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Marsden Road Uniting Worship 16 August 2020 - Wesley 3

 

Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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


 Faith and Politics

 16th August 2020 Wesley 3 Sunday 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship   

(The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)

When all seems to be lost, God is most near to us. 

When quarrels estrange us from one another,

Christ’s light shows us the way to reconciliation.

When we feel excluded and left out,

The Spirit’s peace eases our pain.

When all hope of fellowship seems lost,

God’s grace restores our hope.

Come! Let us worship God, who makes us one. 

Hymn 657: God of freedom, God of justice 

                 (Tune – Picardy)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FzZfk_A2G8  or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw6hHZAWINw

      God of freedom, God of justice,

you whose love is strong as death,

you who saw the dark of prison,

you who knew the price of faith --

       touch our world of sad oppression

       with your Spirit's healing breath.


Rid the earth of torture's terror,

you whose hands were nailed to wood;

hear the cries of pain and protest,

you who shed the tears and blood --

       move in us the power of pity

       restless for the common good.

 

Make in us a captive conscience

quick to hear, to act, to plead;

make us truly sisters, brothers

of whatever race or creed --

       teach us to be fully human,

       open to each other's needs. 

Author: Author: Shirley Erena Murray (1980)Tune: Picardy

 Opening prayer

      Eternal God, part the veil that blinds us to our unity as your beloved children. When those we love, hurt, and betray us, help us let go of our pain and find the balm of forgiveness. When we feel abandoned by those we trust, help us seek your peace and reconciliation. When our hearts are pierced with anguish, help us find those who will bring us solace, through your loving Spirit. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Merciful God, we yearn to be like the Joseph who wept with forgiveness on the necks of those who sold him into slavery.

But we fear that our anger and resentment would lead us to take retribution on those who have wronged us.

We long to see in the Canaanite woman a child of God worthy of mercy and compassion.

But we fear that our deep-seated prejudices might lead us to dismiss her out of hand, as Jesus’s disciples did before us.

We want to open our hearts, O God, to those who are different from ourselves.

But we fear to expect too much of ourselves. Help us know the joy of living in peace and harmony, even with those we would rather live without.

Declaration of Forgiveness   

The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Rejoice in the knowledge of God’s saving love.

Thanks, be to God! Amen

 The Peace

 Lord Jesus Christ, you know our faults and have heard our prayers. You have ripped apart the barriers that separate us from God and opened us to the grace of God through your sacrifice of love on a cross, and your resurrection from the dead. Promise of God, fill your people and give us 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: What do we owe to God? We owe Him our all!

Object: A five dollar note or a coin with the image of the 

             Queen imprinted on it.

Have you ever heard your parents or other adults complaining about having to pay taxes? You probably have. Most people are not too fond of having to pay taxes. Do any of you pay taxes? Well, it might surprise you to learn that kids pay taxes, too!

How many of you receive an allowance from your parents? Have any of you ever received some money as a birthday gift from your grandparents? How many of you have ever earned some money for doing some chores around the house? How many of you have ever bought anything with your very own money?

If you answered, "Yes" to any of these questions, you have probably paid some taxes. Did you know that every time you buy something, you pay a sales tax? In our state, that tax is about eight cents for every dollar you spend. I wonder what Jesus would say if we asked him whether kids should pay taxes? That is a tough question. If he answered, "Yes," all the kids would probably get mad at him. If he answered, "No," the politicians who make our laws would probably get mad at him because the state needs that money to operate. It seems that someone would get mad at him no matter which way he answered! It looks like a no-win situation, doesn't it?

Did you know that something like that actually happened? In Jesus' day, the people were required to pay a poll tax. It was not a very popular tax with the people. One day some religious leaders came to Jesus and asked him if he thought the people should pay the poll tax. They were actually trying to trick Jesus, because they knew if he said, "Yes," the people would be angry. But if he said, "No," he would get into trouble with the authorities.

Jesus saw right through their plan and he did a very wise thing. He asked them for a coin, then he said, "Whose picture is on this coin?"

They answered, "It is Caesar." Caesar was the Roman ruler and all taxes had to be paid to him.

Jesus then said to them, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God."

Look at this dollar. Whose picture is on it? It is a picture of George Washington, our first president. What does it say right above his picture? It says, "The United States of America." Well, I guess that means that this dollar belongs to "George" and we will have to pay our taxes.

But what about God? Jesus also said, "Give to God what belongs to God." The Bible says that we were created by God and that we were created in the image of God. If we are created by God, and we were created in His image, we must belong to Him. That means we must give ourselves to Him!

Dear Father, you created us in your image, and we belong to you. Because of that, we give our hearts and lives to you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Offering Prayer

Bountiful God, when famine threatened the world, you blessed Joseph with dreams that saved children of every nation. Faithful One, when hunger threatens our world, you bless us with dreams that we can save the children of our day Bless this offering, that your dreams for a world without want may bless the lives of your children. Accept these gifts, as tokens of our dreams and our commitment to make all people one in your holy name. Amen.

Hymn 210: O for a thousand tongues to sing

                  (Tune – Lyngham)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T-i3COsefM

O for a thousand tongues to sing

my great Redeemer's praise,

the glories of my God and King,

the triumphs of his grace!

 

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.

 

                     See all your sins on Jesus laid;

The Lamb of God was slain; 

His soul was once an offering made

For every soul of man.

 

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,

he sets the prisoner free;

his blood can make the foulest clean;

his blood availed for me.


He speaks, - and, listening to his voice,

New life the dead receive;

The mournful, broken hearts rejoice; 

The humble poor believe.

 

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb 

Your loosened tongues employ 

Ye blind, behold your Saviour come 

And leap, ye lame, for joy

 

My gracious Master and my God,

assist me to proclaim,

to spread through' all the earth abroad

the honors of your name.

                               Author: Charles Wesley

Tune : Lyngham Composer: Thomas Jarman (C. 1803)

 

                                     The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                      Romans 13:1-7             NEB page 882

The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 22:15-22         NEB page 747

 Readings: NRSV Translation

 Romans 13:1-7       

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority[a] does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due. 

Matthew 22:15-22        

         15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in         what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along         with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you            are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with         truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not                regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you            think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or                     not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are         you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me            the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a                    denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this,            and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.”                Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the           things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that         are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed;            and they left him and went away.

Preaching of the Word: Faith and Politics

 The bad boys were trying to trap Jesus. Actually, in the eyes of the society, they were supposed to be the good guys. They were the brightest and best. The Pharisees were people who observed all of the traditional standards and rituals of Judaism. They tithed. They were compassionate. They were moral. They were at the heart of virtue in the culture. The Herodians were politically powerful. Had there been an institution such as the "Presidential Prayer Breakfast" in those days, the Pharisees and the Herodians would have been present. They were the brightest and the best. They were trying to trap Jesus. Politics was in play. 

The trap was simple but brilliant. If Jesus answers the questions, "Is it right to pay taxes, to render tribute to Caesar?" with ayes, then the Pharisees had him for committing blasphemy. The ritual priority or holiness laws of the Pharisees forbade a Jew from touching Roman money. Roman coins had the image of Caesar on them. The Romans regarded Caesar as a god. So, if Jesus paid tribute or taxes to Caesar, then he would be guilty of both idolatry and blasphemy.

If, on the other hand, Jesus said, "No, don't render tribute, pay taxes, to Caesar," then the Herodians could turn him in to the Romans authorities as a revolutionary. In short, they thought they had him.

Jesus answered by asking for a coin and turning the question around and asking them, "whose image is on the coin?" They answered, "Caesar's." He said, "Render that which is Caesar's to Caesar and to God that which is God's." 

Christians have been trying to figure out how to do that ever since. 

A conservative man said," I believe it is my duty to God to help protect this nation from the Labour Party and the Greens. 

A liberal Christian man said, "I just can't see how a Christian can be a Liberal, One Nation or anything like that. Oh, I know that it is possible. I even have a Liberal Party friend who is a Christian, but I just don't understand how it can be that way." 

A Christian woman said, "I don't vote. I think about it and can't see how voting can honour God. So, I just don't vote." 

Another Christian said," I believe it is my Christian responsibility to vote. I try to vote as intelligently as I can. Frequently it means choosing between the lesser of two evils. One humourist described voting as choosing 'the evil of two lessers.' I think that is funny, but it still hurts. I believe God wants us to do the best we can in an imperfect reality." 

Most of us are somewhere in the middle, trying to honour God and trying to be good citizens of our country. 

But Jesus is saying something deeper. He ends his response with "render to God what is God's." This suggests to us that there are some ultimate citizenship issues. In the scriptures Jesus makes many references to the "Kingdom of God." We all say that we believe it. In the Creeds we use the phrase "whose kingdom will have no end." We have never seen this kingdom. Many contemporary theologians don't even like the image of kingdom. They feel that it doesn't speak to us since most of us don't live in monarchies. Some of them like the phrase, "Commonwealth of God;" others like the phrase "Realm of God." But whatever term we prefer, there is a sense in us that somehow our ultimate citizenship is not in this world. 

“How Far Is It the Duty of a Christian Minister to Preach Politics?” One would think this would be a clear definition of the situation and solve the question of Wesley’s political involvement forever. Unfortunately, he confines the preaching of politics to defending the King, and the King’s ministers, against slanders and lies. 

Three times in this short essay, he says that the chief business of the clergy is to preach Christ, and Christ crucified. That seems to sum up Wesley’s attitude toward the political system. That attitude is almost a hands-off one. Don’t bother with politics, except to set the record straight when people lie about the King or the King’s ministers. 

Wesley did advise Methodist voters about voting. He told them they should vote morally, that is, they should not accept bribes or other favours in return for their votes. In addition, he said, they should vote for the candidate that “loves God”. If there were no candidate who loves God, then they should vote for the one who supports King George. That’s a pretty direct statement, in terms of telling people how to vote! 

The first part, about voting for the candidate who loves God, raises more problems than it solves. How does one determine which candidate loves God? How much weight should campaign rhetoric bear in answering that question? How does one determine the relative weight of words and deeds? 

All through his life, Wesley leaned on the biblical idea of obedience to the powers that be. See Romans 13 for an expression of this idea. Wesley would also warn us to be humble about confusing our own political opinions with the will of God. And, incredibly important for a time when only a small majority of eligible voters actually do vote, Wesley would urge us to get to the polls! 

Wesley would return us to Jesus. The same Jesus who calls us to our true, ultimate, and permanent citizenship. He makes that possible for us through his life, teaching, death, resurrection, and continuing presence with us. Our true citizenship will be at the heavenly banquet. The seating arrangements at the heavenly banquet are going to be interesting. 

The ticket into the heavenly banquet is salvation, by grace, through faith. It is not connected to our works, either good or bad. It is a free gift from God. The passport to heaven is not something of this world. We receive it when we surrender to the love of God and claim Jesus as Saviour. 

When it comes to voting, you are on your own. Do the best you can for the best reasons you can summon up from the political debates, speeches, and televised sound bites. 

But when it comes to heaven -- be with God! We know that this is true; we know that this is where we really belong.

Hymn 122: What shall I do my God to love

                  (Tune – Wiltshire)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB0SDJH-Iew

             What shall I do my God to love,

my loving God to praise?

the length, and breadth, and height to prove,

and depth of sovereign grace?

 

Your sovereign grace to all extends,

immense and unconfined;

from age to age it never ends,

to reach all humankind.

 

Throughout the world its breadth is known,

wide as infinity;

so wide it never passed by one,

or it had passed by me.

 

My trespass was grown up to heav'n;

but far above the skies,

in Christ abundantly forgiven,

I see your mercies rise.

 

The depth of all-redeeming love,

what angel tongue can tell?

O may I to the utmost prove

the gift unspeakable.

 

Come quickly, gracious Lord, and take

possession of your own;

my longing heart be pleased to make

your everlasting throne. 

Author: Charles Wesley Tune: Jerusalem (Grosvenor)

Intercessory Prayers    

Give us, O God, leaders whose hearts are large enough to match the breadth of our own souls and give us souls strong enough to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.

In seeking a leader, let us seek more than development for ourselves — though development we hope for — more than security for our own land — though security we need — more than satisfaction for our wants — though many things we desire.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Give us the hearts to choose the leader who will work with other leaders to bring safety to the whole world. Give us leaders who lead this nation to virtue without seeking to impose our kind of virtue on the virtue of others.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Give us a government that provides for the advancement of this country without taking resources from others to achieve it. Give us insight enough ourselves to choose as leaders those who can tell strength from power, growth from greed, leadership from dominance, and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We trust you, Great God, to open our hearts to learn from those to whom you speak in different tongues and to respect the life and words of those to whom you entrusted the good of other parts of this globe.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We beg you, Great God, give us the vision as a people to know where global leadership truly lies, to pursue it diligently, to require it to protect human rights for everyone everywhere. We ask these things, Great God, with minds open to your word and hearts that trust in your eternal care.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

In every generation you have spoken through your prophets, and you call us today to be 'a people of compassion. We pray for those in need, that they may find comfort and relief; for those without work and those without rest; for the lonely and those who mourn; for the sick and those who will die this day. We thank you for all who bring to others your compassion and care.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Loving God, in every generation people of faith have heard your voice and responded to your call. We give you thanks for all your faithful servants. May we, following their example, welcome you into our hearts and homes, sit in your presence and seek to understand your word, that we may come to share with all your saints in the joy of your eternal life.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

 THE LORD'S PRAYER

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

Hymn 618: What does the Lord require

                 (Tune – Sharpthorne)

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

             What does the Lord require

for praise and offering?

What sacrifice, desire

or tribute did you bring?

Do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

Rulers of earth, give ear!

Should you not justice know?

Will God your pleading hear

while crime and cruelty grow?

Do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

Still down the ages ring

the prophet's stern commands:

to merchant, worker, king,

he brings God's high commands:

do justly,

love mercy,

walk humbly with your God.

 

How shall our life fulfill

God's law so hard and high?

Let Christ endue our will

with grace to fortify.

Then justly,

in mercy,

we'll humbly walk with God.

Author: Albert F. Bayly (1949)

Tune: Sharpthorne

Benediction

       The God of dreams has brought us together.

        The God of dreams sends us forth to love one another well.

The God of love has knit us together in unity.

The God of love sends us forth to heal our

divisions.

The God of hope sends us forth together.

The God of peace sends us forth to bring the world

home.

Hymn 483: Lord in the strength of grace

                 (Tune – St Michael)
https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/180856  

Lord, in the strength of grace,with a glad heart and true,myself, my residue of days,I consecrate to you.           

Your ransomed servant, Irestore to you your own;and from this moment, live or dieto serve my God alone.

Author: Charles WesleyTune:  St. Michael (Genevan) Composer: Louis Bourgeois

 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

So, Let Us Take A Walk.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - August 14, 2020 - 12:16am

Do you believe in Santa Claus? How about the Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy?

Children do. Have you ever noticed they have tremendous, unquestioning faith? If they are told that Santa exists, they will believe, and their belief will be reinforced year after year by the presents under the tree, In the case of the Easter Bunny, the eggs in a basket every year are the reinforcement. Where the Tooth Fairy is concerned, that dollar appearing mysteriously under the pillow, replacing the lost tooth, will reinforce belief. Even when they are old enough to suspect that the person who ate the cookies and milk on Christmas Eve was really dear old Dad, they are reluctant not to believe for fear that the presents may stop appearing. In their developing minds, they grasp for the reality of things hoped for and therefore trust in persons, or rabbits, or fairies they cannot see.

That is what faith is, the surety of things hoped for, the certainty of things unseen.

To a child, faith is limited by an immature view of the world. A child cannot comprehend that the gifts hoped for and received, are really the manifestation of the love of God as shown through the love of parents. But as a child matures, his or her faith matures. In fact, for most of us faith is an ever-changing part of our psyche. As people of faith, we anticipate it will grow, and it generally does. However, that growth is not steady, and all too often is limited by a finite world-view unable to totally comprehend our infinite God.

We have stories of faith in today's readings. One of those we have is the impetuous Peter whose faith was, more often than not, in need of water wings.

Peter's faith, at best, wavered. In fact, during Jesus' earthly ministry, it waffled all over the place. It was rash. It was impetuous. When he saw Jesus walking on the water, Peter was not sure who was actually doing that amazing thing. He yelled out, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." Jesus replied, "Come!" Peter immediately began walking across the sea, but lost heart in the face of the wind and waves. He began to sink, so Jesus reached out his hand and saved him.

Such actions were common with Peter. Remember his confession. Jesus was walking with the disciples and asked, "Who do men say that I am?" "Some say Moses, or Elijah, or John the Baptist."

"But who do you say that I am?" Peter blurts out, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God."

Jesus responds, "Blessed are you Simon Bar Jonah [Peter's Hebrew name], for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven." Jesus then said he was going to Jerusalem where he would be arrested, tortured, and killed; then in three days he would rise from the grave. Peter blurted out, "God forbid, Lord. I shall never let that happen to you." To which Jesus replied, "Get behind me, Satan. You are a hindrance to me."

I wonder who has the stronger faith from amongst those we find talked about in our scriptures. Is Peter one of those with a strong faith or does he have the strongest faith? Probably it was one of the Hebrew scripture characters like Jonah. His faith never wavered, even in the belly of that great fish. But Peter had an insight into something which Jonah totally lacked-a glimpse into the infinite power and love of our God. And that stood Peter well. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, which buttressed Peter's faith just as Jesus' hand had supported him on the water, Peter was able to step out in faith and preach the Gospel without fear, even though a martyr's death was ever before him.

What does all this mean to us? Most of us have the wavering faith of Peter. That's OK. The church was built by legions of people over the centuries, all in need of water wings. We are the architects of the new millennium. Thankfully we have something that Jonah, and even Peter, never had. Through the lens of the Resurrection, we have the assurance of the infinite power, love, and forgiveness of our God. We know that every time we step out of the boat, Jesus' hand will be there to keep us afloat.

So, let's take a walk.



 

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - Wesly 2 - 09 August 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church

Carlingford

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

Thoughts Upon God and Slavery

 09th August 2020 - Wesley 2 Sunday 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

 

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

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

Call to Worship

(The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)      

As we worship God today, we sense the presence of a great cloud of witnesses around us. We stand in the tradition of Methodists whose faith sent them, like the early Church, to the farthest corners of the earth with the good news of Christ. It is a heritage made up of many cultures, times, and places, drawn together in one body by the one Spirit who is the Giver of life.

We come to hear the story of God’s faithfulness to past generations.

But we also look to the future as well as the past. The God, who was with our ancestors, is with us as well. Then we can go forward in hope. Whatever else fails, God remains faithful. Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Praise be to God!

Hymn TIS 129: Amazing Grace (how sweet the sound)

                  (Tune – Amazing Grace)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORTa86X4-sI  

1.  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. 

2.  'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed! 

3.  Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come:
'tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.  

4.  The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures. 

5.  When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

                     Author: John Newton (1779) Tune: Amazing Grace

 Opening Prayer

      Almighty God, who guided this church through these last 160 plus years, we give you thanks and praise for the many blessings you have bestowed on our congregation. Direct and prosper all that we undertake in accordance with your will and purpose, correct all that may be amiss or imperfect, and by the power of your Holy Spirit inspire and enable every member of your Church in word and deed to proclaim to all people the good news of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who with you and the same Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 

A Prayer of Confession

      Almighty God, you have loved us with an everlasting love, but we have broken your holy laws and have left undone what we ought to have done. We are sorry for our sins and turn away from them. For the sake of your Son who died for us, forgive us, cleanse us and change us. By your Holy Spirit, enable us to live for you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

O Lord, we beseech you, absolve your people from their offences; that, through your bountiful goodness, we may be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, loving God, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour.

Thanks, be to God! Amen

The Peace

God has received us, pardoned us and loved us; let us forgive each other in love and share 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.)

A Word with the Children/Young People

Theme: Jesus came to heal and forgive.

Object:  A doctor's prescription

We often hear someone say, "That was just what the doctor ordered." What do they mean? They usually mean that something happened which was exactly what they wanted or needed. Do you know where we got that expression? Well, when we are sick, we usually go to the doctor. After checking us over to find out what is making us sick, the doctor takes a piece of paper like this one and writes out a prescription. The prescription tells us what kind of medicine we need to take to make us well. After leaving the doctor's office, we take the prescription to the drug store and the pharmacist fills the prescription with the medicine that the doctor ordered. If we take the medicine as the doctor ordered, we usually get well. That's where we got the expression, "That was just what the doctor ordered." 

When God created us, he wanted us to be happy and well. He didn't intend for us to be unhappy and sick. He never wanted people to be crippled or blind. But sadly, something happened -- and that something was sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they changed life for all of us. But God still loved us and he had a plan to make us well again. Jesus knew God's plan too.

One day Jesus was in Nazareth on the Sabbath so he went to the temple as he always did. When he stood up to read the Scriptures, he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He looked through the book until he found the part that said, "The Lord's Spirit has come to me and has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to free the prisoners, give sight to the blind, and to set everyone free from their suffering."

When he had finished reading, he handed the book back to the man who was in charge and sat down. Everyone in the place was looking at Jesus and waiting to see what he would say.

Jesus said to them, "What you have just heard me read has come true today."

What did Jesus mean? He meant that he was the one who came to make us happy and whole the way God intended for us to be. He came to heal the sick and the lame. He came to make the blind to see and to free us from sin. Now if we want to have what Jesus came to give, we must put our trust in him and do what he has told us to do.

Dear Father, we thank you for your love. We thank you for sending your Son to free us from sin so that we can know the joy that you want for us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

 Offering Prayer 

Eternal and loving God, we give thanks to you for your goodness through all the years of worship and witness in this place. May these gifts be blessed in your name. We give thanks for your grace in calling us to be your people, for your love revealed to us in Christ your Son, for your gift of the Spirit and the joy of salvation. Amen 

Hymn TIS 217: Love Divine all Loves excelling

                 (Tune – Hyfrydol) extra verse not in TIS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GenHMi5B7L4

  Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven to earth come down;

Fix in us thy humble dwelling;

All thy faithful mercies crown!

Jesus, Thou art all compassion,

Pure unbounded love Thou art;

Visit us with Thy salvation;

Enter every trembling heart.

 

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,

Into every troubled breast!

Let us all in Thee inherit;

Let us find that second rest.

Take away our bent to sinning;

Alpha and Omega be;

End of faith, as its Beginning,

Set our hearts at liberty.

 

Come, Almighty to deliver,

Let us all Thy life receive;

Suddenly return and never,

Never more Thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,

Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,

Glory in Thy perfect love.

 

Finish, then, Thy new creation;

Pure and spotless let us be.

Let us see Thy great salvation

Perfectly restored in Thee;

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before Thee,

Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

                            Author: Charles Wesley.

Tune: Blaenwern composed by W.P. Rowlands

                                      The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                      Proverbs 22.16-25            

The Gospel Reading:                 Luke 4:16-30                      

Readings: NRSV Translation

Proverbs 22.16-25

16 Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss. 17 The words of the wise: Incline your ear and hear my words, and apply your mind to my teaching; 18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today—yes, to you. 20 Have I not written for you thirty sayings of admonition and knowledge, 21 to show you what is right and true, so that you may give a true answer to those who sent you? 22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor or crush the afflicted at the gate; 23 for the Lord pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them. 24 Make no friends with those given to anger, and do not associate with hotheads, 25 or you may learn their ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

Luke 4:16-30 

16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” 24 And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Preaching of the Word: Thoughts Upon God and Slavery

From our Study:

“My boss is such a slave driver. He reminds me of Dagwood’s boss in the comics, Mr. What’s-his-name. Always yelling, piling on more work, never showing me any appreciation, making me work on weekends and at night.”

“I’ve been slaving away all day, trying to make things nice for you. And you can’t even say thanks?”

“I’m just a slave to the system. The only way to keep up my house, my cars, my kids’ school and soccer and swimming and dance is to put in longer and longer hours.”

All those people are using “slavery” as an exaggeration for hard work. The reality of slavery is a topic we want to avoid in the Western World. It is the most painful memory in such places as the USA national culture. The forced labour of African slaves was a crime against humanity, and a blot on that nation’s honour. In Australia, the Blackbirding of Kanaka’s for the Queensland cane field work was also a form of slavery.

The USA fought a great war over slavery and, when the slaves were freed, they continued to hold them in economic bondage for nearly another century. The indenture of European servants was a form of slavery, and yet a notch above slavery, because at least those servants saw an end to their indenture. “Sweat shops” were, and are, a form of economic slavery. We’d rather not think about those awful parts of our past—and present, in some cases.

Slavery continues to flourish in our world today. People who are hungry, homeless, or otherwise vulnerable are lured into debt slavery because they are promised a better life. Some of them are forced into prostitution. Some are forced laborers. Some are illegal immigrants who pay large fees to an “agent,” who smuggles them into a nation, and then keeps them in virtual slavery because of the debts run up. Some are children sold as jockeys, as prostitutes, as laborers. Some are farm laborers whose parents passed on debts to them and they will, in turn, pass those debts on their children.

But let’s go back to our roots. Traditional Methodists cannot be surprised by social science data repeatedly linking poverty, health issues, inadequate education, crime and abuse with divorce, cohabitation, illegitimacy, promiscuity, gambling and substance abuse.  An effective and biblically faithful engagement for Methodist politics will have to rediscover Christian anthropology and understand humans as both body and spirit.

Wesley at times lamented that where the gospel was preached, so too did thrift, industry and riches.  He didn’t begrudge increased wealth per se but feared the distractions from faith they offered.  So too should we, while still working to rescue individuals and societies from beliefs and habits that oppress and impoverish.

The greatest riches are spiritual and moral.  And they are produced by a Gospel-enlivened society organically rooted in stable marriages and families, chastity, sobriety, self-denial, thrift, hard work and moral responsibility.  These virtues and practices are rightly encouraged by churches, which are called to redeem the fallen, and governments, which are responsible for public order.

Wesley and his followers of the first 150 years or so did not deploy the institutional church for routine engagement in political specifics.  Instead they produced Christians and citizens who understood they operated under God in a wider social accountability.  Their faithfulness could bring blessings upon their nation, and their sins could contribute to divine judgment and social decay.

In our own time we should recall their example of faithfulness and godly social engagement while constructing a new Methodist political witness that understands that every person is a moral agent bearing the divine image. This understanding led to the Wesley’s engaging in and being vexed by the issue of slavery. In their world that slavery was most obvious in the ownership by Europeans of those of other races such as Africans. Today slavery can take many forms.

It is a commonplace, although one not often examined closely, that John Wesley was a lifelong opponent of slavery. Such claims originate with Wesley himself. 'Ever since I heard of it first', he wrote to Granville Sharp in October 1787, 'I felt a perfect detestation of the horrid Slave Trade'. Whether that is true is impossible to know. What is certain is that Wesley actively opposed the slave trade from the early 1770s onwards. Scholars of both Methodism and of abolitionism have often noted in passing his contributions to the accelerating abolition movement, which have survived in the form of a pamphlet, a group of letters, and a number of Journal entries.

Wesley's main contribution to that movement, was his pamphlet, “Thoughts upon slavery,” written in 1774. We can read it not only as polemic, but also as 'literature' to demonstrate that Wesley's sentimental style is as important as his moral, religious and economic arguments. Indeed, Wesley, despite objecting to sentimental writing in his Journal, is in fact one of the first major writers on slavery to use a sentimental rhetoric to make arguments against it: an important innovation, since much of the ensuing debate was conducted in exactly those sentimental terms.

Although Wesley claimed to have been opposed to slavery from the first time, he heard of it, we have no way of knowing if this is true. Neither can we know with certainty when he first heard of slavery. He might have come into contact with slaves in England. In the early eighteenth century, it was fashionable for aristocratic women to employ black pageboys, and young liveried slaves were not an uncommon sight. Slaves were also brought to England by visiting colonists and by officers in both the Royal Navy and the merchant marine.

In 1736-7, Wesley visited North America including Georgia, which was then a British colony, and there he came into contact with enslaved people. This experience left him with a loathing of slavery but at first, he felt unable to act on this. From 1739 onwards, Wesley and the Methodists were persecuted by clergymen and magistrates. They were attacked in sermons and in print and at times attacked by mobs.

The focus that Wesley needed came when Granville Sharp contested the case of a runaway slave (James Somerset) in the courts. Wesley was moved to study a text by the Philadelphia Quaker, Anthony Benezet. Wesley's journal shows that Benezet's work, and Lord Mansfield's deliberations in the case of Somerset, caused him much disquiet.

Two years later, in 1774, he wrote that tract called "Thoughts on Slavery" that went into four editions in two years. In it, he attacked the Slave Trade and the slave-trader with considerable passion and proposed a boycott of slave-produced sugar and rum. In August 1787, he wrote to the Abolition Committee to express his support.

In 1788, when the abolition campaign was at its height, he preached a sermon in Bristol, one of the foremost slave trading ports. In those days, an anti-slavery sermon could not be preached without considerable personal risk to the preacher and a disturbance broke out.

He maintained an interest in the abolition movement until he died. Wesley also famously said:

"Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature. Let none serve you, but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary action. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion. Be gentle toward all men; and see that you invariably do with everyone as you would he should do unto you." 

Now Wesley was, by birth and inclination, a social and political conservative. But his religious convictions turned him into a radical reformer whenever and wherever conservatism interfered with liberty and human progress. He attacked slaveowners, the captains of slave ships, slave merchants, and even the judges who upheld the legal right to own slaves. “Are there any laws as binding as the eternal laws of justice?” he asked in response to court rulings. 

Wesley preached that we needed to be involved in “social holiness.”  He believed we could only grow as Christians in a community, surrounded by people of similar faith and conviction.  In his preface to the 1739 hymnal, he was insistent that “the gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.”

One wonders, to what extent the economy of the Australia depends on some form of slavery, whether it is debt slavery, sweat shops, or other forms of bondage and injustice? Should we be concerned about child slavery in much of the world, about women forced into prostitution? Or laborers in virtual slavery because of generations of debt? Would Wesley say to us, as he said to Wilberforce, “Go on, in the name of God, and in the power of his might until (every vestige of) slavery” shall vanish away? What does our Christian faith, our understanding of God and salvation in our Wesleyan heritage, suggest to us about opposition to slavery? 

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

                  (Tune – Neighbour)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Sydney Carter (1965)
Tune: Neighbour


Intercessory Prayers

God of truth and justice, in your Son Jesus Christ, people of all races are adopted as your children. We thank you for Thomas Clarkson, Olaudah Equiano, and William Wilberforce, and all who devoted themselves to the abolition of slavery in the past.

Let me hear of your loving-kindness, O Lord.
For you are my hope and salvation.

Give your Church courage to stand for the dignity of all. Forgive the sins of past prejudice and slowness to recognise evil. Inspire all who proclaim the name of Christ with your wisdom to be agents of transformation and peace. God of truth and justice, in your amazing grace, hearts are turned from indifference to passionate pursuit of liberation.

Let me hear of your loving-kindness, O Lord.
For you are my hope and salvation.

Stir those in power to work for the eradication of all forms of slavery today. Sustain all trafficked and exploited peoples — those who are sold and abused as commodities for others’ gratification. May we hear today the fulfilment of your word. God of truth and justice, you announce good news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed.

Let me hear of your loving-kindness, O Lord.
For you are my hope and salvation.


Extend the boundaries of our compassion to include fairness in trading at home and abroad. Give us the will to challenge structures that keep many locked into poverty and deprivation. Make us worthy of your majesty and honour.

God of truth and justice, you hear the cry of all in distress.
Pour out the abundance of your mercy on all weighed down by sufferings of mind or body . . .

Let me hear of your loving-kindness, O Lord.
For you are my hope and salvation.

Break the chains that restrict the spirit, that we may sing songs of praise and hope. God of truth and justice, in your Son we are born to new life, and no one is beyond your reach. Proclaim your favour to all who have entered the shadow of death . . . Give comfort to grieving hearts and bring us to rejoice in your eternity.

Let me hear of your loving-kindness, O Lord.
For you are my hope and salvation.    

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 209: And Can it be

                   (Tune - Sagina)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29myH7xXI4M

And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Saviour’s blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain?

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! how can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me?

Amazing love! how can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me!


'Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!

Who can explore His strange design?

In vain the firstborn seraph tries

To sound the depths of love divine!

'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,

Let angel minds inquire no more.

Amazing love! how can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me!


He left His Father's throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace;

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam's helpless race;

'Tis mercy all, immense and free;

For, O my God, it found out me.

Amazing love! how can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me!

 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature's night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

Amazing love! how can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me!

 

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him is mine!

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! how can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me!

Author: Charles Wesley (1738)
Tune: Sagina

 

Benediction       

       Faithful God whose Word does not return empty but accomplishes all that you purpose, may your blessings fall like rain to water the earth, nourishing seed for our food, and filling us with the abundance of your love, through Jesus Christ your living Word. Amen.             

Hymn 778: Shalom to you now

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

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

Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends.

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

In all your living and through your loving,

Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom

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

 

 

 


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Depth of The Gift.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - August 7, 2020 - 2:25am

In the Christian Church, the season of Pentecost is a time of explanation, a time of gradual but astounding revelation. The readings for this season try to explain to the people of God who have been redeemed by the death and resurrection of the Lord, the vastness, the depth of the gift they have been given and the deep resonance of it in their lives and in the lives of those with whom they share the gift.

Scripture is full of the natural elements of our world that we all know and experience in our lives -- earth, air, fire, and water. Since we all have some experience of each of these elements in intimate, daily, personal ways, they can provide amazing keys to our understanding of the God that created them -- and us.

This week we encounter water -- and vividly -- in all its dimensions. We know that Jesus' first disciples were fisherman, people who risked their lives on the water and drew their sustenance from the water. Water is essential to human life, we all know that, and it was an especially sharp reality for the people of the Holy Land, where water was frequently in short supply and very precious indeed. There was also something mystical and frightening about the precious element. 

It could be the water of Baptism. It gave you, your life -- but it could also drown you! It sustained you in the desert, but the hidden creatures of its ocean depth might swallow you whole, as was the case with Jonah in his encounter with the whale, the great leviathan. What delivered the doubting Jonah from the depths? His anguished call to God for help when he was sunk deep below the waves in the belly of the whale.

Matthew's Gospel tells one of the most famous of all the stories about Jesus and how he explained the transcendent power of faith to his disciples -- disciples who were charged with going out to the world to preach his message (a perilous business at best). The disciples were at sea in rough waters and Jesus walked out to them, showing them that the faith that he embodied could overcome the natural world, its rules, and its deepest fears. If you read just beyond today's Gospel, you will see how Peter, that most humans of the disciples, faltered in his belief when he tried to repeat Jesus' amazing act of walking on the water. "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

These stories we read in Pentecost are really about the act of belief itself. Real belief must rise above the earthly, the everyday, even the logical. Logic would say that no one could walk on the rolling waves. But Jesus did walk on the water because his belief was absolute, and, more important, he showed his disciples, those people who would have to endure many hardships and even death in his name, what their faith could do, what their faith could overcome.

In fact, the evolving Gospel story is about, on an even deeper level, the way in which the coming of Jesus, his death, and resurrection, changed utterly what we might once have believed were the "facts of our lives." We were to be new people living in a new world. And the writers of the Gospels had a very keen sense of how people might be led to understand the mysteries of the faith.

Certainly, from humankind's earliest days on earth, water and the journey over and through water, have been central to our understanding of our place in the world. From the days of the ancient world, the cycles of our life and experience have been told in terms of perilous journeys on water.

But the Christian message is different from that of the Norse legends and the Greek epics in one important way: it tells us we can and must move beyond and above the world we know and its restrictions and, with faith, enter into the domain of perfect freedom. Our faith must allow us to walk on the disturbed waters of life and it must save us from the depths of the sea when we fall.

 One of the greatest American writers of the 19th century, Herman Melville, knew a lot about the sea and what it stood for. Both his English and his Dutch forebears had strong links to the sea. As a young man he had shipped out on an American whaler, and he spent the rest of his writing life using the experiences he had on that and subsequent voyages to explain what he knew or intuited about the ways of God and men and women. Moby Dick, his allegorical novel about the sea and its potential for destruction and salvation, is full of the fearful music of Scripture, as it reflects the tempests and calms of the sea.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Finding the Kingdom among the realities of your life

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - July 31, 2020 - 3:25am

“Today Let's Picture the World as an ungainly, promising mass of dough.”  O.K. That’s different, I thought, as the Rev. John started off his Reflection/Sermon on Sunday 26th July. 
I have been living in the world for more decades than I envisaged I may have survived and I have never once in all that time imagined something as amazing, mysterious and wonderful as God’s world; in such a colourless and heartless way.  The world is sometimes a scary place, sometimes a difficult place, and sometimes a sad place.  I marvel at the miracles and the intricacy of every plant, animal, element and design of God’s amazing creations – every single day!Often my life is enriched by small unexpected moments of secret joy - moments to be hoarded like a miser’s secret treasure - to be quietly relived and enjoyed later, or to be hugged to my heart to bring warmth to the day.I am not referring to those spectacular life changing and important moments like leaving home to join my fiancé in church to marry; or like holding each of our daughters in my arms shortly after the miracle of their birth; or even the look of joy on my husband’s face as he held his first grandson in his arms.  I am writing and thinking of those almost unnoticed moments when small acts of love, thoughtfulness or kindness; or moments of overwhelming and unexpected beauty creep into my heart and enrich my life. These are magical moments; often known only to me and appreciated only by me.  Do you remember such magical secret moments?I remember such a moment as I secretly observed the look of love on a new mother’s face as she watched her Dad lean tenderly over her new son’s cot and quietly study the miracle of six hour old grandson number three, oblivious to a roomful of excited, noisy and unthinking relatives and friends who all seemed to be talking at once with little regard for the tiredness of the new mother.   I am certain the baby, now a young man, could never imagine just how much he was welcomed and loved at that moment or how the three generations were secretly and momentarily linked.  I am sure God saw that moment - and I saw it too – just a secret moment in time!The Rev John, in speaking of what he called“the one liner parable of the yeast in the flour” reminded us; “We need to be patient and to exercise discernment (try judgement shrewdness or sensitivity) if a lump of dough is ever to be bread for the world.  He continued; “And we must exercise this same patience and discernment about the universe.  Life is something other than a pile of flour and a bit of yeast. Life is an ungainly, promising mass of dough, on its way to becoming abundant bread. Just as yeast permeates the entire lump, so the kingdom is present everywhere, and everywhere it becomes manifest for those with eyes to see.”
At first I was surprised by the much repeated use of the word manifest in this sermon.  It is a word which is not used as often as it might be; so I wondered why the Rev. John liked it so much - and I looked it up in several dictionaries.   There are so many other words with a similar meaning – he must have had a reason, I thought.  Synonyms given were; obvious, clear, plain, apparent, evident, patent, palpable, distinct, definite, blatant, overt, glaring, barefaced, explicit, transparent, conspicuous, undisguised, unmistakable, unquestionable, undeniable, noticeable, perceptible, visible, recognizable, observable.  All good words.  I discovered the dictionary said; “A manifestation is the public display of emotion or feeling, or something theoretical made real.  Manifestation's origins are in religion and spirituality because if something spiritual becomes real, it is said to be a manifestation.”“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened … Jesus wants us to glimpse the kingdom of heaven, that realm where God’s sovereignty is recognised.” Sometimes in the noise and clamour of a busy shopping centre or street a moment of God’s magic is seen; everyone knows that young people who are in love walk hand in hand through the streets and the shopping centres, but how much more beautiful is the sight of an ancient Chinese man and his shuffling bandy legged wife holding hands as they walk at a snail’s pace along the street?  And why did the glimpse of an old man driving carefully through the shopping centre in his electric wheelchair, with his wife holding his hand as it rested on the armrest of his chair, bring tears of happiness to my eyes?  Because it is easy to love when you are young - and it is easy to stay in love for a short time when life is good; however, love that endures through time and life’s struggles is much harder, and in the end much more worthwhile and beautiful.   Yet it is a beauty not always noticed or appreciated, especially by the starry eyed young lovers.At times music and coincidence have also brought magic into my day.  I remember sitting with my husband in a small hotel in France in 1964 and eating our first ever Continental breakfast of dry bread rolls and coffee.  It all seemed foreign and unfriendly as the radio played in the background in the dining room, and it was strangely unnerving to feel for the first time in our lives we were unable to communicate – then suddenly Waltzing Matilda was being played on the radio, and we heard and loved every single note as never before or since.   Sometimes outside influences intervene to spoil breathtaking natural beauty.  In a huge city like Sydney the cumulative luminous effect of endless electrically lit suburbs, streets and houses diminishes the rich velvet blackness of the night skies.  How I gasped with wonder when we stopped outside the small town of Benalla near the Victorian border to appreciate the dark velvety sky splashed extravagantly with countless millions of stars not visible anywhere near large cities.  It was a breathtakingly magical moment.  How can such nightly beauty be lost to untold millions every night?  What a sad thing that is.As a student and lover of history and architecture I should probably have appreciated the grandeur and classical style of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome more closely when I visited.  However, instead I was overcome with the magical effects of the light that shone through the famous dome onto the high alter over the tomb of St. Peter.  The lighting seemed symbolic and I could visualize the Pope standing at the alter bathed in heavenly light - the true earthly leader of his people.  It was not until much later that I discovered that the Pope is the only one who is allowed to speak from the high alter.  You can see from my photo that I was not the only tourist to be enthralled by the divine light that day.
I am grateful for the unexpected joys of daily life, and I hope I always remember to take the time to appreciate all the magical moments that come my way.  I will continue to find it difficult to actually follow the Rev. John’s suggestion to “Picture the world as an ungainly, promising mass of dough.”   But yes; “The parable about the yeast in the flour does help us see something of the kingdom of heaven, that realm where God’s sovereignty is recognized.”“And when you find the kingdom among the realities of your life, nothing prevents you from finding this same kingdom present as well in the circumstances around you, in the lives of other people, and everywhere you choose to look.”“As it takes faith to believe that bread will rise, so too, faith is necessary to see the kingdom manifest in the everyday and the ordinary. We must exercise patience and discernment wherever God places us. Then we will see that what seems like a dead lump is in fact bubbling with divine life.”“So may each of us go forth this week, and encounter places and people and circumstances, and look there for the kingdom: not as distant, but near at hand; not as obvious, but hidden; not as static, but alive and becoming manifest; a kingdom making room for all of us.”“When we look for the kingdom, then we find it present, abundantly present. And when we do, then we have more reasons to give thanks than we ever expected.”
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship 02 August - Wesley 1


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

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What About God and Science?2nd August 2020 - Wesley 1 Sunday 9.30 am
Gathering God’s People
Acknowledgement of First Peoples
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.  May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.
Call to Worship (The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)        Sisters and brothers, we meet to worship God, to give thanks for the vocation of us all as the beloved of Jesus Christ, to remember our roots in the teaching of the Wesley Family and to remember the commitments we have made, and to reflect upon our life and ministry.
God gives the Word Great is the company of the beloved of Jesus Christ. Young and old, from all walks of life, blessed with experience, imagination, compassion Great is the company of the beloved of Jesus Christ. Warmed by the Word within, Worshipping God in Spirit and Truth Great is the company of the beloved of Jesus Christ. God gives the Word Great is the company of the beloved of Jesus Christ.
Hymn AHB 229: Let Heaven and Earth Combine                   (Tune – St John) two extra verses not in AHB.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO1AihQTNFQ
1.  Let earth and Heaven combine,Angels and men agree,To praise in songs divineThe incarnate Deity,Our God contracted to a span,Incomprehensibly made man.
2.  He laid His glory by,He wrapped Him in our clay;Unmarked by human eye,The latent Godhead lay;Infant of days He here became,And bore the mild Immanuel’s name.
3.  See in that infant’s faceThe depths of deity,And labour while ye gazeTo sound the mysteryIn vain; ye angels gaze no more,But fall, and silently adore.
4.  Unsearchable the loveThat hath the Saviour brought;The grace is far aboveOf men or angels’ thought:Suffice for us that God, we know,Our God is manifest below.
5.  He deigns in flesh to appear,Widest extremes to join;To bring our vileness near,And make us all divine:And we the life of God shall know,For God is manifest below.
6.  Made perfect first in love,And sanctified by grace,We shall from earth remove,And see His glorious face:His love shall then be fully showed,And man shall all be lost in God.
Author: Charles WesleySt. John (13355)Composer (Attributed To): W. H. Havergal 1850
Opening prayer
     Living God whose Word became flesh in Jesus and whose Spirit of Truth speaks into our hearts all honour and glory and worship belong to you. As our praises pronounce your wonder may our lives overflow with love, that our words and deeds might tell of your goodness and declare your infinite grace. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Holy God hear us as we confess our sins. If we have taken too lightly the call to proclaim your gospel: Gracious God forgive us. Help us to live your Word. If we have been complacent in our preparation and forgetful of your people’s needs: Gracious God, forgive us. Help us to live your Word. If we have put our own ideas and concerns before the good news of your love. Gracious God forgive us. Help us to live your Word. If we have failed to listen to the promptings of your Spirit. Gracious God forgive us. Help us to live your Word. If we have not lived the message, we have voiced. Gracious God forgive us. Help us to live your Word. Silence May the living God forgive and renew us, give us victory over sin and set us free in Christ. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Gracious God with gratitude and gladness we hear your promise of liberation: that in Christ we are forgiven and set free and restored to serve you. Thanks, be to God! Amen
The Peace
Let us share the joy, the freedom, and the rest we find in God’s love, as we greet one another in the grace and peace of Christ.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
Receive these gifts we now bring, God of gifts, and bless them to be gifts for your world. Through our giving, renew others, that they too may know the comfort and rest of living in the arms of your compassion and your love. Amen.
Hymn AHB 518: From you all skill and science flow                   (Tune – Kingsfold)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhK6Nl2ZiNw
From you all skill and science flow,
all pity, care and love,
all calm and courage, faith and hope
O pour them from above!And share them, Lord, to each and all,
as each and all have need;
so let your gifts return to you
in noble thought and deed.
And hasten, Lord, that perfect day
when pain and death shall cease,
and your just rule shall fill the earth
with health and light and peace:Whenever green the grass shall be,
and ever blue the skies,
and our destruction shall no more
deface your paradise.
Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)Tune: Albano                                     The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                      Romans 9.1-5                   NEB page 879The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 14:13-21             NEB page 738
Readings: NRSV Translation
Romans 9.1-5
9. I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Matthew 14:13-21 
13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Preaching of the Word: What About God and Science?
John Wesley (1703 -1791) was a pioneer of the 1730s British evangelical movement. While best known to us as the founder of Methodism, his intellectual interests included a lifelong engagement with the ideas and activities of the natural philosophers (scientists) of his day. He encouraged his preachers to become conversant with science, incorporated scientific topics in his sermons and other writings, and used electro therapy apparatus in his medical clinics. Science correctly understood was to serve the cause of Christ rather than be feared.
The eighteenth century challenged Christians to adapt their ways to new ideas. Many intellectuals in John Wesley's England embraced a widening gap between the natural and the supernatural, natural law and providence, and rational faith and piety, which had roots in the mechanistic interpretations of nature epitomized by Sir Isaac Newton's accomplishments. The study which began our final of five series on John Wesley and the twenty first century offers an insight of Wesley's interaction with science and the challenges which the new understanding of nature and the physical world brought to believers.
Wesley's intellectual horizon included a lifelong interest in the progress of science and the ways that science could serve Christian purposes. Although he occasionally dabbled in the field or recommended projects to others, Wesley never had the interest (or time) to devote to serious experimental study and cannot be compared with contemporary scientist-clerics such as Joseph Priestley, Stephen Hales, Bishop Samuel Horsley, or William Derham. Mainly, John Wesley focused on science to serve his single goal and purpose of furthering the gospel and helping the sick. He also wrote inexpensive works on natural science for his constituency. Wesley's sermons and other writings point to an enthusiasm for the natural world as "God's World which could be exploited for humanitarian as well as traditional religious purposes.
It is interesting to note that Wesley seemed to be interested in science and he was guided by the empirical method of his day, not by proofs from Scripture. Indeed, he interpreted Scripture in the light of science. He was not interested in theories, but in description. Causes, or broad explanations of events were not his concern. What he was concerned with was facts, data that the mind could grasp. At the same time, he looked at the facts as ways of describing God’s work, as well as describing the world around us. Where the results of science conflicted with the Bible, Wesley gave up the literal meaning of the biblical text—because the Bible was not intended to teach scientific truth!
Wesley's student days at Oxford indicated a more than ordinary attention to science. He was interested in such disparate questions as the nature of "vacuums, the Chain of Being, and the ability of animals to reason."1 In later travels, he would meet and comment on the work of many individuals working in science. He was particularly concerned with unusual natural phenomena and would often speculate on their causes. An insatiable reader, Wesley read scientific works throughout his life, often from the back of his horse.
From his own reading and the advice of others, he developed short lists of scientific works for his correspondents, schools, and lay preachers. These collections included older works by John Ray, Cotton Mather, and Jonathan Edwards as well as current works by Benjamin Franklin, Charles Bonnet, John Hutchinson, and Oliver Goldsmith. Wesley followed the debates that swirled around the various interpretations of Newton's ideas.
As we heard in our study for Wesley scientific facts about the heavens, for example, are not dependent on Scriptural authority. When Scripture makes claims about the world that science has disproved, Scripture must then be interpreted in a non-literal way. One wonders, in that light, what Wesley might have said about the age of the earth and the evolution of life, if he had had at his disposal the data of modern scientific findings.
What would he have said, if he had seen the data, about the rich fossil record for the development of life, spanning hundreds of millions of years? What would he have said about the much sparser, but no less fascinating, fossil record of the development of humans? Would he have said that Genesis 1 and 2 need to be interpreted in a non-literal way? We have no way of knowing, definitively, what he might have said. In the light of the way he interpreted Scripture in relationship to the scientific data of his own day, however, we can guess he might have said, “Yes, we need to reinterpret Genesis 1 and 2.”
Wesley's view of the natural world and the position of nature in God's economy was never listed in one place or integrated into a system. In drawing together his ideas from various sources, we recognize that our understanding will be tentative and incomplete...an appropriate response to one who dealt with challenges in context rather that from a confession.
Hymn AHB 556: Creator of the earth and skies                         (Tune – Plaistow)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWoyZ3Fq-jI
1.  Creator of the earth and skies, To whom all truth and power belong, Grant us your truth to make us wise; Grant us your power to make us strong.
2.  We have not known you: to the skies Our monuments of folly soar, And all our self-wrought miseries Have made us trust ourselves the more.
3.  We have not loved you: far and wide The wreckage of our hatred spreads, And evils wrought by human pride Recoil on unrepentant heads.
4.  We long to end this worldwide strife: How shall we follow in your way? Speak to mankind your words of life, Until our darkness turns to day.
Words by: Donald Hughes
Music by: Jeremiah Clark

Intercessory Prayers  
Almighty God, you raised up your servants, John and Charles Wesley, to proclaim anew the gift of redemption and the life of holiness. Pour out your Spirit, and revive your work among us; that inspired by the same faith, and upheld by the same grace in word and sacrament, we and all your children may be made one in the unity of your Church on earth, even as in heaven we are made one in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Some pointers for prayer: 
Pray for the Church throughout the world – that the Spirit will revive and refresh the Church in every part; • Pray for your local church and the churches in your area – that you may be waiting attentively for the ways God is speaking through the Spirit; • Pray for those who come to your church, and for those on the fringes - that they may have an assurance of God’s love and know that they are saved through Christ; • Pray for those who are in leadership in the Church - that they may be strengthened & upheld in their ministries; • Pray for those who you know who do not know of God’s love – for friends or family, for neighbours or colleagues, that God’s Spirit may fill their hearts; • Pray for the Kingdom of God - that it may break through in us & among us, that the earth may be filled with the glory of God; • Pray for yourself - that God’s Spirit will speak in your heart, that you may be bold to proclaim the gospel in your words and actions.
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 AHB 297: Come, let us with our Lord arise                          (Tune – Surrey) extra verse not in AHB
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvvr6TG7RX4
Come, let us with our Lord arise,Our Lord, Who made both earth and skies;Who died to save the world He made,And rose triumphant from the dead;He rose, the Prince of life and peace,And stamped the day for ever His.
‘This is the day the Lord hath made’ −That all may see His love displayed,May feel His resurrection’s power,And live again to fall no more;Their heart and mind and will renewed,And filled with all the life of God.
Then let us render Him His own,With solemn prayer approach the throne,With meekness hear the Gospel word,With thanks His dying love record;Our joyful hearts and voices raise,And fill His courts with songs of praise.
Honour and praise to Jesus payThroughout His consecrated day;Be all in Jesus’ praise employed,Nor leave a single moment void;With utmost care the time improve,And only breathe His praise and love.
                                  Text: Charles Wesley | Tune: Surrey
Benediction                Faithful God whose Word does not return empty but accomplishes all that you purpose, may your blessings fall like rain to water the earth, nourishing seed for our food, and filling us with the abundance of your love, through Jesus Christ your living Word. Amen.             
Hymn TIS 779: May the Feet of God Walk with You                        (Tune – Aubrey)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X5FHNGM2HA
May the feet of God walk with you, and his hand hold you tight.May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear your cry.May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you life.May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring youhome.
          Author: Aubrey Podlich
Tune: Aubrey




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Monthly Newssheet August 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - July 31, 2020 - 1:04am

Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford

Monthly NewssheetAugust 2020


Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.
August Services by Zoom, Web and Delivery
2     9.30am Wesley – God and Science - Sunday Service Virtual Holy                       Communion (Zoom)9     9.30am Wesley – Response to Slavery -Sunday Service (Zoom)16   9.30am Wesley’s Response to Politics – Sunday Service (Zoom)23   9.30am Wesley - On War and Peace Sunday Service (Zoom)30   9.30am Wesley – Scripture and Scripture Alone – Sunday Service                      (Zoom)
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856
Month of Wesley
Our mid-year study using “John Wesley for the 21stCentury will start next Wednesday 29th July. The studies will be held through Zoom. They will start 7.00pm and will run until August 26thinclusive.
·         An Email has been sent inviting attendance and once you reply you will be sent the Zoom address for the study. ·         Those without books will be sent copies of each Chapter.


Changes in Services and Newssheet

As face to face worship at Marsden Road looks likely to be some time in the future and maybe not before the New Year a few changes need to take place in the way we have been doing things. As there is not much news about events the Newssheet will come out once a month from August onwards. Any notices for the coming month, please send to Rev John at whitestarhaven@gmail.com.
The Rev John who is part-time has been leading and preparing all Sunday Worship since the beginning of the Pandemic along with attending many required Zoom meetings and other preparation work. Sadly, this has meant that his time for phone calls to congregation members has been limited over the last month or so. Rev John will change back to not leading or preparing the third and fifth Sundays worship when they occur each month.
The alternative for those Sundays will be to take the opportunity offered at any of the neighbouring Congregations. A separate letter has been sent out to all those with Email Addresses listing what is available. Please pass this on to all congregation members and Email Rev John if you did not receive that list.
Prayer Cycle.
The Prayer Cycle for August has been sent by Email to those we have Email addresses for. Please print and deliver for those without Internet/Email.
Church Council Meeting
The next meeting of the Marsden Road Uniting Council will be 7.30pm on the 11th of August 2020 via Zoom. Please send any reports to Ruth: Ruth Henderson (avalonbinda@bigpond.com)
Pastoral and Other Meetings
While there is no Vaccine or Treatment for the Covid-19, the Rev John is unable to be available for face to face pastoral needs and/or conversations. However, if you need or wish to have a pastoral chat with Rev John and prefer not to do this via the phone and do have Internet connection then you can contact him and arrange a Zoom meeting time. Rev John will send you a Zoom URL addre4ss and we can connect at an appointed time. Groups who wish to meet can also contact Rev John and plan for their meeting to be through Zoom.
CONTACTS
Minister of the WordRev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658 or whitestarhaven@gmail.comChurch Council Chairperson:         Ruth Henderson 9875 2194Church Council Secretary:             Susan Halgren 9858 1409Elders’ Chairperson:                        Alan Craymer 9874 0531Elders’ Secretary:                            Elaine Forrest 9874 7231Congregation Meeting Chair:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Property bookings/enquiries:         Warwick Roden 9874 7584Website: www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.auFacebook:https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/Rev Johns’ Weekly Blog: http://whitestarhaven.blogspot.com/Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:                        margaretssundayreflections.blogspot.com
Please send messages & items to share to Rev John by Tuesday night. Phone: 9868 1658 or email: whitestarhaven@gmail.com
EASTWOOD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AIDDid you notice the dip in the temperature during the week? Your help is very welcome in building stocks of canned, warming foods which will help those less fortunate than ourselves. Also remember that many lonely people depend on their four-footed or bird friends for company and those need feeding too.Those who would prefer to make a financial donation to Community Aid (amounts of $2.00 or more are tax deductible) can be made using their website https://ccas.org.au/ or the form sent out last week.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Meeting God Where You Are.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - July 31, 2020 - 12:37am

Sooner or later God meets us where we live. For crafty, scheming, heel-grasping Jacob, whom we hear about in this week’s readings from the lectionary, Genesis 32, that meant God’s getting down into the mud and blood of this earth and quite literally wrestling with the man who had devoted his life to getting ahead by being stronger and smarter than his every opponent. Jacob wrestled with Esau in the womb, wrestled with Esau out of the womb.
Next Jacob wrestled with his father, Isaac, and then for about two decades had an ongoing wrestling match with his uncle– cum– father-in-law, Laban. God had stayed with Jacob through all that and even had made some pretty big promises to him at a place dubbed Bethel. But what Jacob did not yet know is what a lot of us are often slow to realize: the best things in life come by grace alone. The old self— the scheming, live-by-your-wits, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstrap self— has to die and only then can God bring us the blessing of a new identity. Jacob became Israel.
In Christ we become children of God. Who knows what our particular Jabbok River will be— we all have a different “Jabbok,” a different place of “Peniel” where we see God’s own face and discover the glorious truth that grace alone ushers us into God’s wonderful light. But God is as relentless as God is gracious and if we now live as children of the light, we can know for sure that our life is a sheer gift.
We live in a world of death, and this was a fact that crashed in on Jesus with peculiar force after hearing of John the Baptist’s brutal beheading. John’s death was so senseless, the result of a boozy, lusty, thoughtless offer by a corrupt king. So, Jesus withdraws to another place of death— a lonely wilderness spot— only to be followed by masses of people hungry for Jesus’s words and soon enough only plain hungry physically. But where Jesus goes, life follows (as Isaiah predicted). So, when the people had eaten and were satisfied, they perhaps sensed that life is grace— in the wilderness but always. If we manage to find life in a world of death, it is all grace.
Once a person discovers the truth that God alone gives life by grace alone (as Paul did the day, he stopped being Saul), then that person begins having a lifelong love affair with the gospel that reveals that grace. Once you have eaten the heavenly manna only God can give— the bread you cannot buy with money as Isaiah said— you want to share it with the whole world. For Paul in Romans 9, that meant sharing it with his fellow Jews who had not yet come to recognise Jesus as the Christ. Paul was so desperate to see also them fed that he said he would go to hell himself if that is what it took to get more people to take a seat at Jesus’s banquet table. Curiously, that actually is what Jesus did to accomplish that very goal.
I recall a story that I once heard of a brand-new seminary graduate, who had just returned home from his studies and invited to lead an adult education class in his home parish. Still riding high on his wave of celebration, and very much aware of himself as a "master" of divinity studies, he began to hold forth in a session on the story of Jonah. "In my exegesis of this pericope, I found no empirical justification whatever for a substantive faith in the notion that a human being could be ingested by a whale and survive. However, our efforts to spiritualize this foundational myth yield great promise for deeper theological and hermeneutical exploration."

Whereupon the recent graduate's grandmother, who was sitting in the back row, sucked her teeth and hissed under her breath, "Lord, you sent the boy to school, and he comes back here a fool. Anybody knows that it doesn't matter whether Jonah got swallowed by a whale, a goldfish, or a guppy -- the story is still true."
This week’s readings leave us like the that seminarian -- challenged to look beyond the limits of what we think we know, to find the truth underlying another miraculous event in the account of the Scriptures. In Matthew, Jesus starts out with two fish and five little loaves of bread, just enough food to feed one person for one day of travel. By the time he had finished blessing this small offering of food for the needs of the people, it is enough to feed thousands, with food to spare.
The very notion boggles the modern mind -- but not those people who read the story through the eyes of faith. For people like the grandmother in our story, the rich truth of this Gospel parable is summed up in the lyrics of the Gospel hymn writer: "God chooses ordinary people...and little becomes much when it's placed in the Master's hands." Interesting for us to reflect upon. So do we meet God where we are and do we allow our God to meet us there.


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

"Can we stamp out Darnel?" or "Gathering God's People"

Margaret's Sunday Reflections - July 24, 2020 - 3:53am

The Rev. John called his Reflection/Sermon on Sunday 19th July, taken from Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43  “Can we stamp out Darnel” or “Gathering God’s People”.  He indicated that he had some problems tracking down the exact meaning of the word ‘darnel’ when making preparations for the sermon - so of course I immediately took my favourite dictionary down from the shelf, feeling confident of finding a satisfactory answer.  We have a wonderful two volume dictionary that my husband saved from the rubbish skip during an overzealous clean-out at his place of work many years ago.  This edition of The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles” – First Published in February 1933 and updated and corrected many times was printed in 1975 so was probably not all that old when it was randomly discarded. 
This book has been a great asset in transcribing old family wills and working out the legal, property and other terms in common use in centuries passed, while doing family and general history research.  We use it all the time; often comparing it with our Australian Macquarie Dictionary which of course no Australian family should be without in their home. 

Darnel – 1. A deleterious grass, Lolium temulentum, which grows as a weed among corn.  Also a book-name of the genus Lolium.  Also Rye-grass is named and mention is made of ‘cockle’ and ‘tares’ and of “Satan’s sowing of his errors and discords.”  Upon going to Volume 2 I learned:  ‘Tare’ in early times was a name given to some seeds of vetch which appeared as weeds in cornfields. ‘Tares’ are “waste in goods” or “that which is burned” and tare weight is commonly used today regarding packing and transporting goods.  









Having once again read the “Parable of the weeds” during this week, I was reminded of my fascination with the unexpected beauty of the seemingly endless farms in France, where I took many photos of fields that seemed to have the edges sprinkled with Flanders Poppies, field daisies, wild grasses of many varieties and other obviously invading plants the farmer would have resented.  However, I found them randomly beautiful and did not even think about the nuisance to the poor farmer as I took my photos. Because I have never lived in a rural area or on a farm I think I see things a little differently and I am actually so untrained on the subject of farming I can barely recognise most of the crops enough to be sure if they are corn or wheat or maize or almost any other crop.  
Bridge House Cemetery has just 43 graves and sits in farmland like many of the military cemeteries.

In the three weeks my husband and I spent travelling around France and Belgium in 2011, I was enchanted by the beauty and the tranquillity of this country which we had visited only very briefly previously.  The rural areas were scattered with villages and small towns among what seemed to be endless farms; and it seemed that everywhere there were beautifully kept military cemeteries dotted across the landscape.  But of course in reality in 1914, what we called the First World War, all too swiftly followed by the Second World War, were just the latest in centuries of catastrophic wars that created havoc and misery in almost every civilisation from the beginning of time. 
From this farm at Arramanches near Omaha Beach the remains of the huge concrete Mulberry Harbours of D Day 1944 can still be seen in the water.  Note the unwelcome but colourful weeds that have invaded the farmer's fields.
The core message for the day, this last Sunday, was in fact very similar to our “Parable of the Sower” from the previous week, except for the “enemy who came in the night” who obviously represents evil.  This led me to consider that if you ever needed to confirm that there has always been evil in the world - war has been a constant source of discord and evil for countless eons almost from the moment God created the world. 
So perhaps it has always been that each generation fails to listen to the stories and lessons from the past. 
Alexander the Great?

Ancient and medieval history is filled with stories of barbarians whose whole existence centred around endless battles and wars – “and what was so ‘great’ about Alexander?”  He lived just 33 years and his constant war mongering as the head of a civilization much admired by historians and classic scholars led him to lure many hundreds of thousands of soldiers to their death and encouraged those who survived to rape, murder and pillage in the cities and towns that were taken in battle?
Although nobody knows the true number there are estimates of 9 million Christians, Muslims and Jews dying in the 11 medieval Crusades – yet still the fighting carries on in these regions in the 21st century. 
In Moscow in 1982 at an International Peace Conference the message of a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6th August 1945 went largely unheard.  When the bomb exploded some 2,000 feet above the centre of the city she was an ordinary schoolgirl listening to an address by the headmistress.  She told of the “Heaven-splitting flash and earth shaking roar which demolished the city in an instant … The billowing clouds of smoke that brought sudden night … The fires which began all over the city and joined up to make the city of Hiroshima an inferno.”  More than 200,000 men women and children died.
In the Memorial Peace Park in Hiroshima there is a stone chest that contains the names of all those known to have been killed by the atomic blast.  The inscription reads, “Let all the souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.”
Perhaps we have not repeated that particular evil – but with the weapons we have today, we might kill 500 million people and disfigure the earth for centuries.  When we visited the Farnborough Air Show in September 1982 we saw many sophisticated war planes and weapons; and remember this was just after the reality of the Falklands War; so we were aware that these machines had recently been used “for real” against some of God’s people.
I remember having seen on television, great gatherings of people in Argentina, praying to God for victory; and then seeing pictures of people in Britain attending special services to ask for His blessing on them.  Think how confused our children were! 
Now that I am older I worry that young people are not even interested in the lessons of history - and often war is a theatre entertainment or a violent video game, while for some a catastrophe is a broken finger nail or a beached whale.
The Rev. John summarised points of the parable; 1. There is good and evil in the world.
2. Bad things happen that are beyond our control.
3. Jesus & God are aware of the evil deeds in our life and world.
4. Jesus blames the bad deeds on the evil presence in the world.
5. The farm in this parable is the world.
6. Jesus is the sower.
7. The good seed represents the good people in the kingdom or those in a relationship with Christ.
8. The darnel or evil ones will not be a part of the kingdom nor will they have a relationship with Christ.”
When we are tempted to judge and separate the good and bad, we need to back off and remember that we are to love our neighbour. Without this love as the focus of our lives, it is likely that we would be considered to be darnel - the weed that Jesus intends to use for bonfires.”
I believe that while there is life we can and should, continue to encourage and help those who may be considered by much of society as ‘weeds’; and offer them a pathway into the way of life that reflects the love of God.   The Rev. John’s conclusion perhaps puts these ideas in a better way for us.
“The challenge is for each of us to live our lives as the good grain, the wheat, the staff-of-life. Let us pray for the strength, faith, and concentration to allow us to keep our course and to inspire others to join us. Let us pray that we are enabled to share the good news of Christ. Who knows--we may stamp out the darnel.”
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Worship Pentecost 8


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford--------------------------------
Today Let's Picture the World...,
Sunday 26th July 2020Pentecost 8 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am
Gathering God’s People

Acknowledgement of First Peoples
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.  May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.
Call to Worship - (Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)        Waiting is seldom easy. Yet, in the process of waiting, we discover new growth. The Spirit moves and breathes, and treasures are sometimes discovered. As we wait this day, may God’s miraculous presence be revealed in us and through us.
Waiting and hoping, we gather together, seeking God’s presence and singing God’s praise.Waiting and hoping, we come now to worship, praying and listening for the Spirit’s guidance. Waiting and hoping, we gather together, seeking God’s presence and singing God’s praise.
Hymn 093: Praise the Lord, you heavens adore him               (Tune – Austria)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNvoTbO8JFg
Praise the Lord: ye heavens, adore Him;Praise Him, angels in the height.Sun and moon, rejoice before Him;Praise Him, all ye stars of light.Praise the Lord, for He hath spoken;Worlds His mighty voice obeyed.Laws which never shall be brokenFor their guidance He hath made.
Praise the Lord, for He is glorious;Never shall His promise fail.God hath made His saints victorious;Sin and death shall not prevail.Praise the God of our salvation;Hosts on high, His power proclaim.Heaven and earth and all creation,Laud and magnify His name.
Worship, honour, glory, blessing,Lord, we offer unto Thee.Young and old, thy praise expressing,In glad homage bend the knee.All the saints in Heaven adore thee;We would bow before Thy throne.As Thine angels serve before Thee,So, on earth Thy will be done.
Words: Vs 1 & 2 Foundling Hospital Collection 1796 Vs 3 Edward Osler 1798-1863Tune: Austrian: Franz Joseph Haydn 1732-1809
Opening prayer
Holy One, your kingdom always takes us by surprise— like a mustard seed growing into a great shrub where the birds of the air can build their nests; like a treasure hidden in a field, or a pearl of great price. May we desire your kingdom more than we value worldly things, through Christ, who shows us the way. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Eternal God, waiting is hard— waiting for justice, waiting for peace, waiting for love, waiting for your presence to heal us. Give us the patience and passion of Jacob, to work for the deepest desire of our hearts. Give us the perseverance of Abraham, to keep going when all hope seems lost. Transform our hope into action, that we may help build your kingdom here on earth. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Nothing can separate us from the love of God: Not death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come. No power on heaven or under the earth can separate us from the love of Christ: Not height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation. Thanks, be to God!
The Peace
Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love and peace of God in Jesus Christ. Let us share this love and peace with one another today.Peace be with you! And also, with you!
A Word with the Children/Young People
Theme: We find our treasure at the cross.Object: A map to hidden treasure that you can make              yourself, and a wooden cross.
There was a time, when someone who had something of great value would often bury their treasure so that no one could find it and take it away. Of course, there was always the risk that one might forget where their treasure was buried, so to make sure that they would remember where it was, they would often make a map like this one. Usually they would mark the spot where the treasure was with an "X" like the one on this map.
That is where we get the expression, "X marks the spot."Have you ever dreamed of finding an old map and following it to a spot where a pirate had buried a chest full of glittering gold? Well, this morning I want to tell you about a treasure that is more valuable than a chest full of gold -- and I will even tell you how to find it.
Jesus once said, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and then hid again; in his joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field." If you would like to find the treasure that Jesus was talking about, perhaps the Bible could be the map that leads us to that treasure. The Bible has a lot of information in it, but it is sometimes hard for us to understand, so how do you know exactly where the treasure is? That's easy, because "X marks the spot."
(Hold up the cross at an angle so that it looks like the letter x.) Jesus died on the cross so that you and I could enter into the kingdom of heaven. When you look to the cross and put your trust in Jesus, the treasure will be yours.
To enter the kingdom of heaven is the greatest treasure one could ever desire. It is more precious than silver, gold, or jewels. That is why Jesus calls us to give up all that we have and follow him.
Offering Prayer
Giver of all good gifts help us be kingdom builders as we offer our gifts to the world. May our gifts be like treasure in a field for those waiting for new life. May our offerings be like yeast for those hungering for their daily bread. Bless our lives and our giving, that we might be part of the great mystery of kingdom building, in world waiting to be remade. Amen.
Hymn 106: Now thank we all our God                  (Tune – Nun Danket)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s99dNPKYtHk
Now thank we all our God,With heart and hands and voices,Who wondrous things hath done,In whom His world rejoices;Who from our mother's armsHath blessed us on our wayWith countless gifts of love,And still is ours to-day.
O may this bounteous GodThrough all our life be near us,With ever joyful heartsAnd blessed peace to cheer us;And keep us in his grace,And guide us when perplexed,And free us from all illsIn this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to GodThe Father now be given,The son, and him who reigns,With them in highest heaven,The one eternal God,Whom earth and heaven adore;For thus it was, is now,And shall be evermore.
Translator: Catherine WinkworthAuthor: Martin Rinkart (1636)
Tune: Nun Danket
 
                               
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                      Romans 8.26-39                 NEB page 878The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 13: 31-33; 44-52   NEB page 737
Readings: NRSV translation
Romans 8.26-39
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 13: 31-33; 44-52
44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ 52 And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. 54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did, this man get all this?’ 57 And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ 58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.
Preaching of the Word: Today Let's Picture the World...,
Today let’s picture the world as an ungainly, promising mass of dough. The comedian comes out on stage and starts his routine. In a rapid-fire monologue, he serves up jokes. His timing is masterful, and the one-liners burst forth in succession, with precision, so that you can’t help but laugh.
Jesus comes out in front of the crowds and starts his teaching. In a rapid-fire monologue, he serves up parables. His timing is masterful, and these word-pictures burst forth in succession, with precision, so that you can’t help but see.
Here there’s a similarity between Jesus and a stand-up comic. The comedian makes you laugh; Jesus makes you see. And what you see is something of the kingdom of heaven, that realm where God’s sovereignty is recognized.
The routine Jesus offers in today’s gospel is a bonanza: five short parables in a row. All of them are gems. Parables about a mustard seed, treasure buried in a field, a pricey pearl, a fishing net. Then there’s the one we might focus on this morning: the parable about yeast in the flour.
It’s a one-liner. You might have missed it if you sneezed when the gospel was read. It goes like this: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
Three measures of flour. Do you know how much that is? About eighty pounds! This woman is not Margaret Fulton whipping up a couple delicate, exquisite little biscuits that together weigh less than a canary. No, no. This woman is a baker!
She’s emptying sixteen five-pound bags of flour into the biggest mixing bowl you’ve ever seen. She’s pouring in forty-two cups of water. She’s got a mass of dough on her hands that weighs over a hundred pounds. Kneading this lump of dough, shaping it, pounding it. It looks like some scene at the end of a professional wrestling match. Here we have a no-nonsense operation. Sports fans, this is the art of baking at its best. A woman, with her apron dusted with flour, her ten fingers deep into the dough – she’s a combination of Julia Child and Hulk Hogan.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus tosses out this parable, this one-liner, and he does so for a purpose. Just as the stand-up comic wants us to laugh, Jesus wants us to glimpse the kingdom of heaven, that realm where God’s sovereignty is recognised.
Take another look at that huge mass of dough. It’s not just the flour anymore. The yeast is in the dough, invisible, but permeating the mass, and having its effect. A mystery is bubbling away inside, with much more happening than meets the eye.
As this process continues, the hidden will become manifest. There’s no way to stop it! The movement from mystery to manifestation: Jesus presents this to us as the pulse of the kingdom of heaven. Here is how God’s sovereignty becomes apparent: it resembles the strange transformation that turns flour into dough.
We get to watch the baker woman at work. We’re invited to look at this process and see it for what it’s worth. But if we’re to get a glimpse of the kingdom, if we’re to look down to the centre of this parable, then two things are asked of us: we must be patient, and we must exercise discernment.
Yeast takes a while to work, and its working is mysterious. So, we have to be patient as the dough rises and comes to life. This dough is not a dead lump, a hopeless, shapeless pile, but instead a universe where opportunities become real. The baker woman is at work with our life, our circumstances, and the people around us. Nothing is outside this lump of dough.
We need to be patient and to exercise discernment if a lump of dough is ever to be bread for the world. And we must exercise this same patience and discernment about the universe. Life is something other than a pile of flour and a bit of yeast. Life is an ungainly, promising mass of dough, on its way to becoming abundant bread. Just as yeast permeates the entire lump, so the kingdom is present everywhere, and everywhere it becomes manifest for those with eyes to see.
If we look around us and within us, we can recognize the presence of the kingdom. That kingdom is at work, just as yeast is active in the dough. And as yeast is invisible and known by its effects, so the kingdom is hidden, concealed, buried deep in ordinary circumstances, yet known by its effects.
Look at your life in the light of grace. Something is there for you to find – whether you feel happy or sad, whether your life seems successful or disastrous, whether you call yourself a winner or a loser. That something is the activity of the kingdom, yeast bubbling away in your corner of the lump.
And when you find the kingdom among the realities of your life, nothing prevents you from finding this same kingdom present as well in the circumstances around you, in the lives of other people, and everywhere you choose to look.
There’s one caution to keep in mind. The kingdom does not come with brass bands. It is not the subject of headline news and public-relations efforts. We are talking here about yeast working invisibly in the dough, a hidden yet potent activity.
As it takes faith to believe that bread will rise, so too faith is necessary to see the kingdom manifest in the everyday and the ordinary. We must exercise patience and discernment wherever God places us. Then we will see that what seems like a dead lump is in fact bubbling with divine life.
So may each of us go forth this week, and encounter places and people and circumstances, and look there for the kingdom: not as distant, but near at hand; not as obvious, but hidden; not as static, but alive and becoming manifest; a kingdom making room for all of us.
When we look for the kingdom, then we find it present, abundantly present. And when we do, then we have more reasons to give thanks than we ever expected.We discover it’s true, that one-liner Jesus tells us. All the world is a lump of dough, flour with yeast mixed in, and SURPRISE! God’s a baker woman making bread.
Hymn 547: Be Thou My Vision                   (Tune - Slane)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY54pCBs-1o
1      Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
2      Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, I thy true son;
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
3      Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:
raise thou me heav'n-ward, O Pow'r of my power.
4      Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
thou mine inheritance, now and always:
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.
5      High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
6      Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Translator: Mary E. Byrne; Versifier: Eleanor H. Hull
Tune: Slane
Intercessory Prayers  
O God of All That Is, Seen and Unseen, into this fullness of time You have sent our Messiah, woman-borne, to redeem us as Your own children. Let us rejoice with our whole beings, as heirs of Your eternal Kingdom, justified by faith, and proclaiming Christ’s grace and truth.Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier GodMay our lives reflect Your Light and Glory.O God of All That Is, Seen and Unseen, with the Spirit of the Son that You have sent into our hearts let us not keep silent. Grant us courage to speak without ceasing to lawful governments and to vengeful despots until righteousness, peace, and mercy prevail across our Earth, across our Country, and across our Communities, great and small. We pray especially for ……………..: Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier GodMay our lives reflect Your Light and Glory.O God of All That Is, Seen and Unseen, refresh the bodies, hearts, and souls and give hope to all who suffer serious illness, despair, or fear, and to all who give love and support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need………Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier GodMay our lives reflect Your Light and Glory.O God of All That Is, Seen and Unseen, dispel the darkness of grief as we remember and celebrate all who have gone ahead and now live again, complete in the radiant joy of Your eternal life. We pray especially for:  add your own petitionsCreator, Redeemer, Sanctifier GodMay our lives reflect Your Light and Glory.O God of All That Is, Seen and Unseen, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently……………….Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier GodMay our lives reflect Your Light and Glory.O God of All That Is, Seen and Unseen, we give You gracious thanksgiving for those entrusted to bring us Your Word and Sacraments. Fill us all with unwavering faith that we may walk together as constant witnesses of Christ Jesus, our Saving Lord. We pray especially for: add your own petitionsCreator, Redeemer, Sanctifier GodMay our lives reflect Your Light and Glory.Holy Triune God: Lord, Word, & Spirit, we are created by You to be Your fertile soil in this world. Let us each, by word and example, sow seeds of forgiveness, hope, and salvation, by grace upon grace, now and in the life to come. We ask through Jesus, Your Word Made Flesh; the Holy Spirit, Your Sacred Breath; and our Almighty Creator, who, together, reign as One God, now and forever.  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 658: I, the Lord of sea and sky                   (Tune – Here I am Lord)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz9idECYVNg
I, The Lord of Sea and Sky,I Have Heard My People Cry.All Who Dwell in Dark and Sin,My Hand Will Save.I Who Made the Stars of Night,I Will Make Their Darkness Bright.Who Will Bear My Light to Them?Whom Shall I Send?
Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?I Have Heard You Calling in The Night.I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.I Will Hold Your People in My Heart.
I, The Lord of Snow and Rain,I Have Borne My People’s Pain.I Have Wept for Love of Them, They Turn Away.I Will Break Their Hearts of Stone,Give Them Hearts for Love Alone.I Will Speak My Word to ThemWhom Shall I Send?
Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?I Have Heard You Calling in The Night.I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.I Will Hold Your People in My Heart.
I, The Lord of Wind and FlameI Will Tend the Poor and Lame.I Will Set A Feast for Them,My Hand Will SaveFinest Bread I Will Provide,Till Their Hearts Be Satisfied.I Will Give My Life to Them,Whom Shall I Send?
Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?I Have Heard You Calling in The Night.I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.I Will Hold Your People in My Heart.
            Author: Daniel L. Schutte (1981)
Tune: Here I Am, Lord
Benediction                Like treasure hidden in a field, Christ offers us the kingdom of God.         All things work together for good for those who love God.         Like a pearl of great price, Christ offers us the kingdom of heaven.         All things work together for good for those who wait for God.        Like a mustard seed that grows into a great shrub, Christ offers us the realm of God’s blessing.         All things work together for good for those who abide in God’s Spirit.        And may the Holy Spirit fill and inspire you with the wonderful knowledge that nothing is able to separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Hymn 781: Father bless us as we go                 (Tune – Kookaburra)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POBe6v4fB10
Father bless us as we go.Jesus, walk beside us.Holy Spirit guide us.
Author: Robin Mann
Tune: Kookaburra



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newsheet 26 July 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - July 24, 2020 - 1:30am

Marsden Road Uniting Church203 Marsden Road Carlingford
Sunday 26th July 2020




Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 29:15-28, Psalm 105:1-11, 45b, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
PRAYER O God, the fount of wisdom, you have revealed to us in Christ the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price: grant us your Spirit's gift of discernment, that, in the midst of the things of this world, we may learn to value the priceless worth of your kingdom, and be ready to renounce all else for the sake of the precious gift you offer. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

Offerings
  • Please consider offering via EFT – Direct Credit can be done anonymously and scheduled to occur automatically at whatever frequency you choose - weekly, monthly etc. See details of Church Bank Account below.
  • By stewardship envelopes - set aside the money in them & bring to Church at the next service at MRUC
  • A/C Name: Marsden Road Uniting Church
BSB: 634 634              A/C: 100049856
Month of Wesley
·         Our mid-year study using “John Wesley for the 21st Century will start next Wednesday 29th July. The studies will be held through Zoom. They will start 7.00pm and run until August 26thinclusive. ·         An Email has been sent inviting attendance and those who reply will be sent the Zoom address for the study. ·         Those who don’t have the books will be sent copies of each Chapter.·         Worship – the preaching and services will reflect the theme of each week’s study with worship starting on 2ndAugust 2020.·         As part of our month we will be sharing our favourite Wesley Hymns. Please Email Rev John your favourites or pass them on to your Elder for them to pass them onto Rev John.

Return to Face to Face Worship

To fulfil Government requirements, we need to fulfil the relevant checklists for activities on Church premises and be able to fulfil and develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The Government Health Regulations and our Synod agrees, that before we can use the premises, either ourselves or any Hirer, then the group or we must have a risk management Safety plan in place.
For all users of any party of the Premises, Church Council must agree to their Safety Plan and ensure that it meets all Health Regulation requirements. It is essential that Safety Plans are in place before any face to face meetings or any worship or use of the premises can take place.
For Marsden Road these means that a Safety Plan must be in place and meet Synod and Government requirements before anyone can enter the premises at all.  It will be some time before we can worship face to face again. Your Church Council continues to monitor the situation and work on its Safety Plan ready to commence face to face worship when it is deemed safe. 
We have been reminded that failure to comply with regulations brings heavy penalties. We can see the consequences of failure to be vigilant and safe by what has been occurring in Victoria and parts of Sydney.
Changes in Services and Newssheet
As face to face worship at Marsden Road looks likely to be some time in the future and maybe not before the New Year a few changes need to take place in the way we have been doing things. As there is not much news about events the Newssheet will come out once a month from August onwards.
The Rev John who is part-time has been leading and preparing all Sunday Worship since the beginning of the Pandemic along with attending many required Zoom meetings and other preparation work. Sadly, this has meant that his time for phone calls to congregation members has been limited over the last month or so. Rev John will change back to not leading or preparing the third and fifth Sundays worship when they occur each month.
The alternative for those Sundays will be to take the opportunity offered at any of the neighbouring Congregations. A separate letter will come out to all those with Email Addresses listing what is available. Please pass this on to all congregation members.



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



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Finding Value in What Others Overlook.

Whitestarhaven's Ramblings - July 24, 2020 - 1:04am

Have you ever been somewhere they make the most wonderful and unique dish? Like many other places in Australia there are a variety of bakeries and shops in the small towns nestled among the winding roads around New South Wales. They sell all sorts of pies, but I have to admit I’m very fond of a curry pie. But what I find best is when they use a local ingredient such as seeds, they waste in a vineyard. It makes sense, especially given all the vineyards in the Hunter region of NSW. So, I wonder to myself if anyone had thought of making a wine pie just on its own?
Vineyards are everywhere. Rows and rows of grape vines next to rows and rows of other crops. So neat and orderly looking – quite pretty. Quite predictable, except for the weeds, of course. You never know where or when they’re going to show up. Just like we can never predict how the Kingdom of God will show up.
Take, for example, the parable of the mustard seed that Jesus tells us about in this week’s Gospel from Matthew 13. What we may not know today, but what the early listeners would have most likely understood, is that the mustard plant is a weed that grows like a bush and spreads. It’s a very invasive weed. Jesus is comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a plant that will constantly and inevitably keep growing and spreading. Have you ever seen ivy on an old house, taking it over completely? Now there’s a visual. That’s what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
But that’s the endgame. Jesus’ point is that the beginnings of the Kingdom are tiny. The Kingdom of God starts small and unnoticeable. But when the Kingdom comes into its own, it is everywhere, and you can’t miss it. We are part of that growth, part of that kingdom, whether anyone recognizes us for what we are or not. The most important thing is that God knows.
Jesus does not stop there in our gospel lesson today. He gives even more parables – more stories of ordinary things that possibly have extraordinary meanings. Parables like these are meant to be wrestled with.
So, what else do our parables tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven? It says in the gospel that it is like yeast that a we mix with flour to make huge amounts of dough – enough for an entire feast. In Jesus’ time, leavening was something that people understood in scripture as unclean or evil. Unlike the convenient packets of dried yeast, we have today, leavening was done by letting some bread rot just enough in order to leaven a new batch of ingredients. The Kingdom of Heaven is being modelled after something that is seen as unwanted or unusable in everyday life. And yet, God makes it good.
The Kingdom of Heaven is also like a treasure hidden in a field that makes a person sell all they have in order to buy the field that the treasure is in. It is like a pearl of great price that makes the merchant sell all he had in order to have just that one pearl. How valuable is the Kingdom of Heaven? What would you give up everything to possess? Would possession be worth the sacrifice?The Kingdom of Heaven in your part of God’s vineyard is like …. You fill in the blank.
What is valuable in God’s Kingdom, others may see as junk. How often do we who are Christians buy into the attitude that on Sundays we carry Jesus in our pocket and take him out for a while, only to put him back in as soon as we leave the parking lot? We get settled in our daily lives the rest of the week and forget whom it is we follow. We might think, “Oh I’m just part of a little church. We can’t do much, so why bother?” Why bother indeed? Except that God bothers. Then God asks us to bother more than we want.
Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom starts out small like a mustard seed and grows into a tree that shelters and nurtures life around it. When that small mustard seed starts growing, it has an advantage, because it can grow in and around the landscape, sheltering those beneath it and giving a place to perch for those above it. This, too, is how the gospel is spread in neighbourhoods where churches discern which leaf to unfurl in their present landscape. A little branch here, a little branch there, and suddenly the place is alive with people in the neighbourhood being nurtured by the spread of the gospel.
God’s gifts are unexpected, but they are so vast that they require a response. Do we give up our self-centred attitudes and everything else for the Good News of the gospel? That’s a question that will take a lifetime to answer and is easier said than done. Sometimes we don’t know what to do with the section of God’s Kingdom that we’ve been given. Even right now, we are in flux – we don’t know what the future holds for the church. But even in that unknowing, we have an advocate – the Holy Spirit – that helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
We are called to trust God. The God that uses what others think is unusable. The God that calls us to love others with reckless abandon. The God that sees in us what others cannot see. By living this way, we become of what the Kingdom of Heaven is made.  

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 7 19 July 2020


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Newssheet 19 July 2020

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


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



Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the CommunityGreetings to you out there in your homes. As we worship in our homes in the homelands of the Wallumedegal people. We acknowledge their Elders, past and present.We hope that you will experience the presence of God in and through the Service, privately or as a Family joining with the people of God who continue to gather in Spirit although not physically.
LECTIONARY BIBLE READINGSGenesis 28:10-19a Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
PRAYER Saving God, in Jesus Christ you opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
CHURCH SERVICESWorship which is found On-line and Delivered by Hand to people. How you can access these services, Newssheet and Rev John’ weekly Blog:
  1. Through Zoom on the Internet on Sunday at 9.30am
  2. On Marsden Road Uniting Website:
http://www.marsdenroadunitingchurch.org.au/
  1. On Marsden Road Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MRUCC082016/ 
  1. Receiving as a PDF Attachment by Email.
  2. Receiving as printed Documents in Mailbox.

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

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



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

CONTACTS

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



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

Which do we Feed?

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

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


Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Responsibility of Hearing

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

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


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








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

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

"Come unto me - the Comfortable Words"

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


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

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 6 12 July 2020


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




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

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

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



Categories: Syndicated Blogs

What Kind of Farmer?

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

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




Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Penetcost 5 HC 05 July 2020


Marsden Road UnitingChurch Carlingford--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Come to me Sunday 5th July 2020Pentecost 5 Sunday - year of Matthew 9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

Acknowledgement of First Peoples
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.  May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.  Call to Worship (The Abingdon Worship Annual 2020)        “Come to me... and I will give you rest,” Jesus promises. Where do we go, and to whom do we turn, to discover the truth of these words?
The music is playing, and God is calling. We have come to sing and dance with God.The prayers are flowing, and Spirit is moving. Breathe on us, breath of God. Christ promises rest and renewal, when we come to him. We are here, trusting this sacred promise.
Hymn 585: I heard the voice of Jesus say                  (Tune – Kingsfold)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVCpF8-VuE
1.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"Come unto me and rest;lay down, thou weary one, lay downthy head upon my breast."I came to Jesus as I was,so weary, worn, and sad;I found in him a resting place,and he has made me glad.
2.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"Behold, I freely givethe living water; thirsty one,stoop down and drink, and live."I came to Jesus, and I drankof that life-giving stream;my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,and now I live in him.
3.  I heard the voice of Jesus say,"I am this dark world's light;look unto me, thy morn shall rise,and all thy day be bright."I looked to Jesus, and I foundin him my Star, my Sun;and in that light of life I'll walktill traveling days are done.
Author: Horatius Bonar (1846)Tune: Kingsfold
Opening prayer
     Creator God, you have created us to walk with you. Help us walk with you in this time of worship, that we may be strengthened to walk with you all the days of our lives. As we come to you this day, bless us with your grace and your rest, that we may find renewal and the strength to serve with confidence and joy. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
Come to Christ with the confidence of children, for Christ will carry our burdens, renew our souls, and give us rest, through his mercy and grace.
Prophetic One, you call us to new places and new ways. You challenge us to dance new steps and to sing new songs. We yearn to follow you with confidence and joy, but our resistance is often stronger than our willingness. At times, our steps falter. At moments, we can’t even hear your voice, let alone recognize your song in our hearts. Strengthen us with your mercy. Renew us with your grace. Sing to us with your compassion. Connect us with the yoke of unconditional love, that we may follow joyously, dance confidently, and sing praise and love with every act and with every word of our lives. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness       Rejoice and give thanks. With grace, Christ is already carrying our burdens to renew our souls. With mercy, Christ is already shouldering our load to strengthen our lives.Thanks, be to God! Amen
The Peace
Let us share the joy, the freedom, and the rest we find in God’s love, as we greet one another in the grace and peace of Christ.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
Receive these gifts we now bring, God of gifts, and bless them to be gifts for your world. Through our giving, renew others, that they too may know the comfort and rest of living in the arms of your compassion and your love. Amen.
Hymn 650: Brother, sister, let me serve you                 (Tune – Servant Song)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qblqtb4jzL8
Brother, sister, let me serve you,let me be as Christ to you;pray that I may have the grace tolet you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journeyand companions on the road;we are here to help each otherwalk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for youin the night-time of your fear;I will hold my hand out to you,speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping;when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;I will share your joy and sorrowtill we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heavenwe shall find such harmony,born of all we’ve known togetherof Christ’s love and agony.
Brother, sister, let me serve you,let me be as Christ to you;pray that I may have the grace tolet you be my servant too.
Richard Gillard 1953 - arr. Betty Pulkingham 1928 -                      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 a right, good, and a joyful thing always and everywhere to give our thanks to you, who saved Abraham from sacrificing his beloved son, Isaac, and has given us the gift of eternal life in Christ. We give you thanks for freedom and friendship, for love and for laughter, for parents and children who travel together in the ways of peace. We give you thanks for new understandings of ancient stories, for happy endings and new beginnings, for cups of cold water on hot, sunny days. And so, with your creatures on earth and all the heavenly chorus, 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 holy is your child, Jesus Christ, who taught his friends to spread the good news of freedom from evil, oppression, and violence, and who teaches us to welcome those who come in his name. On the night in which he gave himself up, Jesus took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, and gave it to the disciples, saying: “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over, Jesus took the cup, offered thanks and gave it to the disciples, saying: “Drink from this, all of you; this is my life in 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 your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died.Christ is risen.Christ will come again!
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be the body of Christ to a world filled with temptations. God of light and vision, God of mystery and truth, God of love and grace, we praise your saving, gracious name.
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 LifeThe Cup We Share is the Cup of PromiseThese 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
Come to the table of love. At this table, we will find strength for our journeys and rest for our souls.
Prayer after Communion
God of compassion, through your son, Jesus Christ, you reconciled your people to yourself. Following his example of prayer and fasting may be obey you with willing hearts and serve one another in holy love. Amen.
The Service of the Word
The First Reading:                      Romans 7.14-25                   NEB page 877The Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 11:15-19, 25-30      NEB page 734After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the LordPlease respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.
Readings: NRSV Translation
Romans 7.14-25
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can, will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
Matthew 11:15-19, 25-30
15 Let anyone with ears listen!16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, 17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’ 25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

Preaching of the Word: Come to me - Matthew 11: 25-30
There was once a time when any of us going to a service of Holy Communion in many Churches might hear some of Jesus' words in today's Gospel. "Come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Or, in a slightly older form of the English language: "Come unto me all ye who travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."
Often these words were spoken to us by the Celebrant, right after the Confession and Absolution, and -- along with a few other well-chosen sentences of Scripture -- they were part of what were popularly called, in the tradition of the old Anglican Prayer Book, " The Comfortable Words," and were introduced by the celebrating priest with the invitation, "Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith to all that truly turn to him..."
Those of us who are old enough, remember that there was something quite wonderful about hearing those Comfortable Words at that particular point in the liturgy. We had heard the Word of God proclaimed in the lectionary readings of Scripture, just as we do now; and we had heard the preacher's sermon. We had responded to God's Word by asserting our faith in God's unbreakable covenant with us, in the words of the Nicene Creed.
We had brought to God all the concerns for "the whole state of Christ's church and the world" in intercession and petition. Then, as now, we had confessed our manifold sins and wickedness, unburdening ourselves of our grief and guilt by acknowledging our disobedience and our failures of love towards God, our neighbours, and ourselves. We heard the authoritative assurance of pardon to all those who humbly repented and firmly intended to amend our lives-that great declaration of forgiveness intended to raise us up from the dust and ashes of penitence and set us on our feet in joyful liberation and thanksgiving.
And then came the Comfortable Words, to strengthen us and give us courage: "Come unto me ..." They were the compass setting, re-orienting us once again towards this gracious God of our hope, the maker and sustainer of our renewed reconciliation and peace, the faithful source of never-ending love in our hearts and lives, the author of that new life in Christ which had been given us in Baptism and was still ours by God's merciful forgiveness. Now we could affirm and acknowledge the peace of Christ coming into our personal and corporate life -- and, refreshed by this, we turned to the Eucharistic offering of ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
In their Eucharistic context, the words of Jesus, "Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you," were -- and still are -- comforting and strengthening indeed. But they resonate a bit differently here today in the context of Matthew's Gospel where, if we look at them more closely, they reveal to us what kind of comfort Jesus had in mind.
In this section of Matthew, Jesus is speaking as a teacher -- as he so often does, in Matthew. In fact, we can imagine Jesus as a second Moses, delivering the new Law under the same Covenant that Moses himself revealed. Here, Jesus is reassuring his disciples that the yoke of his teaching is easy, and burden of learning from him is light.
We need to realize that the rabbis of this period in history routinely referred to the responsibilities of living by God's Law as a "yoke" -- as something people took on themselves to steer and guide them down God's paths in life. And it seems to have been a common complaint, addressed above all to the scribes and Pharisees as interpreters of God's Law that their teachings had become complicated and difficult to follow, a burden rather than a guide to holy living. 
Those of us who enjoy cooking and read food magazines and cookbooks know that there are some food writers who can turn a simple recipe for mashed potatoes into something so complicated it is intimidating, and not at all the sort of recipe one would give to one's children who were learning how to cook.
The trouble with the Pharisees and their complicated interpretations of the Law was the same sort of problem: they had managed to make some basic guidelines very complex and intimidating. Of course, by doing this they retained their professional authority and power, but they also managed to turn people away from holiness of life with God, just as a complex recipe for puree of mashed potatoes can send a hungry person off for the box of instant rice.
Jesus the teacher takes great issue with this: God has given his people basic guidelines for holy life, but the Pharisees have ended up making God's Law inaccessible and impossible to follow. So, Jesus assures his disciples that by learning God's Law his way, they will not be intimidated by complexity or burdened, and condemned to failure, by Pharisaic rules and regulations. Jesus is returning to the simplicity of God's original Covenant and Law, to give them what they need to steer and guide their path easily, and by following Jesus' way they will find peace, rest, and refreshment.
By putting these Comfortable Words back into the context of Matthew's Gospel, we can see they have a depth that is not immediately obvious from their Eucharistic setting. The absolution and forgiveness which we have received as repentant sinners is neither conditional upon our ability to follow complicated rules, nor is it a permissive wave of the hand of an overindulgent parent implying that our sins don't matter.
The Comfortable Words, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you," remind us that God's incomparable, compassionate forgiveness is a gift that releases us into life with God as responsible human beings who want to grow deeper in love and joyful obedience. After all, we are called not only to find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves but also to live the kind of lives through which others, too, find God's peace, God's refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God's hands. AMEN
Hymn 613: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy                  (Tune – Slane)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwAjdkMUAXw
Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy:Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe:Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace:Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm:Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Author: Jan Struther (1931)Tune: Slane

Intercessory Prayers  
Come to prayer, all who labour and are heavy laden, and God will give us rest. Come to praise, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the revelation of your gift of abundant life and for the rest coming to those who put their trust in you. For such life and rest, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for entrusting us with the message of your grace and love, that we might speak a reconciling word to our age. For such mercy, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for leading us into the ways of peace and for transforming weapons of war into tools of charity. For such peacemaking, we pray to you Lord,Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for the gifts of creation and for wholesome times of recreation. For such times of harmony, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for those who tend the sick, accompany the frustrated, visit the lonely, comfort the dying, confront the addicted, or minister to any need. For such attention tohuman anguish, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.We thank you for sustaining all who are oppressed, all who suffer for reasons of conscience, all who are passionate for justice and all those in need of our prayers for any reason, [especially N.]. For such relief from their burdens and refreshment in you, we pray to you Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.Into your hands, O God, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.We thank you for the people of faith who surround us, and for family and friends, teachers, and clergy, especially ………... and for all who assist our growth in grace. For such companions through life, we pray to you Lord, Lord, 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 531: Sent forth by God’s blessing                   (Tune – The Ash Grove)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3Pm8dAALls
Sent forth by God’s blessing, our true faith confessing, the people of God from this dwelling take leave. The service is ended, O now be extended The fruits of our worship in all who believe.The seed of the teaching, receptive souls reaching, Shall blossom in action for God and for all.God’s grace did invite us, and love shall unite usTo work for God’s kingdom and answer the call.
With praise and thanksgiving to God ever living,The tasks of our everyday life we will face.Our faith ever sharing, in love ever caring,Embracing God’s children of each tribe and race.With Your grace You feed us, with Your light now lead us;Unite us as one in this life that we share.Then may all the living with praise and thanksgivingGive honour to Christ and that name which we bear.
Author: Omer Westendorf (1964)Tune: Ash Grove
Benediction                Go forth, as people renewed by the love of God. Go forth, to renew others with this very love. Let us go forth to fill the empty cups of all who ask; let us give in the name of the Breath of Resurrection, the Wellspring of Grace, the Teacher of Truth: The One, Triune God, who gives eternal life. Let us share the blessings of Christ’s eternal covenant and praising God for the Spirit’s call to love and give. Amen.                 
Hymn 776: The Lord bless you and keep you                  (Tune – John Rutter)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZN1mryHEnQ
The Lord bless you and keep youThe Lord make His face to shine upon youTo shine upon you and be graciousAnd be gracious unto you
The Lord bless you and keep youThe Lord make His face to shine upon youTo shine upon you and be graciousAnd be gracious unto you
The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon youThe Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon youAnd give you peace, and give you peaceAnd give you peace, and give you peace
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen



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