Worship Online Sunday 25th October 2020: God and the Pandemic – Part of the Healing

Hello Friends!

This video service has been created through the shared leadership of the Western Heights and St Luke’s Uniting Church Congregations.

And this video is the last in a series of videos delving into the themes of Tom Wright’s book, “God and the Pandemic: A Christian reflection on the coronavirus and its aftermath.”

Bruce Waldron, supply minister for the Western Heights Congregation, will be helping us to put together some of the key Biblical insights that we have highlighted over the last five weeks with a particular focus on how following the way of Jesus gives particular shape to the response we offer in a world impacted by the coronavirus.

A fitting song to carry the message about being part of the healing on this week comes from the Watoto Children’s Choir – We will Go:

And if you like the dance there is even a tutorial on how to do it here:

And if you’re looking for a little more worship this week, you might like to pop over to the Presbytery Focus Service this week led by Rev. Jeanne Beale:

Worship Sunday 25th October 2020

 

Go forth into the world in peace;

be of good courage;

hold fast that which is good;

render to no one evil for evil;

strengthen the fainthearted;

support the weak;

help the afflicted;

honour everyone;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;

and the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all, evermore

Amen!

Worship Online Sunday 18th October 2020: God and the Pandemic – Groaning and Serving

Welcome to this Sunday’s worship time, presented today by Lloyd Walker, Sue Anderson, Barry Tattersall, Jenny Patchett and Val MacKenzie!

As we continue to explore Tom Wright’s book – God and the Pandemic, we’ll look at the writings of the New Testament – the early church. Our theme is “Groaning and Serving”

For music listening this morning, Lloyd recommends

The Servant King (By Graham Kendrick

And here’s the latest video from UnitingWorld reminding you about ways you can give gifts that truly change people’s lives this Christmas:

If you enjoyed the music featured in today’s video, take a look at the musicians behind it here:

The Neon Effect – The Dark Room Fiddler

Check out our video! 🙂 #aussiemusic The Neon Effect play their arrangement of the Dark Room Fiddler, a march by Kate BurkeMichelle Burton – harp // Catie Martin cello // Jessica Foot fiddlewww.theneoneffect.com.auDirector – Jonathan Burton www.jburtonfilm.comCinematographer – Tim MortonSound Production – Mischa Hermanhttps://youtu.be/y3geCBaBaJs

Posted by The Neon Effect on Saturday, 9 December 2017

Blessing

Go from this time:

  • Not to understand all the challenges of the world – instead trust God with those cares.
  • To pray without ceasing – groaning with the Spirit when the words are beyond you!
  • To live our your calling as children/heirs of God, followers of the Servant King Jesus, and engage the world as Jesus did, with love, compassion and words of hope and transformation.

 

And the empowering grace of Christ Jesus,

the overflowing love of God,

and the embrace of the Spirit,

rest with you now and always,

 

Amen!

Worship Online Sunday 11th October 2020 – God and the Pandemic: Learning from Jesus

The altar at St Luke’s, where today’s service was recorded.

Greetings Friends,

In this video we are again delving into some of the themes of Tom Wright’s book, “God and the Pandemic: A Christian reflection on the coronavirus and its aftermath.”

And the theme for this video gets right to the heart of things from a Christian perspective … the place of the man from Nazareth …Jesus … and in particular what we learn through him about God and suffering, God and the Pandemic.

 

For music today, an encouragement to keep hope from Audrey Assad with a beautiful lyric video of “How can I keep from Singing?”

This week is anti-poverty week – and here’s a message from Bronwyn Pike, COE of Uniting VicTas:

And reminder of the beautiful prayer from this week’s service:

Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you bless us in so many ways.

We praise for you the beauty of creation … for the wonder of spring … for bud and flower … for the song of the Magpie.  But most of all, we praise you that you come to us in the person of Jesus, the crucified and risen One.

Compassionate God, we are lost for words when we consider the cross of Christ … the extent of your love made clear on Calvary … we give thanks that through the cross we know you share in the worst that this life can bring.

We celebrate and pray for the witness of Your church throughout the world, in all its colour, diversity and difference.

We hold before you those who have been wounded by life … all who suffer because of hardships, illness, injury, unkindness or abuse. We pray for all who work in caring professions: for the services which seek to sooth and heal the sicknesses of body, mind or spirit.

In these difficult times when we can hardly bring ourselves to watch the news, we pray for our country and the world … particularly remembering before you places of conflict, confusion, oppression, poverty, hunger and thirst.  Help us to be some way a part of the answer to this prayer.

We give thanks for and remember the people who have encouraged us in your way … particularly holding before you those who now share in that great cloud of witnesses .. . the saints in light.

And we offer this prayer in the name of Christ, Amen.

 

Worship online – Sunday 4 October 2020

Paul continues to explore Tom Wright’s book “God and the Pandemic: A Christian reflection on the Coronavirus and its aftermath” this week.  Today we reflect on the question of lament. When the Israelites were exiled to Babylon they wrote down much of the Old Testament we have now (previously it was an oral history). The readings from Lamentations and Job offer insight on how God’s people are called to respond in such challenging times.

You can find more on Tom Wright’s book and where to get a copy by this link.

Led by: Rev. Paul Stephens – with thanks to Lynne Rankin from Belmont for the readings and Colleen Lawrence for our prayers.

There is a reflective post and piece of music recently composed by Rev David McGregor from Brisbane.

LOSS

And finish with a new song of confidence composed by Leigh Newton and Craig Mitchell – based on Ezekiel.

Worship Online 27 September 2020

This week we joined together with Belmont Uniting Church and Western Heights Uniting Church in this reflective service, to start exploring a recent book by N. T. Wright.

Following the insights of Tom Wright’s book “God and the Pandemic: A Christian reflection on the Coronavirus and its aftermath”, today we reflect on the question of God and suffering. As we are confronted with evil and suffering in the world, we should not be asking why suffering happens but how do we respond? The readings from Deuteronomy and Matthew’s gospel (the beatitudes) provide guidance in how the Christians should respond, with care and generosity.

And keep an eye out for Karen and the Western Heights puppets, and I think our first virtual choir!

You can find more on the book and where to get a copy by this link.

Led by:
Rev. Paul Stephens (St Lukes) and Rev. Bruce Waldron (Western Heights)

And enjoy a new rendition of “God of Creation” by Craig Mitchell, just released.

 

Worship online – Sunday 13th September: Exodus and Us – Part 3

Recently we have been dipping into the epic story of the God’s liberation of the people of Israel as recorded in the book of Exodus.

This week we will be looking at perhaps the central event of this grand narrative … indeed perhaps of the whole of the Old Testament … the crossing of the Red Sea.

Did you notice in the text that Moses was dealing not just with the rampaging army of Egypt but those who were moaning and groaning in his own camp who thought whips and slavery did not seem to bad compared with the situation they were in?  (Humans are humans … nothing changes in 3,500 years.)

Secondly, let’s be clear that the members of Pharaoh’s army are victims … real people with families … caught up in Pharaoh’s nefarious doings … sacrificed like so many before and since in a pointless battle.

Yet let me say it again core to this passage is an understanding that God overcomes the forces of chaos … represented both by Pharaoh and his army, and the deep scary Sea.

God is a God of new creation and liberation who confronts and deals with the dark forces.

This sisters and brothers is not a purely theoretical affirmation … to know that God will not allow evil to prevail is a statement of profound hope.

For an inspirational listening song, you might enjoy “Baba Yetu” – the Lord’s Prayer, in Swahili:

In our congregation we have people who have come to Australia via the UNHCR refugee program.  We have others who came seeking asylum however they could, using all their resources to escape persecution.  Happily, many of our people seeking asylum have had protection visas granted to them.

But there are still asylum seekers in our community who are being left behind.  Here is Fatma’s story, produced by the Refugee Council of Australia, encouraging us to do what we can to urge the government not to exclude these people from the basic supports that others have taken for granted.

Perhaps this week if you are stuck at home alone with too much time on your hands, you can make contact with the Refugee Council and find out what you can do to help advocate for people in need.

Some of the music from our worship video today was composed and performed by a group called The String Contingent.  If you liked their music, which they freely gave permission for us to use,  I encourage you to visit their webpage and find out more about them here.

Worship Online Sunday 30th August: The Exodus Story and Us – Part 2

Hello friends,

A report released recently by McCrindle Research[1] shows that during these days of COVID-19 there is an increase in the numbers of people in Australia giving time to prayer and thinking about God.

This all makes sense.

The reality of the pandemic means we are faced with core questions about what it means to be alive and to be mortal: questions like, “Why am I here?” and “If there is a God what is God like?”

In this weeks video we will have some space to pray, but also some time to think about the nature of God as we explore another famous passage from the book of Exodus: the story of Moses and the burning bush.

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-meaning-of-life-australians-praying-more-during-covid-19-20200820-p55nla.html

For music listening, try this version of the Blessing:

 

Worship online Sunday 23rd August: The Exodus Story and Us – Part 1

Solomon, Simeon, 1840-1905. Mother of Moses, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57539 [retrieved August 22, 2020]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Simeon_Solomon_-_The_Mother_of_Moses.jpg.
Hello friends,

Over the next two or three weeks, we will be hearing readings from the book of Exodus … the grand sweeping story in the Hebrew Scriptures about the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

You might well ask, “Well what has that got to do with our situation now?”

“How does a story about events some 3,000 years ago help us today in the time of the Pandemic?”

I think it has loads to say to us.

At one level this is an epic story … absolute grist for the mill for Hollywood movie producers. Ever heard of films with the titles “The Ten Commandments” or “The Prince of Egypt?”

But on another level, there is much in the story of the Exodus that intersects with everyday life … the key protagonists confront us with the way we humans respond to difficult situations.

You can watch this morning’s worship service here:

John Bell has released a new song, for this time of separation from one another:

And some notices for you this week:

May the Lord bless you and keep you;

may the Lord make his face to shine on upon you

and be gracious to you;

may the Lord lift up his countenance upon on you

and give you peace.

Amen.

 

16 August 2020: Worship Online – Bridging the Boundaries

We have gone out to the ‘boundaries’ of Geelong today for our theme “Bridging the Boundaries”. It is filmed at the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre and our thanks to the community there for their welcome.

Our passage from Matthew 15:21-28 doesn’t sound like the Jesus we know and love – his words initially are harsh and even cruel. Yet there is more to this story – with real parallels for us today in our busy lives.  In fact, as we juggle working from home, home-schooling and all our daily chores during these Covid-19 times in Victoria, the lessons from this story are particularly relevant.

As you prepare for St Luke’s worship, enjoy a ‘Flashmob Gospel Choir’ , Filmed at Five Points South Fountain in Birmingham, Alabama in 2013 (50 years after the civil rights protests that ended segregation in the USA commenced there).

Join in worship…

Reflect on how much God loves you with this song from the Hillsong team

Who you say I am – Hillsong Music ©2017 (Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan)

Many thanks to Hadeel Al Badran again who helped me with the filming and edited today’s service. Hadeel is continuing work on new videos for Humans in Geelong like the  post about Mental Health.

Thanks also to Nilu Bizhani (Gospel reading) and Deb Walker (Creed) for your contributions, and to the young people from Uniting Faith & Families who helped open my eyes to some ‘home truthes’ from this passage last week!  And to Graeme Gardiner for providing ‘We will love’ in the middle.

Don’t forget to join us on Zoom for sharing time at 10am – link in a separate email.

Grace and Peace go with you into the week,

Lloyd