COCU Index Year C 2015-16

Year C
COCU17C, Transfiguration, 7 February 2016
COCU18C, Ash Wednesday, 10 Feb 2016
COCU19C, Lent 1C, 14 Feb 2016
COCU20C, Lent 2C, 21 Feb 2016
COCU21C, Lent 3C, 28 Feb 2016
COCU22C, Lent 4C, 6th March 2016
COCU23C, Lent 5C, 13th March 2016
COCU24C, Palm Sunday, 20th March 2016
COCU25C, Holy Week Monday, 21st March 2016 (also, Harmony Day)
COCU26C, Holy Week Tuesday, 22nd March 2016
COCU 27C, Holy Week Wednesday, 23rd March 2016
COCU28C, Maundy Thursday, 24th March 2016
COCU29C, Good Friday, 25th March 2016
COCU30C, Easter Saturday, 26th March 2016
COCU31C, Easter Sunday, 27th March 2016

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COCU 17C.Transfiguration Sunday

Transfiguration Sunday – last Sunday in Epiphany (7th Feb in 2016)

Year C readings
Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36 (37-43a)

And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white (Luke 9.29)

Dazzling: A Blessing for Transfiguration Sunday (Jan Richardson)
Believe me, I know
how tempting it is
to remain inside this blessing,
to linger where everything
is dazzling
and clear.

We could build walls
around this blessing,
put a roof over it.
We could bring in
a table, chairs,
have the most amazing meals.
We could make a home.
We could stay.

But this blessing
is built for leaving.
This blessing
is made for coming down
the mountain.
This blessing
wants to be in motion,
to travel with you
as you return
to level ground.

It will seem strange
how quiet this blessing becomes
when it returns to earth.
It is not shy.
It is not afraid.

It simply knows
how to bide its time,
to watch and wait,
to discern and pray

until the moment comes
when it will reveal
everything it knows,
when it will shine forth
with all that it has seen,
when it will dazzle
with the unforgettable light
you have carried
all this way. (c) Jan Richardson (

We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.
(Source: Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela)

Call to worship
We gather as the faithful of God,
we come to listen to what God has to say to us.
God has invited us to this place;
may our faces reflect our hopes and our hearts.
We gather as the faithful of God,
people of the new covenant of hope and promise.
We boldly enter into the presence of God,
hoping to be transformed into new people.
We gather as the faithful of God,
our fears melting away in the heart of God.
We come to share in the freedom of the Spirit,
we come to praise God’s holy name.
(Thom Shuman)

Call to worship
Let’s go up to the mountain
let’s go up to the place where the land meets the sky
where the earth touches the heavens,
to the place of meeting,
to the place of mists,
to the place of voices and conversations,
to the place of listening.       (Bill Loader)

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Lent 2016

Lent begins after Shrove Tuesday (February 9th in 2016) and Ash Wednesday (February 10th in 2016)
Lent, those 40 day’s leading up to the crucifixion of Christ, when we commemorate his 40 days spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry, inspires people of all traditions to fast, or voluntarily give things up for a season. But it is often just that, a voluntary giving up. Historically the fasting of Lent was, for many people, a necessity rather than a choice. This was the hunger season, that season of the year when there were no fresh crops and the stored goods from last year were dwindling. Hunger and starvation was at its height. Yet it was also a season of hope and promise. New seeds were being planted in the expectation of abundance to come. (Christine Sine). So as you get ready to walk through Lent and look forward to the celebration of Easter this year what gnaws with hungry pangs at your soul – is it God’s call for transformation within yourself? Is it your passion for justice and healing? Is it your desire for the restoration of polluted areas of our earth? or is it something else that comes to mind. There are many studies that can be accessed on the web, including A Journey into Wholeness by Christine Sine (available as a PDF here). Each week of Lent emphasizes a different area of brokenness in our world. Over the five weeks of Lent we will deal with issues of inner healing, hunger, homelessness, stewardship of creation and the brokenness of God’s family.It is our hope that the daily reflections in the book and the additional reflections on the blog will help draw people more fully into those themes, beginning a few days before Lent with reflections on preparing for Lent and Easter.

There’s also a new downloadable e-version incorporating daily reflections, updated resources and weekly litanies (cost, available on Amazon etc).


Fasting:  Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during the Lenten season, and many other people—religious or not—take up this increasingly popular discipline during the year. Pope Francis: “fasting must never become superficial”. He often quotes the early Christian mystic John Chrysostom who said: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
But this isn’t to downplay the role of sacrifice during the Lenten season. Lent is a good time for penance and self-denial. But once again, Francis says that these activities must truly enrich others: “I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.”
Francis suggests that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast from indifference towards others. In his annual Lenten message, the pope writes, “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.” Describing this phenomenon he calls the globalization of indifference, Francis writes that “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
But when we fast from this indifference, we can began to feast on love. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. (from an article by Christopher J Hale).

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Lent 1C prayer (based on Psalm 91)
You are our fortress, our place of safety;
you are our God, and we trust you.”
We seek to live in your presence,
and stay in the shadow of the Almighty
Lord spread your wings over us like a mothering hen,
Protecting her babies.
We have nothing to fear living in your faithfulness.
Though circumstances become tough, illness strike us,
Death comes our way, whatever befalls us we have nothing to fear.
We know this because you God, are our refuge.
and our sanctuary.
Though temptations come to lure us from small
Ones to big ones, though evil one looks like he is winning the day;
We can trust in you.
No matter what happens in life we can hold on to you Lord,
Because we know you are with us, caring for us, loving us, and delivering us.
Lord, we can call on you anytime and anywhere
And we can believe and trust that you will answer.
You alone are our refuge, our place of safety;
you are our God, and we trust you. Source:RevGalPals

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World Interfaith Harmony Week

unWorld Interfaith Harmony Week is celebrated in the first week of January. In 2016, this will be held from 1 – 7 February.
It aims to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith and non-faith. It provides a platform, one week in the year, where people of every group can recognize their common values, build ties with each other, and work alongside one another to bring peace and harmony to their communities.
World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.
World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.
Resources on the Uniting Church ‘Relations with Other Faiths‘ website could be helpful.

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COCU12C.Epiphany 4C.31January2016

Spirit of the Lord – open our eyes to see with clarity and our hearts to fill with compassion,
Anointed us with your blessing, that we might be empowered to do good in the world.
Not only in our words but our actions and in a changing of our values may we proclaim good news to the poor.
Send us courage and insight that we might recognise those who are imprisoned by a sense of guilt or shame, those locked away by loneliness and mental illness, those restricted by social barriers that we might help them on the way to freedom.
Liberate us from apathy and empower us to work to set right injustice in the world which leads to oppression of the innocent and vulnerable.
God, open our eyes that we may no longer be so blind to the suffering and struggles of others, that we might see hope and proclaim your blessing for all.
This is asked in the name of Jesus. Amen

1 Corinthians 13

No matter how powerfully or eloquently I speak,
if I do not speak in love,
it’s all just noise.
If I know everything
and understand life completely
and have miracle-producing faith
but do not act in love
it’s all for nothing.
If I give away everything I own
and die a heroic martyr’s death
but do it without love,
I have just wasted my time.
To love is to be kind.
To have time for the other.
To be generous, humble and gentle.
To let go of keeping score of faults,
and instead to rejoice in what is good and true.
To love is to bear willingly,
to trust deeply,
to hope boldly,
to endure patiently.
Love does not die.
Beliefs will end; languages will fade;
knowledge will exhaust itself:
knowledge and belief are not the whole picture.
But there is a wholeness,
and we let go of the part for the whole.
When I was a child
I spoke and thought like a child.
Becoming an adult, I abandoned those ways.
Now we see through foggy glass,
but in time we will see clearly, face to face.
Now I know only partially;
in time I will know fully—
and know that I have been fully known.
We have these three great gifts: faith, hope and love.
And the greatest is love. (c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

As followers of Jesus
we gather to seek the intimate presence
of the Source of life
whose wonder we see in morning light
and cosmic radiance…
and ponder in ancient bedrock and new life …
Yet mixed with that celebration
is an awareness of times
when indignation, envy or selfish anger
have blinded us
to signs
of the ancient yet living promises,
and closed our ears
to the murmurs of the faithfulness
of the holy mystery we name God.
We yearn to have the Breath of life
open our lives
to horizons wider than our landscape …
to following Jesus to the edge …
and beyond;
and open our mouths to sing the praise
and speak the compassion, justice and hope
of the Word of life
in the midst the confusion and strife of the world …
to speak, unknowing, a healing word
to those whose troubles are known
only to the Holy One …
and in our living
encourage and sustain
those who we name in our silence and on our lips…
As followers of Jesus
we express our concern for others …
and for ourselves …
In listening for the voice of the divine Spirit of grace
heard in Jesus,
may our lives be open
to a bigger vision
of good news for the poor …
hope for the hope-less …
release for the captives …
of comfort for the grieving …
of a national generosity of spirit
that welcomes rather than shuns …
that respects rather than demeans …
May our living be more fruitful …
as we follow in the way of Jesus …
and pray as he taught his friends:
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 in the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen (c) Jeff Shrowder

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK (John van de Laar)
When Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah in his hometown of Nazareth, the people listened attentively. When he claimed that he was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, they were amazed and questioned how it could be, but they were still open to Jesus’ message. It was only when Jesus began to challenge their sense of entitlement, and when he pointed out God’s concern for outsiders, that they got murderously angry. The radical inclusivity of Jesus was scandalous and offensive to these people. They wanted to believe that they were “in” with God, and that meant there had to be others who were “out”. But, when Jesus suggested that outsiders were really the true insiders, they refused to let go of their stereotypes, their sense of privilege, and their need for exclusivity.
It’s tragic when God’s people are more like the people of Nazareth than Jesus. We love to talk about Jesus the Messiah, and to hear how God’s Reign has come to us. But, sometimes, when we are challenged by the Gospel to welcome those whom we believe are “sinners” or “outside” of God’s “chosen ones,” we may prefer to attack the messenger rather than do the difficult work of opening our hearts. We all have those we struggle to love. We all have those whom we believe are undeserving of God’s grace. But, if God’s favour could be earned – even by praying a “sinner’s” prayer – it wouldn’t be grace. The challenge of the Gospel is the way it calls us constantly to expand our welcome and inclusion until all people discover that they are actually “in” with God. This challenging journey into radical, inclusive grace is the focus of this week.


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January 7th: Christ the student

Jan 7 – “Christ the Student” © artwork by Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS.
(posted on ELCA Facebook page)

christ the studentThis painting depicts Jesus as a student at the age of twelve. According to the gospel of Luke, He sat amidst the teachers in the Temple in Jerusalem, asking them questions and astounding them with His answers and the breadth of His knowledge. In the upper right corner, we see the tear-stained faces of Mary and Joseph, who have spent three days frantically looking for Him among the throngs of people who had come there for Passover. Their tears are the tears of relief and pride.
The elders of the Temple are shown not just as Rabbis, but also represent leaders and teachers from other faiths and cultures. They are all dressed in black and white to emphasize Jesus as the only source of color and light. He inspires us to think outside the boundaries of our black and white worlds, and to find in Him the encouragement we need to be ourselves, broaden our horizons, and deepen the faith that lives in our hearts. Following His example, we become students for life in “our father’s house”, always ready to learn something new about ourselves and about the love of God.

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COCU9C.Baptism of Christ.10January2016

(See also Baptism on this site and COCU9B)

Children’s sermon ideas – check out this new blog with ideas using things from the ‘dollar store’. Keep an eye on the blog for forward planning,

Sermon by Bill Peddie for Baptism of Jesus, Year C

RCL readings for Baptism of Christ – Year C RCLreadings

The Baptiser called people to change,
to turn around,
away from old ways
and mark that turning
in baptism.

When Jesus had been baptised
his identity was established
and the nature of his ministry
marked out.

But some still ask,
“What was Jesus doing there?
Why should he be baptised
for the forgiveness of sin?”

In baptism
Jesus identifies with humanity
while his one-ness with God
is also declared.

This epiphany,
this surprising
self-revelation by God
is not self-revelation for its own sake,
but revelation of God’s continuing faithfulness. (c) Jeff Shrowder

Jeff Shrewder writes:
As a young child I almost drowned during a family outing to the beach.
I remember frantically struggling in the water and glimpsing, amidst my struggles,
my father wading through the water towards me.
He lifted me out of the water, clear of the danger, clasped me to himself
and carried me to the sandy beach.
I was safe … and given new life.

The firm, warm hug of my father and my mother re-assured me,
and expressed the inexpressible, “You are my child, whom I love,
and in whom I delight.”

In baptism we are both plunged
into mission of Jesus
and lifted up, embraced, affirmed, loved …
and given new life. (c) Jeff Shrowder

Baptism is a personal and corporate experience;
both the individual and the community of faith
are changed.
Baptism is an epiphany,
a sign of God’s grace
and while the voice of the LORD is powerful,
full of majesty,
flashes forth flames of fire,
shakes the wilderness,
and strips the forest bare
with the energy of dust-storm, bushfire, flood or cyclone;
the voice of the LORD also says
I have called you by name, you are mine …© Jeff Shrowder, 2015.

Epiphany collectBaptism of Jesus
God, we hear your voice:
“You are my child, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
May we stand up now with confidence, and notice all else you value,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.  Amen (Bob Eldan, adapted)


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COCU11C.Epiphany 3C.24January2016

A reflection by Steve Garnaas-Holmes on the 1 Corinthians reading (we are the body of Christ):
Out running in the cold winter air, most of my body was warm, but my fingers were cold. Riding my bike, it’s my forehead that suffers. But they’re all a part of me. And while I deal with the winter cold I think of you who are in Australia, who have been living through this awful summer heat. We’re at different extremes, but we’re all part of the same planet. While we in the US celebrate the inauguration of our elected president, others suffer tyranny and repression. But we’re all part of the same humanity.
Paul says we’re all parts of one body. Somehow, even without our knowing, when one suffers we all suffer. When one rejoices we all rejoice. Our sadness and gladness mingle together into one joy. In prayer we enter a deeper consciousness, even if it’s beyond our knowing: the reality that we belong, that we are all one living being. We enter into the suffering, and the joy, of the world. We become one with all our body. Our joy is there for others, and our pain is not ours alone. We receive the gift of their happiness, and help them bear the weight of their sorrows. Our souls are woven with theirs. In this way, even sitting in our room in silence, by the mystery of God’s grace in us, we become part of the mending of the world. (source:

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George Stuart writes thoughtful new lyrics to traditional and familiar tunes. Here’s some new lyrics suitable for baptism services. Could also be helpful for the Baptism of Jesus service (January 10th in 2016). George graciously offers these lyrics, and no copyright license is needed. You are free to print them out and copy them or create PowerPoint presentations of them to screen through a data projector to use in public worship. Click on link (above) for George’s blogsite or here for his website.

In this Sacrament with Water.  Tune  All through the night.  Not in AHB  TiS 168

In this sacrament with water
God can be seen;
In each human son and daughter
God can be seen;
When love streams from fathers, mothers,
Gen’rously from sisters, brothers,
When compassion flows from others
God can be seen.

God in love’s refreshing water
Brings us to life;
God in love’s creative water
Brings us to life;
Water, vital for our growing,
Health and energy bestowing,
Like God’s love, is overflowing
Brings us to life.

Joining in this solemn moment
Our spirits rise;
As we pledge our shared commitment
Our spirits rise;
Through this joyous celebration
We receive God’s affirmation;
So it is with all creation
Our spirits rise.

We come here not knowing    Tune  The Ash Grove  Not in AHB  TiS 531

We come here not knowing
The myst’ry of growing,
But still we are thankful for what it may bring;
New life in the making
With ev’ry awak’ning
Gives promise of joy, so with nature we sing;
In myst’ry we’re seeing
The Ground of all Being
Displayed here before us – a wonderful sight;
All new life is telling
That God is indwelling,
And in that assurance we take great delight.

The womb with safe water
For each son and daughter
Has been the first home in which love is the food;
Now water of blessing
In love is expressing
The welcome of God and our own gratitude;
Clear water refreshes;
It cleanses then blesses
With what is essential for life to abound;
So love, like the water
For each son and daughter
Through us, is God’s gift with which they can be crowned.

In great jubilation
With all of creation
We honour the living with all of our heart;
To mould the potential
To be influential
We pledge to give nurture, accepting our part;
We look at each baby
And feel that just maybe
God’s face is all smiling with these gifts of grace;
We all have the duty
To live out our beauty
By holding each one in love’s richest embrace.

for more, click on the link…..
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12 Days of Christmas

refugees image

“The Flight into Egypt,” James Tissot

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season to celebrate the nativity of Jesus. In most Western Church traditions Christmas Day is the First Day of Christmas and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January.
25th December: First Day of Christmas – Nativity of the Lord
26th December: Second Day of Christmas
27th December: Third Day of Christmas
28th December: Fourth Day of Christmas – Feast Day of the Holy Innocents
Malcolm Guite: ‘The poem from my Anthology Waiting on the Word reflects on the fact that today, the fourth day of Christmas, is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. It is the day the Church remembers the story, told in Matthew’s Gospel of the appalling cruelty and wickedness of Herod in ordering the massacre of innocent children, in a bid to protect his own power-base. Appalling, but only too familiar. What Herod did then, is still being done by so many present day Herods. This scarred and wounded world is the world into which Jesus was born, the world he came to save, and amongst those brought by his blood through the grave and gate of death and into the bliss of Heaven are those children of Bethlehem who died for his name without ever knowing him. But he knows them, as he knows and loves every child in Syria, and he says of them, to every Herod, ‘Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.’
Refugee (click on link for sound file of this poem)
We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
For even as we sing our final carol
His family is up and on that road,
Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
Glancing behind and shouldering their load.
Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.
(Lyrics to Steve Bell’s version of this poem here, and music on soundcloud here.
A commentary on his blogsite about the song and the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman here).


29th December: Fifth Day of Christmas
30th December: Sixth Day of Christmas
31st December: Seventh Day of Christmas
1st January: Eighth Day of Christmas
2nd January: Ninth Day of Christmas
3rd January: Tenth Day of Christmas
4th January: Eleventh Day of Christmas
5th January: Twelfth Day of Christmas
6th January: Epiphany

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