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Marsden Road Uniting Worship Epiphany 5 - 24 January 2021


 Sunday 24th January 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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How It Works

Sunday 24th January 2021

Epiphany 3 Sunday year of Mark 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship- (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)       

The light God shines forth in Jesus Christ changes everything. The world as we know it is passing away and becoming something gloriously new. In Jesus Christ, God’s kingdom is coming . . . and is already here. This is good news indeed.

Jesus says, “Now is the time!”

Startle us, God, from our busyness and routines. Show us how very close your Kingdom is.

Jesus says, “God’s kingdom is at hand!”

Deliver us, God, from faith in our own strength. Free us from the traps of violence, dishonesty, and greed.

Jesus says, “Receive the good news from God!”

Embolden us, God, to trust you anew. For we are as fragile as breath, and draw our strength from your mercy and compassion.

Hymn TIS 111: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,

                       (tune – Lobe Den Herren)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCnQNwQG5GI

Words in YouTube older English and only four verses – misses verse four.

1 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Brothers and sisters draw near,
praise him in glad adoration.

2 Praise to the Lord, above all things is wondrously reigning;
and, as on wings of an eagle, uplifting, sustaining;
Have you not seen all that is needful has been
sent by his gracious ordaining?

3 Praise to the Lord, who will prosper our work & defend us;
surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend you.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with his love he befriends us.

4 Praise to the Lord, who when darkness of sin is abounding,
who when the godless do triumph, our best hopes confounding,
sheds forth his light, scatters the horrors of night,
saints with his mercy surrounding.

5 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that has life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the Amen sound from his people again;
gladly forever adore him.

Lyrics - Joachim Neander              Tune - "Lobe den Herren" 

     Opening Prayer

     Loving God, in this season of Epiphany, your kingdom has drawn close— so close we can almost touch it. Help us see that we already live under your rule of peace. May our worship today draw us closer to you and to one another. When we measure greatness by status and success, you challenge us to find true greatness in following Jesus. You call, and like Jonah, we often run away in our unwillingness to preach mercy to others. You call, and like the disciples, we often rush after you, only to falter and fall away when the shadows deepen. Yet your strength and kindness never falter, even for the resistant Jonah or the enthusiastic fishermen. And your strength and kindness never abandon us. Loving God, it is you we worship this day. Amen 

A Prayer of Confession

You, God, are known for your wonderful deeds - your God alone offers strength and hope. Let us welcome God’s kingdom, making it our refuge. Pour out your hearts, trusting God with everything, even your failings and your deepest concerns.

God, we know that you alone are unshakable. You alone are our stronghold and our refuge. You deliver and glorify us, yet we fail to love and glorify you in return. We live as if we can save ourselves, as if we can be our own stronghold and fortress against the storm. Yet we are fragile as breath. We are consumed by our desires to succeed and dominate. We blindly strive to get our way, and are greedy for all sorts of wealth.

And so, we confess our failings to you and to one another, trusting in your forgiveness and your grace. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Beloved, God repays us according to our deeds, and yet in Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear. Trusting God with everything, we rest in God’s faithful love. Allowing Christ to change our hearts and our lives, we find God’s strength and hope.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

God alone gives us peace, a peace that is trustworthy and sure. Greet one another with the good news of peace in Jesus Christ.

Peace be with you!       And also, with you!

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: Jesus calls us to follow him.

Object: A telephone

Scripture: And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

What do you do when there is an emergency? Let's say, for example, that someone has a serious injury or illness, and if they don't get help right away, they might die. What would you do? Right! You'd pick up the phone and call 0-0-0!

When you call 0-0-0 and tell the person who answers that you need help right away, it is their job to see that you get help. That person would never say something like, "I'm sorry, we are really busy right now, maybe some other time." No way! They drop whatever they are doing and make sure that you get the help you need.

In our Scripture story today, Jesus was walking along beside the sea of Galilee preaching the good news of God when he made a call for help. He saw Peter and Andrew throwing a net into the water. They were fishermen. He called out to them, "Come, follow me and I will teach you how to fish for people."

You see, Jesus wanted Peter and Andrew to help him teach people about God's love for them. When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they didn't say, "Not right now, we are busy fishing. Maybe some other time." No! Our scripture tells us that they left their nets and followed Jesus.

Jesus, Peter, and Andrew had gone a little farther when they saw James and John sitting in a boat mending their nets. When Jesus saw them, he called to them, "Follow me." They didn't say, "Not right now, we're busy mending our nets. Perhaps some other time." No, we read that they left their father sitting in the boat with the hired hands and followed Jesus.

Jesus is still calling for help today. He has called you and me to help him to bring others into God's Kingdom. Is it an emergency? It sure is! It's a matter of life and death! We hear in scripture, "Unless you repent, you will all perish." Jesus has called us, what will we say? What will we do? I hope and pray that we will drop whatever we are doing and answer the call.

Offering Prayer

God may these gifts and our very lives be a YES! to follow Christ’s call. Use us and the offerings we bring this day, that your peace, your strength, and your loving-kindness may be made more visible in the world. Amen 

Hymn TIS 672:Lord of earth and all creation

                       (tune – Westminster Abbey)

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. 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Jonah 3: 1-5,10

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 1:14-20

After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings:

Jonah 3: 1-5,10
1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’ 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.   

Mark 1:14-20

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. 

Preaching of the Word - How It Works

“Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

That’s all we get in today’s Gospel lesson to describe how Jesus called his first disciples and how they responded. That’s it. In just seven verses our Gospel writer says four fishermen drop everything and follow Jesus on the basis of his two-word command: Follow me.

Our Gospel called Mark known for being terse, staccato in style. In this telling of the Good News, the writer shows us a Jesus on the move, Jesus who does everything immediately. (The word “immediately” occurs twice in today’s little story. It occurs about 27 times in the whole Gospel.) In Mark we get  just the details we need, and the result is a fast-paced, streamlined account of who Jesus is, what Jesus does, and how people respond.

So, it’s no wonder that today we hear Jesus give a command, and these four fishermen respond immediately.

For some, the lack of details is frustrating. We probably want to know: What were they thinking? What motivated the fishermen? How could they really drop everything to follow?

For others, the lack of details is inviting—our imaginations fill in the gaps. Perhaps Simon was bored that day. The nets had been coming up empty, the wind was too strong to go out far from shore, so why not just leave the nets and follow this man who seemed to need him for something? Perhaps James never really felt like he was cut out for fishing. It was the family business, so of course, he was doing what was expected of him, but really, maybe it was time he stood up for himself and told his father he wanted to try something new, put down the nets, and do his own thing for a change. And Andrew, perhaps he saw something in Jesus’s face when he spoke that intrigued him. Maybe.

We are not told. Apparently, the person bringing together this Gospel called Mark doesn’t think it matters what they were thinking or feeling. What matters is that Jesus said, “Follow me,” and that’s what they did. We may wish there were more to it than that. We may wish we knew what it was about them that made them so willing to take risks, so free to respond, so able to walk away from the familiar, from the security of the predictable to go off into an unknown future with a man they hardly knew. But we don’t know.

And because the Gospel called Mark doesn’t tell us, we have to entertain the possibility that this really is the way Jesus gets followed: without all the facts, without really knowing what Jesus is up to or where exactly he’s going, or why he wants us to follow him. Jesus says, “Follow me,” and that’s enough. Jesus says, “Follow me,” and we do.

Or we don’t. Whether we think that Jesus is calling us to undertake even just one task, become more like him in one small way, give up one familiar habit to do something he wants us to do, let alone if following Jesus might mean making large sacrifices, large changes, life-altering plans, it’s hard for us to conceive of the possibility of following on the basis of a simple command.

We are not uncomplicated fishermen, we say, as if any human life is uncomplicated. We are responsible people, we say. We must make our decisions carefully, we say, weigh our options. Our decisions take research; our values need clarification. We can’t just rush into things. We can’t afford to change the directions of our lives merely on the basis of a very vague proposal, let alone just because Jesus tells us to. Really, it would be easier to follow Jesus if we had a different job, a different spouse, if we were single, if we didn’t have children, if we had different friends, a different income.

Discerning the call to follow can be tricky because part of what we try to figure out is when Jesus is calling us to come away from the specifics of our lives in order to follow, and when Jesus is calling us because of the specifics of our lives, that is, because we have the job we have or the life we have, because we are who we are.

Jesus told those fishermen, “I will make you fish for people.” He didn’t say, “I really need accountants, but you’ll have to do.” It may be that he’s saying to you, “I really need you to follow me in your job.” “I really need you to follow me in your marriage.” “I really need you to conform your family life to a way that allows you to follow me.” “I really need you to follow me when you’re with your friends.” “I really need you to use your talents to help in my kingdom, to help in my church, to help in my world.”

Today’s story is a little unnerving, a little unsettling. The Gospel named Mark seems to be saying that whether we follow by making big changes or small, following means giving things up, just like that. We seem to be, being told that this is how one follows Jesus: without all the details, without taking time to consider all the options, without having much of a road map, beyond putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where Jesus takes you. Can we do it?

Today’s gospel story is about a decisive moment in the lives of four fishermen, when Jesus called them to follow and they said yes. But even after they said yes, they had to keep listening. Jesus kept calling them to the next thing, the next way for them to follow. Same with us: we are called again and again to follow, to put aside what’s occupying us, and be about Jesus’ business instead.

Since it’s Jesus who calls us to follow—whether it’s to go halfway around the world or to do one thing for Jesus today right where we live, trust this: Jesus won’t lead us astray or abandon us. God has given the Church, including this particular group of the church, the gift of the Scriptures, the story of Jesus and the Christian community, to form us and guide us. God has given us the sacraments and God’s promise to be with us and nourish us for God’s service in the bread and wine we share together monthly. God has given us the promise to be with us even when just two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ. All these things make our willingness to follow not just about risk, but about promise as well.

When Jesus called those first four fishermen, they didn’t make demands and they didn’t ask for guarantees, they just left their nets and followed. But later in the gospel, when maybe they were rethinking their decision, Jesus gives them a promise. What happens is this: Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus responds, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life”

Today Jesus says to each of us, “Follow me.” 

What do you say? 

Hymn TIS 677: Christ’s is the world in which we move

                        (tune – Dream Angus)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgeYYCuQ9B8

1. Christ’s is the world in which we move.

Christ’s are the folk we’re summoned to love,

Christ’s is the voice which calls us to care,

and Christ is the One who meets us here.

To the lost Christ shows his face;

to the unloved He gives His embrace;

to those who cry in pain or disgrace,

Christ, makes, with His friends, a touching place.


2. Feel for the people we most avoid.

Strange or bereaved or never employed;

Feel for the women and feel for the men who,

fear that their living is all in vain.

To the lost Christ shows his face;

to the unloved He gives His embrace;

to those who cry in pain or disgrace,

Christ, makes, with His friends, a touching place.


3. Feel for the parents who lost their child,

feel for the woman whom men have defiled.

Feel for the baby for whom there’s no breast,

and feel for the weary who find no rest.

To the lost Christ shows his face;

to the unloved He gives His embrace;

to those who cry in pain or disgrace,

Christ, makes, with His friends, a touching place.

4. Feel for the lives by life confused.

Riddled with doubt, in loving abused;

Feel for the lonely heart, conscious of sin,

which longs to be pure but fears to begin.

To the lost Christ shows his face;

to the unloved He gives His embrace;

to those who cry in pain or disgrace,

Christ, makes, with His friends, a touching place.

Author: John L. Bell
Tune: Dream Angus 

Intercessory Prayer - Epiphany 3 Sunday – Year B

In you, 0 God, do we place our trust: hear us when we bring our prayers for the world and for the church.

We pray for the peoples of the world: for all who experience the horrors of war, famine, or disease, for all who suffer the loss of freedom and dignity. Help us answer your call to leave behind our ways of aggression and greed, that we may proclaim your gospel to our broken world.

God, in whom we trust and hope, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for Australia: for the preservation of the natural treasures of this land: for all who live here, for inhabitants from ancient times and for new arrivals. Help us answer your call to leave behind our ways of prejudice and intolerance, that we may proclaim your gospel to our broken world.

God, in whom we trust and hope, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for the church, its clergy and people: for prophets today, who call us to repentance; for our parish family and all who minister in this place. Help us answer your call to leave behind our arrogance and division, that we may proclaim your gospel to our broken world.

God, in whom we trust and hope, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for the communities in which we live: for our families and friends and all who give us love and companionship; for all whose work sustains this community

Help us answer your call to leave behind our ways of alienation and apathy, that we may proclaim your gospel to our broken world.

God, in whom we trust and hope, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are in need: for those whose lives are filled with grief, loneliness or despair; for the disabled, the infirm, the sick and the dying, and for all who care for them.

Help us answer your call to leave behind our ways of selfishness and neglect, that we may proclaim your gospel to our broken world.

God, in whom we trust and hope, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for your faithful servants of every age, for Andrew, Peter, James and John, and for those in every generation who have followed you. Help us, like them, to answer your call to leave behind all that separates us from you, that we may find new life in your eternal presence.

God, in whom we trust and hope, in your mercy,

hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn TIS 571: Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go

                        (tune – Song 34)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKppMDm5m9I

YouTube has six verses with verse 3 added. Also uses King James English whereas TIS is modern English. extra verse

1 Forth in your name, O Lord, I go,

my daily labour to pursue,

you only, Lord, resolved to know

in all I think or speak or do.


2 Each task your wisdom has assigned

will let me cheerfully fulfill;

in all my work your presence find,

and prove your good and perfect will.


3 You may I set at my right hand,

whose eyes my inmost substance view,

and labour on at your command

and offer all my works to you.


4 Give me to bear your easy yoke,

in every moment watch and pray,

and still to things eternal look

and hasten to your glorious day.


5 for you delightfully employ

all that your bounteous grace has given,

and run my course with even joy,

and closely walk with you to heaven.

Lyrics by Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788).

Tune: Song 34, Orlando Gibbons 

Benediction

Go forth and share the good news from God.

God rewards us and our deeds, not with doom, but with mercy. In circumstances both difficult and joyful, God remains our place of safety.

Go forth and proclaim God’s kingdom.

The world as we know it is passing away. We belong to God’s kingdom, which is coming and now is.

Now is the time to be the good news.

We go forth to tell the world the good news of the strength and mercy of our God. 

        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
                       (Tune – Aubrey)

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

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

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

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

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

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)          Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)




 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Church Worship First Sunday after Christmas 27 December 2020

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Light in Darkness

Sunday 27th December 2020

Christmas 1 Sunday year of Mark 9.30 am 

Gathering God’s People   

 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples 

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

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

Call to Worship- (Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)       

Joy to the world! Christ has come and Christmas is here! Let all of creation sing praise to our God 

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants, you ordain praise and thanksgiving to silence the foe and the avenger.

You make everything beautiful in its own time.

You set eternity in our hearts, yet we cannot fathom what you have done from beginning to end.

What could be better than to be happy and to do good while we live?

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

O God, our God, you are Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. 

Hymn TIS 317: Love Came down at Christmas

                 (Tune – Garton)

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

1 Love came down at Christmas,

love all lovely, Love divine;

Love was born at Christmas;

star and angels gave the sign.

 

2 Worship we the Godhead,

Love incarnate, Love divine;

worship we our Jesus,

but wherewith for sacred sign?

 

3 Love shall be our token;

love be yours and love be mine;

love to God and others,

love for plea and gift and sign. 

Author: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1885)

Tune: Gartan 

     Opening Prayer 

We come to you today, God, the Alpha and the Omega, as people blessed by your tender care. Today, we come to seek your guidance, that we may better understand how to follow the teaching of Christ, our Lord and Saviour, in whose name we pray. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

Gracious God, giver of new beginnings, we come to you today, confessing our need.

As we face this coming year, help us through each day.

As we leave the past year behind, help us look to you. When we face birth or death; when we confront a time to plant or to uproot, help us put our faith in you.

When we see a time to tear down or to build up, when we face a time to weep or to laugh, when we meet a time to be silent or a time to speak, help us rely on you.

You alone know what the coming year holds. You alone know of our small triumphs and our grand failures.

Gracious God assure us once again that there is forgiveness in your love.

Heal us with the knowledge that our sins may be left with you, through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

God brings a season for every activity under heaven and has made everything beautiful in its time. Although we cannot fathom the depths of God's love, we know that God cares for each of us; we know that our inheritance comes from God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, be with you. Share this gift of peace with all whom you see and greet.

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 - Keeping our promises

Object - A calendar for the new year

It is coming up to the beginning of a New Year on a Calendars. A brand-new calendar for a fresh start on life. Most people start the new year by making some New Year Resolutions. Making a resolution is like making a promise to ourselves that we are going to do certain things. Usually it is a promise to do better next year than we did last year. Here is a list of resolutions that might be good to make.

·I will watch less TV and get more exercise.

·I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car.

·I will be nice to other children (Even my brothers and sisters!).

·I will put away my toys when I am through playing with them.

Can you think of some more resolutions you could make?

Some people don't take New Year's resolutions very seriously. After all, these are just Promises that are made to one’s self. If you don't follow through, it's no big deal. Well, maybe it is a big deal! A promise is a promise -- and it is important to keep your promises -- even if it is just a promise to yourself.

God is always faithful in keeping promises. In scripture, there is a story about a man named Simeon. Simeon was a very old man who had faithfully served God all of his life. Simeon was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Christ, the promised Messiah.

A few days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to dedicate him to God. Simeon was in the temple as he usually was. As soon as Simeon saw the baby, he knew that Jesus was the Christ and that God had kept his promise that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.

Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, "Lord, now let your servant die in peace. As you have promised, I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people."

Anna, a prophet, was also in the Temple. She was always at the Temple worshiping and praying. She came along just as Simeon was talking to Mary and Joseph. When she heard what Simeon was saying, she began praising God and telling everyone that this child was the Saviour that God had promised. Both Simeon and Anna knew that God is faithful to his promise just as he is faithful to his promises to you and me.

Today, as we look to beginning a new year this week, let's remember that just as God is faithful in keeping his promises, we should be faithful in keeping our promises. It doesn't matter whether it is a promise to one’s self, a promise to a friend, or a promise to God. After all, a promise is a promise! 

Offering Prayer 

God, source of all we have, help us remember the tasks that you have set before us. Bless these gifts, that they may help continue the work we are called to do. Use this place and this congregation to reflect the love that Christ has shown. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 301: The first Nowell

                  (Tune – The First Nowell)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6tQlRkF59I 

The first “Nowell” the angels did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!

 

They looked up and saw a star

Shining in the east, beyond them far;

And to the earth it gave great light,

And so it continued both day and night.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!

 

And by the light of that same star

Three wise men came from country far;

To seek for a King was their intent,

And to follow the star wherever it went.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!

 

This star drew nigh to the northwest:

O’er Bethlehem it took its rest;

And there it did both stop and stay,

Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!

 

Then entered in those wise men three,

Full reverently upon their knee,

And offered there, in his presence,

Their gold and myrrh, and frankincense.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel!

 

Then let us all with one accord

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord

That hath made heaven and earth of naught,

And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!

Born is the King of Israel! 

Author: Anonymous (1833)
Tune: The First Nowell 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 61: 10 - 62:3

The Gospel Reading:                                        Luke 2: 22-40. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Isaiah 61: 10 - 62:3

61 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. 62 1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. 2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 

Luke 2: 22-40.

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’ 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ 36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him. 

Preaching of the Word - Light in Darkness 

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone...
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
in the bleak mid-winter long, long ago.

These are the words we hear from the Christina Rosetti’s poem made into the Carol. I was thinking about this when I read todays lessons. If we lived in the Northern hemisphere the following would be so but for us it is the heat, fire and drought that make our Christmas-tide days.

You know though, not only in winter, but some days also seem darker than others. Some days seem colder. The shortest, darkest day of the year are yet to come for us but in the North, although the days will gradually lengthen now, winter hangs on. A phenomena called Canadian clippers with cold blasts of Arctic air continue to slam across the plains slicing down even into the deep South of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. On the East coast recent snow may be melting and the hard ground softening, but the dark winter days continue and soon there will be cold and snow again.

As if it were a last pathetic effort to reach people where they are, little shopping mall angels have sung: "Peace on Earth good will to men," while powerful men talk of war and prominent church figures speak of it as inevitable and sometimes justified. For us this has been in the heat of summer. In the north though, some days seem colder, sometimes seem darker, than others.

We are now twenty years away from a dark and cold century, marked, as one writer has said, by wars or worse: the forced starvation of a whole population in the Ukraine, the forced extermination of whole races in the death camps and ovens of the Holocaust, the forced imprisonment of those declared outside the regime in the gulags of Siberia, the forced banishment or murder for those outside a particular group in ethnic cleansing, and in this land the perpetuated discrimination based on colour or sex.

Today our new century doesn’t seem to have offered great change with attacks on worshipping groups etc. Well even the Covid-19 Pandemic. We still stand before a future not only unknown and therefore frightening, but before a future in which anything can happen, or has already happened -- with a few grieving the loss of faith, and a few trying to remember -- not only how faith was -- but asking: "How it is to be for us again?"

Is there room for God; is there room for faith in a world that seems to have gone mad? Some days seem colder-sometimes seem darker than others. In a season when in places in the world little shopping mall angels sing: "Peace on Earth to people of good will," the arrogant talk of war: defensive, antiseptic, surgical, clean and quick, justified and scorching. The talk of punishing, of election fraud dominates our news.

Yet, on that first Christmas night, when heaven could not hold him and the Earth barely able to welcome him, Jesus Lord and Christ, was stable born, a baby in Bethlehem.

Now in our dark night, does he look to come again? Does he look again for hearts to hold him? We hear again from Christina Rosetti:

Angels and archangels may have gathered there
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air...
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

Is Christmas too good to be true? Is Christmas too far-fetched and too far away? Is it that God Almighty become a baby was something unthinkable? The long-expected gift was too fine and too far-fetched, they said. In Jesus, God joins our weakness and that is foolish to the strong.

On that first Christmas night, when heaven could not hold him, Jesus Lord and Christ, was stable born in Bethlehem, in a land we now call Israel. Well the question for us is: is Christmas too far-fetched; too far away, and too feeble!

No! I want to answer, Christmas is too near!

Christmas is God's work, God's risk for intimacy with you and me. Christmas is a time for closeness and warmth, a time for carols and singing, a time for laughter and love, a time for warmth and kindness -- a time for kissing, for play, and for peace. 

Mary, remembering her revolutionary Magnificat, kissed her baby; and God kissed the Earth. Now in our own dark night, God wants to kiss the earth again -- in Bethlehem’s all around the world in the land between you and me. Today, Jesus wishes to be born again, not in the city of David, but in Bethlehem’s all around the world in the land between you and me.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb...
If I were a wiseman, I would do my part,
yet what can I give him ... give my heart.

(Christina Rosetti)

What is the challenge for this coming new year as Covid is still with us -- 2021? Well, here is a few thoughts. To make room in the land between your heart and mine for faith and beauty and love and goodness and God to live again; and counting on these things, to expect them to make a difference!

"I believe in one God...who was made flesh and dwells among us." "Look at that -- I have never seen anything so beautiful."

"Let love set fear aside -- to welcome, embrace, and feed the fearful stranger again."

To know that God wants and works for Peace On Earth and that with the help of a little child -- the one born in Bethlehem and the one hiding in each of us --

God's will shall be done. 

Hymn TIS 210: O for a thousand tongues to sing

                  (Tune – Lyngham)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T-i3COsefM 

O for a thousand tongues to sing

my great Redeemer's praise,

the glories of my God and King,

the triumphs of his grace!

 

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,

that bids our sorrows cease,

'tis music in the sinner's ears,

'tis life and health and peace.

 

See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

 

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,

he sets the prisoner free;

his blood can make the foulest clean;

his blood availed for me. 

He speaks, - and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe. 

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb
Your loosened tongues employ
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come
And leap, ye lame, for joy 

My gracious Master and my God,

assist me to proclaim,

to spread through' all the earth abroad

the honours of your name. 

Author: Charles Wesley

Tune : Lyngham Composer: Thomas Jarman (C. 1803) 

Intercessory Prayers  

God of all mercy, we give you thanks for your beautiful and bountiful creation and for all who work to protect it.

We pray for all people in areas of war, for all who suffer persecution and privation; for all with the responsibility of government in this and other lands.

In the darkness of inhumanity, give us compassion; where there is arrogance, give us humility; where there is foolishness, give us wisdom.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

God of all grace, we give you thanks for the birth of your Son, who comes to us as the Light of the World. We pray for your worldwide church, for the National Council of Churches, for all who minister and worship in this place, for the teachers and students at the Sunday Kids.

In the darkness of sin, give us grace; where there is error, give us truth; where there is unbelief, give us faith.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all love, we give you thanks for all who sustain us with their love and care.

We pray for children and the families in which they live; for those with whom we work and play, for this community, for all whose daily work enriches our lives.

In the darkness of rejection, give us love; where there is alienation, give us reconciliation; where there is injury, give us forgiveness.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all compassion, we give you thanks for all who lighten the burdens of others.

We pray for all who live with pain, grief, loneliness and hopelessness, for the sick and all who care for them.

In the darkness of pain, give comfort; where there is despair, give hope; where there is grief, give consolation.

May we who have received your light, live so others may see your light. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all faithfulness, we give you thanks for your faithful servants of every age: for Simeon and Anna and all who have recognised your Son as the Light of the World and for all whose lives have shone with the radiance of your light.

With these, and with all who have passed through the shadow of death, may we too come to dwell for ever in the glory of your presence. Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

THE LORD'S PRAYER

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

Hymn TIS 309: Angels from the realm of glory

                 (Tune – Iris) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UidzShf8Ihw 

1 Angels from the realms of glory,

wing your flight through all the earth;

heralds of creation's story

now proclaim Messiah's birth!

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king.

 

2 Shepherds in the fields abiding,

watching by your flocks at night,

God with us is now residing:

see, there shines the infant light!

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king.

 

3 Wise men leave your contemplations!

brighter visions shine afar;

seek in him the hope of nations,

you have seen his rising star:

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king.

 

4 Though an infant now we view him,

he will share his Father's throne,

gather all the nations to him;

every knee shall then bow down:

Come and worship, Christ, the new-born king;

come and worship, worship Christ the new-born king. 

Words: James Montgomery

Music: Iris (French Traditional) 

Benediction

      Go forth in peace, the peace of Christ.

             Go forth with the joy of the season.

 .           Go forth with the love, the love of God

             Go forth to serve, led by the Spirit of God.

        Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own lives! Amen.        

Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you

                     (Tune – Aubrey)

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

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

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

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

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

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)   

      Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)



 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting January 2021 Newsletter

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - December 24, 2020 - 2:35am

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church

203 Marsden Road Carlingford

Monthly Newssheet January 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. 

January 2021 Services by Zoom 

1     New Year’s Day

3     9.30am Epiphany Service (Zoom) led by our Lay Minister

       Warwick Roden and team

10   9.30am Baptism of the Lord Sunday Service (Zoom)

       Led by our Lay Minister Margaret Johnston

17   9.30am Epiphany 2 Sunday Service (Zoom) led by Guest 

       Preacher – Lynette Graham

24   9.30am Epiphany 3 Sunday Service (Zoom) led by Rev John 

CHURCH SERVICES 

Worship for January will be found On-line via Phone and delivered by hand to people. See Newssheet and Website to access these services.

  1. Through Live Zoom on the Internet on

Sunday at 9.30am. Email info@marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au for details

  1. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox. 

Offerings

 

·         Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit See details of Church Bank Account below.

·         By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC

·         A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church

BSB: 634 634          A/C: 100049856

 

UPCOMING EVENTS 

Face-to-Face Worship at Marsden Road Church 

We hope to start Face to Face worship 14th of February 2021. This will be subject to conditions at that time. 

·         Currently maximum of 40 Congregation Members plus Worship Leaders in the Church itself.

·         Those who attend will be requested to abide by our Covid-19 Safety Plan. Copy available from Warwick Roden or Church Council Members.

·         It involves social distancing, face masks and hand washing amongst its various requirements 

If there are changes in the meantime, either due to an outbreak of Covid-19 or the further relaxing of Regulations we will inform you as soon as we get details. 

Marsden Road Prayer Cycle 

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

Lent Study Groups

We have selected Through the Eyes of Love - Five Studies written by Ian Price as our Lenten study.

Due to a kind donation most of the cost of Study Guides has been covered and therefore will only be $10 each.

If Face to Face Night Group- Wednesday’s 7.30pm - 9.00pm – 24 February, and 03, 10, 17, 24 March 2021, Venue: Rev John and Wendy’s home.

The morning group will be taking place if circumstances allow it. 

CONGREGATIONAL ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 

The Meeting will be held Sunday 28th February 2021 in the hall, following the 9.30am morning Church Service. 

Reports from Minister, Church Council, Elders, and the Treasurer to be with Congregational Chair or Secretary before the 14th of February 2021. 

The Sub-committee Reports from Property, Nurture Group, Education and Social o be with the Church Council by January 30th, 2021 to be included with the Church Council report to the congregation. 

Elections to Take Place at the Congregational AGM. 

Election of Congregation Meeting Office Bearers:

Chairperson, Deputy, Secretary, Deputy, Treasurer, Deputy 

Election of Church Council and Office Bearers

Chairperson, Deputy, Secretary, Deputy, Council Members: 

Nominations to Congregational Chair or Secretary before 14th of February 2021. 

Nominations for Sub-Committees of Church Council 

Nominations are required for those to serve on the Property, Social and Education, Nurture and Sunday Kids.

Nominations to Church Council Chair or Secretary before the 5th of February 2021.

Membership of Sub-Committees will be appointed and ratified at the Meeting of the Church Council on February 09, 2021.

 

A Reminder on Zoom Etiquette

 

NB: Please mute during actual service unless you are reading or leading, and especially mute during hymns

 

For phone participants MUTE/UNMUTE - To do this enter *6 - this works as a toggle switch.


Parramatta Mission



Parramatta Mission are at the forefront of supporting individuals, families and communities who are disadvantaged, vulnerable & doing it tough. During this difficult time of Covid-19 the Mission continues to assist those in need. Details, www.parramattamission.org.au/donate

 


         Congregation Picnic Lunch


Thank you, Jan Roden, and helpers, for making both the November and December Picnic lunches such enjoyable events for all who attended. There were 30 people at each. luncheon.  Thank you to Amoe our newest congregation member for her generosity of food for all on the 11thof December event. 

Minister’s Holidays 

Rev John Candy and Wendy will be on holidays from the 28thDecember 2020, returning to duty on the 09th January 2021, with his first Service being the 24th of January via Zoom..

If Congregation Members have Pastoral or other immediate needs while John is away, please contact your Elder and they will contact Th Church Council Chair to arrange a Minister if needed.




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Christmas Day 25 December 2020

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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


Did You Find What You Were

Looking For?

Sunday 25th December 2020

Christmas Day year of Mark 8.30 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 2011)       

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Let the seas roar and the mountains quake.

Christ was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done marvellous things.

What has come into being in him was life, and that life was the light of all people.

Let heaven and earth break forth into joyous song, singing praises to our God.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

Christ, our light, shines forth in glory. Christ, our life, brings us grace and truth. Alleluia! 

Hymn TIS 268: Joy to the world (tune – Antioch)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzhCMwqn6OQ 

1.  Joy to The World! The Lord Is Come

Let Earth Receive Her King!

Let Every Heart Prepare His Room

And Heaven and Nature Sing

And Heaven and Nature Sing

And Heaven, And Heaven and Nature Sing

 

2.  Joy to The World! The Savior Reigns

Let Men Their Songs Employ

While Fields and Floods

Rocks, Hills and Plains

Repeat the Sounding Joy

Repeat the Sounding Joy

Repeat, Repeat the Sound Joy

 

3.  He Rules the World with Truth and Grace

And Makes the Nations Prove

The Glories of His Righteousness

And Wonders of His Love

And Wonders of Is Love

And Wonders and Wonders of His Love 

Author: Isaac Watts (1719)
Tune: Antioch 

     Lighting of The Christmas Candle - Unity 

     We are people who have walked in darkness, and who have sometimes walked alongside those for whom darkness is a way of life, whether by choice or through the violence of injustice or conflict.

Now we rejoice in a great light. A child has been born for us all, and we enter the promise of peace.

     Come, let us worship and adore the God who is born among us.

     God is present with us and to us!

            (Christmas Candle-lighting)

     God is in our midst as the Christ candle sits at the       centre of our prayers and longing, expressed as we have gathered over the past weeks.

     In the lighting of this candle, we stand in the miracle of Jesus’    birth. We pray that the fragility of this new dawn will reveal again the mystery and wonder of God’s love.

     It is time to cry out in joy and to proclaim the cause of those who seek justice. It is time to take the light of the Gospel of love to every corner of our lives. Glory to God, in the highest heaven.

     And on earth, peace to all people. And so, trust grows between all people and we become one. 

     Opening prayer 

God of life and light, as you came on that Christmas morning so many years ago, come to us today. Gather us into your light and love and fill us with the brightness of your glory. Shine the light of your love into the recesses of our lives, that we may walk in darkness no longer. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of love and light, you have blessed us with a priceless gift— the gift of your very self in the person of Jesus.

Forgive us, Holy One, when we deny your gift or neglect your promise in our lives. Forgive us, Mighty God, when we fail to acknowledge Christ as the reflection of your glory and majesty.

Purify our hearts, purge our sins, and make us your beloved children, that we may be full of your righteousness, grace, and love. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

Christ judges us with righteousness and equity and loves us with grace and mercy. Through the gracious gift of God, and the gift of Christ, we are forgiven!

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, be with you. Share this gift of peace with all whom you see and greet.

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: Don't mistake all the tinsel and lights for the real  

            meaning of Christmas.

Object: Some Christmas decorations, a gift, Christmas

            cookies, etc.

It's here! It's finally here! Christmas is finally here! I just love Christmas, don't you? What do you like best about Christmas? Is it the Christmas tree with its blinking lights? Maybe it's the beautiful music or the delicious Christmas goodies. Perhaps it's Christmas dinner with turkey and dressing and all of the trimmings. For some it might be all of the parties or visiting with family and friends. For many people the best thing about Christmas is the presents — both the ones we give and the ones we receive. Especially the ones we receive!

Hmm. . . Can you think of anything I have left out? Oh yes! It's someone's birthday, isn't it? Whose birthday is it? That's right! It is Jesus' birthday. You know, sometimes we get so caught up in all of the decorations, lights, parties, and presents that we miss the real Christmas.

That reminds me of a story I heard about a little boy who had always wanted to go to a circus. One day he was walking down the street when he saw a poster in a store window. The poster said that a circus was coming to town and that a ticket to the circus cost one dollar. The boy ran home and asked his father if he would give him a dollar to go to the circus on Saturday.

His father told him that if he would work hard and get all of his chores done, he would give him a dollar to go to the circus. Saturday morning came and the boy got up early and did all of his chores.

"I have all of my chores done," the boy told his dad.

The boy's father gave him a dollar and the boy headed into town filled with excitement about seeing wild animals, trapeze artists, and all of the things that come with a circus. Since he arrived in town so early, he was on the front row when the circus parade started down the main street of town. The boy was thrilled when the animals and other circus acts paraded by.

At the end of the parade came the clowns and following the clowns was the ringmaster. When the ringmaster passed by where he was standing, the boy ran out into the street, took his folded dollar bill from his pocket, and handed it to the ringmaster.

"Thanks," mister, said the boy, "that was a great circus." Then he turned around and walked home. He never knew what he had missed. He thought he had been to the circus, but he had only been to the parade.

If we are not careful, we can be like that little boy. We can get so caught up in the celebration, the decorations, and the gifts that we miss the real Christmas -- the birthday of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Offering Prayer 

God of infinite chances, there is no length you will not go to offer us the possibility of new life and the opportunity for redemption. As we gather in gratitude for the gift of your Son, receive our thanks and humble appreciation for all that we receive, which makes us what we are. Bless these gifts and offerings, that they may bring light and life to God's people. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 304: O come all ye faithful verses 1,5,6,7

                       (tune – Adeste Fideles)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8dgI4-bVPU 

1 O come, all ye faithful,

joyful and triumphant,

come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

come and behold him

born the king of angels:

 

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord!

 

5 Child, for us sinners

poor and in the manger,

fain we embrace thee with love and awe;

who would not love thee,

loving us so dearly?

 

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord!

 

6 Sing, choirs of angels,

sing in exultation,

sing all ye citizens of heaven above,

'Glory to God,

glory in the highest':

 

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord!

 

7 Yea, Lord, we greet thee,

born this happy morning,

Jesus, to thee be glory given;

Word of the Father

now in flesh appearing:

 

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord! 

Author (Attributed To):    John Francis Wade, C. 1711-1786

Translator:  Frederick Oakeley, 1802-80 Translator (V3-5):      William Thomas Brooke, 1848-1917

Tune: Adeste Fideles Composer (Attributed To): John Francis Wade, C. 1711-1786                                                     

The Service of the Word                               

The First Reading:            Isaiah 62.2-7

Gospel Reading:               Luke 2:8-20                         

 

Isaiah 62.6-12 

6 Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest, 7 and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth. 8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have laboured; 9 but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it      in my holy courts. 10 Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. 11 The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, ‘See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’ 12 They shall be called, ‘The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord ’; and you shall be called, ‘Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.’ 

Luke 2.8-20 

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,      and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Preaching of the Word - Did You Find What You Were Looking For? 

“Did you find what you were looking for?” You have likely heard this phrase uttered many times over these past few weeks during Christmas shopping forays. It’s rather ubiquitous, isn’t it? “Did you find what you were looking for?”

Most of the time, you likely answered, “Yes, thank you,” or perhaps you inquired about something you had not been able to find. And in the context of purchasing something, you probably didn’t give your answer much thought beyond the immediate transaction.

But today, on this Christmas Day, let’s consider the question again: “Did you find what you were looking for?”

On this day we once again hear the old familiar story of an unwed teenage mother-to-be named Mary and her fiancé Joseph making the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem under orders to be enrolled from their Roman overlords. The birth of Mary’s son happens, and we hear that a messenger from God appears to shepherds who get the initial report of the birth of the Messiah. The messenger gives them a sign by which they will find the baby, and a great number of the heavenly host appear to glorify God. The shepherds decide to go check this out, and they find things just as the angel had reported to them. They found what they were looking for!

We know this story, don’t we? Even if all we know of it is hearing Linus deliver its strains in King James English as a monologue in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” we know this story. We know the shepherds found what they were looking for: the baby Messiah, the Anointed One. What they perhaps did not know and could not fully comprehend in that moment over 2,000 years ago is what this child would mean for them – and for us.

While Luke tells us the events of Christ’s birth, in essence, answering the “What happened?” question, we are left with another question: “Why did it happen?” Why did God choose to come to us and live as one of us?

Part of the answer is found in the three short verses from today’s reading from the Letter to Titus:

“When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy … so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

This passage is paraphrased to clarify the point of the author: The birth of Christ happened to save us.

It happened precisely because we could not save ourselves from the mess of living life on our own terms. If we could have done so, we would have, right? But human history has proved that we can’t do it in and of ourselves. So God took the initiative and set about this saving work, not because we earned it in any way, but solely because of God’s grace.

What a radical idea this is – especially in light of our capitalistic meritocracy-based culture. We did not earn this salvation – it was freely given to us by God’s grace. Grace is that unmerited, unearned love that God has for all of creation. The letter goes on to say that this grace “justifies” us, which means it makes our relationship with God right and balanced. God initiates making the relationship with us right. Make no mistake, we have the obligation to respond to this invitation and participate in a right relationship; however, we are not the initiators of that action – God is.

And the reason God makes this relationship right is so that we might become heirs, children of God, with a hope of eternal life. Eternal life is an often-misunderstood concept and often posited as “going to heaven when you die,” which turns it into some kind of celestial evacuation plan. But that isn’t what the scriptures mean by the term eternal life. Eternal life is living fully and freely in the present now, loving God and each other. This lifetime of loving presence happens right here and now and continues forever.

So, when we think about the birth of Christ beyond the story of what happened and consider why it happened, it leads us back to the question, “Did you find what you were looking for?” Perhaps you haven’t considered that question in this context but do so for just a moment.

You are here, worshipping, on Christmas. Why did you come? You didn’t have to come, you know. Oh, sure, some here will give a nod to attending worship on Christmas being part of your family tradition, or maybe it was to appease parents or grandparents, and some of you are accustomed to regularly attending church. But regardless of why you think you are here, ponder in your heart for a moment what you are really seeking, because perhaps something deeper brought you here. What are you really looking for?

If we are honest, we all have a deep longing – a sense of something missing in our lives. Some call this the “hole in our soul.” It is the nagging feeling that we are incomplete and lacking. We humans are consciously aware of our fragility, our finitude, our faults and our failings. It is a fearful thing to acknowledge this truth. Most of us spend our lives running away from this stark reality by attempting to fill this hole in our soul with anything that promises to fulfill or fix us.

But try as we might, we cannot fill this hole ourselves because it was placed there by God when we were breathed into existence. It was placed there for a purpose: to draw us to say “yes” to God’s free gift of love in Christ.

Christmas is the proclamation that God spoke an eternal “yes” to us by slipping through the back door of history as a helpless baby, to grow up and live with us, die for us, and be raised from the dead to prove once and for all that our fragility, finitude, faults and failings are not the last word.

Christ is still renewing, redeeming and giving life to us – all of us, no exceptions.

No matter what your life circumstances are this day, God called you here to speak a word of eternal life and love to you: a love that you didn’t have to earn or prove yourself worthy to receive. God’s movement is toward us and for us in the birth of Jesus Christ.

This love is mystical, and it is the only enduring and life-giving way to fill the hole in your soul. It comes to us through Word and Sacrament and is present through this community.

So, come. Come to this worship. Come as you are. Come here today and you will find what you are looking for. 

Hymn TIS 307: The Virgin Mary had a baby boy

                        (tune – Virgin Mary)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqDVq-L269c                

1 The virgin Mary had a baby boy,

the virgin Mary had a baby boy,

the virgin Mary had a baby boy,

and they say that his name was Jesus.

 

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

Oh, yes! believer!

Oh, yes! believer!

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

 

2 The angels sang when the baby born,

the angels sang when the baby born,

the angels sang when the baby born,

and they say that his name was Jesus.

 

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

Oh, yes! believer!

Oh, yes! believer!

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

 

3 The wise men saw where the baby born,

the wise men saw where the baby born,

the wise men went where the baby born,

and they say that his name was Jesus.

 

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom.

Oh, yes! believer!

Oh, yes! believer!

He come from the glory,

he come from the glorious kingdom. 

Tune: [The virgin Mary had a baby boy] 

Intercessory Prayers 

Let us rejoice for our God has done marvellous things; let us give thanks for our God has come to dwell with us.

God of heaven, we give you thanks and praise for glad tidings of a Saviour's birth. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ as we celebrate again your coming to us. We pray for those who are persecuted for their faith; for those who have never heard your name. May we, like the shepherds, hurry to greet you, and make known to others what has come to pass.

God of heaven, dwelling among us, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks and praise for glad tidings of peace to a warring world. We pray for our sisters and brothers with whom we share this earth. We pray for those who experience no peace, no justice, no dignity or hope, for all victims of prejudice, hatred violence and greed. May we, like the angelic host, spread abroad your message of peace and good will. God of heaven, dwelling among us, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks and praise for glad tidings of love to your lost and lonely ones. We pray for those for whom Christmas is a time of sadness or distress. We pray for the unwanted and the unloved, for the hungry and homeless, and those afraid for the future. May we, like Mary, be bearers of your love to the world. God of heaven, dwelling among us, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks and praise for glad tidings of healing to your wounded people. We pray for all broken in body, mind or spirit. We pray for all who mourn the absence of loved ones; for the sick and the dying and all who minister to them. May we, like the Christ child, bring your tender compassion to all in need. God of heaven, dwelling among us, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks and praise for glad tidings of everlasting life to your faithful servants of every age. We give thanks for Mary, for Joseph and for all your holy people who have welcomed the Christ child to their hearts and homes. Lead us, with them, to where you may be found, that with your people on earth and with your saints in highest heaven we may behold your glory and worship you. God of heaven, dwelling among us, in your mercy, hear our prayer.    

THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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

        Hymn Carol of the Birds: Orana

                          (tune – Carol of the Birds)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZWXTLNDJ1Q                  

              Out on the plains the brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing
Up to the sun the woodlarks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day 

Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparkle and quiver
Deep in the gullies bellbirds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyric notes rhyming
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day 

Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in the wattle tree bowers
In the blue ranges lorikeets calling
Carols of bush birds rising and falling
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day 

Author: William Garnet James & John Wheeler
Tune: Carol of the Birds 

Benediction 

         Go forth with happiness and with good works.

        This is what God has called us to do.

        Find satisfaction in all your toil.

        This is the gift of God.

        In everything you do, praise the Lord!

        And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen

        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
                       (Tune – Aubrey)

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

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

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

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

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

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)          Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)




 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Worship Christmas Eve Family Worship 24 December 2020

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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


Longing for Peace

24th December 2020

Christmas Eve year of Mark 7.00 pm

URL: https://uca-nswact.zoom.us/j/98503300406

Phone: 80156011 Meeting Number: 98503300406 

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 2011)       

This is a night for rejoicing—a night to sing a new song to God, a night to celebrate the salvation brought through the birth of Jesus, a night to embrace the light shining in the darkness. God's light and salvation have been brought forth through a child who will rule with justice and righteousness. 

We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. 

Even in a land of deep darkness— on us light has shined.

For a child has been born for us. God's own Son has been given to us.

We call him Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace through his glorious reign.

Let all God's people sing for joy. Let heaven and nature sing! 

Carol TIS 312: Once in Royal David’s City

                       (tune – Irby)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRIZ22dn-XY 

1 Once in royal David's city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little child. 

2 He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall:
with the poor, and mean, and lowly,
lived on earth our Saviour holy. 

3 And thro' all his wondrous childhood
he would honour and obey,
love and watch the lowly maiden
in whose gentle arms he lay:
Christian children all must be
mild, obedient, good as he. 

4 And our eyes at last shall see him,
thro' his own redeeming love;
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heav'n above:
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone. 

5 Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see him, but in heaven,
set at God's right hand on high;
when like stars his children crowned
all in white shall wait around. 

Author: Cecil Frances Alexander (1848)
Tune: IRBY; Henry John Gauntlet 

Opening Prayer 

Shine your light, O God, into the darkness of our world. Shine your glory, Holy One, into the shadows of our lives. May the singing of the angelic chorus stir our hearts this day, as it did the shepherds as they watched over their flocks by night. Prepare our hearts anew, O God, to behold the gift of your Son in awe and wonder. Amen 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of love and light, you have blessed us with a priceless gift— the gift of your very self in the person of Jesus.

Forgive us, Holy One, when we deny your gift or neglect your promise in our lives. Forgive us, Mighty God, when we fail to acknowledge Christ as the reflection of your glory and majesty.

Purify our hearts, purge our sins, and make us your beloved children, that we may be full of your righteousness, grace, and love. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness 

Christ judges us with righteousness and equity, and loves us with grace and mercy. Through the gracious gift of God, and the gift of Christ, we are forgiven!

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

How beautiful are the feet of those who come announcing peace? How radiant are the eyes of those who shine the light of God’s love? With blessings of peace and love to share, let us turn to one another and offer signs of God’s blessings this Christmas day.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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

Offering Prayer 

God of infinite chances, there is no length you will not go to, to offer us the possibility of new life and the opportunity for redemption. As we gather in gratitude for the gift of your Son, receive our thanks and humble appreciation for all that we receive, which makes us what we are. Bless these gifts and offerings, that they may bring light and life to God's people. Amen. 

Carol TIS 318: Away in a Manger

                      (tune – Cradle Song)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrX2oHgLqe8 

1 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

 

2 The cattle are lowing; the baby awakes,

But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.

I love you, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky

And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

 

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay

Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in your tender care,

And fit us for heaven, to live with you there. 

Author (attributed to): Martin LutherAuthor (st. 1-2): Anonymous (1885)Author (v. 3, attr.): John T. McFarland (1892)
Tune: CradleSong; W.J. Kirkpatrick and L.F. Bartlett                                           

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                    Isaiah 9.2-7

The Gospel Reading:                                Luke 2:1-14

Isaiah 9.2-7 

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 

Luke 2.1-14 

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’


Preaching of the Word
- Longing for Peace - Isaiah 9:2-7 

We usually tend to romanticise Christmas, but we don’t do it on purpose. I wonder how that fits this year after the things we have been through with the pandemic. Yet, we are reasonable, logical, and hard-headed, but the magic of the season gets to us in spite of ourselves. Christmas lights, for instance, make us breathe a little faster and our eyes open a little wider.

Not all lights, of course, are breathtaking and eye-opening. The ones in stores and on lampposts at the mall don’t count. The lights in front of houses, even the cheesiest ones, are the magical lights—multi-coloured blinking lights that drape small bushes and scale tall trees, ring wreaths on doors, and trace rectangles around windows. Lighted reindeer graze next to Santa in the hammock.

Electric lights of various types live next door to glow-in-the-dark Josephs and Marys that live next door to solemnly glowing candles.

We notice the lights, not only because they’re hard to miss, but because they give us the feeling that something important is on its way. We love lights, in part because we understand that the world is dark. We want to believe that life should be easy, but the obvious truth is that life is hard. Most of us have more medical tests in our future than in our past, more tears to come than we’ve already shed. The carefree days never last long enough.

Especially after the regulations for Covid-19 a number of us would have some worries about being alone. Will we spend our lives by ourselves? Others worry about family. Will our marriage get better? We’re afraid for our children. Will they turn out like we hope? We’re afraid that our parents are growing old. How are we going to care for them? We worry about our health. Some of us are growing old too.

Life is hard. The world is dark. The state of the world leads us to pessimism. The world is at war and no one has an exit strategy. So many bad things happen that we become numb to the suffering of others. We’ll spend most of our lives hoping for a better day and a better world.

When Isaiah wanted to speak to our deepest longings, the prophet chose light as the symbol because he knew how dark the world can be.

Zebulun and Naphtali, the tribes Isaiah addresses, were in a hopeless situation. These were the two northern- most tribes of Israel. Whenever anyone invaded, they were the first and last to bear the brunt of it. When the Assyrians overran Israel, they decided to annex these two tribes. Naphtali and Zebulun were cut off from the rest of Israel, separated from their countries and their families. What possible word of encouragement can Isaiah offer? What can he say that will bring hope?

Isaiah believed that the chaos of the world would be answered by the birth of a child. He preaches, “I know things are dismal. The enemy has killed people you loved and taken your land but listen to this. A child will be born. This child will make things right. You live in darkness, but take hope, for a light is shining. Your despair will become joy. Your oppressors will be driven away, their battle gear destroyed. This One who comes will be a wonderful counsellor—acting as a true friend, a mighty God—ruling in power, an everlasting Father—caring for you, the Prince of Peace—bringing harmony to a war-torn world. His Kingdom will last forever. Peace will come in the child that will be born.”

It’s such a magnificent vision that it seems more like a fantasy than a promise. In time, one night when the world wasn’t looking, the prophet’s dream became flesh. In the middle of the dreariest of winters, God promised spring.

Isaiah framed his vision in his prophecy. A light will overcome the darkness. People will rejoice. The oppressors will be overthrown. The kingdom of Christ will be peaceful and just. Because of Christ, the world will be better than it is now. Peace will overcome hostility. Love will defeat hatred. Fears will become laughter.

One day, the light will overcome the darkness. We don’t pay enough attention to dreams as big as Isaiah’s or promises as wide as God’s peace.

This day we celebrate as God entering our world invites us to dream of the peace God promises. Every now and then we catch a glimpse: when a young father takes his newborn daughter into his arms for the first time; when a troubled couple falls in love again; when a family makes a pilgrimage to the bedside of a dying loved one and feels an unexplainable peace; when a single woman comes home to her solitary dwelling not as a place of emptiness but as a nest sheltered under the wing of God; when the lights that surround Christmas shine into the darkest places in our lives; when followers of Christ courageously seek peace.

God invites us to believe in this child and the person he grew up to be, to believe in the power of God to bring light into our darkness and peace to our world. 

Carol: The Three Drovers  (tune – The Three Drovers)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Afsc90qotA                

1. Across the plains one Christmas night,

Three drovers riding blithe and gay,

Looked up and saw a starry light,

More radiant than the Milky Way;

And on their hearts such wonder fell,

They sang with joy "Noel! Noel!

Noel! Noel! Noel!"

 

2. The air was dry with summer heat

And smoke was on the yellow moon;

But from the Heavens, faint and sweet,

Came floating down a wonderous tune,

And as they heard, they sang full well,

Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!

Noel! Noel! Noel!"

 

3. The black swans flew across the sky,

The wild dogs called across the plain,

The starry lustre blazed on high,

Still echoed on the Heavenly strain;

And still they sang "Noel! Noel!",

Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!

Noel! Noel! Noel!" 

Composer Lyricist: William G. James

Composer Lyricist: J. Wheeler 

Intercessory Prayers 

Let us pray for the people of this world who are in need this day as we celebrate Christmas.
Child of Bethlehem, smile upon the church all over the world: may the Holy Spirit guide us, and grant that we may pursue truth, unity, peace and righteousness. We pray especially for the church now, being tested by difficult questions and challenged in its approach to the pandemic. We pray for the work of the church and for our own ministries as we live our lives. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Child of Bethlehem, smile upon all those charged with the responsibility of government all over the world, that they might rule in peace, justice and mercy, that people may honour one another and seek the common good.Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Child of Bethlehem, smile upon those who will not enjoy this season, for whom life is a struggle for survival as a result of poverty, famine, disease, war, or the greed of others. We pray, too, for those striving to rebuild after the devastation of natural disasters and of terrorism. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Child of Bethlehem smile upon all who are troubled, anxious or sick in mind, body or spirit and for those who love and care for them. Give them courage and hope in their troubles and bring them the joy of your salvation. We remember now anyone known to us who is in special need of our prayers, and name them in a moment of silence …. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We remember before God those who have died and remember a lit candle symbolises the light of Christ, which eternally shines and brings hope. We remember ….
You turn our darkness into light: in your light shall we see light. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer    

THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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

Carol TIS 311: Silent Night (tune Silent Night)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRZOv31n1sY 

1 Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright

'Round yon virgin mother and child.

Holy Infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace.

 

2 Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight;

Glories stream from heaven afar;

Heavenly hosts sing "alleluia!

Christ, the Saviour, is born!

Christ, the Saviour, is born!"

 

3 Silent night, holy night!

Son of God, love's pure light

Radiant beams from thy holy face,

With the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth. 

Author: Franz Xaver Gruber
Tune: Silent Night; Joseph Mohr 1792-1848 

Benediction 

Walk in darkness no longer.

We will walk in the light of Christ.

Sing of salvation and peace.

We will live with grace and joy.

Go and proclaim the good news,

Jesus Christ is born. Alleluia!

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4 

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

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

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom 

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

 

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Service Advent 3 - 13 December 2020

 

      Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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One of the Classic Stories...,

Sunday 13th December 2020

Advent 3 Sunday year of Mark 9.30 am 

Gathering God’s People 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples 

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

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

Call to Worship- (Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)       

Christmas is near at hand. But do we truly believe Christ is coming soon? Do we yearn for the day when faithful love and truth shall meet, when righteousness and peace shall kiss? Will we prepare our hearts to receive the coming miracle? It is time to get ready. 

Look! Faithful love and truth have met in this place. Righteousness and peace have kissed in our midst. Listen! God is speaking words of hope.

Christ is calling us into God’s flock.

See! The glory of God shines all around us. The love of Christ flows through our lives.

Come! Let us worship

Hymn TIS 265: O come, O come, Emmanuel

                       (tune - Veni Emmanuel)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc&list=RDXt5UhDHIqYY&index=8 

1.  come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

 

2.  come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

 

3.  come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death's abode. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

 

4.  come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o'er the grave. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

 

5.  come, O dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by our Advent hear;
disperse the gloomy clouds of the night
and death’s dark shadows put to flight. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.
 

Translator: J. M. Neale (1851)
Tune: Veni Emmanuel (Chant) 

     Lighting of The Advent Candle - Joy 

The Advent season encourages us to be joyful always; to pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances; this is God’s will, promised to us in Jesus Christ.
We light the candle of hope to proclaim that God’s light is coming into the world.
The first purple candle is lit
We light the candle of peace to proclaim that the Prince of peace is coming to us heralded by the angels’ message of peace and goodwill to all.
The second purple candle is lit
We light the candle of joy to proclaim that God came into the world to share our common humanity.
We rejoice that ‘humanity’ here embraces people of diverse cultures - Aboriginal people, and old and new settlers from a variety of backgrounds.
The pink candle is lit.
God of joy, we find great delight in the way you chose to share our humanity - born of a woman who glorified you.  Strengthen us to glorify you in faith and peace and joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

     Opening prayer 

Shepherding God, as lambs of your flock, we long to lie down in green pastures. Lift us into your lap and comfort our troubled minds. Give us your rest and strengthen our weary bodies. Guide us through this season of anticipation and hope, that we might lift our voices in laughter and song. Make our paths straight, that we might move boldly forward as we prepare for your arrival. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of shepherding love, we need your guidance this day. 

You proclaim that faithful love and truth have met, but we cannot see it.

You rejoice that righteousness and peace have kissed, but we can scarcely believe it.

Forgive our jaded hearts and correct our wandering ways.

Breathe your grace into our lives and give us the confidence to shout for all the world to hear: “Here is our God!” Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

“Comfort, O comfort, my people,” says our God. We have served our term. Our penalty is paid in full. Rejoice in the good news.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

In Christ, faithful love and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed. May we, who eagerly await his arrival, share the blessings of Christ as we share his peace with one another 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 

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the oil of gladness chang­ing people’s lives from sadness to joy. Oil was used in a very special way in ancient times and even right through to the present time - not just for cooking or nowadays helping our cars work - it was and is used in the crowning ceremonies of kings and queens. The use of oil signified the sacredness of the occasion and the setting apart, of the person for their special role. We have some fragrant oil here today as we celebrate the joy of this Advent Sunday.  By anointing each oth­er’s hands we shall also be celebrating the sacredness of each person.

THE OIL OF GLADNESS: Small bowls/dishes of fragrant Australian oil.  Children and/or youth/ adults distribute the oil by making the sign of the cross on the backs of the hands of the people on the ends of the pews - saying ‘Receive the oil of gladness and joy’. The ‘end-pew’ person then marks the back of the hand of their neighbour with the oil - and so on...passing the oil along to the person in the aisle. 

Offering Prayer 

You have sheltered us in your flock, O God. You have gathered us in your arms and lifted us into your lap. May the gifts we offer you this day, reflect in some small measure, the immense gratitude we feel for the generosity of your love. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 179: Praise with joy the world’s creator

                        (tune – Praise My Soul)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee_fmMl9trg 

Praise with joy the world's creator,

God of justice, love and peace,

Source and end of human knowledge,

Force of goodness without cease.

Celebrate the Maker's glory,

Power to rescue and release.

 

Praise the Son who feeds the hungry,

Frees the captive, finds the lost,

Heals the sick, upsets religion,

Fearless both of fate and cost.

Celebrate Christ's constant presence -

Friend and Stranger, Guest and Host.

 

Praise the Spirit sent among us

Liberating truth from pride,

Forging bonds where race or gender,

Age or nation dare divide.

Celebrate the Spirit's treasure -

Foolishness none dare deride.

 

Praise the Maker, Son and Spirit,

One God in Community,

Calling Christians to embody

Oneness and diversity.

Thus, the world shall yet believe

When shown Christ's vibrant unity. 

Tune: Praise my soul the king of heaven. J Goss c. 1986 Wild Goose Publications

Authors: John L Bell, Graham Maule 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The Gospel Reading:                                        John 1:6-8, 19-28 

After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 

1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord  has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion — to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 8 For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord , my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. 

John 1:6-8, 19-28 

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ 21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ 22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ 23 He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’,as the prophet Isaiah said. 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ 26 John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 

Preaching of the Word - One of the Classic Stories..., 

One of the classic stories that is repeated each December is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The timeless character of Ebenezer Scrooge demonstrates the consummate selfish, self-centred, unforgiving and unloving qualities of humankind.

This originator of the "bah-humbug" was the perfect embodiment of sin. Whether we read this famous story in a leather bound first edition or we watch one of the numerous Hollywood versions, and maybe even use it as a study, it is the timelessness of the tale that reminds us of our own need for repentance; it shows us the love and joy that follow true repentance.

Ultimately, Scrooge's repentance leads to rejoicing and a whole new awareness and understanding of himself and the world around him. The Good News of Dickens' story is that Scrooge is guided to repent for his past and present cold and heartless behaviour. After years in a selfish and miserly existence, a life absent of faith or friendship or love, his repentance brings forgiveness, and he is able to love and once again rejoice in life.

Our Advent scriptures also talk to us very clearly about repentance and rejoicing.

In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah invites us to "to be glad and rejoice in what God is creating."

St. Paul in the Lectionary reading from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 reading which we have not read today echoes this exhortation with the exclamation: "Rejoice always!"

John the Baptist completes his proclamation of repentance, begun in last week's Gospel. He invited us to make a straight path to God that we might be in a right relationship with God and with one another through repentance. In today's Gospel, he calls us to rejoice -- for the Bridegroom, Jesus the Lord, is at hand.

Repentance and Rejoicing are certainly corner stones of the Christian faith. They are eternally yoked to each other. As Christians we are called to Repentance which means to turn away from sin and turn toward God.

Repentance means focusing on God, instead of on ourselves, our own needs and wants, our own sin. Repentance requires that we turn away from ourselves and our sinfulness. Repentance calls us to focus on the Lord and His love for us and for those around us.

Genuine repentance leads us to rejoicing. This was demonstrated by a clergy person I heard about who spoke of an encounter he had with a congregation member. This congregation member was angry that God wasn't working more rapidly in his life in the midst of a variety of crises and upheaval. The minister and the congregation member talked together at great length. They prayed together. In the hope of bringing about repentance and a reorientation toward God, the minister suggested that the congregation member read three chapters of John's Gospel each day; the goal was to complete the twenty- one chapters in seven days.

On the second day after their consultation together, the congregation member phoned the minister. He shared that on the first night he, begrudgingly and out of a sense of obligation, began to read the Gospel of John. He barely made it through the fourth verse of the first chapter when he began to weep uncontrollably. He recognised, in just those first verses, God's incredible love for him and for the world God created. This man's repentance, his turning back to God, initially brought him to his knees in tears and then moved him to a posture of rejoicing for he recognised God's infinite love and forgiveness.

Genuine repentance leads us to rejoicing.

All too often we are so totally self-centred and self-absorbed that we shut God out of our lives altogether. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rejoice when this is the case. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, our lives can be miserable and unfriendly when Joy and Rejoicing are absent. The absence of joy is most noticeable when the selfish, self-centred, narcissistic, sinful, and darker side of each of us dominates and pervades our thoughts and actions. When we refuse or are unwilling to acknowledge the sin in our live and the sin around us, we will remain estranged from joy. It takes repentance to re-orient and refocus our lives on the Lord Jesus Christ, who will lead us once again to a posture of rejoicing.

If for some reason you are not yet in the Advent and Christmas spirit, or if you feel like Scrooge before his conversion, then be reminded as John the Baptist reminds us, the season of Advent calls us to repentance. Advent invites us to make a straight path, to turn from materialism and commercialism, hedonism and greed, infidelity and neglect, distrust and racism, laziness and selfishness, pride and envy....to turn from sin.

Advent calls us to repent so that we might rejoice this Christmas season. And like the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the ox in today's reading from the Hebrew Scripture, we might experience Christ's peace and wholeness through Repentance and Rejoicing.

Today's newspaper reminds us that there are only eleven shopping days left until Christmas. So, whether our list is completed, or we are only just beginning, might we add two more items to our list: the two R's. And if we add the Repentance first, we will be led to Rejoice! For basically, Repentance means to 'get right with God,' to reposition our lives toward God, to 'make straight our path.' As we get right with God, we also will become right with ourselves and with each other.

In such a loving triangular relationship: God, neighbour, self, there can only be rejoicing.

Eleven shopping days.... are Repentance and Rejoicing on your list? 

Hymn TIS 274: The people that in darkness walked
                        (tune - Dundee)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcTkFh-ZVRQ 

1 The people that in darkness walked

have seen a glorious light;

the light has shined on them who dwelt

in death's surrounding night.

 

2 To hail you, Sun of righteousness,

the gathering nations come:

rejoicing as when reapers bear

their harvest treasures home.

 

3 To us a child of hope is born,

to us a Son is given;

him shall the tribes of earth obey,

and all the hosts of heaven.

 

4 His name shall be the Prince of Peace,

for evermore adored,

the Wonderful, the Counsellor,

the great and mighty Lord.

 

5 His power increasing still shall spread,

his reign no end shall know:

justice shall guard his throne above

and peace abound below. 

Words: John Morrison 1781.

Music by Thomas Ravenscroft (c.1592-1635) 

Intercessory Prayers   

0 God, for whom we wait and long, we bring to you our prayers for your world and for your church.

Promise of righteousness, come. Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and hear the cries of all who plead for justice. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of freedom, come. Bring good news of release to the oppressed, free those in chains of misery and despair. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of peace, come. Heal ancient feuds and hatreds and deliver your people from the horrors of war. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of forgiveness, come. Look with mercy on our wrongdoings and help us to turn from our sinful ways.

Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of salvation, come. Remember your people, according to your ancient promises, and send your Messiah. Come, 0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of love, come. Hold in your tender embrace all who are lonely, friendless, forgotten, rejected. Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of comfort, come. Bring the balm of your presence to all who know pain, anguish, sorrow or grief. Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of hope, come. Let us see that the time of your coming is near and keep us watchful for your return. Come,0 God for whom we wait, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Promise of glory, come. Draw your saints, in this world and the next, into the light of your eternal presence.

Come,0 God for whom we wait and long, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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

Hymn TIS 786: Word of God, come down on earth

                      (tune – Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej7ublzEceM 

1 Word of God, come down on earth,

living rain from heaven descending;

touch our hearts and bring to birth

faith and hope and love unending.

Word almighty, we revere you;

Word made flesh, we long to hear, you.

 

2 Word eternal, throned on high,

Word that brought to life creation.

Word that came from heaven to die,

crucified for our salvation.

Saving Word, the world restoring,

speak to us, your love outpouring.

 

3 Word that caused blind eyes to see,

speak and heal our mortal blindness.

Deaf we are, our healer be,

loose our tongues to tell your kindness.

Be our Word in pity spoken;

heal the world, by our sin broken.

 

4 Word that speaks your father’s love,

one with God beyond all telling.

Word that sends us from above

God the Spirit, with us dwelling.

Word of truth, to all truth lead us;

Word of life, with one bread feed us. 

Words: James Quinn

Music: Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier (Johan Rodolph Ahle 1625-1673 ) 

Benediction 

         Christ is coming soon. Love is on the way. But Christ is already here.

        And love is all around us.

        Faithful love and truth have met.

        Righteousness and peace have kissed.

        We wait for the fullness of God’s kingdom.

        Christ is coming soon.

        Love is on the way.

 

        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
         (Tune – Aubrey)

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

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

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

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

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

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)       Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)





 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - Advent 2 - 06 December 2020


                     Marsden Road Uniting                           Church Carlingford

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Finding Comfort versus

Being Comfortable, 

Sunday 06th December 2020

Advent 2 year of Mark 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 2011)       

Let us hear what God will speak, for the Holy One speaks peace to the people, to the faithful, and to all who turn to God in their hearts.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet. Righteousness and peace will embrace.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

The Holy One will give what is good, and we will bring our praise and song. 

The world is dark and cold.

We look for signs of your coming.

The world is hungry for righteousness.

We look for signs of your coming.

The world yearns for your love.

We look for signs of your coming. 

Hymn TIS 272: Come, thou long-expected Jesus

                        (tune – Stuttgart)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_YA9GZB76I 

Come, thou long expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.

 

Israel's strength and consolation,

hope of all the earth thou art;

dear desire of every nation,

joy of every longing heart.

 

Born thy people to deliver,

born a child and yet a King,

born to reign in us forever,

now thy gracious kingdom bring.

 

By thine own eternal spirit

rule in all our hearts alone;

by thine all sufficient merit,

raise us to thy glorious throne.


Composer (attr): Christian Friedrich Witt (1715)

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788) 

     Lighting of The Advent Candle - Peace

      The glory of the Lord will be revealed, for the Lord has spoken.
Like pale spinifex in the sweltering desert, the grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.
We wait with hope and expectation for the Word, which was in the beginning with God, to come into the world.
We light this candle as a symbol of our hope.
Congregation member lights a purple candle.
The glory of the Lord will be revealed when love and faithfulness meet, and righteousness and peace kiss.
We long for the day when the angels’ song of peace and goodwill will be heard in all the world.
We light this candle as a symbol of peace.

      Second Candle is lit. 

     Opening Prayer 

God of winter and starlight, you have promised us your presence: to live among us, to right all wrongs, to bring good things to all who wait for your new day. In these dark days, we look for signs of your coming: the sounds of children at play, the music that fills our hearts with anticipation, the company of all who serve the last and the least. Make us at home with righteousness, that we may be ready to walk in your holy ways. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of love and kindness, you have promised to renew our lives, to be with us in a new heaven and new earth— a realm where steadfast love and faithfulness embrace forever.

We are afraid of your promised coming. We cling to rules we understand: the rules of privilege and power.

We are afraid of a world of true justice and peace, afraid that you will change the way things have always been. As we wait for you to live among us, we confess our unwillingness to see that you have always been here. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

In God's love and mercy, we are given each new day for the healing of the world. In the name of Christ, you are forgiven. In the name of Christ, you are forgiven.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

Shout for joy! Live in laughter! Share signs of peace and love with everyone you meet.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

Offering Prayer 

Merciful One, prepare our hearts to receive anew the coming of your Son with fire and the Spirit. We offer you our thanks and these gifts, that all may know the power of your love to transform the world with justice and righteousness. Amen 

Hymn 607: Make me a channel of your peace

                  (Tune – Channel of Peace)

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

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring your love;

Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;

And where there's doubt true faith in you.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.

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

Where there is darkness, only light;

And where there's sadness, ever joy.

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 

Make me a channel of your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

In giving to all men that we receive;

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

 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul. 

Author (attributed to): St. Francis of AssisiAdapter: Sebastian Temple
Tune: [Make me a channel of your peace]

                     The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 40:1-11

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 1:1-8. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Isaiah 40:1-11 

1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord ’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ 6 A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. 9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ 10 See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. 

Mark 1:1-8. 

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’, 4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Preaching of the Word - Finding Comfort vs. Being Comfortable,  

“Comfort ye! … Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain made low.”

What heart-lifting words we hear from our God shouted across the millennia into our very own day. Isaiah offers us images in just 11 verses that have become the focus of artists and musicians who have turned the words into pictures and music that channel our thoughts deep into the heart of God. We lay grasped by God’s arms and held tightly – our fears and concerns known by this immanent God who wants us to share those worries, and trust they are as important to God as they are to us.

A tenor opens Handel’s “Messiah” with a delicate, yet brilliant “Comfort ye!” When you listen to it, does your hear not soar with the beauty? This is our God calling out to us in our world – this world torn by evil, war and debilitating poverty.

Can there be any comfort for us? Maybe, for those of us who live in a relatively safe country, for those of us who have more than we need – a roof over our heads, food, clothing, safety. We can become comfortable, which is different from finding comfort. And we can feel that being comfortable is enough, perhaps until life takes a disastrous turn.

We can take God’s presence in our hearts for granted. But this isn’t the comfort Isaiah is talking about. His comfort is an overwhelming truth that surpasses the feeling of having “enough,” his comfort is the comfort of our God, who lives deep in our lives, even when we don’t think about it, even if we may not believe it, even if our fear blinds us to that presence.

The prophet goes on to explain what the truth of God will do for us. Valleys will be raised up, mountains will be laid low! No, Isaiah is not talking about a disastrous environmental exercise, he’s, of course, using an image to explain how the coming of the Lord will level the way for all people to see God’s glory and share in God’s goodness.

What a wonderful image! Instead of struggling over the rocky wilderness paths up into the mountains and down across arid deserts, the people will have a safe highway, broad and smooth. Even in life’s most difficult moments, God leads the soul along that safe, broad highway.

“But,” we may want to argue, “look at our world. See the things happening to people that would make a rocky path and an arid desert walk look like a picnic in the park. This image doesn’t work.”

And that’s true. Life does seem to throw ever more obstacles into our paths. Where is this highway?

And so, we continue reading the prophet’s words and find that, yes, we are all grass, and grass withers and fades; we are mortal, and life is often difficult. So, to make this highway image work at all in our world, we are told we must work together. We must want this world to change, we must also see beyond this mortal life and trust in God’s promise of eternal life.

“All people shall see it together,” says Isaiah. One way to think about this image is that we won’t see it if we harbor exclusion in our hearts. When we choose to separate ourselves from any of our neighbours, we begin to see only ourselves. We may not be aware of it, but doing that makes us stumble along the rocky path of injustice and sadness – a path that causes us to circle only inward, blindly into the darkness of self.

Another way to think about it is to look at what happens when groups join forces out of hatred for others, or ignorance or fear. The Israelites sometimes found themselves carried off to foreign lands because of their unfaithfulness. Some then took on the practices and idolatry of the pagan nations, to their downfall. They lost everything. We see the same thing happening today. Children get caught up in bullying, out of fear or a need to be accepted. Young people join gangs. People are drawn into terrorist organizations, to the horror of their families and friends. Sadly, we can be lured off the highway of our God by temptation and the false, bright promises of evil.

But all is certainly not lost. If we keep reading, we come to the final image of our passage and can’t help but hear again Handel’s “Messiah,” when the soprano’s beautiful voice sings, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd and he shall gather the lambs with his arm … with his arm.”

On our worst days, the Shepherd is with us. We need only to turn back and allow him to offer comfort and forgiveness. The sheep of his flock are a community – a community like us. Together, a community can offer healing and love to those who have been excluded. A community can begin dealing with their issues of poverty and helplessness.

We don’t have to build that level highway; God does that for us if we open our eyes and hearts to the gifts God has placed in our midst. We can begin demolishing the lure of evil, the temptation of ill-gotten power and greed if we work together with our children, being unafraid to teach about the power and graciousness of our God – if we ourselves are unafraid to trust that God is our shepherd, that God is our comfort.

In just a few weeks, the Incarnation of our God will descend over us like a blanket of stars, and we will be filled with the song of angels, the gentle amazement of shepherds, and the humility of the kings. If the image and the songs of Bethlehem can fill us that day, we might pray during these last few weeks of waiting that our hearts will be filled with the comfort of God and strengthened to bring that Good News to all. 

Hymn TIS 270: On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
                             (tune -  Winchester New)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ixc96i_Bc8 

1 On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry

Announces that the Lord is nigh;

Come, then, and hearken, for he brings

Glad tidings from the King of kings!

 

2 Then cleansed be every breast from sin;

Make straight the way for God within;

Prepare we in our hearts a home,

Where such a mighty Guest may come.

 

3 For Thou art our salvation, Lord,

Our refuge, and our great reward.

Without Thy grace our souls must fade

And wither like a flower decayed.

 

4 Stretch forth Thine hand, to heal our sore,

And make us rise and fall no more;

Once more upon Thy people shine,

And fill the world with love divine.

 

5 To Him who left the throne of Heaven

To save mankind, all praise be given;

Like praise be to the Father done,

And Holy Spirit, Three in One. 

Words: Charles Coffin, 1736; Trans. John Chandler, 1837

Tune: Winchester New (Havergal) 

Intercessory Prayers 

We wait, 0 God, for your glory to be revealed, for the angels' message of peace and joy. We pray for the peoples of your world and for all your creation: for those in places of war and civil unrest; for those in places of injustice and cruelty. Speak peace to your people, God. Come, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We wait, 0 God, for your glory to be revealed, for the good news that salvation is at hand. We pray for your church throughout the world: for leaders of churches in this land; for the clergy and people of this parish; for prophets who call your church to repentance today. Speak salvation to your church, 0 God. Come, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We wait, 0 God, for your glory to be revealed, for the Christmas message of reconciliation and love. We pray for our community: for our homes and our neighbours.

for our schools, our hospitals and our workplaces. Speak tenderly to your people, 0  God. Come, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We wait,0      God, for your glory to be revealed, for your good news of healing and wholeness. We pray for all in need of your comfort and care: for those whom we neglect and those who cannot care for themselves; for those without resources and those without hope; for the sick and for the sorrowing. Speak comfort to your people, 0 God. Come, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We wait, 0 God, for your glory to be revealed; with all your saints we wait to hear the words. Behold your God. We give you thanks for your prophets of old, and for all who call us to follow your ways of righteousness and peace. May we repent of all that is displeasing in your sight, that, with your faithful people of ages past, we may be gathered into the joy of your presence,

inhabitants of a new heaven and a new earth. Come quickly to your people, 0 God. Come, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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

Hymn TIS 517: Alleluia! sing to Jesus

                      (tune – Hyfrydol)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkt-qoeACJM 

1 Alleluia sing to Jesus!

his the sceptre, his the throne:

Alleluia! his the triumph,

his the victory alone.

Hear the songs of holy Zion

thunder like a mighty flood:

'Jesus out of every nation

has redeemed us by his blood!'

 

2 Alleluia! not as orphans

are we left in sorrow now:

Alleluia! he is near us;

faith believes, but knows not how.

Though the cloud from sight received him

whom the angels now adore,

shall our hearts forget his promise,

'I am with you evermore'?

 

3 Alleluia! bread of heaven,

here on earth our food, our stay:

Alleluia! here the sinful

come to you from day to day.

Intercessor, friend of sinners,

earth's redeemer, plead for me,

where the songs of all the sinless

sweep across the crystal sea.

 

4 Alleluia! King eternal,

you, the Lord of lords we own;

Alleluia! born of Mary,

earth your footstool, heaven your throne:

you, within the veil have entered,

robed in flesh, our great high priest;

yours the blood and yours the body,

in our eucharistic feast.

Words: William Dix / Jubilate Hymns

Music: Hyfrydol (Rowland Hugh Prichard) 

Benediction 

        Go out to a world that hungers for righteousness.  Prepare the highway for our God: make ready the paths of peace.

        Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own lives! Amen.       

        Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
         (Tune – Aubrey)

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

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

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

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

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

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)          Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)





Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Missive December 2020, January and February 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - November 27, 2020 - 9:17pm

 

December 2020, January and February 2021

Marsden Missive

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford  

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

Dear Parishioners, 

Purpose of Advent. 


As we enter the season of Advent and Christmas, I would like us to reflect on the Purpose of Advent. The first thing I would like to highlight is that during Advent we prepare for a very important guest. When someone you like is coming to stay, you may find it hard to wait for that day to arrive. But there are all kinds of things to do first, in order to be ready for

the visitor. The Christian Church calls the four weeks before Christmas, 'Advent' and the word means coming. It is the time of year when we get ready for the coming of the most important Guest of all time – Jesus Christ.

It is also a time when we are reminded of that coming into our world by God. Advent reminds us of three different 'comings' of Jesus. The first is in the past. It happened long ago at the first Christmas. God, who enabled our world to come into being, came to live amongst us as the baby Jesus and then as a boy and a man so that through him we could come close to God. The second coming belongs in the present because Jesus is available to come to every person who is open in the hearts and lives to his presence. The third coming of Jesus is still in the future. Our hope as Christians is that one day Jesus will come back to our world, not as a little baby but as king and judge of all.

This time of the year is also a time of celebration. So, how can we celebrate the advent of God into human life with joyous assurance? If we look at the message which God gave to the shepherds that first Christmas Eve, I believe we can find some help. Christmas is not our reaching out or up to God but God reaching out to us. Our response is found in a faith which believes that at the centre of the universe is an undefeated power of love on which we can rely and to which we are called to join our efforts. This is the joyous assurance which comes with Christmas.

But what really happens at this time of year? What happens in our society over this summer period? Do we get caught up in that thing called the Christmas bustle? Over the next few weeks before Christmas let us not get caught up in the commercial push for us to spend, in the seemingly endless round of end of year functions and parties or in the mad scramble to achieve so much in a short time so we can collapse in exhaustion on Boxing Day. Most years by this time we will already have begun with the end of year gatherings. However, this year Covid has placed restraint on that. Church groups would have been well into the season of Christmas pageants and Carol singing. In this time of Pandemic we need to be careful of desperately seeking to  take part in these functions but instead let us take time out for reflection. Let us look to sharing with those who are lonely, those who are hungry and those who are ill.

Yes, this is also a time of sharing. Many will be able to share with those who are less fortunate but let us also remember that with our emphasis on family at this time of year those families which for varying reasons are dysfunctional. Let us offer care, love and support where families are in mourning through loss, where abuse and violence are still an issue and where one parent is unable to be with the family. Also let us not forget those who are left on their own whose number may be greater due to Covid-19 in our communities.

So, we now have some things to reflect on. We can make this Advent a time for deep personal renewal, a time for more personal prayer, a time for scripture reading, a time for the removal of that which is not of God in our lives and a time for building up the things that are of God. It could be a time for opening ourselves up to the Lord. It is good to have things that money can buy, but better to have things like love, self-worth and compassion that money can't buy. Many people are in favour of going to heaven, but too many are hoping to live long enough to seeing an easing of entrance requirements. We may face situations beyond our resources, but never beyond God's reserves.

So, again we have come to that time of preparation to remember God’s entry into the world as Jesus Christ – God with us – Emmanuel. Advent is the season for getting ready - ready to understand the true meaning of Christmas, ready to open ourselves to receive Jesus into our lives and ready for the day when Jesus will come again. At Advent we need to try the key to our heart's door. It may have gathered rust. If so, this is the time to oil it, in order that the heart's door may open more easily when the Lord Jesus wants to enter at Christmas time.

  I pray that you all have a blessed time of preparation in Advent and a joyous, loving and peaceful celebration of Emmanuel at Christmas. 


Christmas Bowl Appeal in Covid Pandemic 

On Christmas Day 1949, an Australian Reverend named Frank Byatt placed an empty bowl of remembrance on the table before him. Frank urged his guests to reflect on their good fortunes and encouraged them to do something selfless for people around the world who were suffering as a result of World War II.

This Christmas, we invite you to place a bowl on your table as a sign of remembrance of our brothers and sisters around the world in urgent need. If anyone in your congregation would like to order their own cardboard bowl and giving envelopes to share with their family and friends, please contact Rev John whitestarhaven@gmail.com or our Treasurer chrismaddison@optusnet.com.au for details in regard to giving.

Giving envelopes 

·       As we did in prior years, we will have the envelopes with cash/cheque deposits banked.  

·       Those wishing to give by EFT to our church account, the Treasurer will organise the bulk transfer to Christmas Bowl and a receipt to be issued directly by Act for Peace. 

Advent and Christmas Services 2020

All Services will be On-line by Zoom – See Marsden Road Website - http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/

for Zoom Addresses for Services

November 29 9.30am – Advent 1

December 6   9.30am – Advent 2

December 13 9.30am – Advent 3

December 20 9.30am – Advent 4


December 24, 2020, 7.00pm – Family Christmas Eve Worship  

December 25, 2020, 8.30am - Christmas Day

Humour

The Happy, Funny, Silly Snake

Browse the children’s section at any bookstore, and you will find dozens of titles about fuzzy bunnies, fluffy bears, hungry caterpillars, naughty puppies, happy duckies, runaway kitties, talking trains, trucks, cars, and airplanes, but a noticeable lack of cute, charming, and sentimental books about snakes. Look through the stuffed animals of most toddlers and you’ll find bears, bunnies, and the like, but few stuffed snakes. There is a reason for this. Snakes are yucky. Yucky is a technical term, meaning “unbelievably cold, slimy, scaly, and slithery, with spooky eyes and lethal looking fangs.” 

It has been well documented by behavioural psychologists that the vast majority of people on the planet have an innate aversion to snakes and snakelike animals. This isn’t hard to believe. It is more than a little difficult to develop warm feelings for a creature that can hide almost anywhere, climb almost anything, wait indefinitely, and then either bite and poison you or squeeze you to death. Certainly, not all snakes can do this, but how many do we actually need? Given this deep and widespread aversion, it is truly remarkable that human beings also have an irresistible fascination with snakes. 

From the movie Snakes on a Plane back to the creation story in Genesis, the snake has held human beings in its thrall. There is no simple explanation for this ambivalence—fear and fascination often go hand in hand—but perhaps more than snakes themselves, the human preoccupation with snakes has more to do with what they symbolise. In the most ancient of civilizations the snake was a representation of fertility and life. The shedding of the snake’s skin was viewed as a sign of rebirth and transformation, of resurrection from death to new life. 

In the ancient Far East, the snake was associated with guardianship and protection. Snakes are fierce and effective fighters. There is little evidence of fear in a snake’s awful countenance. Snake venom—a powerful poison and, in derivative form, sometimes a Medicine — was viewed variously as divine judgment, a powerful chemical, and a mystical life force. Because snakes so closely resemble both roots and tree limbs, many believed snakes to be plants come to life, and because snakes possessed such powerful venom, healers extracted venoms just as they collected roots and saps.

The attitudes about deceitfulness, deception, and craftiness seem to have developed later; the snake as a source of wisdom, however, is one of the oldest known beliefs. The hypnotic gaze of pythons and cobras, the hooded eyes of many types of snakes, and their almost Buddha-like ability to lie in silence for hours contributed to this belief. Whether the basic belief was one of reverence and respect or fear and revulsion, it is noteworthy that almost every major culture of the ancient world left evidence of cultic and religious veneration of snakes and serpents. 

Our own Scriptures evidence a strong ambivalence toward snakes and serpents. Throughout our shared Hebrew and Christian history, snakes have been both heroes and villains in some of our most beloved stories. We could look at the villainous serpent in the Garden of Eden, but I would like to look at Moses and Aaron as they invoked God’s power to turn a staff into a snake. The confrontation scenes between Moses and Pharaoh are truly epic battles of will—the representative of God and his prophet Aaron facing off against unquestionably the most powerful man in the world at the time. The beauty of these stories is that they are so completely scripted by God—God tells Moses what to do, but he also tells him what the result will be ahead of time. 

Moses enters the contest knowing that Pharaoh will have his heart hardened and refuse to let the Hebrew people go. So why even try? At its most simple and basic, this is a classic my-God-can-beat-up-your- God story, so popular in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament (remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal). Moses requests the release of the Hebrew slaves, and Pharaoh says, in effect, “Prove to me why I should” (Perform a wonder!), and Aaron tosses his staff on the ground and it turns into a snake. Pharaoh was smug and arrogant and summons his sorcerers and magicians; they toss down three of their own rods, which also turn into snakes. Probably thinking, Whatever you can do, my people can do better, Pharaoh is ready to call the contest a draw, but then Aaron’s staff consumes the other three snakes—game, set, but not match. The pharaoh’s heart stays hard. 

On the surface, this is such a satisfying story, in the same vein as David defeating Goliath. The underdog prevails in a spectacular fashion. On a deeper level, however, this story symbolizes the ongoing relationship of God and God’s people to the world. The Hebrew people spent most of their history in slavery and subjugation to more powerful nations. Politically, economically, militarily, the nation of Israel was ever the underdog. For every weapon they could raise, there was someone else who could raise three. For every mighty act they could perform, there was a despot whose heart remained hard. For every cry for justice or freedom the chosen people could raise, there was an oppressor nation just waiting to deny them.

It is easy to miss the meaning of this simple passage for the miraculous event it describes. Far beyond the ability to do magic tricks rests a much greater power. It is the power that comes from deep trust and assurance that God is in control. This assurance allows even the most timid and unsure to stand before the most powerful people on earth with courage and confidence. This power reminds us that no matter what we might see with our eyes, the wisdom of our hearts convinces us that we will prevail. 

As a congregation we have faced and are facing much in the way of uncertainty and need to remind ourselves of the promises of this God of ours. The Pandemic has bought about change with the uncertainty how things will return to what we felt was normal if they return at all. We don’t need a happy, funny, silly symbol, but a symbol of strength and promise. We need symbol to enable us to find strength and courage to continue on the journey God has called each one of us to. For those in the time of Moses as well as God’s people today, the promise endures: true faith swallows up fear, and trust in God is the greatest power of all. 

Again, as we face changes, difficulties and setbacks as the Body of Christ here may we remember Gods enduring promise and have our fears swallowed up by faith and trust in God as the greatest power of all.



December 2020, January 2021, February 2021

Date

Sunday

Hebrew Scripture

Epistle

Gospel

Dec 06

Advent 2

Isaiah 40:1-11

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

Dec 13

Advent 3

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

1 Thess 5:16-24

Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

Dec 20

Advent 4

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Rom. 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38

Dec 24

Xmas Eve

Isaiah 9.2-7

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14

Dec 25

Xmas Day

Isaiah 62:6-12

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:8-20

Dec 27

Xmas 1

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:22-40

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 03

Epiphany

Isaiah 60:1-6

Eph. 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

Jan 10

Epiphany1

Genesis 1:1-5

Acts 19:1-7

Mark 1:4-11

Jan 17

Epiphany2

1 Samuel 3:1-20

1 Cor. 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

Jan 24

Epiphany3

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

1 Cor. 7:29-31

Mark 1:14-20

Jan 31

Epiphany4

Deut. 18:15-20

1 Cor. 8:1-13

Mark 1:21-28

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 07

Epiphany5

Isaiah 40:21-31

1 Cori. 9:16-23

Mark 1:29-39

Feb 14

Transfig.

2 Kings 2:1-12

2 Cor. 4:3-6

Mark 9:2-9

Feb 17

Ash Wed

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

2Cor 5:20-6:10

Mat 6:1-6,16-21

Feb 21

Lent 1

Genesis 9:8-17

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:9-15

Feb 28

Lent 2

Gen 17:1-7, 15-16

Roman 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38

 

 

 

 

 

Worship will be by Zoom On-line, Website, Facebook and Post until the UCA Synod of NSW and ACT under Government and Health guidance decide that it is safe to worship face to face in the Church again.

Returning to Face to Face Worship 

Marsden Road Uniting Church Council has taken note of the relaxing health regulations in NSW and proposes to start Face to Face worship on the second Sunday in February 2021. However, there is some planning details to get in place before then and as these are worked out more details will come out.

Under the current regulations:

·       Have a Covid-19 safety plan. Your Council already has this in place ready to go.

·       We need to record the details of all who attend in case there is a need for tracing.

·       We are only allowed 1 person per 4 square metres at 1.5 metres from the next person. This means that a maximum of 20 congregation members can worship in the Church at one service at a time and we can have up to 24 more in the hall.

·       This raises two problems to overcome. If we only use the Church, then we must limit who can attend or find the means of transmitting the service to the Hall as well.

·       Sunday Kids would be able to use one of the other rooms in our buildings.

·       Holy Communion would have to follow the requirements of the health regulations which would have bread and wine dispensed individually and separately with no touch etc.

·       Cleaning will need to be done after the service.

·       There will be organ and music but no singing or chanting or anything like that.

·       Fellowship could only take place after the Service if all health regulations including individually wrapped and sealed food, maintaining social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing.

·       Due to the risk and vulnerability of congregation members masks would always need to be worn. 

As you can see your Church Council has some important issues to sort out before we do start face to face worship but please keep this date in mind and watch for more details to come. 

Humour 

10 ways the Bible would be different had it been written by college students

1.  The Last Supper would have been eaten the next morning -- cold.

2.  The Ten Commandments would have been only five. They would have been double-spaced and written in a large font.

3.  The Bible would have come out in a new edition every two years in order to limit re- selling.

4.  The reason the forbidden fruit would have been eaten was because it wasn't cafeteria food.

5.  Paul's letter to the Romans would become Paul's e-mail to abuse@romans.gov.

6.  The reason Cain would have killed Abel: They were roommates.

7.  The place where the end of the world occurs: Finals, not Armageddon.

8.  Out go the mules, in come the mountain bikes.

9.  Reason why Moses and followers would have wandered in the desert for 40 years: They didn't want to ask directions and look like freshmen.

10.             Instead of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, He would have put it off until the night before it was due and then pulled an all-nighter.

 UPCOMING EVENTS 

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

December 2020 

10.00am SCCP Presbytery Standing Committee Meeting

10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive              Meeting

9.30am Advent 2 Service Virtual Holy Communion (Zoom)

9  7pm Last MRUC Advent Study

13 9.30am Advent 3 Sunday Service (Zoom)

17 10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive                Meeting

20   9.30am Advent 4 Sunday Service (Zoom)

24   Christmas Eve

       7.00pm Christmas Eve Service (Zoom)

25   Christmas Day

       8.30am Christmas Day Service Service (Zoom or in                   Mobbs Lane Park which is to be confirmed still)

27   9.30am Christmas 1 Sunday Service (Zoom)

31   10am PYPP Team Meeting (Zoom) 

January 2021 

1     New Year’s Day

3     9.30am Epiphany Service (Zoom)

10   9.30am Baptism of the Lord Sunday Service (Zoom)

17   9.30am Epiphany 2 Sunday Service (Zoom)

24   9.30am Epiphany 3 Sunday Service (Zoom)      

February 2021 

7     9.30am Epiphany 4 Sunday Service Holy Communion  

       (Zoom)

13   Chinese New Year

14   9.30am Epiphany 5 Sunday Service

       (Zoom or face to face)

17   7.30pm Ash Wednesday – Epping Uniting Church

21   9.30am Lent 1 Sunday Service (Zoom or face to face)

24   7pm MRUC Lent Study Through the Eyes of Love

28   9.30am Lent 2 Sunday Service (Zoom or face to face)

       Congregation 2020 Annual General Meeting – to be

       Confirmed.

                             Lent Study Groups 

We have selected Through the Eyes of Love - Five Studies consisting of voices helping to shape the life of faith, voices that speak out of personal experiences, communities and passions.written by Ian Price as our Lenten study 

Due to a kind donation most of the cost of Study Guides has been covered and therefore will only be $10 each. 

The study titles are: Through the eyes of Peter, Through the eyes of John, Through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, Through the eyes of Luke and Through the eyes of Paul.

If we are face to Face the Night Group- Wednesday night’s 7.30pm - 9.00pm – 24 February, and 03, 10, 17, 24 March  2021, or .700pm to 8.30pm if we are still on Zoom - Venue: by Zoom or Rev John and Wendy’s home. 

The morning group will be take place if circumstances allow it.

NOTES FROM COUNCIL and COMMITTEES 

Church Council 

Covid19 Safety Plans:

1.  The Congregation has a Safety Plan and is registered with the State Government as a Safe Business ready for when it is practical for our Congregation at MRUC can open for face to face meetings and worship.

2.  This Safety Plan is being updated as the NSW Government Health regulations change and as advised by the NSW Uniting Church Synod.  

Finances:

1.  Jobkeeper and other Government support has been of great assistance in boosting our finances for now – see the Finance

2.  It was agreed that term deposit arrangements be continued

3.  The statements as at end October 2020 were received and accepted. 

Postponing of Congregational Annual General Meeting:

1.  It was proposed that we seek to have the 2020 AGM on Sunday the 28th of February 2021 subject to Covid-19 and any regulations in place. It is hoped that this will be a Face to Face meeting. 

Zoom Meetings:

1.  Zoom meetings and Worship continue with both the Rev John having a Zoom app and the Congregation having one.

2.  This has enabled the worship pattern that we normally had to continue on-line. It has also been positive to have members join in worship via their phone lines.

3.  An added advantage for the 25-30 who attend the Zoom worship is to enable members to be aware of the needs of many who are sick or facing difficulty and enable pastoral care and prayer for them.    

Donation Envelopes:

1.  Elaine Forrest has 20 envelops and any who have run out can get these from her.

2.  The Church Council instead of the usual stewardship letter asks that the members make their commitment and continue with this. 

Other Business:

1.  Parramatta Mission representative was able to share with us on Sunday November 22ndto update us on their work, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic. 

Reports

1.  Reports were received and accepted from the Minister, Treasurer, and the Property Subcommittee.  

2.  The Property Subcommittee reported that most things were on hold, but they were awaiting quotes from Contractors to carry out the work the City of Parramatta Council required.

3.  Remember that a Building Information Certificate – Notice of Determination was issued by the City of Parramatta Council (CPC). We are now seeking to begin to enact the Landscape Schedule that formed part of the application.   

Presbytery:

1.  There was no meeting in August and like much during this Pandemic it was postponed.

2.  The next meeting was Wednesday the 11thof November 2020 and much time was ta ken up with Elections which had been postponed.  

Finance Position

The Chart below shows our income and expenditure over the last twelve months. It must be noted that the closure of the Church for worship and other uses during the Covid-19 Pandemic has reduced our income from offerings, but we have received grants from the Government to help with the loss of rent and will receive support for wages also.

Other Notes:

  • Our electronic offerings in October was $2,600 (53%) of the total offerings $4905.00
  • United Financial Services have informed us that due to a delay in completing the printing of the new deposit books, they have got agreement with Westpac we can continue depositing cash/cheque deposits at Westpac until the end of December 2020. As soon as we receive the new deposit book, we can start transacting with Australia Post. 

  • At the church level the surplus for the period is $22,732.14 - but if we excluded the $23,500 in COVID-19 grants, the deficit is $767.86. 

Humour

EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AID

Christian Community Aid (CCA) provides a diverse range of support services to people living, working and studying in the Ryde, Parramatta and Hornsby Local Government Areas. 

Their vision is to engage with the community to enable better lives. For 50 years they have been working to provide personalised, timely and innovative support that addresses the existing and emerging needs of people. CCA aims to develop resources and capacity that will contribute to strong, inclusive and resilient communities. 

Thank you to all who support this very worthy cause including bringing to Marsden Road Church non-perishable food items. Please remember that even the smallest contribution helps.

Funny Church Sign


CONGREGATION

Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the Community

You are Welcome to join us at Marsden Road Uniting!  We gather to worship together at 9.30am every Sunday morning, with Sunday kids and Minis for our younger members, during school terms. 

We hope that you will experience the presence of God in this place and among the people of God here. All are welcome. 

CONGREGATION CONTACTS 

Minister of the Word: Rev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658 or whitestarhaven@bigpond.com

Available: Tuesday, (Wednesday Morning), Thursday, Saturday Morning and Sunday’s. 

Church Council Chairperson: Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary: Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Education & Social Sub-committee Convener:

Lynette Colless 043602310

Elders’ Chairperson: Alan Craymer 9874 0531

Elders’ Secretary: Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Congregation Chair: Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Congregation Secretary: Stephen Halgren 9858 1409

Property Sub-Committee Chair: Phil Bendrey 9484 5786

Nurture Group: Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Safe Churches Convenor: Rev John Candy 98681658

Property bookings/enquiries: Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Church Flowers: Kaye Baker 9871 6685

AWV Bus Driver Team: Terry Baker 9871 6685 

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au 

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

Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:

margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com

Margaret Johnston. Phone: 9872 7848 or email: mavidjohnston@gmail.com 

Marsden Missive

Please send articles, information and reports to Rev John Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@bigpond.com

Parramatta Mission amid COVID-19


                   10 DAYS OF GIVING, CELEBRATING,

PREPARATION AND PAMPERING AT MEALS PLUS

WEEKDAYS MONDAY DECEMBER 7TH - FRIDAY 18TH

At Parramatta Mission, Christmas would normally be a sit-down Christmas lunch on December 25th, welcoming all those who may be experiencing homelessness, hardship or isolation. This year (as with everything) we have had to think differently due to COVID and so we are holding a two weeklong Festival of Christmas!

From 7th – 18th December we will be hosting services, giving gifts and providing pampering for people through our Meals Plus program in Parramatta, with the idea being that everyone deserves to enjoy the season of Christmas – even during a pandemic… Services and experiences we will be providing include:  

Meals, Food Hampers, Haircuts, Shoes, Clothing, Bra Fittings, Gift bags, Vouchers, Medical Services, Financial Services, Legal Services, Migrant Services, Carolling.

If you can assist with services, or would like to partner with us for this event in any way please contact christmas@parramattamission.org.au

We are also looking for volunteers to assist with welcoming guests, COVID marshalling and spreading the Christmas cheer! Enquire at volunteer@parramattamission.org.au

Humour

Children’s Puzzle




 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting December Newsletter

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - November 27, 2020 - 2:58am

             Marsden Road Uniting Church

                     203 Marsden Road Carlingford

 Monthly Newssheet December 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.

 December Services by Zoom, Web and Delivery and Events

 2     10.00am SCCP Presbytery Standing Committee Meeting

       7pm Second Last MRUC Advent Study

3     10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive Meeting

6      9.30am Advent 2 Service Virtual Holy Communion (Zoom)

9      7pm Last MRUC Advent Study

11    12.30pm Congregation Picnic Lunch – Venue to be Park on Mobbs Lane         

13    9.30am Advent 3 Sunday Service (Zoom)

17    10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive Meeting

20    9.30am Advent 4 Sunday Service (Zoom)

24   Christmas Eve - 7.00pm Christmas Eve Service (Zoom)

25   Christmas Day - 8.30am Christmas Day Service (Zoom or in the Park – to be confirmed)

27   9.30am Christmas 1 Sunday Service (Zoom)

CHURCH SERVICES 

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

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

Offerings 

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

BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856  

We have not been able to hold our Stewardship programme this year due to Covid-19. Please give prayerful consideration to your giving. New Stewardship Envelopes are available from Elaine Forrest.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS


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

 

Marsden Road Prayer Cycle 


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

 

Christmas Bowl Appeal in Covid Pandemic

 

On Christmas Day 1949, an Australian Reverend named Frank Byatt placed an empty bowl of remembrance on the table before him. Frank urged his guests to reflect on their good fortunes and encouraged them to do something selfless for people around the world. This Christmas, we invite you to place a bowl on your table as a sign of remembrance.  If anyone would like to give to this appeal then please contact Rev John whitestarhaven@gmail.com or our Treasurer chrismaddison@optusnet.com.au for details in regard to giving.

Giving envelopes 

·         As we did in prior years, we will have the envelopes with cash/cheque deposits banked.  

·         Those wishing to give by EFT to our church account, the Treasurer will organise the bulk transfer to Christmas Bowl and a receipt to be issued directly by Act for Peace. 

 

Christmas Services.


December 24  7.00pm – Christmas Eve - Zoom - Family Worship

December 25, 8.30am - Christmas Day – Zoom or in the Park – to be confirmed - Christmas Day – Emmanuel – God with Us

 

Congregation Picnic Lunch 

There will be another Congregation Picnic on Friday December 11th, 2020 at 12.30pm at Mobb’s Lane Park. All welcome – bring your own lunch, your sweet and friendly self and chair. 

A Reminder on Zoom Etiquette 

NB: Please mute during actual service unless you are reading or leading, and especially mute during hymns 

For phone participants MUTE/UNMUTE - To do this enter *6 - this works as a toggle switch. 

CONTACTS 

Minister of the Word

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

Church Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au

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

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

At the moment please send all notices to Rev John by at least a week before the end of the month. 

Christians Together for Climate 

Local Christians are being asked to stand with a community of Christians in Bennelong Electorate who seek creation and climate justice through the 2050LOVE campaign. 2050LOVE is a non-partisan movement of Christians in the Bennelong electorate who support creation and climate justice. They aim to petition all sides of politics to establish a bold and crediblenational climate plan to make the transformational shifts required to meaningfully reach and even step up Australia’s 2016 Paris Agreement commitments.

Contact: Eric McCoy - 0491 754 983  

Parramatta Mission Christmas

Parramatta Mission are at the forefront of supporting individuals, families and communities who are disadvantaged, vulnerable & doing it tough. During this difficult time of Covid-19 the Mission continues to assist those in need. 

For Christmas, Meals Plus is operating Christmas Festival Hampers and Pampering for the two weeks before Christmas. This is instead of the Annual Christmas luncheon which is unable to be held due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. On the Mission’s website you can choose to donate a gift from one of the many available, to a value of your choosing to give to those in need. For further details please visit www.parramattamission.org.au/donate







Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday 22nd November 2020 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory …”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - November 27, 2020 - 1:27am
 

The First Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23     The Gospel Reading & Preaching of the Word: Matthew 25:31-46  “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.”

The service this Sunday morning was one of those magical times when we all left the service feeling that God was really there with us – yes even online there was a magic glue that held all the elements of the service together to highlight the messages of the service in a way no one person could have foreseen.  I just love it when this happens and I am sure it happens sometimes for just one or two people and that is important - but sometimes it is so obvious we all share the magic.  As the service unfolded we heard from Davyn from the Parramatta Mission who was to have visited Marsden Road Uniting Church in March to tell us about the joy that had been shared when around 700 people had joined together at the mission for Christmas dinner in 2019.  Many “dinner plates” had been donated by people from our church family and we were eager to hear the good news story of God’s love being shared as people in need were fed and welcomed with love.

Then came “the virus” and almost every plan was disrupted. For so many essential charities who struggle to care for increased numbers of people in need, the challenges have increased and the environment has become more trying.

However, finally Davyn was able to join us online this Sunday morning and he shared the joy of last Christmas and the plans being prepared for this rather different Christmas.  We were all moved by the story he told of one lady he met at lunch, who has now been associated with the mission for more than 20 years; after having met Jesus there as a destitute woman who had been homeless and dependent on drugs which she was introduced to in her home at the age of 12.   Davyn told us that on hearing her story last year his Christmas became extra special – he said he felt as excited as he had been at Christmas when he was a young child.  As he watched this changed lady sitting and talking to a homeless lady and passing on the hope that Jesus had brought to her life years ago, he felt overwhelmed to watch God’s love and hope at work.

At the Parramatta Mission this Christmas, there are some wonderful plans being organised to once again be able to spread hope and joy - while following “virus rules”.  There will be no lunch for 700 people, but homeless people will be “pampered” for two weeks with haircuts and other grooming and well-being appointments, medical help and “Meaningful Gifts” – which are virtual gifts that supporters of the work of the mission can give to their family and friends who will receive a card describing their gift and the boost to the self-respect and hope the actual gift will bring to the homeless person or other person in need who will actually receive the gift.

https://www.parramattamission.org.au/  You might like to look at the Parramatta Mission Website and “buy” a virtual gift you could give to someone “who has everything” and may enjoy together, sharing with someone who needs it much more.

The magic continued to build as the Rev. John read the well-known Gospel reading from Matthew 25 as a prelude to his Reflection/Sermon;  “… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

“God equips us with the gifts and not all of us have the same gifts, but all of us have gifts important to God. The life of faith is about finding and using these gifts to carry on Christ's work in the world.

Yet often it seems to be just too much. There are too many hungry and poor and lonely people for us to make any difference.”

Photo by Matt Collamer Unsplash










Because of the “magic” I was feeling - I watched Davyn’s face and could tell that he was getting excited about the way this so long delayed service had been arranged on just the right day and was giving us all the inspiration that could just help to make this Christmas very special for the strangers, the prisoners, the poor and the hungry and lonely people.   

In his Sermon the Rev John asked the question; “What is the ministry of the laity?” and he gave us the answer; “The ministry of lay people is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given to them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.  ...according to the gifts given them …  Yet often it seems to be just too much. There are too many hungry and poor and lonely people for us to make any difference.”  Of course we have all felt and expressed the frustration of feeling inadequate when it comes to making a difference to a bad situation.

Then the Rev. John told a story about a young boy who was working hard at the beach at dawn to save thousands of starfish that had been stranded on the beach during the night – a good story to inspire us to at least try and make a difference to someone and to show us that if we do nothing – nothing will happen; but if we stand on the beach and throw back some starfish before the sun comes up and they die on the beach – we will have made a difference to those few that we saved.  I could see that Davyn and all the other listeners in the Zoom Gallery were inspired to do something to make those in trouble safer.  

As at 13 November 2020 there were 12,866 inmates in full-time custody in NSW prisons and in-person family visits have been suspended since March to ensure the safety of staff and prisoners.  This strategy has worked, with only one confirmed case in the prison population – yet what has been the mental cost?  Coincidentally it was announced that Covid-Safe In-person visits would commence from the next day, the 23 November 2020.  I did not hear about this on the TV, the radio or the news this week – I asked Google!

Along with renewed optimistic reports of advances in the science and the production of covid 19 vaccinations as this week has advanced; there have been other more widely rejoiced changes to the government’s covid “rules” and other positive signs to bring hope to people in need of relief of all kinds. 

Since March my husband and I have particularly mourned the death of three beautiful gentlemen – all in their 10th decade.  Although they did not know each other, each has at times been part of our lives or part of an extended family through marriage.  I was very sad when a beautiful man from our little church died quite early in the piece when a total of only five people, plus the minister and the funeral people could attend a funeral - because we all wanted to celebrate and share his funeral with his family – we are a Church Family at Marsden Road Church.  So all I could think to do to share the feelings of our Church Family was to go to the church when the door was closed at the appointed time and keep an informal prayer vigil while strolling back and forth along Marsden Road as the traffic rushed noisily past.

The second funeral we attended was on-line and took place in Victoria during the recent sad “second wave” outbreak and even the man’s sisters were unable to be among the 10 people who could attend.  Shortly after the service started, the streaming was interrupted and after looking at a blank screen for some minutes the first part of the service was repeated.  Then, just as the eulogies and the family photo presentation were to begin, the streaming failed altogether and we were left with the sad frozen image of those ten people who were sitting apart and uncomforted in the family church in Victoria that their 96 year old father had helped to plan and build.

Yesterday under the new “rules” which allow up to 100 people suitably separated, to attend a funeral, I was able to attended my first Covid-Safe funeral at Eastwood Uniting Church.  It was such a relief to be allowed to be in the presence of the family as they celebrated the life of their beautiful kind and loving 93 year old father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend of many people the family would not under the previous “rules” have even known admired and cared for him and supported them in their sadness.

A great-grandson of around 11 years old read a version of Isaiah 40:28-31 which I cannot identify, but I just loved to hear those words coming from the child, who will hopefully inherit the strength of character and kindness of his great-grandfather even if his memory of him grows faint with time.

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? God doesn’t come and go. God is Creator in all you can see and imagine. God doesn’t get tired, doesn’t pause to catch breath. God knows everything, inside and out.  God energises those who get tired, gives fresh energy to dropouts.  Because even young people tire and drop out, young people in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles.  They run and don’t get tired.  They walk and don’t lag behind.”



As this week has moved on - my heart has certainly been touched by the possibilities of 2021 being a better and safer year in Australia and hopefully in the whole world.  As I went for my walk yesterday afternoon and looked again at all the lovely jacaranda trees I wrote about a couple of weeks ago in the Blog, it reminded that God is not hiding – we can see and share his glory everyday – but we humans are sometimes too busy to stop and look; so today I took my camera on my walk and several people stopped to talk and admire the beauty of the world with me and we shared just a few minutes of simple joy. 




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

“For it is as if a man …” Matthew 25:14-30

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - November 20, 2020 - 3:43am

 

First I want to remind myself and others that in reflecting on Sunday’s sermon about the parable of the talents, our Leader Dermot stressed; that the “timid slave” in the story was to be thrown; ‘into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.  He then said; “As a 21stcentury Aussie. (Inevitably, I read into the parable an idea that we are meant to substitute God for the owner.) This doesn’t sound like the God of grace and love I know.”

 

Next I want to go straight to the end of the Reflection so thoughtfully delivered (via Zoom) and suggest that Dermot, like some of the rest of us, is perhaps weary of trying to sort out the deep thoughts of 2,000 years of trying to come to terms, with the true messages of God which were recorded as parables and churned over year after year as we try to follow God’s ways and his thinking.

 

In talking about the parable of the talents Dermot shared his love of sitting quietly away from life’s turmoils and just “being with God” at the place in his life where he is at a particular time.  On this theme he said about Sunday’s Parable of the Talents; “But maybe this parable has a message for us personally and for the church today. Things are changing about us and maybe, in some way, we need to switch off the power which we are using, and glide for a time, trusting that in God’s support we will hear and become aware of new ways of being.


“And in doing that, we might allow the message of the parable to emerge – let us not hold back on the grace and love of God out of fear for what we have.  Let’s not try to protect the church from the world. Let’s take risks.  As Bill Loader (Rev Emeritus Professor William R. G. Loader BA (Auckl) BD (Otago) Dr theol (Mainz, Germany) FAHA, Emeritus Professor at Murdoch University) points towards – lets ‘allow the life of God to flow through us’.Let’s release the Spirit from any ropes and chains which we place upon it by our own expectations.  Let’s rejoice in the possibilities of the future. God is offering the “talents” – we need to have the courage and love to use them.  Amen”

 

I have a special memory of a “girlie” afternoon spent with my mother in front of the Kosi coke burning stove, with her patiently teaching me to knit a pink woollen baby bonnet in the popular feather and fan pattern.   It was only due to my mother’s great patience that I had eventually mastered the art of plain and purl knitting so that I could finish my knitted squares with the same number of stitches on each row as I had started off with; Mum was prepared to sit with me and guide my efforts to make something pretty and useful to be sold at the church fete that was planned for the spring.

 

As I look back at that happy afternoon, I realise that my mother was probably really eager to get back to her own effort for a new church project which was quite innovative and must have been the subject of much vigorous discussion in the St. Andrew’s Strathfield church meetings before the launching of “The Talents Project”. 

 

I was probably about 11 at the time and this idea made quite an impression on me as I heard the ideas and saw the enthusiasm of the people from the church as they took on the responsibility of “looking after” God’s talents and increasing them to be returned with a healthy bonus at the end of the time that had been decided for the church’s chosen project.  I don’t know if everyone started with the same amount of money being ‘given’ by the Parish Council, but I do remember that my mother had an amount of ₤5; which in the 1950s was $10 of today’s money, although the buying power of that amount was considerably greater.  However, I do remember that if you wished you could keep ‘investing’ your profit to become appreciated as a “good and faithful servant/slave”. 

 

Certainly there was no talk of being “thrown into outer darkness or weeping and gnashing of teeth” if your enterprise failed; although I did wonder if some lazy ‘slaves’ took the easy way out and just made a donation at the end so they would not be seen by their peers to have failed. 

 

For many of the church congregation it was an exciting time of sharing their gifts or talents and buying and selling all kinds of products as they contributed to the overall project.  There was much interest in the sweet little 4 or 5 cm ‘baby’ dolls which my mother bought by the dozens and dressed in perfectly scaled baby dresses with ribbons, lace and embroidered rosebuds.  The dolls also had little pink or blue jackets, bootees and bonnets with narrow ribbons and they were very much in demand.  Some of the dolls were dressed in complete miniature knitted layettes and it was good to watch my mother’s pleasure as her “talents” were recognised. 

 

My father was away in the navy at the time so my mother enjoyed “playing” with her lovely little dolls and it was good to see her excitement as her project grew, although I cannot remember the amount of profit she actually made for the chosen project. 

 

The memory of that “girlie” afternoon with mum is still quite vivid so that I can almost feel the warmth and the sensation of safety and protection as my 11- year- old self looked out the window at the wind-blown garden, now being soaked with icy rain.  We were certainly not rich – but it was a comforting feeling to know that we had enough of everything needed for our family – with just a little to share with others who had less.  

 

This was about the time I began to realise that some kids did not have all the advantages that my brothers and I enjoyed.  My brother John had one friend whose father was a cranky drunk who abused his mother - and he had another friend who was one of 13 children.  In his home there was not nearly enough money coming into the house to feed and clothe them all properly and sometimes his friend had to stay home while his pants were washed and he often had bare feet.  So the church project was a timely lesson in the satisfaction of using your gifts to help people in need.


 


Good News!  I am happy to say that Margaret has now come home from hospital and rehabilitation and after three operations and many months of tedious recovery she is beginning to feel much stronger.  On Tuesday, she and her husband were even able to join a group of around twenty Marsden Road Church members for a casual picnic lunch in a local park.  I am so grateful for the way hospitality and friendship has survived and grown during the difficult times for our close church community. 




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - Christ the King - 22 November 2020

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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


The Star Thrower

Sunday 22nd November 2020

Christ the King in year of Matthew 9.30 am

URL: https://uca-nswact.zoom.us/j/96239994683

               Phone: 80156011 Meeting Number: 962 3999 4683

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 2011)

       Make a joyful noise to the Lord.

Worship God with gladness.

Come into God's presence with singing.

We are God's people, the sheep of God's pasture.

Give thanks to the Lord; bless God's holy name,

for God's steadfast love is present now and endures forever.

Hymn TIS 738: My Jesus, my Saviour (Shout to the Lord)

                  (tune – Shout to the Lord) Sing through twice

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

My Jesus, My Saviour

Lord, there is none like You

All of my days I want to praise

The wonders of Your mighty love


My comfort, my shelter

Tower of refuge and strength

Let every breath, all that I am

Never cease to worship You


Shout to the Lord all the earth, let us sing

Power and majesty, praise to the King

Mountains bow down

And the seas will roar

At the sound of Your name

 

I sing for joy at the work of Your hands

Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand

Nothing compares to the promise I have in You 

My Jesus My Saviour Words and music Darlene Zschech

© 1993 Darlene Zschech/Hillsongs Australia 

     Opening prayer 

Tender, comforting Shepherd, your steadfast love is present in this place and resides within each of us. But sometimes it is hard, so very hard, to open ourselves to your love. We feel like scattered sheep, frightened and alone. Help us know your loving presence as we live as your gathered community. Enlighten our hearts, that we may know the hope to which we have been called. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

Holy One, we are like sheep that stray from your fold. We are the perpetually hungry, ever in spiritual need, and at times in physical want.

We are the naked, with wounds exposed and bleeding. We are the sick, fevered, chilled, and in pain. We are the strangers, separated from others and even from ourselves.

Hear us now as we confess our brokenness and our need. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

Our creator God sees our hunger and gives us food. Christ, the healer, touches our wounds, offering comfort and blessed relief. The Spirit blows through us, cools our fever, and eases our pain. God sees and touches and heals our wounds.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

When we were strangers, Christ welcomed us. Let us share the peace of Christ with friends and strangers with words of welcome:

The peace of Christ 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: How do you tell a sheep from a goat?

Object:  Need Photos of sheep and goats.  

How many of you think you can tell a sheep from a goat? Wait a minute! It may not be as easy as you think. If you had some pictures it would soon test how well you can tell a sheep from a goat.

It’s not as easy as we think as I remember seeing on the show QI when they put up pictures and asked which were sheep and which were goats. Here are a few hints that might help. The easiest way to tell a goat from a sheep is that a goats tail usually sticks up in the air, but a sheep's tail hangs down. If sheep have horns, they are usually curved. A goat's horns are less curved. Sheep usually have fluffy wool that must be sheared, while goats have flatter hair.

Do you think Jesus can tell the sheep from the goats? Well, that's what our Bible lesson is about today. One day Jesus was speaking to a group of followers about the day when the Son of Man would come in all his glory. (Son of Man was a title Jesus used for himself.) He said, "He will sit on his throne and all of the nations would be gathered before him. He will separate the people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." How did he know the sheep from the goats?

Jesus went on to explain, "He will say to those on his right, 'I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

"When did we do that?" the righteous ones will ask.

"And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

"Then he will turn to those on the left and say, 'I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.'

"Then they will ask, 'When did we refuse to help you?'

"He will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'

"And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life." 

Offering Prayer 

Holy One, you have given us all that we have and all that we are. Through these gifts and in our lives, help us be the shepherds and healers and lovers that you are calling us to be. Amen. 

Hymn 675: Lord, the light of your love is shining

                 (tune – Shine Jesus shine)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rce9UHYZwl4

Lord, the light of your love is shining

In the midst of the darkness, shining

Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us

Set us free by the truth you now bring us

Shine on me, shine on me. 

Shine, Jesus, shine

Fill this land with the Father's glory

Blaze, Spirit, blaze

Set our hearts on fire

Flow, river, flow

Flood the nations with grace and mercy

Send forth your word

Lord, and let there be light.

 

Lord, I come to your awesome presence

From the shadows into your radiance

By the blood I may enter your brightness

Search me, try me, consume all my darkness

Shine on me, shine on me 

Shine, Jesus, shine

Fill this land with the Father's glory

Blaze, Spirit, blaze

Set our hearts on fire

Flow, river, flow

Flood the nations with grace and mercy

Send forth your word

Lord, and let there be light.

 

As we gaze on your kingly brightness

So our faces display your likeness

Ever changing from glory to glory

Mirrored here may our lives tell your story

Shine on me, shine on me 

Shine, Jesus, shine

Fill this land with the Father's glory

Blaze, Spirit, blaze

Set our hearts on fire

Flow, river, flow

Flood the nations with grace and mercy

Send forth your word

Lord, and let there be light. 

Author: Graham Kendrick  Tune: Shine, Jesus, Shine 

Composer:   Graham Kendrick

The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Ephesians 1:15-23

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 25:31-46.

 Readings: NRSV Translations 

Ephesians 1:15-23 

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. 

Matthew 25:31-46. 

31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44 Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ 

Preaching of the Word - The Star Thrower 

Today is the Sunday of the Christian year that is often called the Feast of Christ the King; it is the last Sunday before Advent. Sunday after Sunday, 52 Sundays of the year, we say out loud and together, "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end."

What a funny king!

No purple robes. No crown. No legions of soldiers. No great processions and parades. No castle. No place to live -- period.

Instead he claims to be poor, and hungry, and a stranger, and in prison, and sick, and thirsty. He claims to have nowhere to lay his head. He says to us, his disciples, "See all these sisters and brothers of mine who are homeless like me? They are me. I am them. To serve me you must serve them. When I come back, I will see what you are doing and whom you serve."

Then at the end of the whole Gospel he says, "Lo, I am with you to the end of the age."

You see, the problem is we think he’s not here and he can’t see what we’re doing. But he says he is with us always, to the end of the age. We can’t expect to wait until the last minute before his coming and then scramble to do the work he has sent us out to do. We cannot deceive him into thinking we have been doing it all along.

Because he never left.

We can scramble and rearrange the words any way we wish, but it always comes out the same. It is a description of what life is like in his kingdom. To understand our role in his kingdom more clearly, the are many forms in Prayer Books and Confessions that offer us a job description.

It is in various Catechisms we have information to help us. Here is one as an example. They all have a number of questions and answers:

Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?
A. The ministers of the Church are lay people, (bishops), priests and deacons.

Notice who comes first -- before priests and deacons: lay people.

Q. What is the ministry of the laity?
A. The ministry of lay people is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given to them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.  ...according to the gifts given them …

God equips us with the gifts and not all of us have the same gifts, but all of us have gifts important to God. The life of faith is about finding and using these gifts to carry on Christ's work in the world.

Yet often it seems to be just too much. There are too many hungry and poor and lonely people for us to make any difference.

There is an interesting story told about the scientist and writer called Eisley was in the south of France, on the coast, attending a scientific symposium. He woke early one morning and went for a walk on the beach before sunrise. As he moved through the misty dawn he focused on a faint, far away figure. It was a youth, bending and reaching and flinging his arms, seemingly dancing on the beach. Eisley thought, "No doubt he is dancing in celebration of the new day about to begin."

As he came nearer, he realized the youth was not dancing at all, but rather was bending to sift through the debris left by the night tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then, standing, heaving it back into the sea.

He asked the youth the purpose of the effort. "The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach, and they cannot return to the sea by themselves," the youth replied. "When the sun rises, they will die, and the people come from town to pick them and sell them in the marketplace. I throw them back to the sea so they might live another day."

As the youth explained, Eisley surveyed the vast expanse of beach, stretching in both directions beyond his sight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The youth's plan seemed hopeless. "But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference?"

The youth paused to consider his words, then bent to pick up a starfish, whirled around and threw it as far as possible. Turning to the scientist he said simply, "I made a difference to that one," and kept dancing down the beach.

Eisley went back to his room and thought much as it had never occurred to him how important it is for one creature to help another, and how the seemingly natural order of things might be dramatically altered by the simple actions of one person.

The next morning, Eisley awoke, and again went down to the sea before dawn. There he joined the youth in the dance of life, one starfish at a time! Never before had he felt so alive and connected to our Creator God.

Whatever talents or gifts we have each been given, they are more than enough for us to do our part in the dance of life. Each simple action of our lives can make a difference in carrying on Jesus' work of reconciliation in the world.

We are the people who carry out the mission of the church, which is the mission of Jesus, our odd, our unique king. This is called life in his kingdom.

Bending, reaching, flinging our arms, one starfish at a time, we bring ourselves closer to others, closer to God and closer to ourselves. 

Hymn TIS 674: Inspired by love and anger

                  (tune – Salley Gardens)

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

Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,

Informed of God’s own bias we ask him once again:

How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind?

How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?”

 

From those forever victims of heartless human greed,

Their cruel plight composes a litany of need:

“Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?

When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?”

 

From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy,

The fear of lost advantage provokes the bitter cry,

“Don’t query our position! Don’t criticise our wealth!

Don’t mention those exploited by politics and stealth!”

 

To God, who through the prophets proclaimed a different age,

We offer earth’s indifference, its agony and rage:

“When will the wronged be righted? When will the kingdom come?

When will the world be generous to all instead of some?”

 

God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?

And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?

And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know?

And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?”

 

Amused in someone’s kitchen, asleep in someone’s boat,

Attuned to what the ancients exposed, proclaimed and wrote,

A Saviour without safety, a tradesman without tools

Has come to tip the balance with fishermen and fools. 

Author: John L. BellAuthor: Graham Maule
Tune: Salley Gardens

Intercessory Prayers       

Jesus Christ, true ruler of the created world, we pray for the peoples of the world: for victims of war, brutality and oppression; for victims of unjust economic and political systems; for the hungry, the homeless and the refugee.

We give thanks for leaders who serve the common good, and for all who work for an increase of justice and peace.

Make us a people whose hearts are ruled by your mercy and compassion, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ, true shepherd to all your sheep, we pray for your church: for courage in places of persecution; for renewed zeal in places of apathy; for unity in places of discord and division. We give you thanks and pray for all who are shepherds to your people, for priests and pastors and all who minister in your name. Make us a people whose hearts are ruled by your forgiveness and grace, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ, true companion to all who seek you, we pray for those to whom our lives are bound: for our families, our friends and all whom we love; for this parish community; for those with whom we work and play. We give you thanks for all whose love or care or daily work enriches our lives. Make us a people whose hearts are ruled by your reconciliation and love, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ, true comforter to all who suffer, we pray for all in special need: those lost in grief or loneliness or hopelessness; those imprisoned by pain or guilt or despair; those sick in heart or mind or spirit; We give you thanks for all who bring healing and hope to those in need. Make us a people whose hearts are ruled by your compassion and hope, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ, true ruler of earth and heaven, we give you thanks and praise for your faithful servants of every age.

Help us follow in the footsteps of your saints that we, like them, may be gathered into your eternal presence, a people after your own heart, the sheep of your own fold. Jesus Christ, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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

Hymn TIS 256: From heav’n you came, helpless babe

                 (tune -The Servant King)

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

From heaven you came helpless babe

Entered our world, your glory veiled

Not to be served but to serve

And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, The Servant King

He calls us now to follow Him

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to The Servant King

 

There in the garden of tears

My heavy load he chose to bear

His heart with sorrow was torn

'Yet not My will but Yours,' He said 

This is our God, The Servant King

He calls us now to follow Him

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to The Servant King

 

Come see His hands and His feet

The scars that speak of sacrifice

Hands that flung stars into space

To cruel nails surrendered 

This is our God, The Servant King

He calls us now to follow Him

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to The Servant King

 

So let us learn how to serve

And in our lives enthrone Him

Each other's needs to prefer

For it is Christ we're serving 

This is our God, The Servant King

He calls us now to follow Him

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to The Servant King 

Author: Graham Kendrick
Tune: The Servant King 

Benediction 

         Come, you who are blessed! Inherit all that is prepared

        for you!

        We leave this sacred space to claim the riches and

        glorious inheritance that are ours through Christ.

        Go out into the world to share your blessings with all in

        need. Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose

        words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own lives! Amen.        

        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you.
         (Tune – Aubrey)

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

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

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

May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you

life.

May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring you

Home.

        Robyn Mann (1949 -)          Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)






 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Call to Action and Service.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - November 19, 2020 - 9:46pm

There is something terribly sad in this week’s Gospel reading from Matthew, something so easy to miss that it eludes most of us. That’s probably because this is such a tempting story. It is one of the most straightforward of all the New Testament’s accounts of judgment; and one of the most fun.

Here, judgment is connected to actively reaching out to those in need, specifically to “the least of these,” to those who are at the bottom, those who are the most helpless and who have no other champions – to those with no one else to care for them. These are God’s favourites; the ones God sees in a special way.

And it’s really clear that those who are condemned are not condemned for doing bad things, or for acting unjustly or cruelly. Instead, they are condemned for the good they did not do. You can’t sit out the Christian moral life. There’s just no way, by avoiding engagement, to thereby avoid judgment. “Well, I never intentionally hurt anybody” cuts no mustard when before God.

All of which can tempt just about any writer to shout, “So get out there and serve Jesus in your neighbour. Do good and save your soul from the judgment of eternal fire all at the same time.” This also can make a great sermon, and one most church leaders aren’t opposed to preaching from time to time. Good stuff. Can’t hurt.

But I’d like to look at what’s so sad in this story.

Notice that those who have been gathered up at the right hand of the Lord – those who are called blessed of God, the ones we want to be – have only one thing to say to Jesus. They say, “Lord, when?”

“When was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?” “When?” That’s it; that’s all they have to say.

This is dreadfully sad because of all the loss, and all the struggle and all the pain that question implies. These people, the sheep, the saved, the good guys if you like, they were right, they did all of the correct things, but they missed the greatest joy of it. They missed seeing the Lord. They overlooked the hidden presence of God in the faces of those they served.

One of the reasons we have this parable from Matthew 25 may be to help us avoid that loss, to remind us what reaching out and caring and serving can be about at the level of greatest depth. Because it’s very clear: No matter how right you are, no matter how much you serve the presence of Christ in others, if you don’t pay special attention, if you simply don’t look for the Lord Jesus in those you serve, then, like the saved people in the parable, you won’t see him. And most of the joy is lost.

Most of the joy of doing good and being right and saving your soul from the judgment of eternal fire all at the same time, most of that joy, is lost. After all, reaching out in love to the presence of Christ in others, especially in both “the least of these” and in those closest to us, this is quite often a great big pain. It takes a lot of time, and there’s almost never any indication that anything of lasting benefit has happened.

What’s more, “the least of these” are usually at least partially responsible for whatever problems and needs make them the least. And most of the time they don’t look or act or smell the way we imagine Jesus should.

Frequently, they aren’t very nice, and worse yet, they seldom seem to appreciate whatever good we do try to do for them. So, doing good, reaching out to feed, clothe, visit, heal and otherwise minister to “the least of these” tends to frustrate us, and we tend to get burned, and to get burned out.

And much the same sort of thing can happen when the ones we reach out to are not some distant “them,” but are, instead, the people we live with and around, the people closest to us.

One would think that actually serving Christ shouldn’t be as hard, and as disheartening, as it often is. But there we are. After all, just because we’re doing something for religious reasons doesn’t mean that all by itself, whatever we’re doing will look or feel religious or that it will affect us in a particularly religious way.

Cleaning the kitchen in the church, or anywhere else for that matter, is still cleaning a kitchen. Being nice to a difficult person because you are convinced that Jesus wants you to, is still being nice to a difficult person. Spending time or money or energy out of Christian conviction still means that you no longer have that time or that money or that energy.

Jesus calls us to serve him, in our neighbours, in our brothers and sisters, in the least of these, and – often the most challenging – in those closest to us. That call is real; there are no excuses. But the Lord also calls us to see him in the face of our neighbours, and of our brother and sister, and – we can’t forget – in the least of these. This is a spiritual call, a call to discernment as much as it is a call to action and to service.

This is what we need in our world right now. This is what we need as we continue to face a Pandemic, Covid-19, that has really stretched our personal beliefs and desires. It has challenged to various degrees, especially with lock downs our resilience, our trust and my goodness our hope for the future. However, we who are Christians are called not only to discernment but as I said to action and service.

There’s not a secret or mysterious way to do this. To try to live the life Christ calls us to live without placing all of that in the middle of some disciplined reflection, prayer and study, this is to risk missing the best part of it all. It is to risk missing the presence and Word of Jesus that can transform a mundane task into an opportunity for insight and for joy – that can make doing the things we are called to do a path deeper into the mystery of God’s life, and of our own.

This story of judgment is more than a call to serve. It’s more than a call to be good, and to do the right thing. Sure, it’s that, but it’s much more.

It’s also a call to look, to notice, to devote our days and our lives in the search for the face of God in all that we do. It’s a call for Christians and hopefully all, above all, to see.


I have been writing for six years producing my reflections on the Sunday Readings from the Three-Year Lectionary. These thoughts have been developed from various writers I have been reading and my own reactions. However, after six years I am going to end this exercise on the Feast of Christ the King for Sunday November 22nd, 2020.

I thank all who have taken the time to read the blog and even at times feedback.

 

Rev John Candy

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday 8th November 2020 “At that time Jesus said …”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - November 13, 2020 - 1:42pm

 The First Reading:  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18     

The Gospel Reading & Preaching of the Word: Matthew 25:1-13

On Sunday 8th November, the highlight for me was the Hymn TIS 154: 

Great is your faithfulness”

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

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; 

there is no shadow of turning with thee;

thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; 

as thou hast been thou forever wilt be. 

 

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! 

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

All I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 

The history of this hymn is not long, but it brings into our hearts and souls a feeling of comfort in the everlasting and predictable faithfulness of God and the joy of hope with the dawn of each new day - and the faith we can have that everything will continue to “be right with the world” as long as God is in control.

 



It is once again that beautiful time of year when the jacaranda trees splash our streets with riots of purple to be admired against perfect blue skies.  November again! As I stand on my front patio and look out I wonder at the miracle that unfailingly unfolds each year and I cannot believe that another year has gone by already.  I find I measure time differently as I grow older and I take time to enjoy these annual miracles instead of rushing thoughtlessly by.  I was really excited a few years ago when one of our daughters showed me a photo she had taken of a beautiful rose she had seen in the garden of Auguste Rodin in Paris.  “I remembered you told me before I left for my trip to ‘take time to smell the roses’ so this rose reminded me of your advice,” she said.  We often wonder if our children of whatever age take notice of those “throw away” bits of advice on life which we randomly scatter to the wind.




Hymns are like prayers and I think the reason why everything seems to fit together with such complete harmony in “How Great is Thy Faithfulness” is because the writer of this beautiful poem/hymn, Thomas Obediah Chisholm, sent it to his friend, the musician William Bunyan who felt the strength and the joy of the words and prayed for guidance that he might write the perfect tune to help others to experience the same feelings that overcame him when he read his friend’s poem.  William Bunyan first published the hymn in 1923, but strangely, it was not until the Billy Graham Crusades began to travel the world with George Beverly Shea making the hymn “his own” as he and the Crusade choirs introduced the beautiful words and music to “old” and “new” Christians around the world that its popularity grew.  Thomas Chisholm died in 1960 and in his lifetime he wrote 1,200 poems and hymns.

 

Perhaps you have noticed that I have been avoiding moving on to write about the theme of the reflection/sermon on Sunday 8th November.  The Parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids has worried me for many decades now – in fact it has upset me since I was a child. I have read and tried to appreciate and understand the various theologically accepted meanings of the parable – yet it still suppresses my faith and assurance about the love and forgiveness of God.  It is a negative effect all round for me - as are some other rather harsh bible stories; although I must confess I am not a person who spends long periods of time in bible studies.  My faith is strong – but simple.  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4: 8-9

 

Please stop reading now if I have offended you; but if you read on I would like to offer my suggestions and “alternate” thinking about the story which begins with such authority; “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this.”  Then the story is told and the conclusion is; in verses 12 and 13; But he (the Lord) replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.  Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

 

In my 20th and 21stcentury thinking, I can’t help wondering why any of the bridesmaids wasted their oil by keeping their lamps alight while they were waiting and falling asleep. 

 

It would surely have been a better idea to keep just a few of their lamps burning for safety or to make themselves visible to the bridegroom in the place where they waited.  Then there would have been oil still available to be shared when the bridegroom arrived.  Or alternatively the wise bridesmaids could have taken the arm of their less prepared companions and showed them the way to the bridal feast along with the bridegroom.  I am rather shocked that the wise bridesmaids were selfish and made no attempt to share their light to go and meet God.  I get a little confused when I view this story alongside the one told only in Luke’s Gospel, where servants were sent out twice “to the highways and byways” to bring in strangers to replace those who ungraciously failed to attend or made insulting excuses.  Going back to the story told this week, I am appalled to contemplate that those bridesmaids who had failed to make contingency plans in case the bridegroom was late were to be shut out by God with no chance of forgiveness. 

 

In his sermon, the Rev. John said; “The foolish attendants were unprepared. They ran out of oil and were unable to obtain more. So, when their moment came, they lost the opportunity to help light the way. They were unable to act out their appointed role in the community. They lost the chance even to witness the wedding.

 

I am puzzled by the context of the following thoughts that the Rev. John expressed next; “Over and over again Jesus shows us what God is like. Today, he illustrates the truth that God takes no vacations. God never takes a break from offering love to us graciously. God is always prepared. God never stops forgiving us. God never ceases to watch over us. God never rests from the desire that we follow in his way. God never lets up on loving us, no matter how much we may rebel and stray. God is always ready.”

 

I am not saying that I do not agree with all those positive remarks about God’s love, forgiveness, constant care, presence and Grace – I am just saying that I still have problems with the thought that because we do not know when God will come; isn’t it possible that some good people may not be ready at the exact moment God comes?  I just have difficulties believing that God will shut us out in the cold and the dark and will unequivocally reject us for ever if we are not ready when He comes.

 

In my search for an answer to my questioning of the parables and their interpretations I have read some articles on Jesus' Ministry and Teaching.  If you have a computer and are interested, here is the link from which I will record a couple of short quotes that I found interesting. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/ministry.html#parables

 

John Dominic Crossan: Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies DePaul University.  He has written eighteen books on the historical Jesus and earliest Christianity. 

 

He asked the question: Is this [style of teaching] unique to Jesus?

 

“The parables are unique only in a very limited sense, in that the primary teaching of Jesus is not taking texts out of the Hebrew scriptures and explaining them, blasting them, commenting on them. What he is doing is telling a perfectly ordinary story. And using that as the major teaching. "The Kingdom of God is like this." Now you have to think, well, I hear the story, but how on earth is the Kingdom of God like that? That's your job as the hearer. So it's open to anyone. And that's, I think, the point of the parable.”

 

The next question: So right from the start his teaching depends on interpretation?

 

“If you teach in parables, you give yourself to interpretation. If you really want to tell people what to think you preach them a sermon. If you tell them a parable then you're leaving yourself open, inevitably, to interpretation.”

 

In the same way I worry about having to interpret parables; I question the work of artists whose paintings or sculptures require me to stand in the art gallery and listen to a long recording on a hired electronic device which explains what the artist was trying to express.

 

I think I will play the Youtube recording of Thomas Chisholm’s beautiful hymn once more and “sign off” with the thought: 

 

“Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!  Morning by morning new mercies I see:

All I have needed thy hand hath provided--Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Investment in Love.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - November 13, 2020 - 12:53am

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? You would try something pretty risky, right? After all, if you knew you wouldn’t fail, why try something easy? What risky thing would you do? Would you write the Great Australian Novel or sail around the world? Would you tell someone, “I love you,” or would you find the courage to leave? Would you go back to studies to finish that degree or would you call your mother or father and say, “I’m sorry for the pain I caused you. When can we get together again?”

If failure were not an option, human history would have been marked with more bold attempts at both greatness and villainy. Failure is all too real, and many bold plans have never gotten past the stage of dreams.

There are all kinds of risks and all kinds of rewards, but there is a common reason why we are naturally risk averse and that is fear. Fear is a natural, healthy reaction that can keep you safe. Healthy fear of fire prevents you from getting burned. Unhealthy fear of fire can also keep you from enjoying the simple pleasure of making your own roasted marshmallow’s on a campfire.

There has to be a balance between fear and reward. Those with no fear fill our cemeteries at an early age. At the other extreme, too much fear is unhealthy and paralysing. Fear keeps hope locked in a room of doubt.

Great ships were not built to cling to the coastline. They were created to cross oceans. Few great discoveries were made by playing it safe. There is also no risk-free way to fall in love or to raise children. And there is no risk-free way to mend broken relationships and make amends for past hurts.

In our Gospel reading for this week from Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable of risk and rewards and the responsibility that comes with great gifts. In the parable, a very wealthy landowner entrusts his servants with vast sums of money. A talent was a measure of gold worth roughly fifteen years’ wages for a day labourer. The life expectancy of the time for common laborers was such that making it to forty was never a sure thing, even though many lived longer. Fifteen years’ wages was more than half of what you might expect to make in a lifetime—maybe all you hoped to make in a lifetime. Each talent in this parable is that kind of wealth.

The master gives one servant five talents, another two, and the last a single talent. Now, this is where the parable gets hard to hear. The problem is that we have a word, “talent,” that means “ability” or “skill”. Singing, for example, is a talent. So, when we hear of a servant given one talent and another given five talents, it sounds like we are talking about abilities or skills, and then the parable immediately sounds different.

What have you done with the talents God entrusted to you?” “Talent” refers to our God-given gifts and abilities. The parable tells of three persons entrusted with great responsibility. Even the one who was given the care of a single talent was entrusted with much. Each of them would have to risk much if they wanted to show a return on investment.

In the parable, the first two servants doubled the master’s money. Each was rewarded with more money. The reward for faithfulness was more responsibility. Then came that fateful last servant. This last servant risked nothing. It was safe. There was little risk in digging a hole and hiding the loot. There was also no potential gain. And for not taking any risk with the money entrusted to him, the servant gets the worst possible punishment as his reward.

Jesus taught that the heart of the Good News is love. Our world was created for love, which means the freedom to do great evil as well as good. There is no other way. God gave us choices and through our choices, we can get hurt and we can hurt others. A universe where real love is an option is a risky place, as pain and suffering are not only possible, but likely. This world is not only a world of pain and suffering, but also a world of generosity, kindness, and self-sacrificial love.

God invested so much love in you through Jesus’ life and ministry, his death and resurrection. You can never repay that love. The good news is that you don’t exactly have to pay Jesus back, as much as pay it forward. God is not looking for a return on investment in quite the same way as the hard landowner in the parable.

At the heart of this parable is really faith and trust that when we step out in faith, God will not leave us alone. Living the Gospel always involves risk. Risk is inherent in saying, “I love you,” or in asking for forgiveness, or in offering to reconcile with someone who hurt you. God has shown you great love and asks only that you share that love with others. When you take the risk to love, it is the grace of God working through you that does the heavy lifting. Living into the love of God happens through concrete actions toward others as we give as we have been given and forgive as we have been forgiven.

How might you share the love of God with someone today? Who do you need to ask for forgiveness? Who do you need to forgive? In whom might you invest the love that God has shown you? What would you risk for love if you knew you couldn’t fail? 


I have been writing for six years producing my reflections on the Sunday Readings from the Three Year Lectionary. These thoughts have been developed from various writers I have been reading and my own reactions. However after six years I am going to end this exercise on the feast of Christ the King for Sunday November 22nd 2020I thank all who have taken the time to read the blog and even at times feed back.
Rev John Candy
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Church - Pentecost 23 - 08 November 2020

  Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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


Can You Imagine a Scene...?

Sunday 08th November 2020

Pentecost 23 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 2011)       

Choose this day to sing with joy.

We give thanks and praise to God!

Choose this day to love and serve.

We rejoice in Christ's call in our lives!

Choose this day to worship God.

We gather to worship and pray.

 

Hymn TIS 154: Great is your faithfulness

                       (tune – Faithfulness)

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

1 Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;

there is no shadow of turning with thee;

thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;

as thou hast been thou forever wilt be. 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

all I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 

2 Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,

sun, moon, and stars in their courses above

join with all nature in manifold witness

to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

all I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 

3 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,

strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

all I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Author: Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)
Tune: Faithfulness (Runyan) 

Opening prayer

 

We gather this day to listen for God's ancient truths, stories of wisdom passed down through the ages. We gather this day to listen for Christ's ongoing call, challenging words shared from generation to generation. We gather this day to listen for the Spirit's movement, the wind of change that pushes us into new dimensions of truth and discipleship. Speak to us, O God, that we may hear your truth, both ancient and new. Amen 

A Prayer of Confession 

Holy One, we gather this day with the knowledge that our choice to serve you carries challenges each and every day.

Forgive us when we fail to meet those challenges. When we are unprepared for what we face, strengthen us with new resolve and better abilities to move forward in faith.

When we stray onto paths of danger and betrayal, betrayal, lead us back to your path of truth and love.

Let your words ring true in our lives, that we may love and serve you— loving and serving your world in all that we say and in all that we do. In hope and trust, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

Keep awake! But even when you sleep, know that God is our keeper, Christ is our saviour, and the Spirit is always with us. Rise in hope and joy, my friends. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven and reconciled to God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

As forgiven and reconciled children of God let us be reconciled to one another. Share your oil, trim one another's lamps, serve one another even as we serve God. Come! Let us share signs of love and reconciliation as we pass the peace of Christ.

Peace be with you!

And also with you! 


A Word with the Children/Young People 

Theme: Be prepared to meet Jesus

Object: Some of the items to be included in a survival kit. 

In the past year, we have seen many natural disasters in our world. Things such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and even forest fires. One thing that we are hearing over and over again these days is that it is very important for us to be prepared in case of an emergency. Here are a few of the things we are told that we should do to make sure we are prepared. - BE INFORMED

Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared. - HAVE A PLAN

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. - HAVE A SURVIVAL KIT

Your survival kit should include things like water, food, medicine, a first aid kit, blankets, candles and matches, flashlights, and batteries.

These are all good things for us to remember. It is wise to be prepared, isn't it?

Jesus once told a story to teach us the importance of being prepared. In Jesus' story, ten bridesmaids took their oil lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Jesus said that five of them were foolish because they had their lamps, but they didn't bring any extra oil to put in their lamps. When it was time to go out and meet the bridegroom, they were out of oil. The other five were very wise and well-prepared. They had brought plenty of oil for their lamps. When it was time to go out and meet the bridegroom, they were ready.

In this story, the bridegroom is Jesus and you and I are the bridesmaids. The story is teaching us that one day we are going to go to meet Jesus. It teaches us that we must be prepared because we don't know exactly when that time is coming. Do you know what we must do to be prepared? We must invite Jesus to come into our hearts. When we do that, we are ready! 

Offering Prayer 

As we celebrate the many wonders in our lives, we give you thanks and praise, O God. Transform these offerings into gifts of wonder and glorious deeds, that all may see the light of your love, leading us to abundant life. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 161: Tell out, my soul,

                        (tune – Woodlands)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6ji4y9Q-K0 

1.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!

Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;

tender to me the promise of his word;

in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.

 

2.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!

Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;

his mercy sure, from age to age to same;

his holy Name--the Lord, the Mighty One.

 

3.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!

Powers and dominions lay their glory by.

Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,

the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

 

4.  Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!

Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord

to children's children and for evermore! 

Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926),

Tune: 'Woodlands', Walter Greatorex (1877-1949) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Gospel Reading:                            Matthew 25:1-13. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 

9 Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11 to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12 so that you may behave properly towards outsiders and be dependent on no one. 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

Matthew 25:1-13 

1 ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9 But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” 12 But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. 

Preaching of the Word - Can You Imagine a Scene..., 

Can you imagine a scene in which there are ten contestants, pitted against each other at an international piano competition? Image further that five of them have constantly practiced their entries to perfection and remained ever ready to be called to play. Meanwhile, imagine the other five contestants spending their time watching television and eating pizza and doing everything but practicing. If you can envision this, it won't take much imagination to figure out who would meet the approval of the judges.

This might be an example through which Jesus would approach us in 2020 to make an important point about the way of God. But, of course, Jesus was not aware of piano competitions, so he drew from what he knew. In today's Gospel, we find him telling about some maidens who were called to serve as attendants at a wedding.

In that time, weddings were great moments in the life of a village, with every resident participating. If the bridegroom came from another village, as seems to be the case here, there was no way to know exactly when he would arrive, and therefore it was not certain exactly when the wedding would begin. To compensate for this, maidens kept the bride company, awaiting the arrival of the groom with great anticipation. Of course, when it grew dark on such occasions, lamps were needed to see.

As soon as the bridegroom arrived, a festive welcome was made, and a torchlight procession led the couple to the place of the wedding. When the procession reached the appointed place, all entered, the doors were locked, and the festivities began. No one was admitted late.

Jesus used this setting, quite familiar to his hearers, to present a parable about ten maidens, five who were prepared for the eventualities and five who were not.

The wise ones had prepared. They had enough oil to last until the bridegroom came. They were ready. They knew what was required of them, and they did it. When the time came, they were able to act in a manner that was faithful to their culture.

The foolish attendants were unprepared. They ran out of oil and were unable to obtain more. So, when their moment came, they lost the opportunity to help light the way. They were unable to act out their appointed role in the community. They lost the chance even to witness the wedding.

Over and over again Jesus shows us what God is like. Today, he illustrates the truth that God takes no vacations. God never takes a break from offering love to us graciously. God is always prepared. God never stops forgiving us. God never ceases to watch over us. God never rests from the desire that we follow in his way. God never lets up on loving us, no matter how much we may rebel and stray. God is always ready.

For our part, as we seek to stay on the journey of faith, we live and move by doing and being what Christ is. Imitating God, we take no vacation from being prepared to act in keeping with the values of God. We must therefore imitate the wise maidens, remaining prepared, moving in accordance with our training, when the time comes to act.

And like the maidens in Jesus' parable, we do not know when or how we will be called upon. But if we remain always prepared, we will be able to act in accordance with the values we confess, through the Baptismal Covenant and other tenets of our faith. To be prepared is to practice these values, more perfectly, and with more dedication, than the wise maidens.

Although God's gifts are free, the questions for today are these: Will we be like the wise or the foolish maidens? Will we be prepared to recognize and accept what God offers us? Will we recognize God's love, God's grace, God's forgiveness, God's joy, hope, and the wonders of God's creation? Will we be able to accept these gifts and, in response, will we be able to act toward others as God has acted toward us? Are we prepared? As God presents us daily with challenges and choices, will we be ready? 

Hymn TIS 266: Wake, awake! for night is flying

                        (tune – Wachet Auf)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6V3TVGX7N4 

1 "Wake, awake, for night is flying,"

the watchmen on the heights are crying;

"Awake, Jerusalem, arise!"

Midnight hears the welcome voices

and at the thrilling cry rejoices:

"Where are the virgins pure and wise?

The Bridegroom comes: Awake!

Your lamps with gladness take!

Alleluia!

With bridal care and faith's bold prayer,

to meet the Bridegroom, come, prepare!"

 

2 Zion hears the watchmen singing,

and in her heart new joy is springing.

She wakes, she rises from her gloom.

For her Lord comes down all-glorious

and strong in grace, in truth victorious.

Her star is risen, her light is come!

Now come, O Blessed One,

Lord Jesus, God's own Son.

Sing hosanna!

We answer all in joy your call;

we follow to the wedding hall.

 

3 Lamb of God, the heavens adore you,

the saints and angels sing before you

with harp and cymbals' clearest tone.

Of one pearl each shining portal,

where, joining with the choir immortal,

we gather round your radiant throne.

No eye has seen that light,

no ear the echoed might

of your glory;

yet there shall we in victory

sing shouts of joy eternally! 

Text: Philipp Nicolai, (1556-1608) Tr: Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878) Tune: Wachet Auf By Philipp Nicolai 

Intercessory Prayers   

Ever-loving God, in every generation you have cared for your children, and your mercy is everlasting: hear the prayers we bring for your world and for your church.

We pray for the peoples of every land: for all who suffer the horrors of war, for soldiers, civilians and refugees; for all who endure the effects of famine, disease and natural disasters; for all who govern and those who administer law. We give you thanks for all who work to bring an end to oppression and suffering, remembering especially those who have given their lives that others might live. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of justice and peace.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your church throughout the world: for all priests and pastors, teachers and youth workers; for the newly baptised and for those whose faith has grown cold: for all who worship or minister in this parish. We give you thanks for all who bring to others your gospel of salvation, remembering especially those who work in places that are dangerous, remote or unresponsive. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of righteousness and truth.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the communities in which we live: for those without work and those with too much responsibility; for those who are forgotten, unwanted or abused; for our families, our friends and all  whom  we love. We give you thanks for all whose work enriches this community, remembering especially all who give their time to care for the needy, the elderly and the young. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of forgiveness and love.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are in trouble or distress: for the destitute and those who despair for the future; for the broken-hearted and all who mourn for loved ones; for those in mental torment, for the sick and for the dying. We pray for and give thanks for continued healing, especially for Marcia, Susan, Kaye, Ruth, Margaret, Von, Kirsten, Gwen, Mae, Joan and Pat. We give thanks for the stable health of Lawrence. We give you thanks for all who bring comfort, hope and relief to your people, remembering especially all medical staff, chaplains and pastoral workers. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of compassion and healing.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for all who have served you faithfully to their life's end. We remember those who mourn, for Robin and her family and the family of Barbara. Keep us ever watchful and ready for the day of your coming, that we may hear with joy the archangel's call, and, with all who have died in Christ, rise to meet you.

Loving God, we wait for your coming in glory.

In your mercy, hear our prayer. 

THE LORD'S PRAYER 

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

Hymn 624: Christ be my leader by night as by day
                     (Tune – Slane)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDtMuABB-h4 

Christ be my leader by night as by day;

safe through the darkness for he is the way.

Gladly I follow, my future his care;

darkness is daylight when Jesus is there.

 

Christ be my teacher in age as in youth,

drifting or doubting for he is the truth.

Grant me to trust him; though shifting as sand,

doubt cannot daunt me; in Jesus I stand.

 

Christ be my savior in calm as in strife;

death cannot hold me, for he is the life.

Nor darkness nor doubting nor sin and its stain

can touch my salvation; with Jesus I reign. 

Tune: Irish folk tune, Slane

Text: Timothy Dudley-Smith, b. 1926 

Benediction 

       Keep awake, for darkness is all around!

       May our hearts shine with God's love.

       Keep awake, for the world is in constant need!

       May we see and respond where Christ calls us to

       serve.

       Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose

       words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own

       lives! 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 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. 

              Author: John Newton (1779)

                   Tune: Waltham

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

What Are We To Do...,

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - November 5, 2020 - 9:25pm

What are we to do with Jesus parable of wise and foolish bridesmaids we find in Matthew 25 set for reading this week? It’s not easy to be sympathetic with any of the characters here. The bridegroom sends out invitations but shows up hours late himself and then shuts the door on half of the bridesmaids. Those maidens who get shut out are off trying to buy oil in the middle of the night, when the wedding is about to begin. 

Meanwhile, the bridesmaids who did bring extra oil won’t share it and come off looking selfish and snotty. And what shall we do with a parable that speaks about God closing the door to heaven? That much seems clear at the wedding banquet represents the joy of being in the presence of God. A month ago, we heard another parable about a wedding feast, in which the king sends out invitations to his son’s wedding feast, only to have the invitations refused. Not to be deterred, he invites in whoever is standing at the street corners and has a huge party anyway.

Once again in today’s parable, everyone is invited to the banquet. So why does anyone get shut out? They all do show up; they all do bring their lamps; they all are ready. Could the problem be their lack of watchfulness? True, the bridesmaids do fall asleep while they’re waiting; and Jesus admonishes us at the end of the parable to act. Keep awake and act, for you know neither the day nor the hour. 

But let’s be fair asall the bridesmaids fall asleep, the wise and the foolish alike, yet half of them end up enjoying the wedding anyhow. That leaves us with the oil. We are told the wise maidens bring extra oil, and the foolish ones don’t. That sounds simple enough, but we’re on pretty shaky ground if we look for the easy answers, and decide that the oil represents Goodness, or Piety, or Works, or even Faith. If we do, then it starts to sound as though what’s important is the amount of oil we’re carrying around and it’s as though we all ought to be doing extra good deeds, or praying extra hard, or living a perfect life, so that we can store up a spare flask full of midnight oil, ready to burn if the Messiah decides to pull a pop quiz at the end of days.

The pattern of Jesus’ teaching throughout the gospels simply doesn’t support that viewpoint. Instead, in his parables the invitations always go out to everyone, the pay is the same for those who start work early or late, and everyone is considered a faithful servant so long as they don’t bury their gifts. No, it’s not that the foolish bridesmaids are shut out because they don’t have enough oil and after all, their lamps are trimmed and still burning when the bridegroom’s arrival is announced.

They get excluded because they’re so worried their lamps might go out that they run off in search of extra oil, and wind up missing their grand entrance. What they seem to forget is that God hasn’t retired from the miracle business; that in fact, God seems particularly fond of weddings, of making a little go a long way, and of keeping oil burning when it really matters. Jesus turned an ordinary wedding into a foretaste of the banquet to come when he turned water into wine. He defied scarcity with the abundance of the kingdom of God and fed thousands from a small boy’s lunch. 

Mindful of God’s abundance, consider the passage from the book of Wisdom that was offered for this week as an alternate reading in place of the psalm: Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, And one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

We don’t need to chase after Wisdom as just seeking her is enough. In fact, Wisdom herself is seeking us. Now we can see how the foolish bridesmaids have gone astray. Instead of trusting that they can find Wisdom sitting alongside them at the gate, they run off to the marketplace of ideas in search of illumination. Instead of trusting that Wisdom is radiant and unfading, they worry that their own little lamps won’t be enough for the bridegroom’s party. So, they hurry off, hoping to find someone who can sell them some security, who can take their money and hand them a nicely packaged flask of enlightenment that will be sufficient to please the bridegroom. Perhaps if the foolish bridesmaids had trusted that wisdom is unfading, they would have stayed and greeted the bridegroom and would have been welcomed into the feast.

Perhaps the wise maidens never even needed to open their extra flasks, because the banquet hall itself was so brilliantly lit. You see, God doesn’t only perform miracles with oil and with water or the sorts of miracles that defy the physical laws of nature. God’s greatest miracles are those that defy the laws of human nature, our ingrained expectations of work and reward. We’re used to thinking that doing more gets us more, that by and large we are rewarded in proportion to our effort. But the Bridegroom does not open the door to us because of more work, or even more faith. He opens the door to us so long as we keep our lamps burning for him; so long as our faith allows us wisdom enough or even a gallon of wisdom or one radiant drop is present to answer his gracious invitation and await his arrival at the feast.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - All Saints - 01 November 2020

                    Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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

The Beatitudes and Barriers

Sunday 1st November 2020

All Saints in the year of Matthew 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

 Call to Worship (The Abingdon Worship Annual 2011)   

As we gather, we remember that we are not alone!

We gather with the saints, who live in the presence of God, singing praises to the God of our salvation.

From every nation, race, clan, and culture, God's people gather to worship the One-Who-Is-without-Peer!

To God and to the Lamb, all honour, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, strength, and power.

Blessed be God, now and forever! Amen!

Amen! 

HYMN 455 verses 1, 2, 4 6, 7 & 8: For All the Saints

                     (tune - Sine Nomine)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OaBgaMcOvM 

1 For all the saints who from their labors rest,

who thee by faith before the world confessed,

thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

2 Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;

thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;

thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

4 O blest communion, fellowship divine,

we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

6 The golden evening brightens in the west;

soon, soon to faithful warrior cometh rest;

sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

7 But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;

the saints triumphant rise in bright array;

the King of glory passes on his way.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

8 From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,

through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,

singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

William Waltham How (1823-1897)

Tune Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Opening prayer

 

     Blessed are you, God of our salvation. As we turn to you in prayer, be with us and reveal to us your ways from your self-revelation in Jesus, teach us how to live in ways that honour you: by humbling ourselves; by being content with what we have rather than striving for more; by caring and cooperating, rather than competing in unhealthy ways. Teach us, giver of all goodness, to be strong in your strength for the sake of the gospel. Help us honour your prodigal grace, by living as doers of peace. in this world, you love. Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession 

Holy God, we so often fail to remember how profoundly you love us.

You bless us even when we are at our wit's end.

You created us, and you love us as we are, even as you inspire our desire to be better through your Holy Spirit. Forgive us when we fail to remember that we are the body of Christ, saints-in-process.

Empower us to begin anew, encouraged by the stories of those who live in your eternal presence.

In the name of Jesus, and for the sake of the gospel, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

Beloved, we are the children of God. Don't fear failure. It is endemic to our human nature. Learn from your mistakes and cherish the forgiving grace of God. Give thanks for all you are, and go forward in faith, knowing that God is faithful.

Thanks, be to God! Amen 

The Peace 

Beloved, we are god’s children now. what we will be has not yet been revealed. what we do now is this: when Christ is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. greet one another with the peace of Christ, recognising the presence of Christ in each person you meet.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always. 

Offering Prayer 

Holy God, we thank you for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us as we worship. Their diversity reminds us of your infinite grace to all your creatures. Thank you for the vision of a world at peace: paradise restored, where no one hungers, no one thirsts, and no one is wanting in any way. You guide us to the source of living water and invite us to drink deeply of your love. Your magnificent generosity evokes our deepest thanks. And so, receive these offerings, that we may join that great cloud of witnesses as we share our gifts with others. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 278: O What a gift

                   (Tune – Canticle of the Gift)

You-tube has two extra verses more than TIS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVWmNw_hwp0

                                    

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

1 In the stillness of the night

when the world was asleep,

the almighty Word leapt out.

He came to Mary, he came to us

Christ came to the land of Galilee.

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

2. On the night before he died

it was Passover night,

and he gathered his friends together.

He broke the bread, he blessed the wine,

it was the gift of his love and his life.

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

3. We are gathered here to remember that night;

To break the bread and bless the wine.

Open your eyes, your ears and your hearts.

This is his peace and unity:

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

4. On the hill of Calvary

the world held its breath,

for there for the world to see,

God gave his Son, his very own Son

for the love of you and me.

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

5. Early on that morning when the guards were sleeping,

back to life came he!

He conquered death, he conquered sin,

but the victory he gave to you and me!

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

6. "It is the Lord" cried Peter from the boat.

"It is the Lord" cried Magdalen.

"It is the Lord" cried Thomas the doubter.

"It is the Lord" cry we.

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!

 

7. Some day with the saints

we will come before our Father

and then we will shout and dance and sing.

For in our midst for our eyes to see

will be Christ our Lord and our King.

Christ our Lord and our King!

 

O what a gift! What a wonderful gift!

Who can tell the wonders of the Lord?

Let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts

It is Christ the Lord, it is he!  

                             Pat Uhl (Howard)                                                                         Arr. Betty Pulkingham 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Revelations 7:9-17

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 5:1-12 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Revelations 7:9-17 

9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ 11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’  13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ 14 I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 17 for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ 

Matthew 5:1-12 

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

Preaching of the Word - The Beatitudes and Barriers - Matthew 5:1-12 

When we hear Jesus’ beatitudes, what do we think? Maybe, we think, “Wow, these are the most beautiful words I have ever heard.” We may think, “Wow, these are beautiful words, but like so many beautiful words, they’re fanciful, and they can’t really be followed in the real world.” We may think, “Wow, these are beautiful words, and, oh my, they are another reminder of all the ways I fail to live up to the high calling of being a disciple of Christ.”

Well, if you have ever thought any of these, you are not alone. The Beatitudes have been a source of inspiration and challenge throughout the history of the church. Today, I want to mention a few major approaches to them.

During the Middle Ages, many people saw the Beatitudes as “Counsels of Perfection”. That is, they were things that applied to a spiritual elite made up of priests, monks, and nuns, but not to ordinary folks. Monks and nuns took extraordinary vows of poverty and obedience, so these things about blessings of the poor, the meek, the hungry, the merciful were about folks seeking perfection, but for other people, keeping the Ten Commandments and loving God and our neighbour is enough.

This approach recognises the real challenge these sayings put upon believers, but it limits the full force of them by saying that, in this life, they are only for a spiritual elite.

During the Reformation, Martin Luther took issue with the whole notion of a spiritual elite. The idea that there were higher and lower levels of Christians was repugnant to him. Luther famously proclaimed the priesthood of all believers, that is, that we are all on the same level—no higher, no lower—all called to share in the priestly ministries of the Church. So, Luther saw the beatitudes as applying to all Christians, not just to the few.

But Luther also had a pretty interesting take on the Beatitudes. He saw them as commands of God. And for Luther, while commandments were things that were given by God, and, therefore holy and binding on all people, Luther also felt that human beings, given our fallen nature, can never really fulfill the commandments. Rather, what the commandments do for Luther is point out very clearly that there is no way that human beings will ever be able to earn their salvation by perfectly following God’s will. The upshot is that what the commandments end up doing is pointing out our need for the forgiveness and mercy of God and drive us into the arms of Christ. This approach sees the Beatitudes as so challenging that we will never be able to fulfill them on our own. We need to turn to the grace and mercy offered in Christ if we are ever to be made right with God.

Most New Testament scholars these days don’t find these approaches helpful. Rather, they see the Beatitudes—and indeed the whole Sermon on the Mount—as something that Jesus saw as applying to all his disciples, not just an elite few, and he probably thought that they were, in fact, doable. Certainly not easy, after all, he says, blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Still, most scholars think that he probably meant for his followers to live this way. That’s probably why they stress that these were things that need to be lived out in the context of Christian community. These are not things for spiritual superheroes, but for communities to live out.

And that’s probably also why Jesus stressed the need and reality of forgiveness and reconciliation in our communities. These things are going to take practice.

So, one of the reasons why we have this Gospel lesson on All Saints’ Day is because they are practices for all the saints. And by all the saints, we mean everybody who has been baptised into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are practices for all of us ordinary saints of God.

Today, I want to focus on just one beatitude and explore how we might try to live that out in our ordinary lives. We will have other All Saints’ Days to deal with other beatitudes. So, let’s focus on, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” Most of us probably will not be Nobel Peace Prize winners. But that doesn’t mean we are not called in our own ways to be peacemakers. How may we go about this in our lives? Paul Wadell gives us some practical guidance on how we all can be peacemakers. He reminds us that in Ephesians, Paul speaks of Christ and his cross breaking down the walls that divide us, removing all the barriers that keep us apart, and overcoming the hostilities that so often leave us living more in enmity with one another than in peace.

Wadell says, “There is no shortage of barriers that need to be dismantled if God’s dream of peace is to become a reality. We create barriers through our attitudes toward others. We create barriers when we freeze people out or simply ignore them. We create barriers when we refuse to talk to certain people. We create barriers when we refuse to deal with problems that weaken relationships. We create barriers when we refuse to give ourselves to others. We create barriers when we hold on to grudges and refuse to forgive. We create barriers when we nurture cynicism, bitterness, and resentment instead of seeking peace.”

In Ephesians, Paul tells us to get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind. Paul says leave all that behind, get away from it, and refuse to be ruled by it, because all those things put walls and barriers between ourselves and others. Instead, Paul says be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ. These are the practices of peace. We nurture peace among ourselves and others when we are people marked by kindness, compassion, healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Happy All Saints’ Day to all you saints of God. The Beatitudes are for you! 

Hymn 448: Blest are the pure in heart

                  (tune – Franconia)

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

Blest are the pure in heart,

For they shall see our God;

The secret of the Lord is theirs,

Their soul is Christ’s abode.

 

The Lord, who left the heavens

Our life and peace to bring,

To dwell in lowliness with men,

Their Pattern and their King;

 

Still to the lowly soul

He doth himself impart

And for his dwelling and his throne

Chooseth the pure in heart.

 

Lord, we thy presence seek;

May ours this blessing be;

Give us a pure and lowly heart,

A temple meet for thee. 

Words: John Keble [stanzas 1 & 3]; William Hall [stanzas 2 & 4]. Tune: “Franconia 

Intercessory Prayers       

God of all truth, you have chosen as your blessed ones those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We give thanks for those whose lives have shone with integrity and goodness, for your prophets of old and all today who fight for justice, freedom and truth. Help us to follow their example, that we too ma y be filled with your spirit.

God of truth, for all the saints, we give you thanks and praise.

God of all peace, you have chosen as your blessed ones those who bring peace to a world of strife. We give thanks for negotiators, peacekeepers and all who work for reconciliation, for those who respect and value others and those who listen and give wise counsel. Help us to follow their example, that we too may be called the children of God.

God of peace, for all the saints, we give you thanks and praise.

God of all humility, you have chosen as your blessed ones those whose hearts are simple and pure. We give you thanks for those who do not grasp at material possessions, for those whose good works have been unnoticed and unsung. Help us to follow their example, that we too may come to see your face.

God of humility, for all the saints, we give you thanks and praise

God of all compassion, you have chosen as your blessed ones those who show mercy to others. We give you thanks for those who are filled with generosity and grace, for those whose hearts are forgiving and kind. Help us to follow their example, that we too may receive your mercy.

God of compassion, for all the saints,

we give you thanks and praise.

God of all consolation, you have chosen as your blessed ones those who mourn especially, we remember those from our congregation. We pray for those who weep for what is lost, for all who grieve for those they love, for all whose lives are lonely, desolate and bleak. We pray for and give thanks for continued healing, especially for those in the congregation. Help us to ease all their pain, and in times of trouble may we too be comforted.

God of consolation, for all the saints, we give you thanks and praise.

God of all faithfulness, you have chosen as your blessed ones those who have remained steadfast in the face of danger and persecution. We give thanks for those of this parish who have gone before us, for all whom we hold dear who are now in your eternal presence, and for all who have followed in your way until their life's end.

Help us to follow their example, that we too may rejoice to come into our reward and, with all the saints of heaven, worship you forever.

God of faithfulness, for all the saints, we give you thanks and praise. 

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 456: Your hand, O God, has guided

                    (tune – Thornbury)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaI3cRtXqRw 

Thy hand, O God, has guided

Thy flock, from age to age;

The wondrous tale is written,

Full clear, on every page;

Our fathers owned thy goodness,

And we their deeds record;

And both of this bear witness:

One Church, one faith, one Lord.

 

Thy heralds brought glad tidings

To greatest, as to least;

They bade men rise, and hasten

To share the great King's feast;

And this was all their teaching,

In every deed and word,

To all alike proclaiming

One Church, one faith, one Lord

 

Through many a day of darkness,

Through many a scene of strife,

The faithful few fought bravely,

To guard the nation's life.

Their Gospel of redemption,

Sin pardoned, man restored,

Was all in this enfolded:

One Church, one faith, one Lord

 

Thy mercy will not fail us,

Nor leave thy work undone;

With thy right hand to help us,

The victory shall be won;

And then, by men and angels,

Thy name shall be adored,

And this shall be their anthem:

One Church, one faith, one Lord. 

            Author: E. H. Plumptre (1864)
Tune: Thornbury – Basil Harwood 

Benediction       

       We are renewed and filled with the sweetness of God. Go forth to bless the world with joy in the Spirit of God's redemptive love and sustaining peace.

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

Hymn 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

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

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

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

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom 

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

 

 

 

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet November 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - October 30, 2020 - 1:23am

 

                                                                                                      Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford                                                                     Monthly Newssheet November 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.

                                       November Services by Zoom, Web and Delivery

 1     9.30am All Saints Sunday Service Virtual Holy  Communion (Zoom)

8     9.30am Pentecost 23 Sunday Service (Zoom)

10   7.30pm MRUC Church Council Meeting (Zoom)

11   6pm SCC Presbytery Meeting (Zoom)

       7pm MRUC Advent Study

15   9.30am Pentecost 24 Sunday Service (Zoom) Guest Preacher

18   7pm MRUC Advent Study

22   9.30am Christ the King Sunday Service (Zoom)

25   7pm MRUC Advent Study

29    9.30am Advent Sunday Service (Zoom) Guest Preacher

       9.30am Closure of Ministry, Rev Nicholas Fried at  Eastwood Uniting Church

                                                                   CHURCH SERVICES

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

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

Offerings

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

BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856

 

Marsden Road Prayer Cycle

 

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

 

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


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

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

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

Church Council Meeting by Zoom.

Next Meeting 7.30pm Tuesday 10 November 2020 – please send Ruth Reports and any busines for meeting ASAP

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

 

New Head of Mission Enablement for Synod of NSW & ACT

Rev. Dr Raymond Joso was inducted as the Head of Mission Enablement for the Synod of NSW and the ACT on Friday 16 October.  The induction service took place at United Theological College’s chapel. Due to COVID-19 requirements, only 31 people were allowed in the building, while others watched from Zoom.

Moderator Simon Hansford presided over the service.

 

Climate Action Plan of Assembly

As part of its new Climate Action Plan, the Assembly has begun to measure its carbon footprint. Their goal is to become carbon neutral by 2040 by reducing emissions 5% each year. Their Climate Action Plan calls on all to be accountable to oneself and to the wider Church and to the community. Assembly will continue to share this journey with all and hope to receive feedback from members of the Church.

For people interested, some websites we are finding useful include:

https://co2.myclimate.org/en/offset_further_emissions

https://www.powershop.com.au/carbon-calculator/


Quote


Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. Robert F. Kennedy 

CONTACTS 

Minister of the Word

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

Church Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531

Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au

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

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

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

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

EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AID

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

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




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Are You Seeking Fulfilment as a Saint?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - October 30, 2020 - 12:23am

Someone has described a saint as an ordinary Christian who does ordinary things extraordinarily well. That’s certainly not the New Testament definition, although it’s not a bad start.  In the secular world we have all sorts of odd ideas about what a saint is.

If you look at the scripture lessons appointed for this week in the Lectionary, we are given a vision of heaven, filled with people wearing white robes praising God. It’s perhaps quite difficult for us to imagine ourselves in such a context. It has the same effect, in a way, as those stained-glass window depictions of people who look very holy and have soup plates behind their heads. It’s difficult to think that perhaps one day, we who follow the Christian way might be depicted in a stained-glass window.

St. Paul the writer of about only seven of the many letters in scripture attributed to him writes in Ephesians in a praising mood for a change. He uses the word “saint” to describe all Christian people and goes to some lengths to describe what a saint is like. But let’s focus on the famous Beatitudes or “Blessed” passages found in Matthew 5. Jesus identifies such experiences as poverty, hunger, grief, and persecution as marks of the blessed, and wealth, plenty, happiness, and being thought well of as marks of those who are not pleasing to God. It is a difficult reading for all of us in our world to hear. 

Of course, we like to hear the Beatitudes just as we like to hear St Paul talking about love. But where do we fit into all this? Well we Christians are often told that in Baptism we become part of the priesthood of the church. The laity is not a group of expectant observers, but fulfilled ministers, each with an active vocation. Humans find it very hard to accept this idea. After all that’s what church and clergy are for.

As Christians we are also called In our Baptisms to be and become saints. If we concentrate on the idea that saints are very, very good people, nearly perfect, then we will miss the point. Many saints have been very bad, while becoming rather good. However positive we may feel about ourselves, however strong our “self-esteem,” few of us think we are good enough to be saints. 

We Christians ask the wrong question and get the wrong answer. We ask whether we are good enough to be saints, when we should be asking whether we are dedicated enough to be saints.  Dedication means single-mindedness, the sort of emphasis we put on our hobbies, our golf game, our Rugby, our business, and even perhaps on our human relationships.  

It is amazing how single minded we can be about our politics, particularly as we look to elections all around us and during this Covid Pandemic the performance of our leaders. This may come out even if we are following the elections for President of the USA or back at the elections in New Zealand.  It is that kind of commitment, dedication, or single-mindedness that marks a realised saint.

In some churches this week, everyone will sing rousingly, “I’ll sing a song of the saints of God,” which contains the line, “And I want to be one too.” Perhaps it should read, “And I want to realise that I am one too.”  

God’s grace, gift, enabling power is there for us to use as we live into our calling to be saints. Like all of God’s gifts, we realize that which we are being given when we actually do something with these gifts. Have you ever thought about the fact that there’s some saintly ministry in the universal church or community just waiting for you, personally, to become saintly about? Everything we attempt in Christ is aided by the prayers and fellowship of all those known and unknown saints who always surround us in love. In this company, we have security to do for Jesus the things we fear to do or even object to doing. 

In Matthew 5:39-48, Jesus tells us to "love your enemies and do good to those who hate you". The passage tells us that even God is kind to the wicked. After what we have endured from people, we deem wicked, this is really too much. But is it? Do you recall an experience when you hated someone continually for a period of time? What did it do for your life? Did it not cause as much pain as anything else? I am reminded of this ancient story oft told:

“A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one." The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?" The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."

Saints are courageous because they insist on not letting hatred and evil gain control of their lives. They are faithful because they know without trust in God, they are weak and subject to whatever may befall them. Today the Church exists because they persevered with God, and each of us is invited to join their joyful company.

 



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