Friday, 27 November 2020

Marsden Missive December 2020, January and February 2021


December 2020, January and February 2021

Marsden Missive

Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford  


Dear Parishioners, 

Purpose of Advent. 

As we enter the season of Advent and Christmas, I would like us to reflect on the Purpose of Advent. The first thing I would like to highlight is that during Advent we prepare for a very important guest. When someone you like is coming to stay, you may find it hard to wait for that day to arrive. But there are all kinds of things to do first, in order to be ready for

the visitor. The Christian Church calls the four weeks before Christmas, 'Advent' and the word means coming. It is the time of year when we get ready for the coming of the most important Guest of all time – Jesus Christ.

It is also a time when we are reminded of that coming into our world by God. Advent reminds us of three different 'comings' of Jesus. The first is in the past. It happened long ago at the first Christmas. God, who enabled our world to come into being, came to live amongst us as the baby Jesus and then as a boy and a man so that through him we could come close to God. The second coming belongs in the present because Jesus is available to come to every person who is open in the hearts and lives to his presence. The third coming of Jesus is still in the future. Our hope as Christians is that one day Jesus will come back to our world, not as a little baby but as king and judge of all.

This time of the year is also a time of celebration. So, how can we celebrate the advent of God into human life with joyous assurance? If we look at the message which God gave to the shepherds that first Christmas Eve, I believe we can find some help. Christmas is not our reaching out or up to God but God reaching out to us. Our response is found in a faith which believes that at the centre of the universe is an undefeated power of love on which we can rely and to which we are called to join our efforts. This is the joyous assurance which comes with Christmas.

But what really happens at this time of year? What happens in our society over this summer period? Do we get caught up in that thing called the Christmas bustle? Over the next few weeks before Christmas let us not get caught up in the commercial push for us to spend, in the seemingly endless round of end of year functions and parties or in the mad scramble to achieve so much in a short time so we can collapse in exhaustion on Boxing Day. Most years by this time we will already have begun with the end of year gatherings. However, this year Covid has placed restraint on that. Church groups would have been well into the season of Christmas pageants and Carol singing. In this time of Pandemic we need to be careful of desperately seeking to  take part in these functions but instead let us take time out for reflection. Let us look to sharing with those who are lonely, those who are hungry and those who are ill.

Yes, this is also a time of sharing. Many will be able to share with those who are less fortunate but let us also remember that with our emphasis on family at this time of year those families which for varying reasons are dysfunctional. Let us offer care, love and support where families are in mourning through loss, where abuse and violence are still an issue and where one parent is unable to be with the family. Also let us not forget those who are left on their own whose number may be greater due to Covid-19 in our communities.

So, we now have some things to reflect on. We can make this Advent a time for deep personal renewal, a time for more personal prayer, a time for scripture reading, a time for the removal of that which is not of God in our lives and a time for building up the things that are of God. It could be a time for opening ourselves up to the Lord. It is good to have things that money can buy, but better to have things like love, self-worth and compassion that money can't buy. Many people are in favour of going to heaven, but too many are hoping to live long enough to seeing an easing of entrance requirements. We may face situations beyond our resources, but never beyond God's reserves.

So, again we have come to that time of preparation to remember God’s entry into the world as Jesus Christ – God with us – Emmanuel. Advent is the season for getting ready - ready to understand the true meaning of Christmas, ready to open ourselves to receive Jesus into our lives and ready for the day when Jesus will come again. At Advent we need to try the key to our heart's door. It may have gathered rust. If so, this is the time to oil it, in order that the heart's door may open more easily when the Lord Jesus wants to enter at Christmas time.

  I pray that you all have a blessed time of preparation in Advent and a joyous, loving and peaceful celebration of Emmanuel at Christmas. 

Christmas Bowl Appeal in Covid Pandemic 

On Christmas Day 1949, an Australian Reverend named Frank Byatt placed an empty bowl of remembrance on the table before him. Frank urged his guests to reflect on their good fortunes and encouraged them to do something selfless for people around the world who were suffering as a result of World War II.

This Christmas, we invite you to place a bowl on your table as a sign of remembrance of our brothers and sisters around the world in urgent need. If anyone in your congregation would like to order their own cardboard bowl and giving envelopes to share with their family and friends, please contact Rev John or our Treasurer for details in regard to giving.

Giving envelopes 

·       As we did in prior years, we will have the envelopes with cash/cheque deposits banked.  

·       Those wishing to give by EFT to our church account, the Treasurer will organise the bulk transfer to Christmas Bowl and a receipt to be issued directly by Act for Peace. 

Advent and Christmas Services 2020

All Services will be On-line by Zoom – See Marsden Road Website -

for Zoom Addresses for Services

November 29 9.30am – Advent 1

December 6   9.30am – Advent 2

December 13 9.30am – Advent 3

December 20 9.30am – Advent 4

December 24, 2020, 7.00pm – Family Christmas Eve Worship  

December 25, 2020, 8.30am - Christmas Day


The Happy, Funny, Silly Snake

Browse the children’s section at any bookstore, and you will find dozens of titles about fuzzy bunnies, fluffy bears, hungry caterpillars, naughty puppies, happy duckies, runaway kitties, talking trains, trucks, cars, and airplanes, but a noticeable lack of cute, charming, and sentimental books about snakes. Look through the stuffed animals of most toddlers and you’ll find bears, bunnies, and the like, but few stuffed snakes. There is a reason for this. Snakes are yucky. Yucky is a technical term, meaning “unbelievably cold, slimy, scaly, and slithery, with spooky eyes and lethal looking fangs.” 

It has been well documented by behavioural psychologists that the vast majority of people on the planet have an innate aversion to snakes and snakelike animals. This isn’t hard to believe. It is more than a little difficult to develop warm feelings for a creature that can hide almost anywhere, climb almost anything, wait indefinitely, and then either bite and poison you or squeeze you to death. Certainly, not all snakes can do this, but how many do we actually need? Given this deep and widespread aversion, it is truly remarkable that human beings also have an irresistible fascination with snakes. 

From the movie Snakes on a Plane back to the creation story in Genesis, the snake has held human beings in its thrall. There is no simple explanation for this ambivalence—fear and fascination often go hand in hand—but perhaps more than snakes themselves, the human preoccupation with snakes has more to do with what they symbolise. In the most ancient of civilizations the snake was a representation of fertility and life. The shedding of the snake’s skin was viewed as a sign of rebirth and transformation, of resurrection from death to new life. 

In the ancient Far East, the snake was associated with guardianship and protection. Snakes are fierce and effective fighters. There is little evidence of fear in a snake’s awful countenance. Snake venom—a powerful poison and, in derivative form, sometimes a Medicine — was viewed variously as divine judgment, a powerful chemical, and a mystical life force. Because snakes so closely resemble both roots and tree limbs, many believed snakes to be plants come to life, and because snakes possessed such powerful venom, healers extracted venoms just as they collected roots and saps.

The attitudes about deceitfulness, deception, and craftiness seem to have developed later; the snake as a source of wisdom, however, is one of the oldest known beliefs. The hypnotic gaze of pythons and cobras, the hooded eyes of many types of snakes, and their almost Buddha-like ability to lie in silence for hours contributed to this belief. Whether the basic belief was one of reverence and respect or fear and revulsion, it is noteworthy that almost every major culture of the ancient world left evidence of cultic and religious veneration of snakes and serpents. 

Our own Scriptures evidence a strong ambivalence toward snakes and serpents. Throughout our shared Hebrew and Christian history, snakes have been both heroes and villains in some of our most beloved stories. We could look at the villainous serpent in the Garden of Eden, but I would like to look at Moses and Aaron as they invoked God’s power to turn a staff into a snake. The confrontation scenes between Moses and Pharaoh are truly epic battles of will—the representative of God and his prophet Aaron facing off against unquestionably the most powerful man in the world at the time. The beauty of these stories is that they are so completely scripted by God—God tells Moses what to do, but he also tells him what the result will be ahead of time. 

Moses enters the contest knowing that Pharaoh will have his heart hardened and refuse to let the Hebrew people go. So why even try? At its most simple and basic, this is a classic my-God-can-beat-up-your- God story, so popular in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament (remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal). Moses requests the release of the Hebrew slaves, and Pharaoh says, in effect, “Prove to me why I should” (Perform a wonder!), and Aaron tosses his staff on the ground and it turns into a snake. Pharaoh was smug and arrogant and summons his sorcerers and magicians; they toss down three of their own rods, which also turn into snakes. Probably thinking, Whatever you can do, my people can do better, Pharaoh is ready to call the contest a draw, but then Aaron’s staff consumes the other three snakes—game, set, but not match. The pharaoh’s heart stays hard. 

On the surface, this is such a satisfying story, in the same vein as David defeating Goliath. The underdog prevails in a spectacular fashion. On a deeper level, however, this story symbolizes the ongoing relationship of God and God’s people to the world. The Hebrew people spent most of their history in slavery and subjugation to more powerful nations. Politically, economically, militarily, the nation of Israel was ever the underdog. For every weapon they could raise, there was someone else who could raise three. For every mighty act they could perform, there was a despot whose heart remained hard. For every cry for justice or freedom the chosen people could raise, there was an oppressor nation just waiting to deny them.

It is easy to miss the meaning of this simple passage for the miraculous event it describes. Far beyond the ability to do magic tricks rests a much greater power. It is the power that comes from deep trust and assurance that God is in control. This assurance allows even the most timid and unsure to stand before the most powerful people on earth with courage and confidence. This power reminds us that no matter what we might see with our eyes, the wisdom of our hearts convinces us that we will prevail. 

As a congregation we have faced and are facing much in the way of uncertainty and need to remind ourselves of the promises of this God of ours. The Pandemic has bought about change with the uncertainty how things will return to what we felt was normal if they return at all. We don’t need a happy, funny, silly symbol, but a symbol of strength and promise. We need symbol to enable us to find strength and courage to continue on the journey God has called each one of us to. For those in the time of Moses as well as God’s people today, the promise endures: true faith swallows up fear, and trust in God is the greatest power of all. 

Again, as we face changes, difficulties and setbacks as the Body of Christ here may we remember Gods enduring promise and have our fears swallowed up by faith and trust in God as the greatest power of all.

December 2020, January 2021, February 2021



Hebrew Scripture



Dec 06

Advent 2

Isaiah 40:1-11

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

Dec 13

Advent 3

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

1 Thess 5:16-24

Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

Dec 20

Advent 4

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Rom. 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38

Dec 24

Xmas Eve

Isaiah 9.2-7

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14

Dec 25

Xmas Day

Isaiah 62:6-12

Titus 3:4-7

Luke 2:8-20

Dec 27

Xmas 1

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:22-40






Jan 03


Isaiah 60:1-6

Eph. 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

Jan 10


Genesis 1:1-5

Acts 19:1-7

Mark 1:4-11

Jan 17


1 Samuel 3:1-20

1 Cor. 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

Jan 24


Jonah 3:1-5, 10

1 Cor. 7:29-31

Mark 1:14-20

Jan 31


Deut. 18:15-20

1 Cor. 8:1-13

Mark 1:21-28






Feb 07


Isaiah 40:21-31

1 Cori. 9:16-23

Mark 1:29-39

Feb 14


2 Kings 2:1-12

2 Cor. 4:3-6

Mark 9:2-9

Feb 17

Ash Wed

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

2Cor 5:20-6:10

Mat 6:1-6,16-21

Feb 21

Lent 1

Genesis 9:8-17

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:9-15

Feb 28

Lent 2

Gen 17:1-7, 15-16

Roman 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38






Worship will be by Zoom On-line, Website, Facebook and Post until the UCA Synod of NSW and ACT under Government and Health guidance decide that it is safe to worship face to face in the Church again.

Returning to Face to Face Worship 

Marsden Road Uniting Church Council has taken note of the relaxing health regulations in NSW and proposes to start Face to Face worship on the second Sunday in February 2021. However, there is some planning details to get in place before then and as these are worked out more details will come out.

Under the current regulations:

·       Have a Covid-19 safety plan. Your Council already has this in place ready to go.

·       We need to record the details of all who attend in case there is a need for tracing.

·       We are only allowed 1 person per 4 square metres at 1.5 metres from the next person. This means that a maximum of 20 congregation members can worship in the Church at one service at a time and we can have up to 24 more in the hall.

·       This raises two problems to overcome. If we only use the Church, then we must limit who can attend or find the means of transmitting the service to the Hall as well.

·       Sunday Kids would be able to use one of the other rooms in our buildings.

·       Holy Communion would have to follow the requirements of the health regulations which would have bread and wine dispensed individually and separately with no touch etc.

·       Cleaning will need to be done after the service.

·       There will be organ and music but no singing or chanting or anything like that.

·       Fellowship could only take place after the Service if all health regulations including individually wrapped and sealed food, maintaining social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing.

·       Due to the risk and vulnerability of congregation members masks would always need to be worn. 

As you can see your Church Council has some important issues to sort out before we do start face to face worship but please keep this date in mind and watch for more details to come. 


10 ways the Bible would be different had it been written by college students

1.  The Last Supper would have been eaten the next morning -- cold.

2.  The Ten Commandments would have been only five. They would have been double-spaced and written in a large font.

3.  The Bible would have come out in a new edition every two years in order to limit re- selling.

4.  The reason the forbidden fruit would have been eaten was because it wasn't cafeteria food.

5.  Paul's letter to the Romans would become Paul's e-mail to

6.  The reason Cain would have killed Abel: They were roommates.

7.  The place where the end of the world occurs: Finals, not Armageddon.

8.  Out go the mules, in come the mountain bikes.

9.  Reason why Moses and followers would have wandered in the desert for 40 years: They didn't want to ask directions and look like freshmen.

10.             Instead of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, He would have put it off until the night before it was due and then pulled an all-nighter.


Most Meetings and Worship will Continue Virtually by Zoom, or other Methods until the Covid-19 Pandemic is Controlled, and it is safe for us to meet again. 

December 2020 

10.00am SCCP Presbytery Standing Committee Meeting

10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive              Meeting

9.30am Advent 2 Service Virtual Holy Communion (Zoom)

9  7pm Last MRUC Advent Study

13 9.30am Advent 3 Sunday Service (Zoom)

17 10.00am SCCP Presbytery Life and Witness Executive                Meeting

20   9.30am Advent 4 Sunday Service (Zoom)

24   Christmas Eve

       7.00pm Christmas Eve Service (Zoom)

25   Christmas Day

       8.30am Christmas Day Service Service (Zoom or in                   Mobbs Lane Park which is to be confirmed still)

27   9.30am Christmas 1 Sunday Service (Zoom)

31   10am PYPP Team Meeting (Zoom) 

January 2021 

1     New Year’s Day

3     9.30am Epiphany Service (Zoom)

10   9.30am Baptism of the Lord Sunday Service (Zoom)

17   9.30am Epiphany 2 Sunday Service (Zoom)

24   9.30am Epiphany 3 Sunday Service (Zoom)      

February 2021 

7     9.30am Epiphany 4 Sunday Service Holy Communion  


13   Chinese New Year

14   9.30am Epiphany 5 Sunday Service

       (Zoom or face to face)

17   7.30pm Ash Wednesday – Epping Uniting Church

21   9.30am Lent 1 Sunday Service (Zoom or face to face)

24   7pm MRUC Lent Study Through the Eyes of Love

28   9.30am Lent 2 Sunday Service (Zoom or face to face)

       Congregation 2020 Annual General Meeting – to be


                             Lent Study Groups 

We have selected Through the Eyes of Love - Five Studies consisting of voices helping to shape the life of faith, voices that speak out of personal experiences, communities and passions.written by Ian Price as our Lenten study 

Due to a kind donation most of the cost of Study Guides has been covered and therefore will only be $10 each. 

The study titles are: Through the eyes of Peter, Through the eyes of John, Through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, Through the eyes of Luke and Through the eyes of Paul.

If we are face to Face the Night Group- Wednesday night’s 7.30pm - 9.00pm – 24 February, and 03, 10, 17, 24 March  2021, or .700pm to 8.30pm if we are still on Zoom - Venue: by Zoom or Rev John and Wendy’s home. 

The morning group will be take place if circumstances allow it.


Church Council 

Covid19 Safety Plans:

1.  The Congregation has a Safety Plan and is registered with the State Government as a Safe Business ready for when it is practical for our Congregation at MRUC can open for face to face meetings and worship.

2.  This Safety Plan is being updated as the NSW Government Health regulations change and as advised by the NSW Uniting Church Synod.  


1.  Jobkeeper and other Government support has been of great assistance in boosting our finances for now – see the Finance

2.  It was agreed that term deposit arrangements be continued

3.  The statements as at end October 2020 were received and accepted. 

Postponing of Congregational Annual General Meeting:

1.  It was proposed that we seek to have the 2020 AGM on Sunday the 28th of February 2021 subject to Covid-19 and any regulations in place. It is hoped that this will be a Face to Face meeting. 

Zoom Meetings:

1.  Zoom meetings and Worship continue with both the Rev John having a Zoom app and the Congregation having one.

2.  This has enabled the worship pattern that we normally had to continue on-line. It has also been positive to have members join in worship via their phone lines.

3.  An added advantage for the 25-30 who attend the Zoom worship is to enable members to be aware of the needs of many who are sick or facing difficulty and enable pastoral care and prayer for them.    

Donation Envelopes:

1.  Elaine Forrest has 20 envelops and any who have run out can get these from her.

2.  The Church Council instead of the usual stewardship letter asks that the members make their commitment and continue with this. 

Other Business:

1.  Parramatta Mission representative was able to share with us on Sunday November 22nd to update us on their work, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic. 


1.  Reports were received and accepted from the Minister, Treasurer, and the Property Subcommittee.  

2.  The Property Subcommittee reported that most things were on hold, but they were awaiting quotes from Contractors to carry out the work the City of Parramatta Council required.

3.  Remember that a Building Information Certificate – Notice of Determination was issued by the City of Parramatta Council (CPC). We are now seeking to begin to enact the Landscape Schedule that formed part of the application.   


1.  There was no meeting in August and like much during this Pandemic it was postponed.

2.  The next meeting was Wednesday the 11th of November 2020 and much time was ta ken up with Elections which had been postponed.  

Finance Position

The Chart below shows our income and expenditure over the last twelve months. It must be noted that the closure of the Church for worship and other uses during the Covid-19 Pandemic has reduced our income from offerings, but we have received grants from the Government to help with the loss of rent and will receive support for wages also.

Other Notes:

  • Our electronic offerings in October was $2,600 (53%) of the total offerings $4905.00
  • United Financial Services have informed us that due to a delay in completing the printing of the new deposit books, they have got agreement with Westpac we can continue depositing cash/cheque deposits at Westpac until the end of December 2020. As soon as we receive the new deposit book, we can start transacting with Australia Post. 

  • At the church level the surplus for the period is $22,732.14 - but if we excluded the $23,500 in COVID-19 grants, the deficit is $767.86. 



Christian Community Aid (CCA) provides a diverse range of support services to people living, working and studying in the Ryde, Parramatta and Hornsby Local Government Areas. 

Their vision is to engage with the community to enable better lives. For 50 years they have been working to provide personalised, timely and innovative support that addresses the existing and emerging needs of people. CCA aims to develop resources and capacity that will contribute to strong, inclusive and resilient communities. 

Thank you to all who support this very worthy cause including bringing to Marsden Road Church non-perishable food items. Please remember that even the smallest contribution helps.

Funny Church Sign


Our mission: to reflect Christ alive in the Community

You are Welcome to join us at Marsden Road Uniting!  We gather to worship together at 9.30am every Sunday morning, with Sunday kids and Minis for our younger members, during school terms. 

We hope that you will experience the presence of God in this place and among the people of God here. All are welcome. 


Minister of the Word: Rev John Candy 0411 267 639 or 98681658 or

Available: Tuesday, (Wednesday Morning), Thursday, Saturday Morning and Sunday’s. 

Church Council Chairperson: Ruth Henderson 9875 2194

Church Council Secretary: Susan Halgren 9858 1409

Education & Social Sub-committee Convener:

Lynette Colless 043602310

Elders’ Chairperson: Alan Craymer 9874 0531

Elders’ Secretary: Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Congregation Chair: Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Congregation Secretary: Stephen Halgren 9858 1409

Property Sub-Committee Chair: Phil Bendrey 9484 5786

Nurture Group: Elaine Forrest 9874 7231

Safe Churches Convenor: Rev John Candy 98681658

Property bookings/enquiries: Warwick Roden 9874 7584

Church Flowers: Kaye Baker 9871 6685

AWV Bus Driver Team: Terry Baker 9871 6685 



Weekly Blog on the Sunday Service:

Margaret Johnston. Phone: 9872 7848 or email: 

Marsden Missive

Please send articles, information and reports to Rev John Phone: 9868 1658 or email:

Parramatta Mission amid COVID-19

                   10 DAYS OF GIVING, CELEBRATING,



At Parramatta Mission, Christmas would normally be a sit-down Christmas lunch on December 25th, welcoming all those who may be experiencing homelessness, hardship or isolation. This year (as with everything) we have had to think differently due to COVID and so we are holding a two weeklong Festival of Christmas!

From 7th – 18th December we will be hosting services, giving gifts and providing pampering for people through our Meals Plus program in Parramatta, with the idea being that everyone deserves to enjoy the season of Christmas – even during a pandemic… Services and experiences we will be providing include:  

Meals, Food Hampers, Haircuts, Shoes, Clothing, Bra Fittings, Gift bags, Vouchers, Medical Services, Financial Services, Legal Services, Migrant Services, Carolling.

If you can assist with services, or would like to partner with us for this event in any way please contact

We are also looking for volunteers to assist with welcoming guests, COVID marshalling and spreading the Christmas cheer! Enquire at


Children’s Puzzle


Marsden Road Uniting Newsletter - November 2021

Marsden Road Uniting Church 203 Marsden Road Carlingford November 2021 Our mission : Reflecting Christ Alive in the Community ...