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Marsden Road Uniting Memorial Sunday Homily for 13th June 2021 on Pentecost 3

June 10, 2021 - 1:42pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

    Sermon for Sunday 13th June 2021

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Today in our Face to Face Worship we remembered one of our congregation members at whose service most of us were unable to be present.

This Sermon is an adaptation to remember all whom died since the beginning of Covid-19 especially those whom, were part of our congregation and whose Farewell we were unable to be present at. 

Preaching of the Word 

I heard it told that a person was described during their funeral as being loyal to his Lord and consistent in his adherence to the high standard of morals which he had chosen as the guiding principle of his life. There are a number of people I have met that this could be applied to from amongst our congregation and especially those who have died during the time we have been dealing with Covid-19. 

I read a story about a man who one day went to visit an old musician. He knocked on the musician’s door and said, “What’s the good word today?” The old musician didn’t say a word. He turned around and went back across the room to where a tuning fork was hanging. He took a hammer and struck the tuning fork so that the note resounded through the room. The musician said, “That, my friend is an ‘A’. It was ‘A’ yesterday. It was ‘A’ five thousand years ago, and it will be ‘A’ 5000 years from now.” Then he added, “The tenor across the hall sings off key. The soprano upstairs is flat on her high notes. And the piano in the next room is out of tune. He struck the tuning fork again and said, “That is ‘A” and that my friend is the good word for today.”

In the conversations I had with these people we have lost; it seems as though their good word for most days was “blessed.” People had felt blessed by their children, they had felt blessed by their grandchildren, they had felt blessed by their God and their church, and if you were to get at the heart of their feelings about being blessed, you would quickly have gotten to the truths of God’s words to us. Truths that were, are, and always will be the same. Specifically, the truth that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. 

The truth that Jesus Christ lived the perfect life was for a number of those in our congregation whom we have lost what they strove to live to. Over the past year or so, God sent angels to carry a number of our members souls, to carry really their spirit into the very presence of Jesus Christ. That, my friends, is the good word for today. 

Faced with death, life might seem absurd and meaningless. But our Christian faith tells us that despite death life is not absurd and meaningless. Life for each of us took on a completely different meaning when our parents decided to have us baptised. 

When we were baptised, we were no longer mere humans, but became adopted sons and daughters of God. When we were baptised, this planet was no longer our home, then heaven became our true homeland. When we were baptised, we were no longer on our own, when we were baptised, we were joined with Jesus in leaving behind an old life and beginning a new life. 

When Jesus died, he left his old life behind him. He rose from the dead, having left behind life in a human body like ours. When we were baptised, we joined Jesus in his dying, leaving behind our old self, and we joined Jesus in his resurrection, becoming new persons. When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised, we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the God’s glory, we too might live a new life. 

In every Communion we remember that we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection, for example “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life...”. “Lord by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.” 

Because our entire life is living out our baptism, because we want to live our entire lives in such a way that our baptism has a lasting effect on our lives, we are continually trying to leave behind sin and selfishness to become better people. 

When we respond at each moment of our lives to the call of God, we prepare ourselves to enter into the Lord’s rest; As baptised we try to be aware of the presence of God in each moment of our lives, like the sunflower that keeps following the sun all day long. God is not just at the end of our life, waiting for us there; God is with us at every moment of our lives. However, in the final moment of our lives, we will see God’s love and everlasting light.




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship for Pentecost 2 - 06 June 2021

June 3, 2021 - 11:14pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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God Calls Us to Expand Our Family.

Sunday 06th June 2021

Pentecost 2 - year of Mark  

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 2015)       

Come! Here you will find a family of faith where you will always belong. Come! Here you will find friends who will love you as a child of God. Come! Here you will worship a King who rules with equity. Whoever you are, and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

All who need a place to belong . . .

Come join the family of God.

All who seek spiritual brothers and sisters . . .

Come join the family of God.

All who strive to grow in faith and love . . .

Come join the family of God.

All who are unsure and feel unworthy . . .

Come join the family of God. 

Hymn 693: Come as you are.

                 (tune – Come as you are) 

     Opening Prayer

     Loving Mother, Caring Father, in the midst of our brokenness, knit us together as your family. Heal our wounded hearts, that we may welcome the strangers into our midst and treat them as beloved sisters and brothers. Swing wide the doors of our church, that all who seek a temple of faith may find in these walls a place where God’s will is done and holy relationships are nurtured. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

Sovereign God, we so often lose our way.

You seek to be our King— to lead us on right paths; to teach us the ways of truth and life; to shelter us from our foes, yet we look to the rulers of this earth for leadership, wisdom, and strength.

You seek to be our comforter— to love us as our Father; to nurture us as our Mother; to shelter us as our Brother; to assure us as our Sister, yet we look elsewhere for love, compassion, and hope.

When our government fails us, and our families disappoint us, you alone remain faithful and true. Open your arms to us once more, O God. We will be your people, and you will be our God and King. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Christ looks to each of us and says: “Here are my mother and my brothers. Here are my father and my sisters. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, mother, father.” As the family of God, as brothers and sisters of Christ, we are loved and forgiven by our gracious God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

As the family of God, let us share signs of familial love and compassion, acceptance and forgiveness, as we pass the peace of Christ.

Peace be with you!

And also with you!

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

Offering Prayer

Holy Sovereign, you are our King; we are your people. Forsaking the ways of the haughty, we reach for our brothers and sisters in faith, our mothers and fathers in Spirit, that we may care for the meek and the lowly. Use these offerings to fulfil your will in our world, that all may be drawn into your family of faith Amen. 

Hymn 738: ‘My Jesus my Saviour’ (Shout to the Lord)

                 (tune – Shout to the Lord)                                    

The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

With all our hearts we praise you, faithful God. In the beginning, you called light to shine in darkness, you made living things to grow and flourish and you created human beings in your image. You chose us in love, guided us by your presence and blessed us with your holy law. Yet we chose our own sinful ways. We broke your commandments, persecuted your prophets, forgot your wisdom and time after time, refused to answer your call.

So, you spoke an eternal word in a human voice in Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, Son of God. He called, and people followed, leaving every other loyalty. He set us free to praise your holy name. But hatred and violence shouted Jesus down. Betrayed and abandoned and nailed to a cross, he laid down his life for the world he loved and broke the chains of evil and death. Then you turned our sorrow into joy. On the third day you raised him up to lead your people into life.

So, we praise you, holy God, with angels and archangels and all your faithful people:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

On the night before he died, Jesus gathered with his friends to share a meal and wash their feet, teaching one more lesson of love. He took bread and blessed you and broke it. He gave it to them and said: “Take this and eat it. This is my body.” Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me.”

He took a cup of wine and blessed you and gave it to them.

He said: “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, sealing God’s promise to forgive your sins. Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me.”

As we share these holy gifts, we remember the Lord Jesus. For the love you taught us, the sacrifice you made for us and the hope you give us, we acclaim you, O Christ:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

And now, faithful God, send us your Spirit to feed us with the body and the blood       of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Make us one body in Christ. Send us as your messengers in the world and fill us with energy, courage and love. Now to you, most holy God, through Christ your Son and in the Spirit’s power, we bring our worship and our songs of praise:

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread and take this cup so that we can all share in the life of Christ. God's gifts for God's people. 

Thanks, be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

As tangible as grain plucked by Jesus and his disciples, as mysterious as the Presence known by our faithful ancestors, so is the meal we are about to share. Let us open our hearts and hands, as we remember and partake together. 

Prayer after Communion

This has been no ordinary meal. It has been one in which we have been fed and nourished with the life of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. May we go from this table, refreshed and eager, to share that life with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            1 Samuel 8:4-20

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 3:20-35

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

1 Samuel 8:4-20

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7 and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also, they are doing to you. 9 Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’ 10 So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’ 19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ 

Mark 3:20-35   

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.’ 23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’ 30 He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’ 31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ 33 ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’ 

Preaching of the Word - God Calls Us to Expand Our Family.

Family. We all come from one. Some are loving, some are quirky, some are dysfunctional, some are abusive, and some are a combination of those things. No matter what type of family we have, we have a role to play within it: the Peacemaker, the Pretty One, the Black Sheep, the Smart One, the Religious One, the Baby, and so on. But what happens when the Black Sheep starts acting like the Smart One? Or the Peacemaker becomes the Artistic One? The delicate system of roles is shaken, and the other players must try to put the person back in their role or adjust to the new role that is being played. Guess which one people usually choose?

Fear of the new role usually wins out, and people often try to sabotage the fledgling before anything permanent can happen. We think we know what is best for the other person because really, it is best for us. Take any self-improvement – losing weight, quitting smoking, going back to school, going to a counsellor – and there will be people who will not be encouraging because it makes them look at the improvements they need to make and aren’t. They fear change in their lives, so why should they support the changes in yours? It takes a strong person to become who God created us to be and to continue to make positive changes when it puts personal relationships in jeopardy.

Look at Jesus coming back to his hometown where his family lived. People were crowding him to see if he would heal them, but some were talking about him, “He’s gone out of his mind,” and “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” People feared what they did not understand. Jesus’ family tried to restrain him, but Jesus faced the crowd. He was called by God to preach and teach and heal, and that was his focus. He knew his role, but it was not necessarily the role that his family or hometown thought he should be in. God was doing a new thing in Jesus. God was expanding what it meant to be bonded to another person the way we are in a family, and Jesus called attention to this. God knows what is best for Jesus and for us, not the other way around.

When Jesus declared, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” it challenged the Jewish culture around him. No longer are you close to God because you were born into a Jewish household; no longer do you just take care of your own kind; instead, your family is being extended to anyone who does the will of God.

That certainly broadens the margins and challenges those who took that relationship with God for granted. Today, it challenges us to look beyond our walls, our denominational lines, our socio-economic status, and our faith to see our brothers and sisters and mothers. God calls us to expand our family in ways that are just as shocking as it was to the Gospel of Mark’s first-century audience.

We should come to expect this from God. How successful are we when left to our own devices? In today’s Old Testament lesson from First Samuel, when the people request an earthly king to rule them rather than God, Samuel is in a difficult position. The very request is a rebellion against God. But the Israelites want to be “like other nations.” How often do we want the same thing? We want to be “normal,” we want to have what other people have and we measure our worth by earthly standards. We lose our focus and stop doing the will of God.

Brothers turn against brothers, sisters against sisters, mothers against mothers. We get caught up in wanting approval from others and are jealous of what they have, which can leave us empty and seemingly worthless. We forget that we have value because God loves us. Jesus understood this. He kept his focus on following God’s will and was clear about it, despite what his family or the crowds wanted from him.

It’s easier said than done, of course. Anthony de Mello tells a story that reminds us of this:

A man traversed land and sea to check out for himself the master’s extraordinary fame. “What miracles has your Master worked?” he asked a disciple.

“Well, there are miracles and miracles. In your land it is regarded as a miracle if God does someone’s will. In our country it is regarded as a miracle if someone does the will of God.”

We may smile at the story, but it speaks truth. Doing the will of God often means leaving our comfort zones. As Episcopalians, our Baptismal Covenant demands a life that follows God by continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, in the prayers, resisting evil, repenting, and returning to the Lord, proclaiming by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves, striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. This is not an easy road to journey! Yet we readily answer, “I will, with God’s help.”

We cannot do this alone. Jesus’ single-minded focus on God’s will is an example to us. We must have God’s help to follow the call of Jesus in order to be the people we were created to be. May we go forth, as the blessing from St. Clare says, to “live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always.” 

Hymn 609 May the mind of Christ my Saviour

                 (tune – St Leonards) 

Intercessory Prayers  

Pentecost 2 Sunday – Year B –

Loving God, you know our needs and desires before we ask, and all our days are in your hands: hear the prayers we bring to you.

We pray for the world: for those who suffer because of war or civil strife; for those who are imprisoned, displaced or dispossessed.

When we are unmoved by the plight of others, when our greed keeps others poor, shake us from our complacency and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the church: for your priests and prophets and all who lead your people; for all who worship and minister in this place.

When we are legalistic and lacking in love, when we are slow to recognise your voice or understand your word, call us again by name, and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our community: for those who have nowhere to live and too little to eat; for those without any work or means of support.

When we are judgmental and mean-minded, when we are slow to compassion and swift to condemn,

unlock our hearts and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer for those who do not know the love of family or friends; for the sick and the dying and all who mourn.

When hearts are broken and spirits crush ed, when bodies are crippled or racked with pain,

touch us again with your love and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who have died in your love, for all who have heard your voice and answered your call; for all whose yearly remembrance occurs at this time.

Help us to follow the example of your faithful people and, when we come to the end of our earthly days, bring us with all your saints from death to everlasting life, that we may continue forever in your presence.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn 613: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy.

                  (tune – Slane) 

          Benediction

        With God as our King,

        we go forth to build God’s kingdom.

        With our inner nature renewed,

        we go forth to proclaim God’s glory.

        With our sisters and brothers in Christ, our mothers and fathers in the faith,

        we go forth to be Christ’s family.

        Go with God. 

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




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Unting Worship - Pentecost Sunday - 23 May 2021

May 20, 2021 - 11:47pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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One In the Holy Spirit

Pentecost Sunday - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship

(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) 

Opening prayer

Be alive among us this day, Jesus Christ, drawing all eyes

towards 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! 

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) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                       Acts 2:1-21                   

The Gospel Reading:                 John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15     

 Readings: NRSV Translation 

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 and addressed 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 15:26-27; 16:4b-15              

15 26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. 16 4 But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. ‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: 9 about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 

Preaching of the WordOne In the Holy Spirit

There’s no better time to celebrate the diversity of the Kingdom of God than on the Day of Pentecost. Separately, our differences are too diverse to list, but put together, our individual uniqueness creates a beautiful kaleidoscope we call the Body of Christ.

Sadly, today we see people and nations torn apart by racism, religious chauvinism, chauvinism or gender inequality, human-made borders and cultural bigotry. We have become a culture of us-versus-them, where the “other” is to be feared and never trusted. This is not a new occurrence, but one would have hoped that humanity would have learned from its past mistakes and recurrent genocides over the ages; however, here we are in the 21st century, repeating history again with chilling efficiency and cruelty.

Pentecost is a reminder that God’s Holy Spirit is given freely to all people with no respect for race, culture, socioeconomic standing, gender or any other distinguishing mark used by people to differentiate one person from another. In God we are one.

On the Day of Pentecost, reported in the Book of Acts, people gathered in Jerusalem from all corners of the Roman Empire. They represented competing economic interests, diverse cultures, a myriad of languages and different religious traditions. Nevertheless, God’s grace was given freely to all who heard the message preached by Peter, and thousands converted to Christ. These aliens who converged on Jerusalem returned to their homes and spread the message of Christ, the message of love, of being loved, of compassion and of inclusiveness. And the church began to spread like a wildfire engulfing dry brush.

From its inception, the church was a diverse group of people who hailed from a variety of cultures and languages. It was in the midst of this great diversity that God sent the Holy Spirit upon his church and started a movement that would change the history of the world forever.

The message of Christ hasn’t changed, but those who claim to be his followers have often failed miserably in living up to that message. The greatest temptation facing Christians isn’t necessarily losing their passion, but rather, losing sight of the fact that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female. In God’s kingdom there are no illegal aliens or undocumented workers. We who have died with Christ in baptism are resurrected to be a new people bound in love and service to one another.

The Holy Spirit is given freely, without respect for citizenship or socio-economic class, and God continues today to pour out his Spirit on all humanity.

The Holy Spirit works as a transformative agent in the lives of believers. Just as Jesus glorified humanity when he ascended to God, the gift of the Holy Spirit restores our relationship with that same God.

In the fourth century, Saint Basil wrote:

“Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, led back to the Kingdom of heaven, and adopted as children, given confidence to call God ‘Parent’ and to share in Christ’s grace, called children of light and given a share in eternal glory.”

In order for this transformation to take place, we must be willing to die to ourselves and surrender ourselves to Christ and God’s will for our lives.

Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit whose fruits are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. These fruits are the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit develops in our lives as we grow in our faith. That’s who we are and who we are to become as Christians. The Holy Spirit transforms the believer into the image of Christ and obliges the Christian to share in the Church’s apostolic and missionary activity. Just as the disciples’ bold and fearless witness at Pentecost led to the conversion of a great many people that morning, so too are we called to bear witness of God’s love for the world today. This love is freely given to all humanity.

The Holy Spirit compels us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves. One way we do this is by reaching out to the unloved, the hard to love, and the rejected in our midst and loving them, emulating our Heavenly Father’s love for us who are called by His name.

An elderly man of some affluence once asked a pastor how he could possibly learn to serve the least in society. The pastor answered, “You will be able to serve others when you see the crucified Christ in every person you meet, regardless of their social standing.” That is a tall order to fulfill, but not an impossibility for those who allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to work in them. I would also add that this comes when we can see ourselves as beloved and all we meet as beloved in God.

Every time we who are baptised into the Body of Christ approach the Eucharistic table, we are reminded of God’s love for us. It is around the holy table gathered with our brothers and sisters in Christ that our Heavenly Parent graciously accepts us as living members of his own Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, and feeds us with spiritual food in the Sacrament.

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we welcome new believers into the blessed family we call the Body of Christ. As they pass through the waters of baptism, we are asked to do all in our power to support them in their life in Christ. All of us have an important role to play in their spiritual development. It is no small thing what we do around the baptismal font, since all of us take solemn vows for which God will hold us accountable.

Just as the Holy Spirit was poured out on peoples of every language at Pentecost, so the Holy Spirit today continues to draw people from every culture, language and ethnicity into the family we call the church catholic. Pentecost is an awe-inspiring day of joy and celebration on many levels. Through the Holy Spirit, we welcome strangers into our midst and become family, and we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives and become transformed into the image of Christ.

May the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost renew us today and stir up within us those spiritual gifts which God has so richly and freely given to us when we were baptized into Christ’s holy church. 

Hymn 414: There’s a spirit in the air,

                 (Tune – Lauds) 

Intercessory PrayersPentecost year B

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 lives and the world around us.

Slow down the consumption of our communication and push us beyond the tweets and posts of the 24-hour news cycle. Help us to pause before the pain and confusion,

of 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) 

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)




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Church Worship for Easter 6 - 09 May 2021

May 7, 2021 - 12:44am

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Their Feet Are Clean…,

Easter 6 - Sunday 09th May 2021 

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 2013 and Dorothy McRae-McMahon)

        Sing joyful songs to God! Alleluia!

     We are Easter people!

     God has worked miracles!

     Jesus is our joy!

     Sing joyful songs to God!

     Alleluia! We are Easter people!

     God’s love for us lasts forever.

     Jesus makes us into friends.

     Sing joyful songs to God!

     Alleluia! We are Easter people! 

Alleluia! Even the ends of the earth see the saving power of our God.

The sea roars with joy, and the floods clap their hands. Trumpets sound and horns celebrate with song!

Alleluia! The Holy Spirit falls upon all who hear the word of God.

When God shows such generosity, how can we withhold our love?

Alleluia! Jesus has extended to all people the friendship of our God.

We were strangers and then servants, but now we are God’s friends. 

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

     Opening prayer

     Holy God, you make us Easter people— a people transformed by the resurrection of your Son, Jesus. Your first and final word to us is Love. You reach out to us, offering joy and wholeness. Yet we often greet your resurrection by grieving at the tomb, doubting the good news we hear, or quaking in fear as we hide in our upper rooms. Still, you call us deeper into Easter, answering our resistance with your loving presence. You claim us as your friends. As we gather now to worship, teach us once more to abide in your love, that our joy may be complete. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

Lord Jesus Christ, you reach across every boundary, even death itself, and draw us into loving intimacy with you.

Forgive us for resisting your love. You call us your friends, yet we act like minor acquaintances or even strangers. You send us into the world to proclaim your love, yet we gape in astonishment when you include all people in your love.

The light of your resurrection conquers the darkness in our lives, yet we act as if your love is a burden.

Give us Easter lives, we pray, for you alone have the power to save us. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Jesus promises, “You did not choose me. I chose you.” We know that we are God’s children, raised to new life with Christ. Abide in the saving love of Jesus Christ.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Jesus loves us and gives us the grace to love one another. Greet one another with signs of the love and peace of the risen Christ.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always. 

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: The love of Jesus fills our hearts with joy.

Object: A happy face poster and a sad face poster (see below sermon) mounted back-to-back on a stick.

What kind of day are you having today? Are you happy, (Show the smiley face.) or are you sad? (Show the sad face.) What are some of the things that make you happy? Here are some things I thought of that might make you happy.

  • A sunny day
  • A party
  • A new toy
  • A puppy
  • An ice cream cone
  • A balloon
  • Spending time with a friend

What are some things that make you sad?

  • Falling down and skinning your knee
  • Making a bad grade in school
  • Feeling all alone
  • Losing your favourite toy
  • Having an argument with your best friend
  • When someone says something that hurts your feelings
  • When you miss someone

When you think about things that make you happy and things that make you sad, it is pretty simple. When something good happens, you are happy and when something bad happens, you are sad. Do you think Jesus wants you to be happy? Listen to what Jesus says in the Gospel Reading from John in our Bible reading for today, As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. Yes, your joy will overflow!" Does that mean that nothing bad will ever happen in your life? No, of course not, but even when you are sad, you can still have joy in your heart because you know that Jesus loves you. 

Offering Prayer

God, you withhold nothing from us. You transform us with your friendship. You desire that we know and share your joy. We offer these gifts to you, grateful for our Easter life in Jesus Christ. Use them, we pray, to make your love and friendship known throughout the world. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 236: Jesus’ hands were kind hands. (tune -  Au Clair De La Lune)                               

                                    The Service of the Word 

First Reading:                                            1 John 5:1-6

The Gospel Reading:                                John 15: 9-17

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

                               Please respond by saying                 Thanks be to God. 

Readings: New revised Standard Version 

1 John 5:1-6

1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. 

John 15: 9-17

        9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. 

Preaching of the Word - Their Feet Are Clean…,

Their feet are clean, and their bellies are full; they’ve eaten some bread and drunk some wine. They are having supper together on the night before Passover. Judas has hastily left the upper room. A few of them assume that because he kept the cash bag, Judas is off buying needed provisions for the next day’s feast. We, of course, know better. John, the Beloved disciple, is reclining near Jesus’ chest and listening. These readings, this Sunday’s and last’s, taken from the Gospel of John in these weeks before our observance of Ascension Day, record some parting sayings of Jesus — his farewell discourse and prayers. “Now the Son of Man is glorified,” Jesus says “and in him God is glorified; Little children, yet a little while I am with you; I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more.” Goodbye for now, Jesus seems to say. “I am going away and coming back to you.”

He is speaking to his disciples as friends, as one who knows loss and feels a deep sadness at the prospect of parting in death from his flesh-and-blood companions. He alternates between speaking plainly and speaking figuratively. All this may seem a little troubling, but it needn’t be. “If you keep my commandments,” Jesus says in today’s Good News, “you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Jesus is going away, to be sure. But he is going more in the sense of a homecoming, of going off to a family reunion with his father. They are so close–Jesus and Abba. We get a sense of this throughout the strange, rhapsodic chapters of John’s Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In Jesus, the Christ, the word becomes flesh and dwells among us. The author of the fourth Gospel gives us the Logos; gives breath and life and form to this Word. He who was in the beginning with God, Jesus, the Christos, is preparing in this fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel to return to the beginning, to God, to the parent.

He is known to us, then gone. He is present, larger than life. Then he’s absent. He is with us, sharing a meal, teaching and praying. And then he is taken. In this Easter season, we hear how he appears: to Thomas and the twelve in the Upper Room; and again, making breakfast by the lakeshore at the Sea of Tiberius. But just as quickly as he’s known to us, he’s gone. He appears then disappears.

Barbara Brown Taylor describes Christ’s final “disappearance” in a piece collected by Philip Zaleski’s in his Best Spiritual Writing 1999 entitled, “The Day We Were Left Behind”:

“You can read in Acts 1:6-11 how one moment he was there with them and the next moment he was gone, his well-known hand raised in final blessing, his face grown bright and indistinct, his familiar shape vanishing into the fog like the end of a dream too good to be true – all of it slipping out of their reach until he was no longer there for them, no longer present but past, a memory that would haunt them to the end of their days.”

Before vanishing into the fog, Jesus wants us to know something. He prays that we’ll understand this. The disciple whom Jesus loved tells us this something; he seems to “get it.” That something is this: the Maker of all things loves us and wants us. We need to know this and abide in our knowledge of God’s love. The overwhelming love that obtains between Jesus and his disciples has it origin in the Father to whom Jesus is returning. His loves overflows in his final act of self-giving on the cross.

That Jesus and the Father are close there can be no doubt. We get a sense of this throughout John’s Gospel. It’s a sense that Reynolds Price, a contemporary writer and scholar who’s translated John from the original Koine or “common language” Greek, relates his own understanding of Jesus as one who “stood in a demonstrably but inexplicably intimate relation to the creator of our world.” Jesus is leaving. He tells us in John 4:3, “And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will bring you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” By the fifteenth chapter, which we read today, John’s gospel is heading toward its climax.

In a little while Jesus will leave the room where he’s broken bread, go out to the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron valley, to a garden called Gethsemane. There, as we say, things will really start to fall apart at the seams.

In the midst of his farewell to his disciples, as recorded in the Gospel of John, Jesus declares, “As I am loved by the Father, so have I loved you.” His ability to love is the direct fruit and consequence of his being loved: “As I am loved so have, I loved you.” Why is it that our love is so faltering and short-lived, so subject to moods and patterns of natural affinity? Because we have not allowed ourselves to fall into the hands of the living God and to experience in its full force the brutal gentleness of the divine love.

The “brutal gentleness” indeed! God’s love is sometimes like this, an oxymoron, brutally gentle, bitterly sweet. Will we stand by and watch as Jesus vanishes into the fog? Will we grasp after an explanation for his premature departure? Will we know ourselves as loved, and through every desolation, await the return of God’s unchanging presence? Praying

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding. Pour into our hearts such love for you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire, 4through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Hymn 641: This is my will, my one command. (tune – Suantrai)  

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with      hear our prayer. 

Easter 6 – Year B –

Most merciful God, the generosity of your love is astounding to us: in confidence and trust we bring to you our prayers for your people.

Your love reaches out to all your children: hear our prayers for your world and all its people.

We pray for leaders of nations, for all in positions of authority and responsibility; for the hungry, the homeless and the dispossessed,

for all victims of hatred, violence or injustice. Teach us how to love each other as you love us, without distinction of race or colour.

Ever-loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The gift of your Spirit is for all your children: hear our prayers for your church, for all who believe in you and for all who long to know you.

We pray for all religious leaders, theologians, pastors, teachers and administrators; for ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue; for all victims of religious fanaticism or intolerance.

Teach us to love each other as you love us, without regard to creed or practice.

Ever-loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You came among us, born into a human family: hear our prayers for the people of this community, for our families, our friends and for ourselves.

We pray for civic leaders and for all who advance the welfare of this community; for all in relationships that are bitter, violent or destructive; for the unemployed and all who are victims of economic greed.

Teach us to love each other as you love us, welcoming both friend and stranger.

Ever-loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You lived among us, sharing with us our griefs and · pain s: hear our prayers for the sick and all who suffer.

We pray for all who spend their lives bringing care and comfort to others; for those in sadness, anxiety, despair or pain; for all who are forgotten, unheard, unvalued, unloved.

Teach us to love each other as you love us, caring for both the vulnerable and strong.

Ever-loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You laid down your life for those you loved: we remember your friends of every place and age.

We remember those who have given their lives that others may live, the saints and martyrs and all your faithful people.

Teach us to love each other as you have loved us, that following your commandments, we may be numbered among your friends and abide forever in your love.

Ever-loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn 665: Jesus Christ is waiting. (tune – Noel Nouvelet) 

          Benediction

         The whole creation celebrates God’s victory of love. Live lives of victorious faith.

        When God shows such generosity, how can we withhold our love?

        Jesus abides in the love of God. Abide in God’s love every day of your lives.

        When God shows such generosity, how can we withhold our love?

        Jesus calls you, his friends. Carry the friendship of God to everyone you meet.

        When God shows such generosity, how can we withhold our love? 

Hymn 778: Shalom to you. (tune – Somos Del Senor)



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Unting Worship - Easter 5 - 02 May 2021

April 30, 2021 - 3:19am

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Is There an App For Abiding?

Easter 5 Sunday - year of Mark 9.30am

 Gathering God’s People 

        Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship- (Abingdon 2021)

        Christ is the vine. We are the branches. Abide in the vine, and you will abide in love.

     Come to Christ, the true vine, and bear much fruit.

     and to bear the fruit of salvation.

     Come to love one another, for love is of God.

     We have come to the household of love, for God is love.

     Come to set aside your fears, for perfect love drives out fear.

     We have come to love one another, as God has loved us. 

     Come! All are welcome here. 

Hymn 153: God is love, let heaven adore him.

                 (tune – Abbot’s Leigh) 

     Opening prayer

     Divine Vinegrower, the soil of your love nurtures the roots of our lives each and every day. As we consecrate ourselves into your loving care, plant us in the soil of your love, that we may abide in Christ, our true vine, and bear the fruit of your love and grace. Give us rain in seasons of doubt and nourish our growth, that our harvest of love may bless the world. In your bountiful name, we pray. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

Source of love and life, your glory knows no bounds.

We yearn to set aside our fears, but we are often afraid. We long to love our sisters and brothers, but we often feel alienated from them.

We desire to abide in you as you abide in us, but we can’t seem to figure out how.

Show us once more how to love, for only love can cast out our fear. Show us how to love one another well, for only then can we truly know you.

Show how to abide in your vine, for only then can we bear the fruit that glorifies your name. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

When we abide in Christ, we abide in the vine of love and grace. Abide in the vine and receive mercy beyond measure.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

As we abide in Christ, our vine, we bear the fruit of God’s love. Let us share the joy of our fortune by exchanging signs of Christ’s peace with one another.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

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

Offering Prayer

Bountiful God, you fill the poor with good things and cause the hungry to be satisfied. May these gifts be instruments of your grace and may our very lives be the means of spreading your blessings. Make these gifts be for the world a sign of your boundless love and your overflowing abundance. Amen. 

Hymn 104: While morning still is breaking.

                 (tune – Webb)                    

The Service of Holy Communion

 The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. You formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away from you, and our love failed, you turned to us, again and again, and your love remained steadfast. You led us from slavery to freedom, made a covenant with us, and set before us the way that leads to life. And so with your people on earth, and all the company of heaven, We praise your name and join their unending hymn.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ. Your spirit anointed him to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to announce the time when you would save your people. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners. His very presence was and is a sign of your victory over death. He was and is the resurrection and the life. He led and leads us to freedom from sin and death. And the meal that we share is a sign of your new and everlasting covenant.

On the night in which he gave himself for us he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples and said, “Drink from this, all of you; this is the blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

And so, in remembrance of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, claiming the promise that if we have died with him, we shall also be raised with him, as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of the risen Christ, redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other,

and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church, all honour and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen. 

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.   

The Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread and take this cup so that we can all share in the life of Christ. God's gifts for God's people. 

Thanks, be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

Come to the table of grace, for Christ is the vine, and we are the branches.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Come to the table of love, for whoever does not love, does not know God.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Come to the table of blessing, for Christ is here to abide in us, as we abide in him.

Come, Holy Spirit, come. 

Prayer after Communion

This has been no ordinary meal. It has been one in which we have been fed and nourished with the life of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. May we go from this table, refreshed and eager, to share that life with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

The Service of the Word 

 First Reading:                                             1 John 4.7-21

 The Gospel Reading:                                John 15.1-8

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

 Please respond by saying                  Thanks be to God. 

1 John 4.7-21

7 Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. 

John 15.1-8

        1 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Preaching of the Word - Is There an App For Abiding? - John 15:1-8

Unfortunately, some of us feel that if we don’t check our smartphones every few minutes, we will miss out on something crucial, maybe the event of the year or the e-mail that will change the course of our lives. And it is even more embarrassing when we don’t seem to be aware that we are doing it, and someone brings it to our attention – often the person we should have been listening to!

A common lament, whether working in an office or as a full-time parent, is that there simply are not enough hours in the day. Schedules are too full, responsibilities too numerous and commitments too demanding. Given this, a common reason as to why we don’t eat better or exercise more or even pray more regularly is simply, “Who has the time?”

We can easily mishear the invitation in today’s gospel passage as yet another demand on our time. We can make the mistake of assuming that what often works well in one aspect of our lives, works equally well in our spiritual lives: in this case, the motto of every controlling and rushed person – which is all of us at one time or another – “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

But listen to Jesus today, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower.” And Jesus goes on to tell us very clearly who is doing the work, and it is not you or me, my friends. “He removes every branch in me that does not bear fruit.”

This image of the people of God as “God’s vineyard” is a very old one, going back to the Jewish psalms, as well as other places in the Old Testament.

Listen to part of Psalm 80: “You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.” Again, notice that it is God who is doing all the planting here, not us. And think of all the other I AM statements found in the Gospel of John: “I AM the light of the world,” “I AM the gate,” “I AM the resurrection and the life.”

All these I AM statements in the Gospel of John point to the reality of God’s availability. It is ironic that Christianity has the reputation of being an other-worldly religion, focused almost exclusively on how to get into heaven. Maybe you have seen the bumpers stickers declaring, “Jesus is coming, look busy!” or “Friends don’t let friends miss out on heaven!” It may sound surprising, but this kind of theology of a “distant god” is what most of us are comfortable with, because it ultimately pushes God to the sidelines, and we can remain in control. We are very good at being busy and taking responsibility, and we rather prefer this to being on the receiving end of change. But as Jesus in today’s reading, “Abide in me as I abide in you.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus addresses us twice with the phrase “I AM the vine.” There is a promise here. “I AM the vine, and you are the branches.” Jesus is asking each of us to simply be with him. This sounds deceptively easy. Listen to the words of the Collect for Purity from the Anglican Prayer Book: “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” It’s OK to relax a bit and stop worrying about hiding those parts of ourselves that we don’t want others, and surely not God, to see. We can abide with God, instead of busying ourselves to keep God at a distance.

The promise of Jesus, the Vine, the Gate, the Light, is abundant life here and now, not just in some future time. God is doing more in our lives than any of us are aware. God in Jesus is simply inviting each of us to take the time to notice. But the trick, of course, is to let God do what God needs to do and for us to get out of the way. Jesus is very clear on this point when he says: “I AM the vine, you are the branches.” That is what abiding in the power of the Word is all about, not placing impediments in God’s way by trying to do for ourselves what God wants to do for us: reshape our hearts, bodies and minds to receive the forgiveness being offered.

Hopefully, now, you can hear Jesus’ words as the beautiful invitation it truly is: “Abide in me as I abide in you.” 

Hymn 681: Lord, let me see.

                 (tune – Let me See) 

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with hear our prayer. 

Easter 5 – Year B

Loving and merciful God, you sent your Son into the world that all might have life through him: we pray for the whole family of nations.

We pray for all who endure poverty, starvation, oppression or war; we pray for peace between nations and for a just sharing of the earth's resources, that we may live as sisters and brothers, children of the same God.

God of love, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You sent your Son to be the Saviour of the world: we

pray for your worldwide church.

We pray for all who bring alive the Scriptures, for missionaries, teachers, theologians, writers and preachers:

we pray for unity among Christians, that together we may proclaim the gospel and live as sisters and brothers, children of the same God.

God of love, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You sent your Son into the world that we might know your love for all people: we pray for this community.

We pray for our families and friends, those we meet in our daily lives, for the hungry and homeless and those without work; We pray for a community that values and cares for all its members, that we may live as sisters and brothers, children of the same God.

God of love, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You sent your Son into the world to heal the sick, console the sorrowing and satisfy the hungry with good things: we pray for all in need.

We pray for all who are lonely and sad, for those in

grief or despair and for the sick; we pray for compassion and generosity to respond to the needs of others, that we may live as sisters and brothers, children of the same God.

God of love, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You sent your Son into the world that we might have eternal life: we remember your faithful people who rest in your eternal love.

We give thanks for Philip and all who have opened your Scriptures to others, for all who have carried your good news to distant places and all who have shared your gospel with those close at hand.

In life and in death may we follow your saints, that with our sisters and brothers of every generation, we too may abide forever in your love.

God of love, in your mercy,

hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn 640: Kneels at the feet of his friends.

                 (tune – Chereponi) 

          Benediction

         Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.

        We will be born of love each day of our lives.

        Beloved, let us abide in Christ’s love, for he is the vine, and we are the branches.

        We will grow as Christ’s disciples and bear fruit for a world in need.

        Beloved, let us care for one another, for the Spirit helps us abide in God’s peace.

        We will glorify God in the lives we lead. 

Hymn 778: Shalom to you

                 (tune – Somos del Senor)           

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship for Easter 3 - 18 April 2021

April 15, 2021 - 10:53pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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What Is There to Eat…,

Easter 3 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People 

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2021)       

For all who lose sight of hope, adjust our perspective, catch our eye, and touch us, Risen Saviour, with your surprising presence.

Answer us when we call, O God. Be gracious to us and hear our prayer.

When we are in distress, you make space for us. You put gladness in our hearts, as with a fine feast.

When we are disturbed, may we not sin, but ponder things on our beds, and be silent.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace. For you alone,O Lord, make me lie down in safety. 

Hymn TIS 261: Lord, you are the light of life to me.

                       (tune – Fairmead) 

     Opening Prayer

     Holy God, we give thanks that you often reveal yourself to be different from our expectations. When we long for the love we have known in the past, our eyes are dimmed to the beauty you reveal to us now. As your first followers struggled to see how a suffering saviour could be the messiah, we strain to recognize you still today. Come, Spirit, make yourself known in the study of scripture, in our songs of praise, and especially in the grace and love we offer one another, Make yourself known in every friend we have yet to meet in your good and blessed name. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

Spirit of the Risen Saviour, when we fail to recognize you, we become reluctant to follow in your way.

Just as the disciples struggled to comprehend how the Christ could have been a suffering servant, we find it difficult to see you in those who suffer today.

We resist starting down the path you have shown us until we know exactly where it will lead.

Free us from cynicism and fear. Liberate your world from suspicion and prejudice. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Christ lived, died, and rose again for us, even while we were sinners. This is proof of God’s love for us. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven!

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Welcome each other. Welcome the stranger. Welcome all who come. As Christ welcomed everyone, no matter what their background, no matter what their social status; as Christ welcomed enemies and friends, outcasts and leaders, foreigners and neighbours, let us open our hearts and homes and lives. Let us be Christ to everyone we meet.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: Jesus appears to the Disciples.

Object: None is needed.

I remember times when I was a youngster when I went on camping trips. One of the favourite activities on those trips was sitting around a campfire at night and telling ghost stories. Even though I kept telling myself, "There is no such thing as a ghost," that didn't keep some of those stories from scaring the daylights out of me, and they often made it difficult for me to go to sleep that night.

Now, that might seem like a strange way to begin a Bible lesson, but even in Bible times, some people believed in ghosts and were afraid of them. Today's Bible lesson is one example of that.

The story begins after two men had walked along a road to a place called Emmaus. They were discussing the crucifixion of Jesus and all of the events that had taken place in the past few days. They wondered what it all meant. As they walked, they were joined by a man on their walk. They did not recognize that the man was Jesus. There is much more to that part of the story, but it is enough for now that we know that Jesus revealed himself to them. Finally, they recognized that the man was Jesus. They were so excited to see that Jesus was alive that they jumped up and walked all the way back to Jerusalem.

The two men found Jesus' disciples and began telling them what they had seen. The Bible tells us that as they said these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be to you." Do you think the disciples felt peace? No! The Bible says that they were terrified and filled with fear, thinking that they had seen a ghost!

Once again Jesus spoke to his disciples. "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do."

Still the disciples stood in disbelief, so Jesus asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of fish, and he ate it as they watched. That was even further proof that they were not seeing a ghost. A ghost doesn't need food.

The disciples had seen Jesus die. They had seen him placed in a tomb. But now they saw Jesus alive. Not just this day, but for more than 40 days, they saw him and talked with him. They even watched him eat food. They were not seeing a ghost! Those same disciples went all over the world, telling the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection. They never stopped telling the story during their whole lives.

You and I have been called to tell the story just like those disciples. We must be a witness for Jesus, too. We must tell the world that Jesus is alive. 

Offering

God of love help us remember that Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world. Ours are the hands to bless the people we meet. Ours are the feet to do good in Christ’s name. Bless, O God, the work of our hands and these offerings, that they may be Christ’s work in the world. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 686: Lord Jesus, we belong to you.

                       (tune – Cooke Plains) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Acts 3.12-20

The Gospel Reading:                                        Luke 24:36b-48

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Acts 3.12-20

12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 17 ‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 

Luke 24:36b-48

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ 37 They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence. 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.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 

Preaching of the Word - What Is There to Eat…,

“What is there to eat?”

“Have you anything here to eat?”

Isn’t that just like Jesus? Not only does he insist, during his lifetime, that we need to enter the Kingdom like children, now in the resurrection he models that for us.

How many times a day in how many kitchens across the land do children, young and old, tall and small, just stand there and demand to know, “What is there to eat?” And that is always the primary question with Jesus. As in real life, so it is in the resurrection of the body.

In Emmaus Jesus breaks bread with two of the disciples. On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he instructs the “Peter and John Fishing Company” to throw their nets over on the other side of their boat; they do so and fill the boat to overflowing! There are so many fish, in fact, that Peter has to jump overboard and wade into shore, where he finds Jesus, sitting by a charcoal fire, a few fish already on the grill, saying, “Come and have breakfast!”

Jesus says this to us, too: “Come and have breakfast!” We can relate to a God like this: on the beach, a warm fire, fresh fish, bread, some good friends. And then of course there is the story of the little boy. Jesus is there with five thousand people after a long day of teaching and preaching, and he turns to Philip and says, “What is there to eat? What do we have to feed all these people?”

It’s the same question. These stories can be seen as related.

And it’s a little boy who has five barley loaves and two fishes. And as it was that day, so it must have been on the beach, and so it was in that room with the disciples — same question, same food, same story. Everyone ate and was satisfied. Everyone’s eyes were opened, and they could see it was Jesus with them!

Everyone begins to understand when they eat with Jesus; to really understand for the first time. Everyone is to go and tell others to repent, to accept God’s forgiveness, and to tell the story-beginning right here and now!

And so, it is that we gather at the Lord’s table every week, to eat with him and his friends; to be fed to overflowing; to have our eyes opened and to begin to understand. And so, we, too, can go and tell others to repent, to accept God’s forgiveness, and to tell the story. This is how we know it is Jesus we are with-he is always eating and drinking with people. He always fills people to overflowing!

We know others did it, too. Peter, for instance. When asked for money by the lame man on the way to church, Peter said, “Silver and gold have we none. But such as we have given I thee. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And we know the man was healed and went walking and leaping and praising God. He became a witness of these things. Because he praised God and told the story, we are here today.

We gather and hear the words of scripture. We share the meal. We are with his friends. We recognise Jesus is here. And he sends us out to tell others the news, to tell others the story, to offer the Name of Jesus to everyone we meet.

So, when we are asked, “What is there to eat?” We can say, “Come and have breakfast. Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Rise up and walk! 

Hymn TIS 473: Community of Christ.

                       (tune – Leoni)              

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with      hear our prayer. 

Easter 3 Sunday – Year B

Crucified and living God, we pray for the peace of the world, for harmony and good will between nations, for honesty and compassion in the exercise of government. We pray for all who are locked in lives of poverty, violence or disease. Risen God, send us to be instruments of your peace, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Crucified and living God, we pray for the preservation of the earth, for a delight in its beauty, a respect for its creatures, for wise and just use of its resources. We pray for creatures who are endangered by our cruelty, indifference or greed. Risen God, send us to be good stewards of your creation, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Crucified and living God, we pray for our land, for an appreciation of our diverse backgrounds and heritage, for a common sense of unity and purpose. We pray for all who live in fear because of prejudice, intolerance or exclusion. Risen God, send us to be agents of your reconciliation, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Crucified and living God, we pray for your church, for unity and love between Christians, for power to faithfully proclaim your gospel in the world. We pray for those whose faith is threatened by disobedience, persecution or disbelief. Risen God, send us to be witnesses of your resurrection, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Crucified and living God, we pray for those with whom we live and work, for our families, our friends and for ourselves, for relationships of mutual trust and love. We pray for those who are shut away behind bitterness, resentment or regret.

Risen God, send us to be bearers of your love, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Crucified and living God, we pray for all in need, for comfort for the sad, peace for the anxious, relief for the suffering, and patience and strength for those who care for them. We pray for those who live with grief, loneliness, despair or pain.

Risen God, send us to bring your healing and your hope, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Crucified arid living God, we remember and give thanks for your faithful people of every age who have believed and trusted in you. Help us, like them, to recognise the marks of your wounded love and your risen power, that, with them, we too may know you in our midst. Risen God, in life and in death let us rejoice in your presence, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

        Hymn TIS 210: O for a thousand tongues.

                               (tune – Lyngham)

        Benediction  

        Christ is alive and has met us here. Now let us meet God’s Spirit among friends, strangers, and in all of creation. For God’s love lives today and forevermore. Amen. 

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

                               (tune – Aubrey)




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship for Easter 2 - 11 April 2021

April 8, 2021 - 10:18pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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A Week Late to the Resurrection

Sunday 11th April 2021

Easter 2 Sunday - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)       

How pleasing it is to God when we live as one family, sharing all that we have in holy love. How eager is our God to bless us with everlasting life when we move from the shadows and forsake the works of darkness. How joyous is the life we find in Christ?

This is the day to walk in the light.

This is the day to share signs of peace.

This is the day to believe where we have not seen.

This is the day to embrace what we cannot touch. Come! Let us worship the Lord of life. 

Hymn TIS 382: Now the green blade rises from the

                       buried grain.

                 (tune – Noel Nouvelet) 

     Opening Prayer

     God of manifold blessing come to us this day. Come and bless us. Come and lead us into the light. For we come to you to find peace. We come to rediscover joy. We come to believe where we have not seen. We come to touch the glory of everlasting life, through the power of your Son. We come to truly live. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

Heart of all hearts, Joy of all joys, teach us how to live as one.

You offer us your abundant grace, and yet we still long to find rest and peace.

You have shown us the light of our salvation, yet we often lurk in the shadows.

You promise us the glory of everlasting life, yet we settle for the tarnished glow of selfish pursuits. Forgive us.

Help us believe where we have not seen; help us walk bravely in the midst of our fear, that we may truly know your peace each and every day. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

In Christ, God has forgiven not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world. Rejoice in the light and peace of the Holy One. Rejoice in the blessings of our God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

After his resurrection, Christ greeted his disciples with these words: “Peace be with you.” As disciples of Christ, let us greet one another with these same words:

Peace be with you!

And also, with you! 

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: Thomas doubts Christ's Resurrection

Object: A driver's license or some other photo identification card

Does anyone ever ask you for identification? It happens to me all the time. In the old days when I went into a store to buy something and I want to pay for it with a cheque, the person behind the counter would take my cheque and then asks, "May I see your driver's license please?" Why does the person need to see my driver's license? The answer is quite simple. The cashier wants to see if I match the picture on the driver's license. Am I really who I claim to be?

There may be other times when you will be asked for identification. You may need a picture ID to get a library card. You might even need a picture ID to sign up for youth soccer. Many schools are now requiring students and teachers to wear a picture ID at school. Almost every day we are asked to prove that we are who we say we are.

On the Sunday that Jesus rose from the grave, he appeared to a group of his disciples. One of the disciples, whose name was Thomas, was not with them. When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus and that he was alive, Thomas said, "I won't believe it until I see it with my own eyes. I want to see the nail-prints in his hands and put my hand in the place where the spear was thrust into his side."

A week later, Jesus appeared to his disciples again. This time Thomas was there. Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Then Thomas believed!

A lot of people today won't believe that Jesus really rose from the grave because they haven't seen him with their own two eyes. They want "proof of identity" before they will believe. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

How about you? Do you have to have "proof of identity" before you will believe in Jesus, or will you accept him by faith? 

Offering

God of abundant grace, we live in a world where people’s worth is often tied to their wealth. You have shown us how good and pleasing it is when families live together as one. May the offerings we bring before you now be signs of our commitment to help those in need and to live together as the family of God. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 649: These things did Thomas count as real.

                        (tune Kedron (Dare) or Yellow Bittern) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Acts 4:32-37

The Gospel Reading:                                        John 20:19-31

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Acts 4:32-37.

32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). 37 He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 

John 20:19-31

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.’ 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

Preaching of the Word - A Week Late to the Resurrection

Today, the first Sunday after Easter, is traditionally known as Low Sunday. Low Sunday—that’s a tremendously unflattering nickname for us as the Church. Last week we presented the triumph of the church year. We announced to the world the Good News of Jesus Christ: Jesus died and rose again to new life for love of us. And the result is that the next Sunday is the lowest attendance of the whole church year, all the way across Christendom. Ouch. Was it something we said?

It may well have been. It’s a shocking gospel, frankly quite hard to believe. It was hard to believe even for people who knew Jesus in person while he was alive and witnessed his many miracles. Today we tell the story of Doubting Thomas, the apostle who had to see to believe.

Thomas, along with Peter, is the most human of the disciples, and this story is rich with interesting questions. The first thing that we notice is that Thomas misses out on Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples. It’s Sunday night, and they have been locked in the Upper Room, afraid for their lives since Friday night.

But not Thomas. Where is he? Was he terrified and trying to hide by himself, not wanting to be found by the Romans right in the middle of a pack of ringleaders of Jesus’ rebellion? Was he instead full of stoic courage, the only one brave enough to venture out and bring back food to his friends?

Whatever it was, he was definitely not there when Jesus appeared in the locked Upper Room. He missed the Resurrection. Many of us can identify with that sort of frustrated futility. We wonder if we’re missing the Resurrection in a lot of areas in our lives. God is raising things to new life and our attention is elsewhere, checked out, missing in action, like Thomas.

Thomas does eventually show up with the rest of the disciples, and they tell him, “We have seen the Lord.” And what is he supposed to think? If he was the only one who had been brave enough to leave, he has watched his brothers and friends driven nearly mad with fear and grief over the last three days. He probably feels great compassion and love for them. They so desperately want their dead friend and leader not to have been condemned to death and executed, that they have dreamed up this vision they experienced.

And who knows, Thomas wouldn’t put it past Jesus to come to them as a ghost. Lord knows he did stranger things than that when he was alive. But he is no longer alive. He is dead, and Thomas knows that denying that won’t help anyone. It’s never brought back any of the rest of the family and friends he’s lost over the years, and it won’t bring back Jesus.

Thomas remains in this state, unable to trust the word of his friends, for an entire week. What was that week like for him? The rest of the disciples were floating on air knowing that Jesus had been raised from the dead. But where was Jesus for that week? And why did he leave the disciples alone? It’s like Low Sunday. Last Sunday we saw him raised from the dead. Now we’re back and starting to wonder, did we really see what we thought we saw? At least we have witnessed him alive. Thomas has had only his own stubbornness to keep him going.

Stubbornness and maybe a tiny spark of hope. Because what made Thomas stick around for an entire week with what he believed to be friends driven to delusions by grief? If Jesus was truly dead, there was nothing left for him anymore with this group of people. By all rights, he should have gone home to his fields or his fishing boat. Remaining with the disciples was a dead end—the longer they stayed together, the greater the danger of being arrested by the Romans. And spending time with them would only serve to bring home every minute of every day that their friend Jesus was dead.

But Thomas did stay. Is it possible that a small part of him wondered if this story his friends were telling him might possibly be true? He reveals himself a bit in his answer to their claim that they have seen the Lord. He says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

He doesn’t say, “You people are crazy, I’m leaving.” He sets up a hypothetical condition under which he will believe in the Resurrection. He’s laying out the challenge to Jesus. He’s saying, “Come and show me, Jesus, come and prove it to me. Just come to me, Jesus, on any terms.”

Thomas wants to be tough and uncaring and sceptical, but he loved Jesus. He is grieving as deeply as the others, and although they are now joyful since seeing him alive again, Thomas has had no such comfort. He’s throwing out this challenge to provoke Jesus into coming to them again, because Thomas just wants to see his friend. Ghost or vision or real person, it doesn’t matter.

And Jesus does not disappoint him. Thomas has had a grim week, the lone sceptic among the believers. But as soon as Jesus arrives, as soon as he bids them peace, he calls Thomas to him and says, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”

How fascinating and revealing that even in his resurrected body, Jesus’ wounds remain. And how very appropriate to Thomas’ story, and our own story. Resurrection is possible for us in so many areas of our own lives. But our wounds remain, the scars that, painful as they were in the making, have made us indelibly who we are.

Jesus is resurrected to new life, but he’s still himself. And he helps Thomas recognize him through his wounds. That is a potent lesson for us. When we look at ourselves and at each other, part of the proof of our true resurrection is that the past is brought forward to coexist with the present. Our wounds are not erased as though they had never existed. They are still present but no longer cause us pain. They are proof to one another that we are new and whole, but it was our woundedness that got us to this day of resurrection in the first place.

There was one other thing that happened on Low Sunday in the early Church. Those who were baptised on Easter received a new white robe and wore it all week. On Low Sunday, they took it off and went back to their regular clothes. There’s something very poignant about that and our story of Thomas. Today is the day when the loud and public festivities are over, and we return to our normal, everyday lives. But today is also the Day of the Resurrection for Thomas. It is the day when the new white robe falls away and Thomas sees the wounds on Jesus’ body, the same physical person that he knew and loved and now recognizes as both wounded and whole, alive and breathing.

Can we recognize that same type of resurrection in ourselves? In each other? When the fancy Easter dresses and suits are put away for another year, what is left? Our same wounded selves that we fear to show to one another. But we need proof of the Resurrection, and we will only find it in each other. If we are brave enough to show each other our wounded places, we will find that they don’t hurt quite so much. We will find that we are indeed both wounded and healed.

Thomas was a week late to the Resurrection, but he made it all the same. Where do you find yourself today? There is still time for you to come back to life. Reach out to touch the wounded, living Jesus and feel him touch your wounded, living soul. 

Hymn AOV 63: We walk by faith.

                       (tune – Shanti (Marty Haugen))       

Intercessory Prayers  

      After the words: In your mercy, - please respond with hear our prayer. 

Easter 2 Sunday – Year B

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for your beautiful creation, scarred by plunder, pollution and destruction. In the wounds of the world, Jesus, let us see your wounds.

Risen God, bring new life to your creation, and,

in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for the peoples of the world, scarred by cruelty, hatred and war.

In the wounds of your people, Jesus, let us see your wounds.

Risen God, bring new life to your people, and,

in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for our nation, Australia, scarred by intolerance, prejudice and greed.

In the wounds of our nation, Jesus, let us see your wounds.

Risen God, bring new life to our country, and,

in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for your church, scarred by division, discord and disobedience.

In the wounds of your church, Jesus, let us see your wounds. Risen God, bring new life to your church, and,

in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for the forgotten of our community, scarred by loneliness, rejection and shame.

In the wounds of your little ones, Jesus, let us see your wounds. Risen God, bring new life to our community, and,

in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for the sick, the sad and the needy, scarred by sorrow, pain and despair.

In the wounds of your suffering ones, Jesus, let us see your wounds. Risen God, bring new life to those in need, and,

in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ crucified and risen, we pray for all who have died believing in you, and for those who have never seen or known you.

Help us to recognise the marks of your presence among us, that we may see and believe and, at our life's end, stretch out your hands to draw us to your eternal presence.

Risen God, in death and in life, bring new life to your people, and, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

        Hymn TIS 376: I know that my Redeemer lives.

                               (tune – Church Triumphant)

       
Benediction

        Walk in the light of God.

        We will live in the light of God and we will bask in the light of God.

        May the Light of all lights transform your doubts into faith, and your sorrows into joy.

        We go with the peace of God.

Go with the blessings of almighty God. 

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

                        (tune – Aubrey)



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship for Easter Sunday - 03 April 2021

March 31, 2021 - 10:38pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Look Again,

Sunday 04th April 2021

Easter Day - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People     

 Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

A LIT CANDLE IS PROCESSED IN:

The candle is placed on the table with these words: 

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed!

This is the day that that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Call to Worship- (Abingdon 2013)

        When grief holds sway and you feel lost and abandoned... join Mary and the women in the garden, as they cast aside their funeral spices to rejoice in awe and wonder. Fear is healed by hope this day. Death is swallowed up in victory. 

Hear the good news: Christ is Risen!

But we watched him die.

Sing the good news: Christ is alive!

But we saw him buried in the tomb.

Share the good news. Death has lost its sting!

We will sing with the angels and laugh with the saints of God. 

Hymn TIS 368: This is the day the Lord has made.

                        (tune – Arlington) 

     Opening prayer

     God of mystery and might, when we dread the dawn of grief and pain, surprise us with the light of your wondrous love. We come to the tomb expecting death but find life instead. As we behold the glory of our salvation, take us back to that moment of faith when fear was healed by hope and death was swallowed up by life. In the holy awe of Easter morning, may our hearts rest in silent gratitude before they shout that Christ is alive and has called us by name. Amen 

      A Prayer of Confession

During the week of his passion and death, we turned away from your Son, O God.

Even after Christ shared table with us, offering us the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation, we shrank into the shadows and drank the dregs of our regret.

Even after Christ urged us to keep the faith, lest we succumb to temptation in the time of trial, we fell asleep while he prayed in the garden and ran when the soldiers arrived.

But we are here now, Merciful One. As we profess the depth of our gratitude for being called as your disciples, may our living help heal the pain of Christ’s dying. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

God, who raised Jesus from the dead, offers us life with Christ and forgiveness in his name.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

See the peace of Christ in your brothers. Be the peace of Christ for your sisters. Share the peace of Christ with one another as we celebrate the Prince of Peace this day.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

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

A Word with The Young People

Theme: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Object: A small juice glass half-filled with juice.

As you can see, I have a glass with some juice in it. There are two ways of looking at this glass of juice. Some people would look at the glass and say it is half empty. There are others who would look at the glass and say it is half full. (Drink all of the juice in the glass.)

Well, we solved that problem, didn't we? Now everyone who looks at this glass would say that it is empty, but guess what? Everyone still wouldn't look at the glass in the same way. Some would look at the glass and grumble and complain because it empty. Others would look at the glass and see it as a glass just waiting to be filled with good things to drink. I guess there are always different ways to look at any situation.

On the Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary went to visit the grave where the body of Jesus had been laid. When she got there, she found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. She ran to find someone to tell them what she had seen. She found two of the disciples, Peter and John, and she said to them, "They have taken our Lord out of the tomb and we don't know where they have put him."

The three of them immediately ran to the tomb. When they got there, they all saw the same thing, but they didn't all look at it in the same way.

Peter looked and was curious. The Bible says Peter went in the empty tomb and looked around. He saw strips of linen laying around and the cloth that Jesus had been buried in folded neatly and placed where the body had been. "Hmmm, very interesting," Peter might have said to himself.

Mary looked and was sad. The Bible tells us that Mary didn't even go inside the empty tomb. She just stood outside the tomb and wept because she feared that someone had stolen the body of Jesus.

John looked and believed. The bible says that John went inside the tomb and he saw and believed. Now, I don't know exactly how much John understood, but I think he believed that Jesus had risen from the grave just as he said he would.

Three people -- they all saw the same thing -- one was curious, one was sad, and one believed. I think that is pretty much the same way people react to the story of Jesus today. Some people hear the story, and they are curious, others hear it and think it is sad, others hear it and believe. How do you look at it? 

Offering Prayer

God of joyful surprises, with laughter in our hearts and songs on our lips, may our lives reflect the glory of this day. You offer abundance of life and fullness of grace to all who turn to you and seek your blessing. Receive our tithes and offerings in the name of your Son, the source of our joy and strength, that they may be for the world your Easter light and life. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 362: Jesus Christ is risen today.

                       (tune – Easter Hymn) 

                                     The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise. 

Living God, on this most joyous day we offer our thanks and praise to you, creator of heaven and earth, creator and lover of all humanity. Even when we turned away from you, you never rejected us. You spoke words of mercy and love through the prophets; promising to swallow up death forever and to host a banquet for all people; a feast of life-giving sustenance. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Holy God, this meal which we share today is indeed the celebration that death has been defeated forever. We celebrate also how the language of your love became audible through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, our beloved Lord; and how the nature of your love became visible through his life and sacrificial love. He graced lives with healing and hope, with compassion and power and as if that were not enough, he gave his very life for us. On the night of his betrayal, as he sat at the table and broke bread with his friends, he said:

'Take and eat; this is my body which is broken for you. Remember me each time you do this.'

After they had eaten, he took the cup, and said:

'Remember me as you drink from this, for it is my life, poured out for you - the beginning of a new relationship with God.'

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

God of all power breathe your Holy Spirit upon us, and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the life of Christ and that we may make that life visible through our faithful witness to him. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread and take this cup so that we can all share in the life of Christ. God's gifts for God's people. Thanks, be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

Jesus says: ‘The bread that God gives is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’
(Thanks be to God.)
Come, everything is ready. 

Prayer after Communion

This has been no ordinary meal. It has been one in which we have been fed and nourished with the life of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. May we go from this table, refreshed and eager, to share that life with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. 

The Service of the Word 

First Reading:                                            1 Cor 15:1-11

The Gospel Reading:                                Mark 16:1-8 

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

                               Please respond by saying                 Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

1 Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. 

Mark 16:1-8

1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  

Preaching of the Word - Look Again,

In the darkness on the third day after their rabbi’s execution, three women check one last time to make sure they have everything they need. Followers of Jesus in his lifetime, they want to be faithful to their teacher in death. Jesus had been robbed of a proper Jewish burial as his death came right on the verge of the Sabbath. The women intend to make this one thing right in a universe turned hopelessly away from God. The Twelve are hiding in a locked room with other disciples for fear they will be found out as followers of Jesus. Meanwhile, the women prepare to be at the tomb as dawn breaks.

In purely human terms, the story of the would-be Messiah from Nazareth in Galilee has come to a brutal end. For the Roman colonial government, Jesus is a minor statistic, yet another Jewish revolutionary crucified in Rome’s ongoing efforts to preserve the peace in Palestine. The ringleader, Jesus, has been publicly and cruelly killed. His disciples have vanished for fear of a similar fate. For the keepers of the status quo, this has been a successful Passover festival. Jesus’ movement is buried with its leader.

The women arrive at the tomb and looming large is an insurmountable obstacle between them and their task. The women know they don’t have the strength to budge the great stone blocking the entrance to the tomb. As they walk to the garden, they wonder, “Who will roll the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

Our Gospel reading for this morning tells us that the women then looked up. The original Greek text [anablepo] for this can also mean the women looked again. The women come upon the tomb and as they expected, the stone is rolled in front of the entrance. They don’t stand a chance of getting near Jesus on their own. Then they look again, or perhaps do a double take, and realise that the stone has been rolled away.

Our writer of Mark has already prepared us for this need to do a double take. It works something like bi-focal vision in this Gospel. Twice in the Gospel, Jesus has healed blind men and allowed them to see again. The word used to describe the two blind men seeing again is the same one used here, to look again [anablepo]. Already in those stories of healing the blind, there was a sense in which spiritual healing allowed the men to see again with physical sight.

In Mark’s Gospel, faith gives us the ability to see the world as God sees it. We gain bifocal vision. When we look with the eyes of the world, we see the obstacles and problems. The stone blocks our path, and it is too large for us to even budge. We look with the eyes of faith and a different picture comes into focus. God has already removed the obstacles that we could not remove by our own power.

This is seen most clearly in the Easter story. The three women are blocked by an obstacle, which they stood no chance of removing on their own. They ask one another, “Who will roll away the stone?” Yet, when they look again through the eyes of faith, they see that the stone has already been rolled away. The Greek here is in the perfect tense. The stone that blocks their way is already long gone when they do the Easter double take and see the world as God sees it.

What are the stones that need to be rolled away in our lives? Is the obstacle one of relationships that can’t be made right? Or is our path blocked by an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or some other destructive cycle from which we don’t have the power to break free? All of us can find our way blocked by obstacles too big to budge. The story of Easter tells us that God offers the ultimate leverage to remove the obstacles in our way.

If you rely on your own might, your own abilities, your own wisdom, the stone in your way will be more than you can face. Full Stop. But, when you have the courage to admit you don’t have the power to remove the obstacle, you can turn the problem over to God. Then with the eyes of faith, you may come in time to see that the insurmountable obstacle has been rolled away.

Yet, that is not the end of the Gospel reading. Scripture is if nothing else, the most realistic of books, and today’s reading is no exception. The women enter the tomb to find an angel, a divine messenger, with the news that Jesus has been raised from the dead and has gone ahead of his disciples to Galilee. It would be wonderful to report that the women were immediately filled with joy.

Instead, we are told that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome fled from the tomb seized by terror and stricken with awe. Rather than spreading the joy of resurrection, we are told, “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

It is there that the reading ends. The Gospel we call Mark offers the challenge of a circular story. The Gospel begins with Jesus in Galilee challenging people to come and follow him; at the close of the story, Jesus has once more gone ahead into Galilee holding out the offer of discipleship to any who will come and follow him.

So, what about you? Would you have the courage to leave the empty tomb and go back to Galilee to take up the task of being Jesus’ disciple now that you know the way of discipleship led to the cross and the grave? Even with the triumph of Easter, we can fearfully retreat now that we know the cost of discipleship.

The Gospel, the Good News offers a dual challenge this Easter. The first is to look at the very real obstacles in your life with the eyes of faith. The things that you are powerless to change are not obstacles to God. Through grace, you can see that God has already removed the problems plaguing you, if you have the faith to push ahead on the journey of life and journey through them.

But the second prong of the challenge of the Gospel, the Good News comes when you push ahead. Just as the women found the stone rolled away only to be struck dumb with terror and awe at the news of Jesus’ resurrection, we too can lose our focus and stop seeing the world as God sees it. The second challenge then is the harder one. Once you have seen that God can remove the obstacles blocking your way, then we are called and invited to follow where Jesus leads.

The three women that morning did break free from fear. We know that they were all active in the earliest Christian church. They found the courage to follow Jesus even after they had learned the cost, they might have to one day pay for their faith in him.

Jesus enables the removal of the obstacles from our paths if we stop trying to remove them only by your own might. Then he will give us the grace to continue the journey. The path is open to each of us. Jesus is still out there beckoning, “Follow me” to those who listen. We only need respond by faith and say yes to the invitation.

For Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Hymn TIS 380: Yours be the glory.

                        (tune – Maccabeus)   

Intercessory Prayers- Easter – Year B

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you have triumphed gloriously.

We pray for your world: for the welfare of all your people and for your creation entrusted to our care; for all in positions of authority; for men and women in their daily work.

Roll away the stones of hatred and greed. Transform us with your spirit of justice and righteousness, that all your people may share in the freedom of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you have cancelled the power of sin.

We pray for your worldwide church: for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for the people of this congregation and for all wherever they are in the world who make or renew baptismal vows today. Roll away the stones of discord and unbelief. Transform your church with your spirit of wisdom.

and truth, that we may be in the world a witness to your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you show us the mighty power of love.

We pray for the communities in which we live and work; for our families, our friends and all whom we love; for the forgotten and undervalued people of society. Roll away the stones of apathy and selfishness. Transform our lives with your spirit of love and forgiveness, that we may share in the joy of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you bring us hope when all seems lost.

We pray for all who suffer for the hungry and homeless, the lonely and friendless; for the sick and the sorrowing and all who care for them. Roll away the stones of pain and despair. Transform the Iives of all who suffer with your comfort and balm, that they may share in the hope of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Praise and honour to you, Jesus Christ, for you have broken the bonds of death.

We give you thanks for your faithful people of every age; for Mary Magdalene, Peter and John and for all who have seen you and believed. May we, following their example and yours, cast off all that binds us in death. Transform our lives by your risen power, that we, with all your saints, may come to share forever in the glory of your risen life.

Risen God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn TIS 755: You shall go out with joy.

                       (tune – Trees of the Field)      

        Benediction

       Christ is Risen! Go forth in joy.

       From darkness and despair, we go to share Christ’s hope

       and joy.

       Christ is Risen! Go forth in faith.

       From doubt and betrayal, we go to walk in faith and

       fidelity.

       Christ is Risen! Go forth to live.

       From suffering and death, we go to heal a broken world.

       Christ is Risen. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

       Christ is risen indeed!

       This is the day that that the Lord has made.

       Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you.

                       (tune - Somos Del Senor)




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship for Good Friday - 2 April 2021

March 30, 2021 - 11:23pm

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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Let Your Idols Fall

02nd April 2021

Good Friday - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship

        Walk with Jesus as he takes his final earthly steps. Observe the ordinary people who cared for the body of the Word made flesh. Find yourself in faith’s most difficult hour.

O God, our God, in you our ancestors trusted, to you they cried aloud.

Since before our mothers bore us, you have been our God.

Do not be far from us, for trouble is near.

Source of refuge come quickly to our aid.

Lest we forget the cost of discipleship, let us remember faith’s hardest story to bear.

With humble and open hearts, let us worship our God. 

We have gathered this Good Friday to remember the betrayal, humiliation, and crucifixion of Jesus. We have gathered to experience anew the events that would change the world. May we experience all the pathos of that day, and may we participate in its meaning together. 

Hymn TIS 356: Here hangs a man discarded.

                       (tune – Shrub End) 

     Opening prayer

Give us strength, O God, to bear the cross with you this day. Comforted by your faithfulness and encouraged by the presence of sisters and brothers around us, lead on, O Jesus. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

O God, our comforter in life and death, Jesus’ last day reminds us of your embodied love and of our own power to do and permit harm. For our sins of commission and omission, we ask your forgiveness, in Christ’s name. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Beloved, know that God walks with us and remains in covenant with us, saying: “I will put my laws in their hearts and write them in their minds; I will remember their sins no more.” God’s loving heart is greater than any of us can imagine. Know that you are loved. Know that you are forgiven. Amen.

Thanks, be to God! 

Hymn TIS 344: Glory be to Jesus.

                       (tune –  Caswall; Wem In Leidenstagen                                  

 The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 14:53 – 15:47 

Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12

52 13 See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. 14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him — so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals — 15 so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. 53 1 Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. 4 Surely, he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.
9 They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. 11 Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. 

Hymn based on TIS 345: Were You There

          (verse sung after each Gospel of Mark reading)

                      (tune – Were You There) 

     Mark 14:53-63

     53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again, the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”         63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 

     Hymn: “Were You There” ... when they came to take my

                  Lord? 

     Mark 14:64-72

     64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him. 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt.[b] Then the cock crowed.[c69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. 

     Hymn: “Were You There” . . . when denial came from

                 Peter? 

     Mark 15:1-15

     15 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. 6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7 Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8 So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9 Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. 

     Hymn: “Were You There” … when they stood my Lord on 

                trial? 

     Mark 15:16-26

     16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 

     Hymn: “Were You There” . . . when my Lord was beat

                upon? 

     Mark 15:27-32

     27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 

Hymn: “Were You There” ... when the soldiers mocked my Lord? 

     Mark 15:33-41

     33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. 

Hymn: “Were You There” . . . when they crucified my

            Lord? 

Preaching of the Word - Let Your Idols Fall

This is really not a day for words. When we grieve, all words are too much.

It is much better for us to take in the facts about how Jesus was treated: the injustice, the spiritual blindness, the narrow thinking, the positioning for power. It is better that we just sit with that grief and blackness, make a space inside of ourselves for the death of Jesus; and just abide in it.

We must abide with Good Friday, not because it leads quickly to the empty tomb, but because Jesus did die. It is better that we do not fill it with too many words and instead marvel at this death and consider our part in it.

In this lengthy Passion narratives, we are not spared any detail. There is a great deal here but the scene when Pilate asks the chief priests if he shall crucify their king is very interesting. The priests answer, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Here we see that the powers-that-be have no compunction with violating their very identities to get what they want. Two things are happening here, and both have to do with idolatry.

The first thing that is happening is that the priests are telling the Empire, manifest in Pilate, that their only king is the emperor. This is in direct violation of God’s explicit dislike of kings. Hundreds of years prior to this scene the people of Israel had asked God for kings so that they can be like the other people in the region.

God warned them then that kings would take their sons for soldiers, tax them to death, and all the other things that come with human kings. God’s desire was that he would be their king; that is what would have distinguished them from the other people in the region. But when the people persisted God allowed kings to rise among the Israelites, provided they carried God’s anointing.

God, it seems, is in the habit of taking a bad situation and improvising some good out of it. But today, in our readings from the Gospels, these priests are denying God’s choice for a king and they are putting their faith in the Roman Emperor so that they can make the political alliance necessary for the assassination of their enemy Jesus.

Along with this political posturing is the fact that since the chief priests have allied themselves with the Emperor for their peace and security, they have replaced God with the Emperor. This is idolatry. Idolatry is when a created thing is put in place of the uncreated source of life and love. Idolatry is when we find our security, power, identity in anything other than God. The priests have committed the sin of idolatry.

Idolatry is the most pervasive and insidious. If Good Friday teaches us anything it is that our notions of what God is and can do need to be cast down like the idols they are.

In the life of the spirit the casting down of personal idols usually follows a pattern. The first idol that needs casting down is the idol of things: thinking that the things that surround you make you a worthy person. You are not your things; our things do not give us worth. Only God gives us worth. That’s why God is worshipped, and things are not.

The next idol that needs casting down is the ego. You are not that great. You are also not all that bad either. Self-deprecation, too, is an activity of the ego. The ego: not the healthy bit that makes you a person, but the ego that manipulates people, things, and facts for your own purposes and power. This idol must come down.

In the life of the spirit these idols have been well within the bounds of good advice and general spirituality.

The next idols that need destruction are within the particular purview of the Abrahamic faiths, and, I think, are especially Christian.

The first of these idols is the idolatry of faith. The idolatry of faith is when we begin to use the story and beliefs of God to judge and separate others, to be exclusive and not inclusive. This is when we carve in stone the stories of our tradition as reality to such a level that we lose sight that they are a chronicle of people’s encounters with our God of love and turn the activity of faith into the judgement seat of faith, separating those who are in and those who are out. The idolatry of faith is broken by true faith, which is trust, trust the stories and traditions about God, they are not God themselves, but instead urge us into truth faith, pointing to God.

The next idol does not have a hold on everyone, but it is still a powerful idol.

This is the idol of doubt. This idol tells us that only doubt and suspicion of the stories of God can bring us closer to the true God. It is an idol that says, “If you would simply think like I think about God, then you will perceive the truth.” None of us possess the full knowledge of the unknowable God, and some beliefs should be doubted, but when doubt becomes the enemy of faith instead of its steward, then it has become an idol.

The final idol that needs to come down is the hardest one of all, but it is the one that Good Friday most explicitly addresses: the idolatry of God. The idolatry of God means that we have set ideas of exactly what God is and can do. If I were to use an everyday word for the idolatry of God, I suppose it would be expectation: high expectations, low expectations, horrible expectations, impossible expectations, immature expectations.

When we destroy the idol of God we truly live by faith; living fully, as one moment unfolds from the last, trusting that God is with us in love, come what may.

In Good Friday we see our image of God literally killed. Good Friday, with the death of Jesus is an enactment of the death of all idols, including, most explicitly the idol of God.

God does not die. Messiahs do not die. Yet, Jesus does die, and in the death of Jesus the final idol is destroyed, and, in this death, we are released from all idols and left with the present moment in Christ, redeemed and free.

This freedom is jarring, and it is appropriate that we commemorate the death of idols as we do today. Grieve for the loss of our idols.

Abide in stillness over the death of your grasping for anything other than God. Let our idols fall at the foot of the cross and sit awhile in death and grief and wait.

Wait, because God has a surprise in store. 

Hymn TIS 342: When I survey the Wondrous Cross.

                        (tune – Rockingham) 

Intercessory Prayers

Son of God, you died for us, with arms outstretched upon a cross: we pray for the world where you are crucified each day with the destitute, the oppressed the dispossessed.

Silence

Jesus Christ, crucified by us, have mercy upon us,

and hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, falsely accused, mocked and condemned to death: we pray for all who govern, those who make and administer law, for all who are denied justice.

Silence

Jesus Christ, condemned by us, have mercy upon us,

and hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, denied, deserted and rejected by those you loved: we pray for all who feel the hurt of rejected love, the pain of betrayal and abandonment.

Silence

Jesus Christ, betrayed by us, have mercy upon us,

and hear our prayer. 

Son of God, you died for us, to fulfil the words of the    prophets and bring deliverance to all your people: we pray for the Jewish people, loved by God from ancient time.

Silence

Jesus Christ, bruised for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, to rescue your people from the power of sin: we pray for the church, for its clergy and ministers, for all who will make or renew baptismal vows.

Silence

Jesus Christ, wounded for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, to show your steadfast love for your people: we pray for all who live or work in this community, our families, our friends and all whom we love.

Silence

Jesus Christ, broken for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, to bring healing, wholeness and new life to your people: we pray for those in sickness, sorrow, grief or pain and for all who are close to death.

Silence

Jesus Christ, brought low for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Son of God, you died for us, with arms outstretched upon a cross: we remember all who have been condemned to die, all who have died in pain and torment. With the women who loved you and ministered to you and with the disciple whom you loved; may we stand with you this day. At our life's end, forgive us our desertions and betrayals and stretch out your arms to receive us, that, with all your saints, we may live with you in Paradise.

Jesus Christ, raised high for us, in your mercy,

hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn TIS 341: My song is love unknown V 1,2,3,4 and 7

                          (tune – Love Unknown)     

        Hold fast to hope. Hold fast to one another. For God,

        who has promised us, is faithful. The day of God

        approaches. Go in peace. 

          The Cross will be unlit, and we will extinguish the Christ

         candle. The minister and people depart in silence.





Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship Maundy Thursday Holy Communion and Tenebrae - 1 April 2021

March 30, 2021 - 11:08pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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“Day of Remembrance”

01st April 2021

Maundy Thursday in the year of Mark

 Tenebrae 7.00 pm

Tenebrae or “Service of Darkness” or “Service of Shadows” is the name given to a medieval tradition of reading Scripture and extinguishing candles, either at the end of a Holy Thursday service or on Good Friday. 

Gathering God’s People 

        Call to Worship- (Abingdon 2015)       

     This is a day of remembrance. This is a day to reflect on the traditions our ancestors received as a sacred trust. Listen . . . reflect . . . remember. Enter into the stories of our faith.

     God has delivered us from bondage and has set us free.

     This is a night of remembrance.

     Washing our feet, Jesus shows us that to love is to serve. This is a night to reflect on our faith.

     Bread has been broken; wine has been poured.

     This is a night to journey to our past.

     A new commandment has been given: Love one another. This is a night to reclaim our story.

     Through these acts, we remember that our story lives on. This is a night of remembrance.  

TIS 536: An upper room did our Lord prepare.

             (Tune – O Waly Waly) 

1.  An upper room did our Lord prepare

for those he loved until the end:

and his disciples still gather there

to celebrate their risen friend.


2.  A lasting gift Jesus gave his own:

to share his bread, his loving cup.

Whatever burdens may bow us down,

he by his cross shall lift us up.

 

3.  And after supper he washed their feet,

for service, too, is sacrament.

In Christ our joy shall be made complete:

sent out to serve, as he was sent.

 

4.  No end there is! We depart in peace,

he loves beyond the uttermost:

in every room in our Father's house

Christ will be there, as Lord and Host.

Opening prayer 

     God of our ancestors, we have come tonight to remember. We have come to recall your saving power and your steadfast love for all people. We have come to the Upper Room with Jesus: to be washed, to be fed, to be taught, and to follow his example of service and sacrifice. Through our words and through our actions, draw us into the sacred story of faith once again,  that we might love and serve one another as your disciples. 

     Invitation to Communion 

Tonight, we come to this table remembering the simplicity of this meal. The elements are common— bread and wine— but the meaning is profound. In giving his disciples the gift of this shared meal, Jesus not only called them to remember him, but he also gave them the means to re-member themselves, to become one body around this table. And so, it is with us. Each time we come to this table, we come to remember and to be re-membered; we come to become one in the body of Christ. 

Prayer of Confession 

God of grace and God of glory, we are more of a people of forgetfulness, than a people of remembrance. 

You have freed us from the bondage of death, yet we continue to live enslaved to fear. You have called us to be servants, yet we seek our own gain and put ourselves first.

Forgive us, O God. Guide us in the ways of life when we fail to follow the example of your Son.

Teach us to love, as you have loved us, that everyone may know we are your disciples. 

Assurance of Forgiveness. 

God listens closely to our prayers. God hears our requests for mercy. The cup of salvation has been poured out for us. In the name of Christ, who loves us fully, we are forgiven.

Thanks, be to God! 

Great Thanksgiving 

Holy are you and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ. When we turned aside from your way and abused your gifts, you gave us in him your crowning gift. Emptying himself that our joy might be full, he fed the hungry, healed the sick, ate with scorned and forgotten, washed his disciples’ feet, and gave a holy meal as a pledge of his abiding presence. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your Church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honour and glory is yours, almighty God, now and for ever. Amen. 

Distribution of Communion 

Prayer after Communion 

Holy Trinity, you have given yourself to us through the life and death of Jesus Christ. With thanksgiving, we now follow your last hours as we prepare to give ourselves for others. 

Tenebrae 

Mark 14:32-42  

Extinguish first candle in silence. 

Mark 14: 43-52 

Extinguish second candle in silence. 

Mark 14:53-63  

Extinguish third candle in silence. 

Mark 14:64-65  

Extinguish fourth candle in silence. 

Mark 14:66-72  

Extinguish fifth candle in silence. 

Mark 15:1-5  

Extinguish sixth candle in silence. 

Mark 15:6-15  

Extinguish seventh candle in silence. 

Mark 15:16-20  

Extinguish eighth candle in silence. 

Mark 15:21-26  

Extinguish ninth candle in silence. 

        Hymn TIS 608: Where cross the crowded ways of life

                             (Tune – Fulda) 

1 Where cross the crowded ways of life,
where sound the cries of race and clan,
above the noise of selfish strife,
we hear your voice, O Son of Man. 

2 In haunts of wretchedness and need,
on shadowed thresholds fraught with fears,
from paths where hide the lures of greed,
we catch the vision of your tears. 

3 From tender childhood's helplessness,
from human grief and burdened toil,
from famished souls, from sorrow's stress,
your heart has never known recoil. 

4 The cup of water given for you
still holds the freshness of your grace;
yet long these multitudes to view
the sweet compassion of your face. 

5 O Master, from the mountainside,
make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
among these restless throngs abide;
O tread the city's streets again; 

6 Till all the world shall learn your love,
and follow where your feet have trod;
till glorious from your heaven above
shall come the city of our God. 

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 

Extinguish or remove tenth candle in silence. 

After a brief time, only enough lights are switched on so that people can leave. People are invited to stay for a time of silent meditation and to leave when they wish. 

                                          DEPARTURE 

                   You are invited to leave in silence.





Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship Service Palm Sunday 28 March 2021

March 25, 2021 - 10:33pm

 


Marsden Road Uniting Church

                  Carlingford

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Welcome His Folly into Our Lives Sunday 28th March 2021.

Palm Sunday year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People 

        Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples

of this Land.

Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)

        Exaltation and joy... Passover sacrifice and betrayal ... death and life: such is the terrain of Holy Week. Such are waters that sweep us through the holy mystery of our faith. Now is the time to count the cost of discipleship. Now is the time to follow Jesus.

When they came to Bethpage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task, saying to them,

“Go into the village. As soon as you enter it you will find tied up a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it.’”

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and Jesus sat on it. Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields.

Bind the festival procession with palm branches. Open the gates of righteousness for us so we can come in and give thanks to the Lord!

This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it.

Enter the gates of righteousness with shouts of thanksgiving. Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

The stone the builders rejected is now the foundation stone.

This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our sight!

The Lord is God, and God has given us light as a lamp to our feet.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it! 

Hymn TIS 333: All glory, praise and honour

                        (tune – St Theodulph) 

     Opening Prayer

     Eternal One, as we enter Holy Week and celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, may we laugh with the children and shout our hosannas with the crowd. But never let us forget where this week ends. For the one who emptied himself for our sake, took the form of a servant and was betrayed and denied by his disciples and closest friends. May we sing in our hearts this day, but may our song be mixed with sorrow and regret, for such is the life of followers in every age. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

Source of our hope and strength, when our bones are dried up, and we are tested beyond our endurance, we turn away.

Forgive our wayward feet and our fickle hearts: when we are consumed with doubt, when we succumb to our weakness, when we give in to the impulse of betrayal, when we turn away in denial, when we confuse expedience with virtue.

Teach us anew your ways of life and death, that we may not stumble and fall during the time of trial.

In your holy name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

God has opened the gates of righteousness and Christ has beckoned us to walk through. Sing with the children; throw your clothes upon the road, for the one who comes in the name of the Lord offers us salvation in his name.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good. Give thanks to Christ, whose name is honoured above all names. Give praise to the Spirit, who makes us one. Share this thankfulness and praise with one another as we exchange signs of peace. Let us share the peace of Christ, the peace that passes all understanding.

Peace be with you!

And also with you!

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

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Object: Flags, confetti, noise makers, etc.

When I was young, I loved a parade! There was something about a parade that really got my heart to pumping. We often had parades to celebrate special events such as a circus coming to town or the opening of a fair. Sometimes we had a parade to honour an important person who has come to our town which before Christmas Santa Claus.

People would have some flags and noise makers. This morning I want us to imagine that we are watching a parade. Our city is honouring the very first astronaut from our city to ever walk on the moon. Can you imagine what is happening when the astronaut passes by. Everyone waves their flags and blow their noise makers. I didn’t bring noise makers, but we can imagine.

If you have ben to a parade such as Anzac Day, you can hear the band. Bands usually lead the parade and behind the band there are often floats carrying important people...or people from various groups like the Scouts etc., or a MP or Mayor. As they pass by, we smile and wave. Finally, here comes our hero! The crowd cheers waves their flags and blows their noise makers! Then as the parade moves on down the street, the sound of the band fades away in the distance. It is over. The celebration is over.

That is a little bit like something that took place in the city of Jerusalem about 2000 years ago. A king was visiting their city. People lined the streets of the city hoping to get to see the King. The King came riding on a small donkey, and as he rode through the streets of the city, the people waved palm branches and shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

I'm sure that you know who that King was—it was Jesus. Today is Palm Sunday. Today we remember the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the people cheering and waving palm branches. It was a day that marked the beginning of a week that would see Jesus cheered, then arrested, tried, beaten, and put to death on a cross. But as that week came to an end, another week began just as the previous week had begun, with a celebration. I can hardly wait until next Sunday! 

Offering Prayer

Spirit of humble generosity: thank you for your never-failing mercy; thank you for Christ’s gift of selfless love; thank you for the witness of our forebears. For blessing us with many gifts, we thank you. For walking with us in our weakness, we praise you. Receive these gifts in token and thanks for the love you offer us, a love that makes us well and whole. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 231: At the name of Jesus

                       (tune – Camberwell) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Philippians 2:5-11

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 11:1-11

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Philippians 2:5-11

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Mark 11:1-11

1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” 
4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ 11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. 

Preaching of the Word - Welcome His Folly into Our Lives

The story of Holy week presents Jesus as mocked three times, by three different groups: first, the religious authorities; then the secular authorities; and finally, the ordinary people, the crowd.

So, I would like to explore the story following the day of the Palms. The coming steps of the journey to the cross if you like. These instances of mockery have unexpected results. The pretensions of each group are dismantled. The stage is cleared of rivals, and the true king is enthroned.

Jesus appears first before the religious authorities. What brings him there? He acts and speaks contrary to vested interests, against conventional claims. And so, he is taken captive at night. He is identified by a false kiss, surrounded by an armed posse and deserted by his followers.

Once Jesus arrives at the high priest’s house, he stands alone before the religious authorities. They eagerly seek a reason to put him to death. But even their false witnesses cannot produce sufficient evidence against him. Jesus then indicates he is the Messiah. The authorities regard this as blasphemy. They hit him, spit at him and mock him. They ridicule his role as a prophet.

How ironic this scene is! These religious authorities blindfold someone who sees and speaks God’s truth and attack him. By doing so, they expose themselves as void of religious awareness. It is not Jesus who blasphemes; they are the blasphemers, abusing God’s name by their words and deeds.

Next Jesus appears before the secular authorities. As the religious leaders fail to recognise him as a prophet, so the secular authorities fail to see he is a king. The high priest led Jesus to declare his messiahship; then Pilate leads him to declare his kingship, but once again, Jesus is rejected.

Pilate treats him as a fraud. He turns Jesus over to soldiers who clothe him and crown him in a mock ritual, even striking him with his own sceptre. And so, these secular authorities expose themselves as unworthy. They mock the king in front of them.

Jesus appears before the crowd, and they call for his crucifixion. He appears before them again once he is crucified. These are people who welcomed him as a hero when he entered Jerusalem in triumph only a few days before.

He stands before them next to Pilate. A short time later, he appears before them helpless, hanging from a cross, suspended between earth and heaven, his blood seeping from his wounds, taking him down to death. Not far from his cross are the mockers, cowardly and cruel, who hurl abuse at him. They include casual passers-by, priests, and scribes, and even those crucified with him. What they attack is his relationship with his Father. They call on him to rescue himself.

But Jesus refuses to abandon his trust in God. Those who mock him on the cross show that they are devoid of faith. They see the world solely in terms of brute power. They refuse to live as God’s children.

A triple mockery, and in each case, those who revile Jesus reveal their own bankruptcy. Thus, the pretensions of each group are dismantled, and the stage is cleared of rivals, in order that the true king can be enthroned.

In today’s story, Jesus is mocked three times. A series of ironies takes place as well, all of them pointing to a wisdom that stands in judgment on our folly.

When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the crowd welcomes him as king, yet days later, they call for his crucifixion. They are disloyal to him and to their own best interests. Often enough, we also show ourselves disloyal – to him and to ourselves. In their lives and in ours, how ironic this turns out to be!

For a king to be enthroned, there must be an anointing. That happens to Jesus shortly before he goes to the cross. A woman pours expensive oil on his head as he sits at supper in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. This woman serving the high priest, this anointing at the dinner table, this king consecrated in a leper’s house – all of this is ironic, a monarch set apart not to rule, but to be buried.

It is the high priest in Jerusalem whose words reveal Jesus as the Messiah, and it is the Roman governor there who proclaims him to the crowd as king. Despite themselves, these two speak the truth. That they run from this truth, that they drive Jesus on to his death – this also is ironic.

Irony reaches a climax when Jesus arrives at Golgotha. There he is announced as King of the Jews by a mocking sign attached to his cross. Ironically, the sign declares more truth than its maker intended.

Most ironically of all, the cross, an instrument of shameful death, becomes the throne for this king, that place from which he reigns, the centre of his realm. The places of honour on right and left, once coveted by his disciples James and John, cannot be given away, for they are occupied already – by convicted criminals.

So, Jesus is enthroned upon the hard wood of the cross. Israel’s messiah, the Son of God, becomes a victim to end all victimisation. He drains the cup of our human experience to the last bitter drop. He even knows what it’s like to feel deserted by God.

Jesus dies, and only then does somebody get it right. This is the final irony of today’s story, and it appears in the last spoken sentence. For the one who gets it right is a most unlikely somebody. A Roman centurion is marking time until the death occurs. He is there to make sure that none of the crucified are rescued by their followers or friends. He is a gentile, an officer of the empire, one who looks like an outsider on the turbulent life of Jerusalem during Passover season. He is there simply to maintain order.

A criminal dying on a cross is something this centurion has often seen. He knows how contemptible it is, particularly for Romans. Yet death on a cross looks different on this day, with this prisoner. And so, the tough soldier blurts out about Jesus, to no one and everyone, “Truly, this man was God’s Son!” The centurion has for a moment glimpsed the supreme irony of enthronement on a cross of shame and death.

A couple of decades later, St. Paul makes a similar point when writing to the Christians in Corinth. He tells them that the message of the cross is sheer folly to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is God’s power at work.

To the extent that we do not come to an awareness like that of the centurion and Paul, then we inevitably mock Christ and his cross, and thus reveal our own fatal folly. To the extent we do come to this awareness, we honour Christ and his cross, and show that we welcome God’s own foolishness, which is the most sublime wisdom.

Do we accept God’s folly for ourselves, or do we not? To refuse this folly is a terrible thing, even when done politely. It places those who refuse together with the characters in today’s story who mock Christ, who reject him as prophet, king, and son of God. Yet we remain free to make this refusal.

Today and always, we can honour his cross and welcome his folly into our lives.

May we do this. 

Hymn TIS 348: Ride on, ride on in majesty.

                       (tune – Winchester New) 

Intercessory Prayers - Palm Sunday – Year B

      After the words:            Jesus, Son of David, let us follow in your way.

      please respond with      let us walk with you to Jerusalem. 

Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Crowds cheered when you came to Jerusalem; you came to bring peace, but the civil authorities did not welcome you.

Jesus, we pray for your world: for peace that brings an end to violence, oppression, and war; for peace that enables all people to live with dignity and justice; for world leaders and for all who commit their lives to the work of peace.

Jesus, Son of David, let us follow in your way.

let us walk with you to Jerusalem.

Crowds cheered when you came to Jerusalem; you came to bring the freedom of the Spirit, but the chief priests plotted your death.

Jesus, we pray for your church: for a church freed from false dogma and legalism, discord, and division; for a pilgrim church, ready to travel where you lead; for all leaders of your church and for those who minister in your name.

Jesus, Son of David, let us follow in your way.

let us walk with you to Jerusalem.

Crowds cheered when you came to Jerusalem; you came to bring love, but you were betrayed and deserted by your friends.

Jesus, we pray for this community: for our families, our friends, for those with whom we work and learn; for the hungry, the homeless and those without hope for the future,

for all who live in fear or despair and all who know the pain of betrayal.

Jesus, Son of David, let us follow in your way.

let us walk with you to Jerusalem.

Crowds cheered when you came to Jerusalem; you came to bring healing to the sick and release to the captive, but you were beaten, imprisoned, and killed.

Jesus, we pray for all in need: for prisoners of conscience and those held without trial; for all whose beliefs lead them to frightening and lonely places; for the friendless, the unwanted and all from whom we turn away; for the sick and all who mourn.

Jesus, Son of David, let us follow in your way.

let us walk with you to Jerusalem.

Crowds cheered when you came to Jerusalem; you travelled towards the Cross, but Jerusalem was also the place of the empty tomb.

We give you thanks for faithful people throughout the ages who have followed you on this journey. Jesus, let us suffer and die with you, that we may rise to fullness of life with you.

Jesus, Son of David, let us follow in your way.

let us walk with you to Jerusalem. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn TIS 357: When his time was over the palms lay

                       where they fell

                       (tune – Wakefield Street)

Benediction

        On the back of a donkey,

        Jesus came to bless us.

        With a love that did not count the cost,

        Jesus came to heal us.

        From hopelessness and despair,

        Jesus came to free us.

        With the power of the Holy Spirit,

        Jesus came to save us.

        May your life declare the lordship of Jesus Christ, to

        the glory of God! Amen! 

Hymn TIS 776: Aaronic Blessing,

                       (tune – Aaronic Blessing)




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Worship Service 14 March 2021 - Lent 4

March 12, 2021 - 3:10am


 Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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


For God So Loved.

Sunday 14th March 2021

Lent 4 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

Call to Worship  (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)

        When we were lost in our wrongdoing and as good as dead, God sent the Human One into the world to bring us eternal life. God’s will is not to condemn, but to save.

Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good.

God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Let those redeemed by the Lord say:

God’s steadfast love endures forever.

When we cried out to God in our distress,

God saved us in our hour of need.

Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good.

God’s steadfast love endures forever. 

Hymn TIS 154: Great is your faithfulness.

                        (tune – Faithfulness)     

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

Opening Prayer

     God of light and love shine upon your people this day. Meet us in our brokenness and heal our errant ways. Take from us our spirit of disobedience and save us with your grace. Lead us into your truth, that we may live as children of light, and act as children of the “Most High.” Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

God of poisonous snakes and deadly crosses, your ways can be terrible to behold.

When we complain about what we lack, rather than celebrating your sustaining gifts, forgive us.

When we see only the bad in our lives, and fail to see the good, heal our vision.

When we act as disobedient children, and turn away from your light, save us with your unfailing grace.

In Christ’s holy name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

God sent the Human One into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it. The One who brings us light saves us from our destructive ways and leads us into life.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Share the joy of salvation and the assurance of love with one another by offering signs of peace and reconciliation.

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: Jesus, brought light into the world.

Object: A night light and a flashlight or lantern

Are you afraid of the dark? It is not unusual for children to be afraid of the dark. Some of you may have a night light in your bedroom. You shouldn't be embarrassed. In fact, it might be a wise thing to do. Suppose you wake up in the night and need a drink of water. If you get up in the dark to go get a drink, you might stub your toe or bump your shin. Ouch! That hurts.

If you go for a walk at night, it is a good idea to carry a flashlight or lantern. Even if you are not afraid of the dark, you might step in a hole and sprain your ankle. A flashlight or lantern will help you avoid those things that could harm you. If you have the choice of walking in the dark or walking in the light, which would you choose? I know which one I would choose!

In our Bible readings today, Jesus talks about light and darkness. Jesus said, "Light has come into the world." Do you know what the Light is that Jesus was talking about? He was talking about himself. In another place, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk-in darkness but will have the light of life."

You might be surprised to know that some people choose to walk in darkness rather than in the light. Can you imagine that? Why would they do that? Jesus tells us, "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their evil deeds will be exposed."

Every day we make choices. If we live by truth, we walk in the light so that it may be plainly seen. As Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." What choice will you make? Will you walk in the light or in the darkness? 

Offering Prayer

God of light and love shine through our offerings this day. May they bring light to the darkness and help lead others from death into life. Transform these gifts into your glory, that they may reflect the joy of your saving grace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 147: To God be the glory.

                        (tune – To God be the Glory)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CeBoSQsBR0   

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Numbers 21:4-9

The Gospel Reading:                                        John 3:14-21

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Numbers 21:4-9

4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. 5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ 6 Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So, Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. 

John 3:14-21

14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’ 

Preaching of the Word - Quick, What Is Another …….

Quick, what is another name for today, the Fourth Sunday in Lent?

Give up? Actually, there are several possible answers to this question, all of them correct, and all of them originating in ecclesiastical history and liturgical practice.

In some quarters, especially among our Roman Catholic friends and neighbours, the Fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare [pronounced, (lay-TAH-rayâ] Sunday, from the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” It may at first seem odd to speak of rejoicing in the middle of Lent, a season of penitence and sacrifice. After all, we have put away our alleluias and festive faces for the duration. Yet, in ancient times, the special, or proper, parts of the service on this day began with the single word “rejoice,.” reminding worshippers that the Church is more than halfway through its Lenten discipline and well on the way to Easter joy.

So, lighten up a little, the Church seems to have been saying. For much the same reason, in some Denomination circles this day has become known as Refreshment Sunday.

As if that were not enough, in the United Kingdom this day has been celebrated at least since late medieval times as, of all things, Mothering Sunday, the equivalent of Mother’s Day in North America. No one quite knows why mothers have come to be honoured in the middle of Lent. But some scholars speculate that the original Scripture lessons, or readings, on this day referred to Mary, the Mother of God and the mother of the Church. In any event, if you have British friends, be sure to wish them well today.

There you have it. No matter how you name it, the Fourth Sunday of Lent more or less the middle point of the season is special.

Life itself, of course, is made up of middle points and transitions to which we attribute unique and special importance. It is human nature to mark time, to take note of milestones and halfway points. We may remember being halfway through high school or Uni; halfway through a transition between Ministers at Church; or halfway through a project at work. And mothers will certainly remember being halfway through pregnancy, eager for the birth of their child.

Whatever the effort, being halfway through something is special. It can bring either anxiety or a foretaste of accomplishment. Or both.

In our first reading today, we find the ancient Israelites on their journey out of Egypt becoming downright anxious and impatient on the way. Their passage or transition has been long and arduous, and it is far from over. Why, they challenge Moses, I don’t know? They say, have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? As if that had been Moses purpose all along. They even complain of the food and drink. We detest this miserable food, they grumble like spoiled children. Did they perhaps expect gourmet fare in the desert?

The Israelites have forgotten that they are on their way home to the Promised Land. They have lost sight of the purpose and meaning of their journey. The desert and its hardships have robbed them not only of patience, but of perspective and hope as well. Only when the Lord punishes them with a multitude of poisonous serpents do the people come to their senses and repent. Only when those bitten by the serpents look upon the serpent of bronze raised by Moses do they once again come to live. The journey of the Israelites is not over, but it has gained new significance and purpose.

We find ourselves today as a nation in the midst of transformation and crisis. Our economy is struggling after the problems of Covid-19. Our industries are staggering, and many industries are disappearing and others arising. People are losing their jobs at record rates and many are being employed in different ways. No one knows if the government’s remedies will work. And our minds are filled with anxious questions: Where do we stand? Will all the problems bought by the Covid-19 pandemic end soon? Or has it just begun?

It would be easy for us to lose hope and to despair, as did the ancient Israelites. Indeed, today, as in ancient times, there seems to be no end of complaint and blame. Some fault the greed of finance people and business leaders for our problems. Others cite irresponsible politicians and world leaders. Yet few are willing to look in the mirror. We all feel the bite of our anxieties. Perhaps we too need a bronze serpent to gaze upon. Perhaps we too need to face our fears and learn once again to live.

We may well ask: Is there anything left for us to rejoice about on Laetare Sunday, halfway through this discontented Lenten season?

The season itself suggests that there is.

Lent is, after all, a time of reflection, repentance, and prayer; a time to allow the Lord to turn us around in faith so that we may at last be regenerated in the risen life of Easter. And that has little to do with business cycles or the size of our pay packet.

Jesus himself, in our gospel reading today, gives us the best reason of all for rejoicing.  That famous passage from John 3, “God so loved the world,” he tells us, “that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

That is the kind of economy we can all believe in the economy of salvation. So, yes: there is still plenty of room for hope and even joy.

Decades ago, an irreverent wit once observed, God protects fools, children, and the United States of America or maybe even Australia. The truth of the matter is that God protects us all fools as well as the wise; children as well as mothers and fathers; Australians, ancient Israelites, and people of every land and creed. In spite of our fears, complaints, and foolishness, God loves us all without bounds. We need only look to his Son to understand this truth and live.

And that is reason enough to rejoice even today even in the middle of Lent. 

Hymn TIS 155: How great thou art.

                        (tune – O Store Gud)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc0QVWzCv9k 

Intercessory Prayers       

Lent 4 Sunday – Year B –

We give you thanks, 0 God, that you gather your people from north and south, from east and west: hear our prayers for all the peoples of the world. We pray for all who are victims of hatred, oppression or war, for those whose greed, apathy or lust for power destroys the lives of others. When we choose the ways of evil and reject your light, let us turn to you that we might live.

God of love and goodness, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We give you thanks, 0 God, that you sent your Son into the world to bring salvation to your people: hear our prayers for your holy, catholic church. We pray for your clergy and ministers, for all who worship in this place, for all who preach the gospel and seek to bring your people into fullness of life. When we find the bonds of slavery safer than the risks of freedom, let us turn to you that we might live.

God of love and goodness, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We give you thanks, 0 God, that your love for your people is from everlasting to everlasting: hear our prayers for all in this community. We pray for those who are excluded, undervalued or forgotten in our society, for those with whom we work, for our families, our friends and for ourselves.

When we are preoccupied with our own needs and overlook the concerns of others, let us turn to you that we might live.

God of love and goodness, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We give you thanks, 0 God, that you bring healing to the sick and relief to those in distress: hear our prayers for all who suffer in body, mind or spirit. We pray for all who are without purpose or hope, for all who struggle with addictions,

for the friendless and those who mourn, for the sick and for the dying. When we are overwhelmed by grief, loneliness, despair or pain, let us turn to you that we might live.

God of love and goodness, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

We give you thanks, 0 God, that in Christ you bring your people from death to everlasting life: hear our prayers for all who have died in your love. We pray for those we love who rest in your presence, for those of this parish whose yearly remembrance occurs at this time. Now, and when we draw near the gate of death, let us look on you and believe, that we, with all your saints, might know the joy of eternal life.

God of love and goodness, in your mercy,

hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn TIS 217: Love divine all loves excelling...

                         (tune – Hyfrydol)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eb6xfRzjhg

Benediction.

        Leave the shadows of your lives behind and go forth into the glorious light of God.

         Wewill walk in the light of Christ.

        Leave your brokenness of disobedience behind and rest in God’s compassion and grace.

         We will abide in Christ’s tender mercies.

        Go with the blessings of almighty God. 

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

                       (tune – Aubrey)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfOFlWxGaP8





Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Order of Service Lent 3 - 07 March 2021

March 4, 2021 - 9:29pm


 Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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One Driver Sticks...,

Sunday 7th March 2021

Lent 3 Sunday - year of Mark 9.30am 

Gathering God’s People       

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

 Call to Worship- (The Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)

Passion consumed Jesus as he overturned the tables of the merchants and moneychangers in the Temple grounds. As we follow Jesus toward the cross, may we too be consumed by a righteous passion to do what is right and honourable.

The heavens declare the glory of God.

The earth proclaims God’s handiwork.

In speech without words, their voices are heard.

In praise without language, their sounds extend

throughout creation.

The law of God is perfect, reviving the soul.

The teachings of God are sure, making wise the simple.

The precepts of God are right, rejoicing the heart.

The ordinances of God are true and are righteous altogether.

Come and proclaim with the heavens the glory and majesty of our God. 

Hymn TIS 156: Morning has broken.

                       (Tune – Bunessan) 

     Opening prayer

God of righteous fire, just as Jesus was consumed with passion as he cleared the Temple, may we be consumed with passion as we seek justice and righteousness in our world; just as Christ never flinched on his journey to the cross, may we never waver in our devotion to you and our defence of the poor. On this great journey of Lent, teach us the perfection of your ways, as we keep our eyes fixed upon your Son. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession

God of majesty and might, when we fail to hear the heavens proclaim your glory in speech without words,

Open our ears to perceive your precepts in the singing of the stars and in the music of the sun and moon; when we fail to perceive the wonder of your law in every act of kindness and mercy and in every act of devotion,

revive our souls with your wisdom and heal our hearts with your ways.

In your holy name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

The foolishness of the cross is greater than the wisdom of the world. The love and forgiveness of the Holy One is greater than the waywardness of our hearts. Let us rejoice in the glory of our salvation.

Thanks, be to God! Amen 

The Peace

Living according to God’s law brings joy to the heart, light to the mind, and peace to the soul. Let us share this joy, light, and peace with one another as we exchange signs of peace and remember the way of the cross.

The peace of Christ be with you.

The peace of Christ be with you always.

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

Offering Prayer

Eternal God, your law has guided your people from generation to generation. With the blessings of your covenant: receive our lives, that we may live your commandments; receive our gifts, that we may share your glory with the world. This we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus, who is our wisdom and our strength. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 546: Lord Jesus, think on me.

                       (Tune - Southwell (Daman))

 The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise. 

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you our parent, Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. In love you made us for yourself; and when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, your love remained steadfast. You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts and prepare with joy for the Easter feast, that, renewed by your Word and Sacraments and fervent in prayer and works of justice and mercy, we may come to the fullness of grace that you have prepared for those who love you. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest! 

Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ, whom you sent in the fullness of time to redeem the world. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in our likeness. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. He offered himself, a perfect sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your Church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Amen.

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

The Bread we break is the Bread of Life.

The Cup We Share is the Cup of Promise

These are the gifts of God for the people of God.

Thanks, be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

Jesus says: ‘The bread that God gives is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’
(Thanks be to God.)
Come, everything is ready. 

Prayer after Communion

Almighty and merciful God, you sent your only Son as the word of life for our eyes to see and our ears to hear. Help us by your gifts of word and sacrament to believe with joy what they proclaim.

We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Exodus 20: 1-17

The Gospel Reading:                                        John 2.13-22

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Exodus 20: 1-17

1 Then God spoke all these words: 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3 you shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 8 Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. 9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. 12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. 17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. 

John 2.13-22

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the moneychangers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ 18 The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19 Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. 

Preaching of the Word - One Driver Sticks...,

One driver sticks post-it notes all over the dashboard of her car to make sure she remembers each errand. Kitchen calendars fill up with family appointments. Many cell phones now include calendars so their owners can have instant access to appointments that are too numerous to remember.

Chronic stress accompanies an increasing number of Americans who feel busy beyond measure. It’s a common problem for the current generation, even among the retired. People are so overwhelmed that one of the greatest luxuries of the twenty-first century is free time.

Busy-ness intrudes on all of us because we have so many opportunities. And because we want everything at once and more, we have become slaves to what we desire, not what we need. We have become possessed by our activities and by our getting and spending and doing. Isn’t that part of the malady that infects us during this difficult economic period? Living beyond our means? Materialism and greed? Are there no boundaries to keep us in check?

Obviously, we need to re-set priorities and follow them.

A classic story about a business management consultant is instructive. The CEO of a large company stared failure in the face as he floundered, trying to pull his workforce out of a production tailspin. Swallowing his pride, he called in a consultant and said he would take any and all advice. The consultant asked the CEO to list what he did in the course of a normal week. Once this was done, she told the CEO to rank the list in priority.

This took a while, but when it was finished, she told the CEO what he needed to do. When you come to work, complete item number one before attending to item number two, and complete number two before going to number three. The next day, take out the list and start with number one again and repeat the process. Do the same each and every day. Don’t worry if you fail to reach lower items on your priority list. That’s it.

The CEO tried it and turned the company around. He lived into his own priorities and his workforce followed.

Emulating this would be a good way for Christians to amplify their Lenten disciplines while setting priorities and following them rigorously. This might free us from the busy-ness and overindulgence that we have fallen subject to as the things that enslave us. Heeding today’s reading from Exodus would make that task easier.

The Ten Commandments begins with a reminder that it is God who first leads us from that which enslaves us. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, you shall have no other gods before me.” God’s commandments can free us from the confinement of excessive busy-ness, too much wanting everything and more, obsession with our cravings and desires. God’s commandments lay out boundaries and help us set priorities by God’s standards.

Look at any list of the ten commandments in your old Prayer Book or Catechisms. Often these are stripped down lists of ten priorities provides us with a time-honoured but too-often-neglected guide for daily living. The Ten Commandments provide simplicity in the midst of too much complexity and busy-ness that often confounds us.

Furthermore, our Catechism’s, tend to help us even further by grouping the ten into two basic priorities. First is our duty to believe and trust in God. Second is our duty to care for and respect our neighbours.

For the initial priority, simply said, we put God first and putting nothing in God’s place. The Catechism helps us understand deeper meanings of not making idols, not misusing God’s name, and keeping holy the Sabbath day.

We show love for God and obedience to him in thought, word, and deed’s. We set aside special time for reflection on God’s way’s through worshipping with our community of believers and praying and studying about the things of God that are our priority.

For the second priority, simply said, we put our neighbours first. Again, the Catechism expands our understanding of honouring parents and refraining from murder, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting what is our neighbour’s.

We love, honour, and help our parents and others who exercise just authority. It is a partnership, for the sake of God, with those who teach us and lead us into the way of Christ. We respect the created order of humanity by accepting the righteous reality God has made. We honour human life, deplore war, work for peace, rid our hearts of hatred and malice, and seek to become one with what God has created.

We use all bodily desires as God intended, remaining faithful in human relationships. We deal with others honestly and fairly, and we work for justice in the world around us and far off. We seek freedom whether it does not exist. We share the precious resources of this planet and do not horde unnecessary surplus when others stand in need.

We do not simply refrain from lying, but we exercise the courage to tell the truth. We are careful not to mislead others by our silence. We resist the all-too-human temptation to have what is not ours. We guard against desires that lead us to envy, greed, and jealousy. Rather, we look with happiness and thanksgiving at the success of others and what they possess.

In the process of living into these commandments, we continue to expand this view and uncover for ourselves, in the particularities of our lives, the richness of what each means.

The list of Ten Commandments need not complicate our thinking, because each is a part of one whole: duty to and love for God and fellow human beings.

Our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us of this. We recall this teaching at this time as it sems to me to be so appropriate for Lent:

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

Here’s the place to grab onto the management consultant’s advice. At the beginning of each day, let’s lay aside all our calendars and day planners and lists of things to do. Rather, let us turn to this top item on our list of priorities, loving God and loving neighbour, and tend to it before we move on to the next thing.

Then maybe, just maybe our problem of busy-ness, our rush to fulfill so many wants and desires, will cease to make us anxious, and the success of our personal lives will be secured. 

Hymn TIS 684: Love will be our Lenten Calling.

                       (Tune – Picardy)

Intercessory Prayers      

      After the words:            In your mercy,

      please respond with      hear our prayer. 

Lent 3 – Year B –

Holy God, slow to anger and infinite in mercy, hear us when we bring our prayers for your people.

We pray for the world, for peace and co-operation between nations, for wise and honest government and for a just and careful use of the earth ' s resources.

When we make idols of power and possessions, when we are greedy for what is not ours, or take what belongs to others,

overturn our values, that we may be passionate in the pursuit of justice. Holy God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your worldwide church, for all who exercise leadership, for those who minister in your name, for all who worship in this place.

When we do not place you first in our lives, when we profane your name, or forget your worship, overturn our values, that we may proclaim your gospel by our words and by our lives.  

Holy God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who live in this community, for our families, our friends and all with whom our lives are bound.

When our jealousy, unfaithfulness or neglect destroys relationships with parents, children, partners or friends, when we are less than truthful, or damage others by our words, overturn our values, that our relationships may be based on mutual respect and trust. Holy God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all in need, for the hungry, the homeless and the unemployed, for those without friends and those who .have lost loved ones, for all who are in pain, for the sick and for the dying.

When our selfishness overrides our concern for others, when we abandon our responsibilities for the vulnerable, the aged and the infirm, overturn our values that we may learn to care for each other with compassion and tenderness. Holy God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for your faithful people of every generation, for all who have walked in your way and now find eternal rest with you.

When we choose to disobey your commandments, when we leave your path and follow our own desires, overturn our values, that, with all your saints, we may find true treasure in following your law and come into the joy of your everlasting presence. Holy God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

Hymn TIS 609: May the mind of Christ my Saviour

                       (Tune – St Leonards) 

          Benediction

         Walk in the ways of God. Go forth with the song of the heavens in your ears. Listen to the words of life. Go forth to live fully and completely: with the teachings of God’s law to lead you, with the grace of Christ Jesus to guide you, and with the peace of the Holy Spirit to sustain you. Go with God.

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

Hymn TIS 778: Shalom to you

                          (Tune – Somos Del Sensor)




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

MRUC Order of Service Lent 2 - 28 February 2021

February 26, 2021 - 2:13am

 


Sunday 28th February 2021


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A Covenant Worth Our Lives,

Sunday 28th February 2021

Lent 2 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am

Gathering God’s People       

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship- (Abingdon Worship Annual 2018)       

God’s voice calls to us, naming us in holy love. Christ’s voice chastens us, correcting us when we lose our way. The Spirit’s voice sounds within us, drawing us back to the paths of righteousness. God’s voice heals us, naming us as God’s own.

From generation to generation, God names us and claims us.

Let heaven and earth praise God’s holy name.

From our earliest steps, Christ guides our wayward feet. Let all who draw breath come back to the Lord.

From death to life, the Spirit sets us free.

Let the faithful rejoice in God’s holy covenant.

From generation to generation, God names us and claims us.

Let heaven and earth praise God’s holy name. 

Hymn TIS  052: Let us sing to the God of salvation

                        (Tune – Sing Hosanna)            

Opening Prayer

      Spirit of the ages, as you called to Abram and Sarai, renaming them according to your purposes, call to us this day. Open our ears to the sound of your voice, that we may respond to your call and pick up our cross to follow you. Name us anew this day, and raise us to newness of life, that we may be children of your promise, people of your covenant, and disciples of your grace. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

God above every name, when our vision dims, and we prefer human thoughts to your thoughts, heal our eyes of faith.

Grace above every grace, when our suffering closes us off from the joy on the other side of suffering, grant us your strength to follow Christ in hope and promise.

Wisdom of the ages, when we seek to save our lives in destructive ways, love us back onto the right paths and restore us to life.

In your holy name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

By saying no to ourselves, and picking up our cross to follow Christ, we find ourselves. By saying yes to the good news of God’s Spirit working within us, we find faith and wholeness. God’s promises are sure, God’s love eternal.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Let all who would become Christ’s followers deny themselves and follow Christ in love and grace. Let all who seek freedom pick up their cross and follow him, even when the road is long. On this journey, let us turn to one another and share 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.) 

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme - Discipleship is not easy

Object - A deck of cards and perhaps a book on magic tricks.

Scripture - Mark 8:31,34

I have a really cool card trick to show you this morning. (Shuffle the cards a couple of times.) First, I need a helper. (Choose a helper and continue.) I want you to pick a card out of this deck. Don't show it to me, but you can show everyone else. I'll cover my eyes so I can't see it. Now, I want you to carefully slide that card right into the middle of the deck.

Don't let me see it! Now, this is the amazing part. I am going to snap my fingers, and the card that you selected will move from the middle of the deck to the top of the deck. Are you ready? (Snap!) Here it is! Here is your card right on top. (Pick up the card and show it to your helper.)

That is your card, isn't it? It isn't? Well, I don't understand what happened. I bought this book to teach me how to do this trick and it didn't work. It said I should let you choose a card and put it in the middle of the deck and when I snapped my fingers it would move to the top. Oh, there was a bunch of other stuff I was supposed to do, but that stuff was all too complicated. I skipped over that part. It is supposed to be a magic trick, so I thought it would work at the snap of my fingers.

That was pretty foolish of me, wasn't it? Well, sometimes we think life should be that easy too, don't we? We think that everything should happen at the snap of a finger. When life is hard, we look for the easy way out.

That isn't anything new. People were like that in Jesus' day too. One day Jesus was talking to his disciples and he was telling them all he was going to have to suffer to save the world from sin. He told them how he was going to be made fun of, beaten, crucified, and buried, but that he would rise again on the third day. That was what his Father had sent him to do.

Peter had other ideas. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and that wasn't what he wanted for Jesus. There had to be an easier way. Well, it is true. There was an easier way. Jesus had the power. He could have taken the easy way out. He could have set up his kingdom right here on earth with the snap of his fingers. But that was not God's plan.

Jesus turned to Peter and scolded him. "Get behind me, Satan!" Jesus said to Peter. "You don't have your mind on the things of God, you have your mind on the things of men!"

Jesus wasn't interested in taking the easy way out and he doesn't want us looking for the easy way out either. He said, "If anyone would follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy. It doesn't happen with the snap of our fingers. It isn't easy, but the reward is great! 

Offering

Bless us this day, Eternal God, that we may be a blessing to a world in need. Bless our gifts and our offerings in your name, that they may light the way home for those who have wandered far and lost their way. As these gifts go forth to do your work, may they help others hear you call their names and bring them peace. Amen 

Hymn TIS 412: God sends us his Spirit to befriend

                        (Tune – Natomah) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            Romans 4:13-25

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 8:31-38

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

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

Romans 4: 13-25

13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ 23 Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. 

Mark 8:31-38

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ 

Preaching of the Word - A Covenant Worth Our Lives,

We human beings love our rules. The security that comes from knowing how things should be done comforts us in our chaotic world. God understands this about us, and so God comes to us in terms of covenant. In our lesson from Genesis, God provides a clear agreement that Abraham can refer to and rely on to know that God will come through on God’s promises. God willingly limits Godself out of love, knowing that making this clear and concrete covenant, promising to be our God forever and make our descendants fruitful, will bring us comfort and security.

Where we get into trouble is in thinking that our ideas about rules and regulations should govern God. Once we understand that God will always be faithful to us and care for us, we start to think we know better than God who God should be and how God should act. Consider Peter’s action in our gospel story today. At first, his boldness is shocking – how did he have the audacity to take Jesus aside and rebuke him? But when we examine our hearts, we might realize that we, too, have sometimes wanted to take Jesus aside and rebuke him.

Peter acts this way because he doesn’t like what Jesus is saying. How often have we felt that way ourselves? How often have we wanted to explain the realities of a harsh world to a Jesus who seems naïve and unrealistic in his expectations of us? What do you mean, sell everything we have and give it to the poor to follow you, Jesus? How can you expect us to “be perfect as your heavenly Parent is perfect”? It’s simply not realistic to “give to everyone who asks of you.”

The truth is that our human instinct is to remake Christ in our own image, rather than letting ourselves be transformed into Christ’s image. We want to dictate the terms of the covenant, but Jesus makes it clear that that impulse is from the darkness within us, and he will name it and call us out on it. Just a few short verses ago, Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah. Peter got it right! He knew the truth about Jesus and was not afraid to proclaim it. And yet barely a moment later, he has made such a mistake that Jesus is saying that evil is acting through him.

What we can learn from this is the truth that even after – perhaps especially after – our mountaintop experiences of revelation, we still have so very much to learn. Even as we gain more and more knowledge of Jesus and enter deeper and deeper into relationship with him, the mystery of his full nature grows at the same pace. Just because we know him doesn’t mean we get to tell him what to do, a lesson that Peter learned in this moment and that we will learn over and over again.

This gospel lesson is full of truths that are hard to hear. Peter’s expectations are dashed by what Jesus says. He and the other disciples have witnessed Jesus’ power – it was very natural for them to assume that Jesus would bring about the fullness of God’s covenant promises by overthrowing Rome and restoring the throne of Israel. Now Jesus tells them that he knows he will be defeated, arrested and killed – and he fully intends to let it happen.

This is a bitter, painful discovery for Peter and the others. It feels like a betrayal. “Jesus, you have the power of almighty God at your disposal. Rather than rescuing us from oppression, you’re going to give in and give up and let the Romans win again?”

This “gospel” Good News is the worst news imaginable.

What Peter doesn’t understand in this moment is that rather than betraying God’s covenant with Israel, Jesus is simultaneously fulfilling it and rewriting it. The original covenant promise to Abraham in our lesson from Genesis set for today which we haven’t read, was for many fruitful descendants, all of whom would be loved and protected by God. It was a covenant promising a future of life. Jesus is inviting us to a covenant of life also – but it is by following a very different path than we would expect. Jesus promises life to us if we have the courage to face death. Jesus promises that if we give our lives wholeheartedly to him and thereby to serving our neighbours, we will have rich and abundant life flowing through us, welling up to eternal life.

It is an enticing invitation – but a scary one. To know that Jesus is entering death willingly and expects us to do the same would give anyone pause. And while we know that one day, we will all confront literal, physical death, there are many other deaths awaiting us. We will face the death of our pride, the death of our comfortable ideas about what God is calling us to do and be, perhaps the death of our financial security and the death of our ambition and slavery to success. The covenant to which we are invited has very high stakes, and the urge to take Jesus aside and rebuke him as Peter did starts to make more and more sense.

It seems impossible, doesn’t it? It seems as farfetched to imagine ourselves brave enough to follow Jesus into death, to lose our lives to save them, as he says, as it did for Abraham and Sarah to have children in their old age. This covenant to which we are invited, this covenant that takes this strange and frightening path of cross-carrying and death, is only possible under one condition. We cannot make it on hard work or determination or power or strength.

Our lesson from Romans tells us what we need to enter into this covenant:

“It depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed. … Hoping against hope, [Abraham] believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations.’ … He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead. … No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Faith is the only bridge through death on the cross to the new life of resurrection with Jesus. But it is not a fairy-tale faith that closes its eyes and hopes for the best, blindly wishing for a happy ending. It is a faith that takes stock of the very real cost of discipleship to which Jesus calls us, the price up to and including our very lives, and deems it a worthy gift to the Christ who withheld nothing from us.

Some of us, including many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world, may pay that cost of discipleship with their literal, physical lives. But most of us will not go out in a blaze of martyred glory. Most of us will carry the cross one small step at a time, one spiritual discipline at a time, one act of generosity or sacrifice or love at a time. 

However, we carry the cross, the giving of our lives willingly to follow Jesus will manifest in one perhaps unexpected cost: the risk of being changed. When Abram and Sarai committed to God’s covenant with them, they were changed at such a fundamental level that they could no longer be known by their former names. The man and woman who were God’s covenant partners had to be known as Abraham and Sarah, names that echoed their former selves but were profoundly transformed, just like their lives and their souls.

This is the risk we take when we sign on to Jesus’ covenant of life, the journey with and through the cross and its transforming power, the road through death to resurrection. We will emerge on the other side with the building blocks of our souls familiar to us, but the temple of grace into which they have been built strange and new and glorious. We can finally let go of our urge to rebuke Jesus, to remake him to be like we think he should be, like ourselves, because we know through faith that he will remake us to be like him.

That’s a covenant promise worth our very lives. 

Hymn TIS 657: God of Freedom, God of Justice

                       (Tune - Picardy)       

Intercessory Prayers- Lent 2 Sunday – Year B –

God of promise and hope, we bring to you our prayers believing that with you all things are possible; hear the prayers we offer.

You promised to make Abraham the father of nations and through Sarah and Hagar your promise came to birth hear our prayers for the nations of the world.

We pray for peace among nations, especially Israel, Palestine and the Middle East; for an end to violence, cruelty and oppression; for just and responsible sharing of the resources of the world; for the leaders of nations and all with responsibility of government; for all who commit their lives to the pursuit of justice; for all who work for the preservation of the earth. God of hope, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You promised a Messiah to bring salvation to your people, and through the obedience of Mary your promise came to birth hear our prayers for your holy, catholic church. We pray for a servant church where your gospel is proclaimed in deed and in word; for all leaders of churches, theologians and teachers; for those who take the gospel to distant or dangerous places; for all whose witness is met with apathy, ridicule or persecution; for unity and trust between Christians of different traditions; for understanding and respect between Muslims, Jews and Christians. God of hope, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You promised to send a Comforter to your people, and in the coming of the Holy Spirit your promise was fulfilled: hear our prayers for all who are in pain or distress.

We pray for relief, comfort and healing for your suffering people; for the poor, the hungry and the homeless; for the lonely, the forgotten and the unwanted; for all who grieve the loss of loved ones; for the sick and those who care for them; for the dying and those who watch with them. God of hope, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You promised that from death would come new life and in the resurrection of your Son your promise was fulfilled: remember, we pray, your faithful servants of every age.

We give you thanks for all who have received and believed your promises; for those whom we love who have gone to your heavenly presence. Inspire us with the faith of Abraham, the trust of Sarah, the courage of H agar, the obedience of Mary and the lives of all your saints and fill us with your grace, that in us and through us your promises may be fulfilled. God of hope and promise, in your mercy,

hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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

        Hymn TIS 456: Your hand, O God, has guided...

                                  (Tune – Thornbury)        

         Benediction

        Hear the voice of God calling your name.

        We will follow where God leads us.

        Hear the voice of Christ claiming you as his own.

        We will live as brothers and sisters in faith.

        Hear the voice of the Spirit sending you forth.

        We will go where the Spirit sends us.

        Go forth, called, named, and claimed by God.       

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

                              (Tune – Aubrey)




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