COCU Index Year A 2016-17

Year A
(Prayers for victims of flooding and winds – Texas, Nigeria, South East Asia, Florida, and for victims of earthquakes and volcanoes)

Prayers for the postal ballot

COCU61A, Pentecost 20A, 22nd October 2017
COCU62A, Pentecost 21A, 29th October 2017
(All Saints Day, 1 Nov 2017)
COCU64A,  Pentecost 22A, 5th November 2017
(Remembrance Day, Nov 11th)
COCU65A, Pentecost 23A, 12th November 2017
COCU66A, Pentecost 24A, 19th November 2017
COCU67A, Reign of Christ, 26th November 2017

COCU Year A 2016-17

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order.

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Readings (A4 in folded landscape format) RCL Readings Proper 26A

Call to Worship (based on Joshua 3 reading)
When we stand at the edge of fear and worry,
God invites us to step into the waters of faith and trust.
When we stand at the edge of the world’s pain and need,
Jesus invites us to step into the land of humble service.
When we stand at the edge of our hunger and thirst:
the Spirit invites us to sit at the Table of grace. Thom Shuman

Prayer of praise (links to Joshua 3)
God – companion and  guide, we would be lost without your direction – wanderers in wildernesses of our own making.  We praise you for dealing so graciously with your people in the past, when you guided them to freedom and a promised new life.  We are heirs of that promise fulfilled in Jesus. Through him you have established for us a permanent direction for our lives and as we dwell in him, our lives are blessed with fruitfulness. Holy God, may this time of worship be a joyful response of praise and thanksgiving for all that you have done, for all that you are doing, and for all that you will continue to do for us and all people through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.  Amen.
Moira Laidlaw

Links to worship resources:




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Exodus: 32:1-14: While Moses is on the mountain with God, the people, struggling with how long he has been gone, ask Aaron to make them gods. He agrees, takes their gold jewellery and makes a golden calf which the people then worship, even though he tries to remind them that their celebration is “to the Lord”.
Psalm 106: 1-6, 19-23: A psalm of confession, remembering how God’s people turned away, and traded God for an image of a calf, forgetting God’s saving acts for them. Also, a recognition that God seemed intent on destroying the people, but for Moses pleading on their behalf.
Philippians 4:1-9: Paul encourages the Church to stand firm, to agree with one another, to live as those who await Christ’s appearance, and to meditate on those things that are good, true and beautiful.
Matthew 22:1-14: Jesus tells a story about a king who prepares a wedding feast for his son, but the none of the originally invited guests want to go. So, he sends his soldiers to destroy those guests, and then he invites others from the streets to come in, but when someone is found without wedding clothes, that person is thrown out. Jesus finishes with the well-known saying that many are invited but few are chosen.
(Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

RCL Bible readings

Call to worship
Whatever is true and honourble
is before us in the life of Christ this day.
In every moment lies a new possibility,
and an invitation to be present
in the gathering of love and justice.
Here, God meets us,
in the celebration of love for all people
and the passion for true community.
The invitation to the church is open before us
so that we may clothes ourselves in hope.
Let us think on these things,
as we lift our hearts in praise to God.
(Source: W4W, 2011)

More suggestions for Call to Worship and gathering prayers.

Prayer of Confession
O Christ, you graciously invite us
to the feast of your divine life,
but sometimes we are tempted
to delay our response to you.
We detour into trivial activities, or busy ourselves with commitments
which are to our own advantage. 
We convince ourselves that we are choosing what is important
and that other things can wait
until we are ready (a time for silence)
Forgive us, Jesus Christ.
Call to us again and give us the wisdom
to accept your invitation, we pray.
If we come into your presence
clothed in self-righteousness,
or with assumptions and certainties
which are not arising from your life with us:
Forgive us, Jesus Christ. 
When we fail to see what your people must wear
in kindness and respect for others
and openness to relationship:
Forgive us, Jesus Christ. 
Call to us again and give us the wisdom
which flows from your grace, we pray. Amen.
(Source: W4W 2011)

Words of assurance
Over and over again, when we stand in humility,
the voice of Christ comes to us in welcome and compassion.
We are forgiven. Thanks be to God. 

More prayers of confession/prayers of who we are here.


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Postal Survey Prayers

Postal Prayersan Australian vote regarding Same Sex Marriage.

16 million ballot papers have been posted out to determine how Australians feel about the question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Yes or No. The postal survey is basically a huge opinion poll to gauge the views of Australians on same-sex marriage which MIGHT lead to a vote in Parliament. Only that vote can actually make same-sex marriage legal. If a majority of people vote in favour in the postal survey, a vote will then be held in parliament which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects will make same-sex marriage legal. If Australians vote no, Mr Turnbull has said the parliamentary vote will not proceed.

I offer this
not so I might be heard
but that others may have voice

I offer this
not because I may be right
but because all have rights

I offer this
not for what I believe
but so all may feel free to

I offer this
not because I understand
but because I seek to

I offer this
not because my story is normative
but because others’ stories make me

I offer this
not because anything goes
but because some things matter

I offer this
not because change is inevitable
but because Love makes all things new
(Source: Craig Mitchell, Facebook, September 2017)

A prayer on the casting of my ballot
Lord, if I am too strong,
if I make others feel they don’t belong,
if I’m simply wrong,
forgive me.

Lord, if I am too weak,
if I sometimes fail to speak,
if it’s some other god I seek,
forgive me.

Lord, as you are the light,
grant me not to fear or fight,
and never to lose sight,
that you forgive me. Amen.
(Source: Michael Earl, posted on Facebook by Peter Overton)

The following reflections have been penned by Rev Dr Amelia Koh-Butler, and she has offered them to be used widely.
(Originally posted on Amelia’s blogsite Hyphenated Faith).

1. Words for the Post
Word of Life,
You challenge us to use our words to create or destroy,
to bring life-hope or experiences of death to others.
May we treasure the sharing of one little word…
So small, yet carrying such great meaning.
Word of Life,
You gave your life that others may live.
We praise and thank you that you sacrificed relationship
so that we might discover holy, lifelong, committed relationships.
Word of Life,
You set up the Bridegroom image
and Your Spirit allows us all to be Bride.
We thank you that you invite us all,
(no matter our orientations nor our sense of identity),
to claim a seat at your table
and dwell in your holy household.
Thanks be to God!
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Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20: God speaks God’s commandments to the people of Israel who are terrified by the thunder, lightning, smoke and trumpet sounds. They ask Moses to speak to God on their behalf, because of their fear, but Moses reassures them that God is simply keeping the people in awe so they don’t sin.
Psalm 19: A psalm celebrating creation which proclaims God’s glory, and God’s law which enlightens brings reward to those who keep it.
Philippians 3:4b-14: Paul, who has good reason for confidence under the law because of his upbringing and observance, values only the righteousness which he has received through Christ, and through which he knows the power of Christ’s resurrection and participates in Christ’s sufferings.
Matthew 21:33-46: Jesus tells a story about a farmer who cultivates a vineyard and then rents it to tenant farmers, who, instead of giving the farmer his share of the fruit when it’s due, kills his servants and then the farmer’s son. In this way, he explains, God’s reign is being given to those who will produce fruit.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Opening Prayer (inspired by Psalm 19)
Eternal God,
whose signature we see, if we dare to look,
in the creation of the universe,
help us this hour to look and to listen
for Your handwriting and Your voice in this place,
among these people.
Connect our temporary praise to Your timeless rhythms,
Your ageless melodies,
Your everlasting joyful noise.
Guide us now to focus upon You,
knowing that in You,
our distractions become new possibilities for action.
Breathe life into our singing, our praying,
our speaking, our listening, our touching,
that all these activities might become more than they are.
In our worship we reach out to You, O God,
knowing that You have already enfolded us in Your arms.
In Jesus, we pray. Amen.
(Source, My Redeemer Lives website)

Prayer of Approach and Confession
Loving God, present and near.
You are beyond our words and our understanding.
Help us to remember that You are at once
infinite, boundless, timeless and eternal
but, at the same time intimately entwined with our lives.
You are with us no matter where we find ourselves.
When we have forgotten You
Lord, have mercy.
When we have failed to speak words of love
Lord, have mercy.
When we have neglected the need of another
Lord, have mercy.
Loving God, present and near
help us to recognise Your presence and nearness with us
as we worship together.
Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
(Source: Thomas Sutcliffe, Church of Scotland’s Weekly Worship website)

“Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being.”
(Source: Walter Brueggemann)

“Zion is in ruins, Jerusalem lies in the dust. All week there is only hope of redemption. But when the Sabbath is entering the world, man is touched by a moment of actual redemption; as if for a moment the spirit of the Messiah moved over the face of the earth.”
(Source: Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath)

An order of service for Tuesday morning. Proper 22A Ordinary 27A 8am Tuesday

Readings for this week (formatted on double sided A4, folded into A5) Readings

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Exodus 17:1-7: The Israelites complain that they have no water, and Moses takes their complaint to God. God instructs Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his staff and water flows out for the people to drink.
Psalm 78: 1-4, 12-16 A teaching psalm reminding God’s people of all that God has done, bringing God’s people out of Egypt, leading with a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, and splitting open the rock to give them water to drink.
Philippians 2: 1-13  The apostle encourages the Philippian Christians to be united and to be like Christ in their humility, service and self-sacrifice, quoting the ancient hymn of the Church. He reminds them that they are to live out their salvation, trusting God who gives them the will and the power to do it.
Matthew 21: 23-32  The religious leaders question Jesus’ authority, but Jesus refuses to answer them because they can’t answer his question about John’s authority. Then he tells them a parable about two sons whose father asks them to work in the vineyard. One says no, but then does, and the other says yes, but doesn’t. Jesus explains that like this, religious people are missing out on the kingdom, while outcasts are finding their way in.
(Summary of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Opening prayer/praise
We praise You, Lord God,
that Your Way is found
not by travelling an exclusive highway,
or in secrets preserved only for some,
but in the open field of love and grace,
where all who choose may come and play.

We praise You, Lord God,
that Your Truth is heard
not only in the words of scholars and authors,
or in brittle, inflexible ideas,
but in honest questions
and difficult conversations,
in the courageous attempts of simple people
to live lives of integrity.

We praise You, Lord God,
that Your Life is discovered
not just in the predictable places of beauty and wealth
or within the confines of clearly demarcated norms,
but in the unexpected generosity and pride
of those who have nothing,
in the creativity and risk
of trying new things,
and defending the vulnerable.

We open ourselves again to Your call,
determined to do what we promise,
to follow Your Way,
to embody Your Truth
to share Your Life.
And to do it all with thanksgiving and praise. Amen.
(Source, John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Call to worship
Here, in this place, we set apart time for worship,
and to encourage each other in Christ.
It is God who is at work in us,
enabling us both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.
God, source of life,
 Jesus, firstborn of creation,
 Spirit, living breath in all that is:
we come to be thankful for life in all its fullness.
Let us worship God.

Gathering words
What patience to endure
the squabbles of your people;
what humility, to take
our doubts and disbelief.
What faithfulness you show,
through desert thirst and fear;
what miracles inspired by you,
the very, precious, gift of life.
What wisdom we hear from you,
if we will listen – we are here to listen.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)
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World Communion Sunday – 1 Oct 2017

World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October, that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation.

Call to worship
Gathering God, joined as one family
we come to worship you today,
mindful of the breathing
of the life that you have called into being
across countries and climates;
all creatures and all creeds.

Jesus, teacher friend,
today you call us to your table
and invite us to feed on you,
so that we might then feed others.
Let our hunger for justice
and our desire for peace
never be exhausted
until all your children are safe and fed.

Life-giving Spirit,
let the words that reach our open ears
and your movement in our souls
in this time together
bless, comfort and disturb us.
So that the work of your servants here
may be directed along the right paths
for the sake of the world,
And all the people say: Amen.
(Source: Rev. Jennie Gordon)

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September – Dementia month

Living with dementia is a challenging experience; the social prejudice associated with the condition only adds to this challenge, leaving many people with dementia and carers feeling isolated and stigmatised. There are an estimated 413,000 Australians living with dementia, with this figure projected to increase to more than 535,000 by 2025 and 1.1 million by 2056.

Prayer for caregivers
Lord, I pray today for the people who care for men and women with Alzheimer’s disease. You know how hard their work is, how scant their resources, and how heavy their burdens. Perhaps tending to the needs of a stranger, perhaps caring tirelessly for a loved one they have known for years, their hearts are, at times, filled with sorrow and at other times delighted by the glimmers of who once was but is no more. Indeed, the person they care for is slipping away, unable to be what they once were or act as they once did, and this makes the life of the caregiver that much more difficult.
Be close by when these caregivers need your comfort and strength. Fill their hearts with your goodness and solace, and their souls with love. Help them to find ways to rest and take care of themselves. And let them be heartened each day, lifted each day, and loved each day as they love the person who is no longer as they once were, but who is nonetheless your child, worthy of dignity and respect. In the name of Jesus’, Amen
(Source: Maureen Pratt,

Prayer for Those With Dementia
Pour your grace, O loving God,
upon all suffering with dementia.
It is frustrating
not to find a word;
it is fearful
to lose one’s memories.
Bless them with patience,
a loving and supporting family,
and days of hope and accomplishment. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen
(Source: adapted, “Prayers of Our Hearts” © 1991 Vienna Cobb Anderson)

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Texts:  Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Weekly Seeds resource: UCC weekly seeds; Kate Huey: Kate Huey

Thom Shuman: Thom Shuman

CBN The deadly consequences of unforgiveness (with video)

“In the morning there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that God has given you to eat”. Exodus 16.13-15
What gets you through the desert?
What gets you through?
What gets you through the chemo,
the healing from abuse, the bad marriage,
what gets you through
the job that tries to kill you,
the dark alley of the shadow of death,
the rotten places, the placeless places,
the evil you fear, the evil you’ve done,
your daily inadequacy,
what gets you through?
Some will call it courage or stamina,
luck or faith or reaching down deep.
But you know it’s not you, not yours.
It’s given. To you. For you.
From the Holy One.
The thread you follow,
the source you drink from,
the encouraging voice,
the Divine desire that you thrive,
the gift amid the desolation,
you fund it anywhere—
the usual, the impossible,
the unwelcome.
You learn to recognize it.
You learn to receive it.
For that grace that gets you through
you learn to say thank you.
You learn to count on it,
and be surprised,
every morning.
Every morning.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Ideas for Prayers of Confession/Prayers of who we are

Ideas for Prayers for others – various

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Social Justice Sunday

Social Justice Sunday is held annually on the last Sunday in September.

Resources for Social Justice Sunday on NCCA website.

Here’s a link to the 2014 Social Justice Sunday resources.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Richard Rohr

The Prophetic Voice
God of Justice!
We call on you to guide
all those on this Land
to seek Justice.
Bless and renew our hearts and minds,
so that we may see with your insight,
mindful of the calling
to walk in your way of peace and reconciliation.
Seed in us the desire to be agitators
for holy change.

May the blessings we receive
inspire and nourish us
to bless those around us
with words of comfort
and actions of healing.
Inspire in our mouths
the words of your good news
for the sake of the world you love.

May we grow in the courage of Christ,
becoming and being prepared to take up the cross,
rather than buy in to the pressure
of dehumanizing and demeaning
that places avarice before generosity.
Gift us with the desire to share in joyful community.
Make us into catalysts for relationships.
Form us as people who become nourishment for the world.

May we deepen in our reading of your Scriptures,
that we might see your promises of mercy written in our souls.
May we work, throughout Australia,
and through our international partnerships,
to bring about a foretaste of the state of mercy and blessing
that characterizes Heaven.

Just as we seek mercy,
teach us to recognize the power imbalances
that prevent the full experience of abundant life.
May we learn to repent of those habits
that destroy your beautiful plan.
Rather, let us learn the creativity of your nature,
to better use our gifts for the sake of grace.

God of Justice,
be our Teacher and our Defender!
Correct us, so we can learn how to speak Truth.
And, when we do – protect us from the evils we confront,
For this is your will to be done
And we are honoured by your call.

So, we commit this day,
to be your holy and vocal people.
We commit to stand up for your beloved creation,
especially those who are marginalised
by the cultures of judgement and shame around us.
May we stand with them.
So be it.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Hyphenated Faith, 2017)

The goal of compassion – Richard Rohr
To reach the goal of compassion we must not stop with “the first gaze.” It is “the second gaze” that we struggle and wait for most of our lives. In the first half of life, we have a critical mind and a demanding heart and a lot of impatience. These characteristics are both gifts and curses, as you might expect. We cannot risk losing touch with either our angels or our demons. They are both good teachers. The trials of life invariably lead us to a second gaze. This is the gaze of compassion and patience. Now we look out at life from a place of Divine Intimacy where we are finally safe and at home. Only the second gaze sees fully and truthfully. It is the gaze of God at you, which you have finally received like a long-awaited radio signal, and once you receive it, it just automatically bounces back to the Sender.
Adapted from Contemplation in Action, pp. 19-20
Prayer: Teach me to hold the paradox of being contemplative in my actions.

Here’s a word version of the worship resources for 2012 (Peace in the Marketplace: so all may live with dignity’) Worship_resources_Social_Justice_Sunday_2012

Resource booklet: Social Justice Sunday 2012_resources

Music suggestions: Social Services Sunday-various songs

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Land Sunday in Season of Creation – Rex AE Hunt liturgy

Exodus 14:19-31
Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

First Thoughts on the Old Testament – Exodus
First Thoughts on the New Testament – Romans
First Thoughts on the New Testament – Matthew

Nathan Nettleton (Laughing Bird) has paraphrases of the readings – definitely worth checking out.


Call to worship
(based on Exodus 15:1-11, 20-21; Romans 14:1-12)
No one is an island.
We are all joined in Christ Jesus.
Who else is like you, loving God?
Who is like you: beautiful in holiness,
awesome in all the things you do for us.
No one lives by themselves,
no one dies by themselves.
Whether we live or die
we are the Lord’s.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.
(Source: Bruce Prewer)

Opening prayer
God we gather for worship,
here we sing and pray and listen, we might even dream.
God we gather seeking your comforting presence,
to remind us that we are not alone, to share a blessing.
God we gather to be changed,
to be moved from lives of fear to lives of love.
God we gather to be sent back out,
to share the blessings of life, and give witness to God’s presence, and to declare: “surely the Lord is in this place”.
(Source: Rev Gord, Worship Offerings)

Call to worship (based on Exodus 14)
The sea of apathy surrounds
enticing us with self promotion
luring us with greed.
The sea of apathy surrounds
bloated with decay
the remains of injustice and idolatry.
The sea of apathy surrounds.
Our task this day
is to cross the sea.
Our task today
is to say “no” to the stench.
Our task if we chose it
is to say “yes” to life and faith.
“Yes”. Yes.
Let us cross the sea together.
(Source: Katherine Hawker, Evangelical United Church of Christ, September 1999) 

Call to worship
In sacred times of word, wonder, and awe,
in ordinary days of work and play:
in every moment, God is with us.
Whether we are stuck in doubt’s mud,
or standing on faith’s shoreline:
in every place, God is with us.
In those who teach us 
and those who trouble us;
in those who surprise us, 
and those who forgive us:
in every person, God is with us.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

O God of justice and love, You pardon us if we pardon our brothers and sisters:  Create in us a new heart in the image of Your Son, a heart ever greater than any offence it suffers.  May the world remember how much you love us?  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.
(Source: ‘Uniting in Worship’, Leader’s Book, p. 212)

Generous God, our creator and guide, may we serve you with all our heart and know your forgiveness in our lives. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(adapted, ‘CanticaNova’,

Creating God, you made us in your image and gifted us with the joy of creation. Teach us to discern your hand in all your works and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (adapted ‘Common Order’, Church of Scotland, p. 683)

Prayer of Thanksgiving
(based on Exodus 14:19-31; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35)
We give you all thanks and praise, O God, for in you is extravagant mercy and salvation from all that would destroy us.

In the first of your mighty wonders, you created the earth,
dividing the watery chaos and bringing forth dry land.
In the days of Moses you divided the sea again
and delivered your people from their oppressors,
leading them by fire and cloud to the land of freedom.

In Jesus the Christ, your reign of love and mercy has embraced all who live and even in our weaknesses you uphold us. He was killed but his risen life is amongst us even now. Now whether we live or die we belong to you and in gratitude we share your love and mercy with all.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high, we offer you thanks and praise at all times through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Source: (adapted) Nathan Nettleton, Laughing Bird)

Prayer of Confession
Reconciling God, we would rather gossip about those who sin against us, than speak to them privately;
 we would rather parade our wounds for all to see, than quietly work toward forgiveness and reconciliation.
 Help us choose the harder road, the road that opens possibilities for real healing, real forgiveness, and real growth in your Spirit. Help us place the best interests of our community of faith above our own need for public vindication. Amen.
(Source: B.J. Beu, Ministry Matters)
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