, but a piece of paper would, wouldn't it? If you wanted to cut a piece of paper, a rock or paper wouldn't help, but a pair of scissors would. If you were really thirsty and needed a drink of water, a piece of paper or a pair of scissors wouldn't be much help, but a rock might be exactly what you need.

What? Some of you are looking at me like you think I'm crazy! Don't you think a rock would help you if you needed a drink of water? Well, in our Bible story today, that is exactly what happened. Our Bible story today is called, "Water from a Rock."

Moses was the leader of the people of Israel. He was leading them from Egypt to a land that God would give to them. They were wandering through the desert and people were thirsty. They began to grumble and complain to Moses. "We are dying," they said, "our children are dying, our cattle are dying. Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die out here in the desert?"

Moses went to his tent and fell on his knees before God. "What should I do?" Moses prayed. "There is no water in the desert. The people are thirsty, and they are ready to kill me."

God answered Moses and said to him, "Take your shepherd's staff and walk ahead of the people. I will meet you by the rock at Mount Sinai. When you come to the rock, strike it with your staff and water will flow from the rock. The people will be having plenty of water to drink."

Moses did exactly what God told him to do and guess what happened? He got water from a rock!

So, what should you and I do when we face an impossible situation? We should ask God for his help, and then trust in him. Sometimes we may not understand the way God is leading, but we just have to trust him. After all, who would have thought you could get water from a rock?

Offering Prayer

Compassionate Christ transform these offerings with your Spirit, that they may accomplish your work in the world. To the thirsty and hungry, may these gifts bring water and food. To the oppressed and the forgotten, may these gifts bring justice and hope. To the sinful and the selfish, may these gifts bring grace and new beginnings. May we, likewise, be your humble servants, accomplishing your work in this world. Amen. 

Hymn 650: Brother, sister let me serve you

                 (Tune – Servant Song)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMIMJFgp41U 

1.  Brother, sister let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace

To let you be my servant, too. 

2.  We are pilgrims on a journey.

And companions on the road.

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load. 

3.  I will hold the Christ-light for you

In the nighttime of your fear.

I will hold my hand out to you;

Speak the peace you long to hear.

4.  I will weep when you are weeping.

When you laugh, I'll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we've seen this journey through. 

5.  When we sing to God in heaven,

We shall find such harmony

Born of all we've known together

Of Christ's love and agony. 

6.  Brother, sister let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace

To let you be my servant, too.

Tune – Servant Song  Words - Richard Gillard

                                                         The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Exodus 17:1-7

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 21:23-32

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Exodus 17:1-7

1 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord ?’ 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord , ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’  

Matthew 21:23-32

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ 24 Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” 26 But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ 27 So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29 He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go.31 Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. 

Preaching of the Word - Walking the Walk - Matthew 21:23-32 

Imagine you are watching television and a commercial comes on. The camera pans out over a tranquil beach scene where a family is enjoying the sun and the water. One parent is helping a smiling child build a sandcastle, while the other child runs in the surf, throwing a stick for a bounding, energetic golden retriever. The other parent is sitting in a beach chair under an umbrella with a picnic basket and a drink, waving to the rest of the family. Finally, at the end, the product is advertised.

But that’s not all, right? What was really advertised was not just a drink or an item of clothing or sunscreen or life insurance – the marketers were cleverer than that. They were advertising salvation – buy our product and it will save you from your harried, over-scheduled existence and lead you to this “perfect” life.

Sometimes, we are so harried, we are so tired, we are so over-scheduled, and perhaps are so short-sighted and feel so self-centred in our everyday existence that we buy into this false salvation. We grumble at our church leaders, “Is the Lord among us or not? We aren’t getting what we want. God’s not leading us to salvation as we imagined it, so maybe we need to look elsewhere.” 

Like the Israelites in Exodus, we are wandering through the wilderness of Sin – both a geographical place and a play on words that reminds us of our imperfection and unfaithfulness.

Yet, God remains faithful. God is still at work in our lives, no matter what we believe, no matter what we do as we move through the wilderness. We made promises to God or had promises made on our behalf during our Baptismal Covenant:

“Will you persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” These are the gist of those baptismal promises made and if done on our behalf as children, can be confirmed by us through our Confirmation. 

Always, the answer is, “I will, with God’s help.”

We cannot separate our belief in God from the action it demands. We cannot immerse ourselves in “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers” without being stirred to embodying this knowledge and love of God through our actions in the world. Together, they create faith. We can do a whole lot of prayer or a whole lot of serving in a soup kitchen, but an imbalance of one or the other does not exemplify what Jesus is asking. God is faithful in word and deed, and that is the faith that we are called to.

Take this modern parable for example:

There once was a man who came to know Jesus and wanted to be baptised. The whole community supported him and he was baptised along with several others on a Sunday morning. Things seemed to be going smoothly with his newly minted faith. Prayer flowed easily from his lips and heart, he never went by the homeless person who was on the corner of the street where he worked without speaking to him and giving change when he could. He came to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and went to adult formation classes.

After a while, things started to feel, well, like a suit that was becoming too small, too tight. What he once did with joy was now starting to feel like an obligation. He didn’t know what to do. When someone asked him to pray for them, he said, “Of course!” with enthusiasm and then forgot to. He began to avoid the homeless person by his work by going through another entrance. He attended church and church events less frequently. He considered his life outside of church as separate from his faith, and it was getting busy. He got a promotion at work, started dating someone seriously, and was getting involved in some philanthropic activities through his workplace. He still believed in God and felt love for God but didn’t know how to integrate these pieces into the rest of his life. It all seemed like it was too hard, too much. Eventually, his church community who witnessed his baptism and vowed to do all in their power to support him in his life in Christ never saw him again.

How many of us have told someone we would pray for him or her and then got distracted and didn’t? How many of us have thought or talked a lot about helping the marginalised in our neighbourhood, but haven’t? How many of us have been puzzled when people who were once zealous about their faith faded away, and we intended to contact them but never have?

We all have good intentions. But as Jesus teaches us in our gospel reading today, our intentions don’t really matter. It’s our actions that are grounded in and flow from our relationship with God that count – individually and as a community.

The man in the parable was not the only one who fell short of his promises – the community did, too. All these everyday actions are outward and visible signs of our inward and spiritual grace. These are all acts of love – love that God has for us and that we have for God. They are sacraments with a small “s.”

Jesus preached and taught and touched and healed people. Jesus was doing all this non-stop for a few years and then was crucified, died and was resurrected. But it doesn’t stop there. Over and over again, God’s actions prove God’s love for us. We were given an advocate, the Holy Spirit to come and assist us in continuing God’s work in the world. We get to become part of God’s action.

If we take an honest examination of how God has touched each of our lives, we can be surprised by joy. Think back on your life, the ways that the tapestry of threads have been woven to get you to where you are today. Those times where just the right thing happened, those unexpected moments that changed your life, and the spaces in between, all where God was caring for you. How do we respond to this? 

Jesus gives a telling example of response to God’s love in his parable today about the two sons being asked to work in the vineyard. The first son tells his father outright that he won’t do it, but then has a change of heart and goes and does it anyway. Whereas the second son tells his father he will and then never does. It’s a pretty extreme example, but it gets the point across. Jesus tells this to the chief priests and elders – who rejected John the Baptist and were rejecting Jesus – in order for them to be caught in their own web of deceit. Jesus asks them, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” and they know they are trapped because the answer, of course, is the first son. He ended up living his life faithfully; he didn’t just talk about it or say things to appease his father.

We often do similar things in our own lives. We say we are Christians, but how do we know? How do others know? God has given us the gift of our lives and we are called to respond. We are to be good stewards of our lives, spreading the love of God that we have received, to others.

We aren’t perfect, but we are definitely called to be different. As one American political comedian Stephen Colbert put it, “Either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition; and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

If we choose not to walk the walk, then we are just as bad as the chief priests and elders Jesus encountered.

But there is hope for us! We can be like the first son and have a change of heart. We can choose to be obedient to God and live in a wide, loving margin of grace.

As we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and each other, may there by clarity and fire in God’s call to us, and may we receive the courage to do something about it.

 Hymn TIS 657: God of freedom, God of justice

                 (Tune - Tredegar)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL4TPYF90xQ

             God of freedom, God of justice,

you whose love is strong as death,

you who saw the dark of prison,

you who know the price of faith --

       touch our world of sad oppression

       with your Spirit's healing breath.

 

Rid the earth of torture's terror,

you whose hands were nailed to wood;

hear the cries of pain and protest,

you who shed the tears and blood --

       move in us the power of pity

       restless for the common good.

 

Make in us a captive conscience

quick to hear, to act, to plead;

make us truly sisters, brothers

of whatever race or creed --

       teach us to be fully human,

       open to each other's needs. 

Words: Shirley E Murray, Music: Guthrie Foote (Tredegar).
Words: © 1992 Shirley E Murray,

Intercessory Prayers   

Loving God as we bring our prayers before you before you, give to us honest hearts as we bring you our thanksgiving and confess our needs.

Lord God, the friend of sinners and those in need, your Son Jesus has untied our burdens and healed our spirits. So, we lift before you all those whose hearts are burdened and those who seek healing.

We pray for the nations of the world that justice, truth and mercy would govern the hearts of those who lead, that all people would be led in true peace. Turn the hearts of those who are filled with hate and bring the families of the nations under your just and gentle rule.

We pray for our church leaders, that they may have wisdom and courage to seek to direct your church in right pathways. May your church faithfully serve you and seek always to be faithful your calling to be a light in dark places, bringing about the ways of your kingdom on earth.

God of mercy and healing, you who hear the cries of those in need, receive the petitions of your people that all who are troubled may know peace, comfort, and courage. Lord Jesus you meet us in our suffering and supply our hearts with your strength when we call upon your name. Grant your protection to those in need comfort them and may they know your presence in their affliction. Set your angels charge over them and lead them in your way through the journey before them.

Surround them with your tenderness and support them in your everlasting arms. We pray especially for .......

Gracious God be with all of those who mourn and may they know the tender compassion of your love. May the hope which you supply sustain all those who are troubled by grief, that it may never overwhelm those who call upon you.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn TIS 618: What does the Lord require

                 (Tune – Sharpthorne)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbthcrhrrOU

What does the Lord require

for praise and offering?

What sacrifice, desire

or tribute did you bring?

Do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

Rulers of earth, give ear!

Should you not justice know?

Will God your pleading hear

while crime and cruelty grow?

Do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

Still down the ages ring

the prophet's stern commands:

to merchant, worker, king,

he brings God's high commands:

do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

How shall our life fulfill

God's law so hard and high?

Let Christ endue our will

with grace to fortify.

Then justly,

in mercy,

we'll humbly walk with God.

                           Author: Albert F. Bayly (1949)

Tune: Sharpthorne

Benediction    

       May we go forth with the mind of Christ and the love of God to serve in the vineyard of life! Tell of God's works! Think on God's deeds! Give glory and praise to God!

        And the blessing of God almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always Amen

 Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom

 Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)  Tune: Somos Del Señor




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet October 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - September 25, 2020 - 2:35am

                                       Marsden Road Uniting Church                    203 Marsden Road Carlingford
Monthly Newssheet October 2020
Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the Community

Greetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present. We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.

 October Services by Zoom, Web and Delivery

04   9.30am St Francis/Pentecost 18 Service - Virtual Holy Communion

11   9.30am Pentecost 19 Sunday Service (Zoom)

18   9.30am Saint Luke/Pentecost 20 Sunday Service, Guest Preacher Zoom

22   7.30am Local Ministers Meeting (Zoom)

25   9.30am Pentecost 21 Sunday Service (Zoom)

CHURCH SERVICES

Worship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ and Margaret’s/Joan’s weekly Blog: 

  1. Through Live Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website: http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  3. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.
  4. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/  

Offerings

 

  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
  • BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856

 

City of Ryde Zone Congregations look at

One to One Mentoring

Tertiary Student Mentoring – Macquarie University – Uniting Churches will be invited to take part in this programme for at least one year. Mentors will be trained and there are set procedures and protocols. The programme will be supported by our UCA University Chaplain. Details to come. Consider if you would like to take part in this programme.

Kids Hope – One to One mentoring This is a primary school secular programme with meetings of one hour per week. The pamphlet is available from Rev John.

More details will follow as the programmes are put in motion.

 

Marsden Road Prayer Cycle 

 The October Prayer Cycle has been sent to those for whom we have Email addresses. If you deliver services to those without Internet/Computer, please print these in Landscape and print on both sides flipping on short edge. It folds in three as a pamphlet.

 

Offering Envelopes

The time has come again to renew our Offering and make any changes in how we do this. Envelopes are available from Elaine or Ruth and you can alter dates of old ones. 

 

Pastoral and Other Meetings 

While there is no Vaccine or Treatment for the Covid-19, the Rev John is unable to be available for face to face pastoral needs and/or conversations. However, if you need or wish to have a pastoral chat with Rev John and prefer not to do this via the phone and do have Internet connection then you can contact him and arrange a Zoom meeting time. Rev John will send you a Zoom URL address and we can connect at an appointed time. Groups who wish to meet can also contact Rev John or Warwick Roden and plan for their meeting to be through Zoom. The Congregation now has its own Zoom access managed by Warwick.

 

Advent Study Groups

We have selected Following Hope - Five Studies for Keeping Hope Alive by Sharonne Price as our Advent study.

Due to a kind donation most of the cost of Study Guides has been covered and therefore will only be $10 each. Books can be obtained through Rev John.

The study titles are: Journeys of Hope, Waiting on God, Making it Real Keeping it Real, From Optimism to Joy Following Hope

Night Group- Wednesday night’s 7.00-8.30pm - 11, 18, 25, November, and 02, 09 December, - Venue: by Zoom


UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Most Meetings and Worship will Continue Virtually by Zoom, or other Methods until the Covid-19 Pandemic is Controlled, and it is safe for us to meet again. 

CONTACTS 

Minister of the Word

Rev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658 or whitestarhaven@gmail.com

Church Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531

Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/

Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/

Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service: margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com 

Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com

EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AID

Did you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.

Those who would prefer to make a financial donation to Community Aid (amounts of $2.00 or more are tax deductible) can be made using their website https://ccas.org.au/ or the form sent out last week.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Acts of Love.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - September 25, 2020 - 1:23am

Imagine you are watching television and a commercial comes on. The camera pans out over a tranquil beach scene where a family is enjoying the sun and the water. One parent is helping a smiling child build a sandcastle, while the other child runs in the surf, throwing a stick for a bounding, energetic golden retriever. The other parent is sitting in a beach chair under an umbrella with a picnic basket and a drink, waving to the rest of the family. Finally, at the end, the product is advertised. But that’s not all, right? What was really advertised was not just a drink or an item of clothing or sunscreen or life insurance – the marketers were cleverer than that. They were advertising salvation – buy our product and it will save you from your harried, over-scheduled existence and lead you to this “perfect” life.

Sometimes, we are so harried, we are so tired, we are so over-scheduled, and perhaps are so short-sighted and feel so self-centred in our everyday existence that we buy into this false salvation. We grumble at our church leaders, “Is the Lord among us or not? We aren’t getting what we want. God’s not leading us to salvation as we imagined it, so maybe we need to look elsewhere.” Like the Israelites in Exodus, we are wandering through the wilderness of Sin – both a geographical place and a play on words that reminds us of our imperfection and unfaithfulness. Yet, God remains faithful. God is still at work in our lives, no matter what we believe, no matter what we do as we move through the wilderness.

Christians cannot separate our belief in God from the action it demands. We cannot immerse ourselves in “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers” without being stirred to embodying this knowledge and love of God through our actions in the world. Together, they create faith. We can do a whole lot of prayer or a whole lot of serving in a soup kitchen, but an imbalance of one or the other does not exemplify what Jesus is asking. God is faithful in word and deed, and that is the faith that we are called to.

Take this modern parable for example:

There once was a man who came to know Jesus and wanted to be baptised. The whole community supported him, and he was baptised along with several others on a Sunday morning. Things seemed to be going smoothly with his newly minted faith. Prayer flowed easily from his lips and heart, he never went by the homeless person who was on the corner of the street where he worked without speaking to him and giving change when he could. He came to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and went to adult formation classes.

After a while, things started to feel, well, like a suit that was becoming too small, too tight. What he once did with joy was now starting to feel like an obligation. He didn’t know what to do. When someone asked him to pray for them, he said, “Of course!” with enthusiasm and then forgot to. He began to avoid the homeless person by his work by going through another entrance. He attended church and church events less frequently. He considered his life outside of church as separate from his faith, and it was getting busy. He got a promotion at work, started dating someone seriously, and was getting involved in some philanthropic activities through his workplace.

He still believed in God and felt love for God but didn’t know how to integrate these pieces into the rest of his life. It all seemed like it was too hard, too much. Eventually, his church community who witnessed his baptism and vowed to do all in their power to support him in his life in Christ never saw him again.

Jesus teaches us in our gospel reading today, our intentions don’t really matter. It’s our actions that are grounded in and flow from our relationship with God that count – individually and as a community. The man in the parable was not the only one who fell short of his promises – the community did, too. All these everyday actions are outward and visible signs of our inward and spiritual grace. These are all acts of love – love that God has for us and that we have for God. Jesus preached and taught and touched and healed people. Over and over again, God’s actions prove God’s love for us.

If we take an honest examination of how God has touched each of our lives, we can be surprised by joy. Think back on your life, the ways that the tapestry of threads have been woven to get you to where you are today. Those times where just the right thing happened, those unexpected moments that changed your life, and the spaces in between, all where God was caring for you. How do we respond to this?

We aren’t perfect, but we are definitely called to be different. As we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and each other, may there by clarity and fire in God’s call to us, and may we receive the courage to do something about it.

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"So Forgive Someone Today"

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - September 18, 2020 - 3:31am

Declaration of Forgiveness:If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, the forces of death would have claimed us as victims. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, we would have fallen to the sword or been drowned by the sea. Dance and sing to the Lord who is on our side and is on the side of all God’s children. Amen Thanks, be to God!   

Preaching of the Word - And in Anger..., - Matthew 18:21-35   And in anger the Lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So, my heavenly Father will also do it to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart. NRSV Matthew 18: 34-35

This prayer of Forgiveness at the beginning of the Rev John’s service on Sunday the 13th September and the text for the Reflection/Sermon were reminders to me of the relatively harsh moments when we are reminded that forgiveness often has to be earned and it can sometimes be quite difficult for us humans.  As the Rev. John said; “This is not good news for those of us who have trouble forgiving.”

There are times for most of us when we can hardly remember what we are angry or upset about, yet we cling to our sense of grievance. That is why I try to “live by” a well-known adage; “People may not remember exactly what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”  I have not found any evidence of who actually said this, however there are lots of people claiming to be the authors of “wise sayings” that have obviously been their own versions of this saying.  I try very hard to use words carefully and avoid leaving hard feelings to linger or fester after I have moved on and forgotten an encounter. 

A friend once taped an interview with her 90 year old grandmother and one of the questions she asked her grandmother was; “What do you remember most about your father?”  The old lady quickly replied, “I remember he yelled a lot.”  At the time I heard this interview it hit me like a bolt of lightning – “the way I speak to and care for my children today will stay with them until they are perhaps 90 years old”.  I nervously asked my young daughters the next day, “If somebody asked you what you remembered most about your mother, what do you think it would be?”  They thought about it for a few seconds and agreed on their answer; “She gives great hugs.”   While breathing a quick sigh of relief I resolved to strive to remain careful, encouraging and loving, so I would be remembered positively even if they lived to 90 years old.



I also remember that the next day I heard a woman on one of the newly popular “talk-back radio” programs who was devastated to learn after her husband’s death, that he had died uncertain of her love for him.  She said she knew she loved him but had not realised he needed her to tell him.  The depth of the regret that poor woman felt was another timely lesson for me to always tell my husband, children, family and even my friends, of my love for them and my appreciation of them.

A person that I worked with came from a culture where men were considered as more important than women and money and success were so important that the men could have been considered by “happy-go-lucky” Australians as insensitive and mean.  In his culture forgiveness did not seem to be a priority.  I had a number of discussions about forgiveness with this young man whose idea of an apology was to say with a certain vehemence; “I will forgive – but I will never forget!”  

Was I wrong in believing that part of forgiving is wiping the slate clean and forgetting the grievance altogether?  I remember with some amusement how hard it was as a child to say those two words; “I’m sorry” but, the effort was always rewarded with a smile or a hug and the feeling of reassurance that I was loved anyway.

Before I had children of my own I was secretly highly amused when I visited one of my brothers and his wife; and their son was sent to his room for doing something naughty and told that he could come out when he was ready to say he was sorry.  Next thing my brother came back to join his wife, my husband and me in the family room and beckoned us to creep down the hall to listen to my nephew practicing his apology over and over with dubious success in sincerity as he faltered over those two soooooooooooo hard to say words – I’m sorry!  By the time the five or six year old reappeared in the family room he had mastered the delivery of his apology and somehow all four adults managed to keep a completely straight face.  

Yes, my dear little nephew learned that day forgiveness can be a joy – both for the giver and the receiver!     

I smiled as I thought about the wonderful father that my nephew had to guide him through life.  As my big brother, he had taught me valuable lessons about doing myself a favour and “letting go” of things that I could not change.  When I was in 6th class in Primary School I was coming home from school most days in a state of distress because I had been “kept in” with the whole class until a full blackboard of arithmetic had been finished.  This was a punishment for bad behaviour by a group of girls who habitually disrupted the last lesson of the day which was always history, which I really loved and during which I never did anything even remotely out of order.  The real unfairness of keeping in those who were well behaved, became intolerable for me because I was not ever good at maths and the badly behaved girls would rush through the punishment in record time and skip off home, while I was always the last person to finish and by then my bus had gone and I had to walk the four or five kilometres home from school.  My brother gently persuaded me that this was something I could not change and that it was not helping me to get upset and worry about the naughty girls not being punished.  He even suggested that my maths just might improve as a result of the extra work that was set almost every day.  So I learned that life is not always fair, but it is much easier if you forgive those people you can and accept that you can’t change some things. 

Put simply my older brother taught me; “It’s not so much what happens to you in life – it is more about how you choose to deal with what happens to you.” 

More than 50 years later a friend who was then in his eighties wrote wonderful stories about his early life in Rabaul, which he described as a “Tropical wonderland for children”.  One day he told a delightful anecdote about how, when he was a young boy, he stole a box of matches from the kitchen servants and started a wild grass fire. 

The next morning his mother told him “You had better go to Sunday school and ask God to help you stop being a naughty boy.”   He had the feeling from his mother’s tone that he was going to be “In deep trouble for some time.”  Unfortunately, that morning my friend’s Sunday School Teacher showed a picture of the crucifixion of Jesus and pointed out how sad Jesus was as she told the kids; “You can see how He suffered for us in this picture – just look at His sad face and His head hanging down with the crown of sharp thorns on it.”  The teacher then continued; “He suffered because of all the naughty things we have done.”    

l'eglise - St. Etienne (St. Stephen), Bar - sur - Seinne, France
Author - Mattana -  Mattis :  Wikipedia Commons Licence (c) free











As this was the first time my friend had ever seen a picture of the crucifixion and he admitted that as a child he was “naughty every day” he became very worried and began to think that his naughtiness had contributed to the agony of Jesus on the cross.  The teacher then handed each child a copy of the picture and told the children to try and keep inside the lines and do their best work because; “Jesus likes children who always try to do their best work”.

I have often wondered since hearing this story, how many children have been made anxious by their Sunday School lessons.  Perhaps this teacher did not properly explain the crucifixion using “love” words like the Rev. John used in his sermon on Sunday; “The cross is God's ultimate act of love and forgiveness. What God did through Jesus was not correct or legal or right. Rather it was pure love. God said to all humanity, ‘There is nothing that you can do that will end my love for you.’ 

It irritates God when we don't share the love and forgiveness we have received. So, forgive someone -- today!”

Do you ever come across a Bible reading that surprises you with harsh thoughts and violent stories and do you sometimes have problems fitting things together in the overall messages of love, peace and harmony? I liked the Rev. John’s thoughts about the text that he took for his Sermon because it offered a more gentle way of looking at God’s threats of the torture that might come our way if we hold back some of our debts to others and refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us.  This is just God acting as a parent and demanding a high standard from us when we are dealing with all His people. 

“It may be that the torture described in the text is just what happens to us when we refuse to forgive. The choice seems to be whether we will be right and miserable, wrong and miserable, or whether we will be forgiving and happy. There are some very clear words about this from Jesus that we all know: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," or in the familiar translation, "Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Amen.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Giving Thanks for Love and Life.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - September 17, 2020 - 11:42pm

Children’s books seem to fall into categories: one appears to be about obedience or learning to follow the rules, a great number are about bravery and perseverance, others are about understanding the world around you, but a great many of the books for children today are about teaching our children that they are loved unconditionally. There seems to be a lot of these books, yearning to reassure us that we are lovable.One book, Mama, Do You Love Me?, follows an Alaskan mother and daughter through a conversation where the toddler tests the boundaries and limits of her mother’s love, only to find that even if mama is angry, she loves her daughter still. It’s a story about how fragile we are as humans and how each of us is intrinsically good and worthy of love. It’s a great and honest book, and in some way tells the story of how much God loves us.

This is something we need in our world at the moment as we continue to face the consequences of the Pandemic especially its continued effects. In this week’s reading from the lectionary in Matthew 20 we find Jesus telling a parable that is also about how much we are loved. The parable of the five o’clock people tells of how fragile we are as humans and how boundless God’s love truly is. Many Christians have heard sermons every year on this parable. Sometimes it focuses on the anger and resentment of the people who showed up earlier in the day, sometimes it looks at why the people showed up at five, and other times we hear about how grace is given freely to all simply because they showed up. All of these ring true.

There is something quite fragile about humans; our fragility shows up when we Christians baptise babies and ask their families to protect them from evil and for the community gathered to look after them. Each of us is born with the love and hope of God implanted in our hearts; unfortunately, we are born into a fragile and broken world. At baptism, the child has had people promise to look after them as they grew into the person God imagined them to be in the midst of our communities.

This is the world of the parable: good and fragile people doing their best, wondering why some got more for doing less. What we and the workers forget is that God is not like us. God is better and more loving than we can imagine being. God looks at the workers and says, “I love you regardless of what time you showed up for work, I’m just glad you showed up.” Like the mother in the book I mentioned earlier, God’s love is not conditional on our behaviour, God just wants us to show up and work. It is a reminder that we need to be grateful for help in the work God has given us to do, regardless of what time that help arrives. The work is often about being a sign of love to the world, and finding ways to love others even if they don’t agree with us, look like us, or behave the way we want them to… or show up first thing in the morning for work.

One of the best ways we can be signs of love in the world is to say thank you. Gratitude is an expression of love. When someone does something kind for us, regardless of whether they had to or not, it is a reminder of the goodness in them meeting the goodness in us—and the natural response to kindness is gratitude. Gratitude is extraordinarily important because it is a way for us to remember the goodness in others and ourselves—but still, it is easy to forget to be grateful.

A spiritual discipline of gratitude doesn’t sound like much, but how often do we forget to say thank you? Thank you seems too simple, and yet it has the power to transform our lives. Have you ever tried genuinely thanking someone from whom you ordered food or coffee? Yes, it is that person’s job to make the coffee, but aren’t you glad that he or she said “yes” to doing the job that day? What about people you work with? Have you thanked them for all they do to support you? Have you thanked your family and friends? Most of us know the pain of someone dying suddenly with words of gratitude left unspoken between us. Saying thank you is simple, but it is transformative.

The good news is that God’s grace is so great and so surprising that it can provide enough no matter how late in the day it is – on the deathbed, in the jail cell, after repeated failures – because the recipient need not add anything to the grace, but simply receive it in order for it to do its life-sustaining work. Even as the sun sets on this life, it is not too late to accept God’s Amazing Grace.

And it is never too soon for the rest of us to begin to consider that heaven is “enough,” heaven’s daily bread and heaven’s daily wage make all earthly comparisons look meaningless and silly and for that we can give thanks. We Christians are called to be those people who pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and really make an effort to live that out. To live life in God’s kingdom is a journey to return to manna season.

One suspects this journey begins with being as generous toward God and others as God is with us. After all, there must be some reason that God has created us in God’s own image.' We are created to love and to give. And to be as surprisingly generous with our giving to God and to others as God is with us.




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 15 13 September 2020

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

__________________________________________________________________________________


And in Anger..., 

Sunday 13th September 2020

Pentecost 15 Sunday year of Matthew 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

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

 Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

        If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when the forces of death pressed against us, we would have no songs to sing to our children. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when the instruments of death had us in their power, we would be the victims of the unrighteous. Sing to our God, who brings us into a future of hope and life.

Sing to God for mercy and grace.

Sing praises to God for laughter and joy.

For our God is mighty and strong, protecting the lowly from the anger of the oppressor.

Our God is righteous and just, saving the weak from the cruelty of the powerful.

Sing to God for mercy and grace.

Sing praises to God for laughter and joy. 

Hymn TIS 569: Guide me, O thou great Redeemer                                        (tune – Cwm Rhondda)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAN4EojeF0Y 

1.  Guide me, O my great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but you are mighty;
hold me with your powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore,
feed me now and evermore. 

2.  Open now the crystal fountain,
where the healing waters flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
ever be my strength and shield,
ever be my strength and shield. 

3.  When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever sing to you,
I will ever sing to you.

 Author: William Williams (1745)Translator: Peter Williams (1771)

Tune: Cwm Rhondda 

Opening prayer

Gracious God renew our minds and cleanse our spirits, that we might rise above the petty judgments that keep us from full fellowship with you and with one another. Part the waters of our worries and confusion and save us from the tides that threaten to overwhelm us. Be merciful to us and protect us with your powerful hand, that we might dance and sing to your glory. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Merciful God, when we have inflicted injuries upon others, forgive us; when we have laughed and sung as our enemies faced calamity, pardon us;

when we have belittled the convictions of others through word or deed, restore us in your mercy. Reclaim us, Mighty One, that amidst the trials of life, we might walk on the dry land of your powerful hope and your loving grace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness

"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, the forces of death would have claimed us as victims. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, we would have fallen to the sword or been drowned by the sea. Dance and sing to the Lord who is on our side and is on the side of all God’s children. Amen

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

We live not for ourselves, but for the One who rescues us from peril and calls us into fellowship with one another. Let us give thanks for the love of God, as we share signs of Christ’s peace this day.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)


A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: God's Power and Protection

Object: Get ceramic or plastic plate, water, pepper, dish                        soap, paper towel for demonstration.  

One of our Scripture lessons set for this week but which we will not read later is about one of the most spectacular events in the entire Bible. (Exodus 14:19-3) The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. But Pharaoh refused to let God's people go until God sent 10 plagues to all of Egypt. After so many bad things happened, Pharaoh finally decided it was best to let the Israelites go. The Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt.

(For Demonstration - pour enough water on the plate to cover the bottom.)

But Pharaoh changed his mind again. He sent his giant army to bring the Israelites back to Egypt. And the Israelites were caught between the army and the Red Sea. When God’s people saw the Egyptian army and chariots coming, they were afraid. 

(Shake pepper all over the water. Put your finger into the water and touch the bottom of the plate.)

What happened? (Pause for a few responses.) You’re right; nothing happened! The pepper just stuck to my finger. Hmm. The Israelites were afraid that the Red Sea would cover them completely. But Moses said, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch God save you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened up a pathway through the water with a strong east wind. 

Put a drop of dish soap on the tip of your finger. Then put your finger into the water again and touch the bottom of the plate. The pepper on top of the water will instantly spread apart. 

The people of Israel walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side! The Egyptians, with their horses and chariots, followed the Israelites through the sea, but God twisted their chariot wheels, making them difficult to drive.

When the Israelites reached the other side of the water, God said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again.” When Moses did, the water rushed back, and all of the chariots and horses and the entire army of the Pharaoh were drowned. Not a single one survived.

When the people of Israel saw the mighty power, God had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe. 

Imagine that—God caused the waters of the sea to separate. That’s kind of like our pepper trick, but on a giant scale. God is powerful and He protected His people, and He protects us, too. 

Offering Prayer

Merciful God transform our gifts into gifts of hope and joy for a world acquainted with despair. Receive our very lives, and fashion us into instruments of your grace, that we may become love and laughter in places of sorrow and mourning. Mould us into your people— a people of promise and hope, a people who live and die in the Lord. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 090: I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath                        (plus extra verse from other sources)                                           (tune: Monmouth)  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKz01u63gq8

1.  I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;

And when my voice is lost in death

Praise shall employ my nobler powers:

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.

 

2.  Why should I place in man my trust?

Princes must die and turn to dust;

Vain is the help of flesh and blood:

Their breath departs, their pomp and power,

Their thoughts are gone within an hour,

Nor can they make their promise good.

 

3.  Happy are they whose hopes rely

On Israel’s God; He made the sky,

And earth, and seas, with all their train:

His Truth for ever stands secure;

He saves the oppressed, He feeds the poor,

And none shall find His promise vain.

 

4.  The Lord has eyes to give the blind;

The Lord supports the sinking mind;

He sends the labouring conscience peace:

He helps the stranger in distress,

The widow and the fatherless,

And grants the prisoner sweet release.

 

5.  I’ll praise Him while He lends me breath,

And when my voice is lost in death,

Praise shall employ my nobler powers;

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.

Text: Isaac Watts

Tune: Monmouth

 The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Romans 14:1-14

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 18:21-35

Readings: NRSV Translation

Romans 14:1-14 

1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.
3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also, those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.
11 For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ 12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another.
14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29 Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ 

Preaching of the Word - And in Anger..., - Matthew 18:21-35

And in anger the Lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So, my heavenly Father will also do it to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart. NRSV Matthew 18: 34-35

This is not good news for those of us who have trouble forgiving.

One woman went to her Minister because she had long-term resentments that she held against the men in her life. Her father had greatly favoured her brother and had given him the family business. Her brother offered her a menial job in the family business after she divorced. Her former husband was wonderfully successful with a huge income but was miserly and slow with the child support and alimony paid to her. Her sons resented the divorce and constantly told their mother how much they wanted to go live with their dad.

In short, she was angry and resentful. And what was worse, the reason she was angry and resentful was because she was paying attention, had carefully analysed her situation-and was right!

Her Minister listened carefully and said, "You are really justified in being angry. What is being angry doing to you?" The woman poured out a litany of pains, health problems, loneliness, and depression.

Forgiveness was offered as a possibility.

The woman was unable, or unwilling, to forgive. The men in her life did not change their way of behaving toward her. Her health and wellbeing continued in a downward spiral, even though she was totally justified in her anger.

We have in us a need for vindication when we are injured. There are disciplines in law and equity for assessing responsibility for injury, for assessing the degree of damage that an injury has done, and for determining payment to restore the damage. But, no one who has ever gone through a difficult lawsuit leaves satisfied.

We even have a bumper sticker that says, "Don't get mad, get even!"

It may be that the way most of us imitate God is by claiming that "vengeance is ours," contrary to what God said.

It may be that the torture described in the text is just what happens to us when we refuse to forgive. The choice seems to be whether we will be right and miserable, wrong and miserable, or whether we will be forgiving and happy. There are some very clear words about this from Jesus that we all know: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," or in the familiar translation, "Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

The door to joy and happiness is forgiveness. It seems to work this way. First, when we forgive, we join with God in doing one of God's essential works. Doing the will and work of God brings fulfillment to our lives. Second, forgiveness brings peace to our relationships. Any parent can tell stories of dealing with the injuries, offenses, and disobedience of children. Without forgiveness, children can't be raised. Marriage, as our institution and way of being, can't be sustained without mutual forgiveness.

Married people can't keep from injuring each other. Without forgiveness the injuries become wounds and the wounds become fatal.

Even more ironic is the reality that most of us can't change destructive behaviour until we find that we don't really have to change it. One man tells a story: "I did things that betrayed all of my father's values. He kept forgiving me. I finally did something that was so bad that I knew he would never forgive me and would banish me. He forgave me. I realised that there was nothing that I could do that would make my father stop loving and forgiving me. That realisation, knowing that I was loved no matter what I did, meant that I didn't have to do all the stuff anymore."

This story is a minor illustration of God's work in our broken, sinful rebellion. The cross is God's ultimate act of love and forgiveness. What God did through Jesus was not correct or legal or right. Rather it was pure love. God said to all humanity, "There is nothing that you can do that will end my love for you." It irritates God when we don't share the love and forgiveness we have received. So, forgive someone -- today!  

Hymn TIS 635: Forgive our sins as we forgive                                            (tune – Detroit (Bradshaw))

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HixCQUirJxg  

"Forgive our sins as we forgive,"

You taught us, Lord, to pray,

But you alone can grant us grace

To live the words we say.

 

How can your pardon reach and bless

The unforgiving heart

That broods on wrongs and will not let

Old bitterness depart?

 

In blazing light your cross reveals

The truth we dimly knew:

What trivial debts are owed to us;

How great our debt to you!

 

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls

And bid resentment cease;

Then, bound to all in bonds of love

Our lives will spread your peace.

                                           Author: Rosamond Herklots (1969)

Tune: DETROIT (Bradshaw) 

Intercessory Prayers

Loving God, we seek your help as we seek to model our lives on the teachings of our Lord Jesus.

As we hear his words encouraging us to be kind to others, we pray that we would be mindful of the needs of those who are less fortunate and never to seek reward or recognition in helping others.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

We look at the life of Jesus in which he cared for the weak and sick and in which he reached out to children, the poor and all of those who were vulnerable. May we be filled with the same attitude of mercy and may we treat others with equal compassion and dignity.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

As we think about the death of Jesus, we remember how his life was one of sacrifice in which he willingly forsook his own needs and instead offered all he had for the welfare of others. We ask for the presence of your Holy Spirit to empower us to change and become less selfish, less proud and more generous in the way that we give of ourselves to others in worship to you.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

We pray for spiritual vision to see ourselves as we really are. Enable us we pray to see our own faults with the same clarity that we see the faults of others.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

Help us to seek always to give to others the same kindness we would like shown to ourselves.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

May our lives be examples of humility that we might treasure others with the measure of love which you have shown for us.    

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 416: Great God, your Spirit, like the wind                                  (tune – Jerusalem)

https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/MP3/MP3-GreatGodYourSpirit-Jerusalem-PipeLC-128-CAM.mp3 

Great God, your Spirit, like the wind -

unseen but shaking things we see -

will never leave us undisturbed,

fulfil our dreams, or set us free,

until we turn from faithless fear

and prove the promise of your grace,

in justice, peace and daily bread,

with joy for all the human race.

 

Lord, shake us with the force of love,

to rouse us from our dreadful sleep;

remove our hearts of stone, and give

new hearts of flesh, to break and weep

for all your children in distress

and dying for the wealth we keep.

Help us prevent, while we have time,

the blighted harvest greed must reap.

 

And then in your compassion, give

your Spirit like the gentle rain,

creating fertile ground from which

your peace and justice spring like grain;

until your love is satisfied,

with all creation freed from pain,

and all your children live to praise

your will fulfilled, your presence plain. 

Author: Alan Gaunt
Tune: Jerusalem 

Benediction

        Plunge into the waters unafraid, for God leads us forth. Walk straight ahead with purpose and passion, for Christ is our guide and guardian. Live as people of powerful hope, for the Spirit renews us each and every day. Go with the blessings of God. Amen 

Hymn779: May the feet of God walk with you.
         (Tune – Aubrey)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X5FHNGM2HA 

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.  

       Robyn Mann (1949 -)

         Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Aching for Answers.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - September 11, 2020 - 1:39am

Daily television images flood our imaginations with pictures of suffering and destruction. Not only have we had terrorist events but now we are living through a pandemic and the world has witnessed events that have blown away our sense of security. Death, destruction, loss, innocent suffering, and grief have seemed constant companions for many of us. The remembrance of the terrorist attacks in recent times and the pandemic continue to bring into our consciousness vivid, horrifying pictures. Some still feel the pain, agony, fear, and anger. With the terrorist attacks the feelings of vengeance and revenge stand as ready tempters that promise quick fixes to complex and profound problems. Some of the so-called and dangerous treatments suggested for the Covid-19 pandemic, play upon the feelings of insecurity and again promise quick fixes to complex problems.

Therapists for years have known that hearing the pain and perplexities of others can surface unresolved, suffering that the listener had pushed away and hoped to have forgotten. "Skeletons in the closet" experiences return like tormenting spirits. These people identify with some type of Ground Zero for they have experienced a similar private terror in their lives. Others feel a numbness setting in and they no longer feel anything. It's as if the constant stream of reminders of human suffering, terror, and death have created a spiritual callus that seemingly protects them from pain and covers their fear.

Christians, in the midst of all this complexity, chaos, and confusion, ache for answers that bring healing and hope to us and to those among whom we live and work and worship. People of faith must resist their need to try to say something merely to stop the pain. A premature proclamation usually produces glibness and pat, saccharine platitudes that are meaningless and ineffective. The call to serve may well be a call to continue feeling the pain and loss, to grieve with one another and to carry both the pain and grief into our praying.

We Christians pray in these days that the "Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts." The apostle Paul wrote in the Epistle to the Romans about deep, struggling prayer. "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God who searches the heart, knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Praying our struggles means bringing the full mixture of thoughts and feelings into our prayers. In addition to speaking directly to God, such praying consists of struggling with ourselves in the presence of God. Like Jacob in our Hebrew Scriptures wrestled with an angel and we too are called to wrestle with God even as we struggle with ourselves.

As Christians, we also struggle with Scripture. The themes present in the lessons appointed for this Sunday in our lectionary speak of the dangers of vengeance and anger to our souls. They call for forgiveness as an ongoing discipline. They remind us that everyone is accountable to God. While these challenges are not new, they take on added significance when we hear them against the backdrop the current problems of our world.

We hear such words as forgive your neighbour the wrong they have done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does anyone harbour anger against another, and expect healing from the Lord? Into our perplexity is thrown the notion that we endanger our souls when we are vengeful. Anger and wrath are considered an outrage. Yet, we feel in our rage the desire for revenge. We must bring those perilous desires into our prayer-filled struggle with God.

Try as we will to divide ourselves into "we" and "they," the truth remains that we humans all are related-like brothers and sisters of God. Hate and bitterness have no room in God's family. We cannot deny that we hold others with hatred or bitterness. That, too, is to be added to our inner, prayerful struggle. Peter knew that we are a forgiven people. His question resonates within us: "how often should I forgive?" Jesus' answer comes in the form of an idiom, "seventy-seven" which means that at all times and in all places, we are to embody God's forgiving grace.

Forgiveness involves more than absolution of guilt. It involves reconciliation of our past and the healing of our brokenness. It involves intentional work to heal and reconcile with one another. Such forgiveness remains troublesome until we allow ourselves to bring that brokenness into our struggle where the Spirit will intercede with us. God creates us and we then participate in God's creating. God heals and reconciles us to God, one another, and ourselves and then, we participate in that healing reconciliation. God awakens wholeness that invites us to share in that holiness. Healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness together sketch an embodied way of life of an ever-deepening friendship with God and with one another. Encouraging words in the current world.

 



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

No Person is an Island

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - September 10, 2020 - 12:45pm

 

On Sunday 6th September the Rev. John looked at the human traditions of community in his Reflection and he began by saying; “Solitary experience is contrary to human nature because we are social animals. For all human history life has been lived in the context of communities of one sort or another. This, of course, is simply sociology or anthropology. It is a neutral observation, because communities can be good and bad.”  

In the 21st Century there has been a significant interest and practical adoption of social anthropology by much of society.  I have been impressed by the appointment of anthropologists by charities and commercial companies seeking to expand their work into third world countries, while being committed to avoid disruption of the traditions and cultures of those communities.  I know of and commend some great work done by Microsoft Anthropologists to enable third world village women to play a role in supporting their families through culturally acceptable home businesses set up through donations of equipment and training that does not upset the balance of those societies.  

The U.K. Economic and Social Research Council promotes the study of Social Anthropology on its website, saying; “Social anthropology plays a central role in an era when global understanding and recognition of diverse ways of seeing the world are of critical social, political and economic importance. Social anthropology uses practical methods to investigate philosophical problems about the nature of human life in society.”

While on a river cruise through Germany about ten years ago my husband and I were taken by bus into the city of Nuremberg for a tour of the city and a visit to the “Documentation Centre”.   We were not really sure what this involved, but were to discover that this is simply a name for their Museum about Nuremberg and the Nazi years.  This name was derived to avoid any possibility of glorifying the Nazi History, but is also supposed to underline the evil past and give no place or focus for neo Nazi’s to enjoy or have as a rally point.

Ninety percent of Nuremberg was destroyed by the Allied bombings so most of the city was built after the end of World War Two with much of it in the very bland 50s and 60s styles of architecture.  Some areas were rebuilt in their original style and look older than they are.

It was hard to know what to expect from our guided tour - but the impressive young guide we had was a sociol anthropology graduate from the local university and his “lectures” were very much based on sociology lines with absolutely no attempt to excuse or avoid the difficult moral issues that must be confronted by German people today.  Obviously, even with all the training in sociology and the attempts to apply all the theories of human behaviour, it appeared that he and the current generations cannot understand or comprehend how a whole generation of good people could have been drawn into such moral destitution that allowed the Nazis to do the terrible things they did.  We had been wondering how a guide could approach the history of Nuremberg for an audience of visitors from several cultures and the attitude of this educated young man filled us with some hope for the future.  We all know the quote by Edmund Burke; “All that is required for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.”

We were surprised to learn that many of the dreaded concentration camps were already in use in the early 1930s and we also learned some of the reasons why Nuremberg, with its central location and long history as a trading centre with successful Jewish traders who had also suffered a terrible massacre in 1298, became of such interest to Adolf Hitler and his Nazis.  Nuremberg was the site of the first German railway and became a huge hub and this contributed to its role as the venue for the huge Nazi rallies from 1927 to 1938.  It was incredible to stand in the vast place where these rallies we have all seen on TV or movies took place. 

Scene of the Nazi mass marches (above)

Photos of Nazi march displayed in the Documentation Centre (below)




We learned details of Hitler's wild plans and dreams of impressing the world with his might and power and learned how some of those plans were flawed from the start.  In his megalomania he appears through history as a really pathetic figure as you stand and view the failures of his building plans with the evidence of his unfinished projects which he refused to hear just could not work.   We found it quite moving to stand below the windows of Court 61 as we listened to our guide’s descriptions of the Nuremberg Trials that took place there.

Courtroom for Nuremberg War Crime Trials
I found that in some ways the feelings of the young Germans paralleled with the thoughts of many Australians about the ill treatment of our aborigines – while we don’t feel personally responsible for what was done, we can’t quite understand how other essentially good Australians allowed it to happen.

The Rev. John then spoke of the difficulties we humans have living harmoniously in the communities we crave.  He said; “The bad is easy to recognise, because the history of humankind is as much as anything a history of war and conflict. We read in the record of the past and see in the news of our day that humans have great difficulty getting along with one another—whether it be in the neighbourhood, village, city, state, nation, or world.”

Sadly, there are currently many dangers to the traditions of community looming, as a result of this distracting Covid 19 Pandemic, because the “rules” of keeping people safe from the deadly virus, contravene the way those who “gather together in Jesus’ name” care for each other and share their love of God, their troubles and their triumphs.  Daily we see the tragedy of Christians being locked out of their churches, children being locked out of their schools, workers being dismissed from their jobs, old people being locked in their retirement villages, families kept apart and bosses who have built up businesses and taken satisfaction in knowing they provide security and keep families safe from homelessness, hunger and distress all fall into some level of despair. 

Yet it goes much deeper even than that and our feeling of the loss of our freedom threatens all communities and the very ties that hold them together and deliver a measure of good, kindness and justice in our society.

Freedom is; liberty, autonomy, lack of restrictions, self-determination, independence, choice, free will, and sovereignty.  I decided long ago that to live in complete freedom I would need to leave my husband, children and grandchildren, and cut off all ties with friends and neighbours.  I would need to leave all behind and move to a place with no laws or rules; where no one would question any of my actions.  No matter how anti-social or selfish I was, there would be no one to control my dominion or question my rights. 

And there would be no one to care!  Yet caring for and being cared for by other humans is one of life’s great rewards and joys.

Do I want freedom if that is the price?  No - I like to be held accountable for my actions; and I consider it my moral duty to obey the laws of Australia and to follow the rules of God as set out in the Bible.  I believe it is a privilege to have a husband and family to share my life, even though this means they sometimes expect me to do something for them in return for the love we share.  I also enjoy being a part of a sociable community.

In order to keep this civilized and enlightened social order that we call society, the enforcement of rules and laws must generally be seen to be the right outcome to preserve the rights of the majority.  It is in fact ironic, that the price for a person who exercises what they may consider to be their personal freedom, in an anti-social way in a “civilised” society, is often punishment by fines or imprisonment, inflicted by that same society. 

This of course, brings up questions about the morality of the deprivation of freedom in many specific circumstances.  Particularly in these disrupted times, many previously law abiding but frustrated people are questioning the mandatory removal or suspension of their previously guarded and accepted “human rights” and the right of society to punish them for breaking these “new laws of humanity” being made to protect the life and health of us all – even strangers.  I suppose it is selfishness that stops those who can’t see and understand that to protect their own loved ones and even themselves, they must consider the needs of everyone not only in their own society, but also in other connected societies throughout the world.

The Rev. John said in his sermon; “We do gather in Jesus’ name. We re-call him to presence with us. And that makes him a part of us and of what we do. That is what we experience at each Eucharist—we in him and he in us. But we don’t celebrate Eucharist alone. If only the priest shows up for a mid-week service, for instance, there will be no celebration of the Eucharist. There is no community for whom to break bread.”  This reminded me of an interesting moment in 2011 when my husband and I arrived at a beautiful church in the French village of Bergholtz-Zell very late on a Friday afternoon; after a beautiful day spent looking for the most perfect village along the famous Alsace wine route.   


"Where two or three are gathered together in my name"
Bergholtz-Zell Church, Alsace, France

The church is famous for its exquisite wooden carvings, but as we quietly entered, we discovered that the priest was talking to two women in the church and he was ready to start a service where there really were just “two or three people gathered together in God’s name”.  As the service began, I found it both sad and yet lovely to see the fulfilment of this often quoted phrase, although I was a little disappointed to see that the two ladies stood one behind the other in about the fourth and fifth rows back from the priest in the front of the church.   As our understanding of the French language was almost completely non-existent, we quietly left the church and continued on our journey.

The conclusion from the Rev. John was; “Today Jesus makes it clear how important we are one to another. Through our link to one another through Christ, there is a power in our community, uniting the values of God to our values on earth. This is how Jesus enables us to use God’s power for making healing and life-giving love more effective among God’s people. We come together, we stay together, we work together—in our Lord's name, bringing to focus the presence of God and unleashing the power of the Spirit to transform our lives and the lives of all God’s children.

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

John Wesley - Peace is Never Easy

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - September 5, 2020 - 3:45am

 

Over the past month we have learned a lot about the Rev. John Wesley and last week our Rev. John highlighted his conservatism and his loyalty to King and Country.  This week the Rev John spoke in his sermon of Wesley’s Thoughts of War.  In his book “John Wesley for the 21st Century” John O’Gooch wrote; “John Wesley was not fond of war.  He did not leap to the notion that we have to support the King in time of war, no matter what.”   O’Gooch stressed that Wesley tended to blame both sides equally in war – including the American War of Independence - certainly a battle of his own time. Gooch also stated; “And yet Wesley was not a Pacifist.  He thought war was foolish and wasteful and there should be better ways of solving international disputes.”

I’m sure there would be no argument about this from any ordinary, thinking and fair minded person some almost 230 years after his death.  While a Chaplain in New Guinea in 1943 my father wrote home in a letter; “What a mad futile business war is!”

In 21stCentury Australia when we think of war most of us will think about those wars that we Australians, our parents or our grandparents and for some even their Great Grandparents, took part in at the end of the 19th Century and during the 20th Century.   “Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them” is a quote attributed to George Elliot the author, who died in 1888.  We older people have probably already passed on our personal memories and thoughts about war in some way to the following generations.  I have already written about my father and others in World War 11 as part of my Family’s History and also shared some of those stories about World War 11 with the readers of Margaret’s Blog.

For the centenary of the Great War of 1914-1918 I was inspired to write a book to share the memories of my husband’s grandfather’s family.   I called the book, “One Australian Family’s War 1914-1918 and beyond.”  My husband’s Grandfather died on the Western Front in January 1917 and another brother left to serve at the front just two weeks after his brother’s death.  Their younger brother had already died from wounds the day after the Gallipoli landing.  One of their first cousins died in May 1915 and his body was never identified.  He is one of 4223 Australians commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli, along with another cousin who died unidentified at the Battle of Lone Pine in August 1915 and a third cousin who died in July 1916.  He was one of the Lost Soldiers of Fromelles and his identification in 2015 brought large numbers of their scattered families together to share our family history more widely and discover new family ties and friends. This also brought about amazing links between our families and some wonderful French people from the towns of Fromelles and Villers-Bretteneaux and the present day children of the schools in those towns who have carried on the traditions of previous generations from their towns and “Always Remembered Australia” and our soldiers.  Think bush fires!  Do you remember all the “good news” stories after our summer bush-fires when these and other French communities once again made generous donations to our Australian country people to care for our native animals and repair our schools.

In all eight first cousins of my husband’s grandfather, brother and three cousins, who died in France and Turkey also left Australia to fight for “the Empire” on the other side of the world.   This story is not unique, but is a heartbreaking reminder to us all of the horror, stupidity and heartbreak of war.  However, as a Christian, it helps me to believe that even in the worst possible circumstances we can look for and find love, loyalty, ingenuity, forgiveness and ultimately even be inspired by the good in humans as we ponder God’s “mysterious ways.”  By writing for my family and sharing my thoughts with a much wider family group I hope that in some minute way I may be helping to reduce the bitterness in the world and help people to work towards peace and understanding with responsible reporting of the “people’s history”.  As I wrote in this Blog some weeks ago; my Christian values tell me that tolerance is the glue that holds any society together. My book about war began;

Each year the moving Service of Commemoration held at Anzac Cove Gallipoli on 25th April takes place against the gradually changing backdrop of Anzac Cove in Turkey, with a mesmerising change from a dark night sky to a beautiful pink tinged pale blue dawn sky. The gentle lapping of the water and the silent expectation and reverence of the crowd presents an extreme contrast to the scene in 1915 when hell broke loose in that place.

The “trouble in the Balkans” which finally led to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro - Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 brewed and had many eruptions before the declaration of this first truly global war. The often used term, “trouble in the Balkans” is in itself an expression of the inability of any person to completely understand the complexity of the situation which was partly geographical, partly cultural and partly historical, but was rooted in the legacies of centuries of other wars and unsatisfactory and conflicting peace treaties between the many opponents. It was eventually bound to ignite into uncontrolled chaos and that fateful shot at Sarajevo in 1914 was the trigger that unleashed the horrendous consequences which changed the world forever.

In his speech during the Anzac Day Service in 2014, the Governor General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae said; “When we remember our brave forebears we pay them the honour they deserve. It is also a time for reflection on war and its impact. And it is a chance to enlighten new generations about the events that shaped their world, and to encourage them to strive for peace. Looking out from where I stand this morning, it is very moving to see so many people assembled for this Dawn Service and to know Anzac Day services are taking place in many countries throughout the world. The scale of these commemorations shows how deeply people have been affected by what happened here.” During his speech, the Governor General quoted Neill Atkinson, Chief Historian for the Minister for Culture and Heritage, the organisation chosen to plan the Centenary of Anzac Celebrations for New Zealand. Neill Atkinson said: “History is a responsibility we carry with us now and into the future”.

My husband is currently reading a book, entitled “The Great War” written by John Terraine, which was first published in 1965, and he shared this emotional quote from a German man Rudolph Binding (page 46).  Rudolf Binding was born in Basel in 1867. He studied medicine and law before joining the Hussars. On the outbreak of the First World War, Binding, who was forty-six years old, became commander of a squadron of dragoons. Except for a four-month period in Galicia in 1916, Binding spent the whole of the war on the Western Front.  His diary and letters, “A Fatalist at War”, was published in 1927. His collected war poems, stories and recollections were not published until after his death in 1938, rather ironically just before the horror was about to be repeated, although it was actually written by Rudolph on, or very close to, the 11th November 1914 – only about three months after the Great War started and exactly four years before that war ended.  This was written by a German soldier in the context and immediate aftermath of the “First Battle of Ypres”, and at that time British losses alone had reached 89,000 with The Ypres battle alone accounting for 58,000.

Rudolph Binding, in his gloomy billet in Flanders, found time to set his feelings down“When one sees the wasting, burning villages and towns, plundered cellars and attics in which the troops have pulled everything to pieces in the blind instinct of self-preservation, dead or half-starved animals, cattle bellowing in the sugar beet fields and then corpses, corpses and corpses, streams of wounded one after another – then everything becomes senseless, a lunacy, a horrible bad joke of peoples and their history, an endless reproach to mankind, a negation of all civilization, killing all the belief in the capacity of mankind and men for progress, a desecration of what is Holy, so that one feels that all human beings are doomed in this war”. Then John Terraine continued; “It is a matter for awe to see how race after race was drawn in”.

Before 1914 the Great Powers were in two big alliance blocs: The Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. The Triple Alliance (which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) later drew in more allies and was joined by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey plus the Middle East) and Bulgaria - its allies were then known as the Central Powers.  The war also quickly involved other countries who joined with the Triple Entente of France Russia and Britain, so the opposing side became known as the Allies and included Serbia, Russia, France and its Empire, Belgium, Montenegro and Britain and its Empire - including self-governing colonies like Canada and Australia.  Italy changed sides and joined the Allies in 1915. Other Allied nations included Portugal, Japan, Greece, Romania, China and, towards the end of the war, various South American countries, including Brazil and Peru. The United States fought alongside the Allies from 1917, but as an ‘Associated Power’ with no formal military alliance.

And what did it all achieve?  Four imperial dynasties—the Habsburgs of Austria-Hungary, the Hohenzollerns of Germany, the sultanate of the Ottoman Empire, and the Romanovs of Russia—collapsed as a direct result of the war, and the map of Europe was changed forever. The United States emerged as a world power, and new technology made warfare deadlier than ever before.  And once again the failure of negotiated Peace, along with the rise of Fascism in Italy, German aggression in Europe, the worldwide Great Depression and the rolling eruption of sniping invasions and unrest throughout the world, the hell of a Second World War was soon killing military persons and civilians in their millions amidst senseless destruction beyond belief.

There is no doubt, without God we humans make a mess of things!  The Rev John said in conclusion; “The Beatitudes call us above all to a sense of openness before God. We don’t see God until we see the face of Christ in others, we learn to do that by pursuing justice and kindness toward all people. We don’t see God until we stop trying to control and begin learning to walk humbly in God’s presence. But when we practice doing justice and loving kindness and walking in humility, the Spirit continues to work in our hearts, purifying us. And blessed are the pure in heart, for they are seeing God.” 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 14 Sunday 06 September 2020

              


Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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No Person is an Island

Sunday 06th September 2020

Pentecost 14 Sunday year of Matthew 9.30am

Gathering God’s People 

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

 We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

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


Call to Worship - (B. J. Beu, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

          Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song.

Let all God's children rejoice!

Clap your hands and praise God with dancing.

Shout for joy and praise God with music.

For God brings justice to the peoples.

God brings judgment upon the powerful.

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song.

Let all God's children rejoice!

 

Hymn 107: Let all things now living

                  (Tune Ash Grove) 

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V3zMCfa2II

            Let all things now living

a song of thanksgiving

to God the Creator triumphantly raise,

who fashioned and made us,

protected and stayed us,

who guides us and leads to the end of our days.

His banners are o’er us,

his light goes before us,

a pillar of fire shining forth in the night,

till shadows have vanished

and darkness is banished,

as forward we travel from light into light.

 

His law he enforces;

the stars in their courses

and sun in its orbit obediently shine;

the hills and the mountains,

the rivers and fountains,

the deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.

We too should be voicing

our love and rejoicing;

with glad adoration a song let us raise,

till all things now living

unite in thanksgiving:

to God in the highest, hosanna and praise! 

Author: Katherine Davis (1939)
Tune: Ash Grove

 

Opening prayer

 

God of love and judgment, when the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrew people, your love set them free; when rulers oppress the poor and powerless, your judgment brings peace and justice back to the land. Move us, O God, that we may fulfil the law of love and be a people who radiate your light. Touch our hearts, that we may come to love our neighbour as we come to love ourselves. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession

       Merciful God, it is easier to destroy than it is to build; it is   easier to hurt than it is to heal.

Forgive us, Holy One, when we parade our wounds for all to see, rather than work quietly for forgiveness and reconciliation.

Correct us, Gracious Spirit, when we seek public vindication of our wrongs over the health of your body. Help us love one another with a perfect love, that we may cast aside the works of darkness and fulfil the law of love. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness  

Hear the words of Jesus: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." As we gather to fulfil the law of love, Christ is here with us and we are made whole.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

Let us loose the bonds on unfamiliarity, anger and sorrow by offering signs of love and peace, and reconciliation to one another.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

Offering Prayer

In celebration of their deliverance from slavery, and gratitude for their freedom, the ancient Hebrews offered you their worship and their praise. In celebration of our deliverance from the things that enslave us and gratitude for your saving love, we offer you our worship and our praise. Just as the Passover stands as a perpetual observance of our thanksgiving for your love and care, so may our offerings be a perpetual observance of our gratitude for your calling in Jesus Christ. Amen.


Hymn 477: Jesus calls us here to meet him

(Tune Gaelic Air aka as Lewis Folk Melody extra verse to go with YouTube)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCe01UNBktk

             Jesus calls us here to meet him as,

through word and song and prayer,

We affirm God`s promised presence

where his people live and care.

Praise the God who keeps his promise;

praise the son who calls us friends;

praise the spirit who, among us,

to our hopes and fears attends.

 

Jesus calls us to confess him

Word of life and Lord of all,

sharer of our flesh and frailness

saving all who fail or fall.

Tell his holy human story;

tell his tales that all may hear;

tell the world that Christ in glory

came to earth to meet us here.

 

Jesus calls us to each other:

vastly different though we are;

race and colour, class and gender

neither limit nor debar,

Join the hand of friend and stranger;

join the hands of age and youth;

join the faithful and the doubter

in their common search for truth.

 

Jesus calls us to his table

rooted firm in time and space,

where the church in earth and heaven

finds a common meeting place.

Share the bread and wine, his body;

share the love of which we sing;

share the feast for saints and sinners

hosted by our Lord and King.

John L. Bell and Graham Maule - Lewis folk melody arr. John L. Bell


The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                                            Romans 13:8-14

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 18:15-20.

Readings: NRSV translation 

Romans 13:8-14

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 And do this, understanding the present time: the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So, let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 

Matthew 18:15-20. 

15 ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’


Preaching of the Word - No Person is an Island - 

Matthew 18: 15-20

Long ago the great Anglican priest and poet John Donne reminded us that, “no person is an island, entire unto himself.” For centuries we have considered a person living totally alone to be a hermit. More and more we are discovering that even in densely populated cities loneliness is a chronic, debilitating, and common condition.    
Solitary experience is contrary to human nature because we are social animals. For all human history life has been lived in the context of communities of one sort or another. This, of course, is simply sociology or anthropology. It is a neutral observation, because communities can be good and bad.

The bad is easy to recognise, because the history of humankind is as much as anything a history of war and conflict. We read in the record of the past and see in the news of our day that humans have great difficulty getting along with one another—whether it be in the neighborhood, village, city, state, nation, or world.

As Christians we understand the negative side of community life, and we confess it. Yet we do not give in to the dark side; we make no peace with the powers that divide community and isolate individuals. Further, our faith and commitment press us to develop the best side of our lives as social creatures.

The primary prayer of Christian faith begins—OUR—not “my,” but “our.” It is a shared prayer for a shared faith. We understand ourselves as part of a family in which we all brothers and sisters. We recognize that our lives in the context of community must be mutually supportive.

Today's Gospel reminds us of the good we can do together, and how we can do it. Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” If any group of us will gather, work, act with the Holy Spirit guiding us, with God’s spirit intentionally a part of what we do, we become much more than simply the collective number of people we are. Two becomes more than two, and three becomes more than three. The sum of our individual ideas and resources and abilities becomes much more because of the synergy that God’s presence provides.

We do gather in Jesus’ name. We re-call him to presence with us. And that makes him a part of us and of what we do. That is what we experience at each Eucharist—we in him and he in us. But we don’t celebrate Eucharist alone. If only the priest shows up for a mid-week service, for instance, there will be no celebration of the Eucharist. There is no community for whom to break bread.
Ours is a faith of community—of twos and threes and fours—but never of individuals. We act together so we can help one another and so we can work in God’s name, thereby multiplying our resources and ability to do what God calls us to do. Our community is the lifeline to the experience of God and to the power of God moving among God’s people.

While a private spiritual and prayer life is essential for each of us, it is likely to become dry and turn inward if it is not infused with regular doses of shared worship and connection with others, gathered in Christ’s name, and for his sake. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” The gathering—the connectedness—magnifies the Spirit for us and in us and with us.

Today Jesus makes it clear how important we are one to another. Through our link to one another through Christ, there is a power in our community, uniting the values of God to our values on earth. This is how Jesus enables us to use God’s power for making healing and life-giving love more effective among God’s people. We come together, we stay together, we work together—in our Lord's name, bringing to focus the presence of God and unleashing the power of the Spirit to transform our lives and the lives of all God’s children.

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

 Hymn 629: When I needed a neighbour, were you there,

                  (Tune – Neighbour)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrJ190HIk1w  

When I needed a neighbour
Were you there, were you there?
When I needed a neighbour, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there?

I was hungry and thirsty
Were you there, were you there?
I was hungry and thirsty, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there?

I was cold, I was naked
Were you there, were you there?
I was cold, I was naked, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there?

When I needed a shelter
Were you there, were you there?
When I needed a shelter were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there?

When I needed a healer
Were you there, were you there?
When I needed a healer, were you there?
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
Were you there?

Wherever you travel
I'll be there, I'll be there
Wherever you travel, I'll be there
And the creed and the colour
And the name won't matter
I'll be there

                           Author: Sydney Carter (1965)

Tune: Neighbour

Intercessory Prayers  

Lord God, you are the loving parent of all people and we bring our prayers knowing that you will hear us and help us.

Hear our prayer Lord for the whole family of your church.  Grant that we, and all your people, may be built up in our faith, and always show in our lives the love we see in Jesus.  Give courage to those who find it hard to follow you; to those who are finding it difficult to have faith because of a personal hardship or tragedy; to those who are made to suffer for their faith.  Let your Holy Spirit support them, and may all Christians stand firm in the hope that your kingdom of love will come.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for our country and the many freedoms which we enjoy. We pray for those who govern in us.  Give them health and strength, wisdom and courage, so that they may carry out their many duties in the best interests of all our people.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

 

We pray for one another.  Help us to grow together in faith and love, rejoicing in your parental care, as we bring our prayers to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Hear our prayer Lord for children and young people

We pray for children and young people as they go about their learning. We pray for those who are eager and active as they explore and welcome new experiences and relationships and those more shyly weighing up their first steps. We think of young people for the first time finding their values tested and their horizons widened, those who are linking industry or commerce with education as they take up apprenticeships, those for whom education seems and end in itself yielding no clear direction for the future. We think of all children and young people, praying that they may be worthy of the best in our society, and society worthy of their potential.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Hear our prayer Lord, as we thank you for giving us so much to enjoy in the world.  Open our eyes to see all the beauty around us as we thank you for the touch of warmth in the air that gives us a new burst of energy, for the greening of trees that shows the creativity of the Divine Artist, for the growing buds and leaves that reveal the strength of the branches, for the harvest to come that will bring us gratitude for the bounty of our land, for this change of seasons that reveals the circle of life. God of all seasons, as you transform the earth, transform us by your Spirit. 

Lord in Your Mercy, hear our prayer

Hear our prayer Lord for those whose lives have been shattered by natural disaster.  We hold in our hearts the families forever changed by grief and loss.  We ask for your blessing on all those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their security and their hope and we pray for the work of the relief agencies and those providing emergency assistance.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Hear our prayer Lord, for people who are ill, in hospitals, at home, or wherever they may be.  Give them courage, hope and peace, and the knowledge that you are present in their weakness, pain and suffering.  May the skills and knowledge of those who care for the sick be fully used to help and to heal. We pray especially for those who have no one to help them, that in their loneliness they may know that you are with them.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Ever caring God of all, we pray for those we love but no longer see.  Grant them your peace and let light perpetual shine upon them. Jesus Christ is the light of the World, a light which no darkness can quench.  We remember before God those who have died and light a candle to symbolise the light of Christ which eternally shines and brings hope. You turn our darkness into light in your light shall we see light
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

THE LORD'S PRAYER

 Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn 468: We are your people, Lord, by your grace

                  (Tune Whitfield)

https://vimeo.com/171332675

We are Your people Spirit of grace

You dare to make us To all our neighbors

Christ's living voice hands and face

Christ's living voice hands and face

 

Joined in community Treasured and fed

May we discover Gifts in each other

Willing to lead and be led

Willing to lead and be led

 

Rich in diversity Help us to live

Closer than neighbors Open to strangers

Able to clash and forgive

Able to clash and forgive

 

Glad of tradition Help us to see

In all life's changing Where You are leading

Where our best efforts should be

Where our best efforts should be

 

Give as we venture Justice and care

(Peaceful resisting Waiting or risking)

Wisdom to know when and where

Wisdom to know when and where

             Author: Brian A. Wren (1973)

Tune: Whitfield (Wilson)

 Benediction  

        God has put a new song in our hearts.

        Sing a new song to the Lord.

        The judgment of God brings victory to the righteous. Sing a new song to the Lord.

        The love of God has set us free.

        Sing a new song to the Lord.

        And the blessing of God almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always Amen

    

Hymn 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom

                             Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)

Tune: Somos Del Señor

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Do We Have a Problem?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - September 4, 2020 - 1:30am

Long ago the great Anglican priest and poet John Donne reminded us that, “no man is an island, entire unto himself.” For centuries we have considered a person living totally alone to be a hermit. More and more we are discovering that even in densely populated cities loneliness is a chronic, debilitating, and common condition. The current pandemic has raised the issue of how we deal with isolation and community connection other than physically.    

Solitary experience is contrary to human nature because we are social animals. For all human history life has been lived in the context of communities of one sort or another. This, of course, is simply sociology or anthropology. It is a neutral observation, because communities can be good and bad. The bad is easy to recognise, because the history of humankind is as much as anything a history of war and conflict. We read in the record of the past and see in the news of our day that humans have great difficulty getting along with one another—whether it be in the neighborhood, village, city, state, nation, or world.

As Christians we understand the negative side of community life, and we confess it. Yet we do not give in to the dark side; we make no peace with the powers that divide community and isolate individuals. Further, our faith and commitment press us to develop the best side of our lives as social creatures.

The primary prayer of Christian faith begins—OUR—not “my,” but “our.” It is a shared prayer for a shared faith. We understand ourselves as part of a family in which we all brothers and sisters. We recognize that our lives in the context of community must be mutually supportive.

The primary prayer of Christian faith begins—OUR—not “my,” but “our.” It is a shared prayer for a shared faith. We understand ourselves as part of a family in which we all brothers and sisters. We recognize that our lives in the context of community must be mutually supportive.

In the dynamic process of communicating our experiences of God we tell stories. These stories explain why things are the way they are: stories of our founders—how they coped with crises, triumphed or failed—stories justifying our present traditions. Stories are our common vernacular.

The Hebrews told stories about their formation as a nation and culture. They told of a dialogue between God and Moses. Did this communication happen as recorded? Did God really want all that blood and mutton? . . . (Writer, we have a problem). Storytelling continued for centuries. People close to the significant events relayed and recorded what happened. As the stories passed down, they picked up layers. These accretions were attempts to justify present actions by claiming they originated by instruction of the founders.

The Gospel records Jesus giving instructions on church discipline at a time when there was no church. In the narrative he damns unrepentant members to be treated like “Gentiles and tax-collectors,” the very people he ministers to. Furthermore, he suggests that coalitions of church leaders can act unilaterally as long as they have a quorum. Did Jesus really say that? . . . (Writer, we have a problem). 

As the story of God in human experience continues to unfold, we will continue to tell one another the stories of God. There are times when we will baulk at the blood and the Jesus Seminar will blackball the text we are telling. Does that mean we should quit? The Apollo 13 astronauts didn’t. They applied their minds, and duct tape! They put square boxes into round holes and survived. Perhaps we “Wordonauts” can do the same?

And on another tack, you know it’s easy to rush to the good stuff in Matthew’s Gospel passage from the lectionary set for this week. Take the passage whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever we agree upon God will do (18:18-19). But trust me, that’s not the most important part of this passage. The most important part is the difficult but essential truth that community—real community in Christ—is hard.

Real community demands that we confront one another in love, that we speak the truth to one another in love, that we be willing to accompany one another through difficulty and disagreement . . . all in love.

I think that Jesus was not simply laying out a formula by which to resolve conflict. It’s rarely that easy. Different conflicts—and different contexts—will invite different methods of resolution. What’s clear, however, is the need to regard one another in love so as to keep the well-being of all in the forefront.

Why is that so difficult? The obvious answer is because of our sinfulness. But it’s also more than that, as we need to recognise that we have little practice in demonstrating love during times of disagreement. We live in a culture that is far quicker to rush to judgment, preferring polarised positions and the rhetoric of blame and accusation than speaking truth in love. For this reason, we will need to practice patience, practice forbearance, and practice love. But if we do . . . what, then, can we not accomplish in the life and love of our God?



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

John Wesley; Faith and Politics

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - August 29, 2020 - 1:38am

 

“How Far Is It the Duty of a Christian Minister to Preach Politics?” This was the title and the question posed in a short essay written by the Rev. John Wesley in 1782.  Like many people of his time John Wesley appears to have still been a believer in the “Divine Right of Kings” at a time when England was steadily moving into a state of Constitutional Monarchy.  In his sermon on Sunday 16th August, the Rev. John said; “Unfortunately, he (Wesley) confines the preaching of politics to defending the King, and the King’s ministers, against slanders and lies”.

History is sometimes unkind to the memory of certain historic figures and poor old King George 111 is one such maligned figure; with any mention of him quickly leading to stories of his “madness” and the loss of the American Colonies after the War of Independence from 1775 to 1783 during his reign.  But George 111 was actually a much more interesting King in changing times with problems like the threat of the Jacobites and Bonny Prince Charlie and France eager to retaliate against Great Britain following their defeat during the Seven Years' War.  There were also various conflicts against Napoleonic France which started in 1793 and led to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

In 1751 young George’s father died, making him the heir to his grandfather King George 11 who died in 1760.  George 111 was only 22 when he became King and he was the first of the Hanoverian kings to be born in England and call English his first language, although he spoke fluent German and also learned to speak French. 


He was one of Britain’s most cultured monarchs and he set a good example by loving and respecting his wife and taking no mistress.  George 111 and his wife Charlotte had 15 children with 13 surviving into adulthood. 

George 111 seems to have shared some of the interests that inspired the Rev. John Wesley and it is easy to understand that the King would have gained the approval of Wesley.  The King started a new royal collection of books and 65,000 of his books were later given to the British Museum, as the King’s Library and the nucleus of a national library.  He also had two other private book collections at Windsor which indicate the diversity of the King’s interests, like science, agriculture and farming.  He was nicknamed “Farmer George” for his great interest in agriculture.   George 111 studied science as part of his education and he had his own astronomical observatory.  The Science Museum now has a collection of some of his scientific instruments on display.  George 111 made accurate drawings and calculations of the Transit of Venus across the Sun on 23rd June, 1769 and accurately forecast further transits in 1874 and 2004.

To be fair, I should write something of the genetic illness called porphyria, long thought to be the cause of the mental instability and blindness that increasingly afflicted him with serious bouts of illness in 1788-89 and again in 1801.  It was not until 1810 that King George 111 became permanently deranged and was declared mentally unfit to rule.  His eldest son – who later ruled in his own right as George IV - acted as Prince Regent from 1811. As a result of new studies of King George 111’s letters and analyses of language and style of writing, there is growing belief the King may have been suffering from hypomania which is now called bipolar disorder as far as I can work out.  It appears that he was given arsenic poison to “cure” him and that could have made his situation so much worse.  I am so glad that I live in the 21stcentury aren’t you?

I should return to the Rev. John’s thoughts about John Wesley’s essay; “Three times in this short essay, he says that the chief business of the clergy is to preach Christ, and Christ crucified. That seems to sum up Wesley’s attitude toward the political system. That attitude is almost a hands-off one. Don’t bother with politics, except to set the record straight when people lie about the King or the King’s ministers.”

“Wesley did advise Methodist voters about voting. He told them they should vote morally, that is, they should not accept bribes or other favours in return for their votes. In addition, he said, they should vote for the candidate that “loves God”. If there were no candidate who loves God, then they should vote for the one who supports King George. That’s a pretty direct statement, in terms of telling people how to vote!”

There is no doubt that apart from basic moral advice, any advice on dealing with the political system and voting offered by the Rev. John Wesley would indeed have little relevance to the world today.  In the world we live in today politics seem to be freely discussed and are no longer considered “taboo” in polite society, but I still personally prefer to refrain from serious political discussions because each person is entitled to their own opinion and I would hate to restrict my list of dear friends to those who vote the same way that I do.  Although many people freely share their views, I would not even ask my children or grandchildren about their political leanings. 

As I look back and consider the formation of my childhood impressions about the social, political and religious issues of that time I realise that probably most children of the forties and fifties were as confused and ill-informed as I was.  There was still a great deal of discussion about, and residual poverty and pain from “the depression” and “the war”, although these two occurrences were never explained to young children at the time - and of course - having been born during the war, I had no personal memories to draw on. 

History seems to indicate that the decade before my birth was an age of confusing attitudes about “patriotism”, fear of the development of a distinctly Australian political identity, and a desperate clinging to the protection of “the Mother Country”.  As time passes and Australians become more generations removed from British ties and begin to mix with people of many other cultures these British traditions are perhaps harder for younger people to fully understand.  However, when I consider that the largest proportion of both mine and my husband’s great-grandparents were born in England, Scotland or Ireland this loyalty was not surprising. I could only remember the Liberal Party being in power and Robert Menzies being Australia’s Prime Minister (1949 to 1966) and he and Britain’s Winston Churchill were highly regarded by my parents although they never actually revealed their support in so many words.  With the passage of time most of us realise that perhaps history is not always reliable! As some bright spark quoted; “History is always written by the winners!”

However, I will give the Rev. John Wesley the last word with a quote from a letter he wrote on the 8th February 1772.  “I commend you for meddling with points of controversy as little as possible.  It is abundantly easier to lose our love in that rough field than to find truth.”  

Although I think I also need to point to the Rev. John’s summing up of John Wesley’s thoughts; “All through his life, Wesley leaned on the biblical idea of obedience to the powers that be. See Romans 13 for an expression of this idea. Wesley would also warn us to be humble about confusing our own political opinions with the will of God. And, incredibly important for a time when only a small majority of eligible voters actually do vote, Wesley would urge us to get to the polls!

Wesley would return us to Jesus. The same Jesus who calls us to our true, ultimate, and permanent citizenship. He makes that possible for us through his life, teaching, death, resurrection, and continuing presence with us. Our true citizenship will be at the heavenly banquet. The seating arrangements at the heavenly banquet are going to be interesting.

The ticket into the heavenly banquet is salvation, by grace, through faith. It is not connected to our works, either good or bad. It is a free gift from God. The passport to heaven is not something of this world. We receive it when we surrender to the love of God and claim Jesus as Saviour.”


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship 30 August 2020 - Wesley 5

          Marsden Road Uniting                              Church Carlingford

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Of One Book...,

Gathering God’s People

  Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

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

Call to Worship

(Scifres, Mary J, The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

       Jesus reminds us of one of the greatest, and most difficult, paradoxes of Christianity: to save your life you must first lose it. So, we find ourselves once again surprised by the limitless and inexplicable nature of God's love, and we rejoice to stand together on holy ground.

Give thanks for all the wonderful works of God.

Praise the Lord!

Sing a new song of praise to the God of all peoples. 

Praise the Lord!

Proclaim God's name to all the world.

Praise the Lord!

We are God's chosen people; God is with us always. 

Praise the Lord!

Let our hearts rejoice, for the Lord is God.

Praise the Lord! 

Hymn TIS 211: Jesus, lover of my soul

                  (Tune – Aberystwyth)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw0kNiLOIXs#:~:text=Jesus%2C%20lover%20of%20my%20soul,receive%20my%20soul%20at%20la

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,

While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.

Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, till the storm of life is past;

Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.


Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;

Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.

All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;

Cover my defenceless head with the shadow of Thy wing.


Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?

Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;

Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,

Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.


Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;

Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.

Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;

False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.


Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;

Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.

Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;

Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

Words: Charles Wesley

Music: Aberystwyth Joseph Parry

 

Opening prayer

     Surprising God, you have an uncomfortable habit of showing up where we least expect you: in a burning bush, in the face of an enemy, in a livestock feed trough, on a rough wooden cross. Turn our lives upside down with your radical love. Help us fully embrace your surprises, even as we revel in the joy of being fully embraced by your all-encompassing grace and mercy. We pray in the name of your most amazing surprise of all: your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession

God of Mystery, we are constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of your love.

Over and over again, you turn our expectations inside out and upside down. And still we don't understand the radical nature of your grace.

We play by our own rules of justice, even when it means excluding those we are called to love and defend.

In our darkest moments, we doubt if we are worthy of your trust. God, help us remember that you give us all the tools we need; that through the solid foundation of your love, we find the strength to follow your call as true disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Surprise us again, O God. Surprise us again.

Declaration of Forgiveness

The God who brought our ancestors out of slavery will not desert us. God has promised to be with us throughout all generations. Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice, for God is with us!

Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

Rejoice, for you are standing on holy ground.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

 (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

A Word with the Children/Young People

There are number of yoke images of yokes I can think of. (need pictures)

A yoke in Jesus’ time  and still is in many parts of the world today is both the wooden collar which fitted around  the necks of a couple of oxen  to join two together for farm work such as ploughing,  or a frame which sat on a person’s shoulders to allow them to carry two buckets. There would be quite a strain on the neck/shoulders of the animal/person wearing the yoke. 

Jesus is saying that by sharing his yoke - he is sharing our lives – giving any weight we may be carrying on our own to him.  By doing this we are sharing his life – being gentle and kind like he is.

I also think of humans taken as slaves being yoked together by their necks as they are moved. Then there is the yoke that is used in constructing various equipment and other items.

Another kind of yoke is the part sewn into the back of a garment which holds all the rest of the shirt or blouse together. The sleeves, collar, front and lower back are all attached to the yoke. When you grow or put on weight, you know you need a bigger garment because the yoke becomes tight across your shoulders and is too uncomfortable to wear any more.  How many people are actually wearing a garment with a yoke in it at that moment. 

Jesus invites us to wear his yoke - one that we need never grow out of and which gives us comfort rather than discomfort.  His yoke helps us to learn from him how to live like him - how to be gentle with ourselves and with other people.  So, just as the yoke in the garments we wear is very visible, so the yoke Jesus offers us is visible, as we care for and love others, especially those who may be sad or who feel that nobody loves them.

 Offering Prayer

Dear God, we offer you now these gifts. Take our money and use it to bring comfort to those in need. Take our service and use it to bring justice to those who are oppressed. Take our witness and use it to bring good news to those who hunger for hope. Take our lives and use them for our very salvation. We pray through Jesus Christ, the one whom we follow even to the cross. Amen.

Hymn TIS 245: We have a Gospel to proclaim

                         (Tune - Fulda)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-SPYAgCtkw

We have a gospel to proclaim
Good news for men in all the earth; 
The gospel of a Saviour’s name: 
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Tell of His birth at Bethlehem,
Not in a royal house or hall 
But in a stable dark and dim: 
The Word made flesh, a light for all.

Tell of His death at Calvary,
Hated by those He came to save; 
In lonely suffering on the cross 
For all He loved, His life He gave.

Tell of that glorious Easter morn:
Empty the tomb, for He was free. 
He broke the power of death and hell That we might share His victory.

Now we rejoice to name Him King:
Jesus is Lord of all the earth. 
This gospel message we proclaim: 
We sing His glory, tell His worth.

Author: Edward J. Burns (1968)
Tune: Fulda

                   The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                      2 Timothy 3: 10-17            

The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 11:25-30              

Readings: NRSV Translation

2 Timothy 3: 10-17 

10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions, and my suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is[a] useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. 

Matthew 11:25-30

25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank[a] you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[b27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

Preaching of the Word: Of One Book...,

From our Study:

Many Christians know John’s Wesley’s claim that he is man of one book. “Let me be homo unius libri,” says Wesley, with Latin flare. But Wesley was far from being concerned with literally only one book. He read widely and required his ministers to read many other books. Wesley scolded his ministers who claimed to read only the Bible as exhibiting “rank enthusiasm.” That’s like calling someone today a raving religious lunatic!

By homo unius libri, Wesley meant he regards no book comparatively but the Bible. Scripture is the first book of importance, but not the only important book.

Wesley drew upon other sources, including scholarly tools, when reading the Bible. He appreciated textual criticism, says Maddox, but was less warm to historical criticism.

Wesley’s comments about the trustworthiness of the Bible focus on what calls the “rule of Christian faith and practice.” Wesley followed 2 Timothy 3:16–17, in which inspiration of Scripture is related to its usefulness for instructing in Christian belief and training in lives of righteousness. This was our first reading today.

Today, we continue and finish our series of looking at how Wesley approached his faith and some of the ways in which his relationship with God is reflected in his approach to important life issues. Our final is to see how scripture informs our lives as Christians. The scripture from 2 Timothy 3:16, gives us a really important description of what the scripture actually is and how important it is for our lives

In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes this: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” And off the back of that verse, we are going to be thinking today about what the scripture is and why it is important to us and how we can incorporate what we hear in scripture more usefully into our everyday lives.

And the context in which the writer of Timothy is writing here is so important to us: the person may have written this 2,000 years ago but could have written it yesterday! We seem to live in what is now being called ‘a post-truth age’ in which Fake News receives as much of a credible hearing as Truth itself. We seem to live in a consumer age in which so many leaders across the world are seeking power through populism and will shape their political or spiritual pitches to the public according to what they know will be popular and win them power and influence, often at the expense of what may be more wise, or more truthful, or more helpful.

 These are difficult days to attempt to proclaim Truth - and the voice of the Church is just one more voice amongst a cacophony of competing opinions. Its interesting to read the next chapter in Timothy which says: “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine but having itching ears.” Doesn’t this sound so much like the world we live in today as Fake News and the pursuit of populism underpins so much of how we live today.

As Christians, we want to pursue the truth about our God. We want to know who Jesus is and we want to understand the sort of life we are to live that having a relationship with Jesus calls us to. And we believe that God has given us scripture as an important way of knowing God and coming into a relationship with Jesus.

The key difference between our approach to the scriptures and the populism that has become so rife in our world today is simply this: That, yes, we want to read the Scriptures and be affirmed and comforted, but we also mustn’t be afraid to read the Scriptures and find ourselves being challenged by God and having our views challenged. And we are called not to be afraid to be changed and transformed by God the more we read Scripture. This is the path that John Wesley seems to advocate.

Scripture is not some Populist Manifesto. It is God speaking to us, inspiring us to change and be transformed ever closer into the likeness of Christ. We believe that God was inspiring these people as they wrote and that they were being inspired by their relationship with God but that the words they wrote are very human words. So, scripture is a book of words written by human beings who were being inspired by God as they wrote. It’s for that reason that we take the teachings in scripture seriously and many people view it as being created through the power of God and that what we need to know about God, our relationship with God and how to live this in everyday life can be found there. But, because there is a human element to it, we are not surprised when we find historical errors in it or some contradictions.

So, we can say like Wesley would have us understand, that scripture is inspired by God, written in human words and contains everything we need to know about God to have a relationship with Jesus. But it is a messy book. And it’s messy because it's a really human book as well as an expression of God. Let me tell you the messiness of human life is clearly expressed in scripture.  

There are wars and battles, there’s physical violence and rape and murder, there’s betrayal, there’s human failure and weakness, there are stories about lying to God, running away from God, ignoring God, there are stories about human love and human devotion, there are beautiful stories and ugly stories, there are stories of courage, stories of shame, stories of hope, stories of despair… The whole of human experience is contained in scripture - for good and for bad.

That’s what makes it such a wonderful book, because as we read the words of Scripture we see ourselves mirrored in its pages…our own failures, our own weaknesses, our own beauty and our own ugliness, our own courage and our own shame, our own hope and our own despair. Scripture can be viewed as a mirror in which we see ourselves reflected before God.

Having seen ourselves in this mirror, and also having read some of the incredible stories in scripture we can then inspired to go beyond ourselves; to transcend our limitations and become available to God to be used for God’s extraordinary purposes. As well as seeing our own fallenness in scripture we also see our own potential for what we could be if we submit ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit at work within us.

That means growth and that means change - and we know that both change, and growth can be painful for us. And so, as we read scripture, we feel uncomfortable and challenged by God beyond what we might be either expecting or hoping for.

We are not reading scripture to gain head knowledge, to gather historical data about the growth of a religious movement, or to get information about God. We read scripture mostly so that we can be comforted and challenged. We read scripture so that we can grow in faith and be transformed slowly but surely into the image of Jesus Christ. And that requires God to teach us. That requires God to chastise us when we get it wrong. That requires God to correct us when we are heading off down the wrong path.

As the writer of 2 Timothy says here, is training for righteousness. And it can be painful. As I said this is a counter-cultural experience in a world that panders to populism and Fake News. Scripture does not offer us the easy way. It is not there just to make us feel good about ourselves or to be some sort of Fortune Cookie that will endorse all our life choices. Scripture provides a real challenge to us and can speak deeply into our souls in the most uncomfortable of ways.

A woman once asked the writer Mark Twain, “Don’t you struggle with those bits of the scripture that you don’t understand?” He replied: “No, madam. I struggle with those bits of scripture that I do understand…” And that is so often our own experience if we take seriously God’s Word to us…

A relationship with Jesus is a conversation, a dialogue, a two-way thing. We are particularly good at praying to God, asking him to give us what we want. Let’s make sure that we balance that with a desire to listen to God as he speaks to us through scripture. Hearing God speak to us may well require us to stand on tiptoes and really make the effort to listen. But if we do that, we will be inwardly transformed, and who knows what God will do in you and through you as you draw closer into a loving relationship with Jesus. 

Hymn TIS 570: Soldiers of Christ arise

                       (Tune – Diademata)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44GUiMdFApA

Soldiers of Christ, arise

And put your armor on,

Strong in the strength which God supplies

Through His eternal Son;

Strong in the Lord of hosts,

And in His mighty pow’r,

Who in the strength of Jesus trusts

Is more than conqueror.


Stand then in His great might,

With all His strength endued,

And take, to arm you for the fight,

The panoply of God.

From strength to strength go on.

Wrestle and fight and pray;

Tread all the powers of darkness down

And win the well-fought day.


Leave no unguarded place,

No weakness of the soul;

Take every virtue, ev’ry grace,

And fortify the whole.

That having all things done,

And all your conflicts past,

Ye may overcome through Christ alone

And stand complete at last.

Author: Charles Wesley (1952)

Tune: Diademata Composer: Elvey

Intercessory Prayers  

Living, liberating God, we give you thanks that you come to free us from all that binds and restricts us.

We pray for the peoples of the world: we pray for those weighed down by oppression, tyranny and hardship,

for those bent low under the weight of unrelenting daily toil.

Lay your hands on these your children, that they may be freed from their burdens and take their rightful places in the world.

Loving God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Living, liberating God, we give you thanks that you come to free us from the bondage of loveless legalism.

We pray for your church throughout the world: we pray that we may be open to your spirit of truth; that we may be brave to proclaim your gospel.

Lay your hands on us, that we may sing your praise and people rejoice at your wonderful deeds.

Loving God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Living, liberating God, we give you thanks that you set us free to live by the law of love.

We pray for all whom we love and for those we meet in our daily lives: we pray for those exhausted by responsibilities beyond their strength, for those shamed by circumstances beyond their control.

Lay your hands on these your children, that they may be enabled to live complete and fulfilling lives.

Loving God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Living, liberating God, we give you thanks that you come to us bringing compassion and healing for those who suffer.

We pray for all in need of your consolation: we pray for those heavy-hearted with grief and despair, for those crippled by pain and anguish.

Lay your hands on these your children, that they may feel your loving presence and find healing and wholeness.

Loving God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Living, liberating God, we give you thanks that you come to us to free us from the bondage of death.

We remember those who have died who now live in your eternal presence: those from this parish who have gone before us, and all whom we have loved.

Lay your hands on us and transform our lives by your touch, that we may come with all your saints to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

Loving God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn TIS 425: Come, Spirit blest, our hearts inspire

                       (Tune – Richmond)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-edsHvr10g

Come Holy Spirit, our hearts inspire,
let us thine influence prove;
source of the old prophetic fire,
fountain of life and love.

Come, Holy Spirit, for, moved by thee,
thy prophets wrote and spoke:
unlock the truth, thyself the key,
unseal the sacred book.

Expand thy wings, celestial Dove,
brood o'er our nature's night;
on our disordered spirits move,
and let there now be light.

God, through himself, we then shall know,
if thou within us shine;
and sound, with all thy saints below,
the depths of love divine.

Author: Charles Wesley (1740)

Tune: Richmond

Benediction

       God promised to be with Moses, and we are here to witness to the fulfillment of that promise. From generation to generation, the God of Israel is also the God of Marsden Road Uniting Church and of our area. The God of the burning bush is waiting even now to encounter you, call you, challenge you, and change you. Go out to be sustained and surprised by the love of God. Amen.

Hymn MHB 693: Lord Dismiss us with thy blessing

                     (Tune – Sicilian Mariners) 1 extra verse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9QDIA8zxhc

       Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing;

Fill our hearts with joy and peace;

Let us each Thy love possessing,

Triumph in redeeming grace.

O refresh us, O refresh us,

Traveling through this wilderness.


Thanks, we give and adoration

For Thy Gospel’s joyful sound;

May the fruits of Thy salvation

In our hearts and lives abound.

Ever faithful, ever faithful,

To the truth may we be found.


So that when Thy love shall call us,

Saviour, from the world away,

Let no fear of death appal us,

Glad Thy summons to obey.

May we ever, may we ever,

Reign with Thee in endless day.

Text by: John Fawcett 1773

Tune: Dismissal. by William Linton Viner 1845

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet September 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - August 28, 2020 - 12:30am

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church

203 Marsden Road Carlingford


Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the Community

Greetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.

We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.

 

September Services by Zoom, Web and Delivery

 6     9.30am Pentecost 14 - Sunday Service Virtual Holy Communion 

13   9.30am Pentecost 15 – Sunday Service (Zoom)

20   SCCP service chosen by Congregation (Zoom)

27   9.30am Pentecost 17 - Sunday Service (Zoom)

 CHURCH SERVICES

Worship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:

  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:

http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/

  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 

  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings

  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church

BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856 

Offering Envelopes

The time has come again to renew our Offering and make any changes in how we do this. Envelopes are available from Elaine or Ruth and you can alter dates of old ones. 

Prayer Cycle.

The Prayer Cycle for September has been sent by Email to those we have Email addresses for. Please print and deliver for those without Internet/Email.

Pastoral and Other Meetings

While there is no Vaccine or Treatment for the Covid-19, the Rev John is unable to be available for face to face pastoral needs and/or conversations. However, if you need or wish to have a pastoral chat with Rev John and prefer not to do this via the phone and do have Internet connection then you can contact him and arrange a Zoom meeting time. Rev John will send you a Zoom URL address and we can connect at an appointed time. Groups who wish to meet can also contact Rev John and plan for their meeting to be through Zoom.

Annual Christmas Box

PACK YOUR SHOEBOX - SEPTEMBER is the time for assembling the child’s gifts that you will put into your shoebox for OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD. You choose boy or girl, 2-4 yrs., 5-9 yrs. or 10-14 years old. If you would like their special box you can get them from the Forrest’s or phone (98747231) and they can be delivered. Elaine and Grahame will take them to Koorong on September 30th. 

UPCOMING EVENTS - Most Meetings and Worship will Continue Virtually by Zoom, or other Methods until the Covid-19 Pandemic is Controlled, and it is safe for us to meet again.

 September 2020

 3     10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive      

       Meeting (Zoom)

       7.30pm City of Ryde Zone Meeting (Zoom)

6     9.30am Pentecost 14 Service Virtual Holy Communion (Zoom)

9     4.15pm SCCP Standing Committee Meeting 

10   12.30pm PRC Meeting

13    9.30am Pentecost 15 Sunday Service (Zoom)

17   10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive  

       Meeting (Zoom)

20   9.30am Pentecost 16 Worship with Another congregation

24   7.30am Local Ministers Breakfast Meeting (Zoom)

       10am PYPP Team Meeting

27    9.30am Pentecost 17 Sunday Service (Zoom)

 Marsden Missive

The Marsden Missive for September, October, November has been sent by Email to those we have Email addresses for. Please print and deliver for those withoutInternet/Email.

CONTACTS

 Minister of the Word

Rev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658 or whitestarhaven@gmail.com

Church Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531

Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/

Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/

Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:                       margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com

 Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com

EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AID

Did you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.

Those who would prefer to make a financial donation to Community Aid (amounts of $2.00 or more are tax deductible) can be made using their website https://ccas.org.au/ or the form sent out last week.

 Congregation AGM Postponement

 That Marsden Road Church Council postpones the Congregational AGM due to the constraints placed on the Congregation by the Covid-19 pandemic until 28 February 2021, at the latest, by when it is hoped we will have been able to meet in a manner where all members have the opportunity to attend.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Lord, Help Me.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - August 27, 2020 - 11:55pm

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is viewed and to many is a modern-day Saint, tiny though she was. At times she probably wielded the most power of any living person. This was done through humbly serving the most destitute and rejected children of God. In an interview, Mother Teresa once said, "I am but a little pencil in the hand of God as He writes His love letter upon the world!" Though I know the definition of love, I cannot fully comprehend its power when applied to God's created world and people, who, through Jesus Christ, God leads one to serve.

A couple of weeks ago in our lectionary reading from Matthew 15, we heard these words, "Lord help me." The Canaanite woman (a scriptural term for ancient Israel's pagan enemies and here used to designate a Gentile) has complete faith in the ability of Jesus to heal her daughter. Though a Gentile, she calls Jesus Lord, son of David, acknowledging Jesus' lineage. His disciples urge Jesus not to respond, in fact telling Him to send her away. He then answers, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Perhaps this rebuke would have sent most people scurrying away with disappointment, anger, and an unwillingness to try again. However, not this Canaanite Mother.

This woman is determined to get help for her daughter. The Canaanite Mother is no different than many contemporary parents who want something better for their child. Just such a story occurred when parents encouraged their daughter to attend a church summer camping week. The daughter was eighteen years of age, suffered from severe heart deformities and wanted so desperately to be "just like everyone else". It had been extremely difficult for the parents to let her out of their sight, because you see, the doctors had said she had very little time left to live. Though medical science had made tremendous strides in treatment of heart ailments, her particular case was hopeless. 

The best that could be done was provide the most quality life possible under such dire circumstances. After considerable planning by the parents and camp staff, the daughter arrived at camp. She could walk only a few steps without being completely exhausted. The rough terrain made it impossible to use a wheelchair. What to do; the girls in her cabin solved the problem by two of them at a time forming a "chair" by linking their arms together and carrying her from place to place. It was done with genuine caring, a great deal of laughter and equal sharing among her cabinmates. Rather than the experience becoming a burden, it became a ministry to one in the community. No camper nor staff was willing for this particular person to be left out of anything! She was the recipient of parental love willing to take a risk by letting their daughter have a memorable experience. 

The campers experienced selfless love because they willingly embraced her needs and unselfishly saw to them. The result for everyone was a deepening of what it means to "love one another as I have loved you". When news reached the campers and staff that she had died a quiet death within the year, many travelled to her hometown to say goodbye and to reminisce about the experience and learning's they gained from one of their own. Love does indeed change people whose lives it touches. I've always thought those young people who ministered to their peer were indeed little pencils through whom God wrote His love letter upon that gathered community.

The mother in today's Gospel simply will not be put off by Jesus referring to dogs receiving food meant for children. Though this may well be taken as a rather severe rebuke, this Mother will withstand the seemingly derogatory comment, while making her request. She knows she is not considered a believer, but she is also convinced that only Jesus, Son of David, can help her daughter. One can almost visualize her standing face-to-face with Jesus and saying, "......even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Though this woman is a Canaanite, i.e., a Gentile, she kneels in worship, humbles herself and confronts Jesus with her request. She will not be deterred.

Jesus was the only hope for her daughter. How had she heard of Him? Had she been in the crowd of people whom Jesus addressed and taught? Had she held His words in her heart, mulling them over before taking such a brash action? Though a Gentile, had she come to faith over a period of time hearing about Jesus? Was her action of confronting Him what ultimately brought her to faith? She would not willingly depart from Jesus. Rather she was willing to stand before Him and make her request and furthermore, she was driven to her knees as she knelt before Him petitioning Jesus for help. "Lord, help me." 

Such is her faith that she accepted Jesus as being the one who could heal her daughter and restore her child to health. She understood who Jesus was and what He alone could do. This woman is determined to seek help, even at the cost of being called a dog. She knows not whether the disciples will bodily drag her away, but no doubt she would have mightily resisted had they tried. She was totally focused on Jesus. Can we not somewhat identify with this Canaanite woman? If we love someone who is critically ill, do we not pray to Jesus for healing?

"Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly. Through a great and all-encompassing faith, what might be done for each of us? How might we respond to the Lord, Jesus Christ? What sacrifice are we willing to make on behalf of another? He makes all things possible, as He is with us, near us, and in us. "Lord, help me."


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Thoughts upon God and Slavery

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - August 23, 2020 - 12:47pm

 

It is true that some cruel forms of slavery still flourish in many places in the “enlightened” world today.  This is a really hard thought for us to process in our democratic and comfortable society isn’t it?  It is inconceivable to most humans (we hope) that one person can own another person and be in total control of their lives – or indeed, whether they live or die.  However, when I consider slavery and it becomes clear that historically many slave owners professed Christianity and some even used quotes from the Bible as an “excuse” for their treatment of fellow humans, I feel desperately ashamed of their behaviour and sad to know just how many times over the centuries slavery has reared its ugliness and horror.

On Sunday 9th August the Rev. John told us that “Although the Rev. John Wesley claimed to have been opposed to slavery from the first time, he heard of it, …we do not know with certainty when he first heard of slavery. He might have come into contact with slaves in England.” 

However, we do know that; “In 1736-7, Wesley visited North America including Georgia, which was then a British colony, and there he came into contact with enslaved people. This experience left him with a loathing of slavery but at first, he felt unable to act on this.” 

In 1774, he wrote that tract called "Thoughts on Slavery" that went into four editions in two years.  In it, he attacked the Slave Trade and the slave-trader with considerable passion and proposed a boycott of slave-produced sugar and rum. In August 1787, he wrote to the Abolition Committee to express his support.  In 1788, when the abolition campaign was at its height, he preached a sermon in Bristol, one of the foremost slave trading ports. In those days, an anti-slavery sermon could not be preached without considerable personal risk to the preacher and a disturbance broke out.  He maintained an interest in the abolition movement until he died.”

Although John Wesley noted in his journal that he did not like a sentimental style of writing, he seems to have written his “Thoughts on Slavery” in a deliberately impassioned style in order to strengthen his moral, religious and economic arguments.  He made no apologies to those who are sensitive about the truths that he has written.  He has been credited with being the first advocate for the abolition of slavery to make his arguments with sentimental rhetoric, which became the model for the subsequent debates against slavery.

Wesley also famously said: "Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none serve you, but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary action. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion. Be gentle toward all men; and see that you invariably do with everyone as you would he should do unto you."

It is not easy reading, yet I feel compelled to share a few of John Wesley’s “Thoughts on Slavery” – with apologies for this shocking content.  The problems of greed and the lack of kindness, care, understanding and love have overwhelmed society and allowed unbelievable evil to overcome good often throughout history.  People like John and Charles Wesley, William Wilberforce, John Newton, Lord Mansfield and many others were the right people for their time and were willing to work together and be examples of the power of working with the love of God as your strength.  On 22 May 1787, the first meeting of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade took place, bringing like-minded British Quakers and Anglicans together in the same organisation for the first time.  All the Abolitionist organisations working to free the slaves in America and the British and other colonies were making progress against the terrible problems of greed, dependence on slaves and the cruelty it brought to hundreds of thousands of the innocent victims were at last gaining momentum.

In his booklet, John Wesley gave DETAILED information from various sources about the orderly and calm nature and life of the inhabitants of the coast of Africa from which huge numbers of native people were seized, transported and sold as slaves.  He noted these details to quash the stories of the kidnappers that they were “saving” them from a terrible environment where few could survive!


“The Gold-Coast and Slave-Coast, all who have seen it agree, is exceeding fruitful and pleasant, producing vast quantities of rice and other grain, plenty of fruit and roots, palm-wine, and oil, and fish in great abundance, with much tame and wild cattle. The very same account is given us of the soil and produce of the kingdoms of Benin, Congo and Angol--From all which it appears, That Guinea in general, far from being an horrid, dreary, barren country, is one of the most fruitful, as well as the most pleasant countries in the known world. It is said indeed to be unhealthy. And so it is to strangers, but perfectly healthy to the native inhabitants.

Such is the country from which the negroes are brought. We come next to enquire, What sort of men they are, of what temper and behaviour, not in our plantations, but in their native country. And here likewise the surest way is to take our account from eye and ear witnesses. Now those who have lived in the Senegal country observe, it is inhabited by three nations, the Jaloss, Fulis, and Mandingos. The king of the Jaloss has under him several ministers, who assist in the exercise of justice. The chief justice goes in circuit through all his dominions, to hear complaints and determine controversies. And the viceroy goes with him, to inspect the behaviour of the Alkadi, or Governor of each village.

The Mandingos, says Mons. Brue, are rigid Mahometans, drinking neither wine nor brandy. They are industrious and laborious, keeping their ground well cultivated, and breeding a good flock of cattle. Every town has a governor, and he appoints the labour of the people. The men work the ground designed for corn; the women and girls, the rice-ground.  He afterwards divides the corn and rice among them: And decides all quarrels if any arise. All the Mahometan negroes constantly go to public prayers thrice a day: there being a priest in every village, who regularly calls them together:  And so the reports of the places and people go on.

We have now seen, what kind of country it is, from which the negroes are brought: And what sort of men (even whitemen being the judges) they were in their own country. Enquire we, Thirdly, In what manner are they generally procured, carried to, and treated in America.

First. In what manner are they procured? Part of them by fraud. Captains of ships from time to time, have invited negroes to come on board, and then carried them away. But far more have been procured by force. The Christians landing upon their coasts, seized as many as they found, men, women and children, and transported them to America. It was about 1551, that the English began trading to Guinea: At first, for gold and elephants teeth, but soon after, for men. In 1566, Sir John Hawkins sailed with two ships to Cape Verd, where he sent eighty men on shore to catch negroes. But the natives flying, they fell farther down, and there set the men on shore, "to burn their towns and take the inhabitants." But they met with such resistance, that they had seven men killed, and took but ten negroes. So they went still farther down, till having taken enough, they proceeded to the West-Indies, and sold them*.

It was some time before the Europeans found a more compendious way of procuring African slaves, by prevailing upon them to make war upon each other, and to sell their prisoners.  Till then they seldom had any wars: But were in general quiet and peaceable. But the white men first taught them drunkenness and avarice, and then hired them to sell one another. Nay, by this means, even their kings are induced to sell their own subjects.

Such is the manner wherein the Negroes are procured! Thus the Christians preach the gospel to the heathens!           

Thus they are procured. But in what numbers and in what manner are they carried to America?--Mr. Anderson in his History of trade and commerce, observes, "England supplies her American colonies with Negro slaves, amounting in number to about an hundred thousand every year." That is, so many are taken on board our ships; but at least ten thousand of them die in the voyage: About a fourth part more die at the different Islands, in what is called the Seasoning. So that at an average, in the passage and seasoning together, thirty thousand die: That is, properly are murdered. O earth, O Sea, cover not thou their blood!

When they are brought down to the shore in order to be sold, our surgeons thoroughly examine them, and that quite naked, women and men, without any distinction: Those that are approved are set on one side. In the mean time a burning iron, with the arms or name of the Company, lies in the fire, with which they are marked on the breast. Before they are put into the ships, their masters strip them of all they have on their backs: So that they come on board stark naked, women as well as men. It is common for several hundreds of them to be put on board one vessel; where they are stowed together in as little room, as it is possible for them to be crowded. It is easy to suppose what a condition they must soon be in, between heat, thirst, and stench of various kinds. So that it is no wonder, so many should die in the passage; but rather, that any survive it.”  

I will not burden you with the horrendous laws that John Wesley wrote about in his Booklet – laws that were made for the punishments to be metered out to slaves.  However, he did record; “The author of the history of Jamaica, wrote about the year 1740, in his account of the sufferings of the negroes; The people of that island have indeed the severest ways of punishing; no country exceeds them in a barbarous treatment of their slaves, or in the cruel methods by which they are put to death.”

The Rev. John concluded his Sermon: “Slavery continues to flourish in our world today. People who are hungry, homeless, or otherwise vulnerable are lured into debt slavery because they are promised a better life. Some of them are forced into prostitution. Some are forced labourers. Some are illegal immigrants who pay large fees to an “agent,” who smuggles them into a nation, and then keeps them in virtual slavery because of the debts run up. Some are children sold as jockeys, as prostitutes, as labourers. Some are farm labourers whose parents passed on debts to them and they will, in turn, pass those debts on their children.”

“The greatest riches are spiritual and moral.  And they are produced by a Gospel-enlivened society organically rooted in stable marriages and families, chastity, sobriety, self-denial, thrift, hard work and moral responsibility.  These virtues and practices are rightly encouraged by churches, which are called to redeem the fallen, and governments, which are responsible for public order.”

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship 23 August 2020 - Wesley 4

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Wesley on War and Peace

23rd August 2020 - Wesley 4 Sunday 9.30 am

 

Gathering God’s People

 

 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal. 

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


Call to Worship

(The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)

Give us the assurance that we belong to that great company but save us from living in the past and from resting on the work of others. Help us to find a new beginning and a new vision, that we may know our task in this place and in the world today.

We rejoice, O God, in the Spirit which worked through ancient people of faith to call them from a distant land to a land which they knew not.

We rejoice, O God, in knowing that the Spirit which led our ancestors through the wilderness is our possession today.

We give you thanks, Almighty God, for those who walked along the Way, for their faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ and their steadfast love for you.

We give you thanks, Almighty God, for those whose dedication to the Gospel caused them to express a vital faith and establish a tradition, of which we are grateful descendants. 

Hymn 138: Eternal Father strong to save

                  (Tune – Melita)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cHPSFFa5cU

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,

Who bidst the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

 

O Saviour, whose almighty word

The winds and waves submissive heard,

Who walkedst on the foaming deep,

And calm amid its rage didst sleep;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

 

O sacred Spirit, who didst brood

Upon the chaos dark and rude,

Or bad’st its angry tumult cease,

And gavest light and life and peace;

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

 

O Trinity of love and pow’r,

Our brethren’s shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe,

Protect them wheresoever they go;

And ever let there rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

 Author: William Whiting (1860)

Tune: Melita (Dykes)

 

Opening prayer

 

     Grant, O merciful God, that following the good example of your servants John and Charles Wesley, we may cleave to you with all our heart, sing and speak your praise, and bring others to love your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


A Prayer of Confession

       Merciful God, through the apostle Paul, you call us to live out our faith in everyday actions beginning with loving one another with a love that is completely sincere - love with no thought of gain for self  but love totally at the service of others. 

We are to hate evil and to hold fast to what is good, yet the grasping for financial gain by whatever means has led to a diminished understanding of what is evil and what is good;  we are to care for and honour one another, yet sadly, divisions exist  in churches and faith communities, when conflict arises over rights and privileges, prestige and power. 

Our faith is to be visible through our joy and our hope -  our patience - even in suffering, and through our persevering in prayer and we are to share what we have with those in need, and to extend hospitality not just to those we know and like - but to strangers. 

We know we fall short of living out our faith in these ways so we pray that we will be renewed, strengthened and empowered with the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus, living, loving and caring as he did.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen 

Declaration of Forgiveness

      Hear the good news: God’s love for us is truly revealed in          that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

God has received us, pardoned us and loved us; let us forgive each other in love and share the peace of Christ. Peace be with you.And also, with you.

 (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: We find true happiness in Jesus.

Object: A flower or a toy bee

 If I were to ask you to tell me what makes you happy, what would your answer be? Would it be something like "happiness is scoring the winning goal in a soccer game" or "happiness is being the most popular person in my class?"

We all want to be happy, don't we? Does it surprise you to know that God wants you to be happy? Well, he does, but you might be surprised to find out that what Jesus said about happiness is quite different from what you and I might expect. Most of us think that to be happy means having a lot of money, having plenty to eat, having someone to take care of us, or being well-liked by everyone. That isn't what Jesus said. 

One day Jesus went up onto the side of a mountain. He sat down, gathered his disciples around him, and began to teach them about happiness. Even though these are not the exact words Jesus used, I think they will help us to understand what he taught. 

He said things like:

Be happy when you are poor in spirit, because then you will find that your riches are in the kingdom of heaven.

Be happy when you feel you have lost what is most dear to you, because it is then that you will feel the love of the One who is the dearest to you.

Be happy with what you have, because then you will find that your heavenly Father provides everything that you need.

Be happy when you are hungry for the things of God, because then you will find that only He can satisfy.

Be happy when you are caring for others, because it is in caring for others that you will find that you have a heavenly Father who cares for you.

Be happy when your heart is right with God, because it is then that you will see that God is at work in the world around you.

Be happy when you help others to get along peacefully with one another, because it is then that you will know the peace that comes from being a part of the family of God.

Be happy when others treat you badly because you follow me, because your reward will be great in heaven.

You see, happiness is not a feeling that is brought about by the things that happen to us. It is an attitude that we have because of what we have in our heart. We need to be like the bee, buzzing happily through life because of what God has done for us.

Dear Father, help us to have the happiness that you want for us. Happiness that comes, not from what happens to us, but from what happens inside of us. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

 Offering Prayer

Holy God, you bless our lives with gifts which enable us to live in harmony with you and with one another.  In Jesus you have revealed the human face of your love and empowered us with the Holy Spirit to reveal that same love in all we do and say and are.  These gifts we offer in response seem paltry in comparison, but we offer them and our lives confident that you will receive, bless and use them in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, and our Saviour.  Amen

Hymn TIS 219: Jesus comes with all his grace

                 (Tune – Orientis Partibus)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqguWDDYgxU

                    Jesus comes with all his grace,

comes to save a fallen race,

object of our glorious hope,

Jesus comes to lift us up.

 

Let the living stones cry out,

every child of Abraham shout;

praise we all our lowly King,

give him thanks, rejoice and sing.

 

He has our salvation wrought,

he our captive souls has bought,

he has reconciled to God,

he has washed us in his blood.

 

We are now his lawful right,

walk as children of the light;

we shall soon obtain the grace,

pure in heart, to see his face.

 

We shall gain our calling's prize;

after God we all shall rise,

filled with joy, and love, and peace,

perfected in holiness.

                              Author: Charles Wesley (1749)

Tune: Orientis Partibus

 The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                      Isaiah 2.1-4          NEB page 505

The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 5: 1-12   NEB page 727

Readings: NRSV Translation

Isaiah 2.1-4

2 1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3 Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 

Matthew 5: 1-12

1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

 


Preaching of the Word: Peace is Never Easy

 From our Study:

It sounds so simple: do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God. It sounds so simple to seek peace and not war. From our study we hear the following which outlines the situation we Christians are called to wrestle with:

Questions about war and peace are never easy for Christians. We live in the tension between loving our neighbours, even loving our enemies, on the one hand, and the desire to be loyal citizens of a nation we love, on the other. This tension has always divided the church, and our generation is no exception. But what can we learn from Wesley about war that we can make a part of our lives today?

First, there is the awareness of the horrors of war. Remember Wesley’s description of the armies killing each other. Add to that the so-called “collateral damage,” the deaths and wounding of civilians, the destruction of the infrastructure of the warring nations, and the devastation of economies. As General Sherman said, “war is hell,” even when it is necessary.

Second, I think Wesley would want us to remember that God’s ultimate will is peace. One of the implications of that is to look carefully at the reasons for war. Obviously, if a nation is attacked, it will defend itself. The list above of some of the reasons why nations go to war reminds us that we often do not look for God’s ultimate will, or even for a common-sense reason for war. Instead, we focus on selfish ends, the expressions of what Wesley called original sin.

Third, Wesley’s statement that, in war, God is forgotten is a powerful one. The adage says that there are no atheists in foxholes. That may or may not be true. It does seem to be true, however, that God’s ultimate will is easily forgotten in time of war.

On closer inspection of the issue and of our scripture from Matthew 5 (the beatitudes), are these instructions so simple after all? How can we be sure we are seeking God’s justice and not our own? How are we to love kindness and not merely like niceness? How do we walk in humility without feeling humiliated?

In one of his essays on the causes of poverty, and the lack of food for the poor, Wesley did advocate cutting the size of the army, in order to make grain available for the poor. That statement shows that, like all the rest of us, Wesley did not always think through what he was saying. If the King had actually disbanded regiments and used the savings to provide grain for the poor, the law of unintended consequences would have kicked in. All those discharged soldiers would have been without work, and in need of the same grain that Wesley intended for the poor. Chances are that the situation of the poor would not have improved in that case. But the idea does suggest that Wesley was willing to consider serious change in government policy in order to care for the needs of the poor.

Fortunately, we have an excellent teacher and guide in Jesus Christ. His teachings on the mountain in Galilee are some of his best-known words. The Beatitudes are perhaps the most famous of all. When we pay attention to the future tense we find that they will be comforted, they will inherit, they will be filled it’s easy to hear these sayings as a series of promises, of rewards to be allotted in the afterlife, or in the new creation at the end of times.

Doubtless those promises will hold true in the new creation, but is that enough consolation to us now, when we mourn, or hunger, or being attacked or are persecuted? As a disillusioned man in a song called, “All this Time,” by Sting says of inheriting the earth: 

Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth  Better to be poor than a fat man in the eye of a needle  And as these words were spoken I swore I hear              The old man laughing                                               'What good is a used up world and how could it be   Worth having'

Perhaps Jesus is also calling us to a deeper and more challenging understanding. Twice he says, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Just a bit earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that from the beginning of his teaching Jesus proclaimed that “the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Jesus tells us that the kingdom is near, is at hand, is so close we can reach out and touch it. If the kingdom is truly at hand, then all the blessings Jesus mentions are not afterlife consolation prizes but are present-tense realities. Try out these re-wordings of the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they have the kingdom of heaven.                                                                  Blessed are those who mourn, for they are being comforted.                                                             Blessed are the meek, for they are inheriting the earth.   Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for   righteousness, for they are being filled.                   Blessed are the merciful, for they are receiving mercy. 

In this light, the blessings become both strength and guidance for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God. They become strength and guidance to seek peace and not war. 

Justice in our earthly kingdoms typically uses the tools of punishment and reparations. Applied well, our justice systems protect the innocent, shield the vulnerable, and ensure equity. Applied poorly, they protect the powerful and disproportionately condemn the weak. Justice in the kingdom of heaven relies on the mercy and righteousness of God. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human beings.” Our tools for this heavenly justice system are mercy and righteousness and peacemaking. If we use these tools to do justice, look at the blessings that follow; “receiving mercy, being filled, being called children of God!

Better yet, the blessings are not only a reward to us, but also a source of motivation and guidance. Because we have received God’s mercy, we have a model for being merciful and the desire to extend mercy. Because we have been forgiven and restored to peace with God, we are strengthened to forgive others and work for peace and reconciliation. Because we are filled with God’s spirit, we hunger and thirst more and more to see righteousness in the world.

But what about the times when it’s hard to see righteousness in the world, when we ourselves are persecuted, or when we are in mourning, or when we feel empty in our own spirit, or when we are attacked violently? Jesus assures us that blessings are present even during these times. Perhaps he is even teaching us that at such moments we are most open to perceiving the grace of God.

Amid persecution and slander, Jesus calls us to rejoice and be glad, “for we are walking in the kingdom of heaven as well as in an unjust world. When we mourn and are tossed by our natural and right emotions of grief and anger, how vivid are those moments when the presence and compassion of God break through!

Walking in the kingdom of heaven means learning more and more how close God is to us when we are in need.

Jesus even assures us that we have the kingdom of heaven just when we feel poorest in spirit. Just when you feel emptiest, he says, keep reaching out to the kingdom that is at hand. In other words, walk humbly with your God.

The Beatitudes call us above all to a sense of openness before God. We don’t see God until we see the face of Christ in others, we learn to do that by pursuing justice and kindness toward all people. We don’t see God until we stop trying to control and begin learning to walk humbly in God’s presence. But when we practice doing justice and loving kindness and walking in humility, the Spirit continues to work in our hearts, purifying us. And blessed are the pure in heart, for they are seeing God.

So, it may never be easy, but perhaps it is simple after all. Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God. Walk in the kingdom of heaven, be comforted, inherit the earth, be filled with righteousness, receive mercy, see God, be God’s children, rejoice and be glad. Be blessed.

Hymn 607: Make me a channel of your peace

                  (Tune – Channel of Peace)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT8bybL_DqY

                Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring your love;

Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;

And where there's doubt true faith in you.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there's despair in life let me bring hope;

Where there is darkness, only light;

And where there's sadness, ever joy.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

In giving to all men that we receive;

And in dying that we're born to eternal life.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 Author (attributed to): St. Francis of AssisiAdapter: Sebastian Temple

Tune: [Make me a channel of your peace]

Intercessory Prayers  

Faithful God, you hear our cries and answer when we call on you: give us faith to believe that with you all things are possible.

You created a world of beauty and promise, but we have made places of ugliness and despair: hear our prayers for the preservation of the earth. We pray for careful stewardship of the resources of the earth, for reverence and respect for its wonder and diversity, that we may live in harmony with the created world.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You have shown us ways of justice and righteousness, but we have chosen paths of violence and greed: hear our prayers for the nations of the world. We pray for an end to bloodshed and oppression, for an equitable sharing of the good gifts of the earth, that we may live together in peace and prosperity.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You have offered us gifts of redemption and life, but we have clung to old ways of sin and death: hear our prayers for your church and its mission. We pray for unity of heart and purpose between Christians, for discernment and understanding of your word, that we may faithfully proclaim your gospel in the world.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You rescue the weak and save those in distress, but we have abandoned the vulnerable and neglected those in need: hear our prayers for the people of this community.

We pray for welcome for the stranger and acceptance for the outsider, for assistance for the hungry, the homeless and those without work, that we may learn to love and care for each other.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

You are generous and loving to all your people, but we have been selfish and uncaring towards each other: hear our prayers for all who suffer. We pray for encouragement for the despairing, consolation for the sorrowing, for relief for those who are in pain and peace for those close to death, that they may know your comfort and your strength.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

Your people rejected your love and turned from your ways, but you endured death on a cross to bring us eternal life: we give you thanks for all who have died in the faith. Teach us a faith that is strong and sure, that together with the saints, the martyrs and all the great cloud of witnesses, we may come into the joy of your eternal presence.

God of mercy hear our prayer.

THE LORD'S PRAYER

          Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 567: God of all power, and truth

                   (Tune - Ombersley)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W020Vs4pBdc

  God of all power, and truth, and grace,

which shall from age to age endure,

whose word, when heaven and earth shall pass,

remains and stands for ever sure;

 

that I your mercy may proclaim,

that all the world your truth may see,

hallow your great and glorious name,

and perfect holiness in me.

 

Purge me from every evil blot;

my idols all be cast aside:

cleanse me from every sinful thought,

from all the stain of self and pride.

 

Give me a new, a perfect heart,

from sorrow free, and doubt and fear;

the mind which was in Christ impart,

and let my spirit know you near.

 

O that I now, from sin released,

your word may to the utmost prove,

enter into the promised rest,

the Canaan of your perfect love!

                                Author: Charles Wesley

                              Tune: (Ombersley) (Instrumental Version)

Benediction

        Faithful God whose Word does not return empty but accomplishes all that you purpose, may your blessings fall like rain to water the earth, nourishing seed for our food, and filling us with the abundance of your love, through Jesus Christ your living Word. Amen.             

Hymn779: May the feet of God walk with you.

         (Tune – Aubrey)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X5FHNGM2HA

May the feet of God walk with you, & his hand hold you tight

May the eye of God rest on you, & his ear hear your cry.

May the smile of God be for you, & his breath give you life.

May the Child of God grow in you, & his love bring you Home.

 Robyn Mann (1949 -)         

 Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

How We Treat the Least Among Us.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - August 21, 2020 - 2:00am

 When the story from Exodus in the Hebrew Scriptures for this week opens, the Hebrew people have been living in Egypt for about as long as Europeans and have been living in Australia. A new pharaoh -- or king -- begins to rule Egypt. Because slave labour is important to the well - being and economy of his nation, the pharaoh is concerned that the Hebrews are more numerous and powerful than the Egyptians and could rise up to overcome their masters or to escape. So, one hardship after another is heaped upon the backs of the slaves to keep them in their place and reduce their numbers.

When none of his harsh tactics works, the pharaoh hits on a new and especially heinous plan. He calls in the two midwives who assist Hebrew women during childbirth and orders them to kill all newborn, Hebrew males. But the two women -- Shephrah and Puah -- weigh their fear of the powerful pharaoh against their fear of God and God wins.

The midwives resolve to do what is in their power to do: they boldly choose not to cooperate but to disobey the pharaoh and stand with God on the side of the oppressed and powerless. For taking this risk, God rewards the heroic midwives and the Hebrew community continues to grow in numbers and strength..

When called on the carpet by the pharaoh, Shephrah and Puah are quick-witted! "Why have you let the male children live?" he demands to know. The reply? Because the Israelite women are so strong that by the time the midwives get to them, they have already delivered their babies themselves! What does a pharaoh know about childbirth?! But the midwives have just become the first to assist in the birth of the Israelite nation.

In desperation, the Pharaoh commands that every newborn Hebrew boy be drowned in the Nile River.

A Hebrew woman gives birth to a beautiful little boy. This mother is not about to throw her beloved son into the river. She manages to hide him for some time, which as every parent knows would be pretty difficult given the amount of control one has over newborn vocal cords! One day she tucks her son into a basket and places it gently among the protective bulrushes in the river, perhaps hoping the movement of the water will soothe him to sleep. She tells his five-year-old sister, whose name is not given here but it is Miriam, to stand watch over the boy from the river's edge.

Imagine Miriam's fear when she hears voices coming her way and realizes it is the pharaoh's own daughter coming toward the river! From her hiding place she sees the young woman begin to bathe. She sees the basket, sends a maid to bring it to her. She open it and instantly sizes up the situation. "This must be one of the Hebrew children," she says.

How many dead babies has this Egyptian woman seen washed up on the shore? What makes her resolve to defy her father and save this particular child's life? Somehow, she is taken by the infant, knowing full-well that she is embarking on a dangerous path.

At this moment, little Miriam takes the initiative. She steps forward and asks the pharaoh's daughter if she would like her to bring a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. How quick-witted and courageous for such a young child!

And then picture that meeting between two women of different races, religions, cultures, languages as they enter a pact to resist the law of the land and save the life of this slave child. What must she have been feeling and fearing with her child's life at sake?

She at least is able to keep her son for three years -- yet she holds up her side of the bargain: eventually the boy goes from the Hebrew slave quarters to the palace to be raised as the son of the pharaoh's daughter, who names him Moses which means 'drawn out of the water'.

An interesting fact about this story, when set in the larger biblical context, is that it offers a novel, new model of heroism based on intelligence and wit rather than violence. The women resist the powerful pharaoh but do not seek to destroy him or seize his power for themselves. Each acting autonomously derives power out of no power.

And probably this story is among the first in history, also, in which a king-like god stands with the oppressed rather than the privileged. Confronting the kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of God is our job here on earth.  When we do that, we learn that our God is always on the side of the oppressed, the excluded, the disenfranchised. And that takes many forms. It is our baptismal responsibility to recognise and name it and then join God in confronting it -- whether it is governmental policies like the pharaoh's decree or racism in our schools, offices, neighbourhoods, media... or violence against women and children... or excluding whole categories of people: people of colour, LGBTQI’s, women, homeless persons.

One of the best measures of a society is to look at how we treat the least among us. Where do we see exclusion or powerlessness in your workplace or community, in our schools and governments? Whose stories are not being told. What can we do about it? Change can come through small opportunities, through resources like money and privilege -- such as being the pharaoh's daughter or well-educated and well-employed.

Change can come through the actions of just one person: a worker like the midwives, a whistle-blower, a person with a God- given opportunity to act, a loving parent, a brave child -- all refusing to cooperate with the oppressor.

Change comes through acts of human love, inventiveness and the courage to do what is in our power to do. What is in our power to do to bring about change? Where and how is God calling us to stand with the powerless, the excluded, those on the margins of our society? It is in responding to that question that we will find ourselves doing justice, loving kindness and mercy, and walking humbly with your God

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Was John Wesley "The man who saved England"?

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - August 14, 2020 - 2:06am

Late in the year 2019 and before the arrival of the disruption to life in most countries with the Covid 19 Pandemic early in 2020, a small group of our Marsden Road church members had been involved in a study of a book called “John Wesley for the 21stCentury” by John O. Gooch.  The Rev. John was asked if the Marsden Road Congregation could hold a series of services and further studies, a family tea and other “old fashioned traditional” events to remind us of the importance of community and spirituality of people who claim to live as Christians. This was all planned for August 2020 as “Wesley Weeks” and I suppose you could say that there was a yearning for the Wesley way of the old Methodist Churches and perhaps a longing and a social need for a new Revival. 



Despite the strict health rules and the constraints about meetings and gatherings as measures to keep people in Australia as safe as possible, it can be said that, at Marsden Road Church we are all living with these constraints as well as possible.  So we are proceeding with the “Wesley Weeks” plans with a few necessary changes.  The Rev. John is leading five more weekly studies for those who are able to attend via “Zoom” and he will be presenting specially focused sermons about John Wesley and some of his social work, causes and beliefs.  On Sunday the 2nd August the Rev. John’s sermon focused on the life and work of the Rev. John Wesley and his brother Charles, with special reference to John’s particular interest in science, which was the topic of the study via Zoom on the previous Wednesday evening. In this sermon, the Rev. John wrote; “An insatiable reader, Wesley read scientific works throughout his life, often from the back of his horse.” … “From his own reading and the advice of others, he developed short lists of scientific works for his correspondents, schools, and lay preachers. These collections included older works by John Ray, Cotton Mather, and Jonathan Edwards as well as current works by Benjamin Franklin, Charles Bonnet, John Hutchinson, and Oliver Goldsmith. Wesley followed the debates that swirled around the various interpretations of Newton's ideas.”

As usual the sermons are available in full on the Marsden Road Church website each week, so you can read them there.  There is also a wealth of information on the internet in the form of countless history articles and many excellent YouTube videos, so I am wondering what path can we follow for the weekly blogs?  

John Wesley certainly spoke up and recorded his views clearly in all his writings and 40,000 sermons which he is said to have preached - and his brother Charles certainly gave us wonderful hymns to sing in praise of God.  I wonder who among us doesn’t take a deep breath and approach a Charles Wesley hymn with enthusiasm and a degree of thoughtfulness?

Having had only one attempt to ride a horse and having to retreat to have a long soak in a hot bath because I could barely walk; I certainly admire John Wesley’s determination and strength when I read that in all he travelled on horseback for about 400,000 kilometres and used the time often to study and read.  Today’s piece of trivia is the note I saw in one article, that said John Wesley had “Ridden his horse to the moon.”

I became interested in the Wesley family as a whole many years ago now, when I became deeply involved in family history and I read notes written by ancestors who had known my maternal GGG grandfather the Rev. John Mayor personally.  I was fascinated to learn that the Methodist Church began in the heart of the Anglican Church and that some of my ancestors, including the father of the Rev. John Mayor were buried in the non-conformist Bunhill Fields Cemetery in London with the likes of Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley and many of the early Methodist ministers and followers. 

A young follower of John Wesley - Rev John Mayor of Shawbury
                                                   where he served as Minister for 45 years

The Rev. John Mayor entered Worcester College, Oxford in 1774 and was ordained Deacon there in 1778.  He began his ministry at Shawbury in Shropshire in June 1781 after what seems to have been a period of unrest and youthful enthusiasm - perhaps in an area where the “Methodist” Anglicans were not as well received.  He wrote that he was ordained as a Priest in September 1779 “Where I had some blessed seals to my ministry and violent opposition which ended in my quitting the curacy in a years time, Michaelmas 1780.”  It has been written by his family that the Rev. John Mayor was a great preacher and he was one of John Wesley's well known adherents and he became a leader in the Nonconformist Revival.  His niece wrote of him; “He was stirring up the Shrewsbury neighbourhood when Wesley was busy in Devon.”  In his will there is a bequest to his son of “my Psalter”and another book which were given to him by John Newton.  I feel this and some other more definite clues, support the stories of his long friendships and involvement with people who had been great workers and advocates for the “Wesley’s Revival”. 

The World Book Encyclopaedia records; “Methodism originated as a movement with groups of students at Oxford University in the late 1720's.  They helped each other to be disciplined and methodical in their study, spiritual devotions and practical good works.”  It has been well recorded that John Wesley and his brother Charles preached in the open air and the crowds were very large as they taught their listeners about “personal faith and practical good” and I believe Oxford University students continued to nurture the future generations of students to join in the revival.  When John and Charles Wesley realised that they and the few enthusiastic clergy working with them could not do all the work and provide all the spiritual support needed; John Wesley began, from 1739 on, to evaluate and approve men who had not been ordained as “local preachers” - and this proved to one of the catalysts for the growth of Methodism. 

Modern History study for the Leaving Certificate in the 1950’s began with the French Revolution and ended with the causes of World War 1.  I was captivated by all History, but then, I was fortunate that a wonderful teacher made it into a fascinating worldwide saga about the ways the “age of enlightenment” and the “twilight of princes” evolved; with reason replacing God as an explanation of the world.  With these changed religious and philosophical thoughts, more popular and nonspiritual art, inventions that led to innovations in trade, transport and technology and the huge social changes of the ensuing Industrial Revolution, came the first stirrings of the age of revolution of which the French Revolution in 1789 was only a part. 

The first Industrial Revolution began in Britain after 1750 because the country was prepared financially and already had solid financial institutions like a central bank in place to finance the new factories, and the development of new technologies to work with iron and steam power and other kinds of mass production.  The economic strength of Britain was sured-up through high taxes which were also collected from the almost boundless British Empire.  In the majority of circumstances, with little regard for the workers - these rapid changes were made to the culture and life of people who had worked on farms and in their homes and were forced to move into new industrial towns and big cities in order to work long hours for low wages and endure poor housing.  However, a few mills belonged to benevolent men who provided housing, schools and medical care.  The New Lanark Mill even had a school, a church and a Co-operative Store where prices were fair and the workers benefited from any profits.  I wonder if the owners knew John Wesley?  I am certainly sure they knew God!


The Lanark Cotton Mill was founded in 1785 and it is now a World Heritage Site

The ‘upper classes’ went ahead with the building of big new factories with expensive machines that could make even bigger fortunes for them as they exploited the poor British workers and foreign growers of spices, cotton and rich silk fabrics and every kind of exotic thing from the Empire on which it was claimed “the sun never sets.”

Is it any wonder that the “lower classes” were beginning to show dissatisfaction with their miserable lot and there were rumblings of Revolution in Britain as well as in most of Europe?  John Wesley and his Revivalists taught and encouraged their followers about the love of God, who could bring a better world for everyone if only everyone would live the Christian life.

There are those who believe that John Wesley and his Methodist Revivalists saved Britain from its own violent revolution by doing their best to bring hope into a seemingly hopeless world by their spiritual and social revival, education of the poor, the provision of food, clothing, fuel, medical help, tools and the basic needs of life in those difficult times.  They also clothed and fed prisoners and cared for the aged and helpless in need.  At Oxford, John Wesley had studied basic medicine and first aid.  So in 1746 he set up the first free medical dispensary for the poor.  His passion for helping the poor and needy was lived out by the Wesleys and their followers.  John Wesley wrote and “lived” this statement; “We give to God not by giving it to the church, but by giving it to the poor.”  He personally helped in many ways and he gave all of his own money from his prolific writing to help the poor; living only on his stipend of ₤28 per year.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwjdD_JbOok  “John Wesley the Man who saved England.”  If you have access to a computer, tablet or smartphone, and a spare half hour, you might find this YouTube video very interesting.  The speaker is Sydney Adventist Pastor Gary Kent.

I have “reflected” for long enough today, so I will have to catch up with the topic of slavery, that was the focus of the Rev. John’s service on Sunday 9thAugust, during the next week.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

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