Thursday, 1 October 2020

Marsden Road Uniting Worship - St Francis - 04 October 2020

 Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


At That Time, Jesus Said...,

Sunday 04th October 2020

St Francis 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

        For we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

This is the place, and this is the time; here and now God waits to break into our experience.

To change our minds, to change our lives, to change our ways

To make us see the world and the whole of life in a new light.

To fill us with hope, joy and certainty for the future.

This is the place, as are all places; this is the time, as are all times.

Here and now, let us praise God.

We gather together to worship God. We gather to reflect on our place in the world.

Hymn 446: Glorious things of you are spoken

                  (Tune – Austria (Haydn)) 

1.  Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

2.  See the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove;
who can faint while such a river
ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,                
   never fails from age to age. 

3.  Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near;
thus deriving from their banner
light by night and shade by day,
safe they feed upon the manna
which he gives them when they pray.

4.  Saviour, if of Zion's city
I, thro' grace, a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy name;
fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know.

John Newton 1725-1807

Opening prayer

Almighty god, you always delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heat: grant that, following the example of the blessed saint, Francis, we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever Amen.


A Prayer of Confession

Let us then open our hearts and confess our sins in penitence and faith.

Forgive us, dear God, when our eyes do not see the world as you see it; when we choose to look away from the results of our lifestyle choices. Forgive us our ignorance, apathy and silence. Open our eyes to see that we are involved in all suffering in the world. Let the demands of your love call us to see, to know, to act and to speak. Deliver us from wealth while much of the world is impoverished, believing that we ‘cannot afford’ worthy causes, even though you call us to simple living. Lead us to a new way of life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Declaration of Forgiveness

Live in freedom and know peace through God, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer and that same almighty God, will have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and keep you in eternal life.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

Let us show one another signs of God's peace, the peace beyond all understanding that is yours and mine to share. The amazing peace of God be with you.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)

 Offering Prayer

Lord of grace and forgiveness, you who gave everything and spared nothing to make us your own, we offer back to you what you have so freely given to us. Let all that we say and do, all that we think and plan and consider, be pleasing to you, blessed Creator, Provider, and Saviour, in whose name we pray. Amen. 

Hymn 609: May the mind of Christ my Saviour

(Tune – St Leonards Extra verse to go with YouTube)) 

1.  May the mind of Christ, my Saviour, 
live in me from day to day, 
by his love and power controlling 
all I do and say. 

2.  May the Word of God dwell richly 
in my heart from hour to hour, 
so that all may see I triumph 
only through his power. 

3.  May the peace of God my Father 
rule my life in everything, 
that I may be calm to comfort 
sick and sorrowing. 

4.  May the love of Jesus fill me 
as the waters fill the sea; 
him exalting, self-abasing: 
this is victory. 

5.  May I run the race before me,
strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus
as I onward go.

6.  May his beauty rest upon me
as I seek the lost to win,
and may they forget the channel,
seeing only him.

                             Katie Barclay Wilkinson 1859-1928

   The Service of the Word

 The First Reading:                                            Galatians 6: 14-18

The Gospel Reading:                                        Matthew 11:15-20.

Readings: NRSV translation

Galatians 6: 14-18

14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16 As for those who will follow this rule--peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. 18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. 

Matthew 11:15-20.

25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

Preaching of the Word - At That Time, Jesus Said..., - Matthew 11: 15-20

At that time Jesus said, "Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have revealed to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned."

Saint Francis is one of the most "popular" of all the saints. He may be seen in gardens around the world. He is enshrined on bird baths and bird feeders. The prayer that we associate with him, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace," is arguably one of the most popular prayers circulated. He is the patron saint of animal lovers, peacemakers, and ecologists. He is associated with cardinal works of mercy to the poor and marginalised.

But these are not the aspects of Saint Francis that I want to speak about today. So often, I think, I have a tendency to view the saints as persons who were superheroes, who were capable of gritting their teeth and doing the Right Thing in the face of total adversity. As such, I find them to be totally unlike me. My problem seems to be not so much that I can't do the Right Thing, but that more often than not, I'm not certain what the Right Thing is!

In this Global Village we live in today, we are assaulted by conflicting values and oppositional demands. The necessity of doing the Right Thing is constantly upon us, even in the simple demands of day to day living: regular or low-fat, recycle or not recycle, welfare or no welfare. Although this might seem simply to require a certain fluidity on my part-- a refraining from deciding, as it were--in actuality I must eventually make a decision. And when I do, how can I know I'm Right?

So, the aspect of Saint Francis that speaks to me most strongly today is this: he was a man who Didn't Get It Right! Throughout the course of his life he steadfastly refused to join the ranks of the wise and learned--of those, who were certain of the Right Thing. He remained a fool for God, and as such, was always open to rethinking the Holy Spirit's inspiration. I'd like to tell some stories that illustrate my point.

When Francis was a very young man--that is, before he really had any inkling of the vocation God had in store for him--he thought he might like very much to be a knight. In fact, we have in the records a dream that Francis had about this time: He is in a large room full of knights' armour and the trappings of chivalry. And Jesus is there with him. Jesus says to Francis, "Francis, I want you to be my knight."

There is evidence that this somewhat idealistic endeavour was fuelled by the popular literature of the day in which knights in shining armour vanquished dragons, rescued fair maidens, and generally did the Right Thing for the sake of good. He conveyed this hope to his father, who was a prosperous cloth merchant in Assisi, and I imagine that his father found this to be a very pleasing scheme. At the time Assisi was engaged in one of its many wars with the neighbouring city of Perugia, and for a middle-class merchant to have his son fighting for the city outfitted as if he were a lord, would have had some appeal to Francis' father. So he brought him the armour, swords, lances, gowns and horse that would be required.

But Francis was already who he was and when the day came to ride off to Perugia, he noticed that among the company there was an impoverished nobleman who had no armour, horse, etc. So, Francis give his entire outfit away, and marched off to Perugia unarmed.

Needless to say, the encounter proved disastrous for Francis, and he was captured and imprisoned. When he was finally ransomed, he was ill with a high fever. If Jesus had wanted him to be a knight, Francis reasoned, something was clearly going wrong. Perhaps, like a fool, he had gotten the message wrong. He continued to search. What could it mean to be Jesus' knightly champion?

Later in his life, after he had renounced his family, and gone off to live the life of a hermit, he had one of the more remarkable experiences in what was to be a most remarkable life. While praying one day before the crucifix in the ruined church of San Damiano, the figure of Jesus came to life and spoke to him saying, "Francis, rebuild my church, which, as you see, is falling down."

Francis looked around him and saw that, indeed, the church of San Damiano was falling down. He immediately began putting stone on stone, rebuilding the church. The people of Assisi thought he was a fool. Slowly, again, he began to understand that he'd gotten it wrong. It wasn't until much later in his life that he understood that Jesus had meant for Francis to rebuild his Church, with a capital "C".

And when he understood that, perhaps he also began to understand what it might be to be Jesus' knightly champion.

Francis was also famous for his bodily austerities. He would throw ashes into his beans so that he couldn't enjoy them too much. He called his Body "Brother Ass" and was known to roll naked in thorns and snow to discipline his body. As he lay dying (while still a young man), he may have had an understanding that, again, he'd been foolish and hadn't Got it Right. He asked "Brother Ass" to forgive him, and perhaps realized that he'd squandered one of God's gifts by not being kinder to himself.

So what are we to make of this famous saint? He has been called "the Other Jesus" by some. He is revered and loved universally, by Christians and non- Christians alike. And yet, he didn't seem to Get it Right.

Perhaps this is what Jesus is talking about when he suggests that the foolish and unlearned may know something that the wise and learned don't know. Perhaps certainty and Being Right are not what Jesus wants from our lives.

Maybe Saint Francis shows us something completely different, something that looks more like perseverance in the face of uncertainty. Maybe the lesson I can learn from Saint Francis is the lesson that faithfulness is more valuable than Being Right; that humility and unknowing are a more appropriate response to God than certainty and knowledge. Perhaps abandoning the pride of self may be the way to begin to understand God. Or, in the words of Saint Francis' famous prayer, that it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Hymn 547: Be Thou My Vision

                   (Tune - Slane) 

1      Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

2      Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, I thy true son;
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

3      Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:
raise thou me heav'n-ward, O Pow'r of my power.

4      Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
thou mine inheritance, now and always:
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

5      High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

6      Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art--
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Translator: Mary E. Byrne; Versifier: Eleanor H. Hull
Tune: Slane 

Intercessory Prayers  

Saint Francis Sunday

Where there is money and consumerism,

bring selfless giving, simplicity, eagerness to share the riches of heart and mind...

Where there is selfishness and indifference,

bring openness to others, and hands outstretched in welcome to the outsider and the poor...

Where there are divisions, mistrust, violence and war,

bring pardon, unity and peace...

Where the assembly line has undermined the sense of the human value of work,

restore our appreciation of work well done, and respect for human dignity...

Where teenagers, left to fend for themselves,

have turned to drugs, sex and violence,

restore to them a zest for life and the ideals of the Gospel... 

Where we have hardened our hearts against our neighbour on account of his "unacceptable" religious or political views,

grant to us a human heart, the heart of a brother...

Where there is injustice and exploitation of the poor and the weak,

bring respect and justice...

Where family life has disintegrated and where brothers pass for strangers,

infuse love and brotherhood...

Where people have no time to pray or to marvel,

grant them time so that they may experience what it means to live and to wonder...



TTogether with Francis, Lord, we give You thanks for the values that shines forth in the lives of so many brothers and sisters including ourselves namely: 

hospitality, joy, universality, ecumenism, availability,

generosity, mercy, a strong and living faith, adaptability...

We ask You to foster those attributes growth in us and all creation to the praise of Your glory. Amen. Alleluia! 


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 607: Make me a channel of your peace

                  (Tune – Channel of Peace) 

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me bring your love;

Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;

And where there's doubt true faith in you. 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.


Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there's despair in life let me bring hope;

Where there is darkness, only light;

And where there's sadness, ever joy. 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.


Make me a channel of your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

In giving to all men that we receive;

And in dying that we're born to eternal life. 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 Author (attributed to): St. Francis of AssisiAdapter: Sebastian Temple

Tune: [Make me a channel of your peace] 


       God give you grace to follow Saint Francis of Assisi and all the saints in faith and hope and love: And the blessing of God almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be with you always Amen.        

Hymn 778: Shalom to you now

                 (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 

Author: Elise S. Eslinger (1980)
Tune: Somos Del Señor


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