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Marsden Road Worship for Penetcost Sunday 2020

Sunday 31st May 2020Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gathering God’s People


Call to Worship (Dorothy McRae McMahon, Liturgies for High Days, 2007)        Remember a time when your hopes and dreams died. Remember your feelings of despair and powerlessness. Then remember your surprise when something stirred within, when new seeds of hope sprouted forth. That is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Pentecost.
Holy, Holy, Holy God, wonder, mystery and all-goodness, in the power of the Spirit we are carried into your presence.You are God and we are your people. Holy, Holy, Holy God, wonder, healer, liberator and all-justice, in the power of the Spirit we are called into the world.You are our God and we are your people, and come to worship you in faith and in hope. Come in, all who are empty and exhausted. The Good Shepherd fills our lives with goodness and faithful love.        Hymn 398: Come down, O Love divine
                  (Tune – Down Ampney)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HPKL1wOVXk
1.  Come down, O love divine, seek thou this soul of mine,and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;               Comforter, draw near,within my heart appear, and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
2.  Let it freely burn, till earthly passions turnto dust and ashes in its heat consuming; and let thy glorious lightshine ever on my sight, and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
3.  Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,and lowliness become mine inner clothing; true lowliness of heart,which takes the humbler part, and o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
4.  And so, the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,shall far out pass the power of human telling; for none can guess its grace,till Love create a place wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.
      Words: Bianco da Siena,? – 1434 trans. Richard Frederick Littledale, Jr., 1867         Down Ampney D Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958
Opening prayer
Be alive among us this day, Jesus Christ, drawing all eyestowards your word as it is revealed before us, opening all ears as your Spirit speaks into our hearts and moving within our lives in ways which touch us deeply so that we bow in humble faith before your holiness. Come to us now, we pray, O God. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Loving God, if our faith has become so mundane to us that we have ceased to expect to be surprised by your holiness, treading each day as if we know all that is possible instead of looking around us for your new word. Stride into our lives, Jesus Christ, and interrupt us with your grace. O God, when we look at others and fail to see the godliness which may6 be present there, assuming that we know all there is to know about them and closing our minds and hearts to fresh gifts. Stride into our lives, Jesus Christ, and interrupt us with your grace. O God, if we rarely search ourselves to see if you are inviting the sharing of beauty and wisdom from within our own lives and inspiring us to be the vehicles for your holy word in this day. Stride into our lives, Jesus Christ, and interrupt us with your grace. Forgive us when we expect less than you give. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Turn your lives towards our Holy God, for all grace there, all freedom and hope. The word of God will not fail us. We are forgiven.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Renewed with the gifts of the Spirit and blessed by visions and dreams of peace in our world, let us share Christ’s peace with one another.
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
Do you remember your first reading ABC book like the ones children and grandchildren have today. How many can remember learning to read from a book such as this.  Ask some of the older adults if they can remember their first reading book
Why do they remember it? I remember a sense of excitement when I think back to my early reading books -probably because they opened up a whole new world.  Hold up the later book and ask how they moved from the ABC book to one such as this.  Hopefully they’ll mention the work of their teachers. Ask if they feel a sense of excitement or anticipation when beginning to read a new book.  Our vocabulary and our knowledge expand every time we read a book.  We can thank our teachers for that.  The Holy Spirit is a teacher too.  We learn a whole new language with the Holy Spirit as our teacher because we learn the language of love - the language that Jesus lived and spoke.  The Holy Spirit lives in us and teaches us that language.  We show that we have learned the language by how we live and how we speak.
Offering Prayer
Gracious God, this is a day of new beginnings. The birth of your newest updated message of love for all of humanity, spoken on the lips not just of one man, but on the lips of many. We speak loudly of our faith and trust in your will and way for us, through our commitment to your church. Bless our gifts to spread your message far and wide, to all who need relief, assurance, and mercy in the name of the Christ. Amen.
Hymn 411: Filled with the Spirit’s power                  (Tune - Woodlands)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43wnrzFb73c
  1. Filled with the Spirit’s power, with one accord
    the infant church confessed its risen Lord:
    O Holy Spirit, in the church today
    no less your power of fellowship display

  2. Now with the mind of Christ set us on fire,
    that unity may be our great desire:
    give joy and peace; give faith to hear your call,
    and readiness in each to work for all.

  3. Widen our love, good Spirit, to embrace
    in your strong care all those of every race:
    like wind and fire with life among us move
    till we are known as Christ’s, and Christians prove.

R. Peacey1896-1971 alt. © 1978 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188 All rights reserved. Used by permission.                                     The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                       Acts 2:1-21                    NEB page 837The Gospel Reading:                  John 20:19-23              NEB page 832     
Readings:
Acts 2:1-21
[2:1] When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. [2] And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. [3] Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. [4] All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. [5] Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. [6] And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. [7] Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? [8] And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? [9] Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [10] Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, [11] Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." [12] All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" [13] But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."  [14] But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice andaddressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. [15] Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. [16] No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: [17] 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams. [18] Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. [19] And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. [20] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.
[21] Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
John 20:19-23
[19] When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." [20] After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [21] Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Preaching of the Word–The Gift of Presence – John 20_19-23
In John's Gospel this morning, the gift of the Holy Spirit to Jesus' disciples seems to be part and parcel of their initial experience of Jesus' resurrection. If our worship schedule in church followed John's picture, we would be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday evening. The fact that we don't do that is not only a mercy -- many of us are so exhausted by the liturgies of Easter that we would be hard pressed to find the energy to come to church on Easter Sunday evening -- it is also, and much more so, that our liturgical calendar sticks quite closely to the early pattern of worship in ancient Israel. Fifty days after the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, came what they called the "feast of weeks," celebrating the first harvest of new grain.Sunday School children could possibly tell us that the emblem of the Holy Spirit is a dove. The people that pre-publish church bulletin covers all seem to think the dove is the right thing for Pentecost, the "sweet heavenly dove" of the Holy Spirit. And there is much to be said for this dove. It was a dove bearing an olive branch that flew back to old Noah on his Ark, signalling the good news of dry land after the great Flood. The Spirit of God descends "in bodily form like a dove" upon Jesus at his Baptism, according to Luke's Gospel. A nice white dove suggests innocence and purity, peace, and the olive branch of reconciliation. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is deeply involved in purifying our hearts and minds so that we "may have in us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus," as St. Paul says. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is actively engaged in the human enterprise of peace making whenever we work our way through conflicts great and small toward the goal of reconciliation.St. Paul did not have the benefit of Hallmark Cards, which thinks doves are just like lovebirds, billing and cooing come Valentine's Day. But St. Paul knows for sure, that the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is love -- not the love sold to us by Hollywood and the greetings card industry, but the love of God which is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, binding an aggregate of different and unlikely people together, creating new community on new common ground in the Body of Christ.Is it not striking, then, that as we gather to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our first reading from Scripture, from the Acts of the Apostles, has nothing to do with the innocence and purity and peace and reconciliation that are associated with the Spirit as dove. On the contrary, Acts gives us the stunningly powerful imagery of a raging wind and flames of fire -- elements of nature to be respected and handled with care, for they can be dangerous and destructive, as well as cleansing and comforting.The author of Acts has moved way beyond doves here. He is rooted not so much in the symbolism of Noah's Ark, but in the great passage of Ezekiel concerning the valley of dry bones, where the Spirit blows like a rushing wind bringing the energy and dynamism of new life to a destroyed, limp, and lifeless nation. He is echoing the voice of John the Baptist as he points to Jesus and says, "I baptise with water, but one is coming who will ... baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire." He has in mind the figure of the prophet Isaiah, who was touched by coals of holy fire when he received the divine mandate to go forth and speak the word of God to the people of God.The author of Acts knows that the Resurrection is simply the beginning of God's mighty work of redeeming us in Christ; we still have to be charged with energy and fired up with our divine mandate from baptism. The dynamics of new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus still have to be fleshed out in our lives, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit, this is how we will be caught up in God's work and God's purposes so that God's will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, in our lives, our times, and our places.By giving us the forceful images of wind and fire, our author suggests that God still has one more surprise in store, even after the climactic shock of the Resurrection. God has a yet more wonderful purpose afoot. God has finished commanding his people, telling his people, speaking to and shouting at his people. Through the gift of new life in Christ, the Spirit of God is going to involve all God's people in God's work.At the end of Matthew's Gospel, the risen Jesus is shown appearing to his disciples in Galilee, and sending them forth to baptize all nations, to preach and to teach everything that he has taught them. At the end of John's Gospel, the risen Lord appears to the disciples and says, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you," and then Jesus breathes on them just as God breathed life into Adam in the beginning. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he says. And here in Acts 2, we see the effect and the result of this gift of the Holy Spirit to Jesus' disciples ready to go forth into the world. It is as though the rushing wind has caught them up into God's purposes, and the flames have set their heart and minds afire with the desire to bear witness to the good news of salvation.Filled with the Spirit of God, the disciples can now speak, preach, teach, and communicate in such a way that they are understood by all sorts of different people in many different languages. The power of God to recreate the human community in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit breaks through the human boundaries of language and culture. It does so just as effectively as that same mighty power of God in Christ broke through death, the ultimate boundary of human life on earth, and broke through hell, the barrier constructed by evil and sin. In the words of the old hymn, we are "ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven," in Christ-and now we are put to work with the Holy Spirit.But is this scene from Acts 2 really about us? Isn't it just one more miracle story affecting only a handful of high-class saints long dead? St. Paul, who quite famously was not there at the time and knew nothing of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection or the wind and fire of Pentecost first hand, was absolutely and utterly convinced that just as Jesus was Emmanuel, God-with-us and God-for-us, so the Holy Spirit is God-for-us and God-in-us. This is why Paul writes so passionately and convincingly in 1 Corinthians about how God is now getting the job done in us that he started in Jesus.We have a variety of gifts, he says, but it is the same Spirit that activates them. We are engaged in a variety of ministries and activities, but it is the same Spirit of God who energizes them in us. Wherever, and in whomever, we find wisdom, faith, knowledge, and healing-there is the Spirit of God at work for the common good of all.There are times when we need to focus on the gifts of the Spirit to each of us as individuals, and that's when the issues of Christian life and work come into play for every one of us. What shall we be, and do as we grow up in Christ? There are times when we need to focus on the gifts of the Spirit to the whole community of faith, to congregations and denominations and to the whole Church at large. How does anyone congregation live and work for the common good of its community; how does any given Vestry communicate, discuss, and decide for the common good of the whole parish -- these are matters of our common mission grounded in Christ and energised by the Spirit.But there are also times, and surely we are now living in one of them, when we have to stand back from our self-oriented examinations and concerns as Christian people living and working among other Christian people, and ask the Holy Spirit of God to blow mighty winds of change into the way we live with men and women of other faiths in our local and nation-wide communities.We are surely living in a time when we have to pray that the Spirit of God will descend with wisdom, knowledge, and discernment upon the political and military leaders of our country, to change the ways we deal as a nation with other nations and stateless peoples of the small world we live in. As St. Paul characteristically puts it: just as the body is one, and has many members, all the members of the body, though many, are one body. So, it is with the world we live in.It is almost overwhelming to consider that God invites us to receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds to build us up individually, and to receive the same Holy Spirit into our lives in the body of Christ to build up the community of faith, and to receive the same Holy Spirit into our lives to bring reconciliation and peace to all the communities of the earth. But this is God we are talking about: God with us, God for us, God in us; God involving and engaging us in his work. And with God, all things are possible, and with the Spirit of God with us, in us and for us, all things can work together for good. Let it be. Amen.
Hymn 414: There’s a spirit in the air,                 (Tune – Lauds)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHSF6tkVrDk
1. There’s a spirit in the air,     telling Christians everywhere:    praise the love that Christ revealed,     living, working, in our world.
2. Lose your shyness,     find your tongue;     tell the world what God has done.     God in Christ has come to stay,     live tomorrow’s life today.
3. When believers break the bread,     when a hungry child is fed,     praise the love that Christ revealed,     living, working, in our world.
4. Still the Spirit leads the fight,     seeing wrong and setting right:     God in Christ has come to stay,     live tomorrow’s life today.
5. When a stranger’s not alone,     when the homeless find a home,     praise the love that Christ revealed,     living, working, in our world.
6. May the Spirit fill our praise,     guide our thoughts and change our ways:     God in Christ has come to stay,     live tomorrow’s life today.
7. There’s a spirit in the air,     telling Christians everywhere     praise the love that Christ revealed,     living, working, in our world.
Words: Brian Wren, copyright © 1979 Hope Publishing Company. Music: Jim Strathdee, copyright © 1993 Desert Flower Music. 
Intercessory Prayers         Living God, in this world of disposable cups and disposable heroes, throwaway lines and throwaway lives; set our sights upon those gifts which are sourced in you and continue beyond forever.Ground us in your living Spirit, that we may be witness to the new birth of your love in our livesand the world around us.Slow down the consumption of our communicationand push us beyond the tweets and posts of the 24-hour news cycle.Help us to pause before the pain and confusionof our fractured and fragmented world that we might perceive the story of your Good News in Jesus Christ.Fill us with Pentecost fire and attune us to the needs of others, while not neglecting that which heals our own wounds.Push us beyond simple explanations and proximate solutions onto the steep path of true reconciliation and deep listening.Remind us of the gifts already within us and the challenge of those talents not yet discovered.For all good things are from you, and all good things are of you. Just as we are from you and we are of you.In your spirit-filled and living, giving name, we pray.Amen.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn 409: O breath of life,                   (Tune – Spiritus Vitae)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1QZw7q1Xyc
1 O Breath of life, come sweeping through us,   revive your church with life and power;   O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us,   and fit your church to meet this hour.
2 O Wind of God, come bend us, break us,   till humbly we confess our need;   then in your tenderness remake us,   revive, restore, for this we plead.
3 O Breath of love, come breathe within us,   renewing thought and will and heart;   come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,   revive your church in ev'ry part.
4 Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating    while harvest fields are vast and white?   Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting,   equip your church to spread the light.
Author: Bessie Porter Head (1920)
Tune: Spiritus Vitae
Benediction                Go forth and point to the wonders of God of God. Go forth and carry justice and compassion into the world, for this is the word in Christ to us.           And may Almighty God, rise up in majesty before us, Christ Jesus draw our eyes towards true life and the Holy Spirit be discovered in every new day. Amen        Hymn 778: Shalom to you now                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends. May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom
Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)
Tune: Somos Del Señor


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 31 May 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - May 29, 2020 - 1:09am


Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford


Sunday 31st  May 2020Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSActs 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-35b, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13,John 20:19-23
PRAYER Almighty God, at the feast of Pentecost you sent your Holy Spirit to the disciples, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel; send us out in the power of the same spirit to witness to your redeeming love and draw all people to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God now and for ever. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856

Donation to “So They Can.” Last week on 22nd of May the Education and SocialCommittee donated $850 to “So They Can,” to help them in their efforts to educate, support and keep the community safe. Some of funds will be used for Education packs, masks, and water stations. Part of the donation will be used for simple screens for the birthing rooms to provide privacy for the mothers during delivery. This would encourage larger numbers to come to the clinic for delivery. Which would provide a better health outcome for the baby and the mother. Currently lack of privacy, challenges many cultural norms, & keeps women away. This gift to so they can tie up with the beautiful jumpers knitted by the congregation which is so loved by the mums






Litany of the Holy Spirit – (also set to music)the first three verses of the Litany by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
In the hour of my distress,When temptations me oppress,And when I my sins confess,Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When I lie within my bed,Sick in heart and sick in head,And with doubts discomforted,Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the house doth sigh and weep,And the world is drowned in sleep,Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,Sweet Spirit, comfort me!





CONTACTSMinister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook:https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:                        margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com
Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com
EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AIDDid you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Dream those Dreams of God

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - May 29, 2020 - 12:33am

The anniversaries of key markers in our lives are important. Birthdays are a good example. Some of us age until we are not all that crazy about our birthdays. They are a sign we are getting older, but even as we age, birthdays are important. Birthdays celebrate the labour of the woman who gave us birth; they celebrate the way in which we were nurtured as children; they celebrate another year given to enjoy. Birthdays are a big deal.
So, it is with other key anniversaries in life, such as wedding anniversaries or the milestones of our children’s lives. These are marker events remembered and celebrated annually. These anniversaries mark the significant passages of our lives. They also give us the framework for our stories. This is true not only of happy times, of course, but also of our difficult times. I wonder how the Covid-19 pandemic will be flagged and remembered as part of our stories. Will it be marked by a special day or be part of our histories only?
If you’ve experienced the breakup of a marriage, each year you remember the time when that happened. If you’ve lost a loved one—a spouse, a parent, or a child— those dates are forever pressed upon your memory. Those anniversaries are not marked by parties, but they are times of remembrance. This is important, not only for individuals, but also for countries. In the Australia we have Australia Day with celebrations with fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The celebration calls to mind the stories of the arrival of non-indigenous people in this land and the deep sorrow for the indigenous people that followed.

Anniversaries remind us of our stories, so it’s important that we observe the church anniversary of Pentecost. This is the day when we tell the stories and celebrate the events that gave birth to the church. In the first weeks after the Resurrection, there was no organised thing called the church, just people who had known or followed Jesus, who had experienced his resurrection. One day they are all together, and then, suddenly, miraculous events begin to happen.
A mighty wind blows through the house and shakes the very foundation. Tongues of fire leap from person to person. People begin to speak in the languages of the world. Then, after all this chaotic uprising of the Spirit, the Spirit expresses itself in yet another way as Peter quiets everyone down and preaches. He explains to them the meaning of the events that have just taken place. Peter tells the story and teaches us something about our roots, so the story of Pentecost teaches us about our roots as the church. Telling and retelling the story reminds us of the fundamental truths that are deeply embedded in our birth as the body of Christ.
We need the reminder because we live in the mundane “everydayness” of the church. Every one of us can find something to criticise in the church. We all can tell of disappointment, or even of hearts broken by the church. It’s important, then, to remember that the church is more than the fallible human beings it comprises. To use the words of an old creed, “The church is of God and will be preserved until the end of time,” not because we are the church, not because we embody the full measure of what the church should be, but rather because it is not ours, it is God’s.
For all of its faults and failings, it is through the church that we have been told the stories of the love of God in Jesus Christ. The church, for all its human messiness, is a gift of God. A second thing the Pentecost birthday story of the church teaches us is that the church, from its birth, was multinational, multicultural, and multilingual. We need frequent reminders of this. The text from Acts we here on this day is a testimony that at the church’s birth we were multinational, multicultural, and multilingual. We certainly don’t look like it most of the time, do we? Unfortunately, our congregations are often not reflective of the God-given nature of real church. We have to tell the story to be reminded of our true self. Our true self isn’t monolithic; our true self isn’t mono-cultural; our true self is multicultural.
There’s something else in the birthday story that’s worth remembering. After all the chaos and uproar of wind and fire and languages, Peter calls for order and attempts to interpret what all of this means reminding us to remember  that it is important “your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” This Peter takes from the Hebrew Scripture of Joel 2:28. Maybe from its birth, the church was meant to be a big dreamer for God. The church, from its birth, was to be a visionary change agent, not an agent of conformity, was meant to have visions and to dream those dreams.

Peter, on the day of Pentecost, tells us so. The church should always be dreaming God’s big dream. When our dreams are small or absent, when we are satisfied with the status quo, when we think we’ve done as much as we can possibly do, we’ve quit being the church, because the church is a dreamer. The church is visionary; the church is a possibility place. It’s important to tell our birthday stories and remember again our beginnings.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

A Most Important Obscure Day

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - May 28, 2020 - 7:42am

Physical Absence, Spiritual Presence – Acts 1:1-11.   First I must say that I am not a scientist, so I really liked the Rev. John’s introduction to the topic of Ascension Day.  While writing for Margaret on her blog, I am always aware that she is a scientist and does look at the world in a scientific way and she is also a keen student of theology and a Lay Preacher; while I am not at all qualified in either subject.  So when I reflect on religious topics I am generally happy to pass over the really “hard bits” and take joy in the way I observe the Love of God in and through others and feel the hand of God all around me.
This week the Rev. John began his Sermon: “Today is one of those relatively obscure Christian holidays of which many are unaware: Ascension Sunday. This is the day in the church calendar when we celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. In all honesty, the ascension is a rather difficult idea for the modern mind to handle. It’s the story of how Jesus went to the Mount of Olives after his resurrection from the dead. There, according to the book of Acts, Jesus literally flew off into heaven. “He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.”
Of course my practical side realizes that this is a hard scenario to accept and I was delighted with the Rev. John’s suggestion; “When contemporary people think of the ascension, it is a little hard to imagine the Lord Jesus Christ flying off like a one-person space shuttle into the skies.”  I observed there were a few laughs at this idea that came from the people watching the service with us on their computers; however, for me it did serve to scream out the basic difficulties of always trying to relate the old bible writings (even with a modern translation) to the world of today.
Ascension of Christ - Saint Joseph Catholic Church, Somerset, Ohio
Author Nheyob - Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 4.0 International LicenseAt that point my mind immediately turned to the many ethereal images of the Ascension of Jesus that I have, as a ‘romantic’ and an artist, greatly admired in stained glass and paint - and I must confess the images never conjured up doubt or controversy for me. Neither have I actually struggled with the scientific definition of the cosmos which now generally seems to refer to; “The idea of order which is always present in the words universe or world”, although by definition - “In biblical thought, of course, this order is the result of God's activity”.
Rev. John then mentioned “scientific reservations” and the continuing spiritual importance of the Ascension in our modern world.  “On Ascension Sunday, we are called to reassess our devotion to the church as the physical body of Christ still among us. The risen Lord is not here; he has ascended. The body of Christ is very much here, and the way we treat the church is the way we treat the risen Lord.  Ascension Sunday reminds us that we are each, individually, a part of Christ’s body. To honour the church as we honour Christ is also to remember that in a powerful way, we are each a part of this body of Christ.”
People of the Marsden Road Church congregation went away for “church camps” during the 1970s and 1980’s, which was a time when there were many families like ours with children over a variety of ages and this was a wonderful time for everyone from the oldest to the youngest.  We all looked at ways to include everyone in the fun and the religious instruction and often as an adult I loved the times when a “light bulb” seemed to turn on during successful groups and services in which everyone shared at the camps.  Oh!  And how we loved the singing at those weekend camps!
Memories of a Marsden Road Church Camp in the 1970s 
Whenever I hear mention of the importance of each one of us in our role as part of the body of Christ and what each of us can achieve as part of ‘the Church’ if we all work together, I remember how at one camp, all the younger children were called to the front and were each asked to try to pick up and carry a tall strong young man from the ‘stage’ where he was lying on the floor.  Each of the children tried very hard and of course could not even move him on their own, but when they were told to all work together and share the weight by standing all around Craig, there was great excitement and surprise at their success in carrying him away.  I seem to remember there was also a mention of the way tiny ants can all gather around and together lift a large piece of food to take home to their nest to share.  Such a simple idea, but very effective and I suspect all the kids may, like me, still remember the message they were given that day. This message as the Rev. John said on Sunday morning was to; “Remind us that without our individual faithfulness to our role in the church, the body of Christ is weakened and disabled.” 
The Rev. John’s sermon today concluded “This is a critical day in our personal and collective self-understanding. It is significant that the risen Lord ascended into heaven. His ascension invites us to relate to the church as we would to Christ. It reminds each of us of the critical nature of our role in the body of Christ. It calls us to take up Jesus’ work on earth. This is a most important obscure day.”
When I reflect on many religious concepts I wonder if it is perhaps easier for those of us with less scientific or theological knowledge to accept our feelings and instincts with less self-questioning.  Having said that- It may seem surprising, to learn that I have in the past thought and written some heavy questioning thoughts about the Genesis story of Creation in the Bible, the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution, some of which I will share with you.
"In the beginning of creation when God made heaven and the earth, the earth was without form and void, with darkness over the face of the abyss, and a mighty wind that swept over the surface of the waters." These words are the very beginning of the Bible.  Chapter 1 of the book of Genesis gives this version and goes on to describe events to the end of the sixth day finishing; “So it was; and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
So how did the world really begin?  The foremost scientific theory about the origin of the universe is The Big Bang Theory.  I was surprised and interested to learn that this widely accepted theory that the universe was created sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter in all directions was first proposed in 1927 by Georges Lemaitre who was a Belgian priest.  I typed “big bang theory” into Google, and after browsing items 1 - 10 of about 1,250,000 results to try and understand how a priest of all people, put forward an evolutionary idea seemingly so in conflict with the Biblical creation story in Genesis, I only became more fascinated.  However, I did learn that Lemaitre was one of many scientists including Edwin Hubble who were also working on variations of this theory at that time.
Can we believe that the Big Bang was God’s first miracle?  I can, but then I am not a scientist.
Before the Big Bang Theory there had been Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, explained in 1859 in his work “On the Origin of Species”.  I found there are about 225,000 results for “Darwin's theory of evolution” on Google, but to summarise his theory:-
1. Variation: There is variation in every population.2. Competition: Organisms compete for limited resources.3. Offspring: Organisms produce more offspring than can survive.4. Genetics: Organisms pass genetic traits on to their offspring.5. Natural Selection: Those organisms with the most beneficial traits are more likely to survive and reproduce.
If taken literally these ideas probably created religious and moral dilemmas for people when they were first published nearly 150 years ago.  However, today with greatly increased knowledge and ability to act upon that knowledge, some of the possibilities of interfering with the natural order of things are so horrific, I am almost too scared to put them into print! 
Yet I am asking such questions to promote serious thinking about the behaviour of all humans and their often misplaced feelings of entitlement.
1. To say there is Variation in every population is an irrefutable statement. No problems there!
2. Competition is a part of life; but then, does greed creep in here – and does this give some humans ‘permission’ to take more than their share – is it OK to let millions starve to death because the world can’t support an ever increasing population?  Is war then a legitimate way of competing for limited resources?
3. We can accept the fact that turtles and other animals need to produce more offspring to ensure the survival of the species, and we understand that other animals need to kill for food.  However, we can’t accept the death of human babies in the same way; it would seem to be against all we, as civilised humans believe.
4. and 5. are very much related.  Should we be trying so hard to save the lives of humans with genetic diseases that are weakening the human species?  Is keeping them alive and encouraging them to reproduce wrong?  Is natural selection in fact God’s plan to protect us from our own weakness?  Should we encourage the survival of babies so immature that the only reasons for their survival in such a damaged state are the needs of their parents?  Can we be accused of playing God – and is Darwin’s Theory perhaps an expression of part of God’s plan?
Now for another big question.  What is the difference between Scientists, Evolutionists and those who believe the Genesis story?  It is said that, typically, scientists observe evidentiary data and then formulate their conclusions, and evolutionists have formulated their conclusion and then look for the missing data.   It is my personal understanding that believers in the Bible story can accept what they can’t prove or see, and have a sense of wonder that can acknowledge miracles and above all they have faith in God.
I have faith.  I am happy to gaze into the heavens at night with millions of stars smudged across the sky - and feel a thrill I cannot describe; I don’t need to know if there was a Big Bang – I simply feel the truth of Psalm 19; “The heavens tell out the glory of God, the vault of heaven reveals his handiwork.  One day speaks to another, night with night shares its knowledge; and this without speech or language or sound of any voice.”



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship for Ascension 24 May 2020

Sunday 24th May 2020Marsden Road Uniting ChurchCarlingford--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Physical Absence, Spiritual Presence. Sunday 24th May 2020Ascension Sunday in the year of Matthew9.30 am
Gathering God’s People
Prelude Music to prepare for worship
Acknowledgement of First Peoples
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.  May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship (Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)        Called to be one with Christ, called to be one with each other, called to be one in ministry, we gather in the unity of God’s Holy Spirit, who calls us here.
Called to be one, we are here. Called to be strong, we are here. Called in devotion to God, we gather to worship and pray.
Hymn 100: All creatures of our God and King(Tune – Lasst Uns Erfreuen)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An1BzakUTms
All creatures of our God and King,Lift up your voice and with us sing,Alleluia! Alleluia!Thou burning sun with golden beam,Thou silver moon with softer gleam!O praise Him! O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou rushing wind that art so strong,Ye clouds that sail in heav’n along,O praise Him! Alleluia!Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,Ye lights of evening, find a voice!O praise Him! O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou flowing water, pure and clear,Make music for thy Lord to hear,O praise Him! Alleluia!Thou fire so masterful and bright,That givest man both warmth and light.O praise Him! O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
And all ye men of tender heart,Forgiving others, take your part,O praise Him! Alleluia!Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,Praise God and on Him cast your care!O praise Him! O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Let all things their Creator bless,And worship Him in humbleness,O praise Him! Alleluia!Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,And praise the Spirit, Three in One!O praise Him! O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Paraphraser: William H. DraperAuthor: St. Francis Of Assisi (1225)
Tune: Lasst Uns Erfreuen
Opening prayer
Holy Spirit descend upon us this day. Gather us into your presence, that we may be devoted to prayer and strengthened in unity and love. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Rouse us with your grace and mercy, O God. Scatter the fears within our hearts. Drive away our doubt and our sin. Melt our insecurities and anxieties. Banish our divisions and disagreements, that we may be one with you through the grace of Christ Jesus, and one with each other through the power of your Holy Spirit, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Sing to God! For we are forgiven and united by God’s power and grace.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Forgiven by Christ’s grace and united in the Spirit,let us share signs of unity and love this day.Peace be with you! And also, with you! (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
Announcements
A Word with the Children/Young People
Do you enjoy puzzles? I like puzzles especially cross word puzzles but not cryptic cross words. Word jumbles are something that I like doing at times. That is a puzzle where the letters of a word are all mixed up and you have to figure out what the word is. Sometimes it is easy to figure the word out. Other times I will look and look and can't figure out what the word is. Then, all of a sudden, it seems my mind is opened, and the word is clear to me.
We have a word puzzle for you today. The letters are not mixed up. The word is just hard to see. I am going to hold it up and show it to you. If you see the word, don't say what it is until everyone has had time to figure out what the word is. (Hold up the puzzle and wait for a short time.) If you can see the word, raise your hand. Who can tell us what the word is? That's right, the answer is Jesus!
This puzzle reminds me of something that happened in our Bible lesson today. The Bible tells us that Jesus appeared to some of his disciples and said, "Peace be with you." The disciples were afraid and weren't sure what they were seeing. They thought they were seeing a ghost.
Seeing that they were afraid, Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled? Why do you have doubts? Look at my hands and my feet. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like I have."
Jesus could see that they still weren't convinced, so he asked them, "Do you have anything to eat?" They gave him a piece of fish and he ate it as they watched.Then Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. He taught said, "It was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer, die, and be raised from the dead on the third day. It was written so that this message would be told to every nation, beginning in Jerusalem: 'There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.' You are witnesses of all these things."
As Jesus opened the minds of his disciples, let us pray that he will open our hearts and minds to spread the Good News to everyone we know that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again so that we could have forgiveness of sin.
Heavenly Father, open our minds to understand your Word, open our hearts to live your Word, open our lips to share the Word with others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Offering
Invitation to the Offering
Showered with God’s abundant grace, let us share abundant love in the gifts and offerings we bring.
Offering Prayer
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us. Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts. And pour out your Holy Spirit on the ministries we offer to your world. Though our gifts and our offerings, others may find generous friends and a loving community of faith.
Hymn: Be Still and Know
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbqCJNeUaNU
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.Be still and know that I am God.
Composer: John L. Bell                                    
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                                 Acts 1.1-11            NEB page 836The Gospel Reading:                            Lk 24:44-53           NEB page 808After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings:
Acts 1:1-11
1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Lk 24:44-53
44 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so, stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them; he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Preaching of the Word - Physical Absence, Spiritual                                 Presence – Acts 1:1-11
Today is one of those relatively obscure Christian holidays of which many are unaware: Ascension Sunday. This is the day in the church calendar when we celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. In all honesty, the ascension is a rather difficult idea for the modern mind to handle. It’s the story of how Jesus went to the Mount of Olives after his resurrection from the dead. There, according to the book of Acts, Jesus literally flew off into heaven. “He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.”
In the first century, the understanding of the cosmos was very different from ours. People understood heaven to be a place that was literally, geographically, “up” from the earth. They could visualise Jesus leaving them and going “up” into heaven. With our scientific view of the cosmos, we know there is not an up or down in the universe. Even our notion of heaven is not of a geographical location or direction. When contemporary people think of the ascension, it is a little hard to imagine the Lord Jesus Christ flying off like a one-person space shuttle into the skies.
Yet, despite our scientific reservations, the story of the ascension is spiritually important to us. The ascension was the church’s way of dealing with a fundamental fact. The earliest disciples had experienced the bodily presence of the risen Lord, the one who was no longer under the claim of death. After a passage of time, this experience of the risen Lord as bodily present with them seemed to pass. He didn’t appear again. They accounted for his absence by saying that the risen Lord was now in heaven. They had to go forward without his physical presence.
He had ascended into heaven. Christians today have the same circumstance. We believe in a risen Lord who is no longer physically present. The body of Jesus is not here any longer, except in the church as the body of Christ. So, on Ascension Sunday, we do well to think about what Jesus’ physical absence means for Christians today.
First, the absence of the physical Jesus calls us to take seriously the church as the body of Christ. This is a concept with which we all are very familiar. We say that the church is the body of Christ without thinking about what that might actually mean. If the church is the body of Christ, then we are called to give to the church the devotion and respect that Christ deserves.
Think about it. How precious to you is the church? How central to your life is the mission of the church? It is easy for us to think that we would respond to the physical presence of Jesus with all the love and devotion we could humanly summon. Yet we often treat the church as just one more volunteer community organization. Now civic clubs do good work; health-related charities appeal to us, especially if we have lost a loved one to the disease the charity seeks to overcome; organizations that support our schools do important work. But none of these organisations are the body of Christ. Only the church is Jesus among us. Its mission is to be consistent with Jesus’ mission. The love we have for it is the love we have for Jesus.
The church is the closest we will ever come on earth to having Jesus to care for and to love. On Ascension Sunday, we are called to reassess our devotion to the church as the physical body of Christ still among us. The risen Lord is not here; he has ascended. The body of Christ is very much here, and the way we treat the church is the way we treat the risen Lord.
Second, Ascension Sunday reminds us that we are each, individually, a part of Christ’s body. To honour the church as we honour Christ is also to remember that in a powerful way, we are each a part of this body of Christ. When we neglect our part in the mission of the church, we disable the body of Christ. As Paul said, each of us is a physical part of the body of Christ. We are the arms and legs, the eyes and ears; we are limbs and organs of Christ’s present body. When we fail to do our part, the body becomes disabled. Christ becomes disabled without the limb or organ that each of us is called and gifted to be.
The absence of the physical body of Jesus places a claim upon us to relate to the church as we would relate to Christ. It also reminds us that without our individual faithfulness to our role in the church, the body of Christ is weakened and disabled.
Last, Ascension Sunday reminds us that if Christ’s work is to continue, it is up to us to do it. Now that is not to say we receive no godly help. Next Sunday is Pentecost, and we will celebrate our empowerment by the Holy Spirit. But this divine help comes to empower us in doing the work of Christ. Jesus is no longer here to heal the sick. He is no longer here to touch the outcast. He is no longer here to feed the hungry. It is up to us, the body of Christ, to continue this work. If the church fails to be the body of Christ, Jesus is absent. If the church fails to be the body of Christ, Jesus is nowhere to be seen.
Yes, this is an obscure Christian holiday. It celebrates an event that is difficult for the modern scientific mind to take literally. At the same time, this is a critical day in our personal and collective self-understanding. It is significant that the risen Lord ascended into heaven. His ascension invites us to relate to the church as we would to Christ.
It reminds each of us of the critical nature of our role in the body of Christ. It calls us to take up Jesus’ work on earth. This is a most important obscure day.
Hymn 474: Here in this place new light is streaming                  (Tune – Gather us in)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8S5t1LrCSY
Here in this place, new light is streamingnow 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 forsakengather us in the blind and the lame;call to us now, and we shall awakenwe shall arise at the sound of our name.
We are the young -- our lives are a mysterywe are the old -- who yearns for your face.we have been sung throughout all of historycalled to be light to the whole human race.
Gather us in the rich and the haughtygather us in the proud and the stronggive us a heart so meek and so lowlygive us the courage to enter the song.
Here we will take the wine and the waterhere we will take the bread of new birthhere you shall call your sons and your daughterscall us anew to be salt of the earth.
Give us to drink the wine of compassiongive us to eat the bread that is younourish us well and teach us to fashionlives that are holy and hearts that are true.
Author: Marty Haugen
Tune: Gather Us In
Intercessory Prayers         God of Christmas Calling, Easter Joy and Pentecost Fire,our days are filled with strange actions, our world is filled with hurt, our too-quick breath is filled with anxiety.We seek after solutions and solace that ease the pain,but do not lighten the load.Help us cast our cares upon your shoulders, help us to rest our anxiety in your love.Attune us to the needs of others that we might be for them, the comfort promised by you.Help us to be present to our inward unrest that we may show up for others with gentle words and quiet comfort.Be with those filled with angst and anger that so often threatens to devour them.Help us cast our cares upon you that we might know and be led to show your deep care for us and all of creation. Amen.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn 456: Your hand, O God, has guided                    (Tune – Thornbury)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nGeM_24sJU
Thy hand, O God, has guidedthy flock, from age to age;their wondrous tale is written,full clear, on every page;thy people owned thy goodness,and we their deeds record;and both of this bear witness;one Church, one Faith, one Lord.
Thy heralds brought glad tidingsto greatest as to least;they bade men rise, and hastento share the great King's feast;and this was all their teaching,in every deed and word,to all alike proclaimingone Church, one Faith, one Lord.
Through many a day of darkness,through many a scene of strife,the faithful few fought bravely,to guard the nation's life.Their gospel of redemption,sin pardoned, man restored,was all in this enfolded:one Church, one Faith, one Lord.
Thy mercy will not fail us,nor leave thy work undone;with thy right hand to help us,thy victory shall be won;and then, by all creation,thy name shall be adored,and this shall be their anthem:one Church, one Faith, one Lord.
                    Author: E. H. Plumptre (1864)
                
Tune: Thornbury
Benediction                Called to be one,         we go forth in unity and love.         Called to be strong,        we go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit.         Called in devotion to God,         we go forth in ministry and witness to the world.        And may the one who calls us, almighty God creator, redeemer and giver of live bless us and keep us as we go forth. Amen
Hymn 778: Shalom to you now                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends. May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom
Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)
Tune: Somos Del Señor
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 24 May 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - May 22, 2020 - 12:48am
Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road CarlingfordSunday 24th May 2020



Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGS Acts 1:1-11 Ps 47 or Psalm 93 Ephesians 1:15-23 Luke 24:44-53
PRAYER God of majesty, you led the Messiah through suffering into risen life, and took him into the glory of heaven: clothe us with the power promised from on high, and send us forth to the ends of the earth as heralds of repentance and witnesses of Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead, who lives with you now and always in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856


Q: At what time of day was Adam created?
A: A little before Eve.
Q: Why didn't they play cards on the Ark?
A: Because Noah was standing on the deck

Q. Why didn't Noah go fishing?
A. He only had two worms.

Q. Did Eve ever have a date with Adam?
A. No, just an apple.

Q: Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
A: Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.Marsden MissiveOur next Marsden Missive is due out for 01 June 2020. If you have any news or information to go in the Missive, then please contact Rev. John. The Missive gives us news and information for the coming three months.
Notes from Synod on Church UseChurches should not yet be holding any services of worship in the buildings where Sunday worship regularly occurs. This is in accord with the latest Information Update provided strongly recommending no gatherings in person on church property. Online worship services and the distribution (by email or Australia Post) of worship resources should continue for the foreseeable future.
CONTACTs
Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.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 AIDDid you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Where Did he Go?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - May 22, 2020 - 12:26am

Where did he go, the broken body, the strapping thirty-year-old, where did he go, my love, the crucified, the friend who ate with us at dawn by the lake? Peer into the clouds, scan the stratosphere; you must find him and bring him back, we cannot live without this glorious body. For in him the fullness of the divine dwells, and where he has gone, the fullness of our humanity has followed, and who are we, without our humanity?
A human body is now with God, as we Christians say, seated in equal power, and so we stare at the sky amazed, searching for our lost humanity.
The gospel readings set for scripture we have been hearing since Easter Day has been leading us step by step towards today's disappearing act. Early on, the story of Thomas and the wounds warned us to believe without seeing; then the story of the road to Emmaus suggested that we meet Christ every time we gather to share the meaning of the scriptures and to eat together -- every Sunday we recognize him in the breaking of the bread. Then we were warned that Jesus is a door through which we walk to green pastures, safety, and fulfillment; then the remarkable statement: I am in the Father and the Father in me.
The Christian community that wrote these words back in the first century had come to the realisation that the absent friend was none other than God. And finally, last Sunday we heard above vines and branches, and were reminded that our life flows from the life of God in Christ. In many ways, through several stories, the Gospels have been telling us about the meaning of our lives as Christians when our lover, Jesus, is gone. We have been gently guided to trust this absent lover.
But where is his Body? you say, scanning the sky. Luke, writing in Acts foresaw your question, and so the angel says to the disciples, "Why are you people standing there looking up to heaven? The body you are looking for is not there." The letter to the Ephesians points clearly to where it is: for God has "...put all things under Christ's feet and has made him the head over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."
You are his Body. Look in the mirror when you look for Christ. But you are not his Body alone. Rather, we are his body, together.
His Body, gathering week by week, --physically gathered together, hearing scripture with our bodies, praying with our bodies, with our bodies praising a Ruler who is far above all the powers and principalities, presidents and governments of this world.
A body gathered to eat at a table open to all, acting out for all to see and touch, to hear and smell, the New World of justice which God is giving birth to among us even now. We gather to eat, and we have a glimpse of what it feels to be truly human, made in God's image.
The Body gathered to wash and anoint new members, dramatically acting out the meaning of Jesus's own dying and rising, repeated in our own sharing in his passing. We wash new members of our Body to give them a memorable experience of new birth. For belonging to Christ --and not to the powers and principalities of this world-- is like a new birth.
The Body gathered to celebrate the mystery of love between two persons, pointing to lovers and saying, "there is God, between them, praise the Lord!" --and seeing in their faithfulness, a distant echo of Christ's own faithfulness to us, and our longing for him. The Body gathered to forgive sins --even in a private confession the whole church is present-- proclaiming the deeply subversive Good News: your sins are forgiven.
The Body gathered to lovingly anoint its sick members, recognizing Christ in them, and committing ourselves to minister to them, attempting to mirror, in our life together, God's own infinite compassion and mercy, even when in death we gather to honour a person's life and tenderly honour the body that once serve it.
The Body gathered to praise God for leaders, to appoint them as such, to recognize the blessing and torment of leadership based on service, flowing from our memory of being sent out by Christ in service to the world.
Unlike Thomas, we are invited to trust without seeing. Unlike the disciples at Emmaus, our hearts burn, and we recognise him without his being here physically. Unlike his own disciples, who denied him, we trust him like a door to lead us to our happiness. Unlike the Pharisees, we trust that he is God. For we are grafted unto him like branches, and his physical presence has passed into our celebrations as a gathered people. Here, in the washing, eating, listening, announcing, praying, anointing, forgiving, marrying, healing, burying, we are Love's own Body, taken, blessed, broken and given for the life of the world. --Much more interesting, if you ask me, than I used to find reading the Sunday paper in bed.
No, we should not be looking up to heaven; The Body of Christ that is gone, is, in fact, right here. We are that Body, which is why, we will instinctively greet each other in worship with Christ's own words of greeting: "peace be with you."


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"The Tapestry of Life"

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - May 21, 2020 - 2:10pm

It could be considered to be “by chance” that the church service last week (10thMay) inspired me to centre my reflections upon the expressive impact of hymns as an integral part of our Worship.  However, having followed those thoughts I was stumped when considering a response to the Rev. John’s online service this week in which his thoughtful sermon turned our minds to poetry in the Bible reading from Acts 17; 22-31.  We know that many of the hymns we love were written as poems before being put to music and becoming hymns, so here I am sitting at my computer, wondering where will my mind go from here?
Just one interesting thought to share here is the comparative ease for most people to learn and remember the words of a song or a hymn, paralleled with the difficulty for many in retaining in their brain the words of a poem ready for instant recall.  When I was young I was extremely lucky to be able to easily learn and recite the poems that I loved - yet often by the time I had listened to my brother repeating the poems he had to learn for homework, I would despair about his lack of progress.  
The difference here was that my brother did not feel the poetry like I did and his heart did not motivate the poetry “centre” of his mind to remember and love the words of the poem.  So for him, learning poetry by rote, with no effort to demonstrate or teach the relevance of the imagery of poetry was like saying dismissively to him that he should ‘Find a bridge and get over it!’  However, my brother John could discover what made anything work and he enjoyed working in the mechanical and engineering fields his whole life.  His memory for details about the cars and trains he kept working perfectly and the achievements and statistics of his competitive bicycle racing was excellent.  I soon learned that my brother, like many others, had no wish or need to be able to recite the endless verses of “The Highwayman” or “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”.
I have looked for ways to express why some of us turn to poetry when we need to express deep or important thoughts and feelings.  I certainly do not consider myself as a poet, yet sometimes I feel compelled to disregard my lack of understanding of the rules and approved techniques for writing genuine poems, to present my special thoughts or feelings to a friend or someone who needs encouragement or consolation in this very personal way.  
In trying to answer this question of why poetry touches my heart, I discovered there are many very satisfying definitions of what poetry is; however, I find that I can’t go past the definition given by William Wordsworth who wrote; "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity".  Just think daffodils here!
Thirty years ago a talented friend wanted to share her love of stitching Tapestries with people who had not had the opportunity to learn this craft, so she wrote and published a small book called “Tapestry made Easy”, which was richly illustrated with photos of beautiful finished and framed Tapestries that had been worked by herself, her mother, her father and even her husband.  Her family had a small supper party to “launch” the book and several families from Marsden Road Church and other special friends attended the celebration. 

I had been seeing and admiring these beautifully executed tapestry works hanging in our friend’s home for many years; so I was inspired to write a poem to celebrate her achievement in writing the book.  Although I am sure the poem that I wrote breaks many “rules”, the imagery of one’s life as a finished tapestry pleased me and was appreciated by my friend.  Her father who was a perfect gentleman asked me if I would agree to the poem being printed in his church’s magazine and of course I agreed.  It was later printed in a copy of the “Marsden Missive”, so my apologies if you have already seen the poem.  This has become the inspiration for my personal “Tapestry Tales”, a collection of stories and anecdotes of my life and my family, which have been written over a period of 20 years. 
Tapestries worked by Glenys Gillard
Photos by Dayen Grujovic

The Tapestry of Life
Life is a tapestry worked over the years; It’s a blending of threads stitched with laughter and tears.
By our Lord the pattern was printed and trammed -Much richer and fuller than man could have planned.
The technique and tension are for us to decideand the standard of work is our personal pride.
While enjoying support from our family and friends -On our stitching and texture the canvas depends.
The rows that we work with painstaking caremay be less than perfect - we see here and there.
With a little more Faith, more Hope and more Love,while asking for help from our dear Lord above
We’ll be shown the best way to choose the right threads;Sometimes with our hearts; and at times with our heads.
We’ll learn new techniques to embellish our work;and we’ll stitch through the rows where anxieties lurk,
If we create a true Masterpiece - a real work of artIt will prove that we’ve lived - of this life been a part.
When our tapestry is finished and we reach the hour of death,We will meet the Master Planner as we draw our last short breath,
Then for uneven or imperfect work, we surely won’t be blamed,As in the memory of our loved ones - our tapestry is framed.


This Sunday morning (17th May) the Rev. John made reference to the way “St. Paul gives us a good example of the productive process of building bridges because Christians are all, or should all be, disciples.”  He reminded us that, “Bearing witness and spreading the Word is the business of every Christian and finding bridges between the teaching of scripture and the outside culture is necessary to aid that process.”  So, perhaps as expressed in the Rev John’s words “In an age in which the Bible is under fire, poetry might serve as a good place to build a helpful bridge from the Bible to the surrounding culture of today.”
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Order of Worship 17 May 2020

Sunday 17th May 2020Marsden Road Uniting ChurchCarlingford  ------------------------------------------------------------------
Once a Young Man..., Sunday 17th May 2020Easter 6 Sunday in the year of Matthew9.30 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 (Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)        The Spirit of truth dwells among us. Bask in this awareness. In the Lord, we live and breathe and have our being. Rest in this presence.

God made the world and everyone in it. Our life and breath come from God. God made all nations under heaven. We are all God’s offspring. Search for God in our time of worship. When we search, we find God near.
Hymn 134: Praise, my soul, the King of heaven                  (Tune – Praise my Soul)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyRIVbdsi4c
1.  Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;to His feet thy tribute bring;ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,who like thee His praise should sing?Praise Him! Praise Him!Praise Him! Praise Him!Praise the everlasting King.
2.  Praise Him for His grace and favourto our fathers, in distress;Praise Him still the same for ever,slow to chide, and swift to bless.Praise Him! Praise Him!Praise Him! Praise Him!Glorious in His faithfulness.
3.  Father-like He tends and spares us;well our feeble frame He knows;In His hands He gently bears us,rescues us from all our foes.Praise Him! Praise Him!Praise Him! Praise Him!Widely as His mercy flows.
4.  Angels help us to adore Him;ye behold Him face to face;sun and moon, bow down before Him;dwellers all in time and space.Praise Him! Praise Him!Praise Him! Praise Him!Praise with us the God of grace.
Words: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) Music: Lauda anima John Goss (1800-1880) Public Domain
Opening prayer
     Hear our prayers, O God, as we come to sing your praises. Bless us with your steadfast love, in times of peace and in times of trial. Make your presence known to us this day, for we seek to know you better. Enliven us with your Spirit of truth, and increase our faith, even as we place our hope and trust in you. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession
Sometimes, O God, your ways are a mystery to us. When we cry out in desperation, we don’t really expect you to hear our prayers. When we suffer for doing the right thing, it just seems like par for the course. When we deny or doubt your presence, forgive us, O God. Make your presence known to us, and receive our prayers and praise, as those who long to feel your presence. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness       The Spirit of truth abides with you and will be with you. Because the Lord lives, you also will live. Love God and receive God’s abiding love.
Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
As we are forgiven and reconciled to God through Christ Jesus, let us be reconciled to each other. The peace of the Lord be with you all.
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
Amy and Jill were friends - both ten years old, they lived in the same street and were in the same class at school.  While Amy had lots of friends, she often felt that she was Jill’s only friend.  So Amy was surprised when Jill invited her to come to her house after school one day to meet her friends.
 After school, Amy walked to the other end of her street to where Jill lived and rang the bell.  Jill opened the door, invited Amy in and took her down the hall to her bedroom.  Amy looked in amazement at the number of bears and dolls that filled every corner of the room.  Jill saw her expression and said, “These are my friends” and she began to introduce Amy to every doll and bear by name.   

Amy was stunned by the way Jill treated the dolls as though they were real people, but then Jill said, “Now come and meet my Mum’s friends”.  She led Amy to a room at the back of the house and said proudly “These are my Mum’s special friends”.  On shelves and in cabinets around the room were blonde-wigged dolls dressed in every possible outfit you could imagine.  Again, Jill began to introduce them all by name and to explain what activity their style of dress suggested. 
Amy had a couple of these dolls herself and enjoyed playing with them, but she realised that this was different.  She interrupted Jill “They’re lovely but how can you and your Mum call them your friends when they’re only dolls!”  “But they are our friends, we love them” replied Jill. “But they are only make-believe friends - they can’t love you back” said Amy. Looking away from Amy, Jill said “They’re the only friends we have.” “Come on” said Amy “am I not your friend?  I like you and I care about you.  Do these dolls care about you?” Jill shook her head and hugged Amy “Tell me more” she said.
When the Apostle Paul visited Athens and saw all the statues of their gods, he said “Let me tell you about the God who made the world and loved it.  This God came in person to show us that love and how we can share it.”  Let’s hope that each person who heard him said the same as Jill “Tell me more.”
Offering
Invitation to the Offering
As the people of God, let us bring our offerings and gifts, so that others may know the loving foundation we have found in Christ Jesus.
Offering Prayer
God of love, you are present in all things. Be present to a hurting world in these gifts. Help us use this offering to create a community of love and a place of belonging for all people. Help us reach those who seek, and those who doubt. Use these gifts to help people know the blessings of being your beloved children. Amen
Hymn 567: God of all power, and truth, and grace

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WQgoW-NJTc
1 GOD of all power, and truth, and grace,
   Which shall from age to age endure,
   Whose word, when heaven and earth shall pass,
   Remains and stands for ever sure;
2 That I your mercy may proclaim,
   That all the world your truth may see,
    Hallow your great and glorious name,
    And perfect holiness in me.
3 Purge me from every sinful blot;
   My idols all be cast aside;
   Cleanse me from every sinful thought,
   From all the stain of self and pride.
4 Give me a new, a perfect heart,
   From doubt, and fear, and sorrow free;
   The mind which was in Christ impart,
   And let my spirit cleave to thee.
5 O that I now, from sin released,
   Thy word may to the utmost prove,
   Enter into the promised rest,
   The Canaan of thy perfect love!
Author: Charles WesleyTune Ombersley - William Henry Gladstone
                                              The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                                            Acts 17: 22-31The Gospel Reading:                                        John 14: 15-21
After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings:
Acts 17: 22-31
22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.” 29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’
John 14: 15-21
15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’
Preaching of the Word - Once a Young Man..., Acts 17: 22-31
Once a young man mentioned to his pastor that he had a love of poetry but that he noticed poetry was never mentioned at church. "Would it be possible," he asked the minister, "to introduce poetry sometime into the service?" The following week the pastor obligingly produced a poem. After explaining to the congregation why she was doing it, she read the poem. No comment; just the poem. Quickly returning to the usual order of the Sunday liturgy, it was evident that she had taken care of another of those little duties that are expected of ministers. A poem had been read in church.

After the service, thinking she might have given the young man short shrift, the pastor asked him to take part in a discussion group -- on the Bible and poetry. The young man jumped at the opportunity and found himself with friends in the wonderful garden of biblical metaphor. This minister had reached out. She had, in effect, built a bridge. What are St. Paul's words in Acts this morning? "They would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him...."

Exactly. That is what this young man was doing. In bringing his interest in poetry to the minister, he was bringing himself to church. He wanted to be received. Trying to link poetry with the Bible, he was clearly looking for ways to link himself with the scriptures. His searching could have been ignored, and it nearly was. But the minister built a bridge -- a bridge over troubled waters, to use words from an old song. With this bridge, the minister was able to bring the young man into the Waters of Life.
Building bridges is hard work. The process inevitably results in confronting the ever-present bridge toll (or troll, if you remember the old children's story about the "three billy goats gruff.") We can almost hear the voices in our heads: "It'll take time and money to get this thing started;" or "It isn't worth it;" or "They won't listen;" or "A lot of wasted effort!" But this kind of bridge building is well worth it, and it isn't wasted effort. And it isn't only the business of ministers you know, but that of parents and congregation members as well. Christians are all, or should all be, disciples. Bearing witness and spreading the Word is the business of every Christian and finding bridges between the teaching of scripture and the outside culture is necessary to aid that process.
In the reading from Acts that we have heard this morning, St. Paul gives us a good example of the productive process of bridge building. He finds himself in the rather hostile environment of Athens. It is a university city and there are many people there to challenge his words. He is clearly an alien among them. He is not one of them. There is actually a 10th century illumination that shows Paul being mocked by his audience. The name the people call him, after he begins to speak, is often translated as, " babbler." But in fact the Greek word of derision was really closer to the old English expression, "cocksparrow," meaning a person who picks up scraps of what he finds around him much as a male sparrow picks up the odds and ends of straw and twigs he finds to build a nest for his mate.
And it is clear that St. Paul was doing just that. He had not come to speak about the well-formulated philosophy of the Athenians. In fact, he was picking up what he could, struggling to give body to his ideas, and in doing so, he was indeed making use of the materials he found around him, of what was at hand. Although St. Paul was "speaking in prose," his was truly a poet's craft.
And just as there was little of the Sophist's philosophy with which Paul could identify, there were also few elements of Greek religion or Greek poetry with which he could feel comfortable. But in speaking to the Athenians he did not choose to denounce or ridicule their beliefs or values. He did not attempt to criticise Greek philosophy or Greek poetry. Rather he confronted the people of Athens with elements of their culture and religion with which he could form a bridge.
How did he do this? He mentioned a famous Greek inscription "to an unknown god" and he cited two Greek poems, one by Epimenides and one by Aratus of Soli. From these points in their culture he formed a bridge in order to develop the image of God he was trying to convey to them.
Although there is much made of the poetry of the Old Testament -- the poetry of the Psalms and in the book of Job, for instance -- we don't hear much about the poetry of Jesus. This is perhaps because we have chosen a very restrictive definition of poetry -- as that which is arranged in verses, or which rhymes, or both. When we accept this restrictive definition of poetry, we are ignoring the use of figurative language, the use of metaphor. Poetry, understood properly in this light, is everywhere in the words of our Lord.
Jesus uses poetry, metaphorical language, to link us to worlds unseen, especially unseen in the culture that surrounds us. In fact, there was no other language that Jesus could have used. "Poetry," one famous poet said, "makes the unseen seen." Wasn't Jesus trying to make us see things we couldn't otherwise see by telling us stories about things we could see? As we read in John, "I have said these things to you in figures of speech." (John 16:25)
Again, we need not go far from today's readings to discover examples of powerful and poetic metaphor. In the Gospel, Jesus uses the symbol of the vine in an effort to express the relationship that exists between him and others. He is the vine and we are the branches. "Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me." Here, the metaphor is about incorporation; the incorporation of all of us in the Body of Christ.
But who are the agents of this incorporation? We are. We must act ourselves as disciples so that others are brought into the words of our Saviour. These are seeds that must be watered. Blanketing them with a hostile blast of snow is hindering and fruitless. In place of a sarcastic cultural critique, how about a little sun, a little water Then the taproots of such powerful images will go deep into our minds.
There may be much to dislike in the culture that surrounds us. It is true there is often more interest in the swimsuit issue of a popular magazine than in the figures in poetry. And often the imagery in a certain amount of modern poetry and song merely seems to meander through the materialistic malls of our country, bereft of any transcendence. But this is not always the case. No one is won through denunciation or dismissal. Just as Jesus formed a bridge between the branches and the vine and our life in him and in God, we must learn to form bridges to the secular culture that surrounds us.
The seeds of understanding and belief must be watered as in a reading from Isaiah:When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them. I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water....
It is often said that scripture is irrelevant to today's people. How can a book so filled with universal imagery be called irrelevant? Rather, it is made irrelevant by those who burn all the bridges between the culture and the words of the scripture. This is done more often by blame and denunciation. Ironically, then, those called to preach the Word are hindering its being spread by their exclusionary attitude towards the culture that surrounds them. The blamed simply withdraw, protective of what is theirs, cutting themselves off from the Vine itself.
There are, of course, materials for this kind of bridge building everywhere. It need not be done only with poetry. But as it was with the minister in this story and with Paul, poetry may be a fine place to start.
In an age in which the Bible is under fire, poetry might serve as a good place to build a helpful bridge from the Bible to the surrounding culture. The minister in this story moved quickly from using poetry to satisfy a young man's request, to using it as a bridge, recognising its great potential for proclamation. The materials for such bridge building are everywhere around us. We need only to stop and pick some of them up and set to work. By doing this, we are doing our part to help others forge a link to the Kingdom of God.

Hymn 408: O breath of God, breathe on us now                 (Tune – Galilee)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTi5D-Ef3Bk
1 O breath of God, breathe on us now
   and move within us while we pray;
   you are the spring of our new life,
   the very light of our new day.
2 How strangely you are with us, Lord,
   neither in height nor depth to seek:
   in nearness shall your voice be heard;
   spirit to spirit you will speak.
3 Christ is our advocate on high;
   you are our advocate within:
   O plead the truth and make reply
   to every argument of sin.
4 But what a faithless heart of mine:
   the way I know, I know my guide:
   forgive me, O my friend divine,
   that I so often turn aside.                    5 Be with me when no other friend
   the mystery of my heart can share;
   be always known, when fears descend,
   by your best name of Comforter.
Author: Alfred H. VineComposer: Philip Armes

Intercessory Prayers         Ever loving God, in the long years since the world has seen you, we come together in prayer in the hope and assurance of your commitment to us, and the life of this world.We pray for ourselves, that we might be filled with your Holy Spirit, that we will be agents for peace, in a world where destruction seems insurmountable, that we will be confident in your commandment to go forth in love for you and each other.We pray for our church, as it continues to change, to evolve, to seek out the best way to follow you, that it will be a conduit for your promise to the world, that it will work for your purpose, not its own concerns of bricks and mortar,arbitrary numbers, or the dreams of past glories.We pray for all those on the margins of our societies, our communities, and our interests.We pray for those who are cast aside by a world obsessed by monetary wealth, the eternal goal of so-called growth, while those with the most continue to gain, and those with the least continue to lose.We pray for our world, torn apart by fighting, by greed, by disregard for the environment. In particular we pray for all your children who have been ravaged by the sin of war, for families destroyed, lives lost,dreams shattered and liberty denied, for all those orphaned by this evil, that they will know your love, and through your people peace might become a reality. In your love,in your spirit, in your life, we pray these things. Amen.

THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen

Hymn 398: Come down, O Love divine                     (Tune – Down Ampney)
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi78bnzMyws
         Come down, O Love divine,
 seek thou this soul of mine,
 and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
 O Comforter, draw near,
 within my heart appear,
 and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
        O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming. 
             Let holy charity         my outward garment be,
and lowliness become my inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart,         which takes the humbler part,
and for its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
        And so, the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.
          Author: Bianco da Siena            Translator: Richard Frederick Littledale Tune: Down Ampney
Benediction                 Go in the name of God, the one who created all the nations of the earth. Go in the name of Christ, the one who abides in love and abides in you. Go in the name of the Spirit of truth, the one who advocates for you and guides you. 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 holdyou tight.May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear yourcry.May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give youlife.May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring youHome.

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


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheeet 17 May 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - May 15, 2020 - 12:39am

Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road CarlingfordSunday 17th May 2020
Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the Community

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

 LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSActs 17:22-31 Psalm 66:8-20 1 Peter 3:13-22 John 14:15-21PRAYER O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond our understanding: pour into our hearts such love for you, that, loving you above all else, we may obtain your promises that exceed all we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856


The Congregation at work.
I ran out of toilet paper and had to start using old newspapers. Times are rough.

In the foyer of a church, a young boy was looking at a plaque with the names of men and women who had died in various wars. He asked the pastor, “Who are these people?” The pastor said, “Those are members from our church who died in service.” The boy asked, “The early service or the second service?” 
Marsden MissiveOur next Marsden Missive is due out for 01 June 2020. If you have any news or information to go in the Missive, then please contact Rev. John. The Missive gives us news and information for the coming three months.
Limited Effect of Easing of RestrictionsAlthough restrictions due to Covid-19 are being eased Synod has issued us the following instruction:  with the safety and well-being of our community in mind, the consensus decision of Synod was that we should not be meeting in person for services of worship or face to face meeting in our churches. It is anticipated that the effects of COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives for the foreseeable future. Our commitment to supporting the safety and well-being of people must remain our priority. Reopening our buildings and resuming gatherings prematurely, even with the practice of social distancing, could unfairly force the choice between personal health and the desire to re-join the beloved congregation. Until we hear from Synod further, our worship at Marsden Road will continue by Zoom and the other forms outlined in Church Services.
CONTACTSMinister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:                        margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com
Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com
EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AIDDid you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Tree of Life

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - May 14, 2020 - 11:57pm

One of the things that I notice when arriving in a new part of the world to live has been the emphasis on things rural. I am not sure why but think it might reflect my upbringing. Often this has reminded me of the importance of trees in our life. Where I come from in New Zealand we tend to sadly, take our magnificent trees for granted but since arriving in Australia I have been made aware of how important they are in our lives.
It also reminded me of a time many years ago when I had to take down a tree as a task in Bob a Job for scouts. The person didn’t tell me why the tree needed to be cut down, I was just told to get it out of the way. The tree looked fine to me, full of leafy branches, a huge trunk, and standing straight and tall. But when I started the cuts to take it down, I found that the inside was decayed. It was all rotted away. The inside of the tree was hollow.
The tree looked fine from the outside but was dead inside.

The same thing happens with us, with humanity, as well. We may look fine on the outside, but without the Holy Spirit living within, we are hollow, we’re dead inside. Jesus is telling his disciples in this week’s scripture for John 14 that he is leaving but God will give them an Advocate a Counsellor (the Holy Spirit) that will abide with them and will be in them. In this way, they won’t be “hollow” or dead inside. Trees are used quite often in the Bible. The term “tree of life” appears in Genesis 2:9 and in Revelation 22:14. In between the Bible refers to “tree” or “trees” many times, in ways both practical and spiritual.
Some practical ways are readily apparent - well for those of us of mature years – the wooden chair where we sat at a wooden desk to write with a wooden pencil on paper made from wood fibres or the buildings where we lived and worshiped, just to name a few.  But trees not only serve to meet the utilitarian needs of people, but also serve as metaphors for spiritual growth and responsibility, as well. One example is the giving of one’s life for others. The tree is cut down and made into shelter, fuel, etc. This is a metaphor for the sacrificial ministry of Jesus. A second example is in the living tree providing shade, shelter, and food during a long lifetime.
I think the “tree of life” mentioned in Gen. 2:9 refers to Jesus in many ways. The tree of life was said to be centrally located in the Garden of Eden, readily accessible. Likewise, Jesus is centrally located in both His earthly and His heavenly garden. Another way is that trees are often planted as windbreaks, shelterbelts, and buffer strips along rivers and streams. Psalm 91:1-2 says, “You who live in the shelter of the “Most High,” who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress…”. We are sheltered by the “tree of life”.  A third way (and my favourite) is the type of work trees do to provide us with life. The work of photosynthesis. Trees and other plants take carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to produce sugars that are converted into leaves, stems, and roots. In this process, they give off oxygen. Trees take the carbon dioxide we breathe out and return to us life-giving oxygen.

Jesus, as the “tree of life” has taken our “carbon dioxide”, our sins and “converted” it into life-giving oxygen. In keeping with our theme of trees and the tree of life, I’d like to tell you a story.
Jesus was born in a manger (built from a tree), preached in a boat (built from a tree), and died on a cross (built from a tree). I refer you to a legend/story “The Legend of the Three Trees as a helpful exposition of how trees can help our understanding of our faith and relationship with Jesus. Jesus, as the Great Carpenter, knows what needs repairing in our lives. He looks past the outward appearance and looks on our hearts. He can fill up our emptiness with an Advocate who will be with us forever. Jesus will give us the life-giving oxygen (the Holy Spirit) to live within us, so we won’t be like a hollow, decaying tree. And because of all this, we can be as alive on the inside as we appear on the outside.







Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"How Great Thou Art"

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - May 14, 2020 - 2:27am

When I sat down at my computer to reflect on the Rev. John’s Sunday online church service I clicked on a Youtube link for the first hymn “Tell out my Soul” which was written by Rev. Timothy Dudley-Smith who has been writing hymn texts for more than 50 years, and still writes 6 or 8 new hymns each year. He has written over 430 published hymns and this is one of his hymns of adoration which always stirs me.  As I listened, my mind immediately turned to the expressive impact of hymns as part of Worship that has always been for me important as a source of prayer, deep thought, comfort, assurance and delight.   Church was always an important part of my family life and upbringing as the daughter of an Anglican minister and his wife.  My parents met as children at Sunday school and church and my father’s “call” to the ministry came during the singing of the wonderful hymn; “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” when a visiting evangelical minister made a call for people to come forward and give their life to God.  So consequently, for me there was no amazing moment that I can recall when God became the cornerstone of my life – and this has sometimes been a cause of reflection about religion as sometimes an “accident of birth” versus religion as a matter of choice. 
I have often found the stories of some of the writers of our amazing and inspirational hymns to be some of the best life lessons when looking for the “meaning of life.”
My father’s ministry was diverse and his “parishioners” during my childhood and youth were struggling farming families during his time as a Bush Church Aid Chaplain when I was born in Victoria - and then as an army and navy chaplain until I was an adult.   Although this meant that the people attending his service were sometimes reluctant and less than receptive worshippers; my father and other chaplains saw their wartime and service life as being “Full of opportunities for a Chaplain”.



In December 1943 my father joined with a fellow chaplain with whom he had shared his ordination service 10 years earlier and in his letter home he wrote; “Tonight Bill and I combined in taking a service with an Infantry Battalion in an open clearing in the jungle (New Guinea).  The troops were drawn up on two sides and the officers on the third side with the chaplains on the fourth side of the square. The service concluded just as dusk was falling, with the singing of “Abide with Me”.  This time 10 years ago we were in a retreat together in preparation for our ordination.  It is a far cry from then to the jungle and from those days of peace to these days of war.  You never know what lies ahead and we did not dream in our wildest moments that we would even be chaplains in the army on active service in times of war and that 10 years hence we would be combining for a service in the heart of the jungle and with men who have been in action on the front line.”
The piano in our home was not played often, but my father would sometimes sit down for a while on Sunday evenings and play “by ear” from his small repertoire of hymns.  Even today I can never hear “The day though gavest Lord is ended” or “Abide with me” without returning in my heart to those far off days and feeling myself standing by my father and looking over his shoulder as we sang those hymns together. “Abide with me” is for me a hymn of hope and supplication, while “The day though gavest Lord is ended”, is more about hope, thankfulness and benediction.
If you have time on your hands for reflection you may spend many happy hours wandering through the pages of the website https://hymnary.org/where you can learn all about the hymns and their writers and the important place they play in our Worship and become part of our life and our understanding of God’s love and our opportunities to share that love.. 
My favourite hymn of all is, “How Great Thou Art” and one memorable day in Norway I turned to my husband and began to softly sing the words of this wonderful inspiring hymn and said; “Surely those words were written by someone who had stood on a mountain peak in Norway!”  Perhaps I was close to the truth; because Carl Gustav Boberg (16 August 1859 – 7 January 1940) was a Swedish poet, best known for writing the Swedish language poem of "O Store Gud" (O great God)from which the English language hymn "How Great Thou Art" is derived.  The hymn of adoration we sing today was translated from the Swedish poem in 1949 by Stuart K. Hine who was born in 1899 in Great Britain. He and his wife were missionaries in the Western Ukraine of Russia, where they evangelized as Christian workers and singers.  In 1931, Stuart and his wife returned to Britain and conducted gospel campaigns throughout Great Britain.
“O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonderConsider all the works Thy hands have made,……………When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee,How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”
That memorable day in 1982 we had travelled by tour bus through wild and spectacular countryside on a road that constantly turned back on itself in a series of sharp hair-pin bends; a journey not for the faint-hearted.   In the region known as Jotunheimen, or “Home of the Giants” we made our way to the top of Mount Dalsnibba where we were met by a fierce, cold inhospitable wind and a view to take our breath away.  We felt like we were in heaven with the world at our feet.
Then we moved on in the bus to the next vantage point and from there we could look across at Mount Dalsnibba and down into the little town of Geiranger nestling near its beautiful Fjord.  We were standing in the clouds and for a few magical moments we had a clear view of the fjord below with two luxurious ships at anchor.  Suddenly a white blanket of cloud made it all disappear like the theatrical magic of Brigadoon vanishing in the mists of time.


When we reached our hotel in Geiranger we set off for a walk in drizzly rain following a very steep road to a beautiful little church perched precariously on a ledge overlooking the fjord.  Through the little churchyard we went, and out the gate, before clamouring down the slopes and tracks to the path that followed the edge of the fjord.   It was no longer raining and we walked for at least an hour enjoying the grandeur of the snow-capped mountains with countless waterfalls rushing down to the fjord that had been formed during the ice-age when the valleys were scraped out by the ice and the sea came in.  The waterfalls thundered and foamed over rocks and bushes until they tumbled into the fjord that was so deep and so still they were stopped in their tracks and created hardly a ripple.
Following along the path we experienced a peace and beauty impossible to describe in words; it was felt as much as it was seen; then suddenly the silence was shattered by the siren of one of the ships as it slipped out of the fjord towards the open sea.  Soon it was joined by the other ship that almost mysteriously vanished as we walked around a bend on our way back to the hotel.
We lingered again in the churchyard of the little church that clung to the steep slope and I thought I could find no more beautiful place to be for all eternity.  There were small flowers growing wild among the grass between the gravestones and God’s hand was everywhere.
After dinner we settled down in front of our window at 10.30pm to watch the coming of twilight.  The reflections of the quickly moving clouds changed constantly in the deep still water of the fjord, and last year’s snow glistened on the mountain peaks.  Soon little farm houses and small villages turned on their lights in expectation of a darkness that never really came. 
Across the fjord it looked like a twinkling star was moving back and forth across the mountain between the trees as a lone car climbed the steep road with its dozens of sharp hair-pin bends.  The sky changed ever so slowly from a soft blue to a deeper velvety shade and our eyelids became heavy so we left our twilight scene and went to sleep thinking of both the magnitude and perfect detail of God’s Creation.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Order of Worship 10 May 2020


Sunday 10th May 2020Marsden Road Uniting ChurchCarlingford--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Strange and Peculiar.Sunday 10th May 2020Easter 5 Sunday in the year of Matthew9.30 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 (Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)        Come to Christ, the living cornerstone. Come to rest on the foundation of God’s love. Come to be strengthened and renewed in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people. Once we were alone, but together we are the household of God. Here in this time of worship, and later when we go forth to serve, Christ is our cornerstone, strengthening us for the journey. In our living and in our dying, Christ is our sure foundation, strengthening us along the way.
Hymn 161: Tell out, my soul,                  (Tune – Woodlands)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf3mgRUZkAk
1.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
Tender to me the promise of his word;
In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice
2.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
His mercy sure, from age to age to same;
His holy Name--the Lord, the Mighty One
3.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight
The hungry fed, the humble lifted high
4.  Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
To children's children and for evermore!
Author: Timothy Dudley-Smith (1961)
Tune: WOODLANDS
Opening prayer
Shine your face upon us, O God. Help us see your face inone another and hear your voice in the words that arespoken. Through your grace, make us holy, that we mayoffer spiritual sacrifices that honour and glorify your holyname. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Gracious God prepare us for the difficult road ahead.  Like Stephen, help us be ready to forgive even the most horrendous of sins. Like the psalmist, help us accept your forgiveness and grace. Like newborn infants, help us receive your unconditional love. (A time of silent confession may follow.) With steadfast love, shine your face upon us, that we may know the beauty of your mercy and your grace. In Christ’s beloved name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Whoever believes in Christ will never be shamed, for in Christ we are forgiven and loved.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Together as God’s people, let us shine upon one another with signs of grace and peace.
Peace be with you! And also with you! (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
Announcements
A Word with the Children/Young People
If you are going on a trip, you need to know where you are going and how to go to get there. I have two things with me this morning that you might use to help you to find your way when you are traveling. I have a map and a compass. I'm sure all of you have seen a map, but perhaps some of you have never seen a compass. The map will show you where you want to go, and the compass will point you in the right direction. The compass shows you whether you are going north, south, east, or west.
I heard about a lady who was taking a group of children to a soccer game in another city. She knew the right road to take, but she became confused and turned east instead of west. They had travelled for almost an hour before one of the children told her that they were going the wrong direction.
When we are trying to find your way through the journey of life, we need some help in finding the right way to go, don't we? Each day we face many difficult decisions and it is sometimes hard to know which way to turn. Some people use their feelings to make decisions. They say, "I'm going to do this, because it just feels like the right thing to do." That's no good. Our feelings may change from day to day, and just because we feel good about something doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do.
Some people make choices by what's popular. Have you ever tried to convince your parents to let you do something by saying, "Everybody's doing it"? Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do, does it? Besides, tomorrow everyone might be doing something else.
There is one sure way to know if we are going in the right direction in life—and that is to follow Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." We know where we want to go, we want to go to heaven. And now, we know the way. Jesus is the way. If we follow him, we know we are on the right path and headed in the right direction.
Loving God help us each day as we journey through life to follow Jesus, because we know he is the way, the only way. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Offering Prayer
Through these gifts, proclaim your word of grace. Shine forth through our offerings and our lives, that others may see your face and know your steadfast love. In your love and grace, we pray. Amen.
Hymn 162: Thank you for giving me the morning                  (Tune – Thank You)                                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yiu-1YX1WvE
1.  Thank you, for giving me the morning.
Thank you, for ev’ry day that’s new.
Thank you, that I can know my worries
can be cast on you.
2.  Thank you,
for all my friends and brothers.
Thank you, for all the men that live.
Thank you, for even greatest enemies
I can forgive.
3.  Thank you, for many little sorrows.
Thank you, for ev’ry kindly word.
Thank you, for everywhere your guidance
reaches ev’ry land.
4.  Thank you, I see your Word has meaning.
Thank you, I know your Spirit here.
Thank you, because you love all people,
those both far and near.
5.  Thank you, O Lord, you spoke unto us.
Thank you, that for our words you care.
Thank you, O Lord, you came among us,
bread and wine to share.
6.  Thank you, O Lord,
your love is boundless.
Thank you, that I am full of you.
Thank you, you made me feel so glad
and thankful as I do.
Author: Martin G. Schneider
Tune: THANK YOU (Schneider)
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                               1 Peter 2:2-10         NEB page 949The Gospel Reading:                          John 14:1-14           NEB page 825
Readings: NRSV Translation
1 Peter 2:2-10
2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” 8and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
John 14:1-14
1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ 5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name, you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Preaching of the Word – Strange and Peculiar. – 1 Peter 2:2-10
The scripture lesson for today is a call to a new way of living. It is a call to be a “holy priesthood,” a different people who “long for the pure, spiritual milk.” It is a fitting text as the glow of Easter recedes. It is a reminder that we are called for special work and have been made, by God’s gracious action in Jesus Christ, into a new people. Today’s text culminates in a strong call to the people of faith. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that [we] may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
In older translations of this verse there is an interesting variation on the wording. The King James Version renders the phrase “God’s own people” as “a peculiar people.” While I enjoy the clarity of newer and more modern translations, there is an intriguing meaning in being designated “a peculiar people.”
The word peculiar is not one that we wear easily. Most of us want to be normal and fit in. Who wants to be peculiar? I read somewhere that there is a town in west-central Missouri named Peculiar. I often wonder how it feels for those people born and raised there to say they are from a place called Peculiar. I also in my research found there was a church that was named Strange. Apparently, the name Strange United Methodist Church was and is something of a joke in the local ministers’ association.
Strange and peculiar are terms we would rather apply to people other than ourselves. Yet this is exactly the label the text from the King James Version of our scriptures asks us to wear. When you consider the call of Christ to live as a disciple in today’s world, there may not be a more fitting label. We Christians are strange, and we are peculiar. We love our enemies, we care for the forgotten, and we believe that the last shall be first. There is a new world, an alternative community that rises out of the pages of the New Testament, which you and I inherit.
God offers the church as an alternative community for the world’s redemption. This fellowship operates under a new economics that believes people matter as much as profits. This community has a new vision that sees every life as an image of God. Here, in this fellowship, a dynamic of inclusion thrives in a world that has made exclusion a fine art. That is our call.
Christians are different. We are called to practice the ethic of grace in a world that lives by an ethic of law. We are called to embrace cooperation rather than competition. We are called to live with an awareness of the gracious hand of God and not from a sense that we must have more and more things to be happy. This is true because we long for the “pure, spiritual milk” that Christ offers. This diet makes us a different people, a peculiar, strange people, who dare to seek to live the life of love in a world in love with alienation, competition, and winning.
I heard about a mythical village where disturbing things began to happen. The people of the village were going insane. Slowly, madness was taking over and no one knew the cause. After careful observation, the villagers realized that their insanity was tied to the food they were eating. Something was wrong with their diet and it caused insanity. The village elders gathered to find a solution. In the end they concluded they had little choice but to eat the bad grain and go crazy. It was better to be crazy and alive than sane and dead. So, this is the statement they prepared to share with the people.
But just before the elders were to address the villagers, someone came running from another village with an announcement. A warehouse of good grain had been discovered. People who ate this grain did not go crazy. They remained sane and sound. The only problem was, there was not enough grain for everyone. So, the elders gathered again and considered this news. They decided to appoint a special group from the village whose job would be to eat a different diet of good grain. Then, when all the other villagers had become insane, this group could remind them of what sanity was. Because, the elders knew, if enough people are crazy then crazy can begin to look normal.
Our culture has poisoned itself with a bad diet. Racism, sexism, and militarism have been our food. Consumerism, anxiety, and the speed of everything have become the staples of our diet. We have bought it all, raced it all, tried it all, and gone mad in the process. In our collective insanity, we come to live fearful lives, we come to regard the stranger as an enemy, we come to send our young to die in war, and children are denied health care and access to good water and food. There is no question that this is the way we must live for we have bought into a corporate insanity that says, “This is the way life is.”
Then there is the church, the community that eats a diet of prayer, scripture, and love. This is the different diet that many have not known about, but we do. From this diet we live the peculiar and strange lives that show what the kingdom of God looks like, that demonstrate what servant love is, that claim every life as a precious gift.
The world looks at the church and says, “You’re crazy.” But the church knows better, for it lives a sanity born of love and grace. It points to a new way and invites others to the table where the food of love and redemption is served.
You, Church, are one strange-looking, peculiar-acting community. You are beautiful to behold as you “proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Continue to yearn for the pure, spiritual milk, the special diet of love and grace. By this you show the world a better way, a different way, a way of sanity that is the way of Christ.
Hymn 468: We are your people, Lord, by your grace                 (Tune – Whitfield)
https://vimeo.com/171332675
1.  We are your people,Spirit of grace,you dare to make usto all our neighboursChrist's living voice, hands and face.
2.  Joined in community,treasured and fed,may we discovergifts in each other,willing to lead and be led.
3.  Rich in diversity,help us to livecloser than neighbours,open to strangers,able to clash and forgive.
4.  Glad of tradition,help us to seein all life's changingwhere you are leading,where our best efforts should be.
5.  Give, as we venturejustice and care(peaceful, resisting,waiting or risking)wisdom to know when and where.
6.  Spirit unite us,make us, by grace,willing and ready,Christ's living body,loving the whole human race.
Words © 1975, 1995 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188

Intercessory Prayers      Loving God, we, gathered together, in worship of you, still our hearts in prayer as we focus our minds towardsyour promise of love for us.We pray for ourselves, for this congregation of believers,each at a different stage of life and faith, thriving, struggling, wondering, hoping and trusting.Grant us the grace to meet each person where they are,not where we think they should be.We pray for our communities, for our families, friends, children, parents, neighbours, and enemies, each one your child and our sibling through the love of Christ.Grant us the power to love all others as you love us.We pray for our church and all your communities of faith. In these times of declining numbers as Christianity fights for relevance in many nations around the worldgrant us the wisdom to remember the purpose of your church, not numbers, but salvation in your name.We pray for our world as the planet continues to bear the wounds inflicted upon it by our waste, our arrogance, our inability to see the beauty of your creation.In our constant misuse of the resources given to us,grant us the boldness to see the error of our ways,to act now before it is too late. Amen.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Hymn 581: Happy the home that welcomes you,                   (Tune – Welwyn)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuyFl-ltoEs
    1: Happy the home that welcomes You, Lord Jesus,
Truest of friends, most honoured guest of all,
Where hearts and eyes are bright with joy to greet You,
Your lightest wishes eager to fulfill.
    2: Happy the home where man and wife together
Are of one mind believing in Your love:
Through love and pain, prosperity and hardship,
Through good and evil days Your care they prove.
    3: Happy the home, O loving Friend of children,
Where they are given to You with hands of prayer,
Where at Your feet they early learn to listen
To Your own words and thank You for Your care.                             Translator: Honor Mary Thwaites      Author: Karl Johann Philipp Spitta     Tune: Welwyn
Benediction               As we have been strengthened,         we go forth to strengthen others.         As we have been blessed,        we go forth to bless the world.         As we have been loved,         we go forth to love with compassion and grace.        As we go forth may remembering the nurture of our mothers, the nurture of God through Jesus and his body the Church, may the same God, creator, redeemer and giver of live bless you and keep you. 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 holdyou tight.May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear yourcry.May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give youlife.May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring youHome.
       Robyn Mann (1949 -)         Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 10 May 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - May 7, 2020 - 11:50pm

                          Marsden Road Uniting Church

203 Marsden Road Carlingford

                            Sunday 10th May 2020

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

LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGS Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14PRAYER Ever living God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: give us grace to love one another, to follow in the way of his commandments, and to share his risen life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856


  CHURCH COUNCILwill meet on May 12th via Zoom at 7.30pm. Please have your group’s reports into Ruth or Susan before the meeting. The Zoom for the meeting will open at 7pm.


PRAYER CALENDAROur Prayer Calendar for May is available. We all want to support others in prayer but sometimes don't know how to do that. This calendar guides our daily thinking as we lift up others in their need. It has been sent by Email and some will receive it in their letter boxes. If you still need one, please contact your Elder.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.
 The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people. ~ G. K. Chesterton
CONTACTSMinister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.com  Church Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.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 AIDDid you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.






Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Sometime A Few Years Ago

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - May 7, 2020 - 11:27pm

Sometime a few years ago I was standing in my living room, watching a neighbour cut his lawn. For where we were living at the time it was a typically hot and sunny Saturday afternoon. My attention was drawn to him because I wondered why he wasn't inside watching the cricket or tennis. But there he was, outside, pushing the petrol-powered mower back and forth in endless repetitions, the noise of his lawn mower joining with other mowers from other neighbours in what some people call the "Saturday symphony."
Sometimes when you stand and watch a small drama will unfold - and on this occasion it was a bit like a pantomime for me because I was indoors and too far away to hear any of the words. As my neighbour crisscrossed the lawn, suddenly the door to the house opened and his five-year old son emerged, followed by his wife. She put a small, plastic replica of a mower on the grass so that the son could "help dad" cut the grass. Like father; like son. Very sexist in job allocation but still typical at that time.
Mum returned to the house, and I watched father and son pursue their separate courses, the son "mowing" over grass that the father had already cut. This charming scene continued for a minute or two, and of course, my heart was warmed by the whole thing.
Then something happened that surprised me, but also made the point with an exclamation. The son abruptly stopped mowing, abandoning the mower where it stood in the lawn. He disappeared into the house, and I thought he was through. He'd had enough, or it was too hot, or he realized he wasn't cutting grass anyway, or his five-year old attention span had reached its limit, ... none of my guesses were correct.
After a minute or two, he re-emerged followed by his mother. She was carrying a plastic grocery bags, resourceful woman that she was. She crouched at the plastic mower and tied the bag to the back of the mower where the handles attach to the blade cover. I glanced over to the father again and knew immediately what was occurring. The father's mower included a grass-catching bag. The son could not truly be like his father - it wouldn't quite be right - unless he was like his father in every detail. If his father had a grass catcher, then he needed one too.
Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me, has seen God my parent."
Just five weeks ago we recalled the crucifixion of Jesus and collectively wondered what kind of radical or revolutionary or extremist he must have been in order to get himself executed. He was vilified by the religious and political authorities of Judaism. He was sentenced to death under Roman decree, crucifixion being a uniquely Roman form of state sanctioned execution. What on earth do we law-abiding, tax-paying, church-going citizens have to do with him?
However, in this week's gospel reading from John 14 we are reminded that Jesus is neither renegade nor rogue. Instead, he stands precisely on the same ground with God. This same God has been known down through the centuries as the God who creates, who gives life, who seals covenant, who decrees law, who anoints rulers, and who speaks through prophets. This one, true, living God and Jesus are alike, in every detail. Rather than representing something totally new, unheard-of, or tangential, Jesus speaks that which is consistent, constant, and at the very core of the divine and human encounter. It turns out that the people in authority - local and empire-wide - have strayed. No wonder Jesus was accused of blasphemy.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. God's truth results in a life worth living. Jesus is the way into that truth. He was the way into that truth to people in the first century, just as he is the way into that truth for us. Occupying pew space, even on a regular basis, is no guarantee that we are immune to other "truths" that compete with God's truth. That has been so true over the last months as various beliefs about the Covid-19 Virus have been expounded.
These competing truths possess great attraction. For example, many hold to the truth that if we focus completely on our own life - our business and job, our assets and property - to the exclusion of everything else, we can greatly increase our personal net worth and live in greater comfort and enjoy greater pleasures. It is also true that we can ingratiate ourselves to those who hold the reins of power, and in the name of the "common good" achieve great personal and monetary benefits. Both of these examples are true.
However, God's truth, which has been consistently articulated from the beginning, and is affirmed by Jesus, slices through these competing truths, calling us to a life of fulfillment as its goal, not comfort. The widows and orphans cared for, the prisoners released, the sick visited, the forgotten remembered, the outcasts welcomed in, the workers compensated adequately, the strangers recognized, the foreigners given a home, choosing these activities and others like them, results in a different kind of life. Following a different truth results in a different life. Following God's truth, we behave as God behaves.
In our private lives, our professional lives, and our communal life Jesus is for us the way into the truth of a passionate God who calls us to a life worth living.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Church is not a Building - You are the Church!

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - May 7, 2020 - 10:06am

I have been a bit disorganised in my thinking this week and perhaps there was a little bit of creative avoidance as I pondered the theme of the online service last Sunday.  Experience the Living Christ – Acts 2.42-47The Rev John said; “Give thanks for your church and your place in it. There is no better place to find what you are looking for, which is the touch of the “Master’s” hand in your life. I know because I have experienced it. Thanks be to God for church!” … Ultimately the Christian faith is about living in relationship and community.  The Easter legacy is the church of Jesus Christ”.Instead of my heart hearing the strong messages about “The Good Shepherd” that should have brought quiet assurance, I have been grappling for several days with the whole idea of “the church”.Yet here we all are not able to go to “the building” or even meet with “the community of faith” and every day seems the same – a bit like that old movie “Ground Hog Day”!   It’s enough to stop anyone in their tracks.  With the endless talk of being “locked down”, has been a feeling of loss about many aspects of our old lives - yet being locked out of our churches has been something quite foreign to us in our country where religious freedom is embraced.As the cloud lifted in my mind I began to remember a familiar statement that I really like; “The church is not a building – You are the Church”.   At Marsden Road Church we have used that phrase often in our invitations and letterbox drop material.  These words in the Rev John’s Reflection can turn on a light for us all during these dark days. “Come in, all who are tired and thirsty. The Good Shepherd leads us to grassy meadows and restful waters. Come in, all who are anxious and afraid. The Good Shepherd protects us and leads us through dark valleys. Come in, all who are empty and exhausted. The Good Shepherd fills our lives with goodness and faithful love. Come in, to be refreshed, to rest, and to receive. The Good Shepherd has brought us here.”Whoever would have imagined that almost everything we know would change so much almost overnight and we would be required by law to draw back even from those we love and deny them a hug or even a handshake.  Of course it was important and just plain necessary, yet I found it worrying to stand back and make no contact with the people in the church as we “passed the Peace” that final Sunday in March when we were able to go to “the church”.  I know a young woman who lives alone who rang her sister and asked if she could drop by and hug her family’s dog.  It has been reported that all the animals at the animal shelters have been “snapped up” by people seeking company.  I just pray that these pets will all be loved and cared for when the world changes again and their humans are no longer in need of their love and warmth.In this current climate of sickness and death for many thousands of people around the world there are huge health and financial worries; people are being almost “held in custody” at home or in an hotel room or a nursing home or cruise ship and it can be difficult for us to find our community, peace, joy or hope.   Jobs lost, shops closed, operations cancelled, doctors unable to let patients into their surgery.  At our doctor’s surgery, the doors were locked and we were “told” via gestures to go walk down the driveway and wait.  To our surprise the nurse emerged and there on the driveway we were quickly given our annual flu vaccination and the nurse immediately disappeared inside.  Life is confusing - even the politicians are agreeing with “those on the other side” some of the time!  It seems the world has almost stopped and there is no other news than the corona virus – we see pictures of places like the Spanish Steps in Rome without a single person in sight!  London is deserted along with every other tourist hot spot in the world.  It is hard for our minds to process these sights and accept the awful news that each morning 700 or 800 or more people have died from COVID-19 in some countries in the world, in the short time since we went to sleep last night.However, that sense of community that is the church still shines through and we can see and feel that “The Christian faith is about relationship, it is about love and compassion. In the midst of the comings and goings of our lives, the risen Christ appears, community happens, and the church takes shape.”It has been on my daily walk every afternoon that I have found “the church” as I have encountered much greater numbers of people who want to interact in some small way.  Families are out in huge numbers every day; walking, riding bikes and scooters, walking dogs, laughing, waving to strangers, and enjoying their restricted lives within the new limitations and ever changing rules.Now I have found many new acquaintances and we look out for each other and say “Hello, how are you today?”  The Dalmar Heritage Drive is such a wonderful place to walk with the huge 92 year old trees lining the driveway like sentinels as they provide dappled shade and a safe place for children to ride and play.  About 18 years ago I interviewed a lovely lady who was taken to live at Dalmar Childrens’ Home in July 1928 and she told me that when she and her mother arrived, Hazelwood’s Nursery people and some of the Dalmar boys were planting those “tiny trees” along the Driveway. The Dalmar Heritage Drive runs into a circular area in front of the original Dalmar Childrens' Home




It is a joy to "walk in the country" each day in 2020 and remember the children who found a good Christian Home there at Dalmar and were made welcome at the Marsden Road Church and Sunday SchoolIn recent weeks, children have been drawing and writing in chalk on the Dalmar drive and in a little lane nearby and one day as I walked I saw a lovely new hopscotch game had been added to the Easter Bunnies, Easter Eggs, Mermaid and writing of encouraging “wise sayings” on the drive and pathways.  Of course I felt I just had to hop along as well as I could and the kids all smiled at the old lady trying her best to jump.  I said “Oh dear! I can’t jump properly any more I am too old” and one dear little boy of around 7 or 8 very sincerely said; “I am really sorry that you cannot jump anymore.” Yesterday I discovered new messages in the lane after the rain had washed away the originals; perhaps my favourite was; “No matter what people tell you words and ideas can change the world.”I just love it as the kids sail past on their bikes and wave and smile.  I have a chance meeting almost every day with an elderly Indian lady who wears beautiful bright flowing saris and talks on her phone as she walks; but she always pauses in her conversation to say hullo as she nods her head and smiles.  People who walk dogs are often ready for a chat about their dog for a moment or two and I sometimes wonder if all the dogs are wondering why they are suddenly being expected to go for a long walk every day.  There is one lady whose dog is usually stopped and refusing to move as I pass and his owner is trying to coax him to move again.  We always laugh as she tells me how many times he has refused to move that day!Grimes Lane that runs between Alan Walker Village & Rayward Lodge


One day as I walked along Grimes Lane, a walkway which runs between the Alan Walker Village and the Raywood Lodge Nursing Home, I saw a heart-breaking sight as I paused to say a little prayer for the people locked inside and restricted in their visits and I noticed an elderly man standing on the highest piece of grass he could find and straining to look through the window as he spoke on this mobile phone.  Inside there was a lady (almost certainly his wife) talking on a telephone and waving to him.  If a large family of Kookaburras in the magnificent tall gum trees on the other side of the lane had not chosen that very moment to join in laughter with other groups in trees in the surrounding areas, I may well have cried.  Instead I hoped that the laughter of the birds had brought comfort to them as it had to me.  I stopped and looked up and looked around and was amazed by the perfection of the blue sky and the height and the groupings of the trees - and then I moved on.I feel that I have been “going to church” on my walk every day and as the Rev John has said; “So just pause and reflect for a moment. Easter has come. The tomb has been emptied. The Lord has appeared to his disciples, and the announcement has gone forth: “He is alive!” Jesus is alive! Where do we find him for ourselves?”  Yes, perhaps sometimes it is harder to find Jesus than usual, but if we listen and encourage each other things will improve in time. As the lovely children wrote on the footpath;”It is the little things that matter” and “No rain no flowers” and “You are so lucky to be YOU”. 
















Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Order of Worship for 03 May 2020


Sunday 03rd May 2020
Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Experience the Living Christ  Sunday 03rd May 2020Easter 4 in the 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)        Sheep move slowly, chew on things repeatedly before digesting them, and stay close to one another. They remember the face and the voice of their shepherd. God invites us to be like sheep: to chew on thongs, to stay closer together, and listen for the voice of our shepherd. God invites us into green pastures to know the love of our Good Shepherd.
Come in, all who are tired and thirsty. The Good Shepherd leads us to grassy meadows and restful waters. Come in, all who are anxious and afraid. The Good Shepherd protects us and leads us through dark valleys. Come in, all who are empty and exhausted. The Good Shepherd fills our lives with goodness and faithful love. Come in, to be refreshed, to rest, and to receive. The Good Shepherd has brought us here.
Hymn 10: The Lord’s my shepherd                 (Tune - Crimond)
https://my.hymnary.org/song/dynamic/53?toolkit=veroviostatic&width=1600Click triangle on lower left of screen to start & has words
Opening prayer
God, Beloved Shepherd, Guardian of our souls, we come to listen for your familiar voice. Call to us above the noise of our lives. Gather us in from our comings and goings. Feed us in the pastures of your love and lead us to abundant life. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Loving Shepherd, you lead us along right paths and give us abundant life. Still, we resist your call. We want to be in control; we wish to determine our own direction. Forgive us when we ignore your voice and turn away. Bring us back into your fold through the gates of your redeeming love.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Even when we stray like sheep, the Good Shepherd finds us and brings us home. Through Christ, we are forgiven.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
God makes peace within us. Let us claim it.
God makes peace between us. Let us share itPeace be with you! And also, with you!
A Word with The Young People –
Theme: The sheep know the shepherd's voice.Object: Look at or have in your mind a picture of a dog
How many of you have a dog? I don't have a dog. I grew up with there always being a family dog around and ours were usually hunting dogs or Labradors. However, my Uncle next door always had a dog to help him with the sheep on their 10-acre Railway Lease in New Zealand. One of those dog's was called Spike he was mainly a Border Collie. When we were not at home, our dogs had their kennels in the back yard, but when we got home, we would go down and unchain them to enable them to exercise, calling their name to stop them barking loudly.
Once released we would call out the dog’s name. When we called his name, Spike would come running. Do you know what would have happened if you had gone out the back and called Spike? Nothing! Spike would not come because he didn't know you and wouldn't recognise your voice.
Sometimes we would call our dogs to take them for a walk. If a stranger had come to the gate and called them, do you think Spike, or our dogs would come to them? No way! A dog knows his master's voice and will only do what his master tells him to do.
Did you know that same thing is true of sheep? Jesus said that sheep know the shepherd's voice and they will follow him. He then went on to say that he is the shepherd and we are his sheep. If Jesus is our master, we will know his voice and will do what he wants us to do. Sometimes, other people will try to get us to do something we should not do. If Jesus is our master, we won't listen to their voice. Sometimes, evil tries to get us to do something that we should not do. If Jesus is our master, we won't listen to that voice of evil.
The shepherd always wants what is best for his sheep. He leads them into green pastures where they have plenty to eat. He leads them to water so that they have plenty to drink. He leads them to the shelter where they will be safe from the storm. Jesus wants what is best for us. He said that he came so that we could have life and have it abundantly. We will, if we listen to his voice and follow him.
Offering Prayer
Holy One we offer these gifts with gratitude for the many ways you care for us. Use these gifts, and our very lives, O God, that all might have life, and have it abundantly. Amen.
Hymn 588: In heavenly love abiding                 (Tune – Penlan)
https://my.hymnary.org/song/dynamic/575?toolkit=veroviostatic&width=1600Click triangle on lower left of screen to start & has words                                       The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                          Acts 2:42-47       NEB page 839The Gospel Reading:                     John 10:1-10      NEB page 820
Readings: From NRSV Translation
Acts 2.42-47
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and theprayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
John 10:1-10
1 ‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Preaching of the Word - Experience the Living Christ – Acts 2.42-47
No one can make the case that the Christian faith is theoretical. It is not a system of thought, a bank of words, or a collection of ideas. Ultimately the Christian faith is about living in relationship and community. The Easter legacy is the church of Jesus Christ. Try as we might to clean up Christianity, this faith of ours always brings us back to the same place—the church. What Jesus leaves on this earth to continue his work is the church. I know people who like the idea of religion, but they don’t want the church. Some people enjoy the warm, pleasant feelings that come from spiritual thinking, but they don’t want the church. Some are excited by the idea of love, but they don’t want the church. Some people certainly want heaven for eternity, but they don’t want the church for today. That is a problem because, like it or not, if we are going to follow Jesus, we are going to be involved in the church. Someone said, “I love Jesus. I just wish he wouldn’t bring his leprous bride every place he goes.” But church and Jesus go together like “love and marriage” or “horse and carriage.”So just pause and reflect for a moment. Easter has come. The tomb has been emptied. The Lord has appeared to his disciples, and the announcement has gone forth: “He is alive!” Jesus is alive! Where do we find him for ourselves? Where do we experience his aliveness in personal ways? The answer is through the fellowship of the redeemed, in the quarters of the church, in the embrace of the manifestation of the body of Christ. What I am saying elevates the church to a status that some may not appreciate. In today’s passage, we get a glimpse of the church in its earliest moments, and it is a beautiful thing to behold. The people are united, everyone is attentive to the teaching of the apostles, no one misses a service or a Bible study, there are enough volunteers for every task, people are giving generously to support the church, and people are lining up to join. If you know your Bible and the story of the church, though, you know this way of life does not last. Soon the church will be dealing with all sorts of unpleasant matters. For example, today’s text is from the second chapter of Acts. By the fifth chapter, people are dropping dead in the church for lying about their financial support. We’re talking about lying about their pledge. Hello! Is this the church? Yes, this is the church, we affirm and believe in. This church is the aftermath of Easter. Do you want to experience the living Christ? Go to the church. Oh, I know there will be frustration. The church likes to “major in the minors,” quarrelling over the most foolish things. I know all this. But I also know that if you want to find Jesus, it will be in his church. I think of my own life. Both my parents didn’t attend, they grew up in the Great depression, often their relationship was angry, and we received much of that anger as children. We lived from day to day in a volatile world of economic uncertainty. We led a life that was different to others including supply of most of our food from the land. We often felt outsiders. Our second home which was rented was owned by Presbyterian Social Services. And then I was sent to Church where I felt welcomed into their fellowship. They made me part of their choir. Some said I was important to them. I had nothing to offer in return, but they did not care about that. They offered a new economics, the economics of grace. All I knew was that I was a young person trying to find their way and these good people put the arms of Jesus around my life and sent me in a new direction of hope and meaning and purpose. Slowly but surely as my life passed, I realised that I had found Jesus, or Jesus had found me, and life had forever changed. The Christian faith is never theory. It is not about religious thinking. The Christian faith is about relationship, it is about love and compassion. In the midst of the comings and goings of our lives, the risen Christ appears, community happens, and the church takes shape. Easter has come, and Easter continues. Easter continues in the imperfect, grace-filled community we call church. Remember this the next time you are tempted to give up on church. If you want to experience Jesus, this is the place and the people, for in spite of their imperfections and idiosyncrasies, the church is where the living Christ lives. Give thanks for your church and your place in it. There is no better place to find what you are looking for, which is the touch of the “Master’s” hand in your life. I know because I have experienced it. Thanks be to God for church!
Hymn 655: O let the Son of God enfold you                 (Tune – Spirit Song)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5pUXm57wMA
O let the Son of God enfold you
With His Spirit and His love
Let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul
O let Him have the things that hold you
And His Spirit like a dove
Will descend upon your life and make you whole
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs

O come and sing this song with gladness
As your hearts are filled with joy
Lift your hands in sweet surrender to His name
O give Him all your tears and sadness
Give Him all your years of pain
And you'll enter into life in Jesus' name
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs
Writer(s): John Wimber Publisher: Vineyard Publishing
Intercessory Prayers  
(This week’s Intercessions come from spillbeans.org.ukwww.facebook.com/spillbeansresources © 2020 Spill the Beans Resource Team)
Lord, in a world when many search for the protection you offer, for a shepherd to welcome them in and to sit by their side, we bring our prayers for others.We pray for those who wonder where their next meal will come from, and we pray for food justice to become a priority in our world.We pray for those who wonder when and if they will ever wake in the morning to peace, and we pray for an end to fighting and for the courageous role of peacekeepers.We pray for those who wonder when they might be paid a fair price for their labours, and we pray for fair trade practises to become the norm. We pray for those who wonder when they might see their family again, and we pray for those working to reunite refugee families.We pray for those who wonder when they might be able to fully support their family, and we pray for wages that are fair and able to support individuals and families.We pray for all those who wonder where their help might come from, and we pray for communities that mirror your love and care.For all looking for the shelter of a shepherd we pray for your presence to be known. Lord for all these people and situations we pray. Amen.      THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn 147: To God be the glory,                    (Tune – To God be the Glory)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-15v9iworAU
1      To God be the glory, great things he has done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life gate that we may go in.
Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro' Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he has done!

2      O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To ev'ry believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus forgiveness receives.
Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro' Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he has done!


3      Great things he has taught us, great things he has done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer and higher and greater will be
our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro' Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he has done!

            Author: Fanny Crosby (1875)
Tune: TO GOD BE THE GLORY (Doane)
Benediction        As you go out into the world practice being sheep…..        and slow down. Chew on things. Stay close together. And listen for the voice of the shepherd calling to you.        And may the Almighty God, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life bless you and keep you safe out in his world through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen        Hymn 778: Shalom to you                  (Tune – Somos del Senor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends. May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom
Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)
Tune: Somos Del Señor
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter 03 May 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - May 1, 2020 - 12:25am

Marsden Road Uniting Church
203 Marsden Road CarlingfordSunday 03rd May 2020Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.


LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGS Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10.
PRAYER God of all power, you called from death our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep: send us as shepherds to rescue the lost, to heal the injured, and to feed one another with understanding; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.                                                             CHURCH SERVICES          Worship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website: http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856

"As a lifelong hypochondriac, watching everyone freak out over coronavirus makes me feel so seen."



Lent Event 2020.The total from our congregation was $895. A big thank you to all who contributed from our congregation.
 CCA is seeking more people who aren’t on the Government self-isolation list to
assist ion delivering meals on wheel. Any volunteer must be under 70 and have no health issues. Phone 9858 3222. CCA Eastwood are still seeking foodstuffs for their clients as the need is continuing to grow. Please ring your Elder for assistance in getting it to CCA or direct.
Living It Out
Jesus says he has come to give you life to the full, while others will try to lessen your life. In order to do this Jesus acts as a gate. Sometimes providing us with safety as if we are in a sheep pen, and at other times Jesus leads the sheep (people) out. They hear his voice and follow him.
Here's an exercise you might like to try take a piece of paper and make a list of when you can look/listen out for Jesus’ voice. It could be anywhere. Perhaps it will be when you are with people like your friends, parents or family and work or school colleagues.  Perhaps it will be a time like in the morning when you get up, during the day as you go about your daily tasks or when you reflect on the day in the evening.

CONTACTSMinister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658.or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook:https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:                        margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com
Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com
You know what they’re saying about 2020. It went viral faster than anyone thought it would.
 What’s the difference between COVID-19 and Romeo and Juliet? One’s the coronavirus and the other is a Verona crisis.
Minister Working from Home

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Shepherd or Thief?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - May 1, 2020 - 12:00am

When we read Luke’s description of the early church, it’s easy to become either nostalgic — “nostalgic — “Those were the good old days ...” or depressed — “What are we doing wrong?” Before falling prey to either reaction, however, it’s worth considering that we now live in a culture that no longer assumes church attendance is either expected or obligatory. That is, people no longer go to church because they feel they should. Instead, they give their time, energy, and resources to those activities and institutions that make a real difference in their lives.
So perhaps we should ask people what they want, what they need, even what they crave from their faith communities. My guess is that the variety of answers we receive will have one thing in common: we want life, real life, a life of meaning and purpose, a life characterised by fulfillment, generosity, and love. This is still probably the most important thing even though we are currently worshipping virtually or apart. Which is exactly what Jesus promises in the Gospel reading from John 10:1-10 today: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”
There are still “thieves and bandits” promising life to our people but failing to deliver. They can set the context for our preaching. In response to the false promise of acceptance—if you become thin or beautiful enough—that animates so many diet fads, the Gospel promises unconditional acceptance. In response to the false promise of escape in the face of hardship that drives many to drugs and alcohol, the church offers a community that shares all in common (Acts 2:44)—including joys and suffering. In response to the false promise that contentment comes by having more stuff, the church reminds us that “the LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 NRSV).
You see, to me the audience craving abundant life has never been larger. So, let’s offer it.
 The quest for good leadership is a universal struggle. Good leaders bring life, peace, and joy. Poor leaders don’t. Some even seek power for no other reason than to control and fleece those under their (lack of) care. Leadership in the world currently, in face of the Covid-19 crisis, does seem to be somewhat lacking. In the Gospel for this week, John presents Jesus as the ultimate leader who loves and brings life to his followers, who, in turn, are called to lead and love those under their care. This is the message of this week’s Gospel reading.
This section does not stand alone. It is part of a much longer discourse and flows out of the preceding narrative. The John 9 story of the Sabbath-healing of the man born blind sets up Jesus’ statement about making the blind see and the sighted blind. In reaction, Jesus is challenged by Pharisees who ask if his words apply to them. His response begins the discourse that continues, uninterrupted, into John 10 — “Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

While this story appears to be part of the sequence beginning in chapter 7 at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, 10:22 seems to indicate that the Shepherd discourse happened a few months later at the Feast of Dedication (or Hanukkah), which commemorated the Maccabean confrontation of true and corrupt leaders (about 160 BC). Since the Ezekiel 34 prophecy about the wicked shepherds of Israel was customarily read at this festival, it makes sense for this to be the setting for the shepherd discourse. But John certainly wants to keep the connection with the blind man in our minds.
In the discourse of John 10, the “blind” religious leaders of the previous chapter are Ezekiel’s wicked shepherds and Jesus’ thieves. Jesus, mixing his metaphors, claims to be the opposite. He is the good shepherd who enters through the gate with the gatekeeper’s permission. He is the gate through which the sheep enter to find safety and protection and go out to find pasture. He has the interests of God’s people at heart, unlike the thieves who “steal, kill, and destroy” the sheep. Bad leaders sacrifice the sheep on the altar of their own greed, power-hunger, or need for control. Jesus sacrifices himself for the sheep that they may find abundant life. It’s a simple test of leadership: who gets sacrificed, the sheep or the shepherd?
Every person is a leader in some sense, and we are all called to be “good shepherds” who lay down our lives for our “sheep.” To the extent that others are sacrificed or damaged by our needs for control, power, or material gain, we are less “shepherd” and more “thief.” But insofar as we lay aside our needs, insofar as we embrace sacrifice so that others don’t have to, we are the good shepherds that Jesus calls us to be. And only in this way can we, and those we lead, find life.



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The sun always shines, even on the darkest of days

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - April 27, 2020 - 1:37pm

Because the Rev John, and others from our Marsden Road Church have been eager and worked hard for everyone to be able to have access to a weekly church service, it is now posted in full on the Marsden Road Website, with cross links to Rev John’s weekly blog and Margaret’s “Reflections on Sunday Morning” blog, but even more importantly there is a “team” of people who email, print, post or personally deliver both the church service and the weekly newsletter to anyone who wants to receive it, in the manner most appropriate to their needs or wishes. 
For some weeks now the Rev John and his wife Wendy have invited people to join them for a “virtual” and safe meeting in their home, via the miracles of modern digital technology.  This works well for those people who have a computer or a device with the right program, a camera and a microphone and who have already felt the need to have embraced a technology that the majority of people today consider to be absolutely necessary. However, those who do not need or choose to become involved in this different way of communicating can remain fully involved in life.  We must be careful to remember that people who have not become too engrossed in the “new” way of communicating online are often more observant and careful when making “real” connections with other people.   Personally, I feel it is well worth stopping often and slowing down to listen, share and communicate in the old ways.
Margaret has asked me to “mind” her blog while she is recovering from her operations and I feel that in the present situation when so much effort has already been put into making the Sunday Service available to everyone, I might share some “Random Reflections” and thoughts provoked by the Sunday service with her followers.
There are many people all over the world at the moment who are struggling to cope with the situations they find themselves having to face each day – who among us would have believed that we would be faced with so much change, sadness and worry when we began to think about the dawn of the year 2020?
We will need all our Faith in God to live by that new “Easter Perspective” the Rev John spoke about on Sunday morning and to “Dare” to “love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter Chapter 1 verse 22).
Yesterday morning I felt the impact of the Call to Worship very strongly as my husband and I joined the Marsden Road Church Service via ZOOM (a new computer program) as we sat in our pyjamas at the computer in our study.   We don’t have a camera or a microphone on our computer so the little screen that appeared with our name to show that we were present was black & blank and we were unable to contribute to the conversation!   I was aware that, although there were about 20 familiar faces rolling across the top of the computer screen, there were many dear people “missing” as the service was about to begin.  It was a wonderfully comforting thought that in other homes and retirement villages around the local suburbs some of those “missing” people were also able to share in the service when they chose to do so. 
As those of us with ZOOM “gathered” there was, as is usual, a bit of friendly chatting before the Rev John called us to begin the service.  While listening to the chatter we became aware of the friendship and phone calls that had been shared among those of is “at church” and those friends not on our screens, yet in our thoughts and prayers during the previous weeks. That was a really good feeling.
Call to Worship
Walking down the road of life, how often do we meet Christ in a stranger? Chances are good we won’t recognize him, even though our hearts may burn within us. Chances are even better he will move on to bless another unless we offer hospitality to our fellow travellers. Walking down the road of life, look for Christ . . . and be prepared to find him in a stranger.
That has always been a concept that I love and value!  Have you ever felt uncomfortable as you walked past a homeless person on the steps of a grand city church; have you wondered was it God sitting on those steps dressed in rags?  Did God wonder why people went inside to look for Him?  Did he wonder why we walked by without stopping to help?
Have you ever felt that God “used” you when you were able to help a lonely or worried person as you passed by?  I believe God sometimes prods us and raises our awareness to step up and engage with a stranger.  Walking down the opposite side of a wide corridor in a hospital I surprised myself when I saw a lady with her head down and looking close to tears and without even consciously thinking, I found myself stopping and gently asking; “Do you need a hug?”  She held out her arms to me and sobbed.  She told me she had just learned that her mother would not be able to recover and was close to death - I knew that God had given me the mission to comfort her before she went out to her car to begin a lonely and sad drive home. 
In many ways the world has been turned upside down by the overwhelming speed of the continuing development of digital technology.  In many ways it has also become an impediment to actual communication which requires stopping to speak and more importantly to listen to all the people we meet “walking down the road of life”.  
As Rev John stressed this morning, “That is, we must put on our new Easter glasses and live “as if” the world has more love than it does, “as if” there is more hope than people are willing to embrace, “as if” the kingdom of God can reign on the earth today.”   Our Easter glasses also give us the holy boldness to ask, “What if?” What if every child had a warm, safe place to sleep? What if there was enough food for every person on this earth? What if we all lived from a sense of abundance rather than scarcity? What if today all the killing of all the wars stopped?”
The sun always shines, even on the darkest of days
I feel that I am truly blessed that I can always “Look for the Silver Linings” and see they are there somewhere, even on the darkest of days.  For me the sun is always shining someplace.  Sometimes I ask myself why I have been so blessed and why I can hang on during a storm and wake the next day ready to go on.  I understand and care deeply for those who are unable to wake each day with a strong feeling of hope for the day.
It doesn’t seem fair when I see the struggles of others and inexplicably; some who struggle the most, appear on the surface to have “golden” lives.  However, we can never really know about the deepest troubles and the struggles, real or envisioned, that plague the minds and lives of other people - even our closest friends and sadly, sometimes family.  Yet, some people seem to have every reason in life to feel ignored or targeted by an unconcerned society, or feel depressed and marginalized by circumstances not of their own making.  The fortunate ones have a mystifying gift, which I can only think of as optimism. Some alternative words for optimism are hopefulness, cheerfulness, sanguinity, confidence, buoyancy and brightness. 
No wonder this gift allows people to go on and find those silver linings and hopefully share them with those whose joys are lost in dark clouds.  



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

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