COCU40B.Trinity Sunday B.27May2018

Andrei Rublev

Trinity by Andrei Rublev

3 birds

3 birds

Readings – Year B
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

Posted in COCU Year B, Year B | Tagged | 1 Comment

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
Uniting Church (SA Synod) compilation of resources

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

Posted in Reconciliation Sunday | Tagged , | 1 Comment

resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan and UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe have written to churches in Indonesia to express sadness and solidarity after the tragic church bombings during Sunday worship in Surabaya, Java. 11 people were killed in the explosions and more than 43 were wounded in what has been called the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia in more than a decade. A congregation of our partner church in Java was one of those targeted, wounding an Elder and several young members. 
Almighty God, we come to you with our hearts full of thoughts.
But you are our refuge and strength,
the light in the darkness,
and so with confidence we offer our prayers to you.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We stand in solidarity with all good citizens in Java
pray for the churches of Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal traditions,
and we are confronted by the attacks on Christian worshipers.
We bring to you all the deceased,
and our trust that in God’s peace their souls find rest.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for those who grieve the loss of life,
for those who are traumatized during Sunday worship,
for those who are separated from the loved ones and friends;
we ask for your healing presence in their lives
and we commend to your love all the injured.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We give to your care all those
who have been involved in the rescue operation.
Be with local churches and government forces
as they minister to the suffering communities.
Sustain them through this time of stress.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We commend to your care those who are cleaning up,
for those burdened by unimaginable losses
and who have found themselves
like refugees in their own locality.
We ask that the emotional and spiritual support
already offered by local communities and beyond
will encourage and lift their spirits.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for communities that have been devastated
– especially in East Java and West Java.
May your peace bring people together
to rebuild their lives and communities,
and bring them healing from all evil.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for families and friends in Australia
who feel far away from the loved ones in Indonesia,
and those who had been through racial and religious attacks
– still trying to make sense of the past.
Comfort them across the physical and emotional distance.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
We give thanks to God for the blessing in our lives,
especially the gifts of joy we so often take for granted
until they are in danger of being taken away from us
the gift of family, friends, a home, our possessions.
Most of all we praise God for the gift of life itself.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
God of light over darkness,
come into our hearts in the moment of now!
Come to transform our sorrow over the lost
into blessings to the living.
Come to reassure us your eternal truth
in the resurrection of Christ Jesus:
Life is always stronger than death.
Lord hear us
Lord hear our prayers.
(Source: Rev Dr Ji Zhang  张骥, Assembly Theologian in Residence, for our Partner Church GKI and Indonesian Communion of Churches. The prayer is rewritten based on the prayer of 2004 Asian Tsunami by Homebush Uniting Church)

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

Continue reading

Posted in Violence & Natural disasters | Comments Off on resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

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

Posted in COCU Year A, COCU Year B, COCU Year C, Pentecost Day B, Year B | Tagged | 2 Comments

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

Posted in COCU Year B, Year B | 1 Comment

World Council of Churches – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 13-20May2018

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The World Council of Churches commemoration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally runs from Friday, January 18 through Friday, January 25 (northern hemisphere, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul) and around Pentecost (southern hemisphere), which is also a symbolic date for unity. It is usually between the Day of Ascension and Day of Pentecost which in 2018 is 13th May and 20th MayIn 2018, the theme is, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” is inspired by Exodus 15:6. The resources for the week have been prepared by members of different churches in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Christians of many different traditions see the hand of God active in the ending of enslavement. It is a uniting experience of the saving action of God which brings freedom. For this reason the choice of the song of Moses and Miriam (Ex 15:1-21), as the motif of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 was considered a most appropriate one. It is a song of triumph over oppression. This theme has been taken up in a hymn, The Right Hand of God, written in a workshop of the Caribbean Conference of Churches in August 1981, which has become an “anthem” of the ecumenical movement in the region, translated into a number of different languages.

Downloadable 2018 booklet for service preparation available at this link.

Continue reading

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1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20);
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18;
2 Corinthians 4:5-12;
Mark 2: 23-3:6

Contemplative activity
Joanna (Spacious Faith) describes an activity for Psalm 139 that adds deeper meaning to this beautiful and meaningful psalm.
To begin, find a quiet space and gather your supplies – a Bible, blank paper or sketchbook journal page, black pen, pencil, ink pad (optional)
To engage in the practice
Sit quietly for a few moments. Take several slow, deep breaths and ask God to make you aware of the Spirit’s presence with you.
Read Psalm 139:1-18 slowly and prayerfully – aloud if possible (or if in a group settting, take turns to slowly read a verse at a time).
Lay one hand on the blank paper and trace around it with the black pen.
Turn your hand over and examine the lines on your palm. Use the pencil to lightly sketch in your palm lines. (The purpose is not to get the lines perfect, but to pay close attention to this one small part of your amazing body.)
As you trace your hand and sketch in your palm lines, know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Imagine the intimacy of God knitting you together in your mother’s womb. Realize that God knows the curve of each finger, each line on your palm.
If you want, you can also use an ink pad and place your thumb and finger prints in the drawing. Look closely at your fingerprints – nobody else in the world has fingers exactly like yours.
Now begin writing out Psalm 139, writing the words around the outside of your hand drawing–up the side of the hand, then around each finger and down the other side. When your text has gone all the way around the hand drawing, simply make a second row of text.
You might want to write all of Psalm 139:1-18, or you might pick out the verses that speak most deeply to you in the moment. (A shortened version for writing out would be verses 1-7 and 13-16.)
After you have written the scripture around your hand, simply place your hand inside the drawing. Allow God to speak to you. Accept the reality that God knows you deeply and loves you deeply.



Posted in COCU Year A, Year A | Comments Off on COCU41B.3June2018

COCU36B.Easter 6B.6May2018

Acts 10: 44-48
As Peter preaches to the Gentile believers in Cornelius’ house, the Holy Spirit comes on them and they begin to speak with other tongues. Peter then baptises them confirming that God’s salvation is for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews.
Psalm 98
An exhortation to all creation to praise God for the wonderful works God has done, revealing God’s righteousness to all nations and bringing God’s justice into the world among all people.
1 John 5:1-6
When we love God and keep God’s commandments, we love God’s children. It is by this love that we know that we are born of God, and it is this faith that overcomes the world.
John 15:9-17
Jesus calls his followers to love one another just as he has loved them. There is no greater than to lay down one’s life, as Jesus does, for one’s friends. Through this obedience to Jesus’ command to love we bear fruit that lasts.
(Summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
COCU36B.Easter6B.Readings handout 2018

Recommended resources

A Call To Worship (based on Psalm 98)
O sing to the Lord a new song,
For our God has done wonderful things!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth,
Lift your voices in praise and shout for joy!
For the Lord is a righteous judge who come in victory,
And all the earth will worship his Holy Name!

Call to worship (Based on Psalm 98)
Here today there is love, freely available to all.
Not our human loving, fragile and intermittent,
but God’s supreme love.
May a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth,
break forth into joyous songs of praise.

Here today is love, higher than our loftiest hopes,
deeper than the immensities of time and space,
God’s inclusive love.
Let the seas roar their praise,
and everything in them.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and the hills sing together their happiness.

The joy of the living Christ Jesus be with you all.
And also with you.
(Source: Bruce Prewer)

Call to Worship
We gather to worship the One
who crafted creation out of chaos,
our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
We gather to lift our praise
to the God who gives us voice,
we bring the songs which have echoed
in our hearts all week long.
We gather as the children of God,
our joy unbroken in God’s love.
young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched
lift the new, new songs of faith.
(Source: Lectionary Liturgies by Thom Shuman)

See also general Call to Worship resources

Prayer of Thanksgiving
We rejoice and give thanks, O Lord, that your love is for absolutely anyone who comes to you with humble heart and a searching spirit.  You do not withhold your love and grace because of someone’s nation, tongue or tribe.
We acknowledge that we are not so free from prejudice and intolerance. And yet, humbly we look to you for unconditional love – and we rejoice with all of creation in your lavish gift of love  and tenderness toward us.  How blessed we are that we should be called children of the Living God!
And there is something else we are aware of Lord.  At the heart of it all, we know that if your love should ever be withheld from another because of race, or clan or station in life, it could not but be withheld from us.  If you do not love all you could not love any.  We rejoice in this amazing truth!
O Lord God, we lift up our hearts in praise and open our hearts to receive the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to make our hearts your heart and our lives the vehicle of witness to your divine love! Amen.

See also general Prayers of Thanksgiving.

A Prayer of Confession
Loving God, our lives are ever open to your Spirit.  You know us better than we know ourselves.  Our thoughts are known to you before we think them and our words are already in your ear before we speak.  O merciful God, we acknowledge that we have often spoken without thinking and have hurt those you have commanded us to love.  We have closed our hearts when they should be open and withheld compassion when we should have cared.  O give us grace to live according to the commandment of your love and cleanse our hearts today from all wrong.  Amen.

See also general Prayers of Confession.

A Prayer of Dedication
For the beauty of the earth, the joy of human love and the wonder of your grace, we give thanks O Lord.  All of these things are gifts from you.  May the gifts we bring become instruments that will spread your gifts to others.  Amen. Continue reading

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Acts 8: 26-40: Philip is instructed to go to a certain road where he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch on his way home after worshipping in Jerusalem. Philip finds him reading Isaiah’s scroll, and explains what the Scriptures say about Jesus. Then he baptises the eunuch
Psalm 22: 25-31: A psalm of praise and commitment in which God is celebrated for God’s provision and authority, and all people are challenged to worship God, to fulfil promises to God, and to proclaim God’s righteousness to unborn generations.
1 John 4: 7-21: An exhortation to love one another, because God is love. If we cannot love our brothers and sisters whom we have seen, we cannot love God whom we do not see, but, as God has loved us, inspiring love for God in our hearts, so too, we should love one another. Such love drives out fear.
John 15:1-8: Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. God desires us to bear fruit, and to do so we must remain in Christ.
(Summaries of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Readings handout:
COCU35B.Easter5B.Readings 2018

Acts reflection:
So, the Ethiopian Eunuch is reading aloud (a very common practice – if you had the ability to read, then you would read aloud) from the scroll of Isaiah (Ch53), a passage that has come to be associated with the passion of Jesus. What was this Eunuch doing reading this particular part of Isaiah? Well, the background is that Eunuchs were specifically excluded from the temple (as had been this particular Eunuch’s experience in Jerusalem), based on the application of the Deuteronomy text (23.1):  “If a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be admitted to the assembly of the Lord” (NIV). But here, in the very section of Isaiah where the Eunuch is reading, is this text:
Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say,
“The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.”
For this is what the LORD says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever” (Isaiah 56:3-5)
A text of inclusion. It would have been a ‘favourite’ part of the Isaiah scroll for the Eunuch, one he would return to again and again, as it gave him a place of belonging. And, in the course of reading this text of inclusion, he would have become familiar with the surrounding text (no verses and chapter headings in those days!) including Chapter 53 that is the focus of the Acts 8 reading today (and for the conversation between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch):
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
After Philip gives witness to Jesus, the Ethiopian is baptized (in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy), and eunuchs find a place of belonging in the reign of God. That which was excluded has now been included.
It would have been a surprising and wonderful moment for both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
Here’s a great reflection on this reading by Richard Beck.
(excerpt) The “eunuch story” may, at least in part, speak to the issue of social contribution or function. It seems that great emphasis was given to function in the old covenant “congregation of the Lord”. The “commission” of old covenant community focused around the growth of the Jewish nation, particularly in terms of the “be fruitful and multiply” directive. What we think of as evangelism wasn’t a primary focus — having and raising children with a particular worldview and a peculiar kind of monotheism was. Eunuchs could not contribute to this social mandate, and were therefore viewed as vestigials, as supernumeraries. There was a central religious goal, and these eunuchs were people who, having no way to further that goal, had no place in the religious community.
So, when the Spirit of the Lord went to miraculous lengths to ensure that the first known Christian non-Jewish convert was both of an alien culture and a “functionless” eunuch, the intention was to make us think about what it means to have “function” within the new covenant community of faith, and further: about how the Christian community, like a family, must embrace a non-utilitarian society”. Continue reading

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