COCU Index Year B 2018

Year B
COCU40B, Trinity Sunday B, 27th May 2018
Reconciliation Sunday, 27th May 2018
Winter season (southern hemisphere)
COCU41B, Pentecost 2B, 3rd June 2018
World Environment Day, 5th June 2018
COCU42B, Pentecost 3B, 10th June 2018
COCU43B, Pentecost 4B, 17th June 2018
Arbor Day/Tree Day, 20th June 2018
UCA Anniversary, 22nd June 2018
COCU44B, Pentecost 5B, 24th June 2018

Year B COCU Index (link is to a NZ resource)

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order

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Reconciliation Sunday 27May2018

reconciliation-weekIt was agreed in November 2006 that the SA Synod/Presbytery establish Reconciliation Sunday in Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) annually, to be celebrated across the Church, and request Church Councils to include this day in their worship calendars. Reconciliation Week begins the day after Sorry Day (May 26th) and includes the anniversary of the 1967 referendum (May 27th) and finishes on June 3rd, sometimes known as ‘Mabo Day’, the anniversary of the High Court’s 1992 Mabo judgement which was a major landmark in the recognition of Indigenous land rights in Australia. It also recognizes the covenant relationship with the UAICC (Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress) of the Uniting Church in Australia.
In 2017, National Reconciliation Week celebrated two significant anniversaries in our nation’s history; 50 years since the 1967 Referendum and 25 years since the historic Mabo Decision.

‘SORRY. Still Living On Borrowed Time!’
The Stolen Generations are the survivors of past government policies that allowed for the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families. On 13 February 2008, thousands of Australians shared in the experience of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations and Indigenous Australia delivered by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd together with the Australian Parliament.
The majority of Stolen Generations survivors are over the age of 45 and, despite the Apology, are still waiting for justice – in particular the comprehensive implementation of the recommendations of the 1997 Bringing them home report. It is now 2011 and time is running out; hence the theme ‘SORRY. Still Living On Borrowed Time!’
National Sorry Day Committee

“You’re religion can be carried around in a box, a book, our religion is found in the land, the sacred sites and you took these from us” (First Nations People, Canada)

Resources – various
Link to resources from the churches.
Reconciliation Australia has great resources online.
TEAR Reconciliation Action Kit – download here.
Resources can be downloaded at  this weblink. Resources from 2011 here, Reconciliation Sunday.Week of Prayer 2011 and  2014 here.
Sorry Day 2016 poster (Adelaide specific) sorry day

Resources may also be used later during NAIDOC week celebrations in July if this fits in better with your worship planning. Resources from previous years may also be downloaded.

A Dreaming Prayer – on youtube.

Listen to the Whisper, written by Geoff Boyce, and sung by Tim and Alison Solly. Images from Colebrook memorial, Adelaide SA

Worship resources
Order of service for Reconciliation Sunday 2014 Reconciliation Sunday 2014
Worship Resources on the SA Synod website (including past years).
2016 Worship Resources: WorshipResources.ReconciliationSunday.2016Worship resources for 2010 (same readings as Trinity Sunday 2016)
Worship resources.Reconciliation Sunday.2010

UCA Assembly worship resources for Reconciliation Week Continue reading

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Arbor Day/Tree Day – 20June2018 (in Australia)

Arbor (Tree) Day in Australia – June 20, 2018

Arbor Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, but mostly organized on different dates. The first known Arbor Day was celebrated in 1594 in Spain. In the USA it’s celebrated on April 27th. In Australia it’s on June 20. Jewish people observe Tu B’Shevat (Tu Bishvat), on the 15th day of the Jewish months of Shevat. This festival is also known as the “New Year for Trees”.

The very first Arbor Day is Australia was observed in 1889. The proposal for observation of this day was made by several South Australians, who were concerned about the environmental situation of the continent. The activity of white settlement had led to the rapid loss of vegetation across South Australia, and that is why an appropriate environmental event was demanded. The proposal was backed by parliamentarians and soon Arbor Day was established.
The inaugural event included a parade and after it the officials planted trees. For instance, then-governor Lord Kintore and his wife planted a bunya pine and a weeping Scotch elm. These trees still grow today. Pupils also planted a number of trees in designated areas.
Protection of the environment is a great issue in Australia, that is why a number of Tree Days are observed by Australians. For instance, every state has its own Arbor Day and Arbor Week is observed in Victoria. Moreover, National Tree Day and School Tree Day are also observed by Australians.

Lynne Baab reflects on trees (from a North American context).
I have always loved trees. They speak to me of God’s creativity, complexity, beauty and provision. In high school, we had three young birch trees in our back yard. To me, they looked like young girls dancing, reflecting the joy of living in God’s beautiful world.
As a university student, I took hundreds of photos of the sun shining through trees. I particularly admired the translucence of maple leaves backlit by the sun, speaking to me of the beauty of the Light of the World.
I often remember the trees from places I’ve traveled. The first time I travelled to New Mexico and Colorado in the fall, the round, golden aspen leaves made me gasp with pleasure. The trees looked like they were covered with gold coins, a picture of God’s rich beauty and abundance.
The eucalyptus trees in Australia were a revelation. I had always loved the smell of eucalyptus trees when I visited Northern California, but I thought “eucalyptus” referred to one kind of tree. In Australia, dozens of species of eucalyptus fill the streets and parks, each species with a slightly different color or shape. Of the 700 species of eucalyptus in the world, most are native to Australia. Seeing all those different kinds of eucalyptus trees made me feel like a kid in a candy shop of trees, all of them intricately created by the Maker of all beauty.
Trees are used throughout the Bible as metaphors for various aspects of faith. The tree planted by streams of water in Psalm 1 bears fruit in its season and has green leaves even in a drought. Who is like that tree? A person who loves God, does what is right, and meditates on God’s law day and night.
The vision of God’s abundance described in Isaiah 55:12 talks about joy and peace, which will be so powerful that the mountains will sing and “all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” I read that verse for the first time as a very young Christian, during my photographing-trees-in-the-sun phase, and I posted the verse on my bulletin board because it was so vivid and joyous.
In John’s vision of heaven, recounted in Revelation 21 and 22, the river of life flows through the city, with the tree of life growing beside it, “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2). The nations so desperately need God’s healing. I wonder if those healing leaves look like maple leaves with the sun shining through them. Perhaps those healing leaves are gold, like aspen leaves in the fall.
Trees take simple ingredients – carbon dioxide from the air, water and minerals from the soil – and turn them into beautiful branches and leaves, as well as delicious fruit and precious oxygen. Because humans and other mammals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, trees give balance, providing the oxygen that is essential for human life. Without trees, the rising carbon dioxide level of the air would make life impossible for two reasons: lack of oxygen for mammals to breathe and ever increasing temperatures caused by carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect.
Arbor Day focuses on planting trees, these miracles of beauty and oxygen.  This year, to celebrate Arbor Day, plant a tree. Draw a tree. Photograph a tree. Look out your window or go outside and enjoy the trees that you can see. And don’t forget to thank God for trees.
(Originally posted on Godspace).

For further reflection:
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How they Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben will blow your mind. Did you know that trees communicate with each other? They do it through chemicals they release into the wind and through fungi and other plants in the earth.

In November 2017, Rev Brian Polkinghorne was presented the ‘Award of Merit’ by the Roseworthy Old Collegians Association. The now 80-year-old and his family moved to Tanzania 12 months after he completed agriculture studies at Roseworthy College in 1969. He went as an agricultural missionary and has been back and forth to Tanzania on many occasions working on different projects. The African Evangelistic Enterprise invited him to open up a large reforestation project in Tanzania, funded by the Australian government. Brian and his team convinced farmers to plant and nurture 6.72 million trees. More here.

Rev Brian Polkinghorne

Brian and Jill Polkinghorne

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COCU40B.Trinity Sunday B.27May2018

Andrei Rublev

Trinity by Andrei Rublev

3 birds

3 birds

Isaiah 6:1-8
Isaiah receives a vision of God in God’s glory in the Temple, and he hears the seraphim singing “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Then, after he has confessed and been cleansed, he hears God asking for someone whom God can send, and he volunteers.
Psalm 29
A psalm in praise of God’s glory, the power and majesty of God’s voice, and acknowledging God as the eternal ruler over creation, the heavenly beings and all people.
Romans 8:12-17
By the power of God’s Spirit, we are heirs with Christ of God’s glory, we are adopted as children of God, and we are able to live according to the Spirit’s leading, not following our sinful nature.
John 3:1-17
Jesus teaches Nicodemus that, in order to see God’s Reign, he must be born of the Spirit. For whoever believes in Jesus, sent by God into the world to save the world, receives God’s eternal life.
(All summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

RCL readings in landscape double sided format, COCU40B.TrinitySunday.readings

Components of worship (links to resources on this website)
Prayer of thanksgiving
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are
Words of Assurance
Prayer for Illumination
Prayers for others
Lord’s Prayer
Prayer of Dedication
Benediction and sending out

Textweek resources
Christine Longhurst re-worship blog
John van de Laar, Sacredise resources
See also Trinity Sunday Year A on this blog.

An adaption of St Patrick’s Breastplate by Christine Sine
We bind unto ourselves today
the strong name of the trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in three.
We bind this day to us forever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River; his death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom; We bind unto ourselves today.
We cast off the works of darkness today,
And put on the armour of light,
Light before us and behind,
Light within and light without,
Light to guide and to lead us,
Let us clothe ourselves with Christ.
Christ behind us, Christ before us,
Christ beside us, Christ to win us,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath us, Christ above us,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love us,
Christ in mouth of friend & stranger
Let us wrap ourselves around with the belt of truth,
And strap on the breastplate of righteousness,
Let us clad our feet with the gospel of peace,
place the helmet of salvation on our heads.
And take up the shield of faith.
Let us clothe ourselves with Christ.
We bind unto ourselves today, the power of God to hold and lead,
God’s eye to watch, God’s might to stay, God’s ear to harken to our need,
The wisdom of our God to teach, God’s hand to guide, and shield to ward,
The Word of God to give us speech, God’s heavenly host to be our guard.
In the love of God who shelters us,
In the light of Christ who walks beside us,
In the power of the Spirit who dwells within us,
We place ourselves today.
Let us clothe ourselves with Christ.
We bind unto ourselves today the strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation, Eternal God, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the God of our salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
(Source: Christine Sine, Godspace)

Dorothy Sayers (Mind of the Maker): “For every work of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly. First, there is the Creative Idea, passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning: and this is the image of the Father. Second, there is the Creative Energy begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to the end, with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of matter: and this is the image of the Word. Third, there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul: and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit.” Continue reading

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resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit prays in us with sighs
too deep for words. —Romans 8.26

Deeper than my words,
deeper than my knowing,
Spirit, pray in me.

I open the door of my heart for you.
I hold the arms of my spirit open for you.
Welcome. Spirit, pray in me.

I only hold the space.
I do not hear your prayers,
your sighs too deep for my hearing.

I do not know how to pray.
I only know how to be still,
Spirit, as you pray in me.

(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Another school shooting – Lord have mercy. And more ‘thoughts and prayers’ and ‘thoughts and condolences’. Mike Rayson reflects: “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough for those who follow Jesus. The following text, written to the tune Hyfrodol (Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – UMH 196) is in response to the latest school shooting onValentines Day 2018 in Florida. You are free to use it, this Sunday or any other day. Please attribute the name of the writer: (c) 2018 Rev Mike Rayson, O.S.L –

(c) 2018 Rev Mike Rayson, O.S.L –
Hymn Tune: Hyfrodol (UMH 196)
Meter D

On the road toward the city
We shall ride into the pain
Of a death we know is coming
For to die is life to gain
Jesus, teacher, friend, companion
Though this road is rough and steep
We’ll go with you through the valley
Even when the shadows weep

Madness, mayhem, curse and trouble
Hold your breath as fire draws near
Thoughts and prayers are well intentioned
Lest we face the tempters fear
May the weapons of our children
Be reformed as tools for peace
Holy Spirit, call us forward
To a time when war will cease

Lord, the saints are sad with sorrow
Spur us on and light the way
Walking where the path is narrow
Give us strength to be the change
Turn our hollow prayers to action
As we stand against the dark
For when your light blazes in us
There can be no brighter spark

On the road toward the city
We shall ride toward the pain
Of a death we know is coming
For to die is life to gain
Jesus, teacher, friend, companion
Though this road is rough and steep
We’ll go with you through the valley
Even when the shadows weep

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COCU39B.Day of Pentecost.20May2018


Day of Pentecost – image by Rev Mark Hewitt,

Year A
Acts 2:1-21:
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b:
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13:
John 20:19-23:

Year B
Acts 2:1-21
The believers are filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and they start to praise God in various languages.
or Ezekiel 37:1-14
The prophet is given a vision of dry bones in a desolate valley, and God asks if they can live again. Then God commands him to speak and as he does, the bones come together, are clothed with flesh, and receive the breath of life.
Psalm 104:24-34,35b
The world and all its creatures depend on God for provision and breath – which leads the Psalmist to commit to praise God.
Romans 8:22-27
All of creation, and we, hope for the day when God’s children receive their “full rights.” In the meantime, when we are weak, the Holy Spirit helps us by praying for us in groans beyond words.
John 15: 26-27, 16:4b-15
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going away, and that this is a good thing, because then he can send the Holy Spirit to be their advocate, to convict of sin and to lead people into truth.
(All summaries  by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
RCL readings in landscape double sided format: COCU39B.Pentecost.Readings

Year C
Acts 2:1-21;
Psalm 24-34, 35b;
Romans 8:14-17;
John 14: 8-17 (25-27)

Rex AE Hunt

(Scroll further down for more liturgical resources and music)

Components of worship (links to resources on this website)
Prayer of thanksgiving
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are/Words of Assurance
Prayer for Illumination
Readings (see top of this page)
Prayers for others
Lord’s Prayer
Prayer of Dedication
Benediction and sending out

Prayers for Others 2018 – attacks on congregations in Indonesia
Following the terrorist attacks on congregations in Indonesia on Sunday May 13th 2018 (Mothers Day), a prayer has been written which invites people to prayerfully support the people and communities affected. You can find it here. Perhaps consider using it your Pentecost service?

Likewise the prayer resource on the Christian Aid website for Israel and Gaza could well suit the theme of Pentecost. I particularly like the concluding prayer (though the whole flow of the prayer service is wonderful and definitely worth exploring).

Pray not for Arab or Jew, for Palestinian or Israeli,
but pray rather for ourselves,
that we might not divide them in our prayers
but keep them both together in our hearts.
When races fight, peace be amongst us.
When neighbours argue, peace be amongst us.
When nations disagree, peace be amongst us.
Where people struggle for justice, let justice prevail.
Where Christ’s disciples follow, let peace be our way.

There are other prayers resources for Palestine/Israel on this website.

WINDS OF CHANGE (Ezekiel 37:1-11)
Spirit winds blowing,
gathering through the valley
a new creation.

Spirit winds blowing
God’s word of love announcing
restored covenant.

Spirit winds blowing
words of hope and assurance:
a promise to act.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, The Billabong)

Prayer of Invocation
Come, Holy Spirit,
and guide us into pathways of truth, we pray.
Inspire us and strengthen us as we walk into the future
in your wise company.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
(Source: Words for Worship 2011)

Call to worship
Holy Spirit, you are the Lord, the giver of life;
with the Father and the Son we worship and glorify you:
Come to us now, Spirit of God.
Holy Spirit, you were there at creation before time began;
your presence fills the whole universe:
Come to us now, Spirit of life.
Holy Spirit, you have spoken through the prophets of old;
by their witness the Word of God has never been silent:
Come to us now, Spirit of wisdom.
Holy Spirit, you surround the waiting church with the wind of Pentecost;
you gave life and breath to announce Christ’s gospel:
Come to us now, Spirit of power.
Holy Spirit, you came upon the first Christians as a holy fire;
you set their hearts ablaze with devotion to their risen Lord:
Come to us now, Spirit of love.
Holy Spirit, you pour out your rich and varied gifts;
you call us to bring forth your fruits in our lives:
Come to us now, Spirit of grace.
Holy Spirit, you are the Spirit of truth, the Counsellor;
you lead us to the truth that sets us free:
Come to us now, Spirit of God, and renew Christ’s holy church
(Source: Uniting in Worship)

Spirit of the living God,
Holy Wisdom, filling the whole earth,
you have come upon us all,
like fire on our heads,
hot in our hearts,
burning till the whole world
is ignited
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source: Bob Eldan)

Who comes to us as the Spirit,
Who breathes the fire of passion into us,
Who inspires us to compassion and courage,
You stir up in us the love made known in Christ.
You gift us with a message worth proclaiming,
Not just as empty words, but in actions and deeds.
You change the game.
You transform us and our living.
You work in us subtlely from the inside out.
You bring to us peace in the midst of the struggles and chaos of life.
Touch us now in ways we least expect.
Surprise us with your reality,
And ignite our sense of passion and purpose,
That we might grasp the gifts you offer in us,
Take them and serve those who need of them in the world.
Bring us into your communion of the common good.
This is prayed.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

Continue reading

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UCA Anniversary.22 June2018 (closest Sunday is 24thJune2018)

The Uniting Church in Australia celebrated the formal union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Church on June 22nd, 1977.

Here is the combined service used at Pilgrim Church on UCA Sunday 2013.
UCA Anniversary 2013

Order of service from UCA Worship Working Group for 30th Anniversary here.

Homily by Rev Dorothy McRae-McMahon in 2014.

Here is a list of other resources for UCA Sunday: UCA Anniversary

Come, Holy Spirit, Renew our hearts renew our faith;
renew our love for you;
renew our openness and compassion; renew our sense of justice .
Come, Holy Spirit, Renew your Church
renew our love for the Gospel;
renew the liveliness of our worship;
renew our commitment for the care for the poor;
renew the church in its understanding of its calling.
Come, Holy Spirit, Renew the Earth.
Teach us to protect our environment
teach us to care for other people as our own brothers and sisters;
teach us to imagine all living things as we are connected to each other;
So may the peoples and all living things live in harmony with the earth.

My hope is that this church will continue
to first open its heart to the needs of others;
lift its head to attend to opportunities on its horizon;
offer its hands in generous hospitality and healing…
In the Spirit God who raised the Christ,
 extending God’s extravagant compassion, grace and love 
to whomever the neighbour might be 
at the time, in that place, of whatever culture.
And especially to be present
to the lost, the least and the last.
[Prayer on leaving the ministry of Mission Officer by John Emmett]

A prayer from Jon Humphries:
God Who Unites Us in the Work Towards the Common Good
– A Foundational Uniting Church Prayer
(Adapted from the Uniting Church in Australia, ‘Statement to the Nation’ 1977)
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
The path to unity can be long and at times difficult.
You call us into unity as a sign of the reconciliation you seek for the whole human race.
In Christ you commission us with a responsibility to society which will always fundamentally involve us in social and national affairs.
You give us responsibilities within and beyond this country to work to uphold basic Christian values and principles, such as the importance of every human being and the need for integrity in public life.
You give us the task of proclaiming truth and justice and the rights of each citizen to participate in decision-making in their community.
You call us to advocate for religious liberty and personal dignity.
You commission in us a concern for the welfare of the whole human race.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
Move us to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur.
Push us to spend our time and effort for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond.
Fill our lungs with your Spirit that we might call for and affirm the rights of all people to equal educational opportunities, adequate health care, and freedom of speech.
Spur us forward to work so that all may find employment or dignity in unemployment if work is not available.
Fire up our passion and burn away our complacency so that we might oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms.
Give us the desire and the want to challenge values which emphasise acquisitiveness and greed in disregard of the needs of others.
Separate us from selfish thoughts and values that we might stand against that which encourages a higher standard of living for the privileged in the face of the daily widening gap between the rich and poor.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
Concern us with the basic human rights of future generations.
Urge us to find wisdom and take action to ensure the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
We owe you our first allegiance.
Under you the policies and actions of all nations must pass judgment. Steel us for when our discipleship and allegiance bring us into conflict with the rulers of our day, that we may stand your ground.
Unite us as one people so that your universal values find expression in national policies and that humanity may survive under your guidance.
God who unites us in the cause of the common good,
We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere.
We commit ourselves the family of the One God — the God made known in Jesus of Nazareth;
Who is the One;
Who gave His life for others.
In the spirit of His self-giving love may this be so.

by Rev. Jennifer M. Creswell, St Luke the Physician Episcopal Church (Oregon)
Inspired by Psalm 84
‘How lovely is your dwelling place, oh Lord of hosts, to me.’
This is a love song to the church.
‘My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.’
This is a love song to the church.
‘The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.’
This is a love song to the church.
‘Happy are they who dwell in your house! They will always be praising you.’
A love song to the church:
‘Happy are the people whose strength is in you! Whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way. Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, for the early rains have covered it with pools of water. They will climb from height to height, and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.’
This is a love song.
To the church. To the ugly ones and the spectacular ones. To the ones the size of a closet and the ones bigger than a city block. To the gaudy ones, the ornate ones, the little country clapboard ones. The stone ones, the bone freezing cold ones, the stuffy filled-with-plastic-virgin-Mary ones, the plain ones, the messy ones, the dark ones, the holy ones.
This is a love song to the church.
To the places and spaces, in living rooms, in high school gyms, in mega sanctuaries from the 80s, in the suburbs, in the cities, the 1,000 year old ones and the buildings just completed—the spaces set aside for the worship of God. This is a love song to the people who build, the people who fund, the people who barn-raise and fundraise and take time off work to meet with the surveyor to build the church. The people who negotiate mortgages and rents, the people who pay the utility bills, the people who mow the grass and weed the front beds, the people who fix the toilet when it runs, the people who research dishwashers, the people who clean and organize and then clean and organize and keep cleaning and organizing. This is a love song to the church.
This is a love song to the spaces that feel holy, look holy, don’t look holy but are holy. The baptismal fonts the size of swimming pools, the fonts the size of a seashell, the tubs and pools, the fountains and dunk tanks. This is a love song to the places where God’s presence lingers on Monday and Tuesday, even if it spends the weekdays full of kids or bar patrons or basketball players. This is a love song to the sanctuary. Where the Word is read, the Word is heard, the Word is lived. To the table. To the place where we come for food, for holy drink. To the candles that light the morning, that burn with our prayers, that shine on Christmas Eve. This is a love song to the altars and sanctuaries, the pianos, the guitars, the drums, the organs, the voices, the songbooks, the blue folders, the singing leader, the kid who plays her saxophone, the praise songs projected on the walls, the chants, the Latin, the English, the Spanish, the Romanian, the Czech, the Arabic, the ASL. This is a love song to the church.
This is a love song to God who shows up as bread, as wine, as light, as flame, as water, as comfort, as pain, as loss, as shadow, as shivering beauty, as other people, as the person who asks if you can teach Sunday school, as coffee and cake, as the interruption to your prayers, as the computer guy, as the voices of 60 people singing.
This is a love song to the place where even a nest of tiny birds knows it is safe. The place where dogs and hamsters are blessed, the place where babies cry, where people move slowly, where you don’t have to know what’s going on. This is a love song of heartbreak over the church’s failures. The failure to protect children. The failure to welcome all God’s people. The failure to repent. The failure to forgive. The failure to take the side of the vulnerable. The failure to listen. This is a love song that sometimes breaks our hearts.
This is a love song to the house of God. To the rafters and the choir lofts and the pew racks and the banners. This is a love song to all the lovingly made sanctuary art that makes us cringe. This is a love song to the place where God dwells. To the sacristy and the narthex. To the parking lot. To the Sunday school room, the furnace room, the courtyard, the stained glass windows. This is a love song to the flag that gets stuck in the trees, to the windows too high to be washed, the elevator that never works, the terrible-colored carpet. This is a love song to the people who make the church their home. This is a love song to the pews that served as beds for rescue workers after 9-11. To the sanctuary that hid people from slaughter in Rwanda. To the roofs that keep houseless people dry at night. To all the crosses and crucifixes and Bibles and vestments and fog machines and icons and gospel choirs and incense. This is a love song to you.
This is a love song to the altar guild. To the worship leaders. To the light and sound guy. To the sexton, the janitor, the one who keeps it clean. This is a love song to the greeter, the baker, the teacher, the acolyte. This is a love song to the one who reaches over and shows where we are in the book. This is a love song to the one who says, “yes, I’ll read today.” This is a love song to the one who takes communion to another. This is a love song to the one who sings someone else’s favorite hymn, says someone else’s needed prayer, to the one who notices, to the one who says something.
This is a love song to the church. To the older church ladies who take Jesuit volunteers out for lunch. To the toddlers who act like they own the place. To the retired guys who show up at Boy Scoutmeetings. To the stitchers, the knitters, the cooks. This is a love song to a place where professors and students sit side by side. Where nurses and patients eat together. Where Republicans and Democrats pray for each other. This is a love song to the bond that holds people together in conflict. This is a love song to the people we wouldn’t be hanging out with otherwise. To the labyrinth walks, the foot washings, the stewardship campaigns, the annual reports, the vestry meetings, the phone directories, the prayer chains, the meal trains, the rides to the doctor, the cards, the guitar lessons, the organ preludes, the funeral receptions, the youth group complines. This is a love song to the crab feeds and Christmas bazaars and the art studios and the clothing closets and the food pantries. This is a love song to bad coffee and conversation you wish would go deeper. This is a love song to the conversation you think will never end. This is a love song to the person who’s been on your mind. This is a love song to little stubby golf pencils in the pews, and misprints in the bulletin.
This is a love song to the church. This is a love song to the people whose strength is in God, whose hearts are set on the pilgrim’s way. This is a love song to the pews polished by 60 years of hand oil, and to the people who would worship God even if the pews weren’t there. This is a love song to a God who is bigger than the church. This is a love song to God in people, God in mountains, God in thunder, God in injustice. A love song for the church. This is a love song for the church because God is holy. This is a love song for the church because God makes the church holy. This is a love song for the church because we can’t hold God.
This is a love song to the church. This is a love song to what we want the church to be, to what the church is now, to what the church will become. This is a love song to the agitators, the complainers, the pleasers. This is a love song to the overworkers and to the ones who keep thinking they ought to get more involved. This is a love song to the ones who keep the church the same and to the ones who push it to change. This is a love song to the reformers, the traditionalists, the peacemakers, the artists, the nurturers, the fighters, the introverts and the voices. This is a love song to the choir that covers for the ones who can’t hold a tune so well anymore. This is a love song to the family who brings the homebound to church. This is a love song to all the ones who pray. And to the ones who say they’ll pray. And to the ones who actually do. This is the love song to the minister who shows up when his heart is breaking. This is a love song to the congregation that praises God when they don’t know what else to do. This is a love song to the saints who have passed the church on to us.
This is a love song to God. This is a gratitude song for the church. This is a love song. Amen.

There Are Many Ways of Sharing (tune: NETTLETON TiS 392)

There are many ways of sharing, But God’s Spirit gives each one.
There are different ways of caring; It’s one Lord whose work is done.
God, whose gifts are overflowing, May we hear you when you call;
Keep us serving, keep us growing For the common good of all.

We’ve been baptized in the waters! We’ve been given work to do.
When you call your sons and daughters, You give gifts for serving you.
God, we join in celebration Of the talents you impart.
Bless each baptized one’s vocation; Give each one a servant’s heart.

All are blest by gifts you give us; Some are set apart to lead.
Give us Jesus’ love within us As we care for those in need.
Give us faith to make decisions; Give us joy to share your Word.
Give us unity and vision As we serve your church and world.

Tune: John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, 1813 (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”)
Text: Copyright © 2004 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Upper Room Books, 2009).

“God of our life, through all the circling years”
(Tune: Sandon, TiS #582)

God of our life, through all the circling years,
We trust in thee;
In all the past, through all our hopes and fears,
thy hand we see.
With each new day, when morning lifts the veil,
we own thy mercies, Lord, which never fail.

God of the past, our times are in thy hand;
with us abide.
Lead us by faith to hope’s true promised land;
be thou our Guide.
With thee to bless, the darkness shines as light,
and faith’s fair vision changes into sight.

God of the coming years, through paths unknown
we follow thee;
when we are strong, Lord, leave us not alone;
our Refuge be.
Be thou for us in life our daily Bread,
our heart’s true Home when all our years have sped.

Words: Hugh Thomson Kerr (1872-1950), 1916.
(NOTE: Kerr wrote this hymn for the 50th anniversary of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.)

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Psalm 138;
1 Samuel 8: 4-11, (12-15), 16-20; (11: 14-15);
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1;
Mark 3:20-35
As ‘ordinary time’ returns after the Lent and Easter cycle, we return to semi-continuous reading of Mark’s Gospel. The lectionary also follows 2 Corinthians.

Jan Richardson reflection here.

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 138)
With my whole heart, we give you thanks, O God!
In the face of all the things that clamor for our attention each day, we turn to focus our adoration on you alone, O Lord!
Even though your name is above every name, O God, you recognize us and cherish the meek.
You, Lord, do not give any special honor to the proud and arrogant.  Instead, you strengthen those who are ridiculed and downtrodden.
Let us lift our voices in praise of the God of Love!
Together, let us worship the God who never forgets us!
(c) Amy Loving, The Worship Closet

Prayer of Confession (inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1)
Faithful God, we confess that we sometimes act as though there is no hope.  We forget the promise of resurrection.  We fail to see your grace at work in our lives, and so we waste time dwelling on our afflictions instead of celebrating our blessings.  Open our eyes, dear Lord.  Give us your vision, so we may glimpse your eternal glory.  Encourage us, so that we persevere and never lose heart.  We pray these things in the name of the One who holds our future in the safety of his hands. (c) Amy Loving, The Worship Closet

Prayer of Approach and Confession
(inspired by Mark 3:20-35)
O God, you call us like a good parent to you to guide and protect us, to nourish and lead us. Brother Jesus, you call us like a caring elder brother to serve us and help us, to cheer us and invite us. Healing Spirit, you call us and move us ever closer into fellowship with you and each other.
Yet like unruly children we strain at your guidance, we try to break away and do it ourselves. We feel our strength and imagine to be all powerful. We rejoice in our life and imagine ourselves to be immortal. We know our talents and want to be independent rather than depend on you. Before we know it we are in the grip of other powers, leading us away from your loving ways into the slavery of selfish greed, adoring false gods of youth-fulness, materialism and power.
Lord, forgive us and free us. Open our eyes how your wisdom knows true leadership to be service. Open our hearts that we may learn that neither race or tribe, culture or religion are barriers to separate us but that we are all one family in your love.
So open our hearts and minds to learn again to live your love as we celebrate and worship you here together.
(c) Rev. Andrea Price, Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday website.

Sermon (Nathan Nettleton) – Ties that bind
Unquestioning allegiances to family and nation keep us bound to satanic systems, but Jesus binds the satan and breaks us free to be the new family of God.

Sermon reflections (Andrew Prior) – Healing the family sandwich

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Refugee Week (World Refugee Day June 20)

See also Migrant and Refugee Sunday resources on this site.

In 2018, the dates are Sunday 17th to Saturday 23rd June.
#WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week 2018 in Australia.

In 2000, the 9th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia expressed our commitment to seek “fair, humanitarian, adequately resourced and culturally appropriate government policies and procedures for the processing of refugees and asylum seekers”.

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. UnitingJustice Australia has released their Refugee Week (14–20 June) resources for 2015 with the theme ‘With courage let us all combine.’ Taken from the second verse of the Australian national anthem, the 2015-2017 theme celebrates the courage of refugees who have refused to deny their beliefs or identity in the face of persecution, fled their homeland and often endured terrifying and dangerous journeys only to face the cruelty of detention before working hard to make a new life for themselves and their families. It also serves as a call to action for all Australians. Download the resource here.

refugee week 2016Also, The Uniting Church’s ‪Refugee Week 2016  resource Searching for Freedom celebrates the rich diversity refugees bring to Australian society! Searching for Freedom is a reminder of what people are doing when they flee situations of persecution and grave danger. 2016 SearchforFreedom_RefugeeWeekResource

Silence Land – a poem by Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017 while on Manus:
I have doubts about my sanity:
not everyone can bear this much.
They stole all my feelings;
there’s no wisdom left in my mind.
I am just a walking dead man.
I am just a walking dead man.
I have yelled for help so many times –
No one on this earth took my hand.
Now I see many mad things and imagine
how the world would look if it collapsed.
Perhaps it would be good for everything to
return to the past;
for nothing to be seen on the earth or in the sky.
It would feel so good to be a child
again and go back to my mother’s womb,
for there to be no sign of me
for never to have gone crazy in this place
I sound crazy speaking this way! It’s the outcome of being detained for four years after seeking asylum on the sea. Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017
(This poem, abridged, by an Iranian asylum seeker in detention on Manus Island were read as part of a poetic performance called ‘Through the Moon’). Sourced from ‘Adelaide Voices’, Sep-Nov 2017

Call to Leaders regarding Refugees
The Uniting Church in Australia responds
to the grace proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
who himself was a refugee.
We are called to work with all our hearts and minds
to love God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ.
We are called to express love and generosity of spirit
to the world for whom Christ died,
including the most marginalized people.
We seek to love the neighbour who is different
and welcome the stranger in our midst.
We implore civic leaders
to reflect the deep values of Australians,
shaped by different nations and cultures,
who seek to live in a world
characterized by peace and goodwill.
We therefore ask those leaders to embrace
a spirit of compassion
and concern for human dignity
in their considerations with regards
to Refugee and Asylum-seeker policy development.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Adopted by the South Australian Presbytery and Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia, October 2016)

Because it’s important to understand what’s happening in the world and in Australia for those searching for freedom, this resource includes information about Australia’s history of accepting refugees, what it means to seek asylum, and how many refugees there are in the world and where they are living.

It describes an alternative to ‘stopping the boats’, and includes a section on the situation of the roughly 30,000 people who are living in the community waiting to have their claims for protection processed.

The resource includes worship resources for Refugee Week as well as a number of ideas for what you can do to help bring about positive change. You can download a copy of the resource here.

See also Migrant and Refugee Sunday resources.

God of hospitality and refuge,
come to us here in this place of security and safety. Remind us that you are the God Almighty;
large enough for all people,
all nations, all tongues.
Help us, with the presence of your Holy Spirit,
to be able to create space
for those who seek asylum and refuge.
In the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen. (from UCA 2016 resource)

O Lord, how long shall we cry for help, and you will not listen?
Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’
and you will not save?
Why do you make us see wrong-doing and look at trouble?

In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?

(The response can be sung. The musical setting can be found in Uniting in Worship 2, p. 200)
Where is your justice, God?
Where is your purpose?
Where is your reason?
Where is your compassion?
Do you not care for your people,
your creation, your reputation?
Your purpose is hidden from our eyes.

In faith and hope, we respond:
‘How long, O God, how long?

Your reason is absent to our ears.
Your compassion is not discerned by our hearts. We have no hope (and remember asylum seekers who have no hope).
We are lost (and remember asylum seekers who are lost).
We are afraid (and remember asylum seekers who are afraid).
In faith and hope, we respond:

‘How long, O God, how long?
(from Uniting in Worship 2, Second Order of Service for the Lord’s Day, pp 200-202, adapted, The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (2005), Sydney: Uniting Church Press)

From a blessing for refugees in Pierre Pradervand’s forthcoming book of 365 Blessings to Heal Ourselves and the World:
“We bless the host nations in their spirit of compassion and sharing that their citizens may be awakened to the immense human, intellectual and cultural wealth these newcomers represent for them. We bless all concerned in their consciousness that my sister or brother is myself and that the challenge of integrating these immigrants is truly an amazing gift of the universe in helping all work toward the win-win world that alone will guarantee the survival of the human race”.
(Above text from The Gentle Art of Blessing page).

We are not alone. We live in God’s world.
We believe in God,
who has freely given the Holy Spirit
to bind us together as a community of grace.

We believe that the spirit can lead us
in the discovery of truth,
in the pursuit of justice, and
in the practice of caring for one another.

In our homes, in the church and in the community the Spirit offers us inspiration and courage.
We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

(from Prayers on Parade (2006), compiled by Allan Shephard, Stepney, South Australia: Axiom Publishing. Permission is given for the use of this text in worship)



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Mothers Day resources

A Prayer for Mothers and Children
God be with the Mother
Who sits long nights beside those who cannot sleep
Who holds in aching arms the hurting child
Who carries in her heart the burden of care and worry
And comforts without words
God be with the Mother
Who listens and does not judge
Who forgives and bears no grudge
Who opens the door to her heart
No matter what the cost
God be with the Mother
Grant freedom from anxiety
Grant peace and understanding
Give hope and perseverance
Give patience and unlimited grace
God be with the child
Who enters an exciting world
Who has much to learn
Who has much to share
Who is becoming
God be with the child
Who looks up to the mother
Who takes in all the mother does
Who learns from the wisdom shown
Who has boundaries to learn and stretch
God be with the child
Grant freedom from anxiety
Grant peace and understanding
Give hope and perseverance
Give patience and unlimited grace
God be with us all
May we learn to be all that we can be
May our respect be always there
May our gratitude be endless
May we love and be loved
May this all be in the name of Christ
(Adapted from a prayer from “God Be With The Mother – A Mother’s Day Prayer”) Continue reading

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COCU38B.Easter 7B.13th May 2018

Also Mothers’ Day in Australia

Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26
Peter suggests that the disciples should find a replacement for Judas, so they select two candidates and draw lots, and Matthias is added as an apostle to join the other eleven.
Psalm 1
Those who love God’s instruction and refuse to join in the company and works of the wicked are truly happy and bear fruit, while the wicked are ultimately destroyed.
1 John 5: 9-13
God has testified about Jesus that life is in him, and whoever has God’s Son has life eternal, so if we believe God’s testimony, we have this life.
John 17: 6-19
Jesus prays for his followers, the ones to whom he has revealed God’s name and God’s word which is truth. He prays that God would keep them safe, would make them one as he and the Father are one, and would make them holy in the truth.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources on this site (general)

Call to Worship
From comfortable pews, from tricycle seats, from easy chairs in front of TVs:
God gathers us in, giving us the words with which to proclaim the gospel.
At kitchen sinks, at laptops and blackboards, at nursing stations:
Christ calls us to share in serving all creation.
In communities gathered to pray, in memories of those who served, in families relaxing in the backyard:
The Holy Spirit fills us with God’s joy.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

More: Call to Worship

Prayer of the Day
We do not notice, Holy God,
but you give us:
time, so we can think about your Word;
silence, so it may fill our emptiness;
wisdom, so we may know the path to walk.
We do not notice,
Risen Christ,
how you have not given just a piece of yourself,
or a portion of your grace, but all of who you are:
for us – and yet, you regard US
as God’s amazing gift to you!
We do not notice, Nourishing Spirit,
how you remove our fears,
simply by sitting with us and holding our hearts;
or how you swirl around us, pulling us deeper and deeper
into love, grace and peace,
until we find ourselves rooted forever in the One
who watches over us forever.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Prayers of Thanksgiving

Prayer of Confession
We gather as God’s people, believing the promises fulfilled in Christ.  We do not need to confess out of dread or fear, but in trust that God is faithful to forgive us and make us new.  Join me as we pray, saying:
How foolish we are, Calling God, to think we could be happy
when we sit in seduction’s comfortable seats,
and scoff at your call to discipleship;
or run down the easy streets of sin, rather than following Jesus;
or idolize the celebrities and superstars,
and not see you in those who wait on us
in stores, restaurants, and sport arenas.
Forgive us, Author of Life.
Keep us from our silly selfishness
as we seek to become those branches children can climb on;
as we hope to provide shade for fellow pilgrims;
as we long to be continually nourished
by the Living Water of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
A silence is kept as we ponder on these words for ourselves

Assurance of Pardon
We are no longer blown about in the winds of the world, we are grounded, yesterday, today, tomorrow in God’s forgiveness, hope and love.
Today, tomorrow, forever:  we can bear fresh fruit, sharing God’s peace and joy with everyone we meet.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

More: Prayers of Confession/Words of assurance

Prayers for Illumination

COCU38B.Easter7B.Readings 2018
Readings Easter 7B 2012
(Note: the readings are printed on double sided A4, to be folded. The text is in landscape format. We use this handout in our services during the week)

Prayer of Dedication
Holy and wondrous God, our sure desire is to share in your mission of love to the world. May these gifts of money imaginatively contribute to that hope and our lives continue to mirror its creative movement forward. Bless these gifts and bless us in your service. Amen.
(Source: Words4Worship)

Prayer of Dedication
As we offer our gifts, remind us that they will be used to heal the broken often lost in the systems we have created, to feed those who don’t have the forms filled out correctly, and to bring hope to those who wander the shadowed alleys of despair. This we pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

More Prayers of Dedication

Prayers for Others

Lord’s Prayer – various

Commissioning and Benediction
Followers of Christ, in your hands has been placed a privileged and awesome responsibility; to share with the Spirit of God in the continuation of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Be grounded in his love. Be rooted in his justice. Prayerfully look about you and hear your own calling in the midst of our unfolding life together. And so may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the friendship of the Holy Spirit, encourage you, empower you and inspire you onwards. Let it be so!
(Source: Words4Worship)

From the comfort of this place,
to the discomfort of discipleship,
we will go to serve your people, Loving God.
Weeding community gardens which feed the hungry,
tutoring children after school,
we will go to wrap others in your grace, Jesus our Brother.
Listening to the stories of the ignored,
learning the language of our newest neighbors,
we will go to discover the truth you share in every moment, Spirit of Wisdom.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

More Benediction and Blessing

A tree planted by a stream (originally sourced from Godspace website) – Psalm 1 Continue reading

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