“What are you going to be when you grow up?”
We ask that of children, and as your child, O God, you put that question to me. I haven’t yet attainted the maturity that was evident in Jesus (Ephesians 4:13). Help me to feed on him who called himself the Bread of Life so that I become more and more Christlike. In him we see a new and different way of living and I hear his call coming to me even now as it did to disciples long ago saying, “Follow me”.
“Fear not for I am with you.”
Thus, O God, you spoke to the Israelites many centuries ago (Isaiah 41:10). Say it again to me for I need to hear it over and over again. I fear the pressures of a hostile or indifferent world. I fear taking on the challenges you put before me, challenges to my own life as well as the call to share in what you are doing in the community and among the people of the world. Thank you for the assurance that I am not alone.
“You can go anywhere so long as you walk with confidence.”
Holy and Loving God, people may think that I am confident in my walk with you, but you know how little confidence I really have. Unless you walk with me I will stumble or lose my way. The doubts, fears and temptations of the world get in the road, so I accept your generous offer to walk with me through all the experiences of life and death. Come, Friend, let’s walk together, you and I.
“Just as I am without one plea”
Here I am, Lord. Me. Just me. I’ve been shaped by my own past and by that of my family and nation. Product of evolutionary processes that I don’t understand. I’ve made some good decisions and some poor ones. But that’s me. And you’ve been in it too. I might sometimes wish that I had done things differently, but I didn’t, and I have to accept the me that is me today. I can accept myself as I am because you accept me as I am. Thank you, Friend, for your love, your forgiveness and your acceptance.
“The past makes us who we are; the future tells us what we can become.”
God of Abraham, God of Moses, God of Jesus and of his Apostle Paul, I worship you. You have been involved in our history and in my own past, but you also are the One who goes ahead calling us to become more than we are. You are not content with the present state of things. You are the One who goes ahead like the biblical shepherd leading your flock into peace and justice, righteousness and reconciliation, leading us into your everlasting kingdom.
“Open my eyes that I might see.”
They talk about you, God. I hear of wonderful things that you did in the past, but I wish I could see what you are doing today. I know praying like that is risky. To see where you are working may call me to be involved, but I am ready, Lord. If you want me to, I’ll cooperate with you in your work of creation and healing, salvation and reconciliation, justice and peace. Only let me see where you are working God of Jesus, God of faith and hope and love.
“Life is a journey”
Whether short or long, life is a journey. For everyone it is a journey from birth to death, but it is more than that to those of us who put our faith in you, O God. It’s a pilgrimage, a holy journey. You go ahead like the fire and cloud that went ahead of the Israelites when they travelled through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. You call us to step out from the comfortable and familiar into the uncertainty of new situations. Help me face the uncertainties of life and death.
“The chief actor in the historic mission of the Christian church is the Holy Spirit.”
Forgive us, Holy God, that we have tried to run the church without you. We have thought that our plans and programs, our preaching and our organization would bring success. The emphasis has, too much, been on what we do and not enough on what you are doing. Alert us to your Spirit’s activity in the world around us and within the life of your church. Work through us as you see fit.
“Daddy, tell me a story.”
Thank you, Father, for giving us a story – a story to live by, a story for us to be part of, a story to take to the nations. You didn’t give us a philosophy. You didn’t give us a system of organization. You gave us a story embedded in the Bible, incorporating the church; a story of creation and redemption, a story anticipating the future, a story that is alive and dynamic ever drawing people into its liberating theme. Thank you for the story.
Dear God, we’ve missed the target. We hear your voice, but we allow it to get drowned out by the noises that come from the world. We know that you are near, but we want only to know your comforting and reassuring presence, not your challenging and confronting presence. We want to taste your heavenly banquet, but we fall in love with the exciting tastes of money, pleasure and power. Please, God, forgive and help us to change our ways.
“ Lord, Lord”
We call you Lord because we have learnt it from the Scriptures and from fellow Christians of every age, but we have to admit that we don’t allow you to exercise your lordship as we should. We say that you are the Lord of the church but then we act as though the church belongs to us and not to you. Help us to go beyond calling you Lord to allowing you to rule in our collective life together and in our own lives individually.
“Come, you thankful people, come.”
Thank you, Lord, for the encouragement, support, guidance and correction you give us through the life of the church. Thank you for its witness to Jesus and for opportunities of service. Thank you for the heritage of faith we receive from those who have gone before and for the rich diversity that comes to us through different perspectives held by fellow Christians around the world.
“Open to constant reform under his Word.”
Renew, reform, and reinvigorate your church, O God. Avoiding distractions, help us to go forward in sole loyalty to Christ the living Head of the church, praising you for all that you are and grateful for all that you do. In following our crucified Lord, help us to live out his humility and love in all that we do as church. Keep us alert to the changes in our society and help us to communicate your message effectively to the people of our time and place.
“Blest to be a blessing.”
We of the church are called the people of God; not your favourites, but your chosen servants. Chosen and called to know and to share the message of Jesus. Remind us whenever we look like becoming exclusive, spiritually proud or complacent that we have been chosen to be your humble agents in serving the world, a light to the nations, and a blessing to all.
People Crying Out for People
People crying out for people,
people hurting those they love:
come, Lord Jesus, heal our loving
that our love may be made whole.
Broken homes and broken children –
bitterness has killed the joy:
come, Lord Jesus, heal our joying
that our joy may be made whole.
Nothing left of self and value,
emptiness replacing hope:
come, Lord Jesus, heal our hoping
that our hope may be made whole.
Anger flames the fires of vengeance
burning out the dreams of peace:
come, Lord Jesus, heal our dreaming
that our dreams may be made whole.
Prayers of Invocation
We sometimes feel, Lord,
as though we live at the bottom of a pit,
for our horizons are restricted,
but we pray that,
here and now,
in our worship
you will extend our horizons
so that we might catch something
of your view of life.
* * *
As with radio waves around us
we are unaware of your Spirit’s working
until we are tuned in, adjusted.
Come, Lord God, adjust our outlook.
Give us insight into life.
By repentance and your Spirit
lead us through new birth to life.
Lead us through this time of worship
to an awareness of your involvement
in the affairs of daily life.
* * *
Plunged beneath your Spirit’s flow
we ask that, while we are here,
your love may flow over us
washing away the grime of life,
renewing us for living
in purity and in love.
A presentation with two voices.
Let’s sing of our successes,
let’s raise our heads with pride.
We’ve leapt some mighty mountains,
taken all things in our stride.
For you I hung upon the cross,
for you I bled and died,
and on throughout the passing years
a thousand tears I’ve cried.
Let’s talk of size and numbers.
Let’s glory in our might.
We’ll sing our thanks to Jesus
as we bask in heavenly light.
See the nail-print in my hand,
the spear wound in my side.
I hear the jeering of the crowd,
I’m hurt as they deride.
Let’s boast before our neighbours
and shout our victory.
We’ve shown the way to others.
We’re the top of God’s great tree.
Remember the basin and the towel,
the water that washed you clean.
Celebrate with service.
It’s love – that’s what I mean
A Meditation at Holy Communion
Gifts of the Congregation
Swimming in a sea of words
we discover that we have been addressed
by One who is the Word beyond all words.
We worship you, O Christ.
Buffeted by many currents
we find ourselves carried along
by one beyond all others.
We worship you, O Holy Spirit.
Our attention has been seized,
our consciences pricked, our loyalty claimed,
our reconciliation effected, our involvement invited.
We worship you, Eternal God.
The Spirit that moved in Jesus Christ
moves in his disciples today.
We praise you, God.
The Spirit that moved in the act of creation
moves in the world we live in today.
We praise you, God.
The Spirit given anew to the Church at Pentecost
moves even now in Christ’s people today.
We praise you, God.
The Holy Trinity
We praise you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
that you are ever active, coming close to us each day.
Beyond our grasp, you grasp hold of us.
Beyond our understanding, you understand us well.
Beyond our sight, you give us vision
to see beyond our own restricted horizon
to set new goals and dream new dreams.
For all of this we praise you.
PAUSE AND PRAY
Praise God in your acts of worship, praise him in your daily life.
Praise God in your heart’s devotion, praise him in both peace and strife.
Praise God for his great salvation, praise him for his love and power.
Praise God for his unique greatness, praise him in his mighty tower.
Praise God with guitar and trumpet, praise him organ, flute and song.
Praise God with your joyful service as you walk with him along.
Every creature, great and small, praise the Lord the God of all.
Every person, old and young, praise the Lord in every tongue.
(Based on Psalm 150 in the Old Testament Book of Psalms).
AN EXPRESSION OF PRAISE
Praise be to God who expressed himself in human form.
Praise be to God who gave us Jesus Christ as Lord
Praise be to you for ever and ever.
Love for the loveless, care for the careless,
rest for the restless, he gives without end.
From the depths of our hearts, we praise you.
Power to love God, to worship and serve,
power to praise God in church and the world.
God gives to the people who wait on his Word.
Come, Lord of Creation, Father of Christ,
come, give us your power to praise you and serve.
A Prayer based on the first paragraph of the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia.
The Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia, in fellowship with the whole Church Catholic, and seeking to bear witness to that unity which is both Christ’s gift and his will for the Church, hereby enter into union under the name of the Uniting Church in Australia.
We thank you, God, for that union which took place in 1977.
They pray that this act may be to the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And we pray that the on-going life of this church may always be to your honour and glory.
They praise God for his gifts of grace to each of them in years past;
We continue to praise you for your gifts in the past as we give thanks for your grace today.
They acknowledge that none of them has responded to God’s love with a full obedience;
We too confess our failure to obey you.
They look for a continuing renewal in which God will use their common worship, witness and service to set forth the word of salvation for all mankind.
Even so, come and renew your Church today.
To this end they declare their readiness to go forward together in sole loyalty to Christ the living Head of the Church;
Increase our loyalty to Christ our Head.
They remain open to constant reform under his Word;
Correct what is erroneous in the life of your Church, we pray.
And they seek a wider unity in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Make us servants of your Spirit, O God.
Did Judas try to force your hand?
Do we when we define the kind of unity
that we want for your Church?
‘Let them become like us,’ we say.
‘Tell `em to shape up or ship out!’
We build neat systems – doctrinal,
programmatic, sociological, rational.
Then we try to make everyone conform.
Uniformity, we feel, is unity,
so crush dissent, expel the intruder.
But it hasn’t worked yet, has it?
So where do we go, Lord?
Superficial friendliness is not enough,
genteel manners will not do it.
‘Don’t rock the boat!’, ‘Keep everyone happy!’:
no, that will not unite the flock.
Nor do you look for the dull unity
of unthinking inactivity or insensitivity.
The unity of your kingdom, Lord,
is one of splendid variety in which
each contributes from the storehouse
of equipment you have given.
The Hebrew word for it is Shalom,
the harmonious integration of all parts
in one exciting existence which has its
centre in you. May your kingdom come.
A Pray of Dedication
We commit ourselves, God, to
the integrity of our lives,
the unity of Christ’s body,
and the vision of your peace.
From the worship comes the working,
from our prayer comes living light:
from our meeting with the Father
comes our view of what is right.
As we move in upward motion
to the Lord of life above
we move outwards from our centre
in Christ-like deeds of love.
Call to Worship
Beyond the colour, shape and size
see the rainbow of God’s promise.
Beyond the watch’s strident call
share in the dimension of eternity.
Beyond the feel of timber, paper, friendly hand
know the touch of a loving God.
Beyond the music and the songs
hear the heavenly harmonies.
Beyond the words that are spoken
hear the intimate Word of the living God.