Lost in Wonder (7 June 2020)

7 Jun 2020 by Paul Bartlett in: Worship Services: 2020

Dear friends in Christ, let us worship God this morning, each in our own place, knowing that through the presence of God’s Spirit we are one in Christ & united in faith.


We acknowledge the Dharawal speaking people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we live and who have been good stewards of God’s Creation since time immemorial. We also acknowledge their elders both past and present and pledge ourselves to work together for equality, justice & reconciliation.

In a world of darkness, we cannot see our neighbour’s face
Light shatters the darkness and invites us into community
A world without light, is a world enveloped in fear.
Light has come in Christ Jesus, the light of the world!

You are all welcome, may Christ Jesus’ name be always honoured.
May our time together be a safe place for all our doubts and fears, all our joys and thanksgivings.
Where the reality of life is acknowledged and where lives can be renewed.
We are welcome, because Christ welcomes each one of us, in unconditional love.


HYMN –  ‘Morning has broken’   

Morning has broken
Like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them, springing
Fresh from the word.

Sweet the rain’s new fall
Sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
Of the wet garden
Sprung from completeness
Where his feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light
Eden saw play.
Praise with elation
Praise every morning
God’s recreation
Of the new day.            Eleanor Farjeon 1881 – 1965 Bunessan, Isle of Mull, Scotland

Spend some time giving thanks for all that this past week has been for you…
It is often the smallest things which we take for granted: a phone call, clean water…


O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Holy God, Creator of all that is, Donor of Grace, and Giver of Life:
On the first day, you said let there be light.
We have seen your light but too often we turn away from its gaze;
On the second day, God created the sky, the vault above the waters below.
We look to the heavens for signs of your presence, ignoring your presence on earth amongst us;
On the third day, land appeared along with all that grows and produces food and crops.
We only see the land and all that is on it, to own and possess to the exclusion of others;
On the fourth day, God created the Sun and the Moon and the stars above.
We take the life that the Sun sustains for granted, as we do your Son, the Life of the world;
On the fifth day, God created the diversity of all living things in the sea, on land and in the air.
We kill and consume these creatures, a great extinction event is unfolding as if there is no tomorrow;
On the sixth day, God make humankind in God’s image, male and female and gave them this earth.
We forget that every person is made in your image not just those we may know and love.
On the seventh day, God rested and made it holy.
Forgive us Lord for never resting in you, for assuming that we are the masters of our own destiny.
Receive our lives & all the seven days of this past week Lord, that we may cherish & be good stewards of all of your Creation a reflection of your creative beauty and diversity, of your deep love. Amen.

HYMN – TIS 155 ‘O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder’ vs 1, 2 & 4 (adapted)
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand has made
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
    How great thou art, how great thou art!
    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
    How great thou art, how great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
    How great thou art, how great thou art!
    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
    How great thou art, how great thou art!

But when I think that God, his Son not sparing
sent him to die – I scarce can take it in
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim: My God, how great thou art!

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
    How great thou art, how great thou art!
    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
    How great thou art, how great thou art!        © Stuart Wesley Keene Hine 1899 - 1989

Matthew 28: 16 – 20 (NRSV)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

MESSAGE                “Lost in wonder, love and praise”
If you’ve ever been involved in the discipleship program ‘The Emmaus Walk’ you’ll know that amidst all the many things that happen over that three days that one particular moment on the Saturday can be life changing. Something that can also, in the best sense overwhelm us. It certainly did me!

Being overwhelmed is a bit like that part of the Gospels called the Transfiguration, as in Mark Chapter 9 vs 2-9 where Peter, James & John encounter Jesus in a cloud along with Elijah and Moses. The disciples are blown away by the encounter it is too much for them to process, but it stays with them through the tough times of life when that encounter on the mountain sustains them in their faith.

For others, such moments can be when proposing to the one that you love, the birth of that first child, a once in a life time holiday or a special place to view the wonders of creation. If we use computers then our screen saver will often feature such breathtaking scenery.

Q: Can you remember and share a time when you were blown away by a special moment?

Or when Cronulla won their first Rugby League Grand Final on Sunday evening 2 Oct 2016!

Psalm 8 is another one of those overwhelming type moments.
It is one of the most well-known and beloved of the 150 Psalms in the Scriptures.
The Psalmist marvels at the beauty and diversity of Creation and our place and role within it.
The Psalmist doesn’t say this is all possible because of our hard work or creativity, it is God’s handiwork and deep trust in giving us this earth and our exalted place with all its associated responsibility within it, that is almost too great to bear. It is just amazing and humbling. Wow!
THE job description for Life! Psalm 8 truly is a Psalm of Adoration and Praise!

And what a job description.
As our lives are lived in God’s world the Psalmist acknowledges how interconnected our ‘lifetime job description’ is with all of God’s Creation. Long before we heard about: climate change or mass extinction events, greenhouse gasses, holes in the ozone layer, the acidification of the oceans or of global warming the Psalmist reminds us that our destiny is inextricably linked with our care of Creation. We have been placed by God ‘in charge of everything you have made’ (New Living Translation) with personal accountability. What a precious responsibility. What trust we are given.

Yet here though is where many followers of Christ begin to squirm in their seats.
For centuries, especially in the West, we have interpreted the phrase found in Psalm 8 and in Gen 1 vs 28 to ‘have dominion over’ to mean to dominate. To lord it over, to dig up the earth, and its resources with little heed to the environment, or to sustainability. To raise and slaughter animals as if they are just there for our use and too often to enslave other human beings physically or economically out of our more advanced military might or economic power. That has given the word ‘dominion over’ a bad name. But the two, to have ‘dominion over’ and ‘to dominate’ are not the same!

I believe we are to rule, to have dominion over, to have responsibility for, on behalf of God, in, with and for all of Creation, for all that God at the end of the seventh day said ‘was very good’ (Gen 1:31) so that our rule honours God, acknowledges creation’s inherent goodness (for its own sake) and reflects God’s values, creativity and beliefs. (Repeat sentence for emphasis)

Q: How might this insight influence how you in practical ways might live in ‘dominion over’ God’s Creation?

And this is a life time job description. A Vocation. A way of Life.
Our involvement doesn’t sign off before or after we’ve done the weekly shopping or at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. Our dominion over, our responsibility to all that God created never ends, is never finished. It is always ongoing, and always being entrusted to the next generation.
A sacred trust and responsibility. For just as God never stops loving us and keeping the Universe in existence out of God’s own creative Will, so, we never stop in our dominion of this planet Earth.

Perhaps one day we can talk too about how we are called to be good stewards of outer space, of what orbits the Earth, of what we land on the Moon and what we take to and do on Mars!

In 30AD a group of Jewish men and women made the astonishing claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s only Son, flesh of our flesh, Son of the Living God.

In 1517, Martin Luther ‘re-discovered’ that a relationship of faith with God by Grace alone revolutionised the relationship people had with their Lord and with the Church. John Wesley in 1738 took that further by personalising the invitation to a relationship with Christ available to all people.

In 2020, drought, fire, flood and pandemic are reminding us of the frailty of human life on Planet Earth and our great need to re-discover afresh the wonder of God’s Creation in Genesis Chapter 1 and in Psalm 8 and the responsibilities we all have as Children of the Living God to be good stewards of it!

Who knows what new insights the Holy Spirit will help us glean from the Scriptures and the world we live in as the 21st Century continues to unfold. This journey of renewal never ceases if we are to follow a Pilgrim God, always leading us forward, always providing for us new insights and new ‘manna’ on the way as God did for the people of Israel over 3,000 years ago as they journeyed across the Sinai.

Overwhelmed? One small step is all it takes from each one of us to live out the Psalmist’s words; and remember that Jesus said ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’. As God holds each of us in God’s hand so we hold the world in ours, with all the resources which Christ gives available to us to be the stewards of God’s Creation. To God’s Name be wonder, love and praise. Amen  


Today, for the first time at Engadine UC, we will receive HC via Zoom praying through the mystery of God’s Holy Spirit who is with us always, that in the broken bread, it will be spiritual food for our lives.

From a 1980 Holy Communion Order in the Uniting Church, I bring you these words of Invitation:
Friends, this is the table of the Lord and he calls us to this sacred feast. Come, not because you are strong, but because you are weak; come not because of any goodness of your own, but because you need mercy and help; come, because you love the Lord a little and would like to love him more; come, because he loves you and gave himself for you.
The Lord be with you
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
We praise you, O God, that in your mercy you gave your only Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. We give thanks for his humble birth, for his life and ministry of love, for his sufferings and death on the cross, for his glorious resurrection and ascension and for the promise that he will come again.
O God, by your Word and Spirit, bless and sanctify this bread that it may be for us the body of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and that he may ever live in us and we in him.

As the bread is broken, he gave it to each one and said “take, eat, this is my body”.
Response: “It will be for us, spiritual food for our journey”.

After a time of quiet reflection…


We cannot eat of this bread, broken not just for us but for all the world without remembering those whose lives are broken and in need of our Lord’s healing and wholeness.
We cannot eat this bread, without bringing before you Lord and each other those whose lives are physically, financially and emotionally broken by the effects of COVID-19 as it continues to devastate individuals, families, communities and countries.
We continue to pray for all health and allied health professionals as they respond to those they encounter. Give them strength, courage, love and the resources to be able to respond safely and effectively. We pray for the many places in NSW that are now opening up for dining and socialising, for families being able to gather more regularly and for schools as they have returned to full time face to face teaching. We pray for those workers now starting to return to work amidst uncertain times and their fear of possible infection; and we continue to pray for our Federal, State and Territory governments as they protect the lives of people and the restarting of our economy.

And finally, again from the 1980 Communion Order:
God, our Creator, you have sought us so patiently and loved us so generously: we thank you for this meal shared in the Spirit with Jesus your Son, who makes as new and strong and brings us eternal life. We praise you for giving us all good gifts in him and pledge ourselves to serve you, even as in Christ you have served us. As you teach us to pray with confidence the prayer Jesus gave us:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us in the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.

OFFERING – As you are able please remember to put aside, send in or electronically transfer your financial support for the life and witness of our Engadine Uniting Church.

HYMN – TIS 578 ‘How firm a foundation, you people of God’ vs 1, 2, 3 & 5
How firm a foundation, you people of God
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word:
What more can he say than to you he has said
To all who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

For not, he is with you, and be not dismayed
For he is your God, and will still give you aid:
He’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand
Upheld by his righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters he calls you to go
The rivers of grief shall not you overflow:
The Lord will be with you in trouble to bless
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.

The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose
He will not, he cannot, desert to its foes:
That soul, though all hell shall endeavour to shake
He never will leave, he will never forsake.

UNITINGWORLD “ACT NOW ON COVID – 19”     https://vimeo.com/410894852

BLESSING & BENEDICTION    2 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NRSV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

HYMN – TIS 781 (repeat as often as you like)
Father, bless us as we go
Jesus walk beside us
Holy Spirit guide us.