Thursday, 30 September 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Worship Pentecost 19 HC - 03 October 2021


Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford


Is your heart hard?

Sunday 03rd October 2021

Pentecost 19 Sunday year of Mark 9.30am

 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. 


God’s Family. Family is God’s idea - we are born into families to be nurtured, sustained and honoured. Families stick together through thick and thin - they teach us faithfulness.

Faithfulness counts through the tough times we can face as families. The call to faithfulness is from God and goes beyond personal challenges: it extends into all our attitudes towards our own families, the communities of which we are part, and to the whole creation and to the God who made it. 

Call to Worship - (David N Mosser and other Sources)

     Come to Christ, children of God, for all are welcome here. Receive life as a gift from God.

     From troubled times and difficult walks,

     we come to the arms of Christ.

     From separate journeys and diverse experiences,

     we gather to worship as one.

     As brothers and sisters in Christ, we come to God,

     who welcomes us here.           

     Hymn TIS 567: God of all power, and truth,

                             (Tune – Ombersley) 

     Opening Prayer

     Holy God, as we gather in your glorious presence, come and make us holy. Guide us this day, that we may receive your teachings and walk in your truth, even as we welcome others on the journey with us. Strengthen our holy communion, that we may create a community of belonging, where all are included, and where your grace binds us together in unity and love. Amen. 

      A Prayer of Confession

Holy God have mercy on us.

In your love and grace, save us from troubled times. Rescue us when suffering comes, and comfort us when grief overwhelms us.

When we wander confused, guide us back to your truth. When we waiver out of fear or weakness, strengthen our resolve and help us put our hope and trust in you. When we are abandoned and alone, gather us in the arms of your love, and remind us that we are your children and that you are our Saviour.

In your holy name, we pray. Amen. 

Declaration of Forgiveness

In God’s love and grace, we are being made holy. In God’s compassion and mercy, we are named as sisters and brothers of Christ. Rejoice and be glad, for in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we are made one with God and with one another in the body of Christ.

Thanks be to God! 

The Peace

From many paths, we gather as one in God. Let us offer signs of unity and love as we share Christ’s peace with one another.

Peace be with you!

And also, with you!

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


Holy God, thank you for your many gifts and your loving deeds in our lives. As we bring our gifts to your altar, send your Spirit through these offerings, that others may know your loving deeds, experience your abundant grace, and see your miraculous strength. With thanksgiving and hope, we pray. Amen 

Hymn TIS 613: Lord of all hopefulness Lord of all joy  

                                     (Tune Slane)                                    

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. 

We praise you O God through whom all things exist.
You loved people into being and invited them to live in harmony with you. When they turned away from you and closed their ears to your words, you did not abandon them.  Through the prophets you spoke to them in many and various ways, simply because they were chosen and beloved by you. You revealed how unchanging your love is by speaking a new and living word to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who blesses our lives with healing and wholeness and a love, which like yours, is unending and unconditional. 
And so, with all the company of heaven and earth we rejoice before you and praise your holy name saying:

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!

At this table we bear witness to the love which has been poured into our hearts and lives. We remember when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and sat down at a table to share the meal with them. At that meal - he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. We remember, and we give thanks for such outpouring of love.

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again!

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, O God, and upon these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be for us the life of Christ - his life in us.  Renewed by his life and recreated in his image, we set our minds on fulfilling your purpose for us and for this world of which we are a part. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

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

The Breaking of the Bread

Because our bread has come from one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.

The cup over which we give thanks is a sharing in the blood of Christ.

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

Come to the table, children of God, for all are welcome here. Let us open our hearts and hands, as we remember and partake together. 

Prayer after Communion

Holy God, we give you thanks that we have been fed and renewed by Christ’s life in us and we go now to share that life with others.  Send us forth equipped with the power of your Spirit to follow Jesus, and to spread the message of his love to all whom we meet.  In his name we pray.  Amen 

The Service of the Word 

                              First Reading:                   Job 1:1; 2:1-10

                             The Gospel Reading:        Mark 10:2-12,

                              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 

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

1 1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 1 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ 3 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ 4 Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. 5 But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ 6 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’ 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself and sat among the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God and die.’ 10 But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 

Mark 10:2-12,

2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3 He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4 They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5 But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ 10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her;12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ 

Preaching of the Word Is your heart hard? – Mark 10: 2-12

This Sunday’s gospel has words that are likely to make us cringe. It is hard to hear them as good news! It sounds, on the face of it, that Jesus is ruling out divorce. And so many of us are divorced, or our friends and family members are. Where does that leave us?

As we reflect on this Gospel reading, we need to think about how God created man and woman to help and to care for each other. And that their relationship should be primary and permanent. This is the ideal for relationship created by God for us. And when we prepare for commitment to another person we long for the reality of this ideal. It is not likely that anyone who comes to church for marriage preparation does not hear this and intend it to be so.

But in the Gospel, we also hear the echoes of the same story in the context of a sparring match between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees never seem to really hear Jesus and like to accuse him of blasphemy. In this particular scrap, they are trying to catch Jesus about his knowledge of the law of Moses. They ask if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus tells them that Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her. But he then goes on to say that allowing that was because of their hardness of heart. Now what does that mean?

Well, remember that in creation God gave us the ideal of man and woman in a mutually responsible and caring relationship. But in the time of Moses the status of women had dropped from that ideal to such an extent that a man was able to divorce his wife on any pretext whatsoever. She had absolutely no say in the matter. For Moses to say that a man had to write a certificate of dismissal meant that the wife’s status was raised so that she was at least not regarded as a prostitute. Which is the way she would have been regarded had she just been cast off.

Now we come to Jesus. He says that Moses gave his law because of the hardness of men’s hearts. They had been treating their wives as a possession which they had grown tired of and had not even cared if she was regarded as someone fit to be stoned. Moses’ law raised the status of women a notch. But Jesus says that God made man and woman in the beginning of creation. And in the relationship of husband and wife, they as one flesh are clearly a condition of equal value for both the woman and the man. They are to be mutually responsible in caring for each other.

Here the status of men and women is equally valuable and so Jesus is raising the status of women even more and telling the Pharisees that they must exceed the letter of the law. This, of course, upholds the ideal of life-long, mutually loving relationships. And the pain that is experienced by anyone who is going through a divorce only speaks to the validity of that ideal in all of our hearts. Because we know that it is painful to divorce. We hate it when a relationship is no longer mutually loving and caring. We agonise about the hurt that will ensue from a rupture between a couple. We work to lessen the difficulty for the children caught in such a situation. Almost never have I heard of people who think nothing of getting a divorce. It hurts.

God said in creation that it is not good for a person to live alone. When one lives alone there is the chance that there is no one to listen when we are upset. Or to celebrate the small joys of our lives with us. To fix us a hot drink on a cold and wet night. We know that it is better to have someone who cares deeply. Yet, when two people are caught in a broken relationship it is painful.

There is still the loneliness. There may be harsh recriminating words. There may be abusive behaviour to their partner of their children. There may be abusive action toward the self. No matter what one thinks there is pain. It is real and present. There is no easy way to make thing right.

People who make a decision to divorce have to live in the pain of realising that they have failed in living up to the ideal God desires for us or that they desired for themselves.

But they also might have to live in the pain of a frustrated and deadened life. One leached of meaning and satisfaction. There is no easy solution here. None that is not painful.

We live in a world full of ambiguity. We also live in a world we wish to make better. One that can fulfill our dreams. We are constantly faced with choices that are difficult to make. And choices that may have the possibility of avoiding pain, both for ourselves and for others.

Jesus does not offer us an easy world. Jesus was constantly faced with the need to respond to those who were hoping to make him seem wrong or foolish. He was steadfast in his faithfulness to God and set before us a way of forgiveness and hope. He held up to us the responsibility to be loving and just. And he held it up to us by living it out for himself. He also held up for us the necessity to choose.

Throughout his public ministry he was harassed. Not only by the Pharisees but by many others as well. In the letter to the Hebrews, you will hear that Jesus was just like we are. That it was necessary for him to be so in order for us to be saved from the power of death.

Jesus was just as we are. Facing all the vicissitudes that life has to offer us. Jesus was a real living human being just as we are. And he did not have an easy painless life. His life was not one without choices all along the way. His was even a life wherein he could not be any surer than we are that his decision was just the right one. He could only pray and try to remain faithful to what he knew and understood to God.

We are called by God to love him and be faithful. But not to live in an unambiguous world in which the choices are spelled out for us in the beginning and are easy to figure. For someone deciding whether to end a broken relationship the choice is never easy. But we know that God loves us and dreams a creative, meaningful life for us. And all along the way we must decide.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus died that we might be saved from the power of death. Death haunted those around him as deaths sometimes haunt us. Death for us takes many forms. Physical death is just one of those forms. Death of a relationship is another. We must live trusting in God’s gift of freedom to us through the life of Jesus. A life of freedom is a life that is full of responsibility, and a life that is full of choices. Let us live in response to that good gift. 

Hymn 516: Here, gracious Lord, we see you face to face.

                 (Tune – St Agnes) 

Intercessory Prayers   

Pentecost 19 Sunday – Year B

Loving God, hear the prayers we bring to you for the world and for the Church.

We pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world: for all who exercise authority, and all who work for justice and peace; for your people enslaved and exploited, hungry and homeless. Give to us the generous heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of justice.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our sisters and brothers with whom we share this land: for those whose ancestors settled this land and those who are new arrivals; for those taken from their families and those who are neglected or abused. Give to us the contrite and forgiving heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of reconciliation.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our brothers and sisters who are members of your worldwide church: for those who are newly baptised or confirmed; for children in Sunday schools and youth groups,

and members of this congregation. Give to us the trusting heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of grace.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our sisters and brothers with whom we live in this community: for civic leaders and all who contribute to the welfare of this city; for our families and friends, for our neighbours and for ourselves. Give to us the warm and welcoming heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of love.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our brothers and sisters who are in trouble or need: for the unemployed, for those trapped in addictions, and for all without hope; for the lonely and sorrowing, for the sick and all who are in pain. Give to us the hopeful heart of a little child, that we may be open, to receive your reign of healing.

Loving God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We remember our sisters and brothers in the whole company of heaven: all who throughout the ages have followed you with child-like faith; all whom we have loved and those of this parish who have gone before us. Give to us the faithful heart of a little child, and at our death take us in your arms and bring us home, that with all your children we may enter your eternal kingdom.

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 596: Fill my whole life, O Lord my God.

                 (Tune – Richmond)   


         Even as we scatter to live our separate lives, we are still one body of Christ. Even as we go our separate ways, we travel this journey together. Go now to share this miraculous truth with God’s world. And the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life be with you and remain with you. Amen.


        Hymn TIS 779: May the feet of God walk with you

                       (tune – Aubrey).




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