Thursday, 11 June 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Church Worship Pentecost 2 Sunday 14 June 2020

Sunday 14th June 2020
Marsden Road Uniting Church


We Have So Many Ways.
Sunday 14th June 2020
Pentecost 2 Sunday in the year of Matthew
9.30 am

Gathering God’s People

Prelude Music to prepare for worship

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.

Gathering God’s People

Call to Worship
(Mary J. Scifres, Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)
Hope in God. Expect miracles. For with God, anything is possible!

We call to the Lord,
and God hears our prayers.
We lift up our praise,
and God hears our songs.
We wait for the Lord,
and God answers our hope.

Hymn 672: Lord of earth and all creation                 
                 (Tune – Westminster Abbey - Purcell)

1.  Lord of earth and all creation,
let your love possess our land:
wealth, and freedom, far horizons,
mountain, forest, shining sand:
may we share, in faith and friendship,
gifts unmeasured from your hand.

2.  People of the ancient Dreamtime,
they who found this country first,
ask with those, the later comers,
will our dream be blessed or cursed?
Grant us, Lord, new birth, new living,
hope for which our children thirst.

3.  Lord, life-giving healing Spirit,
on our hurts your mercy shower;
lead us by your inward dwelling,
guiding, guarding, every hour,
Bless and keep our land Australia:
in your will her peace and power.

Tune: Westminster Abbey; Composer: Henry Purcell (1680)

Opening prayer

Miraculous, wonderful One, come to us now. Pour out
your grace and your love. Shower us with the power of
your Holy Spirit, that we may become people of
miracles— people filled with the laughter of hope. Amen

A Prayer of Confession

Holy One, be with us in our weakness.
When we laugh out of fear, calm us with your courage.
When we laugh out of doubt, empower us with your faith.
When we laugh out of our confusion, guide us with your wisdom.
Transform our nervous laughter into songs of praise and shouts of joy and trust.
In your blessed name, we pray. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
In God’s faithfulness, we are made righteous. In Christ’s love, we find peace and hope. In the Spirit’s strength, our laughter of derision is transformed into laughter of joy.
Thanks, be to God!

The Peace

With Christ’s peace in our hearts and God’s hope in our lives, let us share signs of joy and love this day.
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: God’s Love
Object: A String of pearls or pearl earrings

This morning I’d like you to think about a string of pearls. Do you know where pearls come from? They come from oysters. An oyster is a shellfish that lives in the ocean. They have a very hard shell that protects them, but sometimes something like a small grain of sand can get inside the shell and it causes a lot of pain and discomfort for the oyster.

God has given the oyster a way to ease that pain. When a grain of sand gets in there, the oyster oozes out a liquid that coats the grain of sand and then it hardens. The oyster keeps doing this over and over until the grain of sand no longer causes pain. This is how these pearls are made. Something that started out being painful turned into something very beautiful and valuable.

The same thing happens to us. Sometimes something comes into our life that causes a lot of hurt and pain. When that happens, God gives us something to help ease the pain. He gives us His love. If we ask Him to, He will ooze out His love to ease our pain and suffering. Often what started out to be very painful in our life can turn into something beautiful.

Dear Lord, we thank you that when we have pain and hurts in our life, you ooze out your love to ease the pain. Help us to remember that you can take the most painful hurts in our lives and turn them into something beautiful. Amen.

Offering Prayer

Bless these gifts, O God, with your hope and love, that others may know your healing power and your miraculous possibilities. In joyous trust, we pray. Amen.

Hymn 235: A man there lived in Galilee
                  (Tune – Tyrolese)

A man there lived in Galilee
like no one else before,
for he alone from first to last
our flesh unsullied wore;
a perfect life of perfect deeds
once to the world was shown,
that everyone might mark his steps
and in them place their own.

A man there died on Calvary
above all others brave;
he gave to all, he saved and blessed,
himself he scorned to save;
no thought can gauge the weight of woe
on him, the sinless, laid;
we only know that with his death
our ransom price was paid.

A man there stands at God's right hand,
divine, yet human still;
that grand, heroic, peerless soul
death sought in vain to kill.
All power is his: supreme he rules
all realms of time and space;
yet still our human cares and needs
find in his heart a place.

Author: Somerset Corry Lowry (1926)
Tune: Tyrolese

The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                          Romans 5.1-8          NEB page 875
The Gospel Reading:                     Matthew 9:35-10:8   NEB page 732
After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord
Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God.


Romans 5: 1-8

1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Matthew 9:35-10:8

9 35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his arvest.’10 1 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

Preaching of the Word: We Have So Many Ways...,

We have so many ways of learning about God. We learn from Holy Scripture, of course. We learn from our worship, from the seasons of the year and the glories of nature, from one another, in our prayers.

There is a way of watching movies that can open our minds and hearts to God in ways more powerful than we might imagine. When we see a movie strictly for entertainment, we've received our money's worth, but when we watch the screen through the eyes of faith, God can touch us in ways that are worth much more, ways that are surprising, even transcendent. Ordinary, commercial films become "Jesus movies."

Take the film, The Green Mile, for instance. The Jesus figure in The Green Mile is obvious, of course. John Coffey, an enormous black man in the South, has been accused of murdering two small girls, and upon his arrest he is delivered to "the Green Mile," death row in a southern prison. It becomes apparent fairly early in the film that John is innocent; he is sweet and what we used to call "simple-minded;" despite his huge size, he weeps quietly at times and is afraid of the dark. He shows tenderness to all but the truly evil ones he encounters on the Green Mile, and after a couple of miraculous healings, there's no doubt in our eyes just who John Coffey represents. He's our Jesus figure in this movie.

Jesus showed us the nature of the Divine as he walked this earth among us. So, what can John Coffey show us about the nature of God if we view him through the lens of Christ, praying that the Holy Spirit guide us to any truth?

In Matthew's Gospel today, we learn that "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." Matthew continues: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Compassion. "Com-passion." "Feeling with." Feeling another's pain, another's suffering.

In The Green Mile, one of the several climactic scenes shows us a gruesome execution, one in which a sadistic rookie deliberately omits a step in the electrocution process, essentially cooking a Cajun inmate named Edouard Delacroix, a man for whom John Coffey -- and the movie's viewers -- have developed a fondness. In one of the most graphic death scenes in cinematic history, as Del screams and jolts and jerks and smokes, John Coffey, in his own death row cell, experiences exactly the same torture. He jerks and grimaces as though he were sitting in "Old Sparky" himself. The lights on the Green Mile dim, then burst, as he lives through Del's electrocution from afar.

After the body has finally died and has been removed for burial, the officer in charge of the Green Mile, Paul Edgecomb, returns to his block and walks to John's cell. Sweat pours from John's body; he is still trembling. He says to Edgecomb through clenched jaws, "Boss, Del, he the lucky one. He out of it now."

"Do you mean you heard that all the way down here, John?" asks Edgecomb.

"No, Boss. I felt it," replies John.

John Coffey, our Jesus character, actually felt the pain of his friend. He experienced his torture, as though he had somehow been in the body of Edouard Delacroix.
Compassion. Feeling with.

"Freely you have received, freely give," Jesus tells the twelve as he sends them out to preach and heal those for whom Jesus has such great compassion. We might overhear him saying something like, "Heal every disease and sickness. Cast out evil spirits. Take the message of the Kingdom to those who live on death row every day of their lives. Help me care for them. Have "com-passion" on them. Feel with them. I can't do it all by myself. The task is too great to be done alone, even by me. And it's not God's purpose that it all be done by me. You're in this, too. We can't do it without you. You're going to be my Body on earth soon, so you'd better get out there and start learning what that means before I leave you."

So the followers of Jesus, his disciples, the ones who had left fishing nets and families to follow and learn from this magnetic young man who spoke so winningly of his heavenly Father, these twelve meagrely prepared ones were now to take their first steps as apostles -- those who are sent out to do for the hurting of the world that which Jesus himself wishes done.

As we step into their shoes today, let's listen to this story carefully, because it is our story, too. We are his disciples today and more -- we are his Body. Christ, the compassionate one, is the Head of the Body. Information Central. Where the commands to the Body come from. Unless our own head tells our index finger and thumb to move closer together, we can't do so much as pick up a pencil. We need, as Christ's Body, to listen more carefully to Christ, our Head.

What is Christ telling us? To go out and be do-gooders in the name of the church? No! Some people see this passage as a mandate for evangelism, and that can look scary, even impossible, especially for western white protestants. I read of a plan in the 90's, where someone was heard to say that their plan for evangelism was to build a really attractive aquarium next to the ocean and then wait for the fish to jump in. That's not what Jesus is calling us to here.

Jesus is sending us out to do the work that springs from a heart filled with compassion, with empathy, with doing our best to experience another's pain. We can never reach this ideal, of course; each person's pain is unique. But the heart of the compassionate Christ, which is and must be our own corporate heart, has no place for criticism, for judgment, even for merit. We help those who need help, not those we deem worthy of our help. It is not our own help we offer, of course; we are merely the vehicles for Christ's healing touch, his saving grace, his Word of hope.

As we move more deeply into our identity as Christ's Body, as 21st century apostles, in this work of embodying Jesus today, church growth is a side effect of Christ's impact on those we encounter. Evangelism happens because the "evangel" is Good News indeed! And as we do the will of the one who sends us out, our own lives become daily more filled with the love and grace of our Saviour.

Freely we have been given, not deserving. Freely and with compassion we are called to give. The harvest is plentiful, and we are the laborers today in a field filled with weeds and hungry for the harvest. Shake off the dust and let's go!

Hymn 186: Stars and Planets flung in orbit
                  (Tune - Lauda Anima (Goss))

Stars and planets flung in orbit,
galaxies that swirl through space,
powers hid within the atom,
cells that form an infant’s face:
these, O God, in silence praise you;
by your wisdom they are made.

Skies adorned with sunset splendour,
silent peaks in calm repose,
golden fields awaiting harvest,
foaming surf and fragrant rose:
earth, its bounty clothed with beauty,
echoes all creation’s praise.

Life in wondrous, wild profusion,
seed and fruit, each flower and tree,
beast and fish and swarming insect,
soaring bird, rejoicing, free:
these, your creatures, join in chorus,
praising you in wordless song.

Humankind, earth’s deepest mystery,
born of dust but touched by grace,
torn apart by tongue and colour,
yet a single, striving race:
we, in whom you trace your image,
add our words to nature’s song.

Gracious God, we bring before you
gifts of human life alone,
truth that throbs through song and story,
visions caught in paint and stone:
these, O God, we gladly offer,
gifts to praise the Giver’s name.

Christ, the Word before creation
as creation’s final goal,
once you came for earth’s redemption;
by your Spirit make earth whole:
then, O God, the new creation
will your praise for ever sing. 

Author: Herman G. Stuempfle

Intercessory Prayers  

We pray for our local community that we can all learn to share with one another. We ask for your blessing on all people in this community in their daily life and work. For the young and the elderly, for families and for all who are alone. Guide and enable all who lead and serve our community and on those whom we depend for our daily needs. We give you thanks for human skill and creativity and all that reveals your glory in our lives.
We pray for you church throughout the world, for all involved in mission and outreach. We ask for your blessing on our church here and we thank you that there is so much friendship here. Show us how to help each other so that the worship we now offer is the worship of a true family, through Jesus Christ who is head of the Church. Give us grace to proclaim the gospel joyfully in word and deed and help us to fulfil our calling and to care for one another in an unselfish fellowship of love; and to care for the world around us by sharing with it the good news of your love; and serving those who suffer from poverty hunger and disease.
Loving God, in your hands are the destinies of people and of nations, we bring before you in our prayers those who have been entrusted with special responsibilities for the life of our nation. May all involved in negotiations uphold goodwill and mutual understanding and show due respect to each other.
Loving God, we pray for all of us here this morning, for our families and friends. Inspire us to work at our relationships and remind us to welcome you in every situation we meet. We ask for your blessing on our family members and on all for whom we love and care. May we always be ready to forgive, respect and value them.
Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our Prayer
Loving God, we commend to your healing all who are in pain or are ill at home or in hospital. We pray for those about to undergo or who are recovering from surgery: for all who depend on others for life and movement. May they be reassured by the strength of your presence. In a moment of quiet we name in our hearts those whom we know who are in need of our prayers.
Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our Prayer
We pray for the bereaved and the desolate: may all in trouble or sorrow draw strength from your life and your victory over death. We pray for those who have died that, falling asleep to this life they may wake to eternal life in the joy of heaven.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world; a light which no darkness can quench. We pray for all who have died and light a candle to symbolise the light of Christ which eternally shines and brings hope.
Lord in Your Mercy Hear Our Prayer
We thank you Father that we are all invited to share your life-giving love: make us worthy of all you have promised.
Merciful God accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour – Jesus Christ.  Amen


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 233: I will sing the wondrous story
                     (Tune – Hyfrydol)

I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me.
How He left His home in glory
For the cross of Calvary.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was bruised, but Jesus healed me;
Faint was I from many a fall;
Sight was gone, and fears possessed me,
But He freed me from them all.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Days of darkness still come o'er me,
Sorrow's paths I often tread,
But the Saviour still is with me;
By His hand I'm safely led.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then He'll bear me safely over,
Where the loved ones I shall meet.

Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

       Go now in peace. Laugh this week with hope. Take God’s love with you wherever you go!
        Go now in peace. Go now in hope. Go now with the love of God. And may that same Almighty God, creator, redeemer and giver of life guide your dance in life forever. Amen

                 (Tune – Somos Del Señor)

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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