Thursday, 10 June 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Memorial Sunday Homily for 13th June 2021 on Pentecost 3


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford

    Sermon for Sunday 13th June 2021


Today in our Face to Face Worship we remembered one of our congregation members at whose service most of us were unable to be present.

This Sermon is an adaptation to remember all whom died since the beginning of Covid-19 especially those whom, were part of our congregation and whose Farewell we were unable to be present at. 

Preaching of the Word 

I heard it told that a person was described during their funeral as being loyal to his Lord and consistent in his adherence to the high standard of morals which he had chosen as the guiding principle of his life. There are a number of people I have met that this could be applied to from amongst our congregation and especially those who have died during the time we have been dealing with Covid-19. 

I read a story about a man who one day went to visit an old musician. He knocked on the musician’s door and said, “What’s the good word today?” The old musician didn’t say a word. He turned around and went back across the room to where a tuning fork was hanging. He took a hammer and struck the tuning fork so that the note resounded through the room. The musician said, “That, my friend is an ‘A’. It was ‘A’ yesterday. It was ‘A’ five thousand years ago, and it will be ‘A’ 5000 years from now.” Then he added, “The tenor across the hall sings off key. The soprano upstairs is flat on her high notes. And the piano in the next room is out of tune. He struck the tuning fork again and said, “That is ‘A” and that my friend is the good word for today.”

In the conversations I had with these people we have lost; it seems as though their good word for most days was “blessed.” People had felt blessed by their children, they had felt blessed by their grandchildren, they had felt blessed by their God and their church, and if you were to get at the heart of their feelings about being blessed, you would quickly have gotten to the truths of God’s words to us. Truths that were, are, and always will be the same. Specifically, the truth that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. 

The truth that Jesus Christ lived the perfect life was for a number of those in our congregation whom we have lost what they strove to live to. Over the past year or so, God sent angels to carry a number of our members souls, to carry really their spirit into the very presence of Jesus Christ. That, my friends, is the good word for today. 

Faced with death, life might seem absurd and meaningless. But our Christian faith tells us that despite death life is not absurd and meaningless. Life for each of us took on a completely different meaning when our parents decided to have us baptised. 

When we were baptised, we were no longer mere humans, but became adopted sons and daughters of God. When we were baptised, this planet was no longer our home, then heaven became our true homeland. When we were baptised, we were no longer on our own, when we were baptised, we were joined with Jesus in leaving behind an old life and beginning a new life. 

When Jesus died, he left his old life behind him. He rose from the dead, having left behind life in a human body like ours. When we were baptised, we joined Jesus in his dying, leaving behind our old self, and we joined Jesus in his resurrection, becoming new persons. When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised, we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the God’s glory, we too might live a new life. 

In every Communion we remember that we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection, for example “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life...”. “Lord by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.” 

Because our entire life is living out our baptism, because we want to live our entire lives in such a way that our baptism has a lasting effect on our lives, we are continually trying to leave behind sin and selfishness to become better people. 

When we respond at each moment of our lives to the call of God, we prepare ourselves to enter into the Lord’s rest; As baptised we try to be aware of the presence of God in each moment of our lives, like the sunflower that keeps following the sun all day long. God is not just at the end of our life, waiting for us there; God is with us at every moment of our lives. However, in the final moment of our lives, we will see God’s love and everlasting light.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Worship for Pentecost 2 - 06 June 2021


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


God Calls Us to Expand Our Family.

Sunday 06th June 2021

Pentecost 2 - year of Mark  

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 2015)       

Come! Here you will find a family of faith where you will always belong. Come! Here you will find friends who will love you as a child of God. Come! Here you will worship a King who rules with equity. Whoever you are, and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

All who need a place to belong . . .

Come join the family of God.

All who seek spiritual brothers and sisters . . .

Come join the family of God.

All who strive to grow in faith and love . . .

Come join the family of God.

All who are unsure and feel unworthy . . .

Come join the family of God. 

Hymn 693: Come as you are.

                 (tune – Come as you are) 

     Opening Prayer

     Loving Mother, Caring Father, in the midst of our brokenness, knit us together as your family. Heal our wounded hearts, that we may welcome the strangers into our midst and treat them as beloved sisters and brothers. Swing wide the doors of our church, that all who seek a temple of faith may find in these walls a place where God’s will is done and holy relationships are nurtured. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen. 

Prayer of Confession

Sovereign God, we so often lose our way.

You seek to be our King— to lead us on right paths; to teach us the ways of truth and life; to shelter us from our foes, yet we look to the rulers of this earth for leadership, wisdom, and strength.

You seek to be our comforter— to love us as our Father; to nurture us as our Mother; to shelter us as our Brother; to assure us as our Sister, yet we look elsewhere for love, compassion, and hope.

When our government fails us, and our families disappoint us, you alone remain faithful and true. Open your arms to us once more, O God. We will be your people, and you will be our God and King. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

Christ looks to each of us and says: “Here are my mother and my brothers. Here are my father and my sisters. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, mother, father.” As the family of God, as brothers and sisters of Christ, we are loved and forgiven by our gracious God.

Thanks, be to God! 

The Peace

As the family of God, let us share signs of familial love and compassion, acceptance and forgiveness, as we pass the peace of Christ.

Peace be with you!

And also with you!

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

Offering Prayer

Holy Sovereign, you are our King; we are your people. Forsaking the ways of the haughty, we reach for our brothers and sisters in faith, our mothers and fathers in Spirit, that we may care for the meek and the lowly. Use these offerings to fulfil your will in our world, that all may be drawn into your family of faith Amen. 

Hymn 738: ‘My Jesus my Saviour’ (Shout to the Lord)

                 (tune – Shout to the Lord)                                    

The Service of Holy Communion 

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

With all our hearts we praise you, faithful God. In the beginning, you called light to shine in darkness, you made living things to grow and flourish and you created human beings in your image. You chose us in love, guided us by your presence and blessed us with your holy law. Yet we chose our own sinful ways. We broke your commandments, persecuted your prophets, forgot your wisdom and time after time, refused to answer your call.

So, you spoke an eternal word in a human voice in Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, Son of God. He called, and people followed, leaving every other loyalty. He set us free to praise your holy name. But hatred and violence shouted Jesus down. Betrayed and abandoned and nailed to a cross, he laid down his life for the world he loved and broke the chains of evil and death. Then you turned our sorrow into joy. On the third day you raised him up to lead your people into life.

So, we praise you, holy God, with angels and archangels and all your faithful people:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

On the night before he died, Jesus gathered with his friends to share a meal and wash their feet, teaching one more lesson of love. He took bread and blessed you and broke it. He gave it to them and said: “Take this and eat it. This is my body.” Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me.”

He took a cup of wine and blessed you and gave it to them.

He said: “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, sealing God’s promise to forgive your sins. Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me.”

As we share these holy gifts, we remember the Lord Jesus. For the love you taught us, the sacrifice you made for us and the hope you give us, we acclaim you, O Christ:

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

And now, faithful God, send us your Spirit to feed us with the body and the blood       of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Make us one body in Christ. Send us as your messengers in the world and fill us with energy, courage and love. Now to you, most holy God, through Christ your Son and in the Spirit’s power, we bring our worship and our songs of praise:

Blessing and honour and glory and power are yours for ever and ever. Amen.     

The Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread and take this cup so that we can all share in the life of Christ. God's gifts for God's people. 

Thanks, be to God. 

Lamb of God

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace. 

Invitation to Communion

As tangible as grain plucked by Jesus and his disciples, as mysterious as the Presence known by our faithful ancestors, so is the meal we are about to share. Let us open our hearts and hands, as we remember and partake together. 

Prayer after Communion

This has been no ordinary meal. It has been one in which we have been fed and nourished with the life of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. May we go from this table, refreshed and eager, to share that life with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen 

The Service of the Word 

The First Reading:                                            1 Samuel 8:4-20

The Gospel Reading:                                        Mark 3:20-35

After the final reading the reader will say            For the Word of the Lord

Please respond by saying                                    Thanks be to God. 

Readings: NRSV Translation 

1 Samuel 8:4-20

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7 and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also, they are doing to you. 9 Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’ 10 So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’ 19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ 

Mark 3:20-35   

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.’ 23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’ 30 He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’ 31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ 33 ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’ 

Preaching of the Word - God Calls Us to Expand Our Family.

Family. We all come from one. Some are loving, some are quirky, some are dysfunctional, some are abusive, and some are a combination of those things. No matter what type of family we have, we have a role to play within it: the Peacemaker, the Pretty One, the Black Sheep, the Smart One, the Religious One, the Baby, and so on. But what happens when the Black Sheep starts acting like the Smart One? Or the Peacemaker becomes the Artistic One? The delicate system of roles is shaken, and the other players must try to put the person back in their role or adjust to the new role that is being played. Guess which one people usually choose?

Fear of the new role usually wins out, and people often try to sabotage the fledgling before anything permanent can happen. We think we know what is best for the other person because really, it is best for us. Take any self-improvement – losing weight, quitting smoking, going back to school, going to a counsellor – and there will be people who will not be encouraging because it makes them look at the improvements they need to make and aren’t. They fear change in their lives, so why should they support the changes in yours? It takes a strong person to become who God created us to be and to continue to make positive changes when it puts personal relationships in jeopardy.

Look at Jesus coming back to his hometown where his family lived. People were crowding him to see if he would heal them, but some were talking about him, “He’s gone out of his mind,” and “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” People feared what they did not understand. Jesus’ family tried to restrain him, but Jesus faced the crowd. He was called by God to preach and teach and heal, and that was his focus. He knew his role, but it was not necessarily the role that his family or hometown thought he should be in. God was doing a new thing in Jesus. God was expanding what it meant to be bonded to another person the way we are in a family, and Jesus called attention to this. God knows what is best for Jesus and for us, not the other way around.

When Jesus declared, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” it challenged the Jewish culture around him. No longer are you close to God because you were born into a Jewish household; no longer do you just take care of your own kind; instead, your family is being extended to anyone who does the will of God.

That certainly broadens the margins and challenges those who took that relationship with God for granted. Today, it challenges us to look beyond our walls, our denominational lines, our socio-economic status, and our faith to see our brothers and sisters and mothers. God calls us to expand our family in ways that are just as shocking as it was to the Gospel of Mark’s first-century audience.

We should come to expect this from God. How successful are we when left to our own devices? In today’s Old Testament lesson from First Samuel, when the people request an earthly king to rule them rather than God, Samuel is in a difficult position. The very request is a rebellion against God. But the Israelites want to be “like other nations.” How often do we want the same thing? We want to be “normal,” we want to have what other people have and we measure our worth by earthly standards. We lose our focus and stop doing the will of God.

Brothers turn against brothers, sisters against sisters, mothers against mothers. We get caught up in wanting approval from others and are jealous of what they have, which can leave us empty and seemingly worthless. We forget that we have value because God loves us. Jesus understood this. He kept his focus on following God’s will and was clear about it, despite what his family or the crowds wanted from him.

It’s easier said than done, of course. Anthony de Mello tells a story that reminds us of this:

A man traversed land and sea to check out for himself the master’s extraordinary fame. “What miracles has your Master worked?” he asked a disciple.

“Well, there are miracles and miracles. In your land it is regarded as a miracle if God does someone’s will. In our country it is regarded as a miracle if someone does the will of God.”

We may smile at the story, but it speaks truth. Doing the will of God often means leaving our comfort zones. As Episcopalians, our Baptismal Covenant demands a life that follows God by continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, in the prayers, resisting evil, repenting, and returning to the Lord, proclaiming by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves, striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. This is not an easy road to journey! Yet we readily answer, “I will, with God’s help.”

We cannot do this alone. Jesus’ single-minded focus on God’s will is an example to us. We must have God’s help to follow the call of Jesus in order to be the people we were created to be. May we go forth, as the blessing from St. Clare says, to “live without fear: your Creator has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Go in peace to follow the good road and may God’s blessing be with you always.” 

Hymn 609 May the mind of Christ my Saviour

                 (tune – St Leonards) 

Intercessory Prayers  

Pentecost 2 Sunday – Year B –

Loving God, you know our needs and desires before we ask, and all our days are in your hands: hear the prayers we bring to you.

We pray for the world: for those who suffer because of war or civil strife; for those who are imprisoned, displaced or dispossessed.

When we are unmoved by the plight of others, when our greed keeps others poor, shake us from our complacency and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the church: for your priests and prophets and all who lead your people; for all who worship and minister in this place.

When we are legalistic and lacking in love, when we are slow to recognise your voice or understand your word, call us again by name, and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our community: for those who have nowhere to live and too little to eat; for those without any work or means of support.

When we are judgmental and mean-minded, when we are slow to compassion and swift to condemn,

unlock our hearts and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer for those who do not know the love of family or friends; for the sick and the dying and all who mourn.

When hearts are broken and spirits crush ed, when bodies are crippled or racked with pain,

touch us again with your love and restore us to life.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who have died in your love, for all who have heard your voice and answered your call; for all whose yearly remembrance occurs at this time.

Help us to follow the example of your faithful people and, when we come to the end of our earthly days, bring us with all your saints from death to everlasting life, that we may continue forever in your presence.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

The Lord's Prayer

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 613: Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy.

                  (tune – Slane) 


        With God as our King,

        we go forth to build God’s kingdom.

        With our inner nature renewed,

        we go forth to proclaim God’s glory.

        With our sisters and brothers in Christ, our mothers and fathers in the faith,

        we go forth to be Christ’s family.

        Go with God. 

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