You are here

Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - Pentecost 21 - 25 October 2020

 Marsden Road Uniting Church

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

                Do You Love?

Pentecost 21- year of Matthew  

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)       

God welcomes us this day with steadfast love to satisfy our deepest longings.

Praise God who has been our dwelling place in every generation.  

Before the mountains were formed and we were still dust, God loved us into being.

Praise God who created us and renews us still.

May God's favour and grace guide us on paths of love and peace.

We rejoice with gladness this day! 

 

Hymn 047: Our God, our help in ages past

                  (Tune – St Anne)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVy77bGE9Ho  

1.  God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home!

 

2.  Under the shadow of Thy throne

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

Sufficient is Thine arm alone,

And our defence is sure.

 

3.  Before the hills in order stood,

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting Thou art God,

To endless years the same.

 

4.  A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone;

Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.

 

5.  Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly, forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.

 

6.  God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Be Thou our guard while life shall last,

And our eternal home. 

Text: Isaac Watts | Tune: St. Anne 

Opening prayer

 

God of ages past and days to come, be with us this day. Shower us with your love and truth. Open our hearts and minds to truly love as you love us and as you call us to love. Grant us the courage to ask the questions that frighten us, that we may courageously live and grow as your disciples on this earth. With the confidence of Christ's grace in our lives, we pray. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession 

God of steadfast love,

turn away your anger and frustration:

when we fall short in your eyes,

when we forget to love,

when we are afraid to love,

when we neglect to love.

Forgive us and transform us with your amazing grace. Fill us with your love so completely that our lives may overflow with love— in heart, mind, and soul. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

God's compassion is sufficient for all our needs. In the name of Christ, you are forgiven!

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Love your neighbour as yourself. Simple words. Profound challenges. Let us acknowledge love and peace with one another.

Peace be with you.    And also, with you!  

A Word with the Children/Young People 

Theme: Love God -- Love Others

Object: A song book with some love songs.

I don't know for sure, but I think that there have probably been more songs written about love than about anything else in the world. Here is a list of some of the favourites: "Love Makes the World Go Round," "Love and Marriage," and "When I Fall in Love," I have thought about.

Oh, I almost forgot one the best love songs ever written. I am sure all of you know this song! It goes like this:

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong;
They are weak but he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

What a wonderful song about Jesus' for love us. In today's Bible story, Jesus teaches another very important lesson about love.

People were always amazed at the teachings of Jesus. One day a crowd was gathered around Jesus when a man who was an expert in religious law tried to trap him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?"

Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,' this is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  In other words, Jesus was saying that if we could keep these two commandments, we would not have any trouble keeping the others.

You know, that reminds me of another love song, "All You Need Is Love." Let's pray and ask God to help us to love as we ought.

Loving God, help us to love you with all of our heart and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. 

Offering Prayer 

God of abundant love multiply these gifts to become gifts of abundant love for a world in need. In the name of Christ who first loved us, we pray.  

Hymn 526: Lord Jesus Christ

                  (Tune – Living Lord)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH4-e__BJM0 

1.
Lord Jesus Christ you have come to us
You are one with us, Mary’s Son.
Cleansing our souls from all their sin
pouring Your love and goodness in
Jesus our love for you we sing,
living Lord.
2.
Lord Jesus Christ now and every day
Teach us how to pray, Son of God.
You have commanded us to do
this in remembrance Lord of you
Into our lives your power breaks through,
living Lord.
3.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us
Born as one with us, Mary’s Son.
Led out to die on Calvary,
risen from death to set us free,
living Lord Jesus help us see
You are Lord.
4.
Lord Jesus Christ I would come to you
live my life for you, Son of God.
All your commands I know are true,
your many gifts will make me new,
into my life your power breaks through,
living Lord. 

Patrick Appleford
© 1960 Josef Weinberger Ltd.

             The Service of the Word

 Readings:  

The First Reading:            1 Thessalonians 2:1-8                        

The Gospel Reading:       Matthew 22:34-46

Readings: NRSV Translation  

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

1 You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully maltreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. 3 For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; 6 nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, 7 though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.  

Matthew 22:34-46

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37 He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the greatest and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ 41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:
42 ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son, is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’43 He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,44 “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”?
45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’
46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Preaching of the Word – Do You Love?

Do you love God with your whole heart and all of your soul and mind?  Do you love your neighbour in the same way?  These are the tough questions of today’s readings.  Loving God is not measured simply by being baptized, going to church, praying regularly, or by professing to be a Christian.  Loving God completely, wholly, is born out of loving God through our love of all that is God in all of creation.

Loving God just as God loved Moses and the Israelites proved to be a challenge.  God’s love delivered them from oppression.  God made it clear that God never intended any of creation to oppress or to be oppressed.  That is why God gave them so many opportunities to get it right. Moses led the people and saw God in a unique way.  God followed through with the promise made to the Israelites and at the end of Moses’ life they stood together looking out over the summit into the “promised land.” Moses died knowing that they had arrived, and that God had provided them with Torah the first five books of the Bible so that they could continue to live the way God intended.  Moses had spent his life doing God’s work and learning what it meant to love God and everything of God.  

God’s love is also evident in Paul’s earliest record of his ministry.  In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul acknowledges that it takes courage to declare the Gospel in the face of opposition.  Paul does not simply accept his ordination to share the Gospel but to do it with the gentleness of a nursemaid.  How might we respond if someone would tell us that they care for us so deeply that they are determined to share not only the Gospel of God but all of themselves, because you have become very dear to them?

The officials in the Gospel of Matthew are thinking very narrowly when they ask Jesus to identify one of the more than 700 commandments as more important than the others. Their perception of what Torah meant did not include the perspective Jesus gave them.  When they asked Jesus to tell them which commandment most important Jesus was answered with what seems like the broader meaning.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus knit together a pattern for us.  He makes it clear that we must love God with every part of us, and every part of us must love all that loves God.  Jesus modelled that for us in his life.  He loved God even when it meant that he would know suffering and death.  Jesus loved even those persons we might be inclined to judge.  We have to ask ourselves if we could do the same.  We have to ask ourselves if the readings seem unrelated to our lives or if we could see our own lives in them, as we might expect it to be in the people we baptise today. 

The world we live in might, at first glance, seem to be different from the Old or New Testament worlds—but are they really?  We cannot deny the context of the Old Testament story.  We read about the oppression of the Israelites and their journey to freedom, but do we consider who is being oppressed today?  Even more difficult is asking ourselves if we are ourselves oppressors or, more importantly, if we treat every person justly.  How do we love God when we are not acting justly? 

These are difficult questions. And we have to ask ourselves if we are living justly and loving God with our whole heart and soul and mind.  But what does it mean to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and our entire mind?  Since all relationships touch our hearts, soul, or mind, we would have to say that this means that every part of us needs to love God.  And if the second commandment is like the first, we are expected to love all relationships as we love God. 

Jesus is not qualifying these relationships to mean only people or only the people we want to love.  Jesus is describing all things in all of creation.  And, it goes one step further, because Jesus also tells us that we cannot love God if we do not love all that God made in creation.  This is what he meant by “the second is like the first,” and what is most difficult about the Gospel reading today because of the nature of the world in which we live. 

This is the world that is being destroyed by consumerism and greed.  The same world that turns its head as the rainforests burn away and glaciers melt away.  The world where we would rather drive bigger cars, SUV’s and such like (all those 4-wheel drives), that are consuming more of our world’s oil faster than we can produce.  This is the same world that answers the needs for more fuel by destroying more and more of God’s creation.  How do we reconcile our love for God with our whole hearts, souls, and minds with these facts?

How also do we reconcile ourselves to loving God with all that we are when we so willingly go to church and then partake in drinking coffee at our “coffee hours” in Styrofoam cups?  I know it’s convenient and cost efficient but what does it do to the environment. Maybe someone can give me an answer. I don’t know. How does it make sense for us to be more interested in loving the things that we buy with our money while looking away as we pass the person on the street who is asking for help?  How are we loving God with all that we are when we choose to separate ourselves from others using God’s own words as our defence?

Every day God gives us many opportunities to “get right with God”.  Every day when the sun rise’s we can either take it for granted or thank God for another day, acknowledging the miracle of each new day? Every day of our life we are interacting with the world around us.  Do we love our entire world with all that we are—our hearts, our minds, and our souls? 

It is not about proving that we get it and love God.  It is about showing that we love God and get it with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. 

Hymn 201: King of glory, King of peace

                   (Tune – Gwalchmai)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB3rPt0ZqFc  

King of glory, King of peace,

I will love Thee;

and that love may never cease,

I will move Thee.

Thou hast granted my request,

Thou hast heard me;

Thou didst note my working breast,

Thou hast spared me.

 

Wherefore with my utmost art

I will sing Thee,

and the cream of all my heart

I will bring Thee.

Though my sins against me cried,

Thou alone didst clear me;

and alone, when they replied,

Thou didst hear me.

 

Seven whole days, not one in seven,

I will praise Thee;

in my heart, though not in heaven,

I can raise Thee.

Small it is, in this poor sort

to enrol Thee:

Even eternity’s too short

to extol Thee.  

Text by: George Herbert 1593-1632 Tune: Gwalchmai by: John David Jones 1827-1870

 Intercessory Prayers  

Glorious Creator, Your Sacred Fire sanctifies our faith, transforms our souls, and guides us to find our footing on holy ground in this earthly life. Help us to continually seek Your Strength and Your Face, that we may not be consumed by human things, but set our minds on all that is divine. Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

Glorious Creator, enflame Your Spirit within us to persist and prevail upon the leaders of this Country, this Community, and this World, to reject repaying evil with evil, to hold fast to what is good, legislating only for the honour, dignity, and humanity for all Your people everywhere. We pray especially for: ……………………….. 

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

Glorious Creator grant us wisdom as listening ears and helping hands to care for those with physical or mental illness or desperate life circumstance, and for those who struggle to meet those needs.  We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need…

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

Glorious Creator may our hearts know the joy that celebrates all who have now risen into the Splendour of Eternity, free of misery and tears. We pray especially for: …………………. Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

Glorious Creator, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

Glorious Creator, enhance and extend your enduring grace and faith-filled energy for those among us who are anointed to take on Your mantle of ministry on our behalf. We pray especially for:………………………..

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer

O God of Yesterday, Today, and Forever, release us from desire for the superficial milk and honey of this life, the spiritual stumbling blocks of faith. Ignite our passion to Follow, not obstruct, the Way of Christ toward our Salvation. We ask in the name of Jesus, Son of Man, and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Fervour, who reign together with You as One, Living, and Eternal God. 

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer  

THE LORD'S PRAYER  

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

Hymn 452: God of Mercy, God of Grace

                   (Tune – Heathlands)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3PIRShdR8s  

God of mercy, God of grace,

show the brightness of your face.

Shine upon us, Saviour, shine;

fill your world with light divine;

all your saving health extend

unto earth's remotest end. 

 

Let the people praise you, Lord;

be by all that live adored.

Let the nations shout and sing

glory to their gracious King;

at your feet their tribute pay,

and your holy will obey.

 

Let the people praise you, Lord;

earth shall then its fruits afford.

Unto us your blessing give;

we to you devoted live,

all below and all above,

one in joy and light and love.                                   

                             Author: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)

                               Tune: Heathlands – Henry Thomas Smart (1813-79)

Benediction

        Go forth in the knowledge and love of God.

        We go, confident in God's steadfast love.

        Go into the world, loving without limits, caring without boundaries.

         We journey forth to fulfill God's law of love.

        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 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

Truth-Tellers Are...

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - October 22, 2020 - 11:39pm

The story of fake news and the difficulty of knowing what is true is certainly a subject agonising many in our communities. But let me tell you, truth-tellers are uncomfortable people to be around. We proudly show Uncle John and Aunt Pat our church building. We do so with a certain amount of trepidation and particularly because they claim some sort of superior knowledge about church architecture. To make matters worse the Minister bumps into us as we are going into the "worship space" and is very proud of the new Holy Table and rearranged sanctuary. "O dear," groans Uncle John. "Frightful," says Aunt Pat. We pray that the floor will open and swallow us up.

Truth-tellers are uncomfortable people to be around. They comment on our hair, our clothes, our height, our books, our furniture, and delight in making us feel small. There are always a few in every congregation or area of mission and we avoid them like the plague! To them nothing is ever right, except themselves and their opinions.

This week we hear in our lectionary readings from St. Paul in the first letter of Thessalonians. You know St Paul seems to get such bad press nowadays that we are not at all surprised to find him boasting that he just tells the unvarnished truth. In this scripture we find him saying that you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.

We've heard that before. "I just tell it as it is. I don't care what other people think, and after all I am older than you."

But wait a moment. St Paul is full of surprises. He goes on to say to the Christians in Thessalonica (it's a place in much of what we now call Greece): But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. 

St. Paul has remarked that he had a terrible time when he was in Philippi. If he is referring to the incident recorded in Acts, Paul is remembering being beaten and thrown into jail. He might well have allowed his indignation towards his Jewish compatriots and the gentile authorities to harden and embitter him. Yet in all gentleness he brings the Good News to all the believers.

Sometimes it's difficult to think of Paul as gentle as it is for us to think of Jesus being tough. We have become so used to thinking that Jesus went around thinking, "I am God and I am meek and mild," that we can't see Jesus as being as human as we are, or should we say, Jesus as being as human as we ought to be?

The Gospel writer in our reading from Matthew this week has been recording how those with power and authority sought to trick Jesus into saying something that would get him in trouble. Just as in contemporary society, people love to label themselves, or submit to being labelled, so it was during the ministry of Jesus. Today in the church and the nation we have all types and genders with different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Then, when Jesus lived, people identified with this or that and even belonged to groups labelled Pharisee and Sadducee and Herodian, "publican and sinner." The extraordinary thing is that even though they had grave differences, they were united in wanting to get rid of the Truth-Teller, Jesus.

We've all watched news conferences in which reporters seem as keen on tripping someone up as they are to discover truth. So, it was then. Question after question is hurled at Jesus. He avoids each and then a Pharisee, rulebook in hand, asks Jesus which rule is the best. Jesus tells them that the most important rule is not a rule at all, but rather a way of life.

"Love God and love one another," Jesus replies, quoting their own Hebrew Scriptures. And then he counters their claims to authority by stating that it is God's Chosen One, Messiah, Christ, whose authority is established by, with, and in LOVE.

We sometimes sing a song that contains these words: "You will know they are Christians by their love, by their love." Neither Jesus nor St. Paul confuses love with sentimentality-that love that avoids truth-telling. The love of the Gospel is a love that demands that each of us confront the truth about God and the truth about ourselves. And that's the sort of love we avoid.

It's interesting that Jesus avoids all the "nit-picking" questions thrown at him but confronts and silences his accusers by being a truth-teller about God and the purpose for which human beings have been created. The question for us is, how do we treat people who are different?

We find ourselves saying quite dreadful things about those who belong to another " group." There's still a good deal of snobbery among us. We still harbour racial hatred. We dislike foreigners.

Yet the Gospel, the truth to be told, tells us that there is a new kingdom among us, a very earthy kind of God-community, in which there is neither "Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free person." There are no outcasts, no second-class people; and even those who are caught up in evil are to be those whom we are to love gently as we tell the Gospel truth.

This is a very "earthy" message because it is not about our belonging to any particular group. "  It is all about a society whose purpose is to transform the world, most of all by the witness it gives to and in the world. When we divide, use power and authority to subject and push down, think that we are superior, we inevitably dehumanize people, and de-sanctify everything that God made. When we practice sacrificial love, we give back to God that which God has given us in Jesus, and that is the Gospel truth.

Paul and Jesus experienced how risky it is to tell people to live in accepting love, rather than in denouncing authority. When we truth-tell about love, we challenge those who find security in their own righteousness and pretended "control." Yet thousands of years after Jesus and his follower Paul, we meet to celebrate and own a better way, whatever the cost of this discipleship. At worship we Christians will turn and reach out either physically or emotionally to each other and start the "love way." God keep us in that way.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Render Unto Caesar.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - October 16, 2020 - 12:39am

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” These words of Jesus from this week’s lectionary readings in Matthew 25:15-23, have become a sort of proverb both in the secular and religious worlds, and those who know little of scripture may still have heard “Render unto Caesar.” Yet, digging beneath the surface of this short encounter helps uncover some of the deeper currents in the exchange.

For me it’s an interesting combination of people that approach Jesus and Matthew tells us that the Pharisees come together with the Herodians. The Pharisees did not want to give money to their pagan oppressors and so were opposed to paying taxes to Rome. On the other hand, King Herod’s position of power came courtesy of the Romans, so even though the taxes were widely considered to be oppressive, the Herodians had a vested interest in keeping the Roman taxes paid. Therefore, the Pharisees and the Herodians each reflected one of the horns of the dilemma in the trap which the question to Jesus set out enmesh him in.


So, we have then the question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not?” The reference is to Jewish Law, which is also called the Law of Moses. Clearly, it was lawful to pay the tax by Rome’s standards; the question was whether it was proper for the Hebrew people to do so.


On the surface it would seem that Jesus has been presented with a question with no way out. He can’t speak against the tax, for that would anger the Herodians and lead to a charge of treason against Rome. He could not speak in favour of the tax without alienating most of the crowds that followed him. So, what did he do? Well, Jesus asks for one of the coins used in paying the tax. And as he does this, he begins to set up his own trap that will prove at least one of the questioners to be a hypocrite. The coin used for the tax was a silver Denarius with the image of Caesar on one side, and the image of a woman named Pax or personified peace on the other. Now such coins were against Jewish Law, which prohibited graven images being used or touched.


When Jesus asks for a Denarius, one is quickly located and handed to him. Jesus then asks the question that everyone in Israel could have answered without a coin in hand. In our reading for this week the New Revised Standard Version, translation states, “Whose head is this and whose title?” However, it is probably better to use the translation “likeness,” instead of title. When they answer Jesus’ question, saying that the image and likeness are “Caesar’s,” Jesus replies that they are to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Give Caesar back those things that are Caesar’s. It is his coin anyway, who cares if you give Caesar back his coin for the tax?


Then Jesus gives the most amazing line of this short encounter when he continues by saying that we are to “give back to God the things that are God’s.” It leaves everyone calculating what exactly is God’s that we are supposed to give back. And in case you were wondering, the clue was the word “icon” or “image” and the word “likeness.”


The principle really is this: Just as the coin has Caesar’s icon on it, so it is Caesar’s, we who believe in  the one God believe we are made in the image and likeness of God, so we are God’s. Jesus affirmed the tax while making it all but irrelevant. He then implies that, though we do owe the state, there are limits to what we owe. Yet, Jesus places no limits regarding what we owe to God. Jesus is very clear that everything you have and everything you are is God’s already.


While this would certainly apply to the money you make, the formula is not that you give 100 percent of your income to God, for God knows you need the money for the necessities of life. The teaching is that once you have given God some of the money you earn, don’t feel that you have bought off an obligation. God wants to share in some of your time and energy, so the 100 percent formula relates to your calendar as well as your wallet.


The point is that you have been made in the image and likeness of God. God loves you. God keeps your picture in the divine wallet and on the heavenly refrigerator. Jesus did not care about the tax, for his real concern was that you live into the image and likeness of the God who lovingly created you.


You begin to live into the image and likeness of God by conforming your life to be more like Jesus’ life.


To live more fully into that image and likeness of God that is in you, give back your heart to God – for it is God’s anyway. In answer to the question, “What are the things that are God’s which we are to give back to God?” the answer is, “You.”

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday 4th October 2020 “At that time Jesus said …”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - October 9, 2020 - 6:44am

 

The First Reading: Galatians 6: 14-18     The Gospel Reading & Preaching of the Word: At That Time, Jesus Said..., - Matthew 11: 15-20

At that time Jesus said, "Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have revealed to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned."



On the closest Sunday to the anniversary of the death of St. Francis of Assisi, the Rev. John’s Reflection/Sermon was focused on him and his life.  But for me - a good quote to begin our own personal review - comes from the summing up at the end of the Sunday Sermon.

“So what are we to make of this famous saint? He has been called "the Other Jesus" by some. He is revered and loved universally, by Christians and non- Christians alike. And yet, he didn't seem to Get it Right.

Perhaps this is what Jesus is talking about when he suggests that the foolish and unlearned may know something that the wise and learned don't know. Perhaps certainty and Being Right are not what Jesus wants from our lives.

Maybe Saint Francis shows us something completely different, something that looks more like perseverance in the face of uncertainty. Maybe the lesson I can learn from Saint Francis is the lesson that faithfulness is more valuable than Being Right; that humility and unknowing are a more appropriate response to God than certainty and knowledge. Perhaps abandoning the pride of self may be the way to begin to understand God. Or, in the words of Saint Francis' famous prayer, that it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

It is interesting to consider that perhaps the most famous prayer often attributed to one of the most famous saints is not included in the official “Prayers of St. Francis” of the Franciscan Order, although the prayer has been recommended by members of the order.  The lavish use of the personal pronouns "I" and "me" and the complete absence of the words "God" and "Jesus" are often used as “proof” of a different author.

It is widely thought to be more like the writing of Giles of Assisi (c.1180 – 1262), one of the close companions of St. Francis and has similarities to his “Golden Sayings of Blessed Giles of Assisi.”

Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved;
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared;
Blessed is he who serves and does not therefore desire to be served;
Blessed is he who behaves well toward others and does not desire that others behave well toward him;
And because these are great things, the foolish do not rise to them.

St. Francis has been recognised and loved by much of the civilised world going back for many centuries.  He is not just a Roman Catholic saint, but a person with many of the human traits that we can recognise in ordinary people.  His early life was privileged because his father Pietro di Bernardone, was a wealthy and successful cloth merchant who travelled extensively and was in France when Francis was born in 1181/1182.  His was christened Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, but his father called him Francis and gave him every opportunity to enjoy a carefree “entitled” life with his friends. It seems that young Francis was very popular and seen by his friends to be a happy and carefree person who loved parties.  His first biographer, Thomas of Celano wrote that friends called Francis the “King of Revels”.  He was a great favourite among the young nobles of Assisi and had dreams of becoming a Knight, although he was being encouraged by his father to follow him as a merchant, which was not something he enjoyed.  It is recorded that even as a young man Francis had began to develop an intuitive sympathy with the poor people.

When he was 19 or 20 Francis went off to fight the Perugians in a petty skirmish, but he was taken prisoner and held in captivity more than a year.  After suffering from a fever while captive, he began to turn his thoughts to the emptiness of his life but on recovery he again wanted to have a splendid military career.  So Francis arranged to go with a Knight of Assisi who had agreed to accompany Walter of Brienne, who was known as the “gentle count”, who was supporting the Neapolitan States against the Emperor. The biographers of Francis tell us that the night before he set forth he had a strange dream and heard what he believed to be the voice of God.  In good spirits, Francis started the next day on his journey, but a second illness caused him to stop at Spoleto in Umbria, and in another dream where he said that he heard the same voice tell him to return to Assisi he immediately returned to his home city.

It seems clear that at this point in his life he was touched by the Spirit of God and after a short period of uncertainty, Francis the fun loving “would be” knight turned to serious prayer and sought solitude as he answered his call by giving up his fancy clothes and wasteful ways.  In the reading I have done, a recurring theme developed and Francis began to literally embrace and welcome and even kiss lepers and beggars and give away his clothing and his money.  About this time, he made a pilgrimage to Rome where the horde of beggars at the door of the Basilica caused him to exchange his clothing and stand at the door with the beggars and fast. 

Not long after Francis returned to Assisi, the incident described by the Rev. John in his sermon, when Francis was praying before an ancient crucifix at the forsaken wayside chapel of St. Damien’s below the town of Assisi, took place.  Francis heard God’s voice again and he said; “Go Francis and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin”.  This event was responsible for panic reactions which resulted in a permanent rift between Francis and his father, who did not forgive his son for rushing off to his shop, and, impetuously taking a load of his materials and also his horse which he rode to a market at Foligno and sold to get the money needed to restore the church.  However, the priest refused to accept the money because of the way it was obtained and Francis hid for a month in a cave near the church to avoid his father’s great wrath, which was not abated at all - even when he got back his money which Francis had thrown down at the feet of the priest.

The stories about the total surrender of all comfort and worldly goods are long and amazing, and soon St Francis who was equally kind to people and animals, was no longer considered to be mad as he wandered the countryside preaching God’s word.  Soon he was being joined by some impressive adherents who joined him and followed his way of life - and the Franciscan order began to spread throughout many countries and his selfless love and service to the poor and the sick people of the world is still reflected in this modern age.



I found this summary about Saint Francis and thought I should share it with you; 

St. Francis of Assisi was a unique spiritual personality who gave up a life of wealth and social position to embrace a life of poverty and chastity – With the approval of the Pope, he founded a new Monastic Order, commonly known as the Franciscans. St Francis is considered one of the greatest saints in the Christian tradition and an example of a life lived in imitation of Jesus Christ.

“Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honour, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.” – St Francis – Canticle of St Francis



In 1982 my husband and I visited Italy and I was thrilled to be able to go to Assisi and visit the place where St. Francis had discovered God’s Grace and devoted his life to God’s work.  I felt I needed to pinch myself as we stood in the famous Basilica above the steep streets of this beautiful hillside town and looked at the famous frescos of Giotto and other artists who had painted them nearly a thousand years ago.  I still remember the intensity of my art teacher at school as he held up his precious art book to show his students the photos of these wonderful paintings.   St Francis of Assisi died on October 3, 1226 and work on the church was started in 1228, the year of Francis's canonisation, and it was constructed slowly over the next 300 years.  We were very sad when the Basilica was badly damaged by two earthquakes in 1982 and some people died in the Basilica and in the town.



Many times I have tried to understand how St. Francis was able to give up all earthly joy and punish himself for his perceived failings when he led a selfless existence with his every thought devoted to God.  I have to admit that I have often had doubts about God’s expectations and asked myself if God really “requires” us to be miserable.  I think joy is the greatest gift in life we can give and share.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 19 - 11 October 2020

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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

What Does the Lord Require?

Pentecost 19 Sunday in 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)

          Come, let us put God in the centre of our lives!

We rejoice in God's steadfast love!

Come, let our gentleness be a reflection of God's love.

We give thanks for Christ's enduring grace!

Come, let us lay down our burdens and worries.

       We offer our needs to God in prayer.

Come, let us focus on what is honourable and true.

With hope, we turn now to God's guiding word.

 

Hymn 474: Here in this place new light is streaming

                  (tune – Gather us in)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar0BXa82F9M

 Here in this place new light is streaming, now is the darkness vanished away,

see in this space our fears and our dreamings, brought here to you in the light of this day.

Gather us in the lost and forsaken, gather us in the blind and the lame;

call to us now, and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.


We are the young-our lives a mystery, we are the old-who yearn for your face,

we have been sung throughout all of history, called to be light to the whole human race.

Gather us in-the rich and the haughty, gather us in-the proud and the strong;

give us a heart so meek and so lowly, give us the courage to enter the song.


Here we will take the wine and the water, here we will take the bread of new birth,

here you shall call your sons and your daughters, call us anew to be salt for the earth.

Give us to drink the wine of compassion, give us to eat the bread that is you;

nourish us well and teach us to fashion lives that are holy and hearts that are true.

 

Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven, light-years away,

but here in this place the new light is shining, no is the Kingdom, and now is the day.

Gather us in and hold us forever, gather us in and make us your own;

gather us in-all peoples together, fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

 Gather us in` - Marty Haugen (b. 1950)

Opening prayer

     Most Holy God, we come into worship with thanksgiving and praise, but we also come before you with worries and doubts. As we lay these burdens down, fill us with your Spirit and bless us with peace and joy. Keep our minds in Christ Jesus, that we may remain focused on issues of justice and righteousness, love and grace. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Most Holy God, we have made gods out of gold and clay; we have allowed worries and doubts to cloud our vision and faith.

Do not think on these things, gracious God. Find in us all that is honourable and true, commendable and excellent. Shine in our lives, that we may reflect the just and righteous parts of ourselves. 

Forgive us when we reflect false gods or sinful values.

Guide us back into your holy presence and transform us with your grace, that we may be the gentle and just people you would have us be and become.


Declaration of Forgiveness

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, is ours through Christ Jesus. In Christ, we are forgiven indeed! Amen.

Thanks, be to God!

 The Peace

Let us show one another signs of God's peace, the peace beyond all understanding that is yours and mine to share. The amazing peace of God be with you.

And also, with you!

 

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: Worship God and him alone.

Object: A small statue

Who can tell me what this is? (Give time for answers.) That’s right, it is a statue. How many of you have statues in your home? Have you ever seen any statues in parks around the city? Perhaps it was a famous baseball player or an artist or author. I once went to a park with statues of characters from books by Dr. Seuss. My favourite was Horton the elephant.

Statues are great unless they become something that we worship other than God. When we do that, the statue becomes an idol that replaces our God.

That is what one our Bible lesson that we won’t read that is set for this morning in Exodus is about. The main characters in the story are God, Moses, and his brother Aaron. As the story begins, Moses is up on a mountain called Mt. Sanai. I am sure that you remember that God had told Moses to go up on the mountain so that God could give him the Ten Commandments for the people to follow. 

Now Moses stayed up on the mountain longer than the people thought he should. They went to Aaron and said to him, "We want you to create gods who will go before us so that we will know what way to go. As for this fellow Moses who brought us out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."

Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings you are wearing and bring them to me." So, all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took all the gold they had given to him and made it into an idol in the shape of a calf. The people were very happy with the idol that had been made for them. 

When Aaron saw how happy the people were, he built an altar and placed it in front of the calf. He said, "Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord and you are to rise up early and make a sacrifice burnt offerings before the calf." 

When God saw what the people were doing, he became very angry and told Moses that he was going to destroy the people because of their unfaithfulness. But Moses begged the Lord to remember the promise that he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and the children of Israel. Moses convinced the Lord and he changed his mind and did not do what he said he might do—he did not destroy them. 

What can we learn from this story? We sometimes put other things before God. It may not be an idol made of gold in the shape of a calf, but it may be things. It might be things like money, cars, or sports. Anything that we put ahead of our love for God becomes an idol and that is a big mistake. 

Offering Prayer  

God of steadfast love, we thank you for the abundant gifts in our lives: love and grace, clothing and belongings, friends and family. We thank you for the steadfast signs of your loving presence in our world: wondrous works and awesome deeds. We come before you with our offerings, rejoicing in this opportunity to help bring your realm to this earth. Amen.  

Hymn 430: Your words to me

                  (Tune – Capel)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=553ynQB2-rY  

1.  Your words to me are life and health;pour strength into my soul;enable, guide, and teach my heartto reach its perfect goal!  

2.  Your words to me are light and truth;from day to day they showtheir wisdom, passing earthly lore,as in their truth I grow.  

3.  Your words to me are full of joy,of beauty, peace, and grace;from them I learn your blessed will,through them I see your face.  

4.  Your words you have fulfilled on earth,yourself, the living Word;within my heart your image printin clearest lines, O Lord.  

Author: G. Currie MartinTune: Capel (English)

The Service of the Word

 Readings:

The First Reading:            Philippians 4:1-9                        

The Gospel Reading:       Matthew 22:1-14

Readings: NRSV Translation

       Philippians 4:1-9                    

4 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 22:1-14

22 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Preaching of the Word - What Does the Lord Require?

Imagine this: “A man flips lazily through the television channels and stops for a few minutes to look at a religious program. He then turns the set off, gets up, and walks into the hall where he encounters his wife. "Will you," he asks her, "be ready when the Bridegroom comes?" "Yes," she responds quickly, "I have my outfit all picked out."

This is, of course, comedy. It works as such because in this context it follows a formula similar to the one used in making puns. It replaces the symbolic, scriptural meaning of "Bridegroom" with the literal meaning of the word. In making light of the parable, the couple block out the light of understanding. Nothing is more corrosive to symbolic understanding than the literal. Do you recall how, during the 1960s, Timothy Leary declared LSD (lysergic acid), with which he was experimenting, to be a "sacrament." Do you remember how corrosive an idea that was, not just to brain cells but to the understanding of some people as to what was really a sacrament? It reduced the idea of "sacrament" to being a mere thing.

Jesus did not do stand-up comedy. Parables are like puzzles, and Jesus, we are told, always spoke in parables. Today's Gospel incorporates one of his best-known parables. He didn't use them to entertain or to perplex his audiences, or to give them games to play. His parables were like pieces of string that had to be rolled up into a ball. Like poetry, they were stories at whose heart was a metaphor. He was not trying to be difficult. He used the language of parable because he was speaking of something that was intangible. He was speaking of something unseen. And like the poet, he had the difficult task of making the unseen, seen.

Often the meanings contained in the parables were left, for the moment, unseen. Even the disciples had difficulty and more than once asked Jesus to explain the parables. Scripture can be difficult. It takes work.

A minister once wrote, "Only the poetic imagination can understand the Bible. Like unsolved puzzles, the meaning of parables can lie hidden in the mind. Hindrances to our understanding abound-like bars on a door or locks on a gate. We do remain curious about what lies on the other side.

We can be barred from entrance through the door of meaning by attempting to interpret the meaning of the parables as though the stories are literal. As with our initial scene, such a response flattens out the meaning, makes it comic or banal. Simply put, then, the meaning of today's Gospel story of the marriage feast might be:

"You had better get your clothes ready if you want to go to the wedding feast or you will be booted out; or, worse, you might be thrown to the dogs!" Would we leave deeper meaning behind and take off for the mall? The better we look when we go into church for the wedding, the more likely we are of being able to pass into heaven.

Is this what we really believe? Do we try and interpret and understand the metaphor or do take things literally? Would there be fewer trip to the mall? There is no section at the mall for symbolic wedding garb, or for symbolic brides. So, let's leave the literal and try doing the work of seeing through different lenses, in a way that will give us a new heart.

Literal interpretations of the parables bring us to a dead end. Symbolic interpretation can open things up for us. In today's Gospel, Jesus is using the image of a wedding feast, a favourite of his, to speak about the Kingdom of God. The bride in the story is not spoken about because she is everywhere, for she can be compared to the entire body of Christ's people. Jesus, I believe was really talking about a sacred marriage between God and humans; between the bridegroom who is the Word and human nature. Jesus himself is the bridegroom and the bride is every one of us. We are being given a picture, Jesus' vision, of the "married land." As in Revelations, the Bridegroom has come. It is heaven where, the divine and human have been united.

And when he comes, will we be ready? Will we be foolish enough to say that as there is a sale this week, we will certainly be able to look our best for the wedding in church? No, the costume in the story is to be understood metaphorically. It is our lives we need to change, the contents of our consciousness, our hearts, and our vision -- not our clothes! These are the intangible garments that concern Jesus. When we wear them -- then he will come, bringing his Kingdom of Heaven. Right here. Right now.

Will we be thrown out where there will be fire and the weeping and gnashing of teeth? Does this fate sound familiar? Similar language is used in other parables recorded by Matthew. It is a harvest metaphor. Literally, it is the weeds that are thrown out from the gathering and the bad fish from the net. And is it a mean God who will throw us out if we show up without the proper gown?

No. The purpose of a parable is to make one point and the point here is to get ready, to stitch together for ourselves the garments of truth, of the Way, so we will be open to God.

There are many people who will remain well armoured against the piercing truths today's parable conveys. They will refuse the challenge. It is easier, like the couple in our opening story, to protect ourselves from the real meaning of the parable by turning it into comedy. It is easier to limit our Vision, to wear a garment of armour. "The kingdom of God is spread on the earth and people don't see it," we read. Jesus' kingdom cannot be stormed. It must descend upon us like light.

In today's parable, Jesus has given us all a key. For God's sake, for Heaven's sake (heaven was used as a synonym for God), we must prepare, make our garments, clothe ourselves in understanding. Only by preparing such a robe are we to gain entrance into his Kingdom. 

Hymn 665: Jesus Christ is waiting

                   (Tune – Noel Nouvelet) 

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

1. Jesus Christ is waiting,Waiting in the streets;No one is his neighbour,All alone he eats.Listen, Lord Jesus,I am lonely too.Make me, friend or stranger,Fit to wait on you  

2. Jesus Christ is raging,Raging in the streets,Where injustice spiralsAnd real hope retreats.Listen, Lord Jesus,I am angry too.In the Kingdom’s causesLet me rage with you.  

3. Jesus Christ is healing,Healing in the streets;Curing those who suffer,Touching those he greets.Listen, Lord Jesus,I have pity too.Let my care be active,Healing just like you.  

4. Jesus Christ is dancing,Dancing in the streets,Where each sign of hatredHe, with love, defeats.Listen, Lord Jesus,I should triumph too.On suspicion’s graveyardLet me dance with you.  

5. Jesus Christ is calling,Calling in the streets,”Who will join my journey?I will guide their feet.”Listen, Lord Jesus,Let my fears be few.Walk one step before me;I will follow you.  

Author: John L. BellAuthor: Graham MauleTune: Noel Nouvelet  

Intercessory Prayers 

Remembering God's marvellous works and living in hope, let us pray for the church, the world, and all people according to their needs.

Stir up your church to do the work of evangelism and proclaim the message of the salvation through faith in Christ Jesus to the world. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

Enlighten world leaders with new and creative ways to become good stewards of the earth's resources for the sake of future generations. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Watch over all who suffer from injustice, hear and answer their cry, and preserve them from all evil. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Let us pray for the sick (including) and especially for those with Covid-19 and those who deal with other viruses and illnesses, that God will give health and strengthen their faith. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Inspire our congregation to persistent prayer and steadfast study of the scriptures, so that we will be equipped for every good work. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for the witness of those who have gone before and our examples of faith. Give us persistence of faith until we, with all the saints, may see you face to face. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of faithfulness, encircled in your lovingkindness, we lift up to you all in need. Hear our prayers on behalf of others and sustain us as we await the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray.  

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 573: A Charge to keep I Have

                   (Tune – Boylston)  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M-64OwBK1E  

1.A charge to keep I have,

A God to glorify,

A never-dying soul to save,

And fit it for the sky. 

 

2.To serve the present age,

My calling to fulfill;

may it all my powers engage

To do my Master’s will!

 

3.Arm me with jealous care

As in Thy sight to live,

And now Thy servant, Lord, prepare

A strict account to give!

 

4.Help me to watch and pray,

And still on Thee rely,

                            let me not my trust betray,

But press to realms on high.  

Author: Charles Wesley (1762)

                        Tune: Boylston

Benediction 

        May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus this day and forevermore. 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

Expect the Unexpected.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - October 8, 2020 - 9:24pm

The readings set in the Churches Lectionary this week are from Exodus 32 and Matthew 22 and are about the unexpected.  We live in a world of the unexpected. Just look at events over the last year or so with fire, flood, political incompetence and a Pandemic. Moses has been up on the mountain for a long time and the people are getting worried, even scared.  They don’t really know where Moses has gone, or why—they don’t understand.  Like so many times during their journey, they are confused and scared, and they lose faith which is not surprising.  They ask Aaron to make gods for them and he makes a golden calf which of course God sees. 

God tells Moses to go back down to the people, whom God threatens to destroy.  God’s anger is not so surprising, but Moses begs God to reconsider, and reminds God of the promises made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Then comes the surprise, the unexpected:  God changes his mind and relents. 

In Matthew we have the strange story of the king who held a wedding banquet for his son.  The invited guests would not come, so the king sent his slaves out to bring people in from the street. He seems surprised to find a guest who is not dressed “appropriately,” and orders the slaves to bind the man and toss him “into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We might think that this is just a strange, rude, unkind man, full of himself and his power as king.  We might think this is just an odd story, if it weren’t for the opening sentence of this passage: 

“Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: ‘the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.’” “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to….”  We get the part about the kingdom of heaven being like a wedding banquet.  The story starts out in a seemingly normal way, but quickly takes a strange turn when the guests refuse to attend the party.  This is unexpected behaviour.  We can understand the connection between the kingdom of heaven and people being invited in from the streets—this makes sense to us. 

But then there is the unexpected behaviour of the king toward one of the guests who was probably poor and from the streets but isn’t dressed in appropriate wedding clothes. The king has him bound and thrown out into the darkness.  What does this say about the kingdom of heaven? We are shocked and surprised, as were those listening to Jesus because in many cultures, hospitality was very important to people.  It would have been unforgivable for guests or hosts to behave in such a manner.  The listeners would have been shocked and offended, especially when Jesus compared this story to the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps that was the point as Jesus often made unusual, surprising or uncomfortable comparisons in his parables.  Once again, he challenges the assumptions of those listening, shocking them with a surprising or unexpected story. But why would he tell such a story about the kingdom of heaven?  It was not just for shock value as Jesus wants to expand people’s perceptions.  He was not saying that the kingdom of heaven is like the king or the banquet or the guests.  He is saying that the kingdom of heaven is beyond our expectations, beyond our assumptions, beyond what we can analyse and think through and get our heads around. 

It is saying to us that there is always more than what we can see. God will always surprise us; will always confront us with the unexpected.  We are called to be open to more and not just to rest in the comfortable assumption that we know all about God. The Parables of Jesus make us uncomfortable.  We don’t know what to do with them, these strange, confusing parables. We usually ignore them or try to find some way to explain them away— “well, this is what this really means.”

But there is a way of understanding them, without taking them literally.  Jesus is deliberately provocative and challenges our preconceived ideas about what God and the kingdom of heaven are like.  We all have our favourite ideas of what the kingdom of heaven might be like.  Jesus is telling us that it will be like nothing we can imagine.  In that over-used phrase, Jesus is inviting us to “think outside the box.” Because the truth is that we cannot know for certain. 

This does not mean we are stupid, but we are human, and our knowledge and our understanding are limited.  Even though we contain a spark of the divine, even though we are made in God’s image, we are not God. The most we can hope for in this lifetime are glimpses—through story and scripture, through prayer and meditation, through music and through our experiences.  If we are open to the Spirit, if we listen, if we pay attention, we can catch a glimpse here and there of the kingdom.

These are the glimpses when Paul the writer of Philippians speaks in the Letter to the Philippians. He says,

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

These are all things of the kingdom.  The only things Paul left out of his list might be “whatever is surprising, whatever is unexpected.”  It is often through those things that God speaks to us.

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - St Francis - 04 October 2020


 Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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


At That Time, Jesus Said...,

Sunday 04th October 2020

St Francis 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

        For we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

This is the place, and this is the time; here and now God waits to break into our experience.

To change our minds, to change our lives, to change our ways

To make us see the world and the whole of life in a new light.

To fill us with hope, joy and certainty for the future.

This is the place, as are all places; this is the time, as are all times.

Here and now, let us praise God.

We gather together to worship God. We gather to reflect on our place in the world.

Hymn 446: Glorious things of you are spoken

                  (Tune – Austria (Haydn)) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY93NvyqOm4 

1.  Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes. 

2.  See the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove;
who can faint while such a river
ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,                   never fails from age to age. 

3.  Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near;
thus deriving from their banner
light by night and shade by day,
safe they feed upon the manna
which he gives them when they pray. 

4.  Saviour, if of Zion's city
I, thro' grace, a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name;
fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know. 

John Newton 1725-1807

Opening prayer

Almighty god, you always delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heat: grant that, following the example of the blessed saint, Francis, we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever Amen.

 

A Prayer of Confession

Let us then open our hearts and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

Forgive us, dear God, when our eyes do not see the world as you see it; when we choose to look away from the results of our lifestyle choices. Forgive us our ignorance, apathy and silence. Open our eyes to see that we are involved in all suffering in the world. Let the demands of your love call us to see, to know, to act and to speak. Deliver us from wealth while much of the world is impoverished, believing that we ‘cannot afford’ worthy causes, even though you call us to simple living. Lead us to a new way of life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Declaration of Forgiveness

Live in freedom and know peace through God, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer and that same almighty God, will have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and keep you in eternal life.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Let us show one another signs of God's peace, the peace beyond all understanding that is yours and mine to share. The amazing peace of God be with you.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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

 Offering Prayer

Lord of grace and forgiveness, you who gave everything and spared nothing to make us your own, we offer back to you what you have so freely given to us. Let all that we say and do, all that we think and plan and consider, be pleasing to you, blessed Creator, Provider, and Saviour, in whose name we pray. Amen. 

Hymn 609: May the mind of Christ my Saviour

(Tune – St Leonards Extra verse to go with YouTube))

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

1.  May the mind of Christ, my Saviour, 
live in me from day to day, 
by his love and power controlling 
all I do and say.  

2.  May the Word of God dwell richly 
in my heart from hour to hour, 
so that all may see I triumph 
only through his power.  

3.  May the peace of God my Father 
rule my life in everything, 
that I may be calm to comfort 
sick and sorrowing.  

4.  May the love of Jesus fill me 
as the waters fill the sea; 
him exalting, self-abasing: 
this is victory.  

5.  May I run the race before me,
strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus
as I onward go. 

6.  May his beauty rest upon me
as I seek the lost to win,
and may they forget the channel,
seeing only him. 

                             Katie Barclay Wilkinson 1859-1928

   The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                                            Galatians 6: 14-18

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 11:15-20.

Readings: NRSV translation

Galatians 6: 14-18

14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16 As for those who will follow this rule--peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. 18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. 

Matthew 11:15-20.

25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

Preaching of the Word - At That Time, Jesus Said..., - Matthew 11: 15-20

At that time Jesus said, "Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have revealed to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned."

Saint Francis is one of the most "popular" of all the saints. He may be seen in gardens around the world. He is enshrined on bird baths and bird feeders. The prayer that we associate with him, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace," is arguably one of the most popular prayers circulated. He is the patron saint of animal lovers, peacemakers, and ecologists. He is associated with cardinal works of mercy to the poor and marginalised.

But these are not the aspects of Saint Francis that I want to speak about today. So often, I think, I have a tendency to view the saints as persons who were superheroes, who were capable of gritting their teeth and doing the Right Thing in the face of total adversity. As such, I find them to be totally unlike me. My problem seems to be not so much that I can't do the Right Thing, but that more often than not, I'm not certain what the Right Thing is!

In this Global Village we live in today, we are assaulted by conflicting values and oppositional demands. The necessity of doing the Right Thing is constantly upon us, even in the simple demands of day to day living: regular or low-fat, recycle or not recycle, welfare or no welfare. Although this might seem simply to require a certain fluidity on my part-- a refraining from deciding, as it were--in actuality I must eventually make a decision. And when I do, how can I know I'm Right?

So, the aspect of Saint Francis that speaks to me most strongly today is this: he was a man who Didn't Get It Right! Throughout the course of his life he steadfastly refused to join the ranks of the wise and learned--of those, who were certain of the Right Thing. He remained a fool for God, and as such, was always open to rethinking the Holy Spirit's inspiration. I'd like to tell some stories that illustrate my point.

When Francis was a very young man--that is, before he really had any inkling of the vocation God had in store for him--he thought he might like very much to be a knight. In fact, we have in the records a dream that Francis had about this time: He is in a large room full of knights' armour and the trappings of chivalry. And Jesus is there with him. Jesus says to Francis, "Francis, I want you to be my knight."

There is evidence that this somewhat idealistic endeavour was fuelled by the popular literature of the day in which knights in shining armour vanquished dragons, rescued fair maidens, and generally did the Right Thing for the sake of good. He conveyed this hope to his father, who was a prosperous cloth merchant in Assisi, and I imagine that his father found this to be a very pleasing scheme. At the time Assisi was engaged in one of its many wars with the neighbouring city of Perugia, and for a middle-class merchant to have his son fighting for the city outfitted as if he were a lord, would have had some appeal to Francis' father. So he brought him the armour, swords, lances, gowns and horse that would be required.

But Francis was already who he was and when the day came to ride off to Perugia, he noticed that among the company there was an impoverished nobleman who had no armour, horse, etc. So, Francis give his entire outfit away, and marched off to Perugia unarmed.

Needless to say, the encounter proved disastrous for Francis, and he was captured and imprisoned. When he was finally ransomed, he was ill with a high fever. If Jesus had wanted him to be a knight, Francis reasoned, something was clearly going wrong. Perhaps, like a fool, he had gotten the message wrong. He continued to search. What could it mean to be Jesus' knightly champion?

Later in his life, after he had renounced his family, and gone off to live the life of a hermit, he had one of the more remarkable experiences in what was to be a most remarkable life. While praying one day before the crucifix in the ruined church of San Damiano, the figure of Jesus came to life and spoke to him saying, "Francis, rebuild my church, which, as you see, is falling down."

Francis looked around him and saw that, indeed, the church of San Damiano was falling down. He immediately began putting stone on stone, rebuilding the church. The people of Assisi thought he was a fool. Slowly, again, he began to understand that he'd gotten it wrong. It wasn't until much later in his life that he understood that Jesus had meant for Francis to rebuild his Church, with a capital "C".

And when he understood that, perhaps he also began to understand what it might be to be Jesus' knightly champion.

Francis was also famous for his bodily austerities. He would throw ashes into his beans so that he couldn't enjoy them too much. He called his Body "Brother Ass" and was known to roll naked in thorns and snow to discipline his body. As he lay dying (while still a young man), he may have had an understanding that, again, he'd been foolish and hadn't Got it Right. He asked "Brother Ass" to forgive him, and perhaps realized that he'd squandered one of God's gifts by not being kinder to himself.

So what are we to make of this famous saint? He has been called "the Other Jesus" by some. He is revered and loved universally, by Christians and non- Christians alike. And yet, he didn't seem to Get it Right.

Perhaps this is what Jesus is talking about when he suggests that the foolish and unlearned may know something that the wise and learned don't know. Perhaps certainty and Being Right are not what Jesus wants from our lives.

Maybe Saint Francis shows us something completely different, something that looks more like perseverance in the face of uncertainty. Maybe the lesson I can learn from Saint Francis is the lesson that faithfulness is more valuable than Being Right; that humility and unknowing are a more appropriate response to God than certainty and knowledge. Perhaps abandoning the pride of self may be the way to begin to understand God. Or, in the words of Saint Francis' famous prayer, that it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Hymn 547: Be Thou My Vision

                   (Tune - Slane)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY54pCBs-1o 

1      Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light. 

2      Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, I thy true son;
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one. 

3      Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:
raise thou me heav'n-ward, O Pow'r of my power. 

4      Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
thou mine inheritance, now and always:
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art. 

5      High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all. 

6      Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light. 

Translator: Mary E. Byrne; Versifier: Eleanor H. Hull
Tune: Slane 

Intercessory Prayers  

Saint Francis Sunday

Where there is money and consumerism,

bring selfless giving, simplicity, eagerness to share the riches of heart and mind...

Where there is selfishness and indifference,

bring openness to others, and hands outstretched in welcome to the outsider and the poor...

Where there are divisions, mistrust, violence and war,

bring pardon, unity and peace...

Where the assembly line has undermined the sense of the human value of work,

restore our appreciation of work well done, and respect for human dignity...

Where teenagers, left to fend for themselves,

have turned to drugs, sex and violence,

restore to them a zest for life and the ideals of the Gospel... 

Where we have hardened our hearts against our neighbour on account of his "unacceptable" religious or political views,

grant to us a human heart, the heart of a brother...

Where there is injustice and exploitation of the poor and the weak,

bring respect and justice...

Where family life has disintegrated and where brothers pass for strangers,

infuse love and brotherhood...

Where people have no time to pray or to marvel,

grant them time so that they may experience what it means to live and to wonder...

 

 

TTogether with Francis, Lord, we give You thanks for the values that shines forth in the lives of so many brothers and sisters including ourselves namely: 

hospitality, joy, universality, ecumenism, availability,

generosity, mercy, a strong and living faith, adaptability...

We ask You to foster those attributes growth in us and all creation to the praise of Your glory. Amen. Alleluia! 

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 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] 

Benediction  

       God give you grace to follow Saint Francis of Assisi and all the saints in faith and hope and love: 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

What Would We Do?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - October 1, 2020 - 9:55pm

Any halfway decent real-estate agent or commercial property manager could probably explain this week’s lectionary reading, the gospel parable from Matthew 21, in two seconds flat. It is all about landlords and tenants after all. And there is an entire body of business law devoted to them and their all-too-numerous disputes.

In Jesus’ telling, a vineyard owner contracts with tenants for the use of his land – and then promptly leaves town for another country. At harvest time, the same landowner sends his slaves or agents back to the vineyard to collect the rent – his share of the harvest in this case – from the tenants. But the tenants decide to take matters into their own hands. Apparently hoping to secure the property for themselves, they beat the first slave, kill a second and stone the third. Then they do it all over again, finally even killing off the landowner’s son in the hope of somehow gaining his inheritance.

What are we to make of this graphic tale of greed and mayhem, violence and murder? At the very least, the landowner in question, we might be tempted to think, ought to have done a more thorough background check before renting out his vineyard – the very source of his livelihood – to those scoundrels who end up murdering his slaves and son. Surely even in the ancient world people knew who was trustworthy or not. Word got around, after all, even before the Internet.

And then the obvious question arises. Why did they do it? The tenants had to have been fairly bright guys. Or they would not have gone into agribusiness in the first place – then as now not an easy way to make a living. Did they really think they could get away with it – get away with murder? Well, apparently, they did. Their greed got in the way of their common sense and reason. No doubt not the first time such a thing has ever happened – and not likely to be the last either.

The point of the story seems so obvious to Jesus’ hearers that they leap to it without a moment’s hesitation. The landowner, they declare in moral outrage, “will put those wretches to a miserable death and lease the vineyard to other tenants.” The story must have also resonated with the early church community, for it is one of only a very few of Jesus’ parables recounted in all three of the so-called Synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Alas, the news these days is sadly still full of just such parables of greed and corruption. We know them too well. We are even now just exiting one of the worse financial crises in our history – by fairly common consensus the result in large measure of rampant materialism and greed. And millions of people have suffered the consequences. So, yes, some people clearly do still think they can get away with it. And some indeed do. The world has not changed all that much in the time since Jesus told his parable.

We might conclude that it simply does not pay to be an absentee landlord. Better to stay home, lock the back door and mind the store. After all, there is no place like home. Surely, that is where one can feel safe and secure. Maybe so but try telling that to someone whose mortgage is still upside-down or under water and is likely to remain so for some time to come. Let’s face it. Even security at home is sometimes an illusion.

The parable, of course, is about us as much as it is about thieves – about us as much as it is about the “chief priests and the Pharisees” who come to recognise themselves in Jesus’ words. The priests and Pharisees at least deserve begrudging credit, if not for their actions then for their insight into their own motivations. They want to arrest Jesus for his words and be rid of him. They knowingly seek to neutralise his potent message of God’s righteousness and Kingdom. What they do not know – and what we sometimes forget – is that it cannot be done.

No matter where we live or what we have, we are all no more than tenants in God’s Kingdom. Nothing ever truly belongs to us. In the final analysis, everything we have has been lent to us. Everything is borrowed for a time. As the old saying has it, we are living on borrowed time – quite literally. Like the priests and Pharisees of this narrative, we too might wish the world were different, that tenants were owners and servants, masters. But it is not so.

“They will respect my son,” the landowner erroneously concludes as he decides to send his child as emissary after his slaves are beaten and killed. To paraphrase Doctor Phil, television’s favourite pop psychologist, “What was he thinking?” If only the landowner had gone to his minister, he might have been set right. “Do not send your son,” he would have been told in no uncertain terms. “Call the police and report the incident. Begin eviction proceedings. Get back home.”

All good advice to be sure, but it is doubtful the landowner would have followed even his beloved pastor’s counsel. For the landowner’s economy is not that of this world. And perhaps it is just as well. He knows something we tend to overlook, that in the end it is not a matter of land, property rights, wealth, possessions or ownership. For a follower of Christ, it is ultimately not even a question of life and death. It is only the Kingdom that matters, a kingdom most decidedly not of this world.

If we miss that point, we miss the point of Jesus’ parable entirely. We Christians miss the Kingdom at work in our lives. For, the Kingdom is, in fact, ours – but only to the extent that we give in turn to others of all that has been so generously given to us. In God’s Kingdom, finally, that is the only way tenants become landlords.

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sunday 27th September 2020 - “Walking the Walk”

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - October 1, 2020 - 7:18am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 17 - 27 September 2020

 Marsden Road Uniting Church 

Carlingford  

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

Walking the Walk

Sunday 27th September 2020

Pentecost 17 Sunday-year of Matthew 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship

(The Abingdon Worship Annual 2011) 

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

We gather to give glory to God!

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

We gather to give glory to God! 

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

We gather to hear stories of old.

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

We gather to sing praises to God.

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

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

Hymn TIS 448: Blest are the pure in heart

                        (Tune – Franconia)

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

1.  Blest are the pure in heart,

For they shall see our God;

The secret of the Lord is theirs,

Their soul is Christ’s abode.

2.  The Lord, who left the heavens

Our life and peace to bring,

To dwell in lowliness with men,

Their Pattern and their King;

3.  Still to the lowly soul

He doth himself impart

And for his dwelling and his throne

Chooseth the pure in heart.

4.  Lord, we thy presence seek;

May ours this blessing be;

Give us a pure and lowly heart,

A temple meet for thee. 

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

Opening prayer

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

 

A Prayer of Confession 

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

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

Declaration of Forgiveness

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

Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

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

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: God is our provider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offering Prayer

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

Hymn 650: Brother, sister let me serve you

                 (Tune – Servant Song)

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

1.  Brother, sister let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace

To let you be my servant, too. 

2.  We are pilgrims on a journey.

And companions on the road.

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load. 

3.  I will hold the Christ-light for you

In the nighttime of your fear.

I will hold my hand out to you;

Speak the peace you long to hear.

4.  I will weep when you are weeping.

When you laugh, I'll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we've seen this journey through. 

5.  When we sing to God in heaven,

We shall find such harmony

Born of all we've known together

Of Christ's love and agony. 

6.  Brother, sister let me serve you.

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I might have the grace

To let you be my servant, too.

Tune – Servant Song  Words - Richard Gillard

                                                         The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Exodus 17:1-7

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 21:23-32

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Exodus 17:1-7

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

Matthew 21:23-32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take this modern parable for example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Hymn TIS 657: God of freedom, God of justice

                 (Tune - Tredegar)

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

             God of freedom, God of justice,

you whose love is strong as death,

you who saw the dark of prison,

you who know the price of faith --

       touch our world of sad oppression

       with your Spirit's healing breath.

 

Rid the earth of torture's terror,

you whose hands were nailed to wood;

hear the cries of pain and protest,

you who shed the tears and blood --

       move in us the power of pity

       restless for the common good.

 

Make in us a captive conscience

quick to hear, to act, to plead;

make us truly sisters, brothers

of whatever race or creed --

       teach us to be fully human,

       open to each other's needs. 

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

Intercessory Prayers   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LORD'S PRAYER

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

Hymn TIS 618: What does the Lord require

                 (Tune – Sharpthorne)

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

What does the Lord require

for praise and offering?

What sacrifice, desire

or tribute did you bring?

Do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

Rulers of earth, give ear!

Should you not justice know?

Will God your pleading hear

while crime and cruelty grow?

Do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

Still down the ages ring

the prophet's stern commands:

to merchant, worker, king,

he brings God's high commands:

do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

How shall our life fulfill

God's law so hard and high?

Let Christ endue our will

with grace to fortify.

Then justly,

in mercy,

we'll humbly walk with God.

                           Author: Albert F. Bayly (1949)

Tune: Sharpthorne

Benediction    

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

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

 Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

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

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

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

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom

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




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet October 2020

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

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

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

 October Services by Zoom, Web and Delivery

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

11   9.30am Pentecost 19 Sunday Service (Zoom)

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

22   7.30am Local Ministers Meeting (Zoom)

25   9.30am Pentecost 21 Sunday Service (Zoom)

CHURCH SERVICES

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

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

Offerings

 

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

 

City of Ryde Zone Congregations look at

One to One Mentoring

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

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

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

 

Marsden Road Prayer Cycle 

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

 

Offering Envelopes

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

 

Pastoral and Other Meetings 

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

 

Advent Study Groups

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

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

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

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


UPCOMING EVENTS

 

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

CONTACTS 

Minister of the Word

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

Church Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531

Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au

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

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

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

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

EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AID

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

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



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Acts of Love.

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

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

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

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

Take this modern parable for example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"So Forgive Someone Today"

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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











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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Giving Thanks for Love and Life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 15 13 September 2020

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

__________________________________________________________________________________


And in Anger..., 

Sunday 13th September 2020

Pentecost 15 Sunday year of Matthew 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

 Call to Worship

(Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)

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

Sing to God for mercy and grace.

Sing praises to God for laughter and joy.

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

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

Sing to God for mercy and grace.

Sing praises to God for laughter and joy. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune: Cwm Rhondda 

Opening prayer

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

A Prayer of Confession

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

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

Declaration of Forgiveness

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

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

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

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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


A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: God's Power and Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offering Prayer

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

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

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

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

And when my voice is lost in death

Praise shall employ my nobler powers:

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.

 

2.  Why should I place in man my trust?

Princes must die and turn to dust;

Vain is the help of flesh and blood:

Their breath departs, their pomp and power,

Their thoughts are gone within an hour,

Nor can they make their promise good.

 

3.  Happy are they whose hopes rely

On Israel’s God; He made the sky,

And earth, and seas, with all their train:

His Truth for ever stands secure;

He saves the oppressed, He feeds the poor,

And none shall find His promise vain.

 

4.  The Lord has eyes to give the blind;

The Lord supports the sinking mind;

He sends the labouring conscience peace:

He helps the stranger in distress,

The widow and the fatherless,

And grants the prisoner sweet release.

 

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

And when my voice is lost in death,

Praise shall employ my nobler powers;

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.

Text: Isaac Watts

Tune: Monmouth

 The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Romans 14:1-14

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 18:21-35

Readings: NRSV Translation

Romans 14:1-14 

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

Matthew 18:21-35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgiveness was offered as a possibility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Forgive our sins as we forgive,"

You taught us, Lord, to pray,

But you alone can grant us grace

To live the words we say.

 

How can your pardon reach and bless

The unforgiving heart

That broods on wrongs and will not let

Old bitterness depart?

 

In blazing light your cross reveals

The truth we dimly knew:

What trivial debts are owed to us;

How great our debt to you!

 

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls

And bid resentment cease;

Then, bound to all in bonds of love

Our lives will spread your peace.

                                           Author: Rosamond Herklots (1969)

Tune: DETROIT (Bradshaw) 

Intercessory Prayers

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

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

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

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

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

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

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

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

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

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

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

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

THE LORD'S PRAYER

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

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

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

Great God, your Spirit, like the wind -

unseen but shaking things we see -

will never leave us undisturbed,

fulfil our dreams, or set us free,

until we turn from faithless fear

and prove the promise of your grace,

in justice, peace and daily bread,

with joy for all the human race.

 

Lord, shake us with the force of love,

to rouse us from our dreadful sleep;

remove our hearts of stone, and give

new hearts of flesh, to break and weep

for all your children in distress

and dying for the wealth we keep.

Help us prevent, while we have time,

the blighted harvest greed must reap.

 

And then in your compassion, give

your Spirit like the gentle rain,

creating fertile ground from which

your peace and justice spring like grain;

until your love is satisfied,

with all creation freed from pain,

and all your children live to praise

your will fulfilled, your presence plain. 

Author: Alan Gaunt
Tune: Jerusalem 

Benediction

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

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

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

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

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

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

life.

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

Home.  

       Robyn Mann (1949 -)

         Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Aching for Answers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

No Person is an Island

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scene of the Nazi mass marches (above)

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

John Wesley - Peace is Never Easy

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 14 Sunday 06 September 2020

              


Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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



No Person is an Island

Sunday 06th September 2020

Pentecost 14 Sunday year of Matthew 9.30am

Gathering God’s People 

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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


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

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

Let all God's children rejoice!

Clap your hands and praise God with dancing.

Shout for joy and praise God with music.

For God brings justice to the peoples.

God brings judgment upon the powerful.

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

Let all God's children rejoice!

 

Hymn 107: Let all things now living

                  (Tune Ash Grove) 

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

            Let all things now living

a song of thanksgiving

to God the Creator triumphantly raise,

who fashioned and made us,

protected and stayed us,

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

His banners are o’er us,

his light goes before us,

a pillar of fire shining forth in the night,

till shadows have vanished

and darkness is banished,

as forward we travel from light into light.

 

His law he enforces;

the stars in their courses

and sun in its orbit obediently shine;

the hills and the mountains,

the rivers and fountains,

the deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.

We too should be voicing

our love and rejoicing;

with glad adoration a song let us raise,

till all things now living

unite in thanksgiving:

to God in the highest, hosanna and praise! 

Author: Katherine Davis (1939)
Tune: Ash Grove

 

Opening prayer

 

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

 

A Prayer of Confession

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

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

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

Declaration of Forgiveness  

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

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

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

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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

Offering Prayer

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


Hymn 477: Jesus calls us here to meet him

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

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

             Jesus calls us here to meet him as,

through word and song and prayer,

We affirm God`s promised presence

where his people live and care.

Praise the God who keeps his promise;

praise the son who calls us friends;

praise the spirit who, among us,

to our hopes and fears attends.

 

Jesus calls us to confess him

Word of life and Lord of all,

sharer of our flesh and frailness

saving all who fail or fall.

Tell his holy human story;

tell his tales that all may hear;

tell the world that Christ in glory

came to earth to meet us here.

 

Jesus calls us to each other:

vastly different though we are;

race and colour, class and gender

neither limit nor debar,

Join the hand of friend and stranger;

join the hands of age and youth;

join the faithful and the doubter

in their common search for truth.

 

Jesus calls us to his table

rooted firm in time and space,

where the church in earth and heaven

finds a common meeting place.

Share the bread and wine, his body;

share the love of which we sing;

share the feast for saints and sinners

hosted by our Lord and King.

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


The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                                            Romans 13:8-14

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 18:15-20.

Readings: NRSV translation 

Romans 13:8-14

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

Matthew 18:15-20. 

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


Preaching of the Word - No Person is an Island - 

Matthew 18: 15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  (Tune – Neighbour)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                           Author: Sydney Carter (1965)

Tune: Neighbour

Intercessory Prayers  

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

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

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

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

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

 

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

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

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

Lord in Your Mercy, hear our prayer

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

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

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

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

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

THE LORD'S PRAYER

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

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

                  (Tune Whitfield)

https://vimeo.com/171332675

We are Your people Spirit of grace

You dare to make us To all our neighbors

Christ's living voice hands and face

Christ's living voice hands and face

 

Joined in community Treasured and fed

May we discover Gifts in each other

Willing to lead and be led

Willing to lead and be led

 

Rich in diversity Help us to live

Closer than neighbors Open to strangers

Able to clash and forgive

Able to clash and forgive

 

Glad of tradition Help us to see

In all life's changing Where You are leading

Where our best efforts should be

Where our best efforts should be

 

Give as we venture Justice and care

(Peaceful resisting Waiting or risking)

Wisdom to know when and where

Wisdom to know when and where

             Author: Brian A. Wren (1973)

Tune: Whitfield (Wilson)

 Benediction  

        God has put a new song in our hearts.

        Sing a new song to the Lord.

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

        The love of God has set us free.

        Sing a new song to the Lord.

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

    

Hymn 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

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

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

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

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom

                             Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)

Tune: Somos Del Señor

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Do We Have a Problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Pages

Subscribe to Marsden Road Uniting Church aggregator - Syndicated Blogs