COCU Index Year B 2014-15

The COCU Index for Year B, 2014-15: COCU master index.YearB.2015

Upcoming Sundays
COCU60B, Pentecost 20B, 11th October 2015
COCU61B, Pentecost 21B, 18th October 2015
COCU62B, Pentecost 22B, 25th October 2015
COCU63B, All Saints Day, 1st November 2015
COCU64B, Pentecost 23B, 1st November 2015
COCU65B, Pentecost 24B, 8th November 2015
COCU66B, Pentecost 25B, 15th November 2015
COCU67B, Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday, 22nd November 2015
Year C
COCU1C, Advent 1C, 29th November 2015
COCU2C, Advent 2C, 6th December 2015
COCU3C, Advent 3C, 13th November 2015
COCU4C, Advent 4C, 20th November 2015
COCU5C, Christmas Day, 25th December 2015
COCU 6C, Christmas 1, 27 December 2015

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Anti-Poverty Week

apwlogoIn 2015, Anti-Poverty Week will be held 11-17th October. The main aims of Anti-Poverty Week are to:
* Strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and in Australia; and
* Encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.

Everyone is encouraged to help reduce poverty and hardship by organising an activity during the Week or taking part in an activity organised by others.

The world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over, Oxfam has revealed, adding that the global economic crisis is further enriching the super-rich. Read the article here.
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Churches’ Week of Action on Food WCC

Source: WCC

Tackling the tragedy of hunger in a world of abundance, the Churches’ Week of Action on Food (11-18 October) is an opportunity for Christians, communities and all people around the world to act together for food justice.

The Churches’ Week of Action on Food is an annual initiative of the Food for Life Campaign of the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) to raise awareness about farming approaches and sustainable agricultural practices that help individuals and communities develop resiliency and combat poverty.

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RCL Readings: Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Psalm 22:1-15; Heb 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31

A man asked him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments…” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the realm of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the realm of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” (Mark 10.17-27)

The world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over, Oxfam has revealed, adding that the global economic crisis is further enriching the super-rich. Read the article here.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes,
We continually have to resist the belief that there’s something we have to do to “be saved.” We think there are “good” people (the man thought Jesus was one) and others who are less so. We believe our salvation is up to us. Clearly the disciples think so. Were that true, of course it would be impossible. But it’s up to God. And God has already “saved” us.
Take note that Jesus looks at the man and loves him. The man does not need to do anything for Jesus to love him; he already does. He responds to the man not with requirements but with love. Because that’s his point. There is no requirement. God already loves us. We are already saved. There is no salvation beyond God’s love; God’s love is not insufficient for our eternal joy. All we need to be “saved” from is our own distrust. The man seems to have great possessions but “lacks one thing.” Jesus looks on him in his poverty and sets him free: let go of what you can measure and what you can lose—either riches or goodness—and grasp only what is infinite, what is already yours.
Meditate on this infinite love of God. It is yours, now. It surrounds you, fills you, gives you every breath. You can’t deserve it more or less. It is imply here. Even as you ask and wonder, maybe even doubt, God looks at you with love. God’s delight is not up to you. Let this light break in, and become you.

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Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness,
how can you season it?
Have salt in yourselves,
and be at peace with one another. Mark 9.49-50

My bland will, afraid to commit,
my ill-preserved will, self-seasoned,
O God, salt with the fire of your mercy.
For only deep self-giving
is true peace.

Bring out my true divine flavor,
my savory holiness,
with the salt of your grace.
For only love is real food.

My lukewarm will,
my hope and courage
still unkindled, still unspent,
salt with the flame of you.

Preserve my fruit; save my soul;
protect me from rot:
salt my life away for your pleasure.

Prepare me for your use:
cook me through with mercy,
saturate my flesh with the salt
that changes all that is not love;
your flame consume all that is not you.

For only in you
do I burn with light.
Only in you
do I taste of heaven. (c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes

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World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel:20-26th September 2015

wwppiWorld Week for Peace in Palestine Israel 2015 (20-26th September)
Theme:“God has broken down the dividing walls”
Worship, prayer, resources here.
The hashtag during the week is: “#WallWillFall”. #PrayForPeace
The focus is ‘pray, educate, advocate’.

“It is our sincere desire and prayer, shared with many Jews and Muslims, that there should be no hostilities among neighbours in Israel and Palestine, and beyond, in the whole Middle East region.” These were the words of the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, shared in his message for the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI), observed from 21 to 27 September.

Read the WCC press release 18 September 2015.

palestineThe Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.

As participants in World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own churches about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.

Participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:

1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to prisoners.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.

This annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy calls participants to work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. It has been 66 years since the creation of the State of Israel. This has not led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state but has only deepened the tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is now 47 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples.

Yet the dream of one nation cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another.
The action week’s message is that now:

  • It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
  • It’s time for freedom from occupation.
  • It’s time for equal rights.
  • It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.

wallIt’s time for Palestine
It’s time for Palestine.
It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.

It’s time to respect human lives in the land called holy.
It’s time for healing to begin in wounded souls.
It’s time to end more than 60 years of conflict, oppression and fear.
It’s time for freedom from occupation.

It’s time for equal rights.
It’s time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement.
It’s time for those who put up walls and fences to build them on their own property.
It’s time to stop bulldozing one community’s homes and building homes for the other community on land that is not theirs.
It’s time to do away with double standards.

It’s time for Israeli citizens to have security and secure borders agreed with their neighbours.
It’s time for the international community to implement more than 60 years of United Nations resolutions.
It’s time for Israel’s government to complete the bargain offered in the Arab Peace Initiative.
It’s time for those who represent the Palestinian people to all be involved in making peace.
It’s time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home.
It’s time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel.
It’s time for self-determination.

It’s time for foreigners to visit Bethlehem and other towns imprisoned by the wall.
It’s time to see settlements in their comfort and refugee camps in their despair.
It’s time for people living more than 40 years under occupation to feel new solidarity from a watching world.

It’s time to name the shame of collective punishment and to end it in all its forms.
It’s time to be revolted by violence against civilians and for civilians on both sides to be safe.
It’s time for both sides to release their prisoners and give those justly accused a fair trial.
It’s time to reunite the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It’s time for all parties to obey international humanitarian and human rights law.

It’s time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions.
It’s time for Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to be free to visit their holy sites.
It’s time in Palestine as in Israel for olive trees to flourish and grow old.

It’s time to honour all who have suffered, Palestinians and Israelis.
It’s time to learn from past wrongs.
It’s time to understand pent-up anger and begin to set things right.
It’s time for those with blood on their hands to acknowledge what they have done.
It’s time to seek forgiveness between communities and to repair a broken land together.
It’s time to move forward as human beings who are all made in the image of God.

All who are able to speak truth to power must speak it.
All who would break the silence surrounding injustice must break it.
All who have something to give for peace must give it.
For Palestine, for Israel and for a troubled world,
It’s time for peace.

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Fathers Day

Father’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of September in Australia. We give thanks to God for Dads who are being celebrated today. We also acknowledge this day can be a difficult for many due to a variety of reasons. May we be mindful and prayerful towards those experiencing sadness, grief and other emotions that this day can bring.

We remember the refugees, and the fathers who risk the dangers of the ocean to try and bring their family to safety. We lament when lives are lost at sea. We think today particularly of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi and his 4 year old brother Galip, and their mother Rehen, who drowned at sea trying to reach safety in Europe from war torn Korbane in Syria, and the grief of the father Abdullah losing all that was precious to him in life. The image of Aylan on the Turkish beach has brought a new impetus to responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.


Aylan RIP


Kobane 2015


Kobane 2015


Aylan RIP

Artists respond to Aylan’s death here.


a father’s joy in finally finding safety with his family, despite the odds.


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COCU55B.Pentecost 15B.6September2015

RCL Readings: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37
RCL Readings on (A4 landscape/2 column) with brief commentaries. Year B.2015.6September.COCU55B

A reflection on the gospel reading by David R. Henson

This is very topical….. thanks, Jeff Shrowder!
MARK 7:24-30
it was simply a ‘bad hair’ day
for Jesus.
he just felt antisocial.
the woman was more persistent
than most.
Jesus as good as said,
“We decide… Go back to where you came from.”
After all,
she was different:
she was one of them.
“Let the children be fed first…”
A queue-jumper.
that’s it.
There are others more deserving
of grace,
asylum from the demonic.
But ‘no’ was not an option
for her:
even the dogs get better treatment!
Her persistence (her faith?)
persuades Jesus.
She and her daughter
are granted that asylum.
They experience grace.

it took a persistent woman
and a ‘bad hair’ day
for Jesus to appreciate
just how wide
how open
is God’s embracing love.
What might it take
for us
to get to that point too?
Perhaps …
© Jeff Shrowder, 2012.
(Jeff has more resources – prayers and contemporary versions of the Bible readings here).

A wonderful contemporary writing linked to Gospel reading in Mark, by Thom Shuman:

body language

we stand, our arms folded tightly across our chests,
letting folks know in no uncertain terms
where they stand with us,
then you accidentally-on-purpose
bump into us,
so we have to reach out to them(!) for help;

putting our stone make-up on,
we slowly turn our chairs away from the other,
convinced no worthwhile words will be spoken,
until you thump us behind the ears, whispering,
‘pay attention; this is important!’

we stand at the desk, scanning the reservations
(and ignoring the folded bills held out towards us),
replying with ice-cold words,
and you come bustling out of the kitchen,
trailing the crumbs of dinner behind you,
shouting, ‘my mistake!
everyone is welcome;
set up more chairs around the table!’                (c) 2012 Thom M. Shuman

A sermon focus, also courtesy of Thom Shuman:
As a second-career pastor, I have experienced different management ‘techniques’ in both the secular workplace and in the church.  I have lived through Management By Objectives (MBO), Total Quality Management (TQM), the adoption of Mission statements, then Vision, then the posting of Core Values.  Lately, a lot of talk has centered around the used of ‘best practices.’
My cynical side says that in both secular and ‘sacred’ settings, we often spend too much time developing these techniques/statements than implementing them; that the process is more important than the product.
Yet, our readings for this coming Sunday do seem, at least to me, to speak of some best practices that believers and followers might be able to put into practice in their lives, not just preach them.
Proverbs, which in some ways in a textbook of best practices, encourages us to practice generosity, to speak up for justice, to recognize what it is we might have in common with other folks.
The psalmist encourages God’s people to practice trust, to do good, to get back on the pathways which lead to life.
The author of James’ letter cautions us not to show partiality, but to notice those who are overlooked and pushed aside by the powerful/wealthy, and to honor them as much, if not more than we honor those who pay for church organs, new building wings, etc.  Another practice is to put hands, feet, muscle and sinew to our faith, so that we work to see that others are fed, clothed, housed, rescued from floods and poverty, built up and not torn
And Mark, with this troublesome passage?  Maybe one of God’s ‘best practices’ is the ability to learn and to change.  Seems to me that the Bible is full of such stories. I am looking at developing the sermon along the lines of Best Practices.

Quotes relating to James reading:
“Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again – until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.” William Booth

‘Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely daydreaming, but vision with action can change the world’. Nelson Mandela

an image courtesy of

PRAYERS OF ADORATION (from Proverbs 22)  AND CONFESSION (from Psalm 125)
Gracious God,
creator and giver of life to all, both rich and poor;
we worship you, LORD God.
Your name is beyond great riches,
By your generosity we are blessed;
we worship you, LORD God.
With manna you sustained your people in the wilderness
and with the bread of life you feed us
in the midst of the adversity and injustice of this world 
Your spirit of compassion is beyond silver and gold;
we worship you, LORD God.
You plead the cause of the poor and oppressed,
give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, 
and a song of joy to the speechless.

You create us and accept us as we are, O God:
in the times when we have failed
in our relationship with you and with each other;
in the times when we have passively accepted
injustice done to others;
in the times when we have enjoyed your creativity around us,
but have been afraid to ask for our own healing.

Life-giving Trinity,
raise us from our pain and brokenness;
touch us, heal us and strengthen us,
so that we may live in the wholeness
you desire;
to the glory of your name. Amen.

For use in worship, with acknowledgement. © Jeff Shrowder 2000, 2012.

Call to worship
God of the unexpected moment,
you have gathered us by your Spirit
to serve us and renew us, and surround us.
Break in on our world like hearing to the deaf,
sight to the blind, speech to the dumb;
come in your unexpected hour.
Bring form to our chaos, light to our darkness,
and life to our hearts.
Fill us with your expectant Spirit:
and so transform our gathering to your glory,
and perfect our worship for your praise. Amen
For use in worship, with acknowledgement. © Jeff Shrowder 2000, 2012.


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Mental Health

Mental illness is something which needs to be included in liturgy and prayers, not only on particular ‘weeks’ and ‘days’ but acknowledging that many people in congregations struggle with mental illness while at the same time they seek to worship God and find meaning in their life, and faith. Farmers struggle with depression and sadly the rate of farmer suicides in the USA and Australia is double the average for the rest of the population (especially in the younger age group of farmers).

(NB a caution against closely linking mental illness with racist acts and hate crimes such as the Lindt Cafe siege and shootings in Sydney and the Charleston shootings – actions such as this perpetrated against innocent people need to be considered separately, even if mental illness may be considered a factor).

friendsR U OK?Day 2015 is held on 10th September. See also Wikipedia link here.
Mental Health Week 2015 will be run from Sunday 4th to Saturday 10th October, and World Mental Health Day 2015 is marked every year on the same date: 10th October.
(these are dates for Australia – check out dates in your own country eg Mental Health Day in USA is in May)

From Wikipedia: R U OK?Day reminds people to ask family, friends and colleagues the question, “R U OK?”, in a meaningful way, because connecting regularly and meaningfully is one thing everyone can do to make a difference to anyone who may be struggling. Around 45% of Australians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, while 20% are affected every year. [7]

The following has links to worship resources related to mental illness, depression etc. It is an area that clearly affects almost half the population at some stage in their life, and yet is almost never mentioned in church and worship.

For those Sunk in Depression
by Jon Humphries

God of Joy and Hope,
Christ of compassion,
For those sunk in depression we pray for their uplifting.
In the maze of dark emotions, may your light guide them to a way out and may it shine in those who care to help them on the journey.
In the midst of hurt and hopelessness, may your life awake in them the promise of healing and better times.
At times when the cycles of and habits negativity take root, weed them out and plant the seeds for happiness and positivity to grow.
When all certainty seems to point to no future which does not hold sadness and the aching of the soul, may they know the truth of your love and promise.
In the paralysis of unfeeling apathy and no desire to rise from sleep or no purpose in caring to care, may your will be lent to them so that the reason for love may awake within them.
In the battle against this insidious enemy, may those who struggle find allies to help them in the fight.
For those lost in the valley of the shadow of death, may they find that you are there looking out for them.
God of Joy and Hope,
Christ of compassion,
We pray for all whose life is being crushed under the burden of depression,
Bring around them people of sympathy, empathy and compassion.
May your people embody care and support for all who need it.
May grace and patience be gifted as they struggle to escape into wellness.
May love and healing be willingly and freely offered and received in the crucial times of desperate wont.
So Lord, for those sunk in depression we pray for their uplifting.
Please may this be so and may none be lost.
This we pray, Amen

My God, my God – Depression and the lament in Psalms by Stacey Gleddiesmith
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You walk in your garden,
enjoying what you have planted,
burgeoning, beautiful.

It has come from your hand
and yet from its own mystery,
each blossom a gift of grace.

You stand for a while, still,
taking in the beauty,
simply relishing being there.

You also know what you have sown
that is not yet up,
still hidden, gorgeous.

That, too, you savor,
the promise, the mystery,
the coming.

It is enough for you
to be here, to take it in.
This is its purpose, its perfection.

God, I too am still, sharing your delight
in the garden you have planted
in me.

(c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes

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COCU54B.Pentecost 14B.30August2015

(also Migrant and Refugee Sunday)

Readings: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:-1-2,6-9 OR Psalm 72; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Giver of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
— James 1.17

Beloved, every little thing
is a signed card from you.
Every blade of grass and breath of air,
each moment has your blessing in it.
Each bit and trinket is a gift.
In every thought or feeling, sight or sound,
there is what that thing says,
and what you whisper besides,
and there is you.
Even in the hurts and disasters
there is your voice, your calm hand,
the unfolding of grace.
At the end of the day
my heart is strewn with wrapping paper.
(c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes,

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