Thursday, 7 May 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Order of Worship 10 May 2020

Sunday 10th May 2020
Marsden Road Uniting Church

Strange and Peculiar.
Sunday 10th May 2020
Easter 5 Sunday in the year of Matthew
9.30 am

Acknowledgement of First Peoples

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

Call to Worship
(Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)
Come to Christ, the living cornerstone. Come to rest on the foundation of God’s love. Come to be strengthened and renewed in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Once we were not a people,
but now we are God’s people.
Once we were alone,
but together we are the household of God.
Here in this time of worship, and later when we go forth to serve,
Christ is our cornerstone, strengthening us for the journey.
In our living and in our dying,
Christ is our sure foundation, strengthening us along the way.

Hymn 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!

Opening prayer

Shine your face upon us, O God. Help us see your face in
one another and hear your voice in the words that are
spoken. Through your grace, make us holy, that we may
offer spiritual sacrifices that honour and glorify your holy
name. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Gracious God prepare us for the difficult road ahead.  Like Stephen, help us be ready to forgive even the most horrendous of sins. Like the psalmist, help us accept your forgiveness and grace. Like newborn infants, help us receive your unconditional love.
(A time of silent confession may follow.)
With steadfast love, shine your face upon us, that we may know the beauty of your mercy and your grace.
In Christ’s beloved name, we pray. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
Whoever believes in Christ will never be shamed, for in Christ we are forgiven and loved.
Thanks, be to God!

The Peace

Together as God’s people, let us shine upon one another with signs of grace and peace.

Peace be with you!
And also with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)


A Word with the Children/Young People

If you are going on a trip, you need to know where you are going and how to go to get there. I have two things with me this morning that you might use to help you to find your way when you are traveling. I have a map and a compass. I'm sure all of you have seen a map, but perhaps some of you have never seen a compass. The map will show you where you want to go, and the compass will point you in the right direction. The compass shows you whether you are going north, south, east, or west.

I heard about a lady who was taking a group of children to a soccer game in another city. She knew the right road to take, but she became confused and turned east instead of west. They had travelled for almost an hour before one of the children told her that they were going the wrong direction.

When we are trying to find your way through the journey of life, we need some help in finding the right way to go, don't we? Each day we face many difficult decisions and it is sometimes hard to know which way to turn. Some people use their feelings to make decisions. They say, "I'm going to do this, because it just feels like the right thing to do." That's no good. Our feelings may change from day to day, and just because we feel good about something doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do.

Some people make choices by what's popular. Have you ever tried to convince your parents to let you do something by saying, "Everybody's doing it"? Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do, does it? Besides, tomorrow everyone might be doing something else.

There is one sure way to know if we are going in the right direction in life—and that is to follow Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." We know where we want to go, we want to go to heaven. And now, we know the way. Jesus is the way. If we follow him, we know we are on the right path and headed in the right direction.

Loving God help us each day as we journey through life to follow Jesus, because we know he is the way, the only way. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Offering Prayer

Through these gifts, proclaim your word of grace. Shine forth through our offerings and our lives, that others may see your face and know your steadfast love. In your love and grace, we pray. Amen.

Hymn 162: Thank you for giving me the morning
                  (Tune – Thank You)

1.  Thank you, for giving me the morning.
Thank you, for ev’ry day that’s new.
Thank you, that I can know my worries
can be cast on you.

2.  Thank you,
for all my friends and brothers.
Thank you, for all the men that live.
Thank you, for even greatest enemies
I can forgive.

3.  Thank you, for many little sorrows.
Thank you, for ev’ry kindly word.
Thank you, for everywhere your guidance
reaches ev’ry land.

4.  Thank you, I see your Word has meaning.
Thank you, I know your Spirit here.
Thank you, because you love all people,
those both far and near.

5.  Thank you, O Lord, you spoke unto us.
Thank you, that for our words you care.
Thank you, O Lord, you came among us,
bread and wine to share.

6.  Thank you, O Lord,
your love is boundless.
Thank you, that I am full of you.
Thank you, you made me feel so glad
and thankful as I do.

The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                               1 Peter 2:2-10         NEB page 949
The Gospel Reading:                          John 14:1-14           NEB page 825

Readings: NRSV Translation

1 Peter 2:2-10

2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” 8and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

John 14:1-14

1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ 5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name, you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Preaching of the Word – Strange and Peculiar. – 1 Peter 2:2-10

The scripture lesson for today is a call to a new way of living. It is a call to be a “holy priesthood,” a different people who “long for the pure, spiritual milk.” It is a fitting text as the glow of Easter recedes. It is a reminder that we are called for special work and have been made, by God’s gracious action in Jesus Christ, into a new people. Today’s text culminates in a strong call to the people of faith. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that [we] may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

In older translations of this verse there is an interesting variation on the wording. The King James Version renders the phrase “God’s own people” as “a peculiar people.” While I enjoy the clarity of newer and more modern translations, there is an intriguing meaning in being designated “a peculiar people.”

The word peculiar is not one that we wear easily. Most of us want to be normal and fit in. Who wants to be peculiar? I read somewhere that there is a town in west-central Missouri named Peculiar. I often wonder how it feels for those people born and raised there to say they are from a place called Peculiar. I also in my research found there was a church that was named Strange. Apparently, the name Strange United Methodist Church was and is something of a joke in the local ministers’ association.

Strange and peculiar are terms we would rather apply to people other than ourselves. Yet this is exactly the label the text from the King James Version of our scriptures asks us to wear. When you consider the call of Christ to live as a disciple in today’s world, there may not be a more fitting label. We Christians are strange, and we are peculiar. We love our enemies, we care for the forgotten, and we believe that the last shall be first. There is a new world, an alternative community that rises out of the pages of the New Testament, which you and I inherit.

God offers the church as an alternative community for the world’s redemption. This fellowship operates under a new economics that believes people matter as much as profits. This community has a new vision that sees every life as an image of God. Here, in this fellowship, a dynamic of inclusion thrives in a world that has made exclusion a fine art. That is our call.

Christians are different. We are called to practice the ethic of grace in a world that lives by an ethic of law. We are called to embrace cooperation rather than competition. We are called to live with an awareness of the gracious hand of God and not from a sense that we must have more and more things to be happy. This is true because we long for the “pure, spiritual milk” that Christ offers. This diet makes us a different people, a peculiar, strange people, who dare to seek to live the life of love in a world in love with alienation, competition, and winning.

I heard about a mythical village where disturbing things began to happen. The people of the village were going insane. Slowly, madness was taking over and no one knew the cause. After careful observation, the villagers realized that their insanity was tied to the food they were eating. Something was wrong with their diet and it caused insanity. The village elders gathered to find a solution. In the end they concluded they had little choice but to eat the bad grain and go crazy. It was better to be crazy and alive than sane and dead. So, this is the statement they prepared to share with the people.

But just before the elders were to address the villagers, someone came running from another village with an announcement. A warehouse of good grain had been discovered. People who ate this grain did not go crazy. They remained sane and sound. The only problem was, there was not enough grain for everyone. So, the elders gathered again and considered this news. They decided to appoint a special group from the village whose job would be to eat a different diet of good grain. Then, when all the other villagers had become insane, this group could remind them of what sanity was. Because, the elders knew, if enough people are crazy then crazy can begin to look normal.

Our culture has poisoned itself with a bad diet. Racism, sexism, and militarism have been our food. Consumerism, anxiety, and the speed of everything have become the staples of our diet. We have bought it all, raced it all, tried it all, and gone mad in the process. In our collective insanity, we come to live fearful lives, we come to regard the stranger as an enemy, we come to send our young to die in war, and children are denied health care and access to good water and food. There is no question that this is the way we must live for we have bought into a corporate insanity that says, “This is the way life is.”

The world looks at the church and says, “You’re crazy.” But the church knows better, for it lives a sanity born of love and grace. It points to a new way and invites others to the table where the food of love and redemption is served.

You, Church, are one strange-looking, peculiar-acting community. You are beautiful to behold as you “proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Continue to yearn for the pure, spiritual milk, the special diet of love and grace. By this you show the world a better way, a different way, a way of sanity that is the way of Christ.

Hymn 468: We are your people, Lord, by your grace
                 (Tune – Whitfield)

1.  We are your people,
Spirit of grace,
you dare to make us
to all our neighbours
Christ's living voice, hands and face.

2.  Joined in community,
treasured and fed,
may we discover
gifts in each other,
willing to lead and be led.

3.  Rich in diversity,
help us to live
closer than neighbours,
open to strangers,
able to clash and forgive.

4.  Glad of tradition,
help us to see
in all life's changing
where you are leading,
where our best efforts should be.

5.  Give, as we venture
justice and care
(peaceful, resisting,
waiting or risking)
wisdom to know when and where.

6.  Spirit unite us,
make us, by grace,
willing and ready,
Christ's living body,
loving the whole human race.

Words © 1975, 1995 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188

Intercessory Prayers
your promise of love for us.
We pray for ourselves, for this congregation of believers,
each at a different stage of life and faith, thriving, struggling, wondering, hoping and trusting.
Grant us the grace to meet each person where they are,
not where we think they should be.
Grant us the power to love all others as you love us.
We pray for our church and all your communities of faith.
In these times of declining numbers as Christianity fights for relevance in many nations around the world
grant us the wisdom to remember the purpose of your church, not numbers, but salvation in your name.
We pray for our world as the planet continues to bear the wounds inflicted upon it by our waste, our arrogance, our inability to see the beauty of your creation.
In our constant misuse of the resources given to us,
grant us the boldness to see the error of our ways,
to act now before it is too late. Amen.


Hymn 581: Happy the home that welcomes you,
                   (Tune – Welwyn)

    1: Happy the home that welcomes You, Lord Jesus,
Truest of friends, most honoured guest of all,
Where hearts and eyes are bright with joy to greet You,
Your lightest wishes eager to fulfill.

    2: Happy the home where man and wife together
Are of one mind believing in Your love:
Through love and pain, prosperity and hardship,
Through good and evil days Your care they prove.

    3: Happy the home, O loving Friend of children,
Where they are given to You with hands of prayer,
Where at Your feet they early learn to listen
To Your own words and thank You for Your care.
                             Translator: Honor Mary Thwaites
     Tune: Welwyn

       As we have been strengthened,
        we go forth to strengthen others.
        As we have been blessed,
       we go forth to bless the world.
        As we have been loved,
        we go forth to love with compassion and grace.
        As we go forth may remembering the nurture of our mothers, the nurture of God through Jesus and his body the Church, may the same God, creator, redeemer and giver of live bless you and keep you. Amen

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

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
May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you
May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring you

       Robyn Mann (1949 -)
         Aubrey Podlick (1946 -)

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