Thursday, 19 March 2020

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

Sunday 22nd March 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church

Clay Vessels of Beauty
Sunday 22nd March 2020
Refreshment and Mothering Sunday in the year of Matthew
9.30 am

Hymn 10: The Lord’s my shepherd
                  (Tune - Crimond)
Hymn 256: From heaven you came, helpless babe             
                 (Tune – Servant King)

Hymn 129: Amazing grace
                  (Tune – Amazing Grace)
Hymn 681: Lord, let me see                       
                   (Tune – Lord let me see)

Hymn 778: Shalom to you
                 (Tune – Somos del Senor)

The First Reading:                 1 Samuel 16: 1-13       NEB page 205
The Gospel Reading:            John 9:1-41                  NEB page 817

Gathering God’s People

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

Call to Worship - (James Dollins, Abingdon 2016)
Show me your way, O God, my Shepherd. Open a right path and let me hear your call to follow. Show me your way, O Christ, my Healer. Open my eyes to the needs of my world.

Shepherd us, O God.
Open our ears to hear your calling.
Shepherd us, O God.
Open our eyes to see your care.
Shepherd us, O God.
Shear our fascination with the ways of the world. Shepherd us, O God.
Prepare us to follow you.

Hymn 10: The Lord’s my shepherd
                  (Tune - Crimond)

YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn

                                        i.    The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want;
he makes me down to lie
in pastures green; he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

                                      ii.    My soul he doth restore again,
and me to walk doth make
within the paths of righteousness,
e'en for his own name's sake.

                                    iii.    Yea, though I walk through death's dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill,
for thou art with me; and thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

                                    iv.    My table thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
my head thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

                                      v.    Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me;
and in God's house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be.

Opening prayer

     Visionary creator; give us your vision. Show us our hearts,
our homes, our communities, and our world through your
eyes. Wash away our blind spots, and help us to see where
we do not see. Allow us to see creation as you see it now,
and as you envision it to become. Help us realize your
vision, and walk the road of life— the way and path of
Jesus. Amen

 A Prayer of Confession

Divine God, our Guide, give us the clarity to wake to our short-sightedness and stay woke.
Give us the courage to wake to our shortcomings and stay woke.
Give us the compassion to wake to our hurtful acts and stay woke.
Give us wisdom to face our fears, receive your grace, wake to your call and stay woke.
Hear our silent prayer, as we sit in awareness of our need.

(Pause in silent prayer)

Help us wake to this awareness and stay woke. As we receive your grace, we wake to your whispers and direction, yearning to stay woke. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Thanks, be to God!

The Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God. We meet in the name of Christ and share his peace.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

A Word with The Young People –

Theme: Humanity looks on outward appearances, God looks
             at the inside.

Object: An x-ray

Some of you have probably seen an X-Ray before. Yes, an X-ray. Many times, when we go to the doctor, he cannot tell if we have something wrong just by looking at us. We may look just fine on the outside, but there might be something wrong on the inside. To see what is on the inside, the doctor takes an x-ray. By looking at the x-ray, the doctor can see what's on the inside and helps us to get well. You can't always tell by looking at the outside. 

The Bible tells us that humans look at outward appearance, but God looks on the inside. You can't always tell what a person is really like by looking at the outside. Some people may be beautiful on the outside, but they may be very mean, selfish, and hateful on the inside. Some people may not be very beautiful to look at, but on the inside, they are loving, gentle, and kind.

We spend a lot of time making sure we look good on the outside, but what are we doing to make sure we look good on the inside? (Read 1 Peter 3: 3-4) When we look at people, we need to remember that we can only see what's on the outside, but God can see what's on the inside - and it's what's inside that counts.

Lord, help us to be more concerned with our own inner beauty than with our outward appearance and help us not to judge other people by what we see on the outside. Amen.


 Your offering can be given electronically – please talk to the Treasurer.

God of our waking receive our gifts, that they may bring the goodness of our ministry to your world. Receive also the gifts of our transformed lives, as we open our hearts to perceive our short-sightedness. Give us the vision to offer our lives in service of you. Light our paths, and shine through our lives, as we follow you. Amen.

Hymn 256: From heaven you came, helpless babe             
                 (Tune – Servant King)


From Heaven You Came, Helpless Babe,
Entered Our World, Your Glory Veiled;
Not to Be Served but To Serve,
And Give Your Life That We Might Live.

This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

There in The Garden of Tears,
My Heavy Load He Chose to Bear;
His Heart with Sorrow Was Torn,
‘Yet Not My Will but Yours,’ He Said.

This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

Come, See His Hands and His Feet,
The Scars That Speak of Sacrifice,
Hands That Flung Stars into Space
To Cruel Nails Surrendered.

This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

So, Let Us Learn How to Serve,
And in Our Lives Enthrone Him;
Each Other’s Needs To Prefer,
For It Is Christ We’re Serving.

This Is Our God, The Servant King,
He Calls Us Now to Follow Him,
To Bring Our Lives as A Daily Offering
Of Worship to The Servant King.

The Service of the Word

The Gospel Reading:            John 9:1-41                  NEB page 819

Please respond by saying             Thanks be to God.

John 9:1-41 from NRSV   

1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ 9 Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ 10 But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 11 He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ 12 They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’ 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ 16 Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’ 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ 20 His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’ 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ 25 He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ 26 They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ 27 He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ 28 Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ 30 The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ 34 They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36 He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38 He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41 Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.

Preaching of the Word - Clay Vessels of Beauty

Lent has often been seen as a time of intense self-reflection. But self-reflection without understanding the power that God holds to make something beautiful of our clay vessels, our little lives, is to defy the power of the God of Love. According to the psalmist, the valley of the shadow of death is where God is. It is in the presence of our enemies that a table is set, and, deep in our own muck, we are led beside the still waters.

According to the book of Samuel, God picks David, a young child, to fight Goliath and to be king of all Israel. And through that kingship, which has its times of horror and times of victory, God makes David the king Israel needed for the moment. In addition, in the Gospel of John, the blind man suffers consistently throughout his life because people look at him as deficient, as sinful, as someone not worthy.

Self-reflection in all these cases would bring us to a place of despair, but in the hands of a good and merciful God? Something beautiful happens. As human beings, we look at vulnerabilities as weaknesses, as those places that need to be thrown out or erased, denied, or refused .... But it’s in our weakness and vulnerabilities that God reveals God’s self. It was in the choice of the smallest and youngest son that God revealed the king. It was in the valley of the shadow of death and in the presence of enemies that the poet knew that his God anointed him with the most fragrant oil and his cup ran over.

And it was in the man’s blindness that the Holy One’s spit and a little mud helped him see. But we live in a world where the expectation is that we are always and forever at the top of our game or we are punished. We live in a world where admitting our weakness is to admit defeat and to encourage harassment. We are in a world where we hide our hurt or we will be further damaged. And God says, “It’s in our vulnerabilities that we find the grace” and that finding grace and mercy is the ultimate goal of human existence within the Christian faith.

John Wesley hoped we would become perfected but being perfected meant perfected in receiving and showing mercy, not in our perfection in a particular moral code or a sense of our own “doing it right.” That is the transformative power of the Christian faith. The ability to receive and swim through the muddy and spit-filled complexity of life with a merciful loving creator.

The blind man could have been a “seeing” man—it is not the healing of the man’s blindness that is the ultimate experience Jesus hoped to address. The ultimate experience is God making us whole; God’s work is in making us whole. The one who was blind from birth was surprised by grace, surprised by Jesus, shockingly loved and chosen, and his vulnerability became the place where the good news that he, too, was deeply loved was made manifest.

The real injury in the blind man’s life was the criticism from society, the damning from the religious leaders, and the selling out of his parents. The ultimate holy experience, and one that is throughout scripture, is to experience God as one who does not see as mortals see—who does not see us in all the ways others have judged us, raced us, held us down, and been aggressively jealous or arrogant toward us.

Yet it is facing those judgments, oppressions, imprisonments, jealousies, and arrogances, and reflecting and focusing on God’s love, grace, and mercy that will heal us. The ultimate is that we are all yet beautiful, full, alive, living this life with the Spirit of God deep in our hearts. The ultimate is that God chose to birth us from love and mercy, continues to love and give us mercy every day of our lives, and, at the end of our life, will receive us into arms of love and mercy.

Hymn 129: Amazing grace
                  (Tune – Amazing Grace)

Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

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

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

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

Intercessory Prayers  - Pray for those in need, our world etc.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn 681: Lord, let me see                       
                   (Tune – Lord let me see)

YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn

       Lord, let me see, see more and more:
       See the beauty of a person, not the colour of the skin,
       See the faces of the homeless with no-one to take them
       See discouragement because she'll never win,
       See the face of our Lord in the pain. Lord, let me see.

        Lord, let me hear, hear more and more:
        Hear the sounds of great rejoicing, hear a person barely sigh,
        Hear the ring of truth, and hollowness of those who live a lie,
        Hear the wail of starving people who will die,
        Hear the voice of our Lord in the cry. Lord, let me hear.

        Lord, let me care, care more and more:
        Care for those who feel the loneliness, for those who have no say,
        Care for friends who have no job and find it hard to face the day,
        Care for those with whom we sing and work and pray; And in care, Jesus Christ will be found.
       Lord, let me care.
        Lord, let me learn, learn more and more:
        Learn that what I know is just a speck of what there is to know,
        Learn from listening to my neighbour when I'd rather speak and go,
        Learn that as we live in faith and trust we grow;
        Learn to see, hear and care, with our Lord.
        Lord, let me learn.

        Lord, let me love, love more and more:
        Love the loveless and the fragile, help them be what they can be,
        Love the way that I would like them to be looking after me,
        For to know you is to love them and be free;
        And in love Jesus Christ will be found.
        Lord, let me love.

       Let us in the daily life we currently live, be awake to the call of God, our creator. May we go forth, true to the path lit by Christ, our redeemer. May we go forth, awake to the conscience of the Holy Spirit, our helper and guide. Amen.

  Hymn 778: Shalom to you

YouTube – Click on link below to take you to Hymn

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

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