The service has been compiled by Sue with the assistance of resources created by Rev Bruce Prewer and Rev Rex A. E. Hunt, and Seasons of the Spirit by WoodLake Publishing.
GATHERING THE PEOPLE
Welcome and Announcements
Welcome to Engadine Uniting Church. We are working towards making this a safe place for all people to worship regardless of race, creed, age, cultural background or sexual orientation. A warm welcome is extended to all. Your presence both enriches us and this time of celebration together.
Acknowledgement of Country
For thousands of years Indigenous people have walked in this land on their own country. Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives. Always Was, Always Will Be.
Let us begin our service by acknowledging the Dharawal People and their stewardship of this land throughout the ages. We Acknowledge:
Our gratitude for this land we share today,
Our sorrow for the cost of that sharing,
Our hope that together in the spirit of Reconciliation,
we move to a place of justice and partnership,
As together we walk gently on this land.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
In the mystery of life about us there is light.
Let the light we kindle go before us,
strong in hope,
wide in good will,
inviting the new day to come.
Today we celebrate God beyond, beside and within us.
We celebrate the light of the world that guides us in the way and the truth.
We celebrate the Spirit that renews life, joy, and possibilities.
We symbolise this in the lighting the candle
Eternal and near at hand.
Already and not yet.
Lighten the darkness of our world,
move in our hearts,
draw us deeper into the mystery of your being.
Call to worship
Our opening prayer is inspired by the Psalm for today, Psalm 123.
We lift our eyes to you, O God; we lift our spirits in worship. We look to you, seeking guidance and comfort. We look to you seeking healing and renewal. We look to you, seeking mercy and grace; for we have had our fill of struggles and stress. We have had more than our fill of worrying and wondering. To you, O God, we lift our eyes and spirits, with hope and confidence in your love. Be known to us as we worship and help us find rest. Amen
For You, Deep Stillness (Robin Mann)
For you, deep stillness of the silent inland
For you, deep blue of the desert skies
For you, flame red of the rocks and stones
For you, sweet water from hidden springs.
From the edges seek the heartlands
and when you're burnt by the journey
may the cool winds of the hovering Spirit
soothe and replenish you.
In the name of Christ, In the name of Christ
Prayer of adoration and confession
Lord, you bestowed upon us many gifts, and we confess we have often squandered them.
You gave us lands and seas, mountains and plains,
and we confess we have polluted and allowed for their demise.
You gave us diversity in ethnicity, culture, and race,
and we confess we have often used these to uphold and support division.
You gave us creatures and plants, flora and fauna beyond imagining,
and we confess we have consumed and overtaken habitats, allowing whole species to disappear.
You gave us humanity in miraculous diversity. We confess we have failed to see this beauty and celebrate it, and have allowed prejudice and judgment to create suffering for too many.
You entrusted us with so much, and yet we allowed our fears to overtake us and failed to bring new life in the abundance possible in your love.
Forgive us, Holy Wisdom, and teach us again how to trust in you, how to live in the hopeful knowledge that you will multiply our efforts and be with us all the ways. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Words of affirmation
As we turn to God in confession, God turns to us. God offers us abundant life. Let us embrace it, celebrate it, multiply it, and rejoice. For God’s gifts to us never end. Amen.
The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be always with you!
And also with you!
HEARING THE WORD
Let us pray: God, please open our ears and minds and hearts so that as we hear the words of the Bible, you will speak to us and bring us new life.
Matthew 25:14–30 is the parable of the talents, where the master hands out parcels of money before going away; the first two servants carry on business and make more money but the third servant hides the money in the ground. Often read as an exhortation to use one’s gifts, it has also been seen to encourage us to take risks and step out in faith. As both of these ideas are covered well by other passages of scripture, we can afford to take a chance on this one and step into the world that Jesus lived in, to hear what the characters in the story may have said, as if Jesus’ listeners weren’t already completely aware of the situation:
First reader: I am a harsh person. I take what is not mine to take. I have no legitimate claim on the property. I am an absentee landowner – profit is all that matters to me. Many rich landowners like myself live outside of Palestine. I am not concerned about the country and its people. I am more concerned about getting as much profit as I can. The well-being of my tenants is not my concern.
Second reader: I am both the first and second servant. I fear the landowner. If I do not imitate the landowner’s practice of exploiting other poor people by changing interest I will be in danger of being destroyed by the landowner. I have been given five, or three, talents – a talent is equivalent to about 15 years of an average salary – with the expectation I will increase the landowner’s wealth. I know that charging interest is against the Jewish law at this time because it exploits people whose families are so poor they cannot even help each other out.
First reader: I am the third servant. I am aware that the landowner is a harsh man
who takes what is not his to take. I know that the landowner does not have any legitimate authority. I will resist the landowner’s requirement to invest 15 years of an average salary to increase his wealth, and I know the consequences of this defiance. But I can resist in two ways:
I can bury the money therefore challenging the landowner’s ownership of me, and also refuse to participate in the exploitation of the community around me.
Second reader: This parable by Jesus is told by Matthew in a collection of other stories that include the sheep and the goats, the ten bridesmaids, the thief in the night and the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew is writing to believers in the first century for whom living out the Way of Jesus under the yoke of the Empire it isn’t all beer and skittles, and he encourages them in their efforts to resist injustice and upset the status quo. Are we willing to keep doing that today, even if the price is high?
Sermon/Reflection Andy Corkhill from Christmas Bowl
RESPONDING TO THE WORD
Let us pray this version of the Lord’s Prayer by David Sorrill:
O God, you love us like a good parent,
and are present in every aspect of our existence
May your nature become known and respected by all
May your joy, peace, wholeness and justice
be the reality for everyone as we live by the Jesus Way
Give us all that we really need to live every day for you
And forgive us our failures as we forgive others for their failures
Keep us from doing those things which are not of you,
and cause us always to be centred on your love
For you are the true reality in this our now,
and in all our future.
In the Jesus Way we pray. Amen.
With Your Grace (Gina Ogilvie & Monica O'Brien)
God of mercy, God of grace,
Come among us fill this place,
Heal our hurting, mend our wounds,
Come among us with your grace.
Pour your love upon us now,
Touch our spirits, make us new.
See our longing, hear our prayer,
Come among us with your grace.
Bless this moment
Take our hearts, use our hands to honor you.
With our voices we will sing,
"Come among us with your grace."
We do not take up the offering today in person, but we dedicate our gifts of money, time and talents made both now and during the week to You with this prayer:
Generous God, we bring our diverse gifts.
Let your Holy Spirit breathe life into our serving,
so that all that we do may bring glory to your name. Amen
Prayers of the people
Lord, You have given us song.
Help us to take a risk and sing with abandon.
You have given us dance.
Help us to take a risk and move our bodies with joyful exuberance.
You have given us a natural world to care for.
Help us to take a risk and plant seeds, protect habitat,
decrease our carbon footprint, and relish in the delights
of your harvest.
You have given us responsibilities.
Help us to recognise them not as
burdens, but as blessings and opportunities to show you
our love and devotion.
You have given us relationships.
Help us to discover how they offer
us new dimensions to our souls.
Help us to honour and cherish everyone.
You have given us community.
Help us take a risk and open the doors wide to a need
any in need of our communion, of a safe harbour, and
the nourishment of welcome.
You have given us your Holy Spirit.
Help us to take a risk and be a people of justice, peace,
We thank you, Great God, for all the gifts of our lives.
May we use them wisely and joyfully.
Benediction Song: Read as a meditation
Little Things with Great Love. Audrey Assad.
This is a meditation on the words of Mother Teresa "God does not call us all to great things, but calls us to do small things with great love."
In the garden of our Savior no flower grows unseen
His kindness rains like water on every humble seed
No simple act of mercy escapes His watchful eye
For there is One who loves me
His hand is over mine
In the kingdom of the heavens no suffering is unknown
Each tear that falls is holy, each breaking heart a throne
There is a song of beauty in every weeping eye
For there is One who loves me
His heart, it breaks with mine
O the deeds forgotten, O the works unseen
Every drink of water flowing graciously
Every tender mercy You’re making glorious
This You have asked of us:
Do little things with great love
Little things with great love
At the table of our Savior, no mouth will go unfed
And His children in the shadows stream in and raise their heads
O give us ears to hear them, and give us eyes that see
For there is One who loves them. I am His hands and feet
Children of the Light, let us take our willingness to see, and
to name, and to tend, and to care out into the world that is
so often shadowed. And let us invest ourselves in helping to
bring about God’s realm on Earth. Let us go in peace. Amen.
CALLED AS PARTNERS
Called to ministries of grace,
We respond with deep commitment
Fresh new lines of faith to trace.
May we learn the art of sharing,
Side by side and friend with friend,
Equal partners in our caring
To fulfil God’s chosen end.
Christ’s clear call to work and worth,
Let us follow, never faltering,
Reconciling folk on earth.
Men and women, richer, poorer,
All God’s people, young and old,
Blending human skills together
Gracious gifts from God unfold.
In a small or global sense,
Help us bear each other’s burdens,
Breaking down each wall or fence.
Words of comfort, words of vision,
Words of challenge, said with care,
Bring new power and strength for action
Make us colleagues, free and fair.
Ways to order human life
Then surround each person’s sorrow
With a calm that conquers strife.
Make us partners in our living,
Our compassion to increase,
Messengers of faith, thus giving
Hope and confidence and peace.
Jane Parker Huber
Conclusion of service (after recording has stopped): there will be time to bring individual prayers in the midst of the congregation.
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent, which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he, returning, chide
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."