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Marsden Road Uniting Worship Penetcost 5 HC 05 July 2020


Marsden Road UnitingChurch Carlingford--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Come to me Sunday 5th July 2020Pentecost 5 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 (The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)        “Come to me... and I will give you rest,” Jesus promises. Where do we go, and to whom do we turn, to discover the truth of these words?
The music is playing, and God is calling. We have come to sing and dance with God.The prayers are flowing, and Spirit is moving. Breathe on us, breath of God. Christ promises rest and renewal, when we come to him. We are here, trusting this sacred promise.
Hymn 585: I heard the voice of Jesus say                  (Tune – Kingsfold)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVCpF8-VuE
1.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"Come unto me and rest;lay down, thou weary one, lay downthy head upon my breast."I came to Jesus as I was,so weary, worn, and sad;I found in him a resting place,and he has made me glad.
2.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"Behold, I freely givethe living water; thirsty one,stoop down and drink, and live."I came to Jesus, and I drankof that life-giving stream;my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,and now I live in him.
3.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"I am this dark world's light;look unto me, thy morn shall rise,and all thy day be bright."I looked to Jesus, and I foundin him my Star, my Sun;and in that light of life I'll walktill traveling days are done.
Author: Horatius Bonar (1846)Tune: Kingsfold
Opening prayer
     Creator God, you have created us to walk with you. Help us walk with you in this time of worship, that we may be strengthened to walk with you all the days of our lives. As we come to you this day, bless us with your grace and your rest, that we may find renewal and the strength to serve with confidence and joy. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Come to Christ with the confidence of children, for Christ will carry our burdens, renew our souls, and give us rest, through his mercy and grace.
Prophetic One, you call us to new places and new ways. You challenge us to dance new steps and to sing new songs. We yearn to follow you with confidence and joy, but our resistance is often stronger than our willingness. At times, our steps falter. At moments, we can’t even hear your voice, let alone recognize your song in our hearts. Strengthen us with your mercy. Renew us with your grace. Sing to us with your compassion. Connect us with the yoke of unconditional love, that we may follow joyously, dance confidently, and sing praise and love with every act and with every word of our lives. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Rejoice and give thanks. With grace, Christ is already carrying our burdens to renew our souls. With mercy, Christ is already shouldering our load to strengthen our lives.Thanks, be to God! Amen
The Peace
Let us share the joy, the freedom, and the rest we find in God’s love, as we greet one another in the grace and peace of Christ.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.)
Offering Prayer
Receive these gifts we now bring, God of gifts, and bless them to be gifts for your world. Through our giving, renew others, that they too may know the comfort and rest of living in the arms of your compassion and your love. Amen.
Hymn 650: Brother, sister, let me serve you                 (Tune – Servant Song)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qblqtb4jzL8
Brother, sister, let me serve you,let me be as Christ to you;pray that I may have the grace tolet you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journeyand companions on the road;we are here to help each otherwalk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for youin the night-time of your fear;I will hold my hand out to you,speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping;when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;I will share your joy and sorrowtill we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heavenwe shall find such harmony,born of all we’ve known togetherof Christ’s love and agony.
Brother, sister, let me serve you,let me be as Christ to you;pray that I may have the grace tolet you be my servant too.
Richard Gillard 1953 - arr. Betty Pulkingham 1928 -                      The Service of Holy Communion
The Great Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you.       And also with you.       Lift up your hearts.       We lift them to the Lord.       Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.       It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is a right, good, and a joyful thing always and everywhere to give our thanks to you, who saved Abraham from sacrificing his beloved son, Isaac, and has given us the gift of eternal life in Christ. We give you thanks for freedom and friendship, for love and for laughter, for parents and children who travel together in the ways of peace. We give you thanks for new understandings of ancient stories, for happy endings and new beginnings, for cups of cold water on hot, sunny days. And so, with your creatures on earth and all the heavenly chorus, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, and holy is your child, Jesus Christ, who taught his friends to spread the good news of freedom from evil, oppression, and violence, and who teaches us to welcome those who come in his name. On the night in which he gave himself up, Jesus took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, and gave it to the disciples, saying: “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over, Jesus took the cup, offered thanks and gave it to the disciples, saying: “Drink from this, all of you; this is my life in the new covenant, poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” And so, in remembrance of your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died.Christ is risen.Christ will come again!
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be the body of Christ to a world filled with temptations. God of light and vision, God of mystery and truth, God of love and grace, we praise your saving, gracious name.
Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.    
The Breaking of the Bread
The Bread we break is the Bread of LifeThe Cup We Share is the Cup of PromiseThese are the gifts of God for the people of God.Thanks, be to God.
Lamb of God
Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
Invitation to Communion
Come to the table of love. At this table, we will find strength for our journeys and rest for our souls.
Prayer after Communion
God of compassion, through your son, Jesus Christ, you reconciled your people to yourself. Following his example of prayer and fasting may be obey you with willing hearts and serve one another in holy love. Amen.
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                      Romans 7.14-25                   NEB page 877The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 11:15-19, 25-30      NEB page 734After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings: NRSV Translation
Romans 7.14-25
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can, will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
Matthew 11:15-19, 25-30
15 Let anyone with ears listen!16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, 17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’ 25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank 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. 27 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: Come to me - Matthew 11: 25-30
There was once a time when any of us going to a service of Holy Communion in many Churches might hear some of Jesus' words in today's Gospel. "Come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Or, in a slightly older form of the English language: "Come unto me all ye who travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."
Often these words were spoken to us by the Celebrant, right after the Confession and Absolution, and -- along with a few other well-chosen sentences of Scripture -- they were part of what were popularly called, in the tradition of the old Anglican Prayer Book, " The Comfortable Words," and were introduced by the celebrating priest with the invitation, "Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith to all that truly turn to him..."
Those of us who are old enough, remember that there was something quite wonderful about hearing those Comfortable Words at that particular point in the liturgy. We had heard the Word of God proclaimed in the lectionary readings of Scripture, just as we do now; and we had heard the preacher's sermon. We had responded to God's Word by asserting our faith in God's unbreakable covenant with us, in the words of the Nicene Creed.
We had brought to God all the concerns for "the whole state of Christ's church and the world" in intercession and petition. Then, as now, we had confessed our manifold sins and wickedness, unburdening ourselves of our grief and guilt by acknowledging our disobedience and our failures of love towards God, our neighbours, and ourselves. We heard the authoritative assurance of pardon to all those who humbly repented and firmly intended to amend our lives-that great declaration of forgiveness intended to raise us up from the dust and ashes of penitence and set us on our feet in joyful liberation and thanksgiving.
And then came the Comfortable Words, to strengthen us and give us courage: "Come unto me ..." They were the compass setting, re-orienting us once again towards this gracious God of our hope, the maker and sustainer of our renewed reconciliation and peace, the faithful source of never-ending love in our hearts and lives, the author of that new life in Christ which had been given us in Baptism and was still ours by God's merciful forgiveness. Now we could affirm and acknowledge the peace of Christ coming into our personal and corporate life -- and, refreshed by this, we turned to the Eucharistic offering of ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
In their Eucharistic context, the words of Jesus, "Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you," were -- and still are -- comforting and strengthening indeed. But they resonate a bit differently here today in the context of Matthew's Gospel where, if we look at them more closely, they reveal to us what kind of comfort Jesus had in mind.
In this section of Matthew, Jesus is speaking as a teacher -- as he so often does, in Matthew. In fact, we can imagine Jesus as a second Moses, delivering the new Law under the same Covenant that Moses himself revealed. Here, Jesus is reassuring his disciples that the yoke of his teaching is easy, and burden of learning from him is light.
We need to realize that the rabbis of this period in history routinely referred to the responsibilities of living by God's Law as a "yoke" -- as something people took on themselves to steer and guide them down God's paths in life. And it seems to have been a common complaint, addressed above all to the scribes and Pharisees as interpreters of God's Law that their teachings had become complicated and difficult to follow, a burden rather than a guide to holy living. 
Those of us who enjoy cooking and read food magazines and cookbooks know that there are some food writers who can turn a simple recipe for mashed potatoes into something so complicated it is intimidating, and not at all the sort of recipe one would give to one's children who were learning how to cook.
The trouble with the Pharisees and their complicated interpretations of the Law was the same sort of problem: they had managed to make some basic guidelines very complex and intimidating. Of course, by doing this they retained their professional authority and power, but they also managed to turn people away from holiness of life with God, just as a complex recipe for puree of mashed potatoes can send a hungry person off for the box of instant rice.
Jesus the teacher takes great issue with this: God has given his people basic guidelines for holy life, but the Pharisees have ended up making God's Law inaccessible and impossible to follow. So, Jesus assures his disciples that by learning God's Law his way, they will not be intimidated by complexity or burdened, and condemned to failure, by Pharisaic rules and regulations. Jesus is returning to the simplicity of God's original Covenant and Law, to give them what they need to steer and guide their path easily, and by following Jesus' way they will find peace, rest, and refreshment.
By putting these Comfortable Words back into the context of Matthew's Gospel, we can see they have a depth that is not immediately obvious from their Eucharistic setting. The absolution and forgiveness which we have received as repentant sinners is neither conditional upon our ability to follow complicated rules, nor is it a permissive wave of the hand of an overindulgent parent implying that our sins don't matter.
The Comfortable Words, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you," remind us that God's incomparable, compassionate forgiveness is a gift that releases us into life with God as responsible human beings who want to grow deeper in love and joyful obedience. After all, we are called not only to find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves but also to live the kind of lives through which others, too, find God's peace, God's refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God's hands. AMEN
Hymn 613: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy                  (Tune – Slane)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwAjdkMUAXw
Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy:Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe:Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace:Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm:Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Author: Jan Struther (1931)Tune: Slane

Intercessory Prayers  
Come to prayer, all who labour and are heavy laden, and God will give us rest. Come to praise, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the revelation of your gift of abundant life and for the rest coming to those who put their trust in you. For such life and rest, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for entrusting us with the message of your grace and love, that we might speak a reconciling word to our age. For such mercy, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for leading us into the ways of peace and for transforming weapons of war into tools of charity. For such peacemaking, we pray to you Lord,Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the gifts of creation and for wholesome times of recreation. For such times of harmony, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for those who tend the sick, accompany the frustrated, visit the lonely, comfort the dying, confront the addicted, or minister to any need. For such attention tohuman anguish, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for sustaining all who are oppressed, all who suffer for reasons of conscience, all who are passionate for justice and all those in need of our prayers for any reason, [especially N.]. For such relief from their burdens and refreshment in you, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.Into your hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.We thank you for the people of faith who surround us, and for family and friends, teachers, and clergy, especially ………... and for all who assist our growth in grace. For such companions through life, we pray to you Lord, Lord, 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 531: Sent forth by God’s blessing                   (Tune – The Ash Grove)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3Pm8dAALls
Sent forth by God’s blessing, our true faith confessing, the people of God from this dwelling take leave. The service is ended, O now be extended The fruits of our worship in all who believe.The seed of the teaching, receptive souls reaching, Shall blossom in action for God and for all.God’s grace did invite us, and love shall unite usTo work for God’s kingdom and answer the call.
With praise and thanksgiving to God ever living,The tasks of our everyday life we will face.Our faith ever sharing, in love ever caring,Embracing God’s children of each tribe and race.With Your grace You feed us, with Your light now lead us;Unite us as one in this life that we share.Then may all the living with praise and thanksgivingGive honour to Christ and that name which we bear.
Author: Omer Westendorf (1964)Tune: Ash Grove
Benediction                Go forth, as people renewed by the love of God. Go forth, to renew others with this very love. Let us go forth to fill the empty cups of all who ask; let us give in the name of the Breath of Resurrection, the Wellspring of Grace, the Teacher of Truth: The One, Triune God, who gives eternal life. Let us share the blessings of Christ’s eternal covenant and praising God for the Spirit’s call to love and give. Amen.                 
Hymn 776: The Lord bless you and keep you                  (Tune – John Rutter)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZN1mryHEnQ
The Lord bless you and keep youThe Lord make His face to shine upon youTo shine upon you and be graciousAnd be gracious unto you
The Lord bless you and keep youThe Lord make His face to shine upon youTo shine upon you and be graciousAnd be gracious unto you
The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon youThe Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon youAnd give you peace, and give you peaceAnd give you peace, and give you peace
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newsheet 05 July 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - July 3, 2020 - 6:02am


Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford
Sunday 05th July 2020


Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings 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.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 24: 34-67, Psalm 45:10-17, Romans 7:14-25, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30.
PRAYER Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ has taught us that what wedo for the least of his brothers and sisters we do also for him: give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, who gave up his life and died for us; yet lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.   
CHURCH SERVICESWorship 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
Pentecost 5 Reflection
Knowing God personallyJesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make - he is the perfect revelation of God because he has been with the God as our parent before all creation and time existed. He and God are united in an inseparable bond of love and unity. That is why Jesus can truly reveal the fullness of God's mind and heart and purpose for our lives.
One of the greatest truths of God's revelation and our Christian faith is that we can know the one true and living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing some things about God and his true nature - we can know God our parent and Creator personally because God desires to be closely united with each one of us in a bond of love through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus makes it possible for each one of us to have a personal direct relationship and experiential knowledge of God as our loving and gracious parent.Month of Wesley
From the end of July until the end of August we will be focusing on the teachings and contribution of the Wesley Family to our faith.
·         For our mid-year study this year we will complete a study of the last five chapters of the book by John O Gooch of the United Methodist Church USA. The Book is titled; “John Wesley for the 21stCentury. The studies will be held through Zoom. Day and time yet to be finalised – more details to come.·         Worship – the preaching and services will reflect the theme of each week’s study starting on 2nd August 2020.·         As part of our month we will be sharing our favourite Wesley Hymns. Please Email Rev John your favourites or pass them on to your Elder for them to pass them onto Rev John.

CONTACTS
Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook: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.
Return to Face to Face Worship
In order to fulfil Government requirements, we need to fulfil the relevant checklists for our activities in the Church and be able to fulfil and develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The Government has said a risk management plan for any gathering is essential and for Marsden Road these mean it will be some time before we can worship face to face again. Your Church Council continues to monitor the situation and work out its future safety plan. We have been reminded that failure to comply with regulations brings heavy penalties. These regulations include no-one being able to be on the premises withhout a safety paln in place otherwise we will be liable for fines.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Humility brings Freedom.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - July 3, 2020 - 5:36am

It hurts so deeply because we love so deeply. These words are uttered time and again in reference to the pain of separation. The words drip with truth and yet only scratch the surface of the anguish that accompanies separation from a beloved. When one reads letters between soldiers and their loved one, the raw emotion and tenderness leap from the page. In our Hebrew Scriptures that is how the Song of Songs is often understood, a dialogue between two very intimate partners. Even when understood as allegory, the verses resist timidity.
This kind of rapturous intimacy is often missing when we discuss our relationship with God. There is often a distance, a kind of stoic admiration from afar. And yet, our deepest longing is for intimacy with our creator; to know and be known at an intimate level. We speak so highly of our friends the mystics such as Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila, and yet we rarely engage the book most given to mystical interludes. Why do we run from it? Who taught us to remain distant from the one who is love and created us in love? What is sacrificed in not knowing God more deeply?
 A female as protagonist is found only in Song of Songs. While controversial among some theologians, for those unafraid to engage, it can provide a critical perspective on gender equality and enlighten our understanding of gender roles and masculine normativity. What pathways do engage that female voice open up to us? In the wake of #MeToo and the deconstruction of unequal physical agency, especially among those marginalised in our society, how might this scripture inform and reform our social norms?

 In our “McLives,” (Macdonald Golden Arches fame type of lives) we are often racing to get somewhere, racing to be on time for another meeting, racing to deliver our children to their practices before running laps is required for tardiness. In these fast-paced lives we often rush through what should be important interactions and thoughtful conversations. This includes our prayer lives. With the popularity of movies like War Room, the notion of a prayer closet has been reintroduced. The ancestors often spoke of tarrying in the spirit to “have a little talk with Jesus and tell him all about our troubles.” The delight the author takes in seeing her beloved come near is borne of a deep longing to be in one another’s presence. That level of joy is not birthed in quick exchanges. In our over-scheduled lives, is time with God on the calendar?
So often Christianity or religion in general is eschewed as being too demanding, placing a heavy burden upon believers. In some circles there is the thought that life as a Christian is too confining or restrictive. We are all so staid, dour miserable and wowsers it is said. These criticisms are derived from a belief that old friends and familiar places will have to be sacrificed on the altar of piety. Yet the verses in Matthew 11:28-30 are the very antithesis of burden.
One translation reads, “My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” The writer of Matthew from this week’s scripture informs the reader that humble submission to God actually brings freedom and a way to lighten the load. Unlike the yoke of oxen, which is heavy and conjures images of being forced to work hard in the heat of the day, the yoke of Christ is love and companionship. As the Lord’s Prayer illustrates so beautifully, those who walk with Christ want for nothing. Do our lives witness to Christ as burden-bearer?



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

“Whom Ought I Welcome?”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - July 2, 2020 - 2:10pm

This Sunday, the Rev. John’s sermon was focused on “Whom Ought I Welcome?”  – Matthew 10:40-42 “Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”  A number of times during his reflection, the Rev. John reminded us of “Our obligations of welcome and hospitality; Such an understanding of hospitality, of the obligation of welcome, dates back to well before the time of Jesus. It was a matter of survival and community health which translated into the religious understanding of what God wants of us. Where and how do we experience such welcome today?”That is indeed a BIG and difficult question!  Of course, the world is and has been ever changing and it becomes confusing and sometimes unnecessarily guilt provoking if we try to judge everything and everyone against a yardstick from a different time in history.  I sometimes wonder how many of the modern world problems which cause the most angst, are left over from the incredibly tumultuous and war ravaged 20th century and are a direct result of the loss of country, identity, customs and traditions and millions of lives?  History shows us that almost every country has at some time been invaded by bullies who have changed the way the ordinary people can expect to live; and migration has been the pattern for thousands of years.The study of Ancient history in the first year of high school had already taught me that one great Empire followed the other with monotonous and inexorable regularity.  Even at the tender age of 12 it was obvious to me that greed, unrest, distrust and intolerance generally resulted in the decline of an empire - and isn’t that still happening today?  We are certainly watching the great “American Empire” appearing to self-destruct right before our eyes and some are perhaps bemoaning our changed allegiance after the fall of the British Empire of which many of us, our parents and our younger selves were so proud to belong.  Now as a country and as individuals we ask; should we blame or admire those who want to catch onto the coat-tails of the movers and shakers of the emerging modern Chinese Empire?  Didn’t the 20th and early 21stcentury teach us that Communism and Christianity often do not sit well together.The Dark Ages stretched in historical terms from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages or from 300 to 800 - when time morphed into the early Middle Ages – again not a really happy time to be alive.  I was recently fascinated to discover that historians today consider the use of the term Dark Ages, implies a “bad value judgement” because of the “negative connotations” of barbarity and intellectual deficit.Well, historians can call it what they like - and it seems that the preferred term today is “The Migration Period”- however it cannot be denied those days were shrouded in darkness of many kinds.  Surely I am not alone in thinking that this period of time - when an estimated 100 million people died as the result of war, poverty and plague - was indeed a dark time.Once again we are watching huge “migrations” making a mockery of established borders because of aggressive and violent invasions, poverty and famine.  I don’t know about you, but I certainly wonder what history will make of all these events.  There are such diverse views on the morality of almost every situation - whose history can possibly be “the truth”.  Whose “truth” is God’s truth?  The Crusaders certainly didn’t emerge from the early skirmishes with Islam looking too Godly and neither will we; if we condemn any people without thought, acknowledgement, or the lessons of history tempered with compassion.Conquest of  Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 - A 15th Century Miniature painted by David Aubert (1449 - 79)
Public Domain  - Wikipedia 
Will history offer apologies for the extreme violence of this century?  Will we take on the burden of responsibility for terrorism and extremism?  How can we ever agree on who we should welcome into our country, community, church or home?  I agree that successful integration and diversity can bring strong new alliances and friendships, but I believe that diversity both challenges and enriches us personally and as a society; but above all my Christian values tell me that tolerance is the glue that holds any society together.  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 imprisonment, inflicted by that same society.As I grow older and observe the lies and the misinformation which have been propagated as “history” and “truth” in my living memory, I struggle with the probability that my experiences of the time I was alive will not be accurately portrayed.  I lived through the 60s; yet my way of life and the life of all the people I knew, in no way resembled the culture and the morality depicted as “normal”, which is now being passed on to younger generations as fact.  Also, how can it be that it is regularly reported in the media by financial experts that my generation was blessed in easily being able to own their own home in Sydney, when from our first pay packet, both my future husband and I saved very carefully, making financial and social sacrifices in anticipation of a future involving marriage and our personal responsibility for any future children. Our home was modest, with no furniture except a new fridge and mattress on the floor and some ancient borrowed wooden chairs, a discarded laminex table and borrowed suitcases for our clothes. From our families we had collected an assortment of old bedspreads, war surplus blankets and sheets to cover the large naked picture windows so fashionable in the red texture brick dream home of the 1960’s.  There were no fences, paths or gardens in sight.How much of the recorded history and way of life of previous centuries accurately depicts the truth I wonder?    Somehow as I grow old enough to have lived through significant historical events and actually been part of the history of more than half of the 20th century and two decades of the 21st century, I begin to wonder if education and science have now rendered history invalid and useless.  Before Columbus sailed to the New World did anybody dispute the belief the world was flat?I am confused.   Yes it is easy for Christians to feel confusion and guilt, especially as better education allows everyone to have an opinion and certainly in democratic societies to express our opinions.  Does it matter how much new evidence has been “uncovered” - sometimes quite literally - about the Dark Ages or Middle Ages, or any other time in history?Surely scientists can’t – and should not perpetuate theories like the flatness of the earth when we have marvelled at pictures taken from space and which prove the curvature of the earth!  Thousands of concepts like the forces of gravity which ensures that the water does not fall into space from the oceans and rivers as the earth turns upside down; have all been scientifically proved.  However, I can still, in sheer wonder, marvel at God’s amazing “work”.I believe that proven scientific knowledge is different to the recording of events that we call history?  Now this is a really tricky question to which many might consider there is no correct answer!  Should anyone take it upon themselves to try to change the history that has been recorded?  If there are important changes that can correct mistakes in reporting, this could be a reason to make some authorised historical corrections; but we cannot allow the modern opinions of the morality or even the harshness of past events to allow history to be distorted to please the whims of the current generations. Surely this can only lead to anarchy!The Rev John did in his thinking this morning put forward the challenge of who we should welcome, in this whimsical manner:  “Just so we get this straight: whoever welcomes you welcomes Jesus, and whoever welcomes your friend or neighbour or family member or work colleague or elected official or mother-in-law or next door neighbour or chatty seat companion on an airplane or the stall holder at the Farmers market or grocery checkout person or barber (if you still use one) – there was a slight chuckle here as he is not over-endowed with hair!) -  or the Startrack driver or the child who hit your new car with a soccer ball … and so on and so forth … welcomes God?   The Rev. John even suggested; “We could have fun with this!”“But would there ever be an end to such a list of those who are welcome? If there is an end to such a list of who is welcome, what does this mean? And if not, well -  what does that mean?” he asked.Perhaps there is no real answer to any of those hard questions, although we can truthfully offer some positive answers to the Rev. John’s other question; “Where is our witness to welcoming others, and thereby welcoming Jesus and the one who sent him?”A Quarterly Friendship Circle Morning Tea after Church on a Sunday Morning
Everyone is welcomed for a regular morning tea every Sunday
and anyone who has a Birthday ending in an 0 has a Birthday Cake
Our Marsden Road Church is a place where to my knowledge and experience over the last 50 years, everyone has always been genuinely welcomed and been offered hospitality and friendship; and this has always extended far beyond reasonable expectations and has indeed reflected the love of God through the care of his people.  During the months of the Covid 19 pandemic; although unable to offer traditional hospitality, it has been remarkable the way so many church members have looked after the spiritual and physical welfare of each person, specially caring for all those who are isolated, ill or lonely.  People have been printing and delivering copies of the weekly orders of service, newsletters and blogs to those without a computer and hundreds of phone calls have been made by our caring congregation members. I am pleased to say that our friend Margaret and her husband are at this time the recipients of all manner of hospitality as we all are when we are in hospital or sick at home.  Meals, biscuits, phone calls, encouragement and love are given, as Margaret continues to struggle through the aftermath of two complicated surgeries, with another to come.  I encourage all Margaret’s Blog followers to continue to include her in their prayers of intercession.Our special Solstice $2.50 Excursions for Seniors to see how far they can travel on trains, buses and ferries - and visit all kinds of interesting places are open to friends and family and everyone of any age is welcome - they just have to pay more! 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Let Nothing Disturb You

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - June 26, 2020 - 2:48am

Let Nothing Disturb You...,Let nothing make you afraid,All things are passing,God never changes.Patience obtains all things.Nothing is lacking to the one who has God--God alone is enough.  

I am sure we are all thanking the Rev. John for the calming reassurance of these words on which he based his Reflection/Sermon on Sunday 21st June.   
So far 2020 has been a very difficult and tedious year for us all and our patience has been strained and our hearts broken by the grief and the worry of trying to care for ourselves and those that we love as we witness the misery and the death that confronts millions of people around the world.  
St. Teresa - known as "Terasa of Avila - Painted by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
(Wikipedia - photo of painting in Kunsthistorisches Museum)
The Rev. John said; “These words, from a meditation titled "St. Teresa's bookmark," are a fine summary of today's Scripture Readings.  They all speak to us, strangely enough, about the gift of patience. We are taught that patience is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it often feels like a heavy burden. People in today's society mistake patience for submission in the same way they mistake kindness for weakness -- and they walk all over you. But as usual, we must look beyond the surface. God has a greater message in store.  Some truly great people in the history of Christianity have been "walked on" in this way, you see. Just as one example, St. Teresa, known as Teresa of Avila, is world famous as a theologian, reformer of the Carmelite Order, and spiritual advisor to the great medieval Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross. But Teresa's ministry was not well received in the community that she loved.  Her sisters had grown lax in faith and practice, she called for reform, and their response was to throw her out of convents that she herself had established.
On one occasion, she was turned out at night in the middle of a rainstorm. Dressed from head to toe in her coarse wool habit, she got back into her donkey cart and was riding along when the wheel of the cart hit a ditch and the cart turned over, dumping Teresa into the mud. She sat there, in mud-soaked wool, looked up to heaven, and said, "Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, it's no wonder that you don't have many."
On sitting down to reflect on the Rev. John’s thoughts on Wednesday I found I could really relate to St Teresa’s reactions when, as the last straw of a really bad day, she had a little rant at God and a bit of a Spiritual meltdown.  There was one year about 53 years ago when, like Queen Elizabeth said in 1992, my husband and I could have said it was an “annus horribilis”.  So many difficulties in one year made us decide to dress up and go to a restaurant near Sydney Harbour for dinner on New Year’s eve and begin the new year with optimism and a “bang”.  As the midnight countdown began I smiled in anticipation of a much better and healthier year – then right on the stroke of midnight a passing waiter spilled a glass of red wine all over me as he rushed by to deliver it to another table!   I looked at my lovely white faux fur jacket and my pretty dress and burst into tears as the cheering and the fireworks and the kissing and hugging erupted all around us.  “Well next year will have to be better I said as I mopped up the mess – this one certainly stayed difficult right to the end!”
“But frustrated as she was, Teresa clung to God. Her writings also lead us to suspect that she got a response from God while sitting in that muddy ditch. One of her meditations on the Disciplines of the Holy Spirit talks about how we must not be deceived by the appearance that evil triumphs over good, for sometimes, as she wrote, "God uses the Devil as a sharpening-stone for Christians.”  Teresa not only taught this lesson, she lived by it. She did not give up on God, even when her sisters fought her every step of the way, going to priests and bishops to make trouble for her.”
As a child I thought it was really good the way my Roman Catholic friends could call up a saint to help in a wide variety of inconvenient or difficult circumstances.  However, at the same time I soon discovered that although some of my friends always appealed to St Anthony to find something they had lost, it was my experience that it was much more fruitful to sit down and go back in my mind and work out where, when, why or how, I may have mislaid the item which was missing, before systematically searching thoroughly in all the possible places. 
I found it refreshingly different to focus on a traditionally Roman Catholic Saint in our service this week, specially as a person with an Anglican background. It is not that I have a problem with the recognition of many of the saints whose biographies show amazing kindness and selfless lives as they worked for the poor and lonely or the sick and homeless – it is just that I think that like knighthoods, the Order of Australia, Victoria Crosses and medals or other awards to recognize outstanding human beings, there are only a chosen few who gain wide recognition as saints or heroes in many walks of life.
While it is of course good for those people who are noticed or chosen and for those who admire or love them; we all know that like the unnoticed sparrows, there are countless “saints” and “heroes” as well as quiet and lonely people who will never be noticed, except perhaps by God.
King George VI (Photo from Wikipedia)
This work has been released into the public domain by its author Begoon.
On a night in February 1952 there was a news flash to report that King George V1 had died in his sleep.  On that same night in Sydney during a very fierce thunderstorm my grandfather’s sister Alice also died in her sleep.  Grand Auntie Alice was 78 years old and lived with my grandparents for several years before her death.  She had lived most of her life in the country, had never married and was quiet and reserved and walked with a distinct limp because one leg was several inches shorter than the other.  I never knew anything about Auntie Alice’s life except that she once told my brothers she had ridden a penny-farthing bicycle as a young woman.  This had seemed most incredible to us because as well as being lame, she was a very tiny woman.  When she lived with my grandmother and grandfather she cooked and cleaned for them and never complained.  I hardly ever remember her speaking, but she was a gentle soul and was grateful to be “taken in” by her brother and his wife.

The death of the King of England was front-page news all over the world with blurry radio photos showing the new Queen arriving home in London from Africa, and pages of pictures of the old King’s life.  There were family photos and Pedigree charts and pictures of the life of Queen Elizabeth 11 from the moment of her birth.  Everyone had a story to tell about the Royal Family.  

Auntie Alice died as quietly as she had lived without the world noticing that she had even been here. Yet strangely, I have always remembered that she died the same night as King George V1, and I think that at that time I realised for the first time, that each life is different, yet every life is important. 
I have often thought of Auntie Alice as being one of the fallen sparrows noticed only by God and I wish I could say that I had noticed her more.
So I believe, that as Christians it is only right that each of us must do our part to encourage and thank everyone who we notice being kind, thoughtful and caring and that we look for something special to notice and appreciate in absolutely everyone we meet.  Life is very tough for many people and it is a struggle just to keep going, but often others do not notice their struggles and appreciate their amazing strength of character.  Hence I love this final quote from the Rev. John’s sermon;
“Holy Scripture gives us lots of examples to follow. The Bible tells the story of a God who recognizes the righteous human, striving to do right in the midst of people who would do harm. Jesus spoke of "sheep among wolves" and warned of the harm that comes from people of ill will. But his warning is intended to teach us to handle our problems with the patience of God and to trust in God's righteous outcome, for "A disciple is not above the teacher." When we try to be like God, giving people the chance to do what is right, God steps in at decisive moments -- and miracles happen.”
So we must all be patient for as long as it takes and keep praying and working towards a special miracle to overcome the threat of this 2020 pandemic and for the individual miracles of recovery and healing being brought about by God’s hard-working and selfless “saints” throughout the world.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Unting Worship Pentecost 4 28 June 2020


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Whom Ought I Welcome?Sunday 28th June 2020Pentecost 4 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am
Gathering God’s People
Prelude Music to prepare for worship
Call to Worship (Deborah Sokolove, The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)       
God’s love is steadfast, inviting us to rejoice and find eternal life in love of God and others.
The Holy One calls us to trust God’s steadfast love. With our ancestor Abraham, we say: “Here I am.” The Holy One calls us to be guided by prophets. With the first followers of Jesus, we say: “Here I am.”The Holy One calls us into eternal life. With the Gospel writers, we say: “Here I am.” Let us worship the God who calls us. Amen.
Hymn 102: Praise to the living God                      (Tune – Leoni)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u6diH2jVlI
Praise to the living God!All praised be His name,Who was, and is, and is to be,And still the same!The one eternal God,Ere aught that now appears;The first, the last: beyond all thoughtHis timeless years!
His Spirit floweth free,High surging where it will;In prophet’s word He spoke of old;He speaketh still.Established is His law,And changeless it shall stand,Deep writ upon the human heart,On sea or land.
He hath eternal lifeImplanted in the soul;His love shall be our strength and stay,While ages roll.Praise to the living God!All praised be His name,Who was, and is, and is to be,And still the same.
Text: Jewish Doxology Translated by: Max Landsberg and Newton Mann 1914 Tune: Leoni arr. by: Meyer Lyon 1770 Source: Episcopal 1940 Hymnal #286
Opening prayer
     Wellspring of Grace, Teacher of Truth, Breath of Resurrection, you welcome us into your life, and invite us to welcome others with a cup of water, a bite of bread, a moment of conversation. As we drink from the overflowing spring of your endless love, fill our hearts with thanksgiving and joy, that we may become the body of Christ pouring our lives into a world that yearns to be filled. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Teacher of Truth, you tell us to welcome prophets and teachers, and to give to those in need. Yet we want to hug your salvation to ourselves and keep your gifts for our own use. You call us to be servants of your teaching, and to remember that we are no longer slaves to sin. Yet we want to continue doing what we have always done before, hanging onto old habits and opinions, even when you show us a better way. You even offer us eternal life when we surrender to your will.Forgive us, Holy One, when we mistake our will for your own. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       God is a wellspring of grace, offering the gift of eternal life to all who do God’s will. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven, loved, and free.Thanks, be to God! Amen
The Peace
In gratitude for the gift of eternal life, let us greet one another with signs of peace. 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 Young People –
Theme: Opening our hearts and homes to othersObject: "Welcome Mat"
Good morning. Have you ever seen a Welcome mat? Where have you seen something like this? Usually we'd see a mat like this outside the door to our home, wouldn't we? A mat such as this usually has two purposes. Do you know what those two purposes are?
Well, for one thing, it is a friendly reminder for people to wipe their shoes off so that they won't track dirt or mud into your home. And second, it is placed outside your door as a sign to let people know that they are welcome in your home.
Welcome — what does the word "welcome" mean? It means to receive someone in a warm and friendly way. Are people always welcome in our homes? Do we welcome people into our home if their skin is a different colour from ours? Do we welcome people into our homes if they don't have as much money as we do?
How about in our church? Do you think that we make everyone feel welcome in our church? Do we speak to those people who are visiting our church that we do not know? If someone comes to our church and they are not dressed the way we are dressed, do we make sure that they are made to feel welcome?
Jesus said, "He who receives you receives me." If we turn that around, we will understand that if we do not welcome others into our homes and into our churches, it is the same as if we are refusing to welcome Jesus. We wouldn't do that, would we?
Well, let's put the welcome mat out — and let's be sure that we mean it!
Announcements
Offering Prayer
God of grace and truth, you welcome us into your presence and provide refreshment and renewal for our lives in Jesus, your Son, our Lord.  Receive and bless these gifts and our lives which we offer in response to your many gracious gifts to us.  May our hands be always open to welcome people in Jesus’ name.  Amen

Hymn 129: Amazing grace               (Tune – Amazing Grace)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4_--goDv70
1.  Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

2.  ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
3.  Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
4.  When we’ve been there ten thousand years,Bright shining as the sun;We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,Then when we first begun.
5.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,That saved a wretch like me;I once was lost, but now am found,Was blind, but now I see.Was blind, but now I see.
Lyrics: John Newton (1725-1807)Music: Traditional American melody                                     The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                                            Romans 6:12-23The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 10:40-42
Readings: NRSV
Romans 6:12-23
12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. 20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death.22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 10:40-42
40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
Preaching of the Word
Whom Ought I Welcome? – Matthew 10:40-42
“Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”Just so we get this straight: whoever welcomes you welcomes Jesus, and whoever welcomes your friend or neighbour or family member or work colleague or elected official or mother-in-law or next door neighbour or chatty seat companion on an airplane or the stall holder at the Farmers market or grocery checkout person or barber (if you still use one) or the Startrack driver or the child who hit your new car with a soccer ball…and so on and so forth…welcomes God? We could have fun with this! But would there ever be an end to such a list of those who are welcome? If there is an end to such a list of who is welcome, what does this mean? And if not, well- what does that mean?
Whoever welcomes you welcomes me. And whoever welcomes any one of us welcomes Jesus, welcomes God.The message we hear in this morning’s gospel reading from Matthew was important enough to Jesus and to the early church that some variation on this theme shows up in each gospel, and often more than once. There are numerous other examples and variations throughout the New Testament record. The bottom-line emphasis seems to be on inclusion, reciprocity, welcome and doing for others—all those things it takes to build up community, to include the stranger as neighbour. If we can believe the record of today’s lesson and so many other passages, Jesus and the early disciples and later apostles put a high value on welcoming and proclaiming the presence of God thereby.
Pause for a moment and think about what we’ve been hearing through all the election drama and to the present day about division, exclusion, keeping people separated, kicking people out.
There may be legitimate and compelling reasons to consider the economic impact or national safety issues in such things, but if an inhospitable, exclusive attitude goes along with these ideas, then they are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus who talked so very much about welcome, inclusion, hospitality.
Hospitality is a primary ethic of the cultures and peoples of the Middle East even now. Whether one is brought into a family home of Muslims, Christians or Jews, there is joy in welcoming, there is the belief that it is desired of God, the welcoming of strangers who are strangers no longer, but beloved friends, believing that in welcoming people into one’s home they are earning their crown in heaven, doing as God would have them do in welcoming the living God among us.
Such an understanding of hospitality, of the obligation of welcome, dates back to well before the time of Jesus. It was a matter of survival and community health which translated into the religious understanding of what God wants of us. Where and how do we experience such welcome today?
“Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”Is this what we hear? Or do we hear, instead, words of separation, words of breaking relationship, words of opposition and repudiation?
So many of the ugly attitudes playing out on the world stage and in the evening news have spilled over into our popular culture, showing up in a variety of television shows with comments about the increase in bullying not only among children in our schools, but flowing out into our neighbourhoods, showing up in stepped-up immigration strictures and deportation raids, among other things.
Where is our witness to welcoming others, and thereby welcoming Jesus and the one who sent him? This Sunday falls is close two other occasions marked by some on their Church calendar: Queens Birthday Weekend celebration here in NSW and other states and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It is important to note this for a number of reasons. First, think about Peter and Paul. They did not agree on many things, didn’t get along at all, and finally went their separate ways in the proclamation of the Gospel.
Peter insisted that the early believers must follow Jewish ways, must be circumcised, must hold to the Law. Paul’s vision led him to distant lands proclaiming faith in a risen Christ and urging believers to conform their lives to that faith. What they had in common, though, was the conviction that God had visited humanity in Jesus, and that Jesus had brought something new and remarkable to humankind demonstrated in a way to live, a way to relate and a way to witness to God’s love. And they both understood that the welcome of God was an invitation to a place in God’s kingdom.
As we celebrate this this Queens Birthday, and as some sing Advance Australia or God Save Our Queen, and as we have parties, picnics, BBQ’s etc., let us also ask ourselves what Jesus meant in telling us over and over again, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).
We may believe differently about the details of faith, as Peter and Paul certainly did and as Christians are wont to do. We may understand civic responsibility differently; Americans have always held a variety of opinions on things.
But for us as Christian Australians the question of the day growing out of this gospel text asks: What does it mean to welcome, and how do we do that? What does it look like in our churches, in our neighbourhoods, in our national policies, in our very attitudes? For we are Christians first, as citizens of God’s kingdom, living that faith in an Australian context of privilege and challenge.Jesus didn’t say that we have to agree on everything, but he pretty clearly told us to be welcoming. Like Peter and Paul, we won’t all agree on everything. And as Australians, we will stand proudly to celebrate on the Fourth. When we put all that together, one possible outcome is that we may have to agree to disagree on some aspects of Australian policy as we live our Christian faith in daily practice.
Christian people are called to be welcoming, for in welcoming others we welcome God. Can we at least agree on that? As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, when we welcome strangers, we may be entertaining angels unaware. 
Hymn 585: I heard the voice of Jesus say                 (Tune – Kingsfold)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVCpF8-VuE
1.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"Come unto me and rest;lay down, O weary one, lay downyour head upon my breast."I came to Jesus as I was,weary and worn and sad;I found in him a resting place,and he has made me glad.
2.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"Behold, I freely givethe living water; thirsty one,stoop down and drink, and live."I came to Jesus, and I drankof that life-giving stream;my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,and now I live in him.
3.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"I am this dark world's Light;look unto me, your morn shall rise,and all your days be bright."I looked to Jesus and I foundin him my Star, my Sun;and in that light of life I'll walk,'til travelling days are done.

Author: Horatius Bonar (1846)Tune: Kingsfold
Music to lead us to prayer
Intercessory Prayers  
Come to prayer, all who labour and are heavy laden, and God will give us rest. Come to praise, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the revelation of your gift of abundant life and for the rest coming to those who put their trust in you. For such life and rest, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for entrusting us with the message of your grace and love, that we might speak a reconciling word to our age. For such mercy, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for leading us into the ways of peace and for transforming weapons of war into tools of charity. For such peacemaking, we pray to you Lord,Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the people of faith who surround us, and for family and friends, teachers and clergy, especially ………... and for all who assist our growth in grace. For such companions through life, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the gifts of creation and for wholesome times of recreation. For such times of harmony, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for those who tend the sick, accompany the frustrated, visit the lonely, comfort the dying, confront the addicted, or minister to any need. For such attention to human anguish, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for sustaining all who are oppressed, all who suffer for reasons of conscience, all who are passionate for justice and all those in need of our prayers for any reason, [especially N.]. For such relief from their burdens and refreshment in you, we pray to you Lord,Lord, hear our prayer.Into your hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn 650: Brother, sister, let me serve you                   (Tune – Servant Song)                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qblqtb4jzL8
Brother, sister, let me serve you;let me be as Christ to you;pray that I may have the grace tolet you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,and companions on the road;we are here to help each otherwalk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ light for youin the nighttime of your fear;I will hold my hand out to you,speak the peace you long to hear.
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.
When we sing to God in heaven,we shall find such harmony,born of all we've known togetherof Christ's love and agony.
Brother, sister, let me serve you;let me be as Christ to you;pray that I may have the grace tolet you be my servant too.
Authors: Richard GillardTune Name: THE SERVANT SONGArranger: Betty Pulkingham

Benediction                With prophets and teachers, and all who seek to do the will of God— let us go forth to fill the empty cups of all who ask; let us give in the name of the Breath of Resurrection, the Wellspring of Grace, the Teacher of Truth: The One, Triune God, who gives eternal life. Let us share the blessings of Christ’s eternal covenant, and praising God for the Spirit’s call to love and give. Amen.                    Hymn 778: Shalom to you                  (Tune – Somos del Senor)

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 28 June 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - June 26, 2020 - 12:33am


Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road CarlingfordSunday 28th June 2020




Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings 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.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42
PRAYER O God, your Son has taught us that those who give a cup of water in his name will not lose their reward: open our hearts to the needs of your children, and in all things make us obedient to your will, so that in faith we may receive your gracious gift, eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
CHURCH SERVICESWorship 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
Pentecost 4 Reflection by Elizabeth Raine
It is clear in Matthew 10:40-42 sees his community as a church that is “sent”, a church that goes out into the wider community to proclaim the good news. Through programs like Mission Shaped Ministry with its growing Fresh Expressions of church, we are beginning to understand that mission is not just a program offered by the church (though these are important); rather it is the defining reason for what actually makes us the church. What it means to be sent for your congregation?  While we are not all sent to be wandering missionaries in the way Matthew describes, that doesn’t mean we should placidly sit and wait in our churches for people to come through our doors. Jesus later commands that all who are baptised are sent into the world, both to tell and embody the good news of Jesus through their words and deeds.  Instead of expecting people to come on through our church doors, what would happen if we took seriously our calling to take the gospel to them? What would it look like if we truly believed that we are the face of Christ to every person we encounter in our neighbourhoods? What would be the result if we saw every encounter as an opportunity to love our neighbour?
Returning to Worship
Presbytery and Synod leaders have been working together to support the church through COVID-19. They have reconfirmed a commitment to prioritise the health and well-being of all people.  This means all decisions are weighed against the potential harm that could come from second wave infection. Even though restrictions are easing, it does not make returning to face to face worship automatically safe or wise. A lot of careful planning and thought needs to accompany every group that wishes to meet. For example, who will record the name and contact details of every person, who steps on to church property? For us to meet in person, who will disinfect every surface touched and clean all areas in use. In many cases the usual people would be our members. However, for MRUC most are in the high-risk and vulnerable category requiring specific COVID-19 risk management. High Risk & Vulnerable people are those:·         People aged 70 years and over·         People aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions·         People with a compromised immune system·         Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditionsThe current advice is not to gather for worship if we are High Risk or Vulnerable. The Government has said a risk management plan is essential. Failure to comply brings heavy penalties. The initial fine is $11,000.00 and/or six months imprisonment, with possible further fines of $5,500.00 for each day the offence continues.Your Church Council is working through all these issues with the help of Synod and Presbytery. Although those who Hire our premises may be able to fulfil the requirements of the regulations soon our MRUC may take longer than them to be able to meet.
CONTACTS
Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook: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 AIDDid 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 attached to this week’s Email of Services
Leave Break
Rev John will be unavailable and on leave from the afternoon 28 June 2020 until Saturday 4 July 2020


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Welcome Journey.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - June 26, 2020 - 12:15am

I read of a television programme in the United States where a Mister Rogers famously sang, “Won’t you be my neighbour?” to begin his television show. Apparently, this was years ago. He was a pastor, encourager, and educator of children. Mister Rogers’ work and life focused on being kind and inclusive. His work and life also were focused on teaching. He knew that children are our present and our future. He knew that welcoming a little child is the greatest gift we can give to the world.

Matthew’s use of the phrase “little ones” in our reading from scripture set for this week (Matthew 10:40-42) may be about children, but it also may have meant his disciples, those new to the faith community, those young in their beliefs, or those at risk in the world. It was definitely about inviting others into the way and to join those calling themselves Christian on a journey, taking care of their needs, and taking care of the least or “little ones.” Jesus prepares his twelve disciples to go out into the world. The last part of this sending is our scripture for this week and comes as a teaching moment after the Sermon on the Mount. Welcome is a pivotal word for this passage. In a number of our translations of our scriptures available to us today, the word is used six times in the passage.
However, I have to be honest and say that welcome is not one of my favourite words as it is used in the church. For many, welcome is equated with simple tolerance of those different from themselves. To many who visit churches who claim to “welcome” them, there is a distinct level of distrust. Most marginalised persons much prefer a place that exhibits radical hospitality and full inclusion than mere “welcome.” This is definitely not the sentiment that I hear when Jesus uses the word. He was instituting a practice of hospitality for his disciples on their mission of spreading the good news. Jesus is talking about going on the journey of faith and life with that new person.
If anyone welcomed one of them, they were indeed welcoming Jesus and, by extension, God the Creator. We can reclaim this word for the church by exhibiting the kind of welcome that Jesus is asking of us. So, sadly often we use the word welcome to talk about saying hello, offering material but not about befriending, compassion and willingness to share the journey of faith. The challenge is to all Christian people as they are called to be welcoming, for in welcoming others we welcome God. Can we at least agree on that? As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, when we welcome strangers, we may be entertaining angels unaware. 

As this passage from Matthew 10 is the final part of Jesus’s teaching about his disciples being sent out to share the faith, we are once again are also reminded about the need to evangelise others. Unfortunately, the “e” word has taken on many negative connotations over the last few decades. A lot of people see evangelism as a loud, judgmental, and in-your-face practice. The word evangelism can bring about images of knocking on doors, asking if those inside have “found Jesus,” or handing out tracts on street corners declaring the doom of those who do not follow Jesus.
Still the need—yes, the imperative—to share the good news is part of our commission as disciples of Jesus. Sharing the ways, we have been reconciled and forgiven by Christ is part of truly being a disciple. Many Christians are nervous about sharing their faith. Yet one of the things we forget as Christians and as those outside the faith is that one can share their faith, evangelise by our words and our actions in profound ways. In uniting these two themes, we see that telling the story of our faith journey can bring lost ones into the welcoming arms of Jesus. This is a word many need to hear.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 3 21 June 2020


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Let Nothing Disturb You...,Sunday 21st June 2020Pentecost 3 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 2020)        Great are the works of God’s hands. Wondrous are the blessings of Christ’s love. Holy are the works of God’s Spirit.
When we have been cast aside in the deserts of our lives, you open our eyes to life-giving water that sustains us in our need. When our future seems lost and others have taken our place of honour, you restore our hope and promise us an inheritance of our own. Who is like you among the gods?Who answers prayer in times of deepest need? We are here to worship you, O God, for you alone can save us.
Hymn 111: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,                  (Tune - Lobe Den Herren)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JvCmvlm-Qg
1.  Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
2.  Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
3.  Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
4.  Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.
5.  Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Author: Joachim Neander (1680)Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863)
Tune: Lobe Den Herren
Opening prayer
     Eternal God turn and be gracious to us, for the road is long and we are weary. We feel beaten down by the trials of life and need your strength to sustain us. Show us your favour, and offer us your blessing, that we may abide in faithfulness and not be put to shame. Comfort us, O God, and revive our souls. Grant us the endurance to take up our cross and follow the difficult roads in life. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Holy One, your words cause us to tremble: “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not be known.” There is much in our lives that we wish to hide from others, even ourselves. We fear those who kill the body, while ignoring those who kill the soul. Teach us once more, O God, that your Son came to bring us life— even if turned son against father, and daughter against mother. Remind us of our higher calling, and the promises you offer of life in your realm which has no end. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Those who seek to preserve their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for Christ’s sake will find it. Those who have died with Christ through baptism are united with him in his resurrection.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
With Christ’s peace in our hearts and God’s hope in our lives, let us share signs of joy and love this day.
Peace be with you! And also, with you! (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
Announcements
A Word with the Children/Young People
Have you ever gone camping in a tent or caravan? How did you enjoy it?  Has anyone had ever spent your holiday in a tent or caravan, and it rained the whole time?  How were relationships at the end of the holiday?  Or how would you imagine relationships would be after being confined to tent/cabin/ caravan etc. for the whole vacation - strained? 
Imagine what it would be like to live in a tent all the time, no house, just a tent, coping with heat, cold, wind, rain, flies, etc.  I think that there would be plenty of occasions when relationships would be strained to breaking point.  The reading about Abraham and Sarah and Hagar is a story that was told over many years about the people's strong belief that God was guiding them at all times.  In the story, we discover that Abraham had two sons, Isaac whose mother was Sarah, and Ishmael, whose mother was Sarah's servant, Hagar.  
In the time when they lived, people lived in tents - maybe even all their lives were spent in tents.  Can you imagine what that would have been like? Perhaps Abraham and Sarah and Hagar and the two boys all lived in the same tent because it seems that relationships between the two women were very strained to the point where Sarah told Abraham to throw Hagar and Ishmael out.  Out into desert type country like the Nullarbor Plain in Western Australia.
Hagar ended up wandering in this wild country thinking that her son and she would surely die, but God guided her to where there was water and they survived.  This is a story about broken relationships and faith.  Faith that God is there, when times are really difficult, helping people to cope.  How does that happen?  God works through people just like us - no matter how young or how old we are. 
Hagar and Ishmael were a couple of refugees - people without a home, like many of the refugees who find themselves in detention centres in this country, and many around the world who spend their lives living in tents in refugee camps.  God works through the people who reach out to help them in their distress.  We are always to be on the lookout for ways in which we can be used to show that God cares for people.

Offering Prayer
Receive the gifts of our hands, O God, that they may be signs of your love and grace for a divided world. Through our offerings, help others follow the ways of life. Fill the world with your mercy, Holy One, that your faithful everywhere will honour you, by sharing your kingdom each and every day. Amen.
Hymn CAHON 752: Will you come and follow me                               (Tune – Kelvingrove)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHEjyGfRO7s
Will you come and follow me,If I but call your name?Will you go where you don't knowAnd never be the same?Will you let my love be shown,will you let my name be known,will you let my life be grownin you and you in me?
Will you leave your self behindif I but call your name?Will you care for cruel and kindand never be the same?Will you risk the hostile stareshould your life attract or scare,will you let me answer prayerin you and you in me?
Will you let the blinded see
if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free
and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean
and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean
in you and you in me?
Will you love the ‘you' you hideif I but call your name?Will you quell the fear insideand never be the same?Will you use the faith you've foundto reshape the world aroundthrough my sight and touch and soundin you and you in me?
Lord, your summons echoes truewhen you but call my name.Let me turn and follow youand never be the same.In your company I'll gowhere your love and footsteps show.Thus I'll move and live and growin you and you in me.
Author: John L. Bell
Tune: Kelvingrove                      
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                          Genesis 21:8-21The Gospel Reading:                     Matthew 10:24-39      
Readings: NRSV
Genesis 21:8-21
8 The child grew and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. 10 So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.’ 11 The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named after you. 13 As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.’ 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ‘Do not let me look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Matthew 10:24-39
24 ‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! 26 ‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34 ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Preaching of the Word: Let Nothing Disturb You...,
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing make you afraid,
All things are passing,
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is lacking to the one who has God--
God alone is enough.        These words, from a meditation titled "St. Teresa's bookmark," are a fine summary of today's readings from Scripture. They all speak to us, strangely enough, about the gift of patience. We are taught that patience is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it often feels like a heavy burden. People in today's society mistake patience for submission in the same way they mistake kindness for weakness -- and they walk all over you. But as usual, we must look beyond the surface. God has a greater message in store.        Some truly great people in the history of Christianity have been "walked on" in this way, you see. Just as one example, St. Teresa, known as Teresa of Avila, is world famous as a theologian, reformer of the Carmelite Order, and spiritual advisor to the great medieval Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross. But Teresa's ministry was not well received in the community that she loved. Her sisters had grown lax in faith and practice, she called for reform, and their response was to throw her out of convents that she herself had established.
On one occasion, she was turned out at night in the middle of a rainstorm. Dressed from head to toe in her coarse wool habit, she got back into her donkey cart and was riding along when the wheel of the cart hit a ditch and the cart turned over, dumping Teresa into the mud. She sat there, in mud-soaked wool, looked up to heaven, and said, "Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, it's no wonder that you don't have many."
But frustrated as she was, Teresa clung to God. Her writings also lead us to suspect that she got a response from God while sitting in that muddy ditch. One of her meditations on the Disciplines of the Holy Spirit talks about how we must not be deceived by the appearance that evil triumphs over good, for sometimes, as she wrote, "God uses the Devil as a sharpening-stone for Christians." Teresa not only taught this lesson, she lived by it. She did not give up on God, even when her sisters fought her every step of the way, going to priests and bishops to make trouble for her.
She kept right on teaching what she knew to be the truth. And eventually, she won out. Her desire was not to be right but to be faithful, and God prospered her efforts. Today, the very same saint who was treated so cruelly is known as a Doctor of the Church -- an exemplary teacher and thinker -- while the nuns who treated her so badly are long dead and unknown to us. And the Carmelite convents of Teresa's Reform continue to outnumber those of the unreformed group to this very day.
You see, Teresa understood what the prophet Jeremiah was talking about and what Jesus was teaching in today's Gospel lesson. It's a lesson you could put in very simple words. "Sometimes, when things go wrong, you just have to sit back -- and pat your foot." This is what Teresa did, and it's at the heart of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord himself. He endured persecution wordlessly and embodied the triumph of God over evil while waiting upon God. This Christian example is not a sitting back that does nothing. It is not passive submission; it is active waiting that is grounded in ultimate faith in the righteousness of God. Neither is it surrender to the belief that nothing can be done about the wrong; it is understanding that it is God who makes things right.
When you do everything you know to be right and then sit back and pat your foot, you imitate the long-suffering God who has been watching all along, watching patiently and mercifully, waiting for folks to do what is right. When you do all you can and then sit back and pat your foot, you see that when people refuse to "get it" and God runs out of waiting time, God comes forward to do what only God can. And if Scripture teaches us nothing, it is that when God gets tired, all kinds of things happen.
So, yes, we must be patient because the God we serve is patient. But the patience of God is a mysterious thing that comes in mysterious ways. We do not know how long it will last. We do not know how the solution will come when God steps in to make things right. The only thing we know for certain is that it is very good idea to be on the right side of God when it's time for God to act. Holy Scripture teaches us that misery is waiting for people of ill will, but miracles happen for those who walk by faith.
Holy Scripture gives us lots of examples to follow. The Bible tells the story of a God who recognizes the righteous human, striving to do right in the midst of people who would do harm. Jesus spoke of "sheep among wolves" and warned of the harm that comes from people of ill will. But his warning is intended to teach us to handle our problems with the patience of God and to trust in God's righteous outcome, for "A disciple is not above the teacher." When we try to be like God, giving people the chance to do what is right, God steps in at decisive moments -- and miracles happen.
An old, wandering nomad with no home to call his own ends up with children and great-grandchildren and a great land in which to enjoy God's protection. A parade of persecuted refugees who walk to safety on dry land in the middle of a sea. A woman in labour away from home with no place to bear her child is given warmth and shelter in a rocky cave, and wise men are sent to protect the child's life from a man who would kill it. The One who is killed for speaking God's truth is raised from the dead and goes on to prepare others to witness to God's triumph. The God of the Scripture is a God of miracles-and they happen in our day, too. Martin Luther King taught that "right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant" and the whole world continues to benefit from his legacy of patient but active faith.
So, we do not strike back in the darkness of our own anger and impatience and arrogance. We do not take the problem into our own hands, tempting God by "flying out in front" with our own solutions. Instead, we turn to God with the truth in our hearts, in the Spirit of the Psalmist. And God will protect and shield us from harm, while dealing with the wrong in God's own way and time. We've all seen it happen -- people banding together to run somebody out of a job and end up losing their own.
School children banding together in a lie to get another child in trouble and ending up suspended themselves. Folks in clubs and societies banding together to harass and mistreat new people and end up with their own organisation disbanded. Indeed, what goes around, comes around. No matter what anyone may choose to do to us, we are all called to love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly before our God-and when we do not, the consequences when we don't can be an awful thing to behold.
As it is written, "weeping comes in the night, but joy comes in the morning." This is the Good News of the Gospel, this is the faith that carries us through, and this is God's own response to evil and sin in this world. So, when troubles come, do just what you know is right and pray for protection. Then sit back, pat your foot, and watch God bring deliverance. Teresa's words are a message of ultimate triumph: "God alone is enough." So, as we come to the Table of Grace, let us come with spirits lifted and hearts grateful for the patience and providence of Almighty God-and let the People of God say, AMEN.
Hymn 186: Give to our God immortal praise                                      (Tune - Truro)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxImKByscwU
       Give to our God immortal praise;   mercy and truth are all his ways:
   wonders of grace to God belong;
   repeat his mercies in your song.
       Give to the Lord of lords renown;
the King of kings with glory crown:
his mercies ever shall endure,
when lords and kings are known no more.
        He built the earth, he spread the sky,
and fixed the starry lights on high:
wonders of grace to God belong;
repeat his mercies in your song.
        He fills the sun with morning light;
he bids the moon direct the night:
his mercies ever shall endure,
when suns and moons shall shine no more.
        He sent his Son with pow'r to save
from guilt and darkness and the grave:
wonders of grace to God belong;
repeat his mercies in your song.
        Through this vain world he guides our feet,
and leads us to his heavenly seat:
his mercies ever shall endure,
when this vain world shall be no more.
Author: Isaac WattsTune: Truro
Intercessory Prayers         Strengthened by the Spirit who gives us words to speak and hearts that care, let us bring our hopes and needs to God who listens.Fill your church with bold witnesses who will work for justice, serve with compassion, share your love, and spread the gospel. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Pour out your Spirit on those without access to fresh water, and on those who dig wells to provide it for them, that they may be refreshed. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Stir in the hearts of those who thirst for justice, that they bring peace, speak out against oppression, and preserve human dignity across the globe. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.Make families everywhere be places of safety, encouragement, and love. Protect and uphold healthy relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighbours, and all your people. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Wherever there is brokenness, bring healing. Bind up our wounds, teach us compassion, and dry our tears. Be especially with those we name now. (Pause) Give themcomfort, reconciliation, and hope. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.Thank you for those who through their words and deeds have passed on the faith from one generation to the next. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.We lift our prayers to you, God of mercy, confident that all things are in your hands. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen
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 583: Take up your cross                  (Tune – Breslau)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxw3jRhsVVY
“Take up thy cross,” the Saviour said,“If thou wouldst My disciple be;Deny thyself, the world forsake,And humbly follow after Me.”
Take up thy cross, let not its weightFill thy weak spirit with alarm;His strength shall bear thy spirit up,And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.
Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,And saved thy soul from death and hell.
Take up thy cross then in His strength,And calmly sin’s wild deluge brave,’Twill guide thee to a better home,It points to glory o’er the grave.
Take up thy cross and follow Christ,Nor think till death to lay it down;For only those who bear the crossMay hope to wear the glorious crown.
To Thee, great Lord, the One in Three,All praise forevermore ascend:O grant us in our home to seeThe heavenly life that knows no end.
Text: Charles Everest 1833 Tune: Breslau from: As hymnodus sacer 1625
Benediction                Though we have been cast aside,        you restore our future. Though others seek to banish us from sight, you bless us with opportunities for new life. Go with the blessings of the one who loves us fiercely. We go to share God’ love with the world.        And may that same Almighty God, creator, redeemer and giver of life guide your dance in life forever. Amen
Hymn 777: May the grace of Christ our Saviour                     (Tune – Waltham)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq25i6PmCl8
1.  May the grace of Christ our Saviourand the Father's boundless love,
with the Holy Spirit's favour,
rest upon us from above.
2.  Thus, may we abide in union
with each other and the Lord,
and possess, in sweet communion,
joys which earth cannot afford.
              Author: John Newton (1779)                   Tune: Waltham





Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 21 June 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - June 18, 2020 - 10:55pm

Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford
Sunday 21st June 2020


Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings 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.

LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 21:8-21, Psalm 86: 1-10,16-17, Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39
PRAYER God of the universe, we worship you as Lord. God, ever close to us, we rejoice to call you Father and Mother. From this world's uncertainty we look to your covenant. Keep us one in your peace, secure in your love, through Jesus Christ our saviour AMEN
CHURCH SERVICESWorship 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


Pentecost 3 Reflection
Being a disciple in Matthew is definitely a difficult and costly experience. Like Jesus, they can expect to be rejected and badly treated, even killed, for following his way. The picture painted here of the sufferings of the disciples reflects the events of Jesus’ arrest and trial later in the Gospel. Though the body can be killed, Jesus points out, the soul cannot, and like Jesus, if they persist in adhering to their faith their reward will be resurrection to the kingdom of God. What are we to make of this, in our relatively comfortable Western churches? Do we trust God enough to risk stepping out in faith, knowing that failure, people rejecting and even scorning us may be the result?  Do we have enough faith in God and God’s care for our lives and souls to trust that as we are worth more than sparrows and are beloved by God, God will guide us?   We are challenged here to spread the kingdom of God and the teachings of Jesus, to work for the justice, righteous and equity that characterises the kingdom of heaven and to not fear the consequences of faithfully carrying this out. Today, more than ever, proclaiming the gospel is an imperative, not an optional extra. 



CONTACTS
Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook: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 AIDDid 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.

Return to Face to Face WorshipIn order to fulfil Government requirements, we need to fulfil the relevant checklists for our activities in the Church and be able to fulfil and develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The Government has said a risk management plan for any gathering is essential and for Marsden Road these mean it will be some time before we can worship face to face again. Your Church Council continues to monitor the situation and plan. We have been reminded that failure to comply with regulations brings heavy penalties.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

This is Not The End of the Story.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - June 18, 2020 - 10:13pm
It’s hard to think that the way of love taught by Jesus would be a source of conflict. Yet again and again Jesus reminds us that indeed it is. In fact, Jesus’s own life, his healing, reconciling, and hanging out with outcast and sinners, ended up in his death. Most of us sit in our sanctuaries on Sundays safe and sound. We hear the stories of Jesus, his teaching, and his actions, and we smile and feel good about ourselves. We go about our lives, and most people around us claim Christianity as their religion.

For me the question this week is: Are we loving radically enough? In this time when many of our society are being left behind by the economic policies of our government as it concentrates on a particular type of economic theory and fail to balance that with the importance of people and our call from God to love all, have compassion, to care and support those in need and struggling and not allow greed and abuse to control our society and its interactions.
Loving the unlovable in our society can indeed be radical and controversial. For those who choose the way of Jesus being agents of healing, of reconciliation, of light (especially to those in power) might also stir the pot and thus be rather dangerous. What if for a season of our life together as congregations we measured our effectiveness in kingdom work by how much harassment we suffered, how much trouble we got into, how much life we lost?
This week in our readings there is an invitation to take seriously the call of Jesus to love God and neighbour with abandon, to recognise that our call to discipleship is not a call to being a majority, a call to power and control, a call to privilege and arrogance, but a call to denial, a call to love radically even unto death, a call to allow our coming alongside the least to become our resurrection.
Romans 6: 1-11 reminds us again that discipleship is about death. This time, though, it is reframed in a way that places the emphasis on Christ. Here we have an opportunity to reframe the conversation with our congregations from an emphasis on individual sacrifice to our communal work as the body of Christ. If we are to die to sin, we must remind one another of the story of Jesus, we must call one another to accountability, and we must claim again and again our new life in Christ Jesus. In fact, here in Romans we are reminded that death is the only way to new life. In a culture that is death averse, this love, connection, and restoration for us, our neighbours, and all of creation.
No matter what happens in our lives, God remembers us! The story of Hagar and Ishmael reminds us that it is easy for us to find ourselves drowning in our difficult circumstances. Shame, guilt, and disorientation keep us from seeing beyond where we are. If we pay attention, we might just hear God’s voice reminding us of the promise that we are not forgotten, that life is before us. Recognizing God’s voice changes our perception and we begin to see possibility, potential, and new life where death once lived.
This week’s texts also remind us that we Christians don’t have a neat and tidy little religion that is up market-respectable in all ways at all times. Sometimes life, even a life of faith, can go horribly wrong. But we are clearly reminded that the story doesn’t end there. The story goes on. Isaac goes on to live a life of faith, and he becomes the father of Israel. There is always the possibility of redemption. Even in a thicket on top of a hill. With a knife in the air over the wide-eyed stare of a child. Even there.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"We have so many ways of learning about God."

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - June 18, 2020 - 2:56pm

I found myself completely in accord with the Rev. John’s Reflection/Sermon last Sunday as I have found great depth and reason in my personal reflection of many many unintended “Jesus movies”.   

“We have so many ways of learning about God. We learn from Holy Scripture, of course. We learn from our worship, from the seasons of the year and the glories of nature, from one another, in our prayers. There is a way of watching movies that can open our minds and hearts to God in ways more powerful than we might imagine. When we see a movie strictly for entertainment, we've received our money's worth, but when we watch the screen through the eyes of faith, God can touch us in ways that are worth much more, ways that are surprising, even transcendent. Ordinary, commercial films become "Jesus movies." Take the film, The Green Mile, for instance.”

I find that I am able to watch and find much to reflect upon in such movies, sometimes watching them over and over again.  The relatively new political correctness of the random “judgements” of “history deniers” can only remove the opportunity for reasonable people to learn from history and avoid repeating some serious mistakes of the past.  Like “Gone with the Wind” - “The Green Miles” could easily be included in the growing list of ‘inappropriate’ movies.

“Gone with the Wind” is an enduring story full of life lessons, laughter and tears.  It is rich in history, although offering a biased account of the American Civil War and slavery.  It paints a broad social history from the perspective of the privileged residents of the Old South.  However, from the moment I first read Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel as a romantic 12 or 13 year old - at a time in my life when I greedily devoured books with my entire being, I did not for even one moment, form ideas of approval for any of the behaviour of the privileged people whose lives were presented.  

Although this Pulitzer Prize winning novel was then just a page turning and exciting story that kept me reading until the small hours of the morning; after the passage of almost 60 years of my own life experience I understand so much more of those life lessons and the historical and cultural significance that I imbibed as I read.  I can remember lying outstretched on the lounge room floor hoping that my mother would not wake up and discover I was still reading.  She had no patience with reading and would have spoilt the magic by nagging me off to bed with a guilty feeling that I had once more wasted my time reading.  My dear mother thought that reading was only a reward for having finished all the outstanding work still to be done.

When my husband and I visited Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston and other southern places in 1991, I re-lived some of the feelings of romance and heroism of the Deep South that Margaret Mitchell lamented in her story which has been called, “The last great posthumous victory of the Confederacy.”   As we drove for many kilometres along a tree lined road looking for our accommodation one hot summer evening the sight of the Spanish Moss hanging in abundance from all the trees instantly transported my mind to the Atlanta of Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Hamilton.

As we explored Atlanta during the next two days we found Margaret Mitchell’s grave in the Oakland Cemetery; saw beautiful antebellum mansions and visited the impressive Cyclorama and Civil War Museum which houses the largest oil painting in the world.  The painting is 42 feet tall, covers 16,000 square feet and has a 358 foot circumference.  We were told that laid flat, it would cover an entire football field.  With an air of expectancy we were transported to the Atlanta of 1864 and as we sat in rotating tiered seats, the Battle of Atlanta unfolded all around us.  In the foreground of this huge panorama is a three dimensional diorama with scenery and figures which blend with the painting to complete the reality experience.  The canvas was commissioned in 1885 and was painted by artists who visited the battlefields and listened to first hand accounts of the battle. 

Like most foreign tourists we went looking for Auburn Street or “Sweet Auburn” to pay homage to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and visit his birthplace, his tomb and the Ebeneezer Baptist Church where he was the pastor; following in the steps of his father and grandfather.  We discovered four city blocks had effectively become a shrine to the man and his work; yet a white woman we asked to give us directions when we were one block from Auburn Street, literally turned her back on us and muttered, “I wouldn’t know where that is.” 
Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Auburn Street, Atlanta

A few days later, as we watched a thoughtful man slowly walk alone in the grounds of the Carter’s Grove Plantation in Virginia, we wondered about the thoughts of this giant of a man, who just a few generations ago, would have been a much prized plantation slave.  As a white person I felt embarrassed that he may indeed have been a descendant of some of the slaves who had worked this plantation and lived in the slave quarters there.  We had seen an archaeological dig in progress in the mizzen heaps where the original slave quarters had stood and read some of the documented evidence that the Carter’s Grove slaves were brought to America from what we know today as Nigeria and Cameroon.  Was he wondering how they must have felt?  Was he feeling their pain and was he still feeling frustrated by the lack of equality he encountered in the south?  Having read “Gone with the Wind” and seen the movie, we could almost feel his pain.
A Reconstruction of Carter's Grove Slave Quarters
 Carter's Grove Plantation on the northern bank of the James River near Williamsburg, Virginia
was built in 1750 by Carter Burwell  
We discovered as we explored the historical, cultural and architectural highlights in Williamsburg, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia that there was still a great division between white Americans and African Americans as well as people from the north and those from the south.  We were surprised to see many Confederate Flags; but perhaps we were most surprised by the unfortunate gap that still existed between the very rich and the very poor - and this gap existed in both the white and black communities.   

We also discovered that the Civil War is still extremely personal in the South and that the selfish flawed characters of Scarlett and Rhett represented the people who adjusted and continued to flourish in the changing order of things after such a comprehensive defeat; while Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton embodied those who crumpled and lost all when the old South was swept away as if “Gone with the Wind”. 

When it was written this book may have been as divisive as the Civil War itself; but it was one woman’s act of defiance after history took the side of the Union while the people of the South did not really concede defeat.  The ‘heroine’ Scarlett O’Hara represents the fight that Southern women must have faced as they looked towards a very different future and struggled to accept change. Some of the characterisations were surely drawn from Margaret Mitchell’s own life experiences - and that may be why her characters are so believable and timeless. 

Born in November 1900, Margaret Mitchell grew up listening to the war stories of old Confederate soldiers and she suffered grief when her first love was killed at the end of the First World War.  Shortly after this her mother died and it was she who had to care for her father and brother.  Did she secretly wrestle against this responsibility as Scarlett did after the death of her mother?  Margaret was the first serious woman journalist for the Atlanta Journal and was said to have had many suitors – does this sound like the independent Scarlett O’Hara?

Her first husband, Red Upshaw turned out to be a bootlegger and an alcoholic – was he the foundation for the character of Rhett Butler?   She married John Marsh in 1925 and remained married to him until she died as the result of being struck by a car on an Atlanta Street in 1949.  Margaret Mitchell once said in an interview that the theme of her novel was survival and that in writing it she had looked at what it is that makes some people who seemed brave and strong “go under” while others survive similar circumstances.  She called this attribute “gumption”.  Was Margaret Mitchell demonstrating Scarlett’s gumption by having her retreat to Tara to regroup each time she was faced with intolerable odds?  Or do you think it was weakness and denial?  Perhaps even plain selfishness?

I often use a paraphrase of the famous final quote after a hard day when I feel unable to make any more decisions.  If you know me I may have said to you; “I will go back to Tara and think about it tomorrow!“

As the Rev. John noted at the end of his sermon; “John Coffey, the Jesus figure in The Green Mile is obvious; of course.”  However, there are hundreds of movies, old and new, which can help us through our reflections and respect for the past and willingness to learn in our quest to: – “As 21st Century Apostles, identify as people who strive to embody Jesus and to become daily more filled with the love and grace of our Saviour.”   I believe we should not live with guilt about history – we cannot change the past.  However, as Scarlett O’Hara said; “After all - Tomorrow is another day!” God teaches us - if we live well each day we can bring HOPE.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

“Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - June 12, 2020 - 1:37pm


When I was in primary school we attended “St. Anne’s” Anglican Church at Strathfield which was rather a grand structure for our Sydney suburbs in the early 1950s. To be quite truthful, it was not all that warm and welcoming for young children – it seemed a bit “stuffy”, although in those times it was not usual for services to focus on the children present.  It was very early that I gave up trying to understand the difficult sermons about Trinity Sunday, which heralded the long “ordinary time” in the church year, when the colour green reappeared in the elaborate drapes and cloths around the Sanctuary and the altar, to stay until Advent in November.  

When we visited the Church of St. Mary in Shawbury in Shropshire, the altar was dressed with green.
The Rev. John Mayor (my GG Grandfather) was the Vicar there for 45 years and it was there
that his son the Rev. Robert Mayor was born in 1791.  

I loved the white and gold of Easter and Christmas, the purple of Advent and Lent; and the red of Pentecost and these church seasons were more interesting and even exciting for me.  After a few years one of my older brothers met a friend who had been to another local church that had a lively youth group, so gradually the family drifted towards that church, which had a warm sense of community.  It is only in the last decade that I have been pleased to hear that some of our Marsden Road ministers continue to have feelings of concern about what the Rev. John this Sunday called, “This anomaly of Trinity Sundays”.  He said; “It is always a Sunday that has provided most clergy with anxiety or anguish or consternation as they attempt to prepare a sermon on the Trinity that is not boring or so full of theological jargon that parishioners will fall asleep. How often have you heard clergy lament on having to preach on the Trinity? Well today is no exception for me.”  Yet, although you can read the Rev. John’s entire sermon as you possibly have already done – I think I should quote an entire long paragraph that I felt very descriptive and thought provoking without causing disturbance of mind or feelings of inadequacy in trying to understand theology.  So here it is:People are not converted to Jesus because we can articulate a theological doctrine, but because we can share our faith in very human terms. Sharing how God has acted in our lives as creator/parent, redeemer, brother, and empower spirit. Our God is a loving and generous God who gives to us unconditionally. The God we worship is the God who created all of us and accepts all of us as we are. God does not make mistakes. Understanding God in this way gives us knew insight into loving and accepting others who are different from us for we are all made in God's image. It is us, not God, who has put limits and parameters on who is acceptable to God. Understanding God this way also calls us to reach out and care for all of God's children especially those who cannot care for themselves. Paul reminds us there are a variety of gifts but one spirit. We are a variety of people in one Spirit. We are called to live out and develop our gifts to the fullest. Our gifts are complimentary to one another and there is no scale of 1-10 on the gifts of the spirit.Everyone is making the most of a difficult situation and doing their best to keep in touch and talk and listen to each other and lift the spirits of others; especially the people who are unable to attend church online.  It is sad that we are missing going to church with the familiar surroundings and the opportunity to Worship together, however the magic of “Zoom” manages to deliver the Sermon, the Prayers and the Bible Readings quite satisfactorily and it is good to see the people sitting at their computers making the best of the situation.  This week the Rev. John tried out a computer “trick” which placed him and his wife in front of a photo of the Marsden Road Church, which felt familiar and “homely”. However, we are still missing the joy of singing the hymns and have tried looking and listening to Youtube, which had some difficulties for a group situation.  We are now trying out having a pianist play the piano in their home while we all mute our sound and sing to ourselves, but somehow it just doesn’t give that wonderful sense of singing together, with the benefits of the amazing acoustics of our little church.  So on Sunday morning when I heard that we were to have the hymn “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty”which was written by Bishop Reginald Heber of Calcutta, I really longed for the time we can all sing together in Praise once again. I have always been rather keen on Bishop Heber’s hymns and as a keen student of history and family history the stories of the British in India and what I have discovered of the dozens of my mother’s ancestors who went to India during many decades of the 19th century for a wide variety of reasons - all of which would probably be seen only in an unfavourable light by those today who deny history - I have done quite a lot of reading and research.  My great great grandmother’s brother, the Rev. Robert Mayor went with his new wife and two other missionaries from the CMS in London, as the first missionaries to “work for ten years among the heathen” in Galle in 1817 and I remember being shocked when I read his memorial plaque in the church in England where he is buried.  Those were the exact words used.  I was quite relieved to discover that he was also a medical doctor who was said to have saved the sight of many of the people he served. 


Among my reading I came across a letter written to Robert’s father by Bishop Heber:“I arrived at this port five weeks ago, in visiting the different parts of my great diocese; and had the pleasure to be greeted, among those who first came off to our vessel, by your son Robert, looking stout and well and very little altered from what he was when I last saw him in England ….. Mrs Heber and I had the pleasure, in our return from the North, of passing the best part of three days with him and Mrs, Mayor, in their romantic abode at Baddagamma, where we also found his colleague Mr. Ward, his wife and family, in perfect health and contented cheerfulness.  I consecrated their church, which is really an extraordinary building, considering the place in which, and the circumstances under which, it has been erected; and I also had the happiness of administering confirmation and the Lord’s Supper to a small but promising band of their converts and usual hearers; and I can truly say, both for my wife and myself that we have never paid a visit which has interested and impressed us more agreeably, from the good sense, good taste, and right feeling, the concord, the zeal, and orderly and industrious piety, which appeared to pervade both families and every part of their establishment.  Mr Ward has in some degree got the start in Cingalese studies, but the progress which both have made in such a difficult language has been mentioned to me as highly honourable to them; and Robert, from his medical skill, his truly masculine sense, his bodily as well as mental energy, and his cheerfulness under difficulties, has qualifications of the most valuable kind for the life which he has chosen.  Both of them are all in fact which you or I could wish them; active zealous, well-informed, and orderly clergymen, devoted to the instruction and help of their heathen neighbours; both enjoying a favourable report, I think I may say without exception, from the governor, public functionaries, and in general from all the English in the colony whom I have heard speak of them.  The cause of Christianity is, I hope, going on well here.”Bishop Heber’s once popular Mission Hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains”, has been called “A conspicuous example of that fervent belief to convert the world to Christianity which led Heber and others to lay down their lives in the mission field"; has been omitted from some publications in the last 40 years for words that “Seem patronising and insensitive to other beliefs.”  In 1925 Mahatma Gandhi expressed his offence 99 years after Bishop Heber’s death.  He said that such phrases as “Every prospect pleases and only man is vile", and the "the heathen in his blindness [bowing] down to wood and stone", implied assumptions that were untrue in his experiences. Gandhi said; "My own experience in my travels throughout India has been to the contrary ... [Man] is not vile. He is as much a seeker after truth as you and I are, possibly more so".




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Church Worship Pentecost 2 Sunday 14 June 2020


Sunday 14th June 2020Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford---------------------------------------------------------------------




We Have So Many Ways.Sunday 14th June 2020Pentecost 2 Sunday in the year of Matthew9.30 am
Gathering God’s People
Prelude Music to prepare for worship
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.

Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship (Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)        Hope in God. Expect miracles. For with God, anything is possible!
We call to the Lord, and God hears our prayers. We lift up our praise, and God hears our songs. We wait for the Lord, and God answers our hope.
Hymn 672: Lord of earth and all creation                                   (Tune – Westminster Abbey - Purcell)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2vPYrbzeGc
1.  Lord of earth and all creation,let your love possess our land:wealth, and freedom, far horizons,mountain, forest, shining sand:may we share, in faith and friendship,gifts unmeasured from your hand.
2.  People of the ancient Dreamtime,they who found this country first,ask with those, the later comers,will our dream be blessed or cursed?Grant us, Lord, new birth, new living,hope for which our children thirst.
3.  Lord, life-giving healing Spirit,on our hurts your mercy shower;lead us by your inward dwelling,guiding, guarding, every hour,Bless and keep our land Australia:in your will her peace and power.
Author: Michael Thwaitesand Honor Mary ThwaitesTune: Westminster Abbey; Composer: Henry Purcell (1680)
Opening prayer
Miraculous, wonderful One, come to us now. Pour outyour grace and your love. Shower us with the power ofyour Holy Spirit, that we may become people ofmiracles— people filled with the laughter of hope. Amen
A Prayer of Confession
Holy One, be with us in our weakness.When we laugh out of fear, calm us with your courage. When we laugh out of doubt, empower us with your faith. When we laugh out of our confusion, guide us with your wisdom. Transform our nervous laughter into songs of praise and shouts of joy and trust. In your blessed name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       In God’s faithfulness, we are made righteous. In Christ’s love, we find peace and hope. In the Spirit’s strength, our laughter of derision is transformed into laughter of joy.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
With Christ’s peace in our hearts and God’s hope in our lives, let us share signs of joy and love 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 LoveObject: A String of pearls or pearl earrings
This morning I’d like you to think about a string of pearls. Do you know where pearls come from? They come from oysters. An oyster is a shellfish that lives in the ocean. They have a very hard shell that protects them, but sometimes something like a small grain of sand can get inside the shell and it causes a lot of pain and discomfort for the oyster.
God has given the oyster a way to ease that pain. When a grain of sand gets in there, the oyster oozes out a liquid that coats the grain of sand and then it hardens. The oyster keeps doing this over and over until the grain of sand no longer causes pain. This is how these pearls are made. Something that started out being painful turned into something very beautiful and valuable.
The same thing happens to us. Sometimes something comes into our life that causes a lot of hurt and pain. When that happens, God gives us something to help ease the pain. He gives us His love. If we ask Him to, He will ooze out His love to ease our pain and suffering. Often what started out to be very painful in our life can turn into something beautiful.
Dear Lord, we thank you that when we have pain and hurts in our life, you ooze out your love to ease the pain. Help us to remember that you can take the most painful hurts in our lives and turn them into something beautiful. Amen.
Offering Prayer
Bless these gifts, O God, with your hope and love, that others may know your healing power and your miraculous possibilities. In joyous trust, we pray. Amen.
Hymn 235: A man there lived in Galilee                  (Tune – Tyrolese)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ficsjHnilZ4
A man there lived in Galileelike no one else before,for he alone from first to lastour flesh unsullied wore;a perfect life of perfect deedsonce to the world was shown,that everyone might mark his stepsand in them place their own.
A man there died on Calvaryabove all others brave;he gave to all, he saved and blessed,himself he scorned to save;no thought can gauge the weight of woeon him, the sinless, laid;we only know that with his deathour ransom price was paid.
A man there stands at God's right hand,divine, yet human still;that grand, heroic, peerless souldeath sought in vain to kill.All power is his: supreme he rulesall realms of time and space;yet still our human cares and needsfind in his heart a place.
Author: Somerset Corry Lowry (1926)
Tune: Tyrolese
 
                               
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                          Romans 5.1-8          NEB page 875The Gospel Reading:                     Matthew 9:35-10:8   NEB page 732After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings:
Romans 5: 1-8
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
Matthew 9:35-10:8
9 35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his arvest.’10 1 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Preaching of the Word: We Have So Many Ways...,
We have so many ways of learning about God. We learn from Holy Scripture, of course. We learn from our worship, from the seasons of the year and the glories of nature, from one another, in our prayers.
There is a way of watching movies that can open our minds and hearts to God in ways more powerful than we might imagine. When we see a movie strictly for entertainment, we've received our money's worth, but when we watch the screen through the eyes of faith, God can touch us in ways that are worth much more, ways that are surprising, even transcendent. Ordinary, commercial films become "Jesus movies."
Take the film, The Green Mile, for instance. The Jesus figure in The Green Mile is obvious, of course. John Coffey, an enormous black man in the South, has been accused of murdering two small girls, and upon his arrest he is delivered to "the Green Mile," death row in a southern prison. It becomes apparent fairly early in the film that John is innocent; he is sweet and what we used to call "simple-minded;" despite his huge size, he weeps quietly at times and is afraid of the dark. He shows tenderness to all but the truly evil ones he encounters on the Green Mile, and after a couple of miraculous healings, there's no doubt in our eyes just who John Coffey represents. He's our Jesus figure in this movie.
Jesus showed us the nature of the Divine as he walked this earth among us. So, what can John Coffey show us about the nature of God if we view him through the lens of Christ, praying that the Holy Spirit guide us to any truth?
In Matthew's Gospel today, we learn that "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." Matthew continues: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
Compassion. "Com-passion." "Feeling with." Feeling another's pain, another's suffering.
In The Green Mile, one of the several climactic scenes shows us a gruesome execution, one in which a sadistic rookie deliberately omits a step in the electrocution process, essentially cooking a Cajun inmate named Edouard Delacroix, a man for whom John Coffey -- and the movie's viewers -- have developed a fondness. In one of the most graphic death scenes in cinematic history, as Del screams and jolts and jerks and smokes, John Coffey, in his own death row cell, experiences exactly the same torture. He jerks and grimaces as though he were sitting in "Old Sparky" himself. The lights on the Green Mile dim, then burst, as he lives through Del's electrocution from afar.
After the body has finally died and has been removed for burial, the officer in charge of the Green Mile, Paul Edgecomb, returns to his block and walks to John's cell. Sweat pours from John's body; he is still trembling. He says to Edgecomb through clenched jaws, "Boss, Del, he the lucky one. He out of it now."
"Do you mean you heard that all the way down here, John?" asks Edgecomb.
"No, Boss. I felt it," replies John.
John Coffey, our Jesus character, actually felt the pain of his friend. He experienced his torture, as though he had somehow been in the body of Edouard Delacroix.Compassion. Feeling with.
"Freely you have received, freely give," Jesus tells the twelve as he sends them out to preach and heal those for whom Jesus has such great compassion. We might overhear him saying something like, "Heal every disease and sickness. Cast out evil spirits. Take the message of the Kingdom to those who live on death row every day of their lives. Help me care for them. Have "com-passion" on them. Feel with them. I can't do it all by myself. The task is too great to be done alone, even by me. And it's not God's purpose that it all be done by me. You're in this, too. We can't do it without you. You're going to be my Body on earth soon, so you'd better get out there and start learning what that means before I leave you."
So the followers of Jesus, his disciples, the ones who had left fishing nets and families to follow and learn from this magnetic young man who spoke so winningly of his heavenly Father, these twelve meagrely prepared ones were now to take their first steps as apostles -- those who are sent out to do for the hurting of the world that which Jesus himself wishes done.
As we step into their shoes today, let's listen to this story carefully, because it is our story, too. We are his disciples today and more -- we are his Body. Christ, the compassionate one, is the Head of the Body. Information Central. Where the commands to the Body come from. Unless our own head tells our index finger and thumb to move closer together, we can't do so much as pick up a pencil. We need, as Christ's Body, to listen more carefully to Christ, our Head.
What is Christ telling us? To go out and be do-gooders in the name of the church? No! Some people see this passage as a mandate for evangelism, and that can look scary, even impossible, especially for western white protestants. I read of a plan in the 90's, where someone was heard to say that their plan for evangelism was to build a really attractive aquarium next to the ocean and then wait for the fish to jump in. That's not what Jesus is calling us to here.
Jesus is sending us out to do the work that springs from a heart filled with compassion, with empathy, with doing our best to experience another's pain. We can never reach this ideal, of course; each person's pain is unique. But the heart of the compassionate Christ, which is and must be our own corporate heart, has no place for criticism, for judgment, even for merit. We help those who need help, not those we deem worthy of our help. It is not our own help we offer, of course; we are merely the vehicles for Christ's healing touch, his saving grace, his Word of hope.
As we move more deeply into our identity as Christ's Body, as 21st century apostles, in this work of embodying Jesus today, church growth is a side effect of Christ's impact on those we encounter. Evangelism happens because the "evangel" is Good News indeed! And as we do the will of the one who sends us out, our own lives become daily more filled with the love and grace of our Saviour.
Freely we have been given, not deserving. Freely and with compassion we are called to give. The harvest is plentiful, and we are the laborers today in a field filled with weeds and hungry for the harvest. Shake off the dust and let's go!
Hymn 186: Stars and Planets flung in orbit                  (Tune - Lauda Anima (Goss))
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee_fmMl9trg
Stars and planets flung in orbit,galaxies that swirl through space,powers hid within the atom,cells that form an infant’s face:these, O God, in silence praise you;by your wisdom they are made.
Skies adorned with sunset splendour,silent peaks in calm repose,golden fields awaiting harvest,foaming surf and fragrant rose:earth, its bounty clothed with beauty,echoes all creation’s praise.
Life in wondrous, wild profusion,seed and fruit, each flower and tree,beast and fish and swarming insect,soaring bird, rejoicing, free:these, your creatures, join in chorus,praising you in wordless song.
Humankind, earth’s deepest mystery,born of dust but touched by grace,torn apart by tongue and colour,yet a single, striving race:we, in whom you trace your image,add our words to nature’s song.
Gracious God, we bring before yougifts of human life alone,truth that throbs through song and story,visions caught in paint and stone:these, O God, we gladly offer,gifts to praise the Giver’s name.
Christ, the Word before creationas creation’s final goal,once you came for earth’s redemption;by your Spirit make earth whole:then, O God, the new creationwill your praise for ever sing. 
Author: Herman G. StuempfleTune - Lauda Anima (Goss)
Intercessory Prayers  
We pray for our local community that we can all learn to share with one another. We ask for your blessing on all people in this community in their daily life and work. For the young and the elderly, for families and for all who are alone. Guide and enable all who lead and serve our community and on those whom we depend for our daily needs. We give you thanks for human skill and creativity and all that reveals your glory in our lives.Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our Prayer We pray for you church throughout the world, for all involved in mission and outreach. We ask for your blessing on our church here and we thank you that there is so much friendship here. Show us how to help each other so that the worship we now offer is the worship of a true family, through Jesus Christ who is head of the Church. Give us grace to proclaim the gospel joyfully in word and deed and help us to fulfil our calling and to care for one another in an unselfish fellowship of love; and to care for the world around us by sharing with it the good news of your love; and serving those who suffer from poverty hunger and disease.Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our Prayer Loving God, in your hands are the destinies of people and of nations, we bring before you in our prayers those who have been entrusted with special responsibilities for the life of our nation. May all involved in negotiations uphold goodwill and mutual understanding and show due respect to each other.Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our Prayer Loving God, we pray for all of us here this morning, for our families and friends. Inspire us to work at our relationships and remind us to welcome you in every situation we meet. We ask for your blessing on our family members and on all for whom we love and care. May we always be ready to forgive, respect and value them.Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our PrayerLoving God, we commend to your healing all who are in pain or are ill at home or in hospital. We pray for those about to undergo or who are recovering from surgery: for all who depend on others for life and movement. May they be reassured by the strength of your presence. In a moment of quiet we name in our hearts those whom we know who are in need of our prayers.Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our PrayerWe pray for the bereaved and the desolate: may all in trouble or sorrow draw strength from your life and your victory over death. We pray for those who have died that, falling asleep to this life they may wake to eternal life in the joy of heaven.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world; a light which no darkness can quench. We pray for all who have died and light a candle to symbolise the light of Christ which eternally shines and brings hope.
Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our PrayerWe thank you Father that we are all invited to share your life-giving love: make us worthy of all you have promised.Merciful God accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour – Jesus Christ.  Amen
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 233: I will sing the wondrous story                     (Tune – Hyfrydol)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCyxs4udKi0
I will sing the wondrous storyOf the Christ who died for me.How He left His home in gloryFor the cross of Calvary.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous storyOf the Christ who died for me,Sing it with the saints in glory,Gathered by the crystal sea.
I was lost, but Jesus found me,Found the sheep that went astray,Threw His loving arms around me,Drew me back into His way.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous storyOf the Christ who died for me,Sing it with the saints in glory,Gathered by the crystal sea.
I was bruised, but Jesus healed me;Faint was I from many a fall;Sight was gone, and fears possessed me,But He freed me from them all.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous storyOf the Christ who died for me,Sing it with the saints in glory,Gathered by the crystal sea.
Days of darkness still come o'er me,Sorrow's paths I often tread,But the Saviour still is with me;By His hand I'm safely led.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous storyOf the Christ who died for me,Sing it with the saints in glory,Gathered by the crystal sea.
He will keep me till the riverRolls its waters at my feet;Then He'll bear me safely over,Where the loved ones I shall meet.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous storyOf the Christ who died for me,Sing it with the saints in glory,Gathered by the crystal sea.
Author: Francis H. Rowley (1886)Tune: Hyfrydol
Benediction                Go now in peace. Laugh this week with hope. Take God’s love with you wherever you go!        Go now in peace. Go now in hope. Go now with the love of God. And may that same Almighty God, creator, redeemer and giver of life guide your dance in life forever. 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

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 14 June 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - June 12, 2020 - 1:12am

Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road CarlingfordSunday 14 June 2020



Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings 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.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 18:1-15, Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19, Romans 5:1-8,Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)
PRAYER O God, your Son has taught us that those who give a cup of water in his name will not lose their reward: open our hearts to the needs of your children, and in all things make us obedient to your will, so that in faith we may receive your gracious gift, eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship 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



A Reflection for Pentecost 2
Jesus has just described himself as ‘Lord of the harvest’. He then summons his disciples, and prepares to send them out on mission, as the labourers to help with the harvest.  But who are they called to serve? Matthew has a stern prohibition at the beginning of the disciples’ mission. How are we to understand it? The context strongly suggests that only Israel is envisaged as the mission field, because Israel was the people for whom the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures had been promised. In this Gospel, Jesus, the shepherd, is sent to turn the ‘lost sheep’ of Israel from following unrighteous and lawless leaders who will lead them astray.  These are challenging words for us as gentile Christians, as Matthew’s Jesus here envisages an exclusively Jewish mission field. But then we find in chapter 25:31-42 that just and righteous Gentiles are also welcome in the kingdom, through acts of kindness and justice. May be this is a timely reminder that there is more than one pathway to God, and Christians cannot claim they have exclusive rights to this road. 

Thankyou from Margaret.
Margaret wishes to thank all the Marsden Road people for their support, kindness and prayers for her and David as she has gone through another major operation and is again slowly beginning to recover.
CONTACTS
Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook: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 AIDDid 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.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Look and Listen for the Joy.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - June 11, 2020 - 11:42pm
There’s no greater gift than to be listened to. I remember a primary school teacher always differentiating between “hearing” and “listening.” Hearing is a biological experience; our ears hear sounds that are processed in our brains that foster and further our understanding. Even when our biological hearing fails us, different aids and apparatuses can assist us in hearing. But “listening” takes on a deeper process where we bring our lived experienced into what we hear to find sympathy, empathy, or common threads that connect what is said to a larger story.
 This week, in Psalm 116, the writer says that the Lord “hears [his] requests for mercy” and “listens closely” to his cries. The psalmist has a confidence in God’s listening capabilities; there are many things the psalmist could name as the first of many actions God has taken on his behalf, but it is the act of listening that he names first. Knowing that God is not simply hearing, but listening to us, matters so much in a time when the voices of the marginalized are often heard as inconvenient interruptions, like a mosquito buzzing around one’s ear. But the cries of the righteous pierce a part of our being that calls for us to listen, to give attention to for the sake of both correction and action.
 What resolve we are able to have knowing that God listens to us.
 The story of faith such as we find in Genesis 18 constantly messes with our modern sensitivities. The idea of opening our doors to complete strangers and trusting them to have a message from our God seems naïve, irresponsible, and misplaced. In today’s world, we tend to think of ourselves as self-sufficient; all we need is our own take on things, our opinions, our perspective, our own hearing of God. Strangers are met with suspicion, lack of trust, and at times fear. If they tell us that they have a “word from God,” most of us would think they are delusional or just arrogant.
In our scriptures as Christians we find that again, and again God sends people. Unexpected people, empowered people, strange people to bring good news. Often the outsiders have a much better take on what God is up to than we do. Coming from the outside seems to bring clarity if we are willing to hear, to provide hospitality, and to respond.
I wonder what the people around us would tell us of what God is doing now as we move through our experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. What would God be saying about our dealing with issue of race and violence particularly against those of our first nations within the justice system let alone generally. What would they say to Christians about our life together, our worship, service, and our witness? Christians sadly, tend to think of ourselves as the ones who are sent, and we are at times. But I think Genesis invites us to open ourselves up to the possibility that there are people sent to us and that those who might seem like strangers, might just be messengers from our God. Those who demonstrate are a giving a message we need to hear and a voice we need to listen to.
 Let’s pay attention, for the coming of those messengers we usually seem to avoid might just be the continued fulfillment of God’s promise to us. Let us listen with the ear of God in care and love and with compassion. We can listen and bring joy by making those changes our God is calling us to and challenging us with. Look and listen and seek God’s joy for all, seek healing for the past and the present. Listen in our time to those voices of the lost, the lonely, the abused and those not treated as equal and make the changes needed to bring joy.
Listen. Laugh. Joy. This sequence of events we see Sarah experiencing in Genesis 18:1-15 and again in Genesis 21:1-7 as she listened (more like eavesdropped) on Abraham’s conversation with three visitors to their tent. One of the visitors prophesied that Sarah would have a son within a year’s time—and like we often do when we hear the unbelievable, Sarah chuckled to herself. Beyond her childbearing years, she listened and laughed at what seemed impossible—and would find herself listening, laughing, and joyous again in chapter 21 as the promises of God manifested themselves in a baby boy named Isaac, whose name, in fact, means “laughter.” “Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me,” Sarah proclaims.
There are times in our lives when we listen to the promises of God, whether through our own internal dialogue with the creator or through the mouths of those trusted pastoral advisors or a community of reliable others, and find ourselves laughing at the impossible. Both Psalm 116 and the Genesis text point toward the impact and reward of listening to God and hearing God’s promises—even the ones that are impossible to believe. One thing is certain, as both Sarah and the psalmist learn, that God’s promises are yes, amen, and full of joy.





Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Trinity Sunday 07 June 2020

Sunday 07th June 2020Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back to Basics.Sunday 07th June 2020Trinity Sunday in the year of Matthew 9.30 amWithout Holy Communion
Gathering God’s People
Prelude Music to prepare for worship
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)        Are we ready to call God our Mother or Father? Are we prepared to hear God say to us, “You are very good!”? Can we leave our doubts and insecurities behind and claim our heritage? Will we stand in our truth?
God, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Your glory surrounds and enfolds us. Your image resides within us and completes us. You made us but a little lower than the angels. How majestic is your name in all the earth?
Hymn 132: Holy, holy, holy Lord God almighty                  (Tune – Nicea)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrg7jQ5Ic8c
1 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
   Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
   Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
   God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

2 Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
   casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
   cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
   who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
   though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
   only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
   perfect in pow'r, in love, and purity.
4 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
   All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky & sea.
   Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
   God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Author: Reginald Heber (1826)
Tune: NICAEA (Dykes)

Opening prayer
Triune God, your Spirit danced over the waters, your Wordwas spoken, and the glory of your creation sprang forth: sun and moon, earth and sky, creatures beyond count. We thank and praise you for putting your image within us and for creating us but a little lower than the angels. Abide in us, as you abide in the fullness of your holy mystery. Teach us to be caretakers and stewards of your good earth, that we may walk gently upon the meadows, and leave puddles of light wherever we tread. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
God of grace and glory, who are we that you are mindful of us? You sustain us through the gift of your indwelling Presence, yet we turn from you again and again, and succumb to feelings of inadequacy and despair. We turn from communion with you and with one another, even though it is only in community that we have the strength to endure the mystery of your glory and weight of our failings. Claim us anew as your beloved children, and we will be healed. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       The love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit are ours without price or condition. Rejoice in this good news and live.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Sisters and brothers, when we live in peace with one another, the peace and love of God are ours. Let us share this great gift with one another as we share signs of 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.)
Offering Prayer
Your gifts overwhelm us, Creator God. We praise you for placing your image within us— an image that makes us who we are. May these gifts reflect the glory of your image as they go forth to move creation forward toward its fulfillment in you. Amen.
Hymn 188: Where wide sky rolls down                  (Tune – Hanover)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFX7VBH_2ZQ
Where wide sky rolls down and touches red sand,where sun turns to gold the grass of the land,let spinifex, mulga and waterhole telltheir joy in the One who made everything well.
Where rain-forest calm meets reef, tide and storm,where green things grow lush and oceans are warm,let every sea-creature and tropical birdexult in the light of the life-giving Word.
Where red gum and creek cross hillside and plain,where cool tree-ferns rise to welcome the rain,let bushland, farm, mountain-top, all of their daysdelight in the Spirit who formed them for praise.
Now, people of faith, come gather aroundwith songs to be shared, for blessings abound!Australians, whatever your culture or race, come, lift up your hearts to the Giver of grace
Author: Elizabeth J. Smith
Tune: Hanover (Croft)                                    
The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                      2 Corinthians 13.11-13     NEB page 905The Gospel Reading:                       Matthew 28.16-20      NEB page 755After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings:
2 Corinthians 13.11-13
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Matthew 28.16-20
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
Preaching of the Word – Back to basics
Trinity Sunday, that anomaly of Sundays. A day when we celebrate a doctrine or foundation of our faith within the context of the celebration of Christ's resurrection as every Sunday is. It is always a Sunday that has provided most clergy with anxiety or anguish or consternation as they attempt to prepare a sermon on the Trinity that is not boring or so full of theological jargon that parishioners will fall asleep.
How often have you heard clergy lament on having to preach on the Trinity? Well today is no exception for me. However, I would like to share with you some reflections on how it shapes and forms who we are as a people of faith.
From Advent until through Pentecost we focused all of our attention on the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Even Advent focuses our attention on the coming saviour. The one who came and will come again. We have lived the liturgical drama of Christ Sunday by Sunday climaxing with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Easter Vigil and Resurrection Sunday. Now comes the hard part living the faithful life, "with the Spirit's gifts to empower us for the work of ministry." In order to understand the Trinity, one must go back to basics. To understand how that early faith community understood their life that resulted in the adoption of the Trinity as a way of being and doing.
That community knew their story as found in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Gospel stories. They knew God as their creator and in whose image, they were created. Not only did they know God as their creator, but that God created all that was and is as reflected in the Genesis reading for this day. But God was more than just their creator, God was in an intimate relationship with them as a parent as a father, a mother.
We glean that from the stories where their God hears the cries of the people and brought them out of bondage cares for her children as a hen cares for her chicks, where God calls Israel my children, and weeps over their destruction, as parents weep over the actions of their brood. No, this God is not a God from afar or just a judging God, but a loving and gracious God who created them, and even when Adam and Eve sinned stayed with them and clothed them. The stories of God as creator and intimate parent, father/mother abounded in their in-salvation story and continues in ours.
For this community another understanding of God came through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God became flesh and dwelt among us. The incarnate Word. Through the early apostles and disciples, the community heard the story of Jesus and how God lived and acted in new and profound ways among the people. It wasn't until after Jesus' resurrection that his life made sense to the apostles. For during his life, the disciples were still trying to understand. We know from the Gospel of John how difficult that last night was as Jesus was explaining what had to happen and what it all meant. They didn't get it fully until after the centurion said, "truly this was the Son of God."
The disciples finally get the full meaning at the Ascension when "they return to the temple rejoicing and praising God." God was made manifest in Jesus to ensure that the faith community understood that God was not just out there but lived as one of us as our brother through God's son Jesus. The new community had also experienced the resurrected Christ and knew like Mary that with God nothing was impossible for the Easter story is the knowledge that the impossible is possible. Now the new community had all those stories to know God as not only their creator, but as their saviour and redeemer.
Finally, this community understood God as the Holy Spirit. As promised by Jesus, the gift of the Spirit came on Pentecost. It came to the whole community and not just a select few. One would have thought that the spirit would come to the disciples and their friends only, but the spirit came to the gathered group that represented people from all over the region. Jesus lived and preached a life of welcome and inclusion even when his followers didn't. The community now has experienced God as the Holy Spirit.
The doctrine of the Trinity is not a "top down" theology that began with Augustine or Thomas Aquinas, but a way for the faith community to understand the God of our salvation history. Throughout our tradition and the stories handed down this is still be best way to understand God.
Why celebrate Trinity Sunday? For us it is the time when we begin the struggle to understand how it is, we live in this community of faith. The liturgical dramas of Jesus' life are over and we the ones left to tell the story. We are the ones to go out into the world to proclaim the good news, to baptise in the name of God, the Parent, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need to understand how God acts and lives in our lives in order to share the good news in the world.
People are not converted to Jesus because we can articulate a theological doctrine, but because we can share our faith in very human terms. Sharing how God has acted in our lives as creator/parent, redeemer, brother, and empower spirit. Our God is a loving and generous God who gives to us unconditionally. The God we worship is the God who created all of us and accepts all of us as we are. God does not make mistakes.
Understanding God in this way gives us knew insight into loving and accepting others who are different from us for we are all made in God's image. It is us, not God, who has put limits and parameters on who is acceptable to God. Understanding God this way also calls us to reach out and care for all of God's children especially those who cannot care for themselves.
Paul reminds us there are a variety of gifts but one spirit. We are variety of people in one Spirit. We are called to live out and develop our gifts to the fullest. Our gifts are complimentary to one another and there is no scale of 1-10 on the gifts of the spirit.
Trinity Sunday is a day for the church to celebrate how it understands God and how it lives out that understanding. It is an opportunity for us to wrestle with, to struggle with, to celebrate the meaning of God in our lives and in the life of our faith community. It is about getting back to basics.
To the community that lives the resurrected life of the risen Christ and makes itself manifested in the world by living as Jesus lived a welcoming and inclusive life. It really is simple this Trinity. Very basic and very profound. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Amen!
Hymn 245: We have a gospel to proclaim                  (Tune – Fulda)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-SPYAgCtkw
1.  We Have A Gospel to ProclaimGood news for men in all the earth;The gospel of a Saviour’s name,We sing His glory, tell His worth.
2.  Tell of His birth at Bethlehem,Not in a royal house or hallBut in a stable dark and dim,The Word made flesh, a light for all.
3.  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.
4.  Tell of that glorious Easter moon,Empty the tomb, for He was free.He broke the power of death and hellThat we might share His victory.
5.  Tell of His reign at God’s right hand,By all creation glorified,He sends His Spirit on His Church,To live for Him, the Lamb who died.
6.  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
Intercessory Prayers         On this Trinity Sunday we have come before you Lord to offer our praise and adoration. You are God the creator, giving us richly all things to enjoy. You are Christ the Saviour of the world, made flesh to set us free. You are the Spirit of truth and love, willing to dwell in us. You are holy and blessed. One god, eternal Trinity, be near to us the people formed in your image, and close to the world your love brings to life.Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayerLord we pray for your church throughout the world, for those that are thriving and those which have lost a sense of direction. We give thanks for our church and its people, and gladly acknowledge all the gifts you have given us through its life, we ask you to open wide our hearts that we may welcome the stranger and share our faith with others.Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayerLord we pray for peace in the world, create in us a love for peace, not peace that is absent from struggle, nor peace that is blind to injustice but peace that makes whole what now is broken. We remember those who struggle against injustice, for men and women who have to establish loves supremacy in violent and oppressive societies, and for those whom war and famine have robbed of homes, families and friends, may they be filled with your strength and wisdom.Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayerWe remember those who are sick, sad or lonely and those who are brave and patient when things are going wrong. We pray that they may be aware of your comforting presence and know that in your hands they are safe and loved. Lord we pray for all saddened by the death of a loved one, be with them in their loneliness and let them know that Jesus Christ is the light of the world a light which no darkness can quench. We bring our prayers to conclusion by saying together the Lord's 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 405: O Spirit of the living God                   (Tune - Church Triumphant)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RvfYXWgeSk
1.  Spirit of the living God,In all the fulness of Thy grace,Where’er the foot of man has trod,Descend on our apostate race.
2.  Give tongues of fire and hearts of loveTo preach the reconciling word;Give power and unction from above,Whene’er the joyful sound is heard.
3.  Be darkness, at Thy coming, light;Confusion, order in Thy path;Souls without strength inspire with might;   Bid mercy triumph over wrath.
4.  Spirit of the Lord, prepareAll the round earth her God to meet;Breathe Thou abroad like morning air,Till hearts of stone begin to beat.
5.  Baptise the nations; far and nigh,The triumphs of the Cross record;The name of Jesus glorify,Till every kindred call Him Lord.
Text: James Montgomery Tune: Church Triumphant
Benediction                Go forth in the fullness of holy mystery. May the love of God enfold you. May the grace of Christ Jesus flow through you. And may the communion of the Holy Spirit complete you. And may that same Almighty God, creator, redeemer and giver of life guide your dance in life forever. Amen
Hymn 777: May the grace of Christ our Saviour                    (Tune - Gott Des Himmels)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj2sKDQDhDM    
1 May the grace of Christ our Saviour
   and the Father's boundless love,
   with the Holy Spirit's favour,
   rest upon us from above.
2 Thus may we abide in union
   with each other and the Lord,
   and possess, in sweet communion,
   joys which earth cannot afford.
Text by: John Newton 1779Tune - Gott Des Himmels - Heinrich Albert (1643)



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 07 June 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - June 4, 2020 - 11:22pm
Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford
Sunday 07th June 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.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 1:1 – 2:4a, Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Matthew 28:16-20
PRAYER O blessed Trinity, in whom we know the Maker of all things, seen and unseen, the Saviour of all, both near and far: by your Spirit enable us so to worship your divine majesty, that with all the company of heaven we may magnify your glorious name, saying, Holy, holy, holy. Glory to you, O Lord most high. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship 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
Wanted – Coat hangers
Do you have any single wooden coat hangers (see picture) or know a source where one can get them? We have been asked for these coat hangers for people who are covering and padding them as part of their stay at home handicrafts.
If you have any of the type of coat hanger that allows one to cover and pad them as in the picture or know where to get them the please contact Terry and Kay – phone: 9871 6685.

   Reflection on PentecostAfter all of this teaching; all of this following; after ALL of Easter, now what? God is not done with us yet.This is such a well-known and well-loved passage. We can draw on the parallels and contrasts between Peter’s speech and Joel chapter 2. We can sing for joy recalling the birth of the Church. We can take heart and be reminded at the cross-cultural nature and calling of the Church.Above all else it should remind us of the incredibly wild and subversive nature of our God, who is creatively calling us back to life and faith again and again. Pentecost should always point us outwards, to see that God is at work around us, and often using those outside the centres of power and tradition.Rev. Andrew Johnson



CONTACTSMinister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook: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 AIDDid 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.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Connectedness of God

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - June 4, 2020 - 10:37pm

In this time of pandemic, grasping the essence of the nature of God is urgent and important. How might an abstract-sounding church doctrine matter now? We find in scripture and the teaching of the Church that the nature of God is an essential connectedness. This communion within God’s own self gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God – and, knowing that a deep connectedness describes well the universe in which we live, speaks to the longings in our own hearts as we are separated from others.
The Corinthian Christians in our scripture reading from 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, were wondering about their witness. In the midst of everyday life, of the struggles of living the way of Jesus, of the ways that the world around us pushes us to respond differently, how are we doing? This is especially relevant for us as we try to discern what balance there is for a Christian between people/compassion/care and economics. How do we love all, care for each other and not tip over into greed because of the pressure of the world stating that economy is more important?
It is difficult to self-assess, to take stock, to evaluate how we are doing in our discipleship. This requires an awareness of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our hearts and lives and how that work is bubbling up as we live our lives each day. It also requires attention to those people around us who have been Holy Spirit to guide us in our way of discipleship.

Paul reminds the Corinthians to “put things in order” (2 Cor 13: 11). To model God’s work at the beginning of time by entering the chaos of their lives and the lives of others so as to be agents of order, encouragement, harmony, and peace. I would say that living in these ways might just be the most important sign of our work of discipleship, a key way that we as followers of Jesus live into our call to compel others, by our loving behaviour, to become followers of Jesus.
If we are to be effective in our work of discipleship, we must be willing to help one another grow in love. To shine a light on how we can love better, reconcile with one another, and be encouraged. This is especially important in a culture that seems set on tearing others down, on stirring chaos, and on living in harmony only with those who agree with us.
You know we who follow the Christian way are interesting at times, as we have words which can mean different things to different groups within the faith yet are alien to those outside the faith. Discipleship is one of those buzzwords that so many of us struggle to define. What would it look like for us to teach what Jesus commanded? I think we might begin by engaging in a shared journey through the life of Jesus, studying what he commanded, the fruit of his activity on earth, and the key themes of his teaching. I imagine that engaging in this quick survey will begin to give a more concrete picture of the life of discipleship, a more objective measure to how we are doing, and will empower us to be more faithful in our work. Always remembering that doubts will still be present and that the re-creative work is never finished.

For the Christian Jesus is with us always. He is with us as we live our daily lives, with us as we doubt, and with us as we take stock of our lives. Jesus is with us as we engage others and as we engage creation. Jesus is with us calling us back, reminding us that we are indeed created in God’s image and part of the created order. Our journey with Jesus will indeed guide us all the way through the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. Living in this way should be a reminder to stay humble, be encouraged, and to persist in God’s loving work.
We also live in a society with great divisions and we all know of people who are alone in a time of despair and anxiety. The love we are created to show then must find expression in our reaching out to others in the ways available to us. This is not something we do to earn the favour of the Holy Trinity. Instead, staying in contact with others is part of how God blesses us, letting us be a conduit of grace to those we call, write, and meet with online.
Our Gospel text from Matthew 28 for this week gives Christians and any followers of the way Jesus taught an opportunity to be reminded of the church’s commission into the world. It is also a time to rehearse our belief about the essence of God. One of the ways that Christ passes on this power to his disciples is through the commission of baptism. Profoundly and poignantly here, the risen Lord connects the ritual with the essence of God: “… in the name of the Parent, Child and Spirit (traditionally Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”).



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Every person should be able to hear God's Word in his or her heart language.

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - June 4, 2020 - 8:41am

While I was re-reading and contemplating the Rev. John’s sermon which looked at the Pentecost story this Sunday; first from John 20: 19-23 and then from Acts 2: 1-21, I began to consider the wonderful possibilities and the difficulties that could be overcome in the world today if we could indeed all communicate with and understand everyone no matter what language was being spoken.  I love what the Rev. John called, “The stunningly powerful imagery of a raging wind and flames of fire written by St. Paul in Acts”. I continued to read the sermon which you can read in full on the Marsden Road Church website.  The Rev. John wrote; “Filled with the Spirit of God, the disciples can now speak, preach, teach, and communicate in such a way that they are understood by all sorts of different people in many different languages. The power of God to recreate the human community in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit breaks through the human boundaries of language and culture.”



Marsden Road Uniting Church "dressed" for Pentecost SundayAt this point there was a “ping” on my computer to tell me I had a new email.  
I checked my email and discovered a message from a friend of more than 50 years who lives and works in Cappadocia, Turkey to raise awareness of the ‘Love of God and the joy of knowing Jesus’ in one of the places mentioned in the passage in Acts 2: 1-21.  How timely her message was!  Our friend had mentioned in her email last month, that what she called “The Jesus film”, was allowed to be shown on some Turkish secular TV channels for the first time at Easter.  Today she told us that the film was viewed by around eight million people!  Just consider for a moment that 99% of the population of Turkey are non – Christian!
In her email, our friend included a report made on April 21, 2020 from the “Christian Newswire”.
"Amid strict coronavirus lockdowns, millions of people across the Middle East and North Africa clamouring for a spiritual and practical lifeline are finding help right in their own homes through "living television."   In the region where Christianity began but is now a minority faith, Christian satellite television broadcaster SAT-7 (www.sat7usa.org ) has seen viewer numbers surge and social media interest skyrocket since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
"There's an explosion of spiritual hunger across the Middle East and North Africa right now as people stuck at home seek real hope and real answers," said Dr. Rex Rogers, president of SAT-7 USA.   SAT-7 continues to broadcast shows 24/7 that present Christians as 'living epistles' who speak to people where they are in life.  "Millions of people in countries like Iran, Iraq and Turkey are clamouring to see and hear in their own language what it's like to be a follower of Jesus in a time of crisis," Rogers said.
In coronavirus hotspot Turkey, where 99 percent of the population is non-Christian, more viewers have contacted the SAT-7 TÜRK channel daily in the past few weeks than any day in the previous five years since broadcasts began.
"Coronavirus has locked people inside their homes, but it's opening hearts to God," said Rogers. "Lockdown and social isolation do not stop our unique satellite and online Christian programs from reaching millions of adults and children where they live."
Before I finished reading our friend’s email I looked at the website for SAT-7 Christian TV and there was a statement on the HOME page that spells out their goals:
MAKING THE GOSPEL AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Every person should be able to hear God's Word in his or her heart language. SAT-7 Christian TV supports a growing Church in the Middle East and North Africa, confident in Christian faith and witness, serving the community and contributing to the good of society and culture.
Our friend’s email continued; “I loved our online Turkish fellowship time on Pentecost Sunday (on Zoom) and allowed my imagination to carry me away a little the day after Pentecost, when suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty wind-storm, and it filled the house where we were sitting.  Well! OK it was a day later but it was so stirring and such a privilege and joy to be part of praying for the work of the Holy Spirit here in this land, here in Cappadocia (see Acts 2:9...there were people from Cappadocia there that day!!) ...such longing, such zeal, a fire in our bellies.  We've just been at home in our "upper rooms" with more time to pray.  Now, Lord, what will you do next?”
I’m so glad that our friend’s email arrived at just the right moment so I could share it with you all.
I would also like to share an experience that touched me many years ago on a train in Italy and on the Greek Island of Corfu.  Not all travel experiences are entirely enjoyable at the time of the experience and it is often lack of communication that creates and exacerbates problems.  Almost 40 years ago my husband and I purchased a train ticket from an agent in London for a reserved seat on a specific train, to travel from Rome to Brindisi.  The day before we left Rome we went to the train station and checked the booking and presented our ticket for confirmation.  We were assured everything was in order.
Our tickets were inspected a number of times on the long journey across Italy from Rome to the coast and down to the heel of “the boot”.  It was not however, until about the third pair of inspectors arrived that our tickets created any undue interest and we first heard the words “supplemento rapido”; although after a bit of arm waving and pointing we were left alone and the guards moved on muttering in Italian.
The mood changed at the next stop when a new set of inspectors boarded the train. “Supplemento rapido!  Supplemento rapido!”  shouted the first inspector.  “I don’t understand – do you speak English?” we asked.
“Supplemento rapido!  Supplemento rapido!”shouted the second inspector even louder as he waved his arms furiously to make us understand and held out a hand for some money.  The inspectors continued to shout at us in Italian that we didn’t understand, except for those now familiar words, “Supplemento rapido” repeated at ever increasing intervals and ever increasing volume.  We assumed they wanted extra money because this train was a fast train.  “Does anyone on this train speak English?”my husband asked hopefully and in desperation.  One of the inspectors went off to try and find a translator.  He returned with a Chinese gentleman in tow.
“Speak English, speak English” the inspector told us pointing to his would-be translator, and the hapless Chinese Italian tried unsuccessfully to translate and communicate with us.  Somehow with all the shouting, and with Chinese Italian being translated into Chinese English and then back to Chinese Italian it appeared that we were arguing about a sum of 23,400 lire (₤10) which was about half the amount we had paid for our two tickets.
The inspectors kept shouting louder and louder and waved their arms at ever increasing intervals to make us understand why we were expected to pay more money.  Soon a new word had entered the conversation – the inspectors were now shouting “Polizzi, Polizzi” as they continued to wave their arms about.
“Tell them to call the Polizzi !” my husband finally told the Chinese Italian.  He felt reasonably sure that the police would neither be called or be interested in such a trivial matter.  He was also absolutely convinced the inspectors intended to pocket the money and keep it for themselves if we paid. 
The train continued to speed towards Bari, the next big town along the Italian coast; and as we pulled into the train station we saw no less than three police cars parked in a row along the station platform with eight gun carrying Polizzi coming towards the train to arrest us and drag us off to an Italian prison.
Bari Centrale Railway Station photo by Chris0693 - Own work Wikimedia Commons Licence 
“I think now is a good time to pay the Supplemento Rapido” we decided.  “O.K. I’ll pay the money, but I want a receipt”, he told the Chinese Italian as the Polizzi marched down the train corridor to arrest us.
“I don’t believe I owe any money, but I’ll pay it if I get a receipt,” my husband told the police officers.  Once the money was paid, with a receipt duly issued, the Polizzi left the train and it started on the last uneventful leg of the journey to Brindisi.
As we enjoyed the tranquillity and the backward charm of the little Island of Corfu the next day we came upon a little old Greek woman wearing the typical black clothing of old Greek women all over the world as she sold dolls to tourists.  She spoke no English and we spoke no Greek, yet quietly and easily we had a ‘conversation’.
“Your Bambino?” she smiled as she handed me the traditional Greek doll I had selected.
“Yes” I answered as I paid her the money.  “She is nine years old”; I told the little old lady as I held up nine fingers; and she smiled again and made a sign like an embrace to show she understood how much I loved my “bambino”, and we parted in peace and with understanding.
I realised that in just two days we had enjoyed a lesson in international relations the world leaders could learn from; we had seen two ways of dealing with the difficulties of communication caused by a language barrier - the easy and effective way of the gentle smile and the soft voice, and the ineffectual way of bullying and shouting and shutting out understanding with noise and aggression.   
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

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