Saturday, 25 February 2012

Service for Sunday 26th February, 2012

Year B, Lent 1

Call to worship Psalm 25:1-10, from Uniting in Worship

Hymn Together in Song 684 Love will be our Lenten calling

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

God of rainbows –
We thank you for the gift of the rainbow.  It is the sign of your forgiveness. In the colours you paint across the sky you remind us that you are our God – and you want only good things for us.

God of the flood –
We confess that we deserve your condemnation, not the gift of your love and forgiveness.
We are not better than those who were destroyed in the flood.

You ask us to love you with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Sometimes we try, often we fail.
We ought to trust you for our security  - we  trust our money, our homes, our jobs, our government, our police force.
We ought to ask first what you would have of us when we make decisions – we ask what will be best for us.

You ask us to love our neighbours as ourselves.  Sometimes we try, but often we fail.
We have sufficient food – but allow people to starve.
We have homes to live in – but allow people to go homeless.
We have clean water – but allow others to go without.
We have medical care – but allow others to have preventable illnesses.
We live in comparative peace – but allow others to suffer from war.
We are safe from exploitation – but allow others to be slaves.

It is not that we lack the intent to be your faithful people – it is that we try to do it on our own.  On our own, we are weak, and we fail.
Forgive us our sins – help us learn to rely more on you, so that we might become more the people you want us to be.
As we go through Lent this year, help us to truly repent – to turn away from what is wrong in our lives, and to focus completely on you.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Declaration of forgiveness

Lent is a time for repentance. It is a time to recall just how high the price that Jesus paid for us was.
But he did love us enough to pay that price. So I have confidence to say to you, “Our sins are forgiven.”
Thanks be to God!

Kid’s Time

Hymn Together in Song 229 Jesus loves me

Scripture (may change if our guest speaker has other readings chosen.)

Genesis 9: 8-17
Mark 1:9-15
This is the word of the Lord Thanks be to God.

Guest Speaker Pastor David Livingstone Zijjan

Prayers for work of Father’s Divine Love Ministries in Uganda

Hymn Together in Song 697 All the sleepy should have a place to sleep



Prayers of the People

Prayers of intercession from Lent Event  week  1 ( Prayers for India, the Church of North India and the and the Sarenga Community Development Program

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn Together in Song 473 Community of Christ


Threefold Amen.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Newsletter reflection for Sunday 26th February 2012

Good morning,
Lent has begun, and our Lent Event studies  start this Wednesday.

Traditionally, Lent is a time of repentance. It’s a time to recall what God’s grace towards us cost, and to recognise this is something we can’t earn. It is in our gratitude to God for this unearned gift of Jesus, that we examine our lives, repent of what is wrong, and turn back to God.

One of the signs of repentance can be to “give something up” for Lent.  While we may choose practical things to give up – this is really a spiritual discipline.  If, for example, you give up chocolate for Lent, the challenge is to look at why you do so. Are you giving it up because it is something easy to give up and you know you’re going to eat lots at Easter anyway? Or are you giving it up because much of the world’s chocolate is produced by slave labour (often child slave labour) – and you are recognising your own complicity in this evil? If you cut back on using your car, is it to give something up, or to recognise the damage your car does to God’s creation?

One of the things Lent Event has done is to remind us of the link between the spiritual discipline of observing Lent, and our concrete action in the world. To say we are sorry is one thing – but to actually act to show that we are sorry is a different matter.

Lent Event reminds us that the world is bigger than us There are many people with needs so great that we here in Brisbane cannot begin to imagine them. And these are also people God gave Jesus for. They are people who are our brothers and sisters, and who we are called to love.

Today we have a guest speaker, Pastor David Livingstone Zijjian, Director of Father’s Divine Love Ministries in Uganda.  Among other things, they are responsible for children’s homes.  In Australia, we are aware that AIDS still exists, that it is terrible for those who suffer from it, but for most of us it doesn’t touch our lives. In many parts of Africa AIDS is an epidemic, destroying far too many lives. Among the victims are the children who are the children who are left orphaned.  (More information about Father’s Divine Love Ministries can be found

As we begin Lent, it is a good time to remember the suffering of others – and the responsibility that we, as a part of God’s world, have towards others.

Grace and peace

Dates to note

26 February. Guest speaker David Livingstone Zijjan from Uganda – talking about building children’s homes.
9 March. All annual reports to Julie Hultgren in preparation for AGM.
17 March. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.
25 March.  11am AGM.
 5 April. 7.30am. Maundy Thursday service.
6 April. 7.30am. Good Friday service.
16 May. 7pm. Church Council.
16 June. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.
15 September. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.
17 November. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Newsletter reflection for 19 February 2012

Newsletter reflection for Sunday 19 February 2012.

picture stolen from biot jef on Google+
Good morning,
In the sermon last week I talked about human beings as a combination of physical, spiritual, emotional and social. To be healthy, we need to look at being healthy in all areas of our lives.
Some of us have been becoming more aware of our physical health as we look at our diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle issues at the Thursday night weight loss group “Watchya Weight.”
One of the things which has become apparent, and which was discussed at the Church Council meeting on Wednesday night, is that as a church we do not always encourage healthy living.  One simple thing we can do to encourage our whole church community to better health is to be aware of the nutrition of the food we offer for morning tea.  Things as simple as using skim milk and low fat cheese instead of the full-fat varieties, and choosing crackers which have less fat and salt, can help to support our church family in caring for our health.  Of course, fresh fruit is also a great thing to put on offer when there’s an opportunity. (And everyone thoroughly enjoyed Heather’s delicious, healthy hot soups when winter got so cold!)
There’s always going to be a place for treats – and some members of our congregation love their chocolate biscuits. But let’s also start to think about the things we could do to help encourage each other to be healthy in all aspects of our lives.
Grace and peace,

Dates to note

19 February. Today’s worship leader is Thom – so there will be no service notes on
26 February. Guest speaker David Livingstone Jajjan from Uganda – talking about building children’s homes.
9 March. All annual reports to Julie Hultgren in preparation for AGM.
17 March. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.
25 March.  11am AGM.
 5 April. 7.30am. Maundy Thursday service.
6 April. 7.30am. Good Friday service.
16 May. 7pm. Church Council.
16 June. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.
15 September. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.
17 November. 7am to 10.30am. Working bee for cleaning/maintenance of church, hall and grounds.


Parking and safe drop off and pick up are always going to be a challenge in a church property that has limited access and is surrounded by major roads.  On Sunday mornings – can we try to leave the loading zone and the first parking space on the Waterworks Road side of the church available for drop off and pick up of people with walking difficulties? And, if possible, could we leave the other parking spots on the Waterworks Road side of the church available for older people or people who may find it hard to walk further? (We have no control how the general public uses these parking spots, but we can try to manage our selves.)
During the week, when we have activities like Community Care, Yarn Group, Busibodies, etc, can we try to put our cars as far into the church grounds as possible? We need to avoid blocking the driveway itself where possible (again, as a matter of safe pick-up and drop-off), and to try to keep a way clear for everyone to get in and out safely.  
We also need to be aware that members of the public do park in our grounds for various reasons during the day (such as school parents doing the pick up and drop off).  Although we’re not formally responsible for these people, while they’re on our site, we need to be gracious hosts, and be aware of the issues involved in their being able to get in and out safely as well. (We have a sandwich-board sign which can be put near the driveway to ask people not to park in the church grounds when we need the space for our own activities.)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Service for Sunday, 12th February

Sunday 12 February 2012
Holy Communion
Year B Ephipany 5 (apologies to anyone following the lectionary faithfully – I read the wrong line last week and used this week’s readings – so this week I’m using last week’s readings.)

Call to worship
Psalm 147: 1-5. Responsive from Uniting in Worship
Hymn Together in Song 217 Love Divine

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

Loving God,
You created us in your image –
In Jesus you re-created us as your children –
And in your Spirit, you sustain our lives every day.
We thank you that you are the source and the purpose of our lives 
As we come to worship you today, we thank you for the wonder that you have chosen to be our God, and have invited us to be your people.
God, we don’t always hope in your love
Sometimes, when things are difficult,
We give up all hope, and we give up on you.
Sometimes we have a misplaced hope and we demand miracles
And we’re not happy with the answer you have given.
Help us to learn to trust and hope in your steadfast love
Not just when things go well,
Not just when you agree with us
But at all the times of our lives
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness

The truth and the promise of the gospel is this: Christ Jesus came into the world for the sake of ordinary, sinful people, such as us. So I have confidence to say to you: Our sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God!

Kid’s Time

Hymn Together in Song 579 The Blind Man


                Isaiah 40: 21-31
                Mark 1:29-39


As you know, I spent a number of years as a hospital chaplain.
The hospital is an amazing place. Medical science regularly does things today that a few generations ago would have been seen as miraculous or magical (depending on whether people saw the achievements as from God or from elsewhere.)
If there had been places like the Royal Brisbane in first century Israel, perhaps Jesus would not have been mobbed by people wanting him to cure physical diseases.
As it was, Jesus’ ability to heal disease brought him fame quickly. In this passage, we see firstly, Jesus heal a single person, a relative of a close friend. The word got out and everyone in the city appeared bringing their sick family and friends with them. For Jesus to have his own prayer time – he had to go away by himself. He had to hide. And even there people were able to find him.
When his friends found him, and tried to take him back to the crowds, Jesus refused, wanting to go out and preach and teach in the neighbouring towns – saying this was what he had come to do. The healing was, apparently, an extra to the core business of what Jesus was about.
Jesus didn’t want the kind of attention that performing miracles brought him. Notice that he silenced demons because they knew who he was. He left the crowd behind for some quiet time, and chose not to go back again.
So what was this healing work about? It wasn’t to gain attention, and if not to gain attention, then not to convince people about himself or about God, on the basis of the miraculous.
This particular passage of Scripture began in Simon Peter’s home. Peter’s mother-in-law was ill.
In the society of the day, Peter was responsible for his mother-in-law’s welfare. If she were ill, he was responsible to arrange for her care – something that would be difficult if he were going to be travelling with Jesus. So the first thing we might note about this healing was that it helped to facilitate the rest of Jesus’ ministry. It removed an obstacle.
It was also an act of compassion, towards the mother-in-law and the whole of her family. Jesus’ nature is to love, and this was a practical way of showing love to this family.
The story tells us she got up and served them. In our day and age, we might be a bit disturbed by the idea of a middle-aged woman getting up off her sick bed to care for a group of healthy, young, men. But in her society, Peter’s mother-in-law was taking over her rightful place of honour in the household, as the senior woman serving the guests.  Her illness had meant someone else (probably Peter’s wife) would have had to take her place. Her healing wasn’t only physical it was social and emotional as well – it gave her back her rightful place in society and the dignity that belonged with her role.
When word got out and the crowds came. People brought in those who were sick and demon-possessed, for Jesus to heal. Today, we distinguish between physical, and mental illness and being spiritually unwell is hardly ever considered until it affects some other part of life. But Jesus accepted these people as whole human beings:  physical, mental, spiritual and social. He healed all aspects of their lives. It was not a dramatic stunt. It was not designed so that people would give their testimony. It was a restoration of people to full wellness in all aspects of their lives.  It was Jesus, showing the nature of God.
Today, we tend to split people up. We look at health as being physical or mental. Very rarely do we tend to look at health in terms of social or spiritual wellness. Perhaps that comes from the scientific model of understanding the world which breaks things down to its smallest pieces. (There is a great value in science – but it does not teach us everything.)
God didn’t make us to be small pieces, but to be whole beings. Illness and wellness are not just about physical and mental states, but about the whole of life. If we become unwell in any area of our lives: physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social, relational – it spills over into other areas of our lives. Similarly to become well in one area of our lives we need to look at our health in all areas.
When we go to a hospital, we are looking for healing or a cure, in a specific area of our lives, just as the people who came to Jesus were doing.
The wonder for the people in the crowd was that Jesus didn’t just hand out cures to particular ailments. He restored people to wellness in every aspect of life, not just whatever was troubling them most.
And it has not really changed very much today. People seeking cures for single conditions, are still surprised to find that healing happens on many different levels, and curing the single problem isn’t enough And some still find that while the condition they sought a cure for can’t be cured, yet they are able to experience healing in many other parts of their lives, often areas where they didn’t even realise they were suffering.
Jesus continues these works of healing today – quietly, without fanfare and without drawing attention.
Hymn Together in Song 689 Lord hear my praying



Gracious God,
All that we have and all that we are is a gift of your love.
Out of our gratitude to you we bring you these gifts: our money, our time, our skills, ourselves.
May these gifts bring glory to your name, in this, your world.  Amen.

Prayers of the People

God of peace, we pray for peace
You know all of the rights and wrongs of all the troubles of our world today
You know more than the people involved do.
When your very nature is love, we can’t believe that war and hatred are your desire for this world. Yet you have given us the freedom to make our own choices for good or for bad.
We pray for the choices being made by the leaders of this and other nations. We pray that you would always grant then wisdom, and encourage in them a desire for peace.
We pray for all of the people who work for healing in your world. For people treating physical and mental illness; for people working for peace, mediating between people or between nations; for people who feed the poor and hungry; for people who care for the spiritual needs of others;  for everyone who reaches out in love to another person. We pray that you would give each person who works for healing the wisdom and the strength for the task you have given them.
And we pray for ourselves, your people. May we be healthy in all ways – so we may be able to help care for and heal others in your name.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Peace

Hymn Together in Song  537 Let us talents and tongues employ

The service of Holy Communion (Uniting in Worship)

Hymn Together in Song 530 Now let us from this table rise


Threefold Amen

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Newsletter Reflection for Sunday, 12 February 2012

Newsletter Reflection for Sunday 12 February 2012

Good morning,

We talk and think and pray about our mission as a church in Ashgrove West.  Sometimes it’s easy to think that what we’re here for is to increase our own numbers, to get “bums on seats.”

When there’s not enough people to do everything, and not enough money to do everything, those things can seem very important.

But our place here is something far more vital than that: we are Jesus’ body I this place.  We are the way God chooses to show God’s self to our community.

Jesus tells us that people will recognise us as his disciples by the love we have for one another.  And he also tells us to love our enemies, just as much.

In the sermon last Sunday, we talked about the importance of showing love. (If you can’t remember, or weren’t here, a copy is available at ). Showing love to those outside the church, especially those who are in difficult circumstances, is a very important part of being who we are as a church.

Another important part of being who we are as a church is to always show love for each other – to show infinite respect in all our dealings with our brothers and sisters,  even when we have disagreements or misunderstandings.

The elders are set aside to the role of caring for the congregation – but in a sense, we all have a role in caring for all of the other members of the church – just because we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’ve got homework for you this week.  Take a note of the two people sitting closest to you this morning.  Every day this week, make sure you pray for those two people.  If you get a chance call them, and ask them how they are going. Make a special effort to show love to those two people in some way this week.

Then, here’s where it gets tricky – next week choose a different two people, and the following week a different two people – continue this for the rest of the year! Let’s dedicate this year to showing God’s love – both to each other, and to the community around us.

Grace and peace,

Other notices:
Could everyone who uses the downstairs hall, please be aware to be very careful of the cubby house? The slide comes off very easily – but the whole thing has to be pulled apart and rebuilt to put the slide back on.

Oops! For those who follow the lectionary: yes Iris did mess up. We had this week’s readings last week and are having last week’s readings this week.  

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Sunday 5 February 2012

Service for Sunday 5th February 2012.
Year B. Epiphany 6. Green.
Call to Worship Psalm 30 verses 4-5, responsive, from Uniting in Worship.

Hymn Together in Song 129 Amazing Grace

Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Artist of Creation,
We give you thanks for the glory and the beauty of this new morning which you have made.
We thank you that we see the evidence o fyour hand at work all around us.
We thank you that we can hear your praises sung constantly by birds, frogs, and all your creatures.
We thank you that we can feel the movement of you Spirit, in the movement of the wind, sometimes gentle and refreshing, sometimes mighty and awesome.
We thank you that we can taste your goodness, in clean fresh water, sweet ripe fruits – in all the good things you have given us to eat.
We thank you that we can smell the freshness and beauty of your lie, in the damp earth after rain, in flowers, in forests.
All the world was made to show your glory, and praise your name.
And we thank you that you made us, along with everything else, for this same purpose.
We thank you for the honour it is, that we might join with all of creation to praise you – and to bring glory to you.

We confess that we do not always praise you.
We do not always show forth your glory.
At times we are too concerned with our own needs and wants.
We are distracted:
And we do not love you completely
And we do not love our neighbours as ourselves.
We betray our task of praise in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.
We are sorry for our failure to e your faithful people.
And in Jesus, we ask your forgiveness. Amen.

Declaration of Forgiveness
The truth and the promise of the gospel is this:
Christ Jesus came into the world, for the sake of ordinary, sinful people such as us. So I have confidence to say to you: Our sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

Kid’s Time     
Hymn Together in Song 670 Jesus put this song into our hearts

2 Kings 5:1-14
Mark 1:40-45
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

When I was a teenager, I didn’t commit suicide. That’s obvious. What’s not so obvious, because some scars just don’t show, is that I very nearly did.

But I had help available. I turned to a Sunday School Teacher. He spoke to me. He spoke to me rather a lot. I really tried to hear what he was saying, but now, I couldn’t tell you anything he said. What I was left with was the impression that he had a very great faith, and a very intense relationship with God. I was certain that I wasn’t capable of being anywhere near as holy as this person was. I had felt worthless to begin with. Then I felt even more so. Not only did I have poor relationships with all the people around me, I clearly had a second-rate relationship with God as well. But I understood why that was, after all, I knew nobody could actually care about me.

This man did one very valuable thing for me. He asked one of the church elders to talk to me as well. The elder in question will always in my mind be the image of the perfect church elder – perhaps the ideal Christian as well. Daune was the most gentle, gracious lady. Her white hair was always perfectly pinned in place. In the years I grew up in that church I never heard her speak in anything but the most gentle of voices, and I never saw her show anything but love for the people around her. This woman phoned my parents and arranged for me to see her one afternoon a week. It was time I’m sure she couldn’t afford, but she gave it freely. And in that time, she did the one thing no-one else had ever done for me. SHE LISTENED! And she was a powerful listener. What she did say showed that she had heard me and understood what was happening. Out of an incredible depth of wisdom, she drew out reflections on my situation, and helped me to find the strength to trust in God and to believe God loved me. She said very little. But what she did say has stuck with me for 30 years, and I’m sure will stay with me for ever.

It’s because of this woman that I’m still alive. And largely because of her that I’m a Christian. So she saved my life twice over.

Why did this wonderful, wise, woman bother with me? The world is full of teenagers who are abused, or can’t cope with life. One teenager more or less wouldn’t make that much difference.

Why did Elisha and Jesus bother with the lepers in today’s readings? In their society, there were heaps of lepers, what difference would one more or less make?

I’m going to give two reasons.

The first reason is God’s grace.  Grace is the technical word for love. It’s not earned, just freely given. God loves us first, before anything. And we don’t have to deserve that love. We don’t have to be anyone special. God’s love is offered freely. And God oftentimes shows that love to us in and through other people.
Why then, isn’t God’s grace offered to all the teenagers who have problems? Why wasn’t God’s grace extended to all the lepers of Biblical times? There’s an answer, a very simple answer. But it’s not one that people like to hear. In each case, God’s grace was given through the agency of people – people who knew that they had a responsibility to spread God’s love, and did so.

The sad truth is, there aren’t enough willing workers, spreading God’s love, for the number of people who need to receive it. There’s some who know God’s love, but choose to keep it to themselves. There’s some who know God’s love and would love to spread it, but, like the Sunday School Teacher, honestly don’t know how to do so and make matters worse rather than better.

There’s not enough people who do know God’s grace, and do know how to share it around, and are willing to do so. In a sense, God’s love is like the stuff that builds up in a chook yard – not the eggs, the other stuff – it’s really good and useful and does amazing things, but only if someone will pick it up and spread it over the garden.  God’s love needs us to spread it around.

We spread God’s love in many ways: but it usually begins with listening – hearing what is happening in people’s lives. It always involves accepting people for who they are and where they are, rather than judging them. And it always includes responding to them in ways which show we genuinely love them, and which show God’s love as well.

It never involves telling people they must be like us. (The early church found that out with the debate over circumcision for non-Jewish Christians.) And it never involves telling them God loves them without demonstrating it. God’s love is too huge to be told – it has to be done. And it never involves condemning people for mistakes they’ve made or the life situations they find themselves in.

I said there were two reasons I could give to the questions of why these particular lepers in the stories; or why me. The other reason is that God had plans for these people. God had a plan which involved showing Namaan and his king that the God of Israel could act, when anything they had in their country was useless. God had a plan for the leper Jesus healed, as a witness to Jesus. Maybe he wasn’t meant to blurt it out and make it impossible for Jesus to move freely, but throughout the centuries, his healing has helped to provide proof of God acting in Jesus. And why me? Well, God has a plan for my life as well, a plan that wouldn’t have worked out so well if I’d died when I was 13.

So another reason we are called to be active in spreading God’s grace – apart from God’s love for each human being – is that God has plans for the lives of people. Plans that we can’t even imagine at the times and stages of their life’s journey that we meet them. When we meet someone who has problems now, when they don’t seem to have any faith in God, when their life seems to lack direction – who knows what God may be planning for their future! Our small contribution, our time to listen, to accept, to respond in love, might be the turning point needed to bring about what God has planned in another’s life. We may never know what we have been a part of. But if we are not willing participants in sharing God’s grace, we can know that we haven’t fulfilled our part in God’s plan for someone else’s life.

God’s love is for everyone – but God chooses human beings to be the means of showing that love. That means every one of us has a vital role in spreading God’s grace.

Hymn Together in Song 665 Jesus Christ is waiting
Prayers of the People
God, creator and redeemer of this world,
We pray for a world which knows too little of your love.
A world which lives with the reality of violence –
Violence between nations,
Violence within nations,
Family violence, within our own nation and our own neighbourhoods.

A world which lives with the reality of fear
Fear of wars
Fear of the future
Fear for the future of our environment
Fear for the future of the economy
Fears of wars that may never happen, and those that probably will
Fear of what is unknown.

A world where people don’t know wyour love
Where lives are spent searching for something unknown and elusive
Where young people find themselves out of their depth and with no-one who cares
Where people with experience of life don’t know how, or aren’t willing to, share the wisdom they have gained.
Where a generation who don’t know your love have nothing to give their children.

We pray for your world, and for our part in sharing your love with this world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn Together in Song 690 Beauty for brokenness


Threefold Amen

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Newsletter Reflection for Sunday 5th February 2012

Good morning,

You might have noticed from the advertising around the place, that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon.
While it’s become popular to recall the people we love romantically on Valentine’s Day – and I would not suggest for a second that you neglect doing something special for your spouse – perhaps we could think bigger this year.

Valentine’s message, as he was executed for his faith, was not about human love, but about God’s love.  God’s love is stronger than even death.  That’s an incredibly powerful message, especially if you hear it from someone who is willing to die for it.

This Valentine’s Day, let’s do something to share that message.  We don’t need to die for our faith to show God’s love.  We can go out of our way to do someone a favour, buy a coffee for the next person in line at the coffee shop,  make a point of saying hello to a neighbour we don’t know well. 

As well as doing something for the people most special to us, let’s all try to do something small for a stranger or someone we don’t know well.  Let’s tell the people around us that they are loved.

Grace and peace