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Order of Service for Palm Sunday 05 April 2020 - Marsden Road Uniting

April 2, 2020 - 10:14pm
Sunday 5th April 2020Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford
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The Nature of the Kingdom Sunday 5th April 2020Palm Sunday in the year of Matthew9.30 am
HymnsHymn  52: Let us sing to the God of salvation
           (Tune – Sing Hosanna) Hymn 341: My song is love unknown V 1,2,3,4 and 7                  (Tune – Love Unknown) Hymn 348: Ride on, ride on in majesty                 (Tune – Winchester New)Hymn 333: All glory, praise and honour                   (Tune – St Theodulph) Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you
          (Tune – Aubrey)
Readings
The First Reading:               Isaiah 50: 4-9a                NEB page 535The Gospel Reading:          Matthew 21:1-11            NEB Page 745
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         A borrowed colt is loosed.Our Master needs it!He rides over a carpet of cloaks.Hosanna to the King!He rides in humble majesty.The rocks cry out! Shout for joy! Hosanna to the King!
We welcome you, Lord Jesus.Hosanna to our king!The greatest among us has become the least.Hosanna to our servant king!Gracious master, humble teacher,With a word, you sustain our weary souls.We stand with you in this time of trial.We stand with you, though you have done no wrong.Remember us, Lord Jesus. Remember us!Remember us when you come into your kingdom!Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!Hosanna in the highest! Amen.
Hymn 052: Let us sing to the God of salvation
           (Tune – Sing Hosanna)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU3yTLEX6LQ 
1 Let us sing to the God of salvation,
   let us sing to the Lord our rock;
   let us come to his house with thanksgiving,
   let us come before the Lord and sing!
Refrain
Praise our maker, praise our saviour,
praise the Lord our everlasting king:
every throne must bow before him
God is Lord of everything!

2 In his hand are the earth's deepest places,
   and the strength of the hills is his;
   all the sea is the Lord's, for he made it
   by his hand the solid rock was formed.

Refrain
Praise our maker, praise our saviour,
praise the Lord our everlasting king:
every throne must bow before him
God is Lord of everything!

3 Let us worship the Lord our maker,
   let us kneel to the Lord our God;
   for we all are the sheep of his pasture
   he will guide us by his powerful hand.
Refrain
Praise our maker, praise our saviour,
praise the Lord our everlasting king:
every throne must bow before him
God is Lord of everything!

4 Let today be the time when you hear him!
   May our hearts not be hard or cold,
   lest we stray from the Lord in rebellion
   as his people did in time of old.
Refrain
Praise our maker, praise our saviour,
praise the Lord our everlasting king:
every throne must bow before him
God is Lord of everything!

After Psalm 95, Venite, Richard Bewes (born 1934)
© Richard Bewes/Jubilate Hymns

Opening prayer
     Lord Jesus, your hour has come. You arrived as a kingin the midst of a procession of waving palms. You moveamong us as one who serves - an example for us to follow.How you have longed for us to join you: to eat and drinkwith you at your table in your kingdom. Now your body isbroken for us, like a loaf of bread. The cup poured out forus is the new covenant sealed by your blood. We rememberyour sacrifice. We can never forget such amazing love. Howwe long to join you at your table in your kingdom. In yourname we pray, amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Lord, in your mercy, hear me. By your grace, help me. I’m in great trouble. I can’t see or think clearly. My body wastes away from grief and sorrow.My strength fails me. The burden of my miseryis crushing me. Friends, neighbours, and family avoid me.All who see me quickly turn away. Yet even in the depth of my despair, Lord, I place my trust in you.You are my God!Let your face shine upon me and save me,in your unfailing and steadfast love! Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Give thanks to God, for God’s faithful love lasts forever! In this faithful love, we are forgiven and strengthened in Christ.Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God. We meet in the name of Christ and share his peace.Peace be with you! And also with you! (You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
 A Word For The Young People 
Do you know what we call today? Does anyone know why today is called Palm Sunday… Well it comes from the Palm Branches that were waved and laid in front of Jesus as he entered into Jerusalem on an ass. Have you ever seen Palm Branches? Some of you will have them in your gardens at home. Find a picture and have a good look at them sometime or maybe go into the garden and look.
Have you ever thought about what other kind of palms there are? What about any other kind of palms – well we have the Palm of hands which before the problems with Covid-19 we used to welcome people with a handshake. Sometimes we use them for a "come over here" motion… but we can also use our hands to say "stop", or "get away".
Palm Sunday is the beginning of our journey which we as Christians call Holy Week and takes us through the crucifixion of Jesus to the Easter Day celebration of his resurrection. From the Welcome of "Hosanna" to the rejection of "Crucify Him!".  How would Jesus want us to use the palms of our hands? – To say welcome; to hug people, to give gifts and to receive gifts – to reach out to people. 
For hundreds of years we Christians have shared a sign of peace in church – and hopefully outside church – by shaking hands – using the palms of our hands. We hope it won’t be too long before we are able to do so again, before we can again invite people to share a sign of peace with each other by shaking hands. 
Offering Prayer
Blessed are you, Christ Jesus, as you come to us this day. Blessed are you, as you work through the gifts we bring you now. Blessed are you as you live in our lives, helping us become faithful disciples and stewards of your love. Bless and strengthen our gifts, that they may bless and strengthen others. With gratitude and joy, we pray. Amen.
Hymn 341: My song is love unknown TIS V 1,2,3,5 and 7                  (Tune – Love Unknown)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMart4wXsI0
                                    
1.  My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh, and die?
2.  He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But oh, my Friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend.
3.  Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then "Crucify!"
Is all their breath,
And for His death
They thirst and cry.
4.  They rise and needs will have
 My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay.
Yet cheerful He
To suffering goes,
That He His foes
From thence might free.
5.  Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend
Lyrics: Samuel Crossman (1623-1683)Music: John Ireland (1879-1962)
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:               Isaiahh 50: 4-9a             NEB page 535The Gospel Reading:          Matthew 21:1-11            NEB Page 745
After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings from NRSV Version of Scripture
Isaiah 50: 4-9a
4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens — wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. 5 The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards. 6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. 7 The Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. 9 It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
Matthew 21:1-11
21When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ 4This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd* spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ 10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Preaching of the Word
The Nature of the Kingdom – Matthew 21:1-11
It is Palm Sunday. Our Lord comes. Yet Jesus does not come as we expect, not as we would like him to come. Today we mark the end of Lent; we make final preparations to commemorate Christ’s passion. Our work during Lent has been to clear the spiritual path so that Christ’s presence in and with us may become more recognizable. As we hear the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we are called to reflect on what it really means to welcome Jesus into this passion week.
The narrative leading up to Jesus’ triumphal entry is an awkward mix of Jesus’ instruction on the nature of the kingdom of heaven and the disciples’ misunderstandings and jockeying for power. Jesus teaches them to become like children in their faith, but they fight like children for their master’s favour. Jesus tells them that the kingdom is about suffering and service, and then they ask to be first in glory. Peter asks about the limits of forgiveness, only to be told that he must forgive from the heart without limits. The rich young man approaches Jesus hoping the kingdom is about doing, only to find that it is about emptying.
This awkwardness bleeds over into today’s text as Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd traveling with him sets up a king’s entry, but Jesus comes in on a donkey. Others go to purchase their sacrifices, but Jesus walks in, pronounces judgment on those buying and selling, challenges the priests and scribes, and then leaves the city for the evening. One thing is clear: Jesus does not come to us on our terms. Jesus comes on his own terms.
Yet, he comes. Jesus could have resisted this royal processional, but he permits it, even participates in it. He comes on a donkey instead of riding in on a warhorse, yet he comes. Although in this parade there is a great deal of misunderstanding, Jesus still allows them to offer him praise. So, there is a bit of a dance going on here, isn’t there? How do we welcome our king this week without falling into the trenches of misunderstanding? We cannot expect with the crowd a glorious assumption of military, political, or religious power. Jesus clearly means to suffer and serve rather than to rule and reign. We must not, however, sit back and critically second-guess the incorrect expectations of the crowd—that is not a helpful view of this passage, and it certainly is no way to welcome our Lord.
Instead, let us consider afresh what Jesus’ entry means. Jesus has come as Jerusalem’s king to bring salvation, but salvation means more than relief from an oppressive regime. Jesus enters Jerusalem to free the people from themselves. You see, the oppressive Roman state is not the only thing wrong with this picture. In fact, political liberation does not even seem to be on Jesus’ radar. Those who suffer often fail to see beyond their immediate complaints. Oppression can be overwhelming, but it is just one small symptom of a fallen world.
Jesus comes to make many wrong things right. Jesus comes to bring salvation from oppression … and from shame, hate, selfishness, greed, fear, death, lust, and anything else that corrupts God’s creation. Jesus’ salvation reaches far beyond our urgent, gnawing needs. He does not simply bow to us and our needs; Jesus saves us from the short-sightedness of our own perceived needs.
Jesus’ entry also signifies divine judgment. We pretend that it is only those religious leaders who are being judged, but Jesus’ judgment falls on us all. We are so misguided that we contribute more to the problem than to the solution. Our desires lead us far from celebrating Jesus’ kind of kingdom, so his judgment also falls on us. In this sense, Jesus’ coming to town is not good news to us. It thwarts our own plans for salvation.
What we often resist seeing about the kingdom is that every step of the way Jesus must wrestle with his own people, us and our agendas. Resistance to the way of peace, self-sacrifice, and service is so strong that his own disciples will eventually desert him, and his own people will kill him. Humans in this story do not prefer God’s judgment, and neither do we. Now, no one wants to think about divine judgment on Palm Sunday, when a crowd happily fills the streets and the singing of “Hosanna” fills the air. But if we truly seek to prepare the way of the Lord, and if we really want to follow Jesus’ footsteps, we must prepare our own hearts by accepting God’s judgment of our intentions and plans. Otherwise we stand in the way when Jesus enters.
I wonder what sort of ways we can use to allow God to break down our resistance and bring us into the kingdom. Well here’s a few thoughts.
Offer forgiveness freely and from the heart. It may be that you have been withholding forgiveness from someone who has deeply offended you. Or perhaps you need to work on forgiving those little everyday offenses that creep up. If you love money or possessions, as did the rich man who approached Jesus, let go of your money or stop obsessing so much over it that you spend too much time holding on to what you think is yours. There are other dreadfully practical ways to welcome Jesus as well. Be a peacemaker; love and pray for your enemies; go an extra mile with someone; stop striving to be first or best or most powerful.
It is true that many of these instructions don’t seem spiritual in themselves but remember we must do them, not because of their own spiritual weight, but because our hearts are very small. We clutter them daily with concern for ourselves, misplaced loves, and hurt feelings. Somehow this practical work done with spiritual attention prepares the way of the Lord as nothing else can. It changes us.
It makes room in our hearts that Jesus can fill with the kingdom of heaven. This is the way to make straight the path of the Lord: self-emptying. There is no other way to let Jesus’ message sink in, and there is no other way to follow our Lord than to walk in his footsteps. Jesus’ life was one of self-emptying and service to God and humanity, and so we make our lives in his likeness. If there was ever a week to get this right, this is it. If there was ever a point in the Christian narrative to step out of the way and let the story of divine love continue, this is it. Let this work be the homage you pay to the king as he comes. Amen.
Hymn 348: Ride on, ride on in majesty                 (Tune – Winchester New)
1.  Ride on, ride on in majesty! Hark, all the tribe’s hosanna cry, thy humble beast pursues his road with palms and scattered garments strowed.
2.  Ride on, ride on in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die,                      Christ thy triumph now begin O’er captive death and conquered sin.
3.  Ride on, ride on in majesty! The winged squadrons of the skylook down with sad and wondering eyes to see the approaching sacrifice.
4.  Ride on, ride on in majesty! Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh; the Father on his sapphire throne awaits his own anointed Son.
5.  Ride on, ride on in majesty!In lowly pomp ride on to die; bow thy meek head to mortal pain, then take, O God, thy power and reign.
Henry Milman (1791-1868)


Intercessory Prayers  
(A suggested Intercession with your own petitions is below from “Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the RCL Year A. Wood Lake Publishing Inc. Kindle Edition. However, if you so desire you can use your own.)
      God of mercy gird our hearts to be wholly present to the events of Jesus’ final days. Open our hearts to sing your praise and use our tears to water lives committed to working for your reign on earth.
Compassionate God, we lift our palms of praise with those who first sang out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Like them, each hand that holds a palm has a heart that holds a story – a story of pain, of disappointment, of sorrow. We share those stories with you in hearts. (Pause.) We pray to you, O God.
Prince of Peace, you came in humble obedience and walked the path of enduring love even in the face of violent rejection. We confess that it is difficult to follow your path of peace, and the violent road of abuse and war is all too familiar to us. We long for your peace, O God. (Pause.) We pray to you, O God.
Saving God, we trust in your goodness and believe your desire is for all creation to be held in your redeeming love. Send us out in your name to bring comfort to those who mourn, healing love to those who are sick, and justice to those who are oppressed. We wait now for your Spirit. (Pause.) We pray to you, O God.
O God in Christ Jesus, move in love on this path among us. Guide your humble people of today, in every place, as we try to carry faithfully your love. Warm us with branches of care. Cool us with gentle leaves when we are tired or discouraged. This we pray in your name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn 333: All glory, praise and honour                   (Tune – St Theodulph)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9VnLNh5YY8
All glory, praise, and honour
To you, Redeemer, King!
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

1.  You are the King of Israel,
And David's royal Son,
Now in the Lord's Name coming,
Our King and Blessed One.

All glory, praise, and honour
To you, Redeemer, King!
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet
hosannas ring.
2.  The company of angels
Are praising you on high;
And mortals, joined with all things
Created, make reply.

All glory, praise, and honour
To you, Redeemer, King!
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

3.  The people of the Hebrews
With palms before you went:
Our praise and prayers and anthems
Before you we present.

All glory, praise, and honour
To you, Redeemer, King!
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

4.  To you before your passion
They sang their hymns of praise:
To you, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

All glory, praise, and honour
To you, Redeemer, King!
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

5.  Their praises you accepted,
Accept the prayers we bring,
Great source of love and goodness,
Our Saviour and our King.

Theodulph of Orleans 821
Benediction                May the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus:the One who never turned backward in defiance;the One who gave his back to the lash;the One who faced spitting and insult.May your bearing be that of Christ Jesus:the One who emptied himself;the One who took the form of a servant;the One who was raised to the heightsand given the name above all names.May your life declare the lordship of Jesus Christ,to the glory of God! Amen!
  Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you
           (Tune – Aubrey)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfOFlWxGaP8
May the feet of God walk with you, and his handhold you tight.May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hearyour cry.May the smile of God be for you, and his breath giveyou life.May the Child of God grow in you, and his lovebring you home.




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Order of Service for March 29th 2020 - Marsden Road Uniting

March 26, 2020 - 11:17pm

Sunday 29th March 2020Marsden Road Uniting ChurchCarlingford

                               It's Hard Getting God...,
Sunday 29th March 2020Lent 5 Sunday in the year of Matthew 9.30 am
HymnsHymn 84: Give to our God immortal praise                   (Tune - Lasst Uns Erfreuen) Hymn 242: Lord of the dance                  (Tune – Lord of the Dance)Hymn 210: O for a thousand tongues to sing                   (Tune – Lyngham) Hymn 684: Love will be our Lenten calling                   (Tune - Picardy)Hymn 777: May the Grace of Christ our Saviour                  (Tune – Benjamin M Culli)
Readings:The First Reading:                 Ezekiel 37:1-14             NEB page 647The Gospel Reading:            John 11:23-45.             NEB page 822
Gathering God’s People

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

Call to Worship - (Mary J Scifres, Abingdon 2016)             In the midst of life, we are in death. But in the face of death, God’s Spirit comes to bring us life. Can dry bones live? Can life emerge from death? Only God knows. And yet, Christ promises just such a miracle through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit, come.
     All who are dwindling and dying . . .     come forth to new life.      All who are lying in darkness and despair . . .      come out into the light.      All who feel separated and alone . . .      come to the presence of God, whose Spirit finds us here.
Hymn 84: Give to our God immortal praise                   (Tune - Lasst Uns Erfreuen)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaua_rOb6z0
1 Give to our God immortal praise;
   mercy and truth are all his ways:
   wonders of grace to God belong;
   repeat his mercies in your song.
2 Give to the Lord of lords renown;
   the King of kings with glory crown:
   his mercies ever shall endure,
   when lords and kings are known no more.
3 He built the earth, he spread the sky,
   and fixed the starry lights on high:
   wonders of grace to God belong;
   repeat his mercies in your song.
4 He fills the sun with morning light;
   he bids the moon direct the night:
   his mercies ever shall endure,
   when suns and moons shall shine no more.
5 He sent his Son with pow'r to save
   from guilt and darkness and the grave:
   wonders of grace to God belong;
   repeat his mercies in your song.
6 Through this vain world he guides our feet,
   and leads us to his heavenly seat:
   his mercies ever shall endure,
   when this vain world shall be no more.
Give to Our God Immortal Praise Isaac Watts, 1719. Ralph Harrison, 1784
Opening prayer
     Come, Holy Spirit. Breathe new life into our lives and our worship. Create new possibilities, in our imaginations and in our dreams. Send the promise of your hope into our depression and our despair. Expand our hearts and our minds, as we enter your presence this day. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
God of new life and emerging possibilities forgive us when death and despair occupy our focus. Embolden our faith when your future feels out of reach. Strengthen our courage, that we might come forth into the light and life of your promises. In hope and trust, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness 
In God’s love, there is hope. In Christ’s forgiveness, there is peace. In the Spirit’s power, we are renewed and brought forth into life!Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Come out of your seats to share signs of new life and hope. Join one another in sharing signs of Christ’s peace.Peace be with you! And also, with you!
A Word with The Young People –
Has anyone ever had to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation – If you have been a member of the local Ambulance, St John’s Ambulance person a lifesaver   etc. you may have practiced this but never had to use it.  If you have, think about your experience - especially how you felt when the person began to breathe on their own and you knew that the person being resuscitated was going to live.
In all my years in Ambulance and the Medical area I have never had to myself, but I am told it is like a miracle when the person begins to breathe.
When people are physically saved by receiving a person’s breath or oxygen into their lungs, they are restored to be an active human person again.  Our reading today from the Old Testament tells us how God can breathe ‘new’ life into even dry bones so that they have life.  It’s a story that says that God can bring to life what appears to be totally life-less.  The Spirit of God dwells in us and so we are alive in a very special way - in ways that help us be more loving, more caring, more like Jesus. 
When we are alive in that special way - our hearts dance with joy - our next hymn tells how Jesus is Lord of that dance and how he gives us a life that’ll never, never die.
Offering Prayer
With these gifts, mighty God, bring forth new life and renewed hope. Work in us and through, that our lives and our gifts may become signs of life and hope for all to see. Amen
Hymn 242: Lord of the dance                  (Tune – Lord of the Dance)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkk0YodJqH8
I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
at Bethlehem I had my birth.

Refrain:
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.


I danced for the scribe and the pharisee,
but they would not dance and they wouldn't follow me.
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John -
they came with me and the dance went on.

Refrain:
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.


I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame;
the holy people said it was a shame.
they whipped and they stripped and they hung me on high,
and they left me there on a Cross to die.

Refrain:
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.


I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
it's hard to dance with the devil on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I'd gone,
but I am the Dance, and I still go on.

Refrain:
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.


They cut me down and I leapt up high;
I am the life that'll never, never die;
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.

Refrain:
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

Words © 1963 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188).
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

                                                  The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                 Ezekiel 37:1-14             NEB page 647The Gospel Reading:            John 11:23-45.             NEB page 822     
Readings from NRSV Translation:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ 4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord .’7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus, says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11 Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.
John 11:23-45

23 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24 Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ 25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27 ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’ 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.34 ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ 37 But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.39 ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’ 40 Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ 45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. For the Word of the Lord:Thanks be to God
Preaching of the Word
It's Hard Getting God..., – John 11: 23-45
        It's hard getting God to obey us. After all we're the ones on the scene. We know what we need, or our congregation needs, or what we need as individuals. God should listen to us and take our advice. If God would only be here when needed, there would be no tragedy in our lives. That’s very true for us now as we face a major upheaval in our lives with the out fall from Covid-19. We want God to sort this out quick time and we know what God needs to do.
        I heard once of a popular doctor who was told that his best friend is dying. The doctor had a wonderful reputation for his healing skills. But he delays going to see his friend, and the friend dies. When the doctor arrives to console the relatives, his friend's practical and blunt sister says, "Where on earth were you when we needed you? You could have saved his life, but you had better things to do!"
        Our Gospel reading for today gives us a glimpse into our Lord's private life. Jesus made friends with Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Word came that Lazarus had died. For reasons we can only guess, Jesus delayed going to see Mary and Martha. When he finally arrived, Lazarus has been dead for some while. Martha, the ever-practical sister, said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
        Martha was on the scene. She knew what could have been done. That simple statement contained both faith and reproach. "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." The statement reminds us that Martha believed Jesus could and would have healed his friend Lazarus. Because she believed she could also complain about Jesus' tardiness.
        Moments of grief may well produce the same partnership between faith and reproach in us. Someone we love dies. Surely our Lord would have done something to stop this tragedy? Where was he? It's not that we doubt. Either we don't understand, or we try to understand by grasping at unsatisfactory answers. "It was her time," we say, as if God sits around leisurely selecting at random those to die. If God is really like that, one wouldn't really like to have God as a friend!
        It's always good to ask a simple question when we say that God does something or other: "If a human did that sort of thing could she or he be admired?"
        Living in a congregation where only the faithful few attend worship can also be a grief experience. When a congregation member dies, or leaves the area, we try to make sense of our dilemma. "Why doesn't God do something about this situation?" we pray as we attend the quarterly Church Council meeting at which we discuss the fact that fewer people have to manage all the jobs, and funds dwindle while prices rise.
        In the first lesson today, we hear the familiar story of "Them dry bones. O hear the word of the Lord," as the old folk song puts it. Just before the verses we read this day, Ezekiel expresses confidence that Israel will come back into its own one day. Now that offers us hope at this time in our history. We too are promised that Gods beloved will come back into its own.
        Faced with the dichotomy between belief in God and confusion about why God didn't seem to do much to help the people, Ezekiel still believes. He is given a vision. He finds himself in a valley of dry bones. God tells Ezekiel to prophesy and to bid the wind blow life into the bones. God says, "Mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for ever.'" Then Ezekiel speaks for God and says: "O my people, I will open your graves and bring you up from them and restore you to the land of Israel."
        Now for the final thread to weave together what the lessons have to say to us on this fifth Sunday in Lent. St. Paul in Romans 8:1-11 (which I haven’t written out in the readings for this service, but we can look at in our own Bibles) alludes to a dreadful institution: slavery. Slavery was widely practiced in the Roman Empire. We sometimes forget that it was practiced in this country not many years ago. While there are no slaves today, men and women of all ethnic backgrounds still find themselves tied to badly paying jobs, to hopeless relationships, to squalid living conditions because they lack the economic resources and the education, or "know-how," to break free. It is terrible to have no options.
        Slaves belonged to their owners and were to be obedient. As many slaves became Christians in Apostolic times, and some of them became deacons, priests, and bishops, slavery was a familiar institution to the early Christians. St. Paul points out that a slave must be obedient to something or other. Christians, like slaves, can be obedient to the things that bring life, or to the things that kill.
        Those people today who struggle with the power of addiction know the truth of this. It's not enough, for most, to walk away from addiction. Loving and supporting friends, groups like AA, and above all God's healing grace are constantly and always needed. It's so much easier to be enslaved even if we know that we may well kill ourselves in the process.
        We want to do something about those who are enslaved. We want to do something about churches and missions that seem to be dying. We want to ensure our survival through this current Pandemic that is isolating many of us from the community which gives us strength. We want to stop our friends and loved ones from dying. We constantly say to God, "If you had been here on time, you could have stopped this happening." We want to give God the answers. We are full of wonderful suggestions and if we are lucky, we get another committee formed, another pressure group recognised, and even some more legislation adopted by our human committees!
        The root problem is that we have not been let in on the whole story. Before Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, he said, as an aside: "Loving parent, I thank you for having heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." Out of the tragedy and sorrow of a friend's death comes good. It was not good that Lazarus died. Lazarus didn't die so that people might believe in Jesus. Death and life, evil and good, darkness and light are not each a separate thing. Good is merely evil put back on its feet again. Life is the positive end of death.
        Before we rush into situations blaming God for not turning up on time, we have to realize that we don't ever quite get the whole story. Instead of blaming God or suggesting that God has been absent, we need to believe that God and God's purpose are always at work. God does not will evil or tragedy. Yet God's love works good even at moments of personal or institutional despair.
        Asking for a vision may seem counter-cultural to us, but it is when we accept that God is at work and then seek to become part of God's solution, rather than part of our own problem, that miracles occur. Despite the destruction of Israel, Ezekiel hands things over to God and is given a vision of a restored, renewed, and living Israel. For all her grumbling, Martha handed over to Jesus and Lazarus came out of the tomb. When we are "enslaved to God," that is when we hand ourselves over to God's love and forgiveness, we find holiness and life.
        So in our prayers today let us ask God to give us the gift of loving God's purposes and promises, that our wills may be fixed on the essential and eternal Good which is always there, even when the world around us seems to be coming unglued.
Hymn 210: O for a thousand tongues to sing                   (Tune – Lyngham)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu9YgZZm29w 
1.  Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and king,
The triumphs of His grace!
2.  Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease—
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
3.  He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
4.  He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
5.  Hear Him, you deaf; His praise, you dumb,Your loosened tongues employ;You blind, behold your Saviour come,And leap, you lame, for joy
6.  My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honours of your name.
Thomas Jarman 1776 -1861Charles Wesley 1707 - 1788
Intercessory Prayers  
(A suggested Intercession with your own petitions is below from “Prayers for All Seasons: Based on the RCL Year A. Wood Lake Publishing Inc. Kindle Edition. However, if you so desire you can use your own.)
God of light, we give thanks for the physical light and warmth that brighten our lives: the sun that rises and sets and offers us day and night; the moon that waxes and wanes and notes the passage of time; the stars that illuminate the sky and by which we measure space and mark the seasons. Thank you for the gift of seeing, for the beauty we sense with our eyes; for the insights we perceive as we listen and learn; for the ability to reason and think ahead.God of darkness, we give thanks for times and places where rest and growth can happen: the night time when we can sleep and be refreshed; the earth where seeds lie dormant and animals hibernate undisturbed; the womb where new life can grow in safety. God of darkness and light, we confess that: We have sometimes ignored the insights we should have heeded or used our perspective for selfish gains. We have tried to force growth when we should have respected the darkness or chosen to stay in a comfortable place when we could have exposed our lives to the gentle scrutiny of your love. We own that sometimes life has seemed like a deep ravine and we could not find your presence near us. We seek assurance of your goodness and mercy, wherever we may be on life’s journey.For while we do see good and hopeful change, we also witness violence and dysfunction whereby the most innocent and vulnerable continue to be forgotten, abused, or treated as of no account. In your goodness and mercy, hear the prayers of our hearts: Change us, O God. Create within the desire and capacity for a love that can gently hold yet let go, that encounters all others with deep respect, and is concerned with others’ well-being above personal interest. In your goodness and mercy, hear the prayers of our hearts: we are alive to your imaginings for a new world and ready to make a creative difference.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
Hymn 684: Love will be our Lenten calling                   (Tune - Picardy)
https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/199115
1.  Love will be our Lenten calling,
love to shake and shatter sin,
waking every closed, cold spirit,
stirring new life deep within,
till the quickened heart remembers
what our Easter birth can mean.
2.  Peace will be our Lenten living
as we turn for home again,
longing for the words of pardon,
stripping off old grief and pain,
till we stand, restored and joyful,
with the Church on Easter day.
3.  Truth will be our Lenten learning:
hear the Crucified One call!
Shadowed by the Saviour’s passion,
images and idols fall,
and, in Easter’s holy splendour,
God alone is all in all.
Benediction
        Let those who were languishing and dying rejoice.        We go forth with the promise of life.         Let those who have lain in the shadows of despair take heart.         We go forth with the promise of light.         Let those who have known the separation of loneliness feel union in life with the Spirit.         We go forth revived by the Spirit to proclaim the glory of God.
        May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Hymn 777: May the Grace of Christ our Saviour                  (Tune – Benjamin M Culli)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq25i6PmCl8

1 May the grace of Christ our Saviour
   and the Father's boundless love,
   with the Holy Spirit's favour,
   rest upon us from above.
2 Thus may we abide in union
   with each other and the Lord,
   and possess, in sweet communion,
   joys which earth cannot afford.
John Newton 1725-1807


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Order of Service for March 22nd 2020 - Marsden Road Uniting

March 19, 2020 - 6:49pm


Sunday 22nd March 2020

Marsden Road Uniting ChurchCarlingford---------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Clay Vessels of Beauty Sunday 22nd March 2020Refreshment and Mothering Sunday in the year of Matthew9.30 am
HymnsHymn 10: The Lord’s my shepherd                  (Tune - Crimond)Hymn 256: From heaven you came, helpless babe                              (Tune – Servant King)
Hymn 129: Amazing grace                  (Tune – Amazing Grace)Hymn 681: Lord, let me see                                           (Tune – Lord let me see)
Hymn 778: Shalom to you                 (Tune – Somos del Senor)
Readings:The First Reading:                 1 Samuel 16: 1-13       NEB page 205The Gospel Reading:            John 9:1-41                  NEB page 817
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 - (James Dollins, Abingdon 2016)        Show me your way, O God, my Shepherd. Open a right path and let me hear your call to follow. Show me your way, O Christ, my Healer. Open my eyes to the needs of my world.
Shepherd us, O God. Open our ears to hear your calling. Shepherd us, O God. Open our eyes to see your care.Shepherd us, O God. Shear our fascination with the ways of the world. Shepherd us, O God. Prepare us to follow you.
Hymn 10: The Lord’s my shepherd                  (Tune - Crimond)
YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3USOwbb-byk
                                        i.    The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want;
he makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.
                                      ii.    My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake.
                                    iii.    Yea, though I walk through death's dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill,
for thou art with me; and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.
                                    iv.    My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.
                                      v.    Goodness and mercy all my lifeshall surely follow me;and in God's house forevermoremy dwelling place shall be.
Opening prayer
     Visionary creator; give us your vision. Show us our hearts,our homes, our communities, and our world through youreyes. Wash away our blind spots, and help us to see wherewe do not see. Allow us to see creation as you see it now,and as you envision it to become. Help us realize yourvision, and walk the road of life— the way and path ofJesus. Amen
 A Prayer of Confession
Divine God, our Guide, give us the clarity to wake to our short-sightedness and stay woke. Give us the courage to wake to our shortcomings and stay woke. Give us the compassion to wake to our hurtful acts and stay woke. Give us wisdom to face our fears, receive your grace, wake to your call and stay woke. Hear our silent prayer, as we sit in awareness of our need.
(Pause in silent prayer)
Help us wake to this awareness and stay woke. As we receive your grace, we wake to your whispers and direction, yearning to stay woke. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God. We meet in the name of Christ and share his 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 Young People –
Theme: Humanity looks on outward appearances, God looks              at the inside.
Object: An x-ray
Some of you have probably seen an X-Ray before. Yes, an X-ray. Many times, when we go to the doctor, he cannot tell if we have something wrong just by looking at us. We may look just fine on the outside, but there might be something wrong on the inside. To see what is on the inside, the doctor takes an x-ray. By looking at the x-ray, the doctor can see what's on the inside and helps us to get well. You can't always tell by looking at the outside. 
The Bible tells us that humans look at outward appearance, but God looks on the inside. You can't always tell what a person is really like by looking at the outside. Some people may be beautiful on the outside, but they may be very mean, selfish, and hateful on the inside. Some people may not be very beautiful to look at, but on the inside, they are loving, gentle, and kind.
We spend a lot of time making sure we look good on the outside, but what are we doing to make sure we look good on the inside? (Read 1 Peter 3: 3-4) When we look at people, we need to remember that we can only see what's on the outside, but God can see what's on the inside - and it's what's inside that counts.
Lord, help us to be more concerned with our own inner beauty than with our outward appearance and help us not to judge other people by what we see on the outside. Amen.
Offering
 Your offering can be given electronically – please talk to the Treasurer.
God of our waking receive our gifts, that they may bring the goodness of our ministry to your world. Receive also the gifts of our transformed lives, as we open our hearts to perceive our short-sightedness. Give us the vision to offer our lives in service of you. Light our paths, and shine through our lives, as we follow you. Amen.
Hymn 256: From heaven you came, helpless babe                               (Tune – Servant King)
YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOnidzZusJA                    
From Heaven You Came, Helpless Babe,
Entered Our World, Your Glory Veiled;
Not to Be Served but To Serve,
And Give Your Life That We Might Live.
This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

There in The Garden of Tears,
My Heavy Load He Chose to Bear;
His Heart with Sorrow Was Torn,
‘Yet Not My Will but Yours,’ He Said.
This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

Come, See His Hands and His Feet,
The Scars That Speak of Sacrifice,
Hands That Flung Stars into Space
To Cruel Nails Surrendered.
This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

So, Let Us Learn How to Serve,
And in Our Lives Enthrone Him;
Each Other’s Needs To Prefer,
For It Is Christ We’re Serving.
This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

The Service of the Word
The Gospel Reading:            John 9:1-41                  NEB page 819
Please respond by saying             Thanks be to God.

John 9:1-41 from NRSV   
1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ 9 Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ 10 But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 11 He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ 12 They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’ 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ 16 Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’ 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ 20 His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’ 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ 25 He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ 26 They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ 27 He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ 28 Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ 30 The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ 34 They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36 He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38 He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41 Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
Preaching of the Word - Clay Vessels of Beauty
Lent has often been seen as a time of intense self-reflection. But self-reflection without understanding the power that God holds to make something beautiful of our clay vessels, our little lives, is to defy the power of the God of Love. According to the psalmist, the valley of the shadow of death is where God is. It is in the presence of our enemies that a table is set, and, deep in our own muck, we are led beside the still waters.
According to the book of Samuel, God picks David, a young child, to fight Goliath and to be king of all Israel. And through that kingship, which has its times of horror and times of victory, God makes David the king Israel needed for the moment. In addition, in the Gospel of John, the blind man suffers consistently throughout his life because people look at him as deficient, as sinful, as someone not worthy.
Self-reflection in all these cases would bring us to a place of despair, but in the hands of a good and merciful God? Something beautiful happens. As human beings, we look at vulnerabilities as weaknesses, as those places that need to be thrown out or erased, denied, or refused .... But it’s in our weakness and vulnerabilities that God reveals God’s self. It was in the choice of the smallest and youngest son that God revealed the king. It was in the valley of the shadow of death and in the presence of enemies that the poet knew that his God anointed him with the most fragrant oil and his cup ran over.
And it was in the man’s blindness that the Holy One’s spit and a little mud helped him see. But we live in a world where the expectation is that we are always and forever at the top of our game or we are punished. We live in a world where admitting our weakness is to admit defeat and to encourage harassment. We are in a world where we hide our hurt or we will be further damaged. And God says, “It’s in our vulnerabilities that we find the grace” and that finding grace and mercy is the ultimate goal of human existence within the Christian faith.
John Wesley hoped we would become perfected but being perfected meant perfected in receiving and showing mercy, not in our perfection in a particular moral code or a sense of our own “doing it right.” That is the transformative power of the Christian faith. The ability to receive and swim through the muddy and spit-filled complexity of life with a merciful loving creator.
The blind man could have been a “seeing” man—it is not the healing of the man’s blindness that is the ultimate experience Jesus hoped to address. The ultimate experience is God making us whole; God’s work is in making us whole. The one who was blind from birth was surprised by grace, surprised by Jesus, shockingly loved and chosen, and his vulnerability became the place where the good news that he, too, was deeply loved was made manifest.
The real injury in the blind man’s life was the criticism from society, the damning from the religious leaders, and the selling out of his parents. The ultimate holy experience, and one that is throughout scripture, is to experience God as one who does not see as mortals see—who does not see us in all the ways others have judged us, raced us, held us down, and been aggressively jealous or arrogant toward us.
Yet it is facing those judgments, oppressions, imprisonments, jealousies, and arrogances, and reflecting and focusing on God’s love, grace, and mercy that will heal us. The ultimate is that we are all yet beautiful, full, alive, living this life with the Spirit of God deep in our hearts. The ultimate is that God chose to birth us from love and mercy, continues to love and give us mercy every day of our lives, and, at the end of our life, will receive us into arms of love and mercy.
Hymn 129: Amazing grace                  (Tune – Amazing Grace)
YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDdvReNKKuk
Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come:
'tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
Intercessory Prayers  - Pray for those in need, our world etc.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn 681: Lord, let me see                                           (Tune – Lord let me see)
YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn
http://rosslangmead.50webs.com/rl/Downloads/SongsMP3/LordLetMeSee.mp3
       Lord, let me see, see more and more:        See the beauty of a person, not the colour of the skin,       See the faces of the homeless with no-one to take them       in,        See discouragement because she'll never win,        See the face of our Lord in the pain. Lord, let me see.
        Lord, let me hear, hear more and more:         Hear the sounds of great rejoicing, hear a person barely sigh,         Hear the ring of truth, and hollowness of those who live a lie,         Hear the wail of starving people who will die,         Hear the voice of our Lord in the cry. Lord, let me hear.
        Lord, let me care, care more and more:         Care for those who feel the loneliness, for those who have no say,         Care for friends who have no job and find it hard to face the day,         Care for those with whom we sing and work and pray; And in care, Jesus Christ will be found.        Lord, let me care.                 Lord, let me learn, learn more and more:         Learn that what I know is just a speck of what there is to know,         Learn from listening to my neighbour when I'd rather speak and go,         Learn that as we live in faith and trust we grow;         Learn to see, hear and care, with our Lord.         Lord, let me learn.
        Lord, let me love, love more and more:         Love the loveless and the fragile, help them be what they can be,         Love the way that I would like them to be looking after me,         For to know you is to love them and be free;         And in love Jesus Christ will be found.         Lord, let me love.
Benediction                Let us in the daily life we currently live, be awake to the call of God, our creator. May we go forth, true to the path lit by Christ, our redeemer. May we go forth, awake to the conscience of the Holy Spirit, our helper and guide. Amen.
  Hymn 778: Shalom to you

YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-WxpmOpN4
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends. May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom
Categories: Syndicated Blogs