Acknowledgement of Country
We acknowledge the Dharawal people,
the first inhabitants of this place.
And the neighbouring Gweagal people who witnessed the landing of Captain Cook 250 years ago at Kurnell.
We honour them for their care of the land
part of God’s good creation
land on which we gather today.
We pay our respects to their elders, past and present.
God, you granted humanity
the gift of relationship with your creation.
You call us to respond with respect,
caring for the well-being of all you have made.
We give thanks for those who have heeded your call.
Lighting the Christ candle (you may wish to light a candle here)
By the Light of Christ we are shown the Way through darkness, doubt and despair.
By the Light of Christ the truth is illumined amidst false news, persuasive advertising and party politics.
By the Light which is Christ we are given life, abundant life and eternal life.
Eternal and near at hand.
Already and not yet.
God’s promise is the foundation of all life.
Holy Trinity, full of light and movement and mystery,
lighten the darkness of our world,
move in our hearts,
draw us deeper into the mystery of your being.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Lord of creation, to you be all praise!
Most mighty your working, most wondrous your ways!
Your glory and might are beyond us to tell,
and yet in the heart of the humble you dwell.
Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfill.
Your bondage is freedom, your service is song;
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.
Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind,
rich truth that surpasses man's knowledge to find.
What eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
is taught by your Spirit and shines from your Word.
Lord of all bounty, I give you my heart;
I praise and adore you for all you impart;
your love to inspire me, your counsel to guide,
your presence to cheer me, whatever betide.
Lord of all being, I give you my all;
if ever I disown you, I stumble and fall;
but, sworn in glad service your word to obey,
I walk in your freedom to the end of the way.
(Jack Copley Winslow)
Call to worship
No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here:
If you are young or old, you are welcome
If you have brown skin, black skin, white skin, or any colour of skin, you are welcome
If you are married or single, you are welcome
If you are sick or well, you are welcome
If you are happy or sad, you are welcome
If you are rich or poor, powerful or weak, you are welcome
If you believe in God some of the time or none of the time or all of the time, you are welcome
You are welcome here
Come with your gifts, your pain, your hope, your fears
Come with the traditions that have helped you and hurt you
Come with your experiences that have made you and broken you
Come with a mind, ready to engage, and a heart, open to discern
Come and listen for the Sacred Spirit that calls you to love your neighbour wholeheartedly, seek justice, create peace and practice compassion
You are welcome here!
Let us pray.
Silence for personal confession.
Let us ask our God’s forgiveness for wandering away from His Way.
For the times we have hurried along, not making time to walk with a friend or stranger.
For the time when our eyes have been so fixed on our destination, we have not enjoyed the journey, or appreciated the small things in life.
For the times we have not stopped to consider alternative paths, so sure of our own counsel. Others may be with us now but have arrived in the same place using roads strange to us.
Dear Lord, you are always with us and before us, drawing alongside as on the road to Emmaus, but ahead of us preparing the way. Thank you for your patience and forgiveness when our footsteps are hesitant and slow.
FORGIVENESS and ASSURANCE
Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God. Trust also in Christ whom God has sent,
for whoever trusts in him will not be put to shame.
Our cry for help has been heard. The lost have been found.
Now we are God’s people and have received mercy.
Sisters and Brothers,
........your sins are forgiven;
................be at peace.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for we have tasted your goodness,
and our lives are secure in your hands.
You laid the cornerstone of creation
and built earth and heaven by hand.
Through your prophets you promised to lay a stone in Zion
as a place of refuge for your faithful ones,
and a stumbling block for those who reject your ways.
In Jesus the Christ, your promise has been fulfilled.
He came among us as the way, the truth and the life,
and in him we have seen you.
He was rejected and crucified,
committing his spirit into your hands,
but you raised him to new life
and seated him at your right hand.
Now he is preparing a place for us
and drawing us to you,
that we might be a holy priesthood
and offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you.
Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
1 Peter 2:2-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built[a] into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture:
“See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him[b] will not be put to shame.”
7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,”
“A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,[c] in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
10 Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
John 14: 1-14
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus the Way to the Father
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path. (Psalm 119 v5)
Message Paul Bartlett There is room for me?
MESSAGE ‘There is room for me?’
If any of you have watched ‘Antiques Roadshow’ you’ll know that often the settings for these shows are in the English countryside against the backdrop of often vast 18th or 19th C stately homes.
In one place recently it was said that the house had a room for each day of the year…
And as our minds start to do the maths, you say, well then, that means 365 rooms.
I wonder how many kitchens, dining or drawing rooms and importantly how many bedrooms?
Would there be room for me if I wanted to stay?
Many years ago we lived in Bathurst and one of the great events in the year was the Bathurst 1000, which in those days occurred on the first long-weekend in October. The town doubled in size as people came from far and wide to witness 162 laps around the Mt Panorama circuit.
The race always started just as Church did at South Bathurst a mere 2km from the racetrack.
If you wanted to stay in a Hotel or Motel within 100km of the town then you rebooked your room for the following year as you were leaving, paying in full, in advance! So highly sought after were they!
If we move forward to 2020. Imagine the scene, in mid-March, you’re queueing up outside Coles before 7am on a weekday morning, waiting to enter in the hope of finding….toilet paper!
Seventh aisle across, down the back, why is that aisle so far away from the entrance!
No wait a minute, I can see a large pallet of the stuff just inside the front door…
I count, there are just 11 people in front of me, thank goodness you are only allowed one packet each and these are 12 rolls to a packet, wonderful! The rest of the shopping went in a blur before I arrived home with the long sought after TP! Now I can relax and enjoy the day, mission accomplished!
Share an example of when you’ve had to be ‘first in best dressed’ or panicked with your shopping.
Is this how we often see life with its seemingly ‘limited’ rooms or commodities in a ‘dog eat dog’ world.
Never enough to go around? Are you the one who fears missing out? Didn’t ever want to be last to the showers on that School camp by which time the water was cold! Don’t miss the school bus, better get there early. That Grand Final ticket, best start ringing very early and that special release of land sale. How was I to know they’d camp onsite the weekend before! And don’t get me started on the Boxing Day sales, getting a car spot at Westfield on Christmas Eve or a space at Wattamolla beach on Boxing Day!!
Let us Pray…
Lord, speak to us afresh through your Word, through song and the work of our hands, for Jesus’ sake!
It is the night before Jesus dies. The room is filled with tension and anxiety. Jerusalem is crowded with the noise of many people, rooms are at a premium. It will be the Passover in two days-time. The disciples though are overwhelmed by all that the last 3 years has been, now fearful of tomorrow.
Jesus ever reading and understanding their thoughts says ‘do not let your hearts be troubled’.
But our hearts are troubled Lord! We can focus on nothing else! How can we live without you!
We want to be with you always! Now Judas has left the meal, what’s he doing taking his leave so early?
Share a time, if comfortable doing so, when your hearts were troubled.
The words that follow from ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ in John 14 are now so familiar that they risk losing their power to heal and set free us amidst all our anxious thoughts and imaginings.
Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s House are many rooms. I’m going there to prepare a place for you…I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also, may be where I am going. These amazing four verses really can transform the way we can live each day.
When the unconditional love of family and friends - cannot always be taken for granted;
When nearly everything we engage in, in the world - requires us to be one step ahead of the next person, it can and does for many, change our attitude to life and each other. We risk turning ourselves into ogres and viewing others as ‘being in the way’ - life has become such a ‘first in best dressed’ race!
For when push does come to shove, as we saw with the panic buying of TP – no one else matters.
Is this the experience of life you at times have? Or does it just creep in through the pores of your skin subtly changing who you are? Do you sometimes see others, not as fellow travellers but as rivals competing for scarce resources or even, competing for attention, love and affection?
We were so generous & compassionate when the bushfires were on, but when something directly affected us, we changed overnight to hard-nosed hoarders. It’s as if we’re happy to help out so long as our own lives aren’t adversely affected. Yet at the heart of the Gospel, when we truly are there for each other, we change and are changed at times at great cost to our lives for those around us.
When we risk what we have, for the benefit of others, that is when sacrificial love, the love that we see embodied in the image last week of Jesus the Good Shepherd who risks his own life for others can transform us and those we serve. If we give advice and support to someone struggling in the water but never risk jumping in and getting our feet wet then we’re living a very dis-engaged, shallow existence.
Jesus goes ahead of us, to prepare our rooms, one of the aspects of His gift of eternal life lived with God, and can we trust him to do that? Do you long to? Where no deposit is ever enough or needed, because it is made possible through God’s Grace. This gift and promise of Christ’s takes away a large part of the anxiety and lack of confidence we may have about our own identity & place in God’s world.
This Gift gives us the freedom to live and use all our senses, all our God given gifts for today with and for all those we encounter, it enables us to live out the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness…)
And with ‘sin forgiven’ as in that line from the Lord’s Prayer, the events of days past no longer need overshadow us or be the prism through which we see what’s possible today and for all our tomorrows.
Is that image of ‘Jesus going ahead of you’, of ‘preparing a place for you’ and also for many others, one that can or does empower you and set you free to be your true self? As God is so generous with God’s house of many rooms, so we are invited to be generous with all that we are!
Most families and most grandparents, most of the time, experience ‘there are many rooms’ in God’s house and heart every time we welcome a new addition into the family. Janene and I would not want to burden our children with the expectation that they might have dozens of children – our ability & desire to love each new one is another reminder of the limitless nature of love and its ability to include.
Jesus’ commitment to the disciples on that Thursday night, for the life to come, didn’t stop the events of Good Friday and didn’t halt the times of grief, loss and persecution that his followers at times experienced. But His gift and promise does enable us to live now as if His Kingdom has come in all its fulness. As we so trust, so we can live His abundant Life. To His name be praise and glory! Amen.
Blessings, Rev Paul 3 May 2020
SONG – ‘Let us build a house’
1 Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive;
built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.
2 Let us build a house where prophets speak,
and words are strong and true,
where all God's children dare to seek
to dream God's reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness
and as symbol of God's grace;
here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
3 Let us build a house where love is found
in water, wine and wheat:
a banquet hall on holy ground,
where peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus,
is revealed in time and space,
as we share in Christ the feast that frees us:
4 Let us build a house where hands will reach
beyond the wood and stone
to heal and strengthen, serve and teach,
and live the Word they've known.
Here the outcast and the stranger
bear the image of God's face;
let us bring an end to fear and danger:
5 Let us build a house where all are named,
their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed
as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter,
prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
Marty Haugen (b.1950)
Prayers of the People
Dear Father God,
Your promise of mansions in heaven rings hollow for those who do not have a roof over their heads on earth. Hear our prayer for all women, men, boys and girls who are homeless. For those sleeping rough and in shelters. For those knowing they cannot pay rent for a long time. For those who have no relatives or friends to take them in. For those who have no place to keep possessions. For those in overcrowded slums contending with Covid -19.
We pray for Wayside chapel and other organisations who reach out. May aid organisations and governments provide security, shelter and hope. May dignity and wellbeing be restored. Amen
Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that, when we were still far off, you met us in your Son and brought us home.
Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory.
May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.
Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us so we and all your children shall be free and the whole earth live to praise your name, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Song: In My Father’s House are Many Mansions
This service is ended. The larger service begins.
We are a chosen race, royal priests, God’s own people,
called to declare the wonderful deeds of the One who called us
out of the darkness into glorious Light.
The nurturing, fatherly love of God always hold you in strong, everlasting arms.
The costly, brotherly love of Christ ever walk beside you and deliver you from all evil.
The dependable, motherly love of the Spirit ever enfold you with holy warmth.
Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
be with us and all who follow you in the way.
Deepen our appreciation of your truth
and fill us with your life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.
Therefore go out as God’s own people
to proclaim the mighty acts of God in Christ.
Love one another.
This is The Way of Christ.
Serve one another.
This is The Way of Christ.
Live in peace with one another.
This is The Way of Christ.
Seek justice for one another.
This is The Way of Christ.
We are called to walk, act, speak and live all of our lives with the love of Christ Jesus.
Come, let us follow The Way, let us love one another, and let us worship Christ our Saviour. Alleluia. Amen.
For further reflection, a poem and an article by Keith Giles
Where the Lord lives in heaven, is he lonely?
Does our Father walk his marble floors without
the company of anyone righteous? Who alone
is venerable enough to keep the Lord company?
My voice is small, yet I call to your house, Lord.
Does the wind enter your chambers and rooms,
cold and empty? Where are the souls of the righteous,
and how may they warm you? I call to your house,
Lord. I look for you in every neighborhood.
I knock on the doors of your churches and splinter
my knuckles to find my home in you. Who alone
is venerable enough to keep the Lord company?
The breezes of seraphic wings call for speech.
The chorus of saints harmonizes in hazed light.
The harrowed, holy families lay their repentance
before the thrones of Christ and the twelve apostles.
May they live well and reach down to us living
who are sublet and mortgaged, deeded and indebted.
Lord, I also bring repentance to offer for earnest money.
Even in this life, I ask to sit in your drafty parish home.
I’d be satisfied to live in a shack on the back roads
of heaven, just to live closer to you and visit, sometimes.
What I learned in the exotic air and streets of Jerusalem
is that, without company, even paradise is lonely.