Marsden Road Uniting Church Carlingford
Gathering God’s People
We acknowledge the first people who have cared for this Land, where we worship, the Wallumedgal.
May our worship join with the voices of the First Peoples of this Land.
Families make demands on us, and Jesus talks about giving up earthly families’ demands and focusing on being part of his family with all its blessings. Job in all his suffering, stays close to God and God’s word, which is sharper than a two-edge sword. God, as our creator understands, as we pour out our pain. A wealthy man walks away from the cost of discipleship and Jesus calls us to keep faith and follow him, as part of his new family, trusting in God’s love and provision.
Call to Worship
In times of trouble, in times of joy ...
we call upon the name of God.
With steadfast faith, with wavering doubt ...
we call upon the name of God.
Basking in God’s presence, aching in God’s absence ...
we call upon the name of God.
Hymn TIS 613: Lord of all hopefulness
(tune – Slane)
Loving God, Parent of all creation, you welcome our prayer and praise as your beloved children. We come as individuals and as a community of faith, to worship you. We come with all our dreams and needs, trusting in your kindness and forgiveness. Our great desire is to draw near to your presence, to know your love more deeply and to be nurtured in our Christian life and witness.
Prayer of Confession
Mysterious One, we cry out in our times of need—
for hope in times of despair, for faith in times of doubt, for comfort in times of grief, for grace in times of sin, and for love in times of loneliness. Answer our cry.
Be our refuge and our help. Restore our lives.
Revive our hope. Return us to the path of discipleship, where we may walk with you anew in confidence and joy.
In the name of Christ, our rock and our redeemer, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Draw near to Christ, who is our mercy and our grace, for in Christ, we are restored and made whole. In the name of Christ, we are forgiven and reconciled to God.
Thanks be to God!
Creating us all as equals, and calling us to be generous in our faith, the Lord invites us to offer gestures of welcome as we share the peace of Christ.
Peace be with you!
And also, with you!
(You may like to exchange a sign of peace with those around you.)
With hearts filled with gratitude, we return these gifts from the abundance we have been given and pray that they may help build the church up, provide for the needs of all who seek justice and compassion. Amen
Hymn TIS 589: Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult
(tune – St Catherine (Jones))
The Service of the Word
The First Reading: Hebrews 4:12-16
The Gospel Reading: Mark 10:17-31
After the final reading the reader will say For the Word of the Lord
Please respond by saying Thanks be to God.
Readings: NRSV Translation
12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any
two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from
marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And
before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes
of the one to whom we must render an account. 14 Since,
then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus,
the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.15 For
we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without
sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of
grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in
time of need.
17 As he was setting
out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good
Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 18 Jesus
said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You
know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery;
You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud;
Honour your father and mother.” ’ 20 He said to
him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ 21 Jesus,
looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own,
and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then
come, follow me.’ 22 When he heard this, he was
shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those
who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ 24 And
the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again,
‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It
is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is
rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ 26 They were
greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ 27 Jesus
looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for
God all things are possible.’ 28 Peter began to say
to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ 29 Jesus
said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or
sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake
of the good news, 30 who will not receive a
hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children,
and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But
many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’
Preaching of the Word - Possessions - Mark 10:17-31
In today’s Gospel, a man with many possessions encountered Jesus. His wealth of possessions is central to the message.
Possessions – are they good or bad? Blessings or hindrances? Deficits or potential assets?
Like many aspects of life, it all depends. But, perhaps, the more important questions are: What is this Gospel story all about? How does Jesus use the possessions to teach his disciples about God? How can possessions or anything else make all the difference in our seeking ultimate answers about the meaning of our lives?
The man with many possessions started off with a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He was looking for an inheritance – not a gift or a payment or an allowance or a reward – but an inheritance.
The Greek word quoted by Mark seems to convey exactly what it does to us. Did the man with many possessions see himself as a child of God who was due a birthright like one might expect from a parent?
Yet, the dialogue that followed his question seems more like an exercise in earning something rather than inheriting it.
Whatever the case, he wanted Jesus to tell him how to secure the benefits of God’s most fundamental values – and to find the key to a meaningful, contented, and fulfilling life.
Jesus’ initial response to “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is also quite interesting. Referring to the Ten Commandments, he offered a list of what the man had to do to qualify.
But when the man with many possessions testified to his lifelong practice of following the commandments, Jesus sought to provoke in him, as he provokes in us, a whole new level of understanding about eternal life in God. With love for him, the Lord said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Eternal life does not mean life until the end of time. It is not about quantity, but quality. Eternal life means a deep connection with the ageless and invincible values of the Kingdom of God. Eternal life describes the quality of relationship between human beings and Christ, bringing us into a present knowledge and experience with the loving and living spirit of God.
As we consider our Lord’s encounter with the man with many possessions, we can imagine Jesus’ insight into his heart and soul. He had followed the specific, outward regulations that were spelled out in the scriptures of those of the Abrahamic tradition – but Jesus perceived that something still blocked him from total obedience to God – his many possessions. Material belongings stood in the way of his following Christ, because, having heard Jesus’ opinion that he needed to give them up, he went away shocked and grieving, stunned and defeated – perhaps with a broken heart. He could not meet the ultimate measure of obedience to God. His love of possessions blocked him from totally loving God and following Christ.
Many scholars are quick to say that this is not necessarily a teaching by Jesus against a Christian’s having material possessions, in whatever quantity. They remind us that the crisis for the man with many possessions was not how much he owned, but that the property owned him, blocking his way to unity with God.
Thinking about such views is a necessary beginning for each of us to examine in our own lives the relevance of today’s Gospel story.
Would Jesus have said to another person, “One thing you lack,” and then listed something quite different from selling possessions and giving the income to the poor? What does Jesus say to you and to me – about the one thing more that we lack? What do we need to give up, to rid ourselves of, to put behind us, that would allow us completely to follow Christ? What can blind us and deafen us from connecting with God?
What is the radical reorientation of our lives that will lead us to follow Christ? What is it that stands in the way of our becoming what God intends us to be?
It is almost certainly selfishness of one sort or another because putting ourselves first puts God second
or third. Because we do this, we become separated from the Holy Spirit’s resources.
What is it that we need to give up in order to gain what is much more valuable? Is it greed or prejudice – ignorance or pride – anger or the need to control others, the inability to acknowledge our sins of hurting others or the “things we have left undone” or something else?
Or is it, after all, a love of possessions that stand in our way of connecting with the eternal life that we can find only in God? It the fate of the man with many possessions at least in part potentially our fate? Is what stood in his way also at least in part what stands in our way, preventing us from totally connecting with God and following Christ?
We live in a culture of materialism in which we measure too much in monetary terms. We are inundated day after day, hour after hour, by advertising that insists that if we buy one thing or another that we will be happier and better off. The push for more and more material possessions insinuates itself into our lives constantly.
For the majority of us who are not impoverished – for those who do not live with severely limited resources, this is a question we must examine.
An Anglican bishop from Africa once declared to an American audience that it was much easier for the Christians of his diocese to truly know God than for those living in the United States. This is so, he stated, because most in his diocese are very poor and that condition leads them to know the need for God in every way. This is so, because their prospects of becoming rich are so remote that they focus on deeper,
more spiritual values.
Americans in contrast, he suggested, have a chance to gain nearly every material possession they want. So, we often become convinced, at least subconsciously, that we can buy happiness and meaning. This delusion can leave us void of the lasting, deep-down joy that possessions cannot bring.
Finally, it seems ironic that the man with many possessions asked about “inheriting” eternal life. The truth is, he had already inherited it – as a child of God. The God-within-him existed as a part of the created order – because he, like each of us, was created in the image and likeness of God. He had inherited God’s spirit already – he just didn’t know it. Jesus tried to open him to understanding that reality – to instruct him how to break through what blocked him from recognising and utilising the very spirit of God that he only
had to put before all else in his life.
What must we do, what must we give up, in order to recognise and put to use the eternal life that each of us has inherited?
(tune – Truro)
After the words: In your mercy,
respond with: hear our prayer.
Pentecost 20 Sunday – Year B
God of every family, we pray for your worldwide family
and the great creation in which you have placed them all.
We pray for places where climate change is raising sea levels,
threatening village life and food production.
May we be mindful of our contributions to climate change and be willing,
as Jesus’ disciples to be the stewards that this earth needs.
We pray for those affected by natural disasters, including the Coronavirus pandemic.
Enable the generosity needed in us and others
that will encourage the vaccines and health practices
to contain the spread and destruction caused by COVID-19.
In this moment hear too our silent prayers for the world.
A moment of silence
Jesus our brother, we pray for your Church here in our community, on this land of the Eora Nation, who first cared for this place.
Help us to be mindful of the needs of our First Peoples.
We pray for the Congress Church within the Uniting Church.
Help us find a destiny together as your people.
We pray for the Uniting Church in Australia.
We lift before you our President, our Moderator and for our Presbytery.
We pray for all the churches in our local community that our work together may reflect our commitment to serving the ways of Jesus. Bless our congregation and our mission work together.
Prayers for specific mission projects or groups
Holy Spirit, we pray for all who are sick, living with disease or infirmity; those who are lonely and in isolation, those who are in grief.
We bring to mind those we know in these situations
Give them courage to face their time of trial, comfort to deal with their pain, strength to face tomorrow and confidence to share their burdens with others.
Finally, we pray for ourselves and for those we love.
Help us with our need and share our burdens, that we
will not lose hope. We pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer
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 from the time of trial and deliver us from
evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever.
Hymn TIS 665: Jesus Christ is waiting
(tune - Noel Nouvelet)
Go out as brothers and sisters in faith, ready to share generously the love you have received this day, with all you meet. Go now, in hope. Go now in love. And may the peace that passes all understanding guide you along the way. Amen
Hymn 779: May the feet of God walk with you (tune – Aubrey)