Thursday, 5 November 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church - Pentecost 23 - 08 November 2020

  Marsden Road Uniting Church



Can You Imagine a Scene...?

Sunday 08th November 2020

Pentecost 23 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 2011)       

Choose this day to sing with joy.

We give thanks and praise to God!

Choose this day to love and serve.

We rejoice in Christ's call in our lives!

Choose this day to worship God.

We gather to worship and pray.


Hymn TIS 154: Great is your faithfulness

                       (tune – Faithfulness) 

1 Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;

there is no shadow of turning with thee;

thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;

as thou hast been thou forever wilt be. 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

all I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


2 Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,

sun, moon, and stars in their courses above

join with all nature in manifold witness

to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

all I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


3 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,

strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

all I have needed thy hand hath provided--

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Author: Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)
Tune: Faithfulness (Runyan) 

Opening prayer


We gather this day to listen for God's ancient truths, stories of wisdom passed down through the ages. We gather this day to listen for Christ's ongoing call, challenging words shared from generation to generation. We gather this day to listen for the Spirit's movement, the wind of change that pushes us into new dimensions of truth and discipleship. Speak to us, O God, that we may hear your truth, both ancient and new. Amen 

A Prayer of Confession 

Holy One, we gather this day with the knowledge that our choice to serve you carries challenges each and every day.

Forgive us when we fail to meet those challenges. When we are unprepared for what we face, strengthen us with new resolve and better abilities to move forward in faith.

When we stray onto paths of danger and betrayal, betrayal, lead us back to your path of truth and love.

Let your words ring true in our lives, that we may love and serve you— loving and serving your world in all that we say and in all that we do. In hope and trust, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness      

Keep awake! But even when you sleep, know that God is our keeper, Christ is our saviour, and the Spirit is always with us. Rise in hope and joy, my friends. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven and reconciled to God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace 

As forgiven and reconciled children of God let us be reconciled to one another. Share your oil, trim one another's lamps, serve one another even as we serve God. Come! Let us share signs of love and reconciliation as we pass the peace of Christ.

Peace be with you!

And also with you! 

A Word with the Children/Young People 

Theme: Be prepared to meet Jesus

Object: Some of the items to be included in a survival kit. 

In the past year, we have seen many natural disasters in our world. Things such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and even forest fires. One thing that we are hearing over and over again these days is that it is very important for us to be prepared in case of an emergency. Here are a few of the things we are told that we should do to make sure we are prepared. - BE INFORMED

Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared. - HAVE A PLAN

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. - HAVE A SURVIVAL KIT

Your survival kit should include things like water, food, medicine, a first aid kit, blankets, candles and matches, flashlights, and batteries.

These are all good things for us to remember. It is wise to be prepared, isn't it?

Jesus once told a story to teach us the importance of being prepared. In Jesus' story, ten bridesmaids took their oil lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Jesus said that five of them were foolish because they had their lamps, but they didn't bring any extra oil to put in their lamps. When it was time to go out and meet the bridegroom, they were out of oil. The other five were very wise and well-prepared. They had brought plenty of oil for their lamps. When it was time to go out and meet the bridegroom, they were ready.

In this story, the bridegroom is Jesus and you and I are the bridesmaids. The story is teaching us that one day we are going to go to meet Jesus. It teaches us that we must be prepared because we don't know exactly when that time is coming. Do you know what we must do to be prepared? We must invite Jesus to come into our hearts. When we do that, we are ready! 

Offering Prayer 

As we celebrate the many wonders in our lives, we give you thanks and praise, O God. Transform these offerings into gifts of wonder and glorious deeds, that all may see the light of your love, leading us to abundant life. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 161: Tell out, my soul,

                        (tune – Woodlands) 

1.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!

Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;

tender to me the promise of his word;

in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.


2.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!

Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;

his mercy sure, from age to age to same;

his holy Name--the Lord, the Mighty One.


3.  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!

Powers and dominions lay their glory by.

Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,

the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.


4.  Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!

Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord

to children's children and for evermore! 

Words: Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926),

Tune: 'Woodlands', Walter Greatorex (1877-1949) 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Gospel Reading:                            Matthew 25:1-13. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 

9 Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11 to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12 so that you may behave properly towards outsiders and be dependent on no one. 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

Matthew 25:1-13 

1 ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9 But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” 12 But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. 

Preaching of the Word - Can You Imagine a Scene..., 

Can you imagine a scene in which there are ten contestants, pitted against each other at an international piano competition? Image further that five of them have constantly practiced their entries to perfection and remained ever ready to be called to play. Meanwhile, imagine the other five contestants spending their time watching television and eating pizza and doing everything but practicing. If you can envision this, it won't take much imagination to figure out who would meet the approval of the judges.

This might be an example through which Jesus would approach us in 2020 to make an important point about the way of God. But, of course, Jesus was not aware of piano competitions, so he drew from what he knew. In today's Gospel, we find him telling about some maidens who were called to serve as attendants at a wedding.

In that time, weddings were great moments in the life of a village, with every resident participating. If the bridegroom came from another village, as seems to be the case here, there was no way to know exactly when he would arrive, and therefore it was not certain exactly when the wedding would begin. To compensate for this, maidens kept the bride company, awaiting the arrival of the groom with great anticipation. Of course, when it grew dark on such occasions, lamps were needed to see.

As soon as the bridegroom arrived, a festive welcome was made, and a torchlight procession led the couple to the place of the wedding. When the procession reached the appointed place, all entered, the doors were locked, and the festivities began. No one was admitted late.

Jesus used this setting, quite familiar to his hearers, to present a parable about ten maidens, five who were prepared for the eventualities and five who were not.

The wise ones had prepared. They had enough oil to last until the bridegroom came. They were ready. They knew what was required of them, and they did it. When the time came, they were able to act in a manner that was faithful to their culture.

The foolish attendants were unprepared. They ran out of oil and were unable to obtain more. So, when their moment came, they lost the opportunity to help light the way. They were unable to act out their appointed role in the community. They lost the chance even to witness the wedding.

Over and over again Jesus shows us what God is like. Today, he illustrates the truth that God takes no vacations. God never takes a break from offering love to us graciously. God is always prepared. God never stops forgiving us. God never ceases to watch over us. God never rests from the desire that we follow in his way. God never lets up on loving us, no matter how much we may rebel and stray. God is always ready.

For our part, as we seek to stay on the journey of faith, we live and move by doing and being what Christ is. Imitating God, we take no vacation from being prepared to act in keeping with the values of God. We must therefore imitate the wise maidens, remaining prepared, moving in accordance with our training, when the time comes to act.

And like the maidens in Jesus' parable, we do not know when or how we will be called upon. But if we remain always prepared, we will be able to act in accordance with the values we confess, through the Baptismal Covenant and other tenets of our faith. To be prepared is to practice these values, more perfectly, and with more dedication, than the wise maidens.

Although God's gifts are free, the questions for today are these: Will we be like the wise or the foolish maidens? Will we be prepared to recognize and accept what God offers us? Will we recognize God's love, God's grace, God's forgiveness, God's joy, hope, and the wonders of God's creation? Will we be able to accept these gifts and, in response, will we be able to act toward others as God has acted toward us? Are we prepared? As God presents us daily with challenges and choices, will we be ready? 

Hymn TIS 266: Wake, awake! for night is flying

                        (tune – Wachet Auf) 

1 "Wake, awake, for night is flying,"

the watchmen on the heights are crying;

"Awake, Jerusalem, arise!"

Midnight hears the welcome voices

and at the thrilling cry rejoices:

"Where are the virgins pure and wise?

The Bridegroom comes: Awake!

Your lamps with gladness take!


With bridal care and faith's bold prayer,

to meet the Bridegroom, come, prepare!"


2 Zion hears the watchmen singing,

and in her heart new joy is springing.

She wakes, she rises from her gloom.

For her Lord comes down all-glorious

and strong in grace, in truth victorious.

Her star is risen, her light is come!

Now come, O Blessed One,

Lord Jesus, God's own Son.

Sing hosanna!

We answer all in joy your call;

we follow to the wedding hall.


3 Lamb of God, the heavens adore you,

the saints and angels sing before you

with harp and cymbals' clearest tone.

Of one pearl each shining portal,

where, joining with the choir immortal,

we gather round your radiant throne.

No eye has seen that light,

no ear the echoed might

of your glory;

yet there shall we in victory

sing shouts of joy eternally! 

Text: Philipp Nicolai, (1556-1608) Tr: Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878) Tune: Wachet Auf By Philipp Nicolai 

Intercessory Prayers   

Ever-loving God, in every generation you have cared for your children, and your mercy is everlasting: hear the prayers we bring for your world and for your church.

We pray for the peoples of every land: for all who suffer the horrors of war, for soldiers, civilians and refugees; for all who endure the effects of famine, disease and natural disasters; for all who govern and those who administer law. We give you thanks for all who work to bring an end to oppression and suffering, remembering especially those who have given their lives that others might live. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of justice and peace.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your church throughout the world: for all priests and pastors, teachers and youth workers; for the newly baptised and for those whose faith has grown cold: for all who worship or minister in this parish. We give you thanks for all who bring to others your gospel of salvation, remembering especially those who work in places that are dangerous, remote or unresponsive. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of righteousness and truth.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the communities in which we live: for those without work and those with too much responsibility; for those who are forgotten, unwanted or abused; for our families, our friends and all  whom  we love. We give you thanks for all whose work enriches this community, remembering especially all who give their time to care for the needy, the elderly and the young. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of forgiveness and love.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are in trouble or distress: for the destitute and those who despair for the future; for the broken-hearted and all who mourn for loved ones; for those in mental torment, for the sick and for the dying. We pray for and give thanks for continued healing, especially for Marcia, Susan, Kaye, Ruth, Margaret, Von, Kirsten, Gwen, Mae, Joan and Pat. We give thanks for the stable health of Lawrence. We give you thanks for all who bring comfort, hope and relief to your people, remembering especially all medical staff, chaplains and pastoral workers. Loving God, we wait for your coming, for your reign of compassion and healing.

In your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for all who have served you faithfully to their life's end. We remember those who mourn, for Robin and her family and the family of Barbara. Keep us ever watchful and ready for the day of your coming, that we may hear with joy the archangel's call, and, with all who have died in Christ, rise to meet you.

Loving God, we wait for your coming in glory.

In your mercy, hear our 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 624: Christ be my leader by night as by day
                     (Tune – Slane) 

Christ be my leader by night as by day;

safe through the darkness for he is the way.

Gladly I follow, my future his care;

darkness is daylight when Jesus is there.


Christ be my teacher in age as in youth,

drifting or doubting for he is the truth.

Grant me to trust him; though shifting as sand,

doubt cannot daunt me; in Jesus I stand.


Christ be my savior in calm as in strife;

death cannot hold me, for he is the life.

Nor darkness nor doubting nor sin and its stain

can touch my salvation; with Jesus I reign. 

Tune: Irish folk tune, Slane

Text: Timothy Dudley-Smith, b. 1926 


       Keep awake, for darkness is all around!

       May our hearts shine with God's love.

       Keep awake, for the world is in constant need!

       May we see and respond where Christ calls us to


       Go forth in the name of the living Word, the One whose

       words bring forth the fruit of the kingdom in your own

       lives! Amen.        

Hymn 777: May the grace of Christ our Saviour

                     (Tune – Waltham) 

1.  May the grace of Christ our Saviour

and the Father's boundless love,
with the Holy Spirit's favour,
rest upon us from above.

2.  Thus, may we abide in union
with each other and the Lord,
and possess, in sweet communion,
joys which earth cannot afford.

              Author: John Newton (1779)

                   Tune: Waltham


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