Online Service – 26/04/2020

WELCOME

Good morning to you.  I hope that you are coping well as can be expected at the moment and I am glad that you are able to join me for this worship.  My name is John Kennedy and I am a member of the congregation here at Keiraview Uniting Church.

I wish you well and I pray that God’s peace be with you today and always.

CALL TO WORSHIP

In Exodus (13:21), we are told that “the Lord went ahead of them, in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”  In the Gospel of John (8:12) we are told that “Jesus is the light of the world.  Whomever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

In this context, and especially at the current time, it is important to remember that light can represent to us the warming, guiding presence of God.   [If you have access to a candle at home I encourage you to join me in lighting it and letting it burn throughout this worship.]  I therefore light this candle here as a sign that, although we are apart and not together in our church building, we are still one church and that God is with us all, always.

HYMN: Lord, the Light of Your love is shining.

1. Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me
 
Refrain:
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light
 
2. Lord, I come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood I may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me
 
3. As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me

A THOUGHT FOR THE YOUNGER MEMBERS:

This Children’s Talk was supplied to me by Ross Bryceson.  While I cannot say that this has happened to me, those who know my workshop could easily believe that it could have! 

This is my Multimeter which I love.

It tells me about things like

  • Is a battery still any good?
  • Is a wire broken or not?
  • Will a switch work?
  • Will a light bulb work?
  • Is a wire safe to touch?
  • and it helps me to fix things that don’t work.

Some years ago my Multimeter went missing. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find it. I was very sad.

Finally I said to my wife, “Someone must have come into my workshop and taken my Multimeter!” 

She said, “Really????”. “Did they walk past tools, the computers, the general “stuff” just to take a Multimeter?”

I thought about it and said (logically), “They must have!”  (She of course just smiled.)

Some months later I had a water leak in my car’s boot.  I had to take everything out of the boot to dry it out.  While doing this I put my hand up in the arch above the back wheel and felt something jammed in there.  My Multimeter!!! 

It had got stuck when I had packed the boot full of luggage to go on a holiday.  I was so overjoyed that I’d found it.  I rushed to tell my wife!  She said something like “I told you so!”   But I was so happy I didn’t mind.

My Multimeter had been close to me all the time I thought it was lost, & with me when I went out in the car!

In our Bible story today two friends were walking home from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  Like me, they were very sad, but they had lost someone special.  Their friend Jesus.  He was a prophet who had given them hope for a better future, but he had been killed and his body had gone missing.

As they walked along a man joined them and talked with them about all that had happened in Jerusalem and explained things that were in the Bible about Jesus. They asked the man to come to their house to spend the night, so he did.  At dinner time the man broke the bread for them and shared it around.  Then they recognised that the man was Jesus himself.  They had ‘found’ him!

Jesus had been close to them all the time even though they had thought that he was gone forever.

They were overjoyed to realise that Jesus had come back to life and they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell all the other friends of Jesus.  

Prayer:  Dear God, help us to know that you are always close to us, even when we don’t know or feel it. Thank you for being our friend; teach us what we need to know to do Your will.  Open our hearts to follow you.  Amen

Click Here to Download Activities Sheets

A MESSAGE Part 1…

Yesterday (Saturday 25th April) was ANZAC day.  I have been living in Australia now for over a decade and I must confess that I have yet to make it to a dawn service.  I haven’t quite seen the point in them.  However, since becoming a scout leader 3 years ago and now having all three of my children in the scouts, ANZAC day has started to gain a bit more meaning than before.  We now join all the other scouts from across the region in the ANZAC day march in town and this had become our new normal.  However, this obviously cannot be an option for use this year and that got me wondering again about what ANZAC day is all about.  Earlier this week, I got up early and went down to the harbour to record the sunrise.  This inadvertently gave me time to reflect on the meaning of ANZAC and also on the readings for this week.  Don is now going to share the reading from Luke chapter 24 verses 13 to 35 with us.

Luke 24:13-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Walk to Emmaus
13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognising him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to set Israel free. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

A MESSAGE PART 2…

As I was alluding to, ANZAC day has become something so familiar that I no longer really think to much about it.  It has become sort of something that just “is”.  In many ways it is a bit like a comfy pair of shoes: a lot of time and effort went in to choosing them but now you just accept them as they are.  They may look tattered around the edges, like they have seen better days but every time you think about throwing them out, you just try them on one more time and decide to hold on to them forever.  You overlook their imperfections and their oddities until one day you just cannot find them.  I wonder if you can relate to this?

So it has been this last few weeks with all this extra time to sit and think.  I have started to think about what ANZAC day is all about.  Everyone knows ANAZC day to be the date of the allied landings on the cliffs at Gallipoli in 1915.  The story about how a nation found itself amongst the carnage of war.  The stories of tactical errors, accidents and missed chances.  The story of lions led by donkeys.  For the next 8 months there are stories of bravery and heroism but ultimately in just under 8 months, the ANZACs retired and evacuated the Gallipoli peninsular.  It has always seemed odd to me that a country should put so much emphasis on what can only be described as a defeat and let it, nay encourage it, to enter the national consciousness. Why?

It was in this frame of mind that I stumbled on John Schumann’s, songwriter and vocalist of Redgum, famous song “I was only 19”.  Thanks to the mysteries of YouTube, I later discovered his song “On Every Anzac Day”.  If you’ll indulge me, I am going to play this for you now.

Returning to the reading from Luke, we find a story that is very familiar to many of us.  In fact, I often liken my journey with God to being on my own road to Emmaus: but that is a story for another day.  In the Gospel, we come across two of the disciples on Easter Sunday.  They have been hiding out for the last couple of days fearful for their own lives and when Mary Magdalene and the other women turn up on Sunday morning telling tales of a missing body and a risen Christ, they join with most of the others in declaring their story to be story of nonsense.  Which to any sane person it must be… surely… no one comes back from the dead?!

 So while Peter heads off to the tomb, these two instead set out on their seven mile walk to Emmaus.  I try to think about what might have been going through their minds and I reckon it might have been a mix of fear and panic.  Fear that they are known associates of this executed criminal convicted of sedition and they they might very well be next names on Caiaphas’ list.  Panic, that the tomb has been found empty—they know they haven’t got the body and that bodies don’t just get up and walk away.  What are the authorities likely to think about this when they find out, (note when and not if)?  I don’t know, but their decision to get out of town clearly says to me that they don’t want to hang around and find out!  I certainly can sympathise with their point of view!

 Our two friends are joined on their walk by a stranger.  When the conversation turns to Jesus the Nazarene, the two disciples appear to be shocked that this stranger has not heard about what has happened and essentially ask him “which stone have you just crawled out from under?”  I believe that they also have a sense of relief that perhaps they are not quite the wanted men they thought they were.  They tell their story as a series of separate facts and events that they still don’t link together even when they talk about them in one go to this stranger.  Then miraculously, our stranger joins the dots for them and fills in the gaps.  Amazingly they still don’t recognise the stranger for who he is.  Their fear and panic, their sense of survival prevent them from putting two and two together and coming up with anything less than five.  I also think that the conclusion they have drawn from the facts that have been presented with that it is all “nonsense” might have been getting in the way!  Clearly our two disciples had not read Arthur Conan Doyle, or else they would have known that whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.  Perhaps they misunderstood the meaning of impossible?

 Even so, after their long walk and discussion the three men sit down to eat together.  And it is only when the stranger breaks bread with them that they finally recognise him and really understand the truth.  They have been told by others but didn’t listen.  They were given the opportunity to go see the lack of something to see, but chose not to.  They have discussed and argued intellectually and have agreed to disagree.  Yet by participating in something so familiar such as breaking bread they are finally able to understand.

 The John Schumann track I played earlier had a similar effect on me this last couple of weeks.  The song is written through the eyes of a white soldier fighting alongside an indigenous comrade.  It is not lines like “And there was no black, there was no white, just a dirty khaki brown” or “Soldiers, brothers, all Australians, we had no time for race. When the bullets are whining past your head, you’re all just shades of grey” that got my attention, although these are of course extremely powerful.  It is the lines “I asked him once why he volunteered for that hellhole far away, To fight for someone-else’s king and the land they took away. He said “One invading mob’s too many” and then he walked away” that have the most meaning to me.  This was my breaking bread moment!  An indigenous solider (and I have to assume that this is not a one off) volunteers to fight with the oppressors just because “one invading mob’s enough”.  I now believe I get it.  ANZAC day is powerful not because it was the event in which our nation had its baptism of fire; not because our brave heroes fought on under impossible circumstances led by donkeys; not because we should honour the dead.  No, ANZAC day is important because it is the event where Australians chose to do what was right, and not what was easy, it was the event where Australians decided to say “One invading Mob’s enough” rather than “not my battle”. It was the event where Australians decided to show Christ-like love to the world.  Now I’m not saying that war is good.  Let’s be clear about that it is not!  However, sometimes good things, God things, can come from doing things which seem to ordinary eyes to be nonsense.  Sometimes, all it needs is the right perspective to see familiar things afresh and in doing so, perhaps we can see truth?

 These are the things that were going through my mind as the sun came up the other morning.  And as the sun finally breaks the horizon, Khairul is going to read to us three verses from For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.  Following this, I am going to leave you with a minute’s silence in which to listen to the waves and the gulls, remember those who have served, offer your own prayers to God and consider familiar things in new ways.

FOR THE FALLEN (Laurence Binyon)

3. They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

4. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

8.  As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain.

PRAYERS

These are the prayers of the people, as offered by Darren Kirwood on behalf of all of us.

 LET US PRAY:  Matthew 5:9 Happy are those who work for peace.  God will call them his children!

 Yesterday we acknowledged Anzac Day.  We thank you Lord we can stop and remember in all unique ways (standing on driveways and playing the bogle) to remember what those men and women did.  To protect and promote peace across this world at a cost to many lives.  Lord bring justice to all people.  ‘To remember your courage – so strong.  We want you to know that in our hearts your memory still lives on’.

 Lord we continue to pray for a cure for the Corona Virus across this world.  What a disruption it has caused to peoples lives!  We pray for those families who have lost loved ones from this.    We ask for healing for those who currently have the virus.  We celebrate those who have recovered from this virus.

 Lord we pray for those who are by themselves at this time of isolation lockdown.  May there be ways of communicating to one another.  Let the loneliness disappears and all their needs be met. We pray for those businesses that are struggling with closing their doors and no sales now.  Also, for the staff that had to lay off, we pray that things will come back to normal again soon and no hardship be placed on anybody.  Lord may there be a job for everybody to go too.

 Lord we thank you for our leaders who are trying to make the best decisions possible.  They are hurting as much as us and are trying compassionately to resolve this situation we are all in.

 We think of Robyn and Owen in Thailand assisting with the Agape home.  We pray that their contribution there is a great assistance to the home and that they know we are virtually sending our love and support their way particularly now.

 We pray for continue healing for Carolyn Gold and support for Annette Hawken for her ongoing treatment.  May always you Lord be by their side and be the best comforter as possible.  We also pray for the Waller family as they grieve the loss of their son Ross.

 We thank you for our emergency providers.  They are working extremely hard.  We pray that you will protect them from those who want to do wrong on them.   We think of our teachers as they are trying their best to teach to the students in whatever way they can.

Father, this is a difficult time, and no one really knows how long we are away from each other.  We are really missing shaking hands, a hug or a kiss.  May this time allow us to reflect on you Lord and to know how much we miss one another.

 In Jesus name Amen

HYMN: The Lord’s My Shepherd

1. The Lord’s my Shepherd I’ll not want
He makes me lie in pastures green
He leads me by the still still waters
His goodness restores my soul
 
Chorus

 And I will trust in You alone
And I will trust in You alone
For Your endless mercy follows me
Your goodness will lead me home

2. He guides my ways in righteousness
And He anoints my head with oil
And my cup it overflows with joy
I feast on His pure delights

Chorus

3. And though I walk the darkest path
I will not fear the evil one
For You are with me and Your rod and staff
Are the comfort I need to know
 
Chorus
 
Descant

I will trust I will trust in You
I will trust I will trust in You
Endless mercy follows me
Goodness will lead me home

PRAYER

My sisters and brothers, my friends, remember that although we may be apart, God is good.  I give thanks for all the gifts of the people, gifts of time, gifts of money, gifts of love and gifts of prayer that are offered up for the glory of the Kingdom.  In these trying times it is hard to focus on what happens next, but remember that this too shall pass. 

HYMN: The Great Southland

1. This is our nation, this is our land
This is our future, this is our hope
A land of reaping, a land of harvest
This is our land, this is our home

Chorus
This is the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit
A land of red dust plains and summer rains
To this sunburn land we will see a flood
And to this Great Southland His Spirit comes

2. This is a nation, this is our land
This land of plenty, this land of hope
The richest harvest is in her peoples
We see revival, His Spirit comes

3. This is our nation, this is our land
This lucky country of dreams gone dry
And to these people we see a harvest
And to this land, His Spirit comes

4. This is our nation, this is our land
This lucky country of dreams gone dry
And to these people we see a harvest
And to this land, His Spirit comes

A BLESSING:

May the grace of our lord Jesus the Christ
the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, evermore.  Amen

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!