The Kingdom of God has come near (7 Feb 2021)

7 Feb 2021 by Rev Paul Bartlett (service and message), Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash in: Worship Services: 2021


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all living creatures.

Since time immemorial, Australia’s First Nations peoples have lived on and been good stewards of this part of God’s creation. We give thanks for their stewardship of, their identity with, their very sense of being that resonates with God’s Creation. We acknowledge that on this Dharawal land we too gather in the Name of God our creator and pay our respects to their elders past and present.



Darkness is strong but Light is stronger.

Christ Jesus is the Light of the world and darkness has not overcome him. Thanks be to God!



Come and sing songs of celebration to God our Creator.
Bring your wonder, curiosity and questions before God.
Come and pray passionately with Christ, our healer.
Bring your needs, hopes and desires to Jesus.
Come and listen carefully with Spirit, our guide.
Bring an openness of heart and mind for where Spirit is moving this day.
You are welcome here – bring your whole being to worship this day, for God meets us here.


HYMN TIS 560All my hope on God is founded’ vs 1, 2, 3 & 5



All my hope on God is founded

All my trust he will renew

Through all change and chance he guides me

Only good and only true.

God unknown, he alone, calls my heart to be his own.


Human pride and earthly glory

Sword and crown betray our trust

All we build with care and labour

Tower and temple, fall to dust

But God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower.


God’s great goodness lasts for ever

Deep his wisdom, passing thought

Splendour, light and life attend him

Beauty springing out of naught.

Evermore, from his store, new-born worlds rise and adore.


Still from earth to God eternal

Sacrifice of praise be done

High above all praises praising

For the gifts of Christ his Son.

Hear Christ call, one and all: those who follow shall not fall.                Joachim Neander 1650 - 1680






BIBLE READINGS                              

Isaiah 40:21 – 23, 28 - 31 (NRSV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.


Mark 1: 29 – 39 (NRSV) As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them. That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door.  And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

In this is found the Word of the Lord. Praise be to God! Amen



Lord Jesus Christ, the Scriptures proclaim that everyone is searching for you. Lord, we seldom search for you amongst the faces we see, the stories we hear and the lives we live. Be that Good Shepherd to me this day who always seeks and always searches till our hearts find their rest in You.

Lord Jesus, the Scriptures proclaim that the whole city brought all who were sick to your door.

Lord, we seldom bring anything to you preferring to ignore who we are or to sort it out ourselves.

Be the One Lord on whose door we knock this day, bringing all that we are, all that needs your healing touch, acceptance and presence in our lives.

Lord Jesus Christ, the Scriptures proclaim that while it was still dark you went off to a deserted place to pray. Lord, we seldom pray except when all else fails us. Be the One Lord to whom we pray in our first waking thoughts that we may discern your refreshment, will and purpose for each day.


Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, so grant us compassion to see the needs of others and grant us courage to speak our own needs. Form us as your community of hope and healing for the world. Move among us this day, attentive to your spirit and your word in our midst. Amen


HYMN Marty Haugen "All are Welcome"


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


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 a symbol of God's grace
Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus


All are welcome, all are welcome
All are welcome in this place


Let us build a house…



SERMON                                 “The Kingdom of God has come near”

You may remember an old Qld joke which goes something like this. “Prime Minister Bob Hawke was talking with each of the State Premiers and Bob would tell the story of his father Clem who was a Congregational Minister. Bob not being the most religious of people would comment on his Dad’s access to God via prayer and in his own inimitable style Bob said that when he rang his Dad to ask for advice it was always a long distance call as he was in Canberra and his Dad was in South Australia. No matter the expense associated with those calls, Clem’s wisdom was always valued.

The Qld Premier said ‘when I make such calls I can talk as long as I like and it isn’t just to your old Dad I can talk directly with the Almighty because in Qld heaven is just the cost of a local call away.


Mark begins his Gospel in a hurry, getting straight to the point in the first 20 verses of Ch 1:

The Kingdom of God has come near; change your ways and believe; he comes not just to heal our lives but does so in the company of ordinary fishermen from Galilee of all places!


No setting off to Jerusalem and enlisting famous scribes or exalted Pharisees to sell his Good News!

I know we now take all of this for granted, that Jesus begins his ministry amongst the people he grew up with, local Galileans, but they are the most unlikely of people you’d choose to spread the Biblical story Jesus wants to tell. Galilee was an out of the way place, it had a rebellious history, the ‘nothing good can come from Nazareth’ phrase is found in each of the Gospels.

But no, Jesus uses local people, where he lives, as if he saying to himself “they’ll be perfect”. This is an enormous statement and action – ordinary people, though untrained and unskilled have all the qualities and gifts needed – they are human beings made in God’s image, that’s all you need.


No longer must our daily lives be lived at a distance from God, hidden behind a Temple curtain in the Holy of Holies, no longer must we offer daily/weekly sacrifices of money or animals to keep that access to God open, no longer must we feel a sense of perpetual failure or lack of self-worth because we can never live up to or adhere to the 563 laws we must abide by each day.

For hundreds of years God’s people lived this sort of life, in all its trials and tribulations, alone.


But in Jesus, God is now within arms-length, he is able to touch and be felt, words of intimacy and authority, tenderness and power are given to all who seek him and all he reaches out to.


And while illness and death still occur, they no longer define or have the last say in who we are nor are they a sign of God’s displeasure. Where death and illness were seen as an absence of God’s presence, rather, that amidst all of what it means to be human, to live this life, God is present.


It is this Message that Jesus wants to tell as many people as possible, and through him, have us tell as many people as possible as well. Yes, Jesus could have set up shop in Nazareth or Capernaum and been as busy as he wanted to be, within that local community. But every person needs to hear his Good News as the disciples said on finding him for “everyone is searching for you”.


We believe the Good News of Jesus is not just for us, here, in our small faith community, in fact, the effect his Message has on us, compels us, we can do no other, than to share it with all whom we meet in ways that value them and the One on whose behalf we speak. It is good news!!


In our world of increasing exhaustion, disengagement & overwhelming need, and where two of our greatest challenges in COVID-19 and climate change, many will only believe these are real or urgent when it directly affects them. Into such a self-centred, self-ish world of dis-ease (lack of Peace) Jesus comes to touch, to heal, and to set free, not just their lives but the lives of all who live on the Earth.


And if all of these issues seem too big and too overwhelming, if the resources we’ve used in the past as we lived our daily life or as a faith community no longer sustain us, then the words from Isa 40 today are given to us afresh but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”.

And the Hebrew word ‘to wait’ is an active verb – it believes, trusts and anticipates.


In Mark Ch 1 vs 14-15 we hear “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”   To repent literally means to ‘turn around’, to change the focus of our lives from self to God, to believe means to put that turning into tangible actions that engage all whom we meet. Evidence of that renewal in our lives is the greatest invitation we can offer to others who too long for Jesus’ touch and call and claim upon their lives. To His name be praise and glory. Amen


HYMN TIS 638 O Christ the healer we have come’ First Plymouth Church, Nebraska


O Christ, the healer, we have come

To pray for health, to plead for friends.

How can we fail to be restored

When reached by love that never ends?


From every ailment flesh endures

Our bodies clamour to be freed

Yet in our hearts we would confess

That wholeness is our deepest need.


In conflicts that destroy our health

we diagnose the world’s disease

our common life declares our ills:

is there no cure, O Christ, for these?


Grant that we all, made one in faith

In your community may find

The wholeness that, enriching us

Shall reach the whole of humankind.                         Rev Fred Pratt Green CBE 1903 - 2000





Before us is a table that needs no turning. Rank means nothing. Privilege is simply being human.

It’s the top of all top tables and at the same time the lowest and most accessible. It is open to everyone. Jesus said ‘I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Come to me, I will never turn you away’.

In and through common bread and wine the ordinary things of the world made holy for us, we come in faith to eat and to drink, his presence at work restoring, reviving and renewing.


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.


Words of Invocation and Invitation…




Closing Prayer: Gracious God, you give us your work to do in the world –

Send us out with the good news of the coming of Christ to all. Amen


BLESSING & BENEDICTION (Written by Brooke Prentis from Common Grace)

May the God of truth – open our ears and eyes to the wind whistling through the Grasstrees.

May the God of justice – open our minds to the flowing actions of the waters

from refreshing rain, to gentle brook,

from mighty river to raging sea.

May the God of love – open our hearts to the beat of the Clapsticks calling us into rhythm.

Now go…to pursue Jesus, with truth, justice & love as we sing:


SONG 10,000 Reasons

Sung by 2-5 people the first 3 min 8 sec of the You Tube clip: Matt Redman (with lyrics)


Chorus: Bless the Lord O my soul, O my soul

Worship His holy name

Sing like never before, O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name.


The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again.


Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes




You’re rich in love

And you’re slow to anger

Your name is great

And your heart is kind.


For all your goodness

I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons

For my heart to find.