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Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 7 19 July 2020


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



Can We Stamp Out Darnel? Sunday 19th July 2020Pentecost 7 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am
Gathering God’s People

Acknowledgement of First Peoples
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.  May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship (Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)        While we are waiting, God is waiting with us. God’s promises are both now and yet to come. Wait and see.
We wait with hope,for God’s promises are sure. We wait with patience, for God’s time is a mystery. Come and worship. We will wait upon the Lord together.
Hymn 130: We plough the fields, and scatter                  (Tune – Wir Pflügen)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du-5yPKfSRc

1.  We plough the fields and scatterThe good seed on the land,But it is fed and wateredBy God's almighty hand:He sends the snow in winter,The warmth to swell the grain,The breezes and the sunshine,And soft, refreshing rain.
      All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;            Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,            For all his love.
2.  He only is the makerOf all things near and far;He paints the wayside flower,He lights the evening star;The winds and waves obey him,By him the birds are fed;Much more to us, his children,He gives our daily bread.
      All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;            Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,            For all his love.
3.  We thank thee then, O Father,For all things bright and good,The seed time and the harvest,Our life, our health, our food.Accept the gifts we offerFor all thy love imparts,And what thou most desirest,Our humble, thankful hearts.
       All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;            Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,            For all his love.
Translator: Jane M. CampbellAuthor: Matthias Claudius (1782)
Tune: Wir Pflügen
Opening prayer
     Holy God of mystery and miracles reveal your presence to us, as we gather in worship. Send your Holy Spirit to descend upon us, as angels once descended to Jacob. Raise our thoughts, that we may reflect on your promises and trust with hope in promises yet to come. In your holy name, we pray. Amen
A Prayer of Confession
Patient, loving God, when we are groaning and griping, comfort us and forgive our shortcomings. When we are doubting and afraid, comfort us and reveal your promises to us. Help us trust with hope, and wait with patience, even as you patiently love us with your mercy and your grace. In your loving name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       We have this hope: God’s promises are sure, and Christ’s mercy is ours.All is well. All will be well.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
As God’s beloved children, let us share signs of love and peace with our sisters and brothers in Christ.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
Rose was 9 years old and she was well-behaved - except when she had to tidy her bedroom!  Annabel was also 9 and her behaviour could only be classed as bad - so bad that no one wanted to be her friend.  Annabel didn’t go to the same school as Rose, but she lived only four houses away, and the girls’ mothers often chatted if they saw one another in their gardens or when shopping. 
Annabel’ s mother had an idea - she asked Rose’s mother if Rose could come and play with Annabel in the hope that Rose’s good behaviour would rub off on Annabel.  Guess what happened.  When Rose came home after playing with Annabel - she was just plain naughty.  She kicked the dog, pinched her little brother, pressed her face against the fish tank and made horrible faces at her beloved fish.  She even let the chooks (hens) out, who made a beeline for her mother’s herb garden!   Not like Rose at all.  Her mother couldn’t believe the difference in Rose’s behaviour and told Rose this in no uncertain terms. 
The next day was Sunday and the lesson in Sunday school was based on today’s verses from the gospel about the weeds and the wheat growing together.  Rose listened very carefully and, on the way, home she asked her mum - have I been more like a weed than a rose?  Her mum nodded and said that when she had been like a weed she made everyone cranky and no one - not even her brother or the dog - wanted to be near her - so wouldn’t it be a lot better being Rose again?  Rose nodded and said how her Sunday school teacher had told them how Jesus’ love not only helped them to blossom but also helped them to spread love to others so that they could blossom too. 
And Rose went on to say “That’s what I’m  going to do the next time I see Annabel and if we end up playing nicely that would be just like pulling the weedy parts out of her wouldn’t it.”  Rose’s mum had to agree and gave her a big hug.  “Maybe we could invite Annabel to our place tomorrow after school” she said, as Rose skipped off happily..

You may want to speak about the imagery of the roots of the weeds and the wheat becoming intertwined as they grow together, it is almost as though they are embracing one another.  The more we learn about Jesus, the more we understand how he wants to embrace us with his love and that can happen any time - maybe even here and now through the embrace -  the touch of another person in love and acceptance which definitely helps us become less weed-like.  This would be a good time to pass the peace - taking time for young and older people to share a touch or embrace.

Offering Prayer
God of ancient times and future hope, we bring these gifts to bless your world with hope. Please bless these gifts, that they may be a blessing to others. And bless us with patience and faith, that we may bring hope to a hurting world. Amen.
Hymn 238: Christ is the world’s true light                  (Tune – Darmstadt)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEmon2MxaBg                                    1.  Christ is the world's true light,
its captain of salvation,
the day-star clear and bright,
desire of every nation;
new life, new hope awakes
for all who own his sway:
freedom her bondage breaks,
and night is turned to day.
2.  In Christ all races meet,
their ancient feuds forgetting,
the whole round world complete,
from sunrise to its setting:
when Christ is throned as Lord,
all shall forsake their fear,
to ploughshare beat the sword,
to pruning-hook the spear.
3.  One Lord, in one great name
unite us all who own you;
cast out our pride and shame
that hinder to enthrone you;
the world has waited long,
has travailed long in pain;
to heal its ancient wrong,
come, Prince of Peace, and reign.
Author: G. W. Briggs (1931)Tune: Darmstadt  The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                       Romans 8:12-25                NEB page 878The Gospel Reading:                  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43   NEB page 737 After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings: NRSV Translation
Romans 8:12-25
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. 18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
24 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow, good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28 He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29 But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ 36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
Preaching of the Word: Can We Stamp Out Darnel?
        Have you had any trouble with darnel lately? It seems to me that this inquiry might bring a big question to our mind. What is it? What does it look like? Does it itch? Will "Head and Shoulders" (that dandruff shampoo we hear so much about) get rid of it?
        When we read the Gospel lesson for today, it is difficult for us. Can we put ourselves in the place of the people in Jesus' time? The people of that time were part of an early society, by our standards; it was primarily agricultural. Their concepts of distance and communication were quite different from our own. As an agrarian economy, the output or crops from the farms-wheat in this parable-were critically important. It was not something that you read about in the newspapers and wondered if it would affect the price of bread. The yield from the farms had a clear meaning to the people.
        It was the difference between starving and living. It was the difference between feeding themselves and their families adequately and going hungry. Jesus uses the allegory of the darnel in the wheat. He does it with the full recognition that his audience will understand what he is talking about. He knew how important it was to them.
        Darnel is not in our daily vocabulary. In fact, it was not even listed in two of the bible dictionaries that were consulted in the preparation of this sermon. It is a weed from my understanding. The definition that was finally located was: "several grassy plants." It sounds like something you might have in your lawn or your footy field or your golf course. However, what it translates into is competition for the vital elements that produce wheat, the "staff of life." The people understood that this was a real threat to their livelihood. While we would probably suggest a trip to the chemical shop to get "Roundup" or some other selective darnel-killer, that was not an option in Jesus' time. The reality was that he was painting a picture of a crop failure, reduced yields, and possible starvation.
        It is hard for us to relate to this story in our land-of-plenty. How many times have you gone to the supermarket and found no bread on the shelf? It just does not happen in Australia or in New Zealand the lands where there are "amber waves of grain." We would dismiss any reports we heard of darnel, get in one of our cars, and go to the market to fill our grocery needs. Pretty hard to get our attention with threats of darnel!  So, it seems pretty obvious that Jesus knew his crowd and how to get their attention. Let's join them and try to see what he is saying and how it impacts our lives today, in our time and society. There are many conclusions that we could reach in reading this parable. Some of them are:
        1. There is good and evil in the world.
2. Bad things happen that are beyond our control.
3. Jesus & God are aware of the evil deeds in our life and world.
4. Jesus blames the bad deeds on the evil presence in the world.
5. The farm in this parable is the world.
6. Jesus is the sower.
7. The good seed represents the good people in the kingdom or those in a relationship with Christ.
8. The darnel or evil ones will not be a part of the kingdom nor will they have a relationship with Christ.                 How are we impacted by these observations? Do we believe them? What do they mean in our lives? Am I darnel? Are you darnel? How do we know who is or is not? Or like most who have faith in God through Jesus Christ do we have times when we are darnel and blessed times when we are wheat? How do we do our best to be a part of the Kingdom or to be a part of Jesus' family?
        In the first place, we can’t argue with Jesus or his knowledge. He says that there is good and evil. We have to agree with this old observation that is confirmed with each morning paper. Each of us has scars in our daily lives that seem to be inflicted by others. We would probably agree that many people in our society live beyond the acceptance of the love of Christ. We see that they live without the knowledge, without the reality of the acceptance of the love of Christ. We would not and should not call them darnel! But our observation may be that their lives are damned or at least without the joy of life with Christ. In a world that can be nurtured by the beauty and love that Christ shares, they seem to be weeds, darnel. Rather than sharing and producing for the good of society, they seem to be on a different path or in a different world from many. 
        It seems that is not our concern or within our ability to determine who is and who is not in the Kingdom of God or family of Christ. Each of us has the responsibility to be the good plant, the good producer, and to devote ourselves to the many teachings of Christ. Ours is to accept, reflect, praise, and share the love of Christ, and the good life that he shares with us.
        When we are tempted to judge and separate the good and bad, we need to back off and remember that we are to love our neighbor. Without this love as the focus of our lives, it is likely that we would be considered to be darnel-the weed that Jesus intends to use for bonfires.
        The challenge is for each of us to live our lives as the good grain, the wheat, the staff-of-life. Let us pray for the strength, faith, and concentration to allow us to keep our course and to inspire others to join us. Let us pray that we are enabled to share the good news of Christ. Who knows--we may stamp out the darnel.
Hymn 087: You are before me, Lord you are                 behind                                              (Tune – Highland Cathedral)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVPs_9rNAPo
1.  You are before me, Lord, You are behind.And over me You have spread out Your hand;Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,Too high to grasp, to great to understand.
2.  Then from Your Spirit where, Lord, shall I go;And from Your presence where, Lord, shall I fly?If I ascend to heaven You are there,and still are with me if in hell I lie.
3.  If I should take my flight into the dawn,If I should dwell on ocean's farthest shore,Your mighty hand will rest upon me still,And Your right hand will guard me evermore.
4.  If I should say, "Let darkness cover me,And I shall hide within the veil of night,"Surely the darkness is not dark to You;The night is as the day, the darkness light.
5.  Search me, O God, search me and know my heart;Try me, O God, my mind and spirit try;Keep me from any path that gives You pain,And lead me in the everlasting way.
Author: Ian Pitt-Watson (1973, 1989)Tune: Highland Cathedral
Intercessory Prayers         Empowering God, you gave the church the abiding presence of your Holy Spirit. Look upon your church today and hear our petitions.Holy Spirit, rest upon the church, inspire our witness and service that the whole world may know the love and grace of God. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Holy Spirit, rest upon creation, work healing in wholeness where there is brokenness and knit all life into a glorious tapestry. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Holy Spirit, rest upon the nations and their leaders, grant all of humanity to find unity, peace, and justice. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Holy Spirit, rest upon the broken-hearted, wrap them in the loving arms of your care and lead them to the knowledge of your presence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Holy Spirit, rest upon the sick and the dying, bring healing, comfort and peace at the last. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Holy Spirit, rest upon this congregation, show us how best to use the gifts you have given us for service in the name of Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Holy Spirit, rest upon us who are still on our pilgrimage and unite us into one body with all who have gone before. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.Grant that, gathered and directed by your Spirit, we may confess Christ as Lord and combine our diverse gifts with a singular passion to continue his mission in this world until we join in your eternal praise. 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 626: Lord of creation, to you be all praise                     (Tune – Slane)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLqezg9dWiQ
        Lord of creation, to you be all praise!
Most mighty your working, most wondrous your ways!
Your glory and might are beyond us to tell,
and yet in the heart of the humble you dwell.

Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfill.
Your bondage is freedom, your service is song;
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.

Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind,
rich truth that surpasses man's knowledge to find.
What eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
is taught by your Spirit and shines from your Word.

Lord of all bounty, I give you my heart;
I praise and adore you for all you impart;
your love to inspire me, your counsel to guide,
your presence to cheer me, whatever betide.

Lord of all being, I give you my all;
if ever I disown you, I stumble and fall;
but, sworn in glad service your word to obey,
I walk in your freedom to the end of the way.

            Author: Jack Copley Winslow (1961)
Tune: Slane
Benediction                  May patience pave your path.          May hope comfort your world.          And may love to guide your lives.         Let us share the blessings of Christ’s eternal covenant         and praising God for the Spirit’s call to love and give.    Amen.                                                                             Hymn 778: Shalom to you now                     (Tune – Somos del Senor)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.In all your living and through your loving,Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom.

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


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 19 July 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - July 16, 2020 - 11:41pm


Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford
Sunday 19th July 2020



Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 28:10-19a Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
PRAYER Saving God, in Jesus Christ you opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; 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

Month of Wesley
·         For our mid-year study this year we will be “John Wesley for the 21st Century. The studies will be held through Zoom. They will start 7.00pm July 29th and run until August 26thinclusive. ·         An Email has been sent inviting attendance and those who reply by the 24th of July will be sent the Zoom address for the study. ·         Those who don’t have the books will be sent copies of each Chapter.·         Worship – the preaching and services will reflect the theme of each week’s study starting on 2nd August 2020.As part of our month we will be sharing our favourite Wesley Hymns. Please Email Rev John your favourites or pass them on to your Elder for them to pass them onto Rev John. 



Reflection Pentecost 7
In the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, Jesus may be telling his hearers that their idea of infection or danger is different from his. At one level, he engages the more-than-human and talks about respect for the complexity of eco-systems. At another, he is talking about societal inclusion: the people that many consider unclean or sinful or evil possessed are not to be displaced from God’s field or God’s table. On the contrary, they may be the very ones who season the life of the whole. Life is messy after all and God is in the mess. It is worth noting that the leaven parable offers one of the few occasions in the gospel where God is imaged as female. While we know that God is neither male nor female, most of us have been conditioned to use only male images for God. The parable of the woman kneading dough validates the potential of female experience to reflect the life and activity of God in our world.

CONTACTS

Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658 or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook:https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:                        margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com
Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com
EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AIDDid you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.Those who would prefer to make a financial donation to Community Aid (amounts of $2.00 or more are tax deductible) can be made using their website https://ccas.org.au/ or the form sent out last week.



Return to Face to Face Worship
To fulfil Government requirements, we need to fulfil the relevant checklists for our activities in the Church and be able to fulfil and develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The Government Health Regulations and our Synod agrees, that before we can use the premises, either ourselves or any Hirer then the group or we must have a risk management Safety plan in place.
For any Hirer, the Church Council must agree to their Safety Plan and ensure that it meets all Health Regulation requirements. This the same procedure is used for any business or group that is gathering or opening and it is essential that it is in place before any face to face can take place.
For Marsden Road these means that a Safety Plan must be in place and meet the Synod and Government standards before anyone can enter the premises again.  It will be some time before we can worship face to face again. Your Church Council continues to monitor the situation and work out its future safety plan ready to commence face to face worship when it is deemed safe.  We have been reminded that failure to comply with regulations brings heavy penalties and we can see what happens when our vigilance disappears by what has happened in Victoria.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Which do we Feed?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - July 16, 2020 - 11:22pm

In a classic strip of the famed “Peanuts” newspaper cartoon, Lucy explains to her little brother Linus about the existence of good and evil. She tells him that he, like others, have inside these two forces. Linus looks at his stomach with a distressed look on his face and declares, “I can feel them in there fighting.” Humorous, but true.
In this week’s gospel reading from St Matthew 13, we find Jesus telling a parable that uses a similar image – good wheat and evil weeds, fighting it out in a farmer’s field. It’s also the same story in whatever newspaper or On-line News any of us read this morning – good and evil fighting it out in the world. There is a force at every level of existence that works against what is good and what is God. There is a force that seeks to destroy the loving nature of creation.
There is a force that exerts every effort to suck the lifeblood out of everything that promotes prosperity and health and hope and peace and joy. Throughout the ages, the faithful have personified this sinister force by many names: Satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, or “the evil one.” By whatever designation we choose, its intent, its nature, is to un-make what God has created and to deface, distort, and destroy whatever good it may latch onto, as it eats away at it with parasitic intensity.
So, the parable from this week’s scripture, Jesus gives us an illustration of the power of the evil force that can invade every aspect of life. Jesus says simply that the weeds came from an enemy, the devil, the evil one. “An enemy of God” is as good an answer as we will ever find for the source of that which works against God.
Though we Christians and many others in the rest of the world renounce the evil that the weeds represent, we also recognise something else in our lives. We see that our lives, like the field in the parable, grow with evil intertwined among the grace, love, and godly obedience that we promise to trust and employ in our Christian living. And we know from experience that no matter how intent we are to follow our vows, none of us will ever totally avoid the corrupting influences and tempting thoughts that lead us to go against the values of God.
Maybe that’s what makes so many of us anxious to do something, anything, about perceived forms of evil in our close communities and in the wider world. Seeing with what we assume is a crystal-clear view of what is good and what is evil, we move ahead, absolutely certain that we are right and just in eradicating what seems obviously ungodly.
But history shows how often this is folly. Any number of “witch hunts” reveal that they were more about making the hunters feel secure than actually doing something about evil. Still, we often have a strong urge, when threatened and fearful, to find something to cut out, weed out, push down, crush, or otherwise stop and destroy. Should we not admit that this kind of behaviour often simply functions as an escape from a more complex reality? This truth is hard to accept, as we find Jesus telling us something we really don’t want to hear. Jesus suggests we wait to let the nature of the godly prosper and prevail in due course. Profoundly, Jesus is leading us to cease chasing after the bad, and rather concentrate on the good.
So, we are left, finally, with a teaching that we would do best by paying less attention to the weeds – the evil in life – and simply staying away from it. Better for us to spend more time tending the wheat – the good in life – fostering its growth and putting it to use as Jesus would have us do, following the values of God’s Kingdom.
Like Linus of the Peanuts cartoon, we certainly recognize in ourselves and in the complex workings of the world in which we live the conflict that Linus experienced as a fist fight in his gut. Yet in the unlikely teaching of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus leaves us with a counterintuitive approach to dealing with this anxiety. What it means to respond in this way to any evil. In the conventional wisdom of the world, the teaching of this parable seems crazy and impossible.
Yet we know that it is possible from studying the leadership of those like Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, who chose not to tear at the weeds, but to nurture the wheat. They learned what they practiced from our Christ. Jesus reminds us, too, that those who choose to use the sword ultimately die by the sword. Indeed, at the decisive moment of his ministry, Jesus left the ultimate exclamation point on the meaning of today’s parable.
Dying on the cross, he did not seek to destroy his enemies who sowed the lethal seeds that choked out his life. Rather, he forgave them. He looked to God to sort it out in the end. And we can – in the best moments of living this life, faithfully look to the end of the passion story – discover that the power of the Resurrection which proves the truth of the parable of the wheat and weeds. In so doing, we will recommit ourselves to leaving the weeds to God. In so doing, we will, in ourselves and in the world around us, turn all our hearts and souls to nurturing the wheat that God has given us.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Responsibility of Hearing

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - July 16, 2020 - 8:52am

The Rev. John called his Reflection/Sermon on Sunday 12th July, “The Responsibility of Hearing” and this seems to be a good way of looking at and interpreting the parables from the Bible and their relevance in the 21stCentury; which may offer different paths of understanding to the culture and lives of the original hearers of these lessons presented by Jesus in the 1stCentury.  After giving a brief summary of the Parable of the Sower, the Rev. John said; “Not all of the seed fell on poor soil or poorly prepared ground. Some fell on good ground and brought forth fruit.  In comparing this kind of soil to the hearer, Jesus says it is a person who hears the word, understands, and responds to that same word.  Most of us hear, but it is important that we understand and respond in both word and action also.  How important it is for each of us to know our own hearts and our response to the gospel of Jesus?”
For those of us of a mature age, perhaps there is sometimes a sigh of resignation when we realise that the theme of the day for our church service is one of the well-known parables from the Bible that we have been hearing since we first listened to them with the wonder of a “Once upon a time” story in Sunday School.
Since that time we have probably heard dozens of interpretations of each parable at different stages of our life and I suggest that our reactions may have changed with our understanding as a child, a teenager, a young adult, a parent or a more mature person.  Who among us could not, as a child and a young person, see why the younger brother of the Prodigal son was a bit miffed about the fuss and the welcome given to his returning brother?  Then as a parent, I must admit that I could see that the father might have made things easier for his younger son if he had included him in the whole situation and encouraged his participation in the planning and the execution of the festivities. 
In my life experience, I have found that a good teacher does not ram facts down your throat, but presents the learner with the “tools” to listen, understand, interpret and research how the information presented can help them to embrace the “big picture” and discover the truth for themselves.   As a teacher, Jesus was surely telling his stories to allow involvement and questioning among his listeners and perhaps there were questions and discussions among the people who flocked to hear these “lessons”. 
In relation to The Parable of the Sower - or as the Rev. John suggested it could be called - the Parable of the soils; “It is the reaction of the soils and of the hearers, that makes the difference. He said; “This is the important part of the parable. The sower must possess the seed which is clearly the word of God … We need to first experience the truth of the gospel in our own lives before we can share it with others.”
I read an observation made by  M. – J. Lagrange, who was an early 20th Century scholar of the New Testament, in which he explained that “the parable” is not always clear, because “The purpose of a parable is to strike the imagination, to pique the curiosity, to make the listener reflect and work to arrive at the meaning, but only so that the lesson will be more deeply engraved on the mind.”  I like this idea because we need to have a way of looking into the stories and finding that 21stCentury relevance we are seeking.  Perhaps this is why I sometimes like to look at the possible meanings of any of the parables from a different point of view. 
In my reflections on the Parable of the Sower I have come to sometimes random conclusions like; It is perhaps part of God’s great plan that the birds who swoop down and eat the seed that the sower has carelessly cast on paths or the hard ground that will not sustain growth are really in need of that seed to survive. Just last week I was overcome with joy when a small group of sparrows swooped down onto the path I was walking.  They trusted me and landed to retrieve some food from the debris broken off the trees by the wind.  I can’t remember when I last locally encountered sparrows or blue wrens, although they were here in abundance 40 years ago.  Surely God would be as thrilled as I was to know that his birds that are struggling could find some food.
So if as it is implied in Jesus' story, the Word of God is the seed, and we are the soil, doesn’t that mean that those people who may have been carelessly planted among rocks or weeds may need our help to hear God’s word, or to live a life that reflects God’s Love.  In our lives we have seen and heard of many wonderful stories and miracles that have brought Faith and Trust and new life to people who may have been on the wrong road with the wrong kind of friends who may have been harmful weeds or thorns. 
I had an uncle who was a Policeman in the area where my brothers and I grew up and one day he came to my father and said; “You should stop your boys from keeping company with (let’s call him) “Fred” because he has been seen in the company of known trouble-makers.”  Although Fred may not have been the first choice as a friend for his sons, my father told them to be careful; but he told his brother that he was pleased that his sons could recognise the good in Fred  -  and he said that he thought his boys could have a very positive influence on  Fred’s life.  Fred’s father had died as a soldier in WW11 and the good people of Legacy and others were trying to help his widow - and set his daughter and young son on the right path.  My brothers ignored the dubious “new” friends that had come into Fred’s life as he left school at 15 and took a job in the Homebush Abattoirs.  A combination of too much money for piece work with an adult wage, together with a 3.00 pm finish to his working day probably contributed to his falling in with the wrong crowd. 
My brothers continued their friendship with Fred who was often to be found sitting around our house and sharing family life with other “safe” friends.  After my younger brother died a few years ago, another friend told me that he believed that Fred had benefited greatly from having a stable and loyal friend like my brother.  Tragically, when Fred was 19 he was killed in a motor cycle accident – I have always been glad that he had been part of our family and protected from “the thorns” of life by my brothers and their friends. 
I can’t help seeing all gardens as places of hope - I feel we must always look for tiny “plants” and “people at risk” and I thank God for all the wonderful people who spend their lives improving the soil in the lives of those who have problems in their way.  
  
Last week I sat on our back steps in the warm winter sunshine and looked around at the blue cloudless sky.  I saw the elegant bare branches of the peach blossom trees with their promise of spring buds beginning to swell; ready to burst into September flowers of exquisite beauty. 


 The mighty jacaranda tree with slightly yellowing leaves was giving an early sign of the time in November when the almost bare silver branches will be laden with purple flowers that will begin to fall gently and lay down a purple carpet beneath the tree canopy and beyond. 








And the Lorikeets will return to enjoy the abundance of flowers on the Grevillia in the rockery during the summer months.  We certainly need to look forward in hope as 2020 continues on its dreary and worrying way!  

As I looked around, I knew that the grass really needed to be mowed, but that must now wait until spring delivers the riot of wild freesias which will spread their joy throughout our back yard. Yes – those freesias really know how to bloom where they were planted over many years by the vagaries of the wind.
It is wonderful to share with you the news that Margaret is finally home from hospital and rehab and she sounded so much better and brighter when I spoke to her yesterday.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"Come unto me - the Comfortable Words"

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - July 10, 2020 - 1:24pm


I know that it is usually recommended to; “Start at the very beginning.”  However, the end of the Rev. John’s sermon on Sunday 5th July offered such a succinct support of his theme; “Come to me” that I feel I should quote his conclusion before trying to express my thoughts and feelings.  As I have said before; I am by no means a student of Theology; and the Bible passage Matthew 11: 25-30 seems to have been vigorously discussed, investigated and speculated upon by theologians through centuries of different translations and philosophies.  
The Rev. John said; “The Comfortable Words, ‘Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you,’ remind us that God's incomparable, compassionate forgiveness is a gift that releases us into life with God as responsible human beings who want to grow deeper in love and joyful obedience. After all, we are called not only to find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves but also to live the kind of lives through which others, too, find God's peace, God's refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God's hands. AMEN.”
Although I do not recall having heard the term “Comfortable Words” as part of my Anglican upbringing, I have always found great comfort in the traditions of the invitation the Rev. John spoke of; "Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith to all that truly turn to him..."  and other often repeated and reassuring routines of church services.  I do miss the regular saying of the “Nicene Creed” which was always a comforting reminder of our Christian beliefs and obligations in my earlier days and as part of the Communion Service in later times.  It seems that these days “The Creed” is usually only repeated as part of a service of baptism (and probably a confirmation service if one was to be held) – while I can see that this is a very important ritual of the baptism to remind us all what we are promising for the life of the child I would still find comfort in its regular inclusion in other services, because this would bring comfort and help the “church family” to remember what is required of them.  Then looking around at their fellow worshipers, they would be reassured that each person is surrounded by the love of God and God’s people.
Without knowing of “Comfort Words” - I do remember a warm and comfortable feeling when being given the assurance; "Come unto me all ye who travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."  I really liked the word travail which has among its synonyms; struggle, effort, toil, exertion and labour. The subtle shades of meaning must be something of a nightmare for translators - and the number of different versions of the Bible must be daunting to serious students of theology. However, the Bible I was given for my Confirmation was the King James Version and although probably not the easiest to unravel and understand, I just loved the sounds of the words – they sounded like poetry to me.  When our first child was born she was given “The Good News Bible” by her grandparents.  The next version that seemed to become favoured was the New English Bible which is still generally used in the Marsden Road Church in 2020. 
My paternal Grandfather was born in 1878 in Goulburn, NSW.  He was the youngest of ten children, six boys and four girls and his mother died at the time of his birth, so he was brought up by his father's recently married sister and her husband.  After his father died, he left school at the age of fourteen and started work as a messenger boy.  By then his foster parents had five children of their own to care for, feed and educate and they were difficult times for families in the inner suburbs of Sydney.
My Grandfather’s Uncle was very strict and insisted that he learn the Collect word perfect each Sunday.  If he could not say it correctly his Uncle administered a "hiding" on Monday because; being a God fearing man, he would not break the Sabbath.  For the punishment his cruel Uncle used a rope soaked in a bucket of salt water and I suspect the good that may have come from learning the Collect may well have been destroyed – and the lesson of the Uncle’s pious respect for the Sabbath also lost. 
Although he attended special church services like the Ordination of his son and perhaps went sometimes to listen to him preach, I do not remember my grandfather attending church until, in his mid 70s, he was confirmed by the Archbishop of Sydney at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in the presence of his family.  This really impressed me as an 11 or 12 year old, but it impresses me more now that I am of a similar age. I hope this indicated my grandfather’s forgiveness of his Uncle’s harsh “religious training”.  It was my Grandfather and Grandmother who willingly gave his Aunt a home for the last years of her life and he always spoke of her with gratitude for her care of him.My Father's Parents in the late 1930s
I was never in any doubt that my grandfather believed in God because he always showed great care and kindness to everyone and went out of his way to help people in gentle thoughtful ways, despite his serious disability acquired at work in September 1933.  During the Great Depression he was working as a wharf labourer and this meant that he had to present himself at the wharves early each morning for "pick up" to obtain work for the day.  During those times the lines of men formed before dawn down “The Hungry Mile” and times were very hard.  My Grandfather was injured while he was down in the hold of a ship when a sling of timber fell on him causing serious injuries that prevented him from ever working again because his spine was fractured and his neck dislocated, leaving him in a precarious condition.  From then on he always wore a heavy leather collar with three buckles at the back of his neck and a metal support under his chin. This accident happened before the days of Workers’ Compensation, yet my gentle grandfather filled his life helping his family, friends and neighbours. Hickson Road - "The Hungry Mile" where wharf labourers lined up for work during the Great DepressionHe died when I was 15 and I still remember him with great fondness for his kindness, his love and his great courage. However, one of the greatest memories of my childhood is the ritual of his special good-bye each time we met.   My Grandfather would take me onto his knee, put his arm around me and look me in the eye and bless me; "May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you health and strength to carry on."  This may have seemed like a strange farewell to a healthy little girl, but over the years the memory has indeed been very comforting.
The Rev. John’s reflections on the “Comfort Words” and my memories of how it felt to be blessed and comforted by being a part of comforting church services - and my beautiful Grandfather, prompt me to say that “the church” ie. The people of “the church” have a huge job to do at this difficult time to comfort those who are lonely and those whose lives have been unexpectedly ‘turned upside down’. 
We must also remember to comfort the comforters and remember that some people who suffer may hide behind their busyness.   

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 6 12 July 2020


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




The Responsibility of Hearing.Sunday 12th July 2020Pentecost 6 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am
Gathering God’s People
Acknowledgement of First Peoples
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.  May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)        Ask the Sower to cast you onto good, fertile soil, that you may bear the fruit of faith and love.
You are the Sower, O God, we are the seed. God’s word is being sown in our lives this day with the promise of new growth. You are the Lover, O God, we are the beloved. God’s love blossoms in our lives with a beauty greater than the lilies of the field. You are the Healer, O God, we are the healed.God’s healing flows through our lives with every beat of our heart. You are the Potter, O God, we are the clay. God’s hand fashions us to shine with the glory of Christ’s light. Come! Let us worship the one who sows us in fields of love.
Hymn 261: Lord, you are the light of life to me                 (Tune – Fairmead)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guaLiGTHDf8
1         Lord, you are the light of life to me;
when darkness hides my path, you help me see.
Shine on me, O Lord, that now and all my days
your light may lead me on, guiding my ways.
2         Lord, you are the rock on which I stand,
stable and strong in you, held by your hand.
Keep me safe, O Lord; in weakness let there be
your loving, firm embrace upholding me.
3         Lord, you are the truth that sets me free;
only in you is found true liberty.
Teach me then, O Lord, in all things to pursue
your good and perfect will, growing like you.
4         Lord, you are the Lamb of God who died,
suffering for love of me, scorned, crucified.
Love me still, O Lord; let others daily see
your selfless, serving love flowing through me.
5         Lord, you are the King who ever reigns.
Earth's rulers rise and fall: your throne remains.
Rule my life, O Lord; I yield myself anew
your name to glorify, living for you.
Brian R Hoare (born 1935)
© Brian Hoare/Jubilate Hymns Ltd
9 10 11 10

Opening prayer
Great Sower, cast us like seeds upon the winds of yourmercy, that we may grow in fertile ground. Keep our livesfrom stony pathways, where the heat of life’s cares andstrife strips our strength and vitality. Protect us fromthorny gullies, where the snares of life’s worries and fearsblock the sunshine of your Spirit. Land us safely in rich soil, Master Gardener, and bless us with the kiss of gentle rain, that our faith may increase, and our joy may be complete. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Caretaker of our souls, we yearn to resist the allures of status and prestige, for we often pierce ourselves with wounds of our own making. We long to bloom where we are planted, that righteousness and peace might flower in our lives. Free us of the fear of appearing foolish before others, as we seek new growth in your Spirit. Nurture us with your grace and mercy, that we might blossom and bloom as followers of Christ. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Those who abide in the Spirit are set free. Those who reside in Christ find no condemnation. Rejoice that we have been planted in the fertile ground of God’s love and mercy.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
The Sower has planted us in the fertile ground of this church. Let us express our gratitude for the love that grows within our fellowship by offering one another signs of Christ’s 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
Theme: Growth depends upon where the seed is planted.Object: Several packages of seeds.
Have you ever planted anything? Perhaps you took some packages of seeds and planted a garden of vegetables. If so, you know that the type of soil that you have is very important to the success of a garden. If the ground is too hard, or full of rocks and weeds, you probably won't have a very good crop of vegetables.
In our Bible lesson today, Jesus told a story about a man who went out and planted some seeds. This story that Jesus told is usually called "The Parable of the Sower," but actually, the story is more about the soil than it is the sower or the seed. Some of the seed that was planted fell on the path where the ground was very hard. The seeds just lay on top of the ground and the birds came and ate the seeds.
Some of the seed fell on rocky ground. The seeds sprang up quickly, but when the sun came, the plants dried up because they didn't have good roots. Some of the seeds fell among weeds and plants grew for a little while, but the weeds took over and choked them out. Fortunately, some of the seed fell on good soil and the plants grew strong and healthy and produced a good crop.
In Jesus' story, the Word of God is the seed, and we are the soil. Often, when we come to church, the preacher is preaching the Word, but we aren't really paying attention. Perhaps we are thinking about what we are going to do that afternoon or about what we did yesterday. We are hearing the Word, but we are not listening. That is like throwing seed on the top of the ground. It won't ever grow into anything in our life.
There are other times when we hear the Word and we get excited about it, but then our excitement fades and we drift away. That is like the seeds that fall on the rocky ground. The plants spring up, but then die because the roots are too shallow.
Sometimes we hear the Word and we believe what it says, but we want to keep on doing the same things we have been doing. That is like planting the seed in with a bunch of weeds. I can tell you what will happen, the weeds will soon take over!
When we hear the word, and we listen and try to understand what it says and put it into practice in our daily life, then we are like good soil. We are like soil where the seed takes root and grows and produces a plentiful harvest. That is the kind of soil that Jesus wants us to be. What kind of soil are you?
Dear Jesus, we want to be like the good soil. Help us to listen to God's Word and put it into practice in our daily life. In your name we pray. Amen.
Offering Prayer
Master Gardener, as you have sown our lives in a rich and fertile soil, may we bear much fruit through our giving. With these offerings, may your realm be brought to earth, as we plant seeds of hope in the fields of life. Bless our gifts and our ministry, that the world may reap a harvest of generosity and love. Amen.
Hymn 607: Make me a channel of your peace                  (Tune – Channel of Peace)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT8bybL_DqY
Make me a channel of your peace.Where there is hatred let me bring your love;Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;And where there's doubt true faith in you.
Oh, Master grant that I may never seekSo much to be consoled as to console;To be understood as to understand;To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace.Where there's despair in life let me bring hope;Where there is darkness, only light;And where there's sadness, ever joy.
Oh, Master grant that I may never seekSo much to be consoled as to console;To be understood as to understand;To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace.It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;In giving to all men that we receive;And in dying that we're born to eternal life.
Oh, Master grant that I may never seekSo much to be consoled as to console;To be understood as to understand;To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Author (attributed to): St. Francis of AssisiAdapter: Sebastian Temple
Tune: [Make me a channel of your peace]                                   
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                       Romans 8:1-11               NEB page 878The Gospel Reading:                  Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23       NEB page 736After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings: NRSV Translation
Romans 8:1-11
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!’ 18 ‘Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
Preaching of the Word: The Responsibility of Hearing.
        We commonly call this the parable of the sower, but it is more accurately described as the parable of the soils. It is the reaction of the soils, of the hearers, that makes the difference. This is the important part of the parable. The sower must possess the seed. There is no point in our being concerned for a messed-up world characterized by crime, starvation, illicit sex, drug addiction and the rest, if we ourselves are part of the problem. We need to first experience the truth of the gospel in our own lives before we can share it with others.
        A sower needs to be skilful and know something of ground composition and soil preparation. We need to be aware of the laws of growth and patiently wait for results. All too often in our enthusiasm we are inclined to become overbearing. We can get into jamming religion down the throats of others and turn the very people we desire to win away. Nor is it enough to simply to have                    know-how and be attentive to our work. We need faith and trust. The farmer needs to be willing to spend money long before being sure of a return.
        Naturally the task of the sower cannot be overlooked. None of us can give eternal life nor can we make it grow & develop. That is God's prerogative - God's work. God alone gives the increase. What the sower sows is equally significant and that is the seed. When he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside. In explaining the parable to his disciples, Jesus left little doubt as to what he meant by the seed. The seed is clearly the word of God.
        There are many today who are not sowing the seed of the living word. You can tell the kind of seed by the kind of fruit that is brought forth. Look around you. How much evidence is there in many of our churches today of transformed lives? As I have said, before, we are all ministers; how are we showing in our lives and through our words and actions the word of God? Are we showing change to our lives that are tarnished by sin? Are we living out the promises that were made at our Baptism?
        Jesus pointed out that it was really the condition of the soil that determined the harvest of the grain. Some seed fell by the wayside, on the well-trod path that led through the fields. Through constant usage the ground had become packed and hard. The seed had no chance to take root and grow. Soon the wind came and blew it away, or the birds swooped down and devoured it.         There are those who have become callous to the message of the gospel. In failing to respond to God's claim upon their lives, their hearts have been hardened and their minds closed.
        Prejudice can blind us to things. Behaviour not of God, can keep us from being objective in evaluating our own lives. Pride, fear of the unknown and change are all factors that harden our hearts. The very pressures of everyday life have a tendency to crowd out any sense of the sacred. There is no one as blind as the person who will not see.
        Other seed fell on rocky ground. Immediately it began to grow as there was a thin layer of soil. But just below the surface a hard ledge of rock kept the roots from digging deep. Soon the hot sun and blustering wind killed the new life. Our churches have many what could be described as superficial Christians in them. In a moment of emotion, they take their stand, but over the long haul, when the going gets rough, they are nowhere to be found. We need to encourage the church to be a place for people whose lives are cluttered by rocks to work at removing those very rocks and not to be a place for them to hide.
        Other seeds fell upon thorny ground. This is the best soil yet, but it is uncleansed. To the eye it looks rich and productive. The seed is sown with every good intention. Only when it begins to grow do we become aware that it will be impossible to harvest. There is no way of separating the thorns from the grain. In due course it to, gets choked out by the uncontrolled weeds of the field.
        Jesus indicated three types of thorns to be wary of: cares of the home and family life, bills and sickness, schooling. All of these are legitimate but can become enemies as they change our priorities despite our best intentions. Riches can trap us and chop off the word. We can go after worldly things such as business, success, pleasure, power and acceptance to such an extent that they keep us from putting God first. The thorn of compromise has ruined many a Christian life.
        Not all of the seed feel on poor soil or poorly prepared ground. Some fell on good ground and brought forth fruit. In comparing this kind of soil to the hearer, Jesus says it is a person who hears the word, understands, and responds to that same word. Most of us hear, but it is important that we understand and respond in both word and action also. How important it is for each of us to know our own hearts our response the gospel of Jesus.
Hymn 187: Let all creation dance                  (Tune - Darwall)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GybOFak_a8
Let all creation dancein energies sublime,as order turns with chance,unfolding space and timefor nature's artin glory grows,and newly showsGod's mind and heart.
Our own amazing earth,with sunlight, cloud and stormsand life's abundant growthin lovely shapes and forms,is made for praise,a fragile whole,and from its soulheaven’s music plays.
God's breath each force unfurls,igniting from a sparkexpanding starry swirls,with whirlpools dense and dark.Though moon and sunseem mindless things,each orbit sings:"Your will be done."
Lift heart and soul and voice:in Christ all praises meetand nature shall rejoiceas all is made complete.In hope be strong.All life befriendand kindly tendcreation's song.
Author: Brian A. Wren (July 1989)Tune: Darwall
Intercessory Prayers         Gracious and loving God, we come to you with hearts that need to be opened to your word and your love. There is so much around us that tears at us and causes us to tremble. Keep us ever mindful of your presence and the hope that you have given us in your Son Jesus Christ.Lord in you mercy: hear our prayer Guide us, we pray, as your church, struggling to spread the good news. Keep us focused on the mission and ministry to which you have called us and lead us forward. We know, Lord, that there will often be bumps and holes in the road along the way. Save us from dwelling on them and make us secure in the goals you have placed before us.Lord in you mercy: hear our prayer Hear our prayers for all who need your tender touch of healing in their lives—those we name before you each day, and those who are known only to you in the depths of our hearts. Be with those who mourn. May we all remember the love and grace that your faithful people have brought to our world.Lord in you mercy: hear our prayerWe pray for all your creation, always at odds with one another. Guide our leaders and those of other nations that this world might truly be as you created it to be—a world of peace, hope and love.Lord in you mercy: hear our prayerThese are our prayers, together with those that lie on the hearts of all your faithful people, which we offer to you in the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ who said “not my will, but yours be done.”Lord in you mercy: hear our prayer
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn 439: What shall we offer our good Lord                     (Tune – Duke Street)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLd04tjvKtw
1      What shall we offer our good Lord,
poor nothings, for his boundless grace?
Fain would we his great name record
and worthily set forth his praise.
2      Great object of our growing love,
to whom our more than all we owe,
open the fountain from above,
and let it our full souls overflow.
3      So shall our lives thy power proclaim,
thy grace for every sinner free,
till all the world shall learn thy name,
shall all stretch out their hands to thee.
4      Open a door which earth and hell
may strive to shut but strive in vain;
let thy word richly in us dwell,
and let our gracious fruit remain.
5      O multiply the sower’s seed!
and fruit we every hour shall bear,
throughout the world thy gospel spread,
thy everlasting truth declare.
             Author: August Gottlieb SpangenbergTranslator: John Wesley
Tune: DUKE STREET
Benediction                God’s word is a lamp to our feet.         Christ’s teachings are a light to our path.         May God’s word take root in our lives.         May Christ’s love nourish us like sunshine and spring rain.        God’s word is a lamp to our feet.         Christ’s teachings are a light to our path.
Hymn 777: May the grace of Christ our Saviour                     (Tune – Waltham)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq25i6PmCl8
1.  May the grace of Christ our Saviourand the Father's boundless love,
with the Holy Spirit's favour,
rest upon us from above.
2.  Thus, may we abide in union
with each other and the Lord,
and possess, in sweet communion,
joys which earth cannot afford.
              Author: John Newton (1779)                   Tune: Waltham



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

What Kind of Farmer?

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - July 9, 2020 - 10:37pm

So, this farmer went out with a bunch of seeds. And he scattered them far and wide. Some fell on the road, so the Emus ate them. Some fell on the red rock; those seeds sprouted quickly, but their roots didn’t go very deep. They withered and died in the blazing sun, and the remains were trampled by foxes. Some fell in the dry and thorny weeds; those seeds never had a chance. And some of those seeds fell on rich, fertile soil and grew forth abundant harvest.
That farmer must have lived in Victorian Desert. Many of us learned some version of this story when we were very small. As one of the Elders said, “It’s so rich and visual, you can just see the flannel board.” Even if you didn’t grow up in a faith community, you’ve probably heard a secular translation. These images can be easily applied to academics, business, family life, investment— any of which a preacher could incorporate for a particular context.
But for you Christians now, go back in time for a minute. You’re five years old, and your Sunday school teacher says, “Now, children, which kind of soil do you want to be?” The answer is clear . . . the good soil. (“Jesus” might also be a correct answer, as Jesus is the appropriate answer to any question asked in a children’s sermon). Yes, we want to be the good soil. Now go back and sit quietly with your parents and listen— be good soil— and God will grow something beautiful in your heart.
Hey, don’t pull your sister’s hair in church. And that twenty cents I just gave you is for the collection plate.
Anyway . . . it is a true and important message, that we need spiritual practices to make us “fertile soil” for God’s word and God’s will in our lives. Prayer. Scripture. Kindness and generosity. These things will make us the kind of ground where good things happen. If you wish to live a Christian life and follow Jesus’ way of life then compassion, love, forgiveness, generosity, friendship are all things that are to be strived to live by in our journey of faith.
But maybe now, as grownups, we need to think also about what kind of farmers we want to be.
The right answer, of course from my point of view, is the New Zealand kind (because of the climate). You want to farm in New Zealand where the “corn tops ripe and the meadows in the bloom,” and the wheat grains are plump and ripe, and the tomatoes are really tomatoes, and the strawberries are crayon-red, and a five-minute run to the garden is all the dinner prep you need. That’s what kind of farmer you want to be.
But the facts of life are, most of us are farming in the Desert. Metaphorically speaking, of course. In the desert, you have to scatter your seeds— the gospel potential life and growth— far and wide.
Because in reality, much of what you have is going to land in a barren place. It might look green enough right now . . . but wait till January and see where the sun hits. See what other-terrestrial bugs and reptiles and rodents come crawling out at night to graze. See what a few months of no rain does to that promising corner of the garden.
But there . . . just over there, that spot so utterly desolate and dry? There, exactly, is where the wildflowers come up singing. Where the winter grass pops up in June after just one hard rain. Where the cactus has been storing water, all year long, for just such a time as this.
You don’t know where your stuff is going to land. In ministry, in relationships, in business, in art. The landscape of our every day is broad and varied. If you want life to emerge from what you have in your hand, you’ve got to toss it far and wide and generously, and trust God for the growth. This applies to all of the society, to anyone who would explore and live the faith journey our God calls us to.
That’s what kind of farmers we want to be, if we are people of faith. We’ve got to sow generously, knowing that we are letting go of much more than what we hold in our hand. In good faith, we let go of our possessions, our agenda, and all expectations of “where the good soil is.” We let go, and watch in awe, as God takes our small seeds of faith and transforms them . . . ten, twenty, one hundred times over.




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

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