Thursday, 10 September 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 15 13 September 2020


Marsden Road Uniting Church



And in Anger..., 

Sunday 13th September 2020

Pentecost 15 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)

        If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when the forces of death pressed against us, we would have no songs to sing to our children. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when the instruments of death had us in their power, we would be the victims of the unrighteous. Sing to our God, who brings us into a future of hope and life.

Sing to God for mercy and grace.

Sing praises to God for laughter and joy.

For our God is mighty and strong, protecting the lowly from the anger of the oppressor.

Our God is righteous and just, saving the weak from the cruelty of the powerful.

Sing to God for mercy and grace.

Sing praises to God for laughter and joy. 

Hymn TIS 569: Guide me, O thou great Redeemer                                        (tune – Cwm Rhondda) 

1.  Guide me, O my great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but you are mighty;
hold me with your powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore,
feed me now and evermore.

2.  Open now the crystal fountain,
where the healing waters flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
ever be my strength and shield,
ever be my strength and shield.

3.  When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever sing to you,
I will ever sing to you.

 Author: William Williams (1745)Translator: Peter Williams (1771)

Tune: Cwm Rhondda 

Opening prayer

Gracious God renew our minds and cleanse our spirits, that we might rise above the petty judgments that keep us from full fellowship with you and with one another. Part the waters of our worries and confusion and save us from the tides that threaten to overwhelm us. Be merciful to us and protect us with your powerful hand, that we might dance and sing to your glory. Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Merciful God, when we have inflicted injuries upon others, forgive us; when we have laughed and sung as our enemies faced calamity, pardon us;

when we have belittled the convictions of others through word or deed, restore us in your mercy. Reclaim us, Mighty One, that amidst the trials of life, we might walk on the dry land of your powerful hope and your loving grace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness

" If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, the forces of death would have claimed us as victims. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, we would have fallen to the sword or been drowned by the sea. Dance and sing to the Lord who is on our side and is on the side of all God’s children. Amen

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

We live not for ourselves, but for the One who rescues us from peril and calls us into fellowship with one another. Let us give thanks for the love of God, as we share signs of Christ’s peace 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 Power and Protection

Object: Get ceramic or plastic plate, water, pepper, dish                        soap, paper towel for demonstration.  

One of our Scripture lessons set for this week but which we will not read later is about one of the most spectacular events in the entire Bible. (Exodus 14:19-3) The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. But Pharaoh refused to let God's people go until God sent 10 plagues to all of Egypt. After so many bad things happened, Pharaoh finally decided it was best to let the Israelites go. The Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt.

(For Demonstration - pour enough water on the plate to cover the bottom.)

But Pharaoh changed his mind again. He sent his giant army to bring the Israelites back to Egypt. And the Israelites were caught between the army and the Red Sea. When God’s people saw the Egyptian army and chariots coming, they were afraid. 

(Shake pepper all over the water. Put your finger into the water and touch the bottom of the plate.)

What happened? (Pause for a few responses.) You’re right; nothing happened! The pepper just stuck to my finger. Hmm. The Israelites were afraid that the Red Sea would cover them completely. But Moses said, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch God save you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened up a pathway through the water with a strong east wind. 

Put a drop of dish soap on the tip of your finger. Then put your finger into the water again and touch the bottom of the plate. The pepper on top of the water will instantly spread apart. 

The people of Israel walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side! The Egyptians, with their horses and chariots, followed the Israelites through the sea, but God twisted their chariot wheels, making them difficult to drive.

When the Israelites reached the other side of the water, God said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again.” When Moses did, the water rushed back, and all of the chariots and horses and the entire army of the Pharaoh were drowned. Not a single one survived.

When the people of Israel saw the mighty power, God had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe. 

Imagine that—God caused the waters of the sea to separate. That’s kind of like our pepper trick, but on a giant scale. God is powerful and He protected His people, and He protects us, too. 

Offering Prayer

Merciful God transform our gifts into gifts of hope and joy for a world acquainted with despair. Receive our very lives, and fashion us into instruments of your grace, that we may become love and laughter in places of sorrow and mourning. Mould us into your people— a people of promise and hope, a people who live and die in the Lord. Amen. 

Hymn TIS 090: I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath                        (plus extra verse from other sources)                                           (tune: Monmouth)

1.  I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;

And when my voice is lost in death

Praise shall employ my nobler powers:

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.


2.  Why should I place in man my trust?

Princes must die and turn to dust;

Vain is the help of flesh and blood:

Their breath departs, their pomp and power,

Their thoughts are gone within an hour,

Nor can they make their promise good.


3.  Happy are they whose hopes rely

On Israel’s God; He made the sky,

And earth, and seas, with all their train:

His Truth for ever stands secure;

He saves the oppressed, He feeds the poor,

And none shall find His promise vain.


4.  The Lord has eyes to give the blind;

The Lord supports the sinking mind;

He sends the labouring conscience peace:

He helps the stranger in distress,

The widow and the fatherless,

And grants the prisoner sweet release.


5.  I’ll praise Him while He lends me breath,

And when my voice is lost in death,

Praise shall employ my nobler powers;

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.

Text: Isaac Watts

Tune: Monmouth

 The Service of the Word

The First Reading:                                            Romans 14:1-14

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 18:21-35

Readings: NRSV Translation

Romans 14:1-14 

1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.
3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also, those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.
11 For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ 12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another.
14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 23 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” 29 Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ 

Preaching of the Word - And in Anger..., - Matthew 18:21-35

And in anger the Lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So, my heavenly Father will also do it to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart. NRSV Matthew 18: 34-35

This is not good news for those of us who have trouble forgiving.

One woman went to her Minister because she had long-term resentments that she held against the men in her life. Her father had greatly favoured her brother and had given him the family business. Her brother offered her a menial job in the family business after she divorced. Her former husband was wonderfully successful with a huge income but was miserly and slow with the child support and alimony paid to her. Her sons resented the divorce and constantly told their mother how much they wanted to go live with their dad.

In short, she was angry and resentful. And what was worse, the reason she was angry and resentful was because she was paying attention, had carefully analysed her situation-and was right!

Her Minister listened carefully and said, "You are really justified in being angry. What is being angry doing to you?" The woman poured out a litany of pains, health problems, loneliness, and depression.

Forgiveness was offered as a possibility.

The woman was unable, or unwilling, to forgive. The men in her life did not change their way of behaving toward her. Her health and wellbeing continued in a downward spiral, even though she was totally justified in her anger.

We have in us a need for vindication when we are injured. There are disciplines in law and equity for assessing responsibility for injury, for assessing the degree of damage that an injury has done, and for determining payment to restore the damage. But, no one who has ever gone through a difficult lawsuit leaves satisfied.

We even have a bumper sticker that says, "Don't get mad, get even!"

It may be that the way most of us imitate God is by claiming that "vengeance is ours," contrary to what God said.

It may be that the torture described in the text is just what happens to us when we refuse to forgive. The choice seems to be whether we will be right and miserable, wrong and miserable, or whether we will be forgiving and happy. There are some very clear words about this from Jesus that we all know: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," or in the familiar translation, "Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

The door to joy and happiness is forgiveness. It seems to work this way. First, when we forgive, we join with God in doing one of God's essential works. Doing the will and work of God brings fulfillment to our lives. Second, forgiveness brings peace to our relationships. Any parent can tell stories of dealing with the injuries, offenses, and disobedience of children. Without forgiveness, children can't be raised. Marriage, as our institution and way of being, can't be sustained without mutual forgiveness.

Married people can't keep from injuring each other. Without forgiveness the injuries become wounds and the wounds become fatal.

Even more ironic is the reality that most of us can't change destructive behaviour until we find that we don't really have to change it. One man tells a story: "I did things that betrayed all of my father's values. He kept forgiving me. I finally did something that was so bad that I knew he would never forgive me and would banish me. He forgave me. I realised that there was nothing that I could do that would make my father stop loving and forgiving me. That realisation, knowing that I was loved no matter what I did, meant that I didn't have to do all the stuff anymore."

This story is a minor illustration of God's work in our broken, sinful rebellion. The cross is God's ultimate act of love and forgiveness. What God did through Jesus was not correct or legal or right. Rather it was pure love. God said to all humanity, "There is nothing that you can do that will end my love for you." It irritates God when we don't share the love and forgiveness we have received. So, forgive someone -- today!  

Hymn TIS 635: Forgive our sins as we forgive                                            (tune – Detroit (Bradshaw))  

"Forgive our sins as we forgive,"

You taught us, Lord, to pray,

But you alone can grant us grace

To live the words we say.


How can your pardon reach and bless

The unforgiving heart

That broods on wrongs and will not let

Old bitterness depart?


In blazing light your cross reveals

The truth we dimly knew:

What trivial debts are owed to us;

How great our debt to you!


Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls

And bid resentment cease;

Then, bound to all in bonds of love

Our lives will spread your peace.

                                           Author: Rosamond Herklots (1969)

Tune: DETROIT (Bradshaw) 

Intercessory Prayers

Loving God, we seek your help as we seek to model our lives on the teachings of our Lord Jesus.

As we hear his words encouraging us to be kind to others, we pray that we would be mindful of the needs of those who are less fortunate and never to seek reward or recognition in helping others.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

We look at the life of Jesus in which he cared for the weak and sick and in which he reached out to children, the poor and all of those who were vulnerable. May we be filled with the same attitude of mercy and may we treat others with equal compassion and dignity.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

As we think about the death of Jesus, we remember how his life was one of sacrifice in which he willingly forsook his own needs and instead offered all he had for the welfare of others. We ask for the presence of your Holy Spirit to empower us to change and become less selfish, less proud and more generous in the way that we give of ourselves to others in worship to you.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

We pray for spiritual vision to see ourselves as we really are. Enable us we pray to see our own faults with the same clarity that we see the faults of others.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

Help us to seek always to give to others the same kindness we would like shown to ourselves.

Lord in you mercy: Hear our prayer

May our lives be examples of humility that we might treasure others with the measure of love which you have shown for us.    


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 416: Great God, your Spirit, like the wind                                  (tune – Jerusalem) 

Great God, your Spirit, like the wind -

unseen but shaking things we see -

will never leave us undisturbed,

fulfil our dreams, or set us free,

until we turn from faithless fear

and prove the promise of your grace,

in justice, peace and daily bread,

with joy for all the human race.


Lord, shake us with the force of love,

to rouse us from our dreadful sleep;

remove our hearts of stone, and give

new hearts of flesh, to break and weep

for all your children in distress

and dying for the wealth we keep.

Help us prevent, while we have time,

the blighted harvest greed must reap.


And then in your compassion, give

your Spirit like the gentle rain,

creating fertile ground from which

your peace and justice spring like grain;

until your love is satisfied,

with all creation freed from pain,

and all your children live to praise

your will fulfilled, your presence plain. 

Author: Alan Gaunt
Tune: Jerusalem 


        Plunge into the waters unafraid, for God leads us forth. Walk straight ahead with purpose and passion, for Christ is our guide and guardian. Live as people of powerful hope, for the Spirit renews us each and every day. Go with the blessings of God. 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 cry.

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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