Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent 3 at Rouchel 'Finding Hope in Unexpected Places'

For those friends interested...

Rouchel is a small rural spot 15mins east of Aberdeen in the Upper Hunter Valley
I suppose it has Presbyterian heritage and a small eclectic group of whom some were missing yesterday... I'm just dipping into work again after 6 weeks off so this is only my second stab at Advent 2014 in a very different context to the families last week at Merewether!!

[1] Call to Worship (based on Isaiah 61: 1-4, Luke 4: 18-19)
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed—and Jesus embodied—
God’s call to reach out and care for those who are brokenhearted
and those who mourn, people who are abused and oppressed, 
who are powerless to make changes for good in their lives.
The Spirit of the Lord empowers and anoints us
to proclaim and to live out that same message—
to lift up those who are downtrodden, to comfort those who mourn,
to be bearers of the gospel in word and deed.

“Advent Waiting 2014” 2mins 13 
It was not the best choice in hindsight, no problem with the clip but the modern day 'O Little Town of Bethlehem would have been the better choice from my shortlist...

[3] HYMN  TiS 271 “The Advent of Our God” v 1, 2, 3, 6
 Using the piano mp3 from Small Church Music, punch in a first line etc and access mp3's from band to organ to piano here

[4] OPENING PRAYER Psalm 126
Creator God,
The world in which we live can be as harsh as it is amazing,
We need Jesus today as much as any time in history
Many struggle, life is filled with hardship and tears
Our land and our lives need replenishing
God, fill us with hope, restore us,
Restore our faith in you and in each other.

As we worship today we pray we can listen to you
That you will speak to us today and we will hear your voice
Help us in our waiting, to prepare for your advent in our lives
Be with us in our worship as you are with us everywhere…


Luke 1:39-56 read by a local

“Alt.Advent 8” 2mins part of a series available for purchase from Proost UK here


[9] HYMN + OFFERING TiS 316 “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with mp3

[10] NOTICES + CONCERNS talking local 

Our God we pray for a world in trouble not easily solved
We pray today for conflict in the territories held by Indonesia, in Syria, Iraq
 and so many places across the planet
We pray for our country, for those who struggle and those who don’t help
We pray wisdom for leaders and compassion for those in need
We ask you God to invite us into action for change
If prayer were enough there would be no poverty, no hunger, no pain
If prayer were enough we would all love our neighbour as ourselves
[insert 'make it up as you go along' thoughts]
God help us to bringers of hope, givers of care and creators of community


HYMN TiS 442 “All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord”

Intro Communion

Setting the Table
Friends, This is the table of the Lord
And He calls us to this meal of remembering
The Uniting Church practices an open table...
Participate, not because you are strong,
But because you are weak;
Participate not because of your own goodness,
But because you need mercy and help;
Participate because you love Jesus a little
And would like to love him more
Participate because he loves you
And gave himself for you... 

Creator God,
Through your creative word you brought the world and all people into being,
We breathe the very stuff of life,
We travel life’s journey and live in community,
God gave us choice,
And at times we own up to falling short,
To being less than the people we were created to be
God did not give up on us,
Became one of us, lived our human life in Jesus Christ
Jesus spoke the truth and suffered death on the cross
Jesus rose again and calls us to follow him.
God invites us into life in it’s fullness, that we might reach out to each other
We are called to follow Jesus in moving to the edges, thinking of others,
Our invitation is to see God in our environment and the work of our day…
This meal invites us to remember and be thankful,
This meal celebrates the generous hospitality of Jesus.

[add story description according to where I am]...
Gathered for supper with friends, Jesus took bread and gave thanks, he broke it and said:
Take, eat. This is my body given for you.
Do this to remember me’

He took the cup and gave thanks,
Gave it to them and said: ‘Drink from it, all of you.
This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
It will be shed for you and for all people
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this to remember me’.
God, send your Spirit
So these gifts of bread and wine may be for us
The body and blood of Christ Jesus
Gather us into this meal
and into the world lived according to your values

[In response we say together the prayer Jesus taught]
‘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 forever.

Breaking of the Bread

Christ is the bread of life,
food for healing and wholeness.

Christ is the cup of hope,
Fostering life

The gifts of God for the people of God.
As we share may we be found in Christ
and Christ in us

Communion distribution by the Elder

God, we thank you that in this meal of bread and juice
we are united in your Spirit, send us out to serve others in Jesus name

We spoke about participation of more people but the locals are usually 'silent' so it's something for future times and workshops...

 [13] SENDING SONG TiS  781 “Father Bless Us”

God sends you
God’s Spirit guides you
Jesus is your example to follow
SENDING SONG TiS  781 “Father Bless Us” which we learnt acapella

 Here's some rough notes...
[1] When you hear the story of Mary, what story do you hear?
If you were asked to share it with someone who had never heard of Mary,
what story would you tell?

It’s easy in advent and in the Christmas story, to get caught up in the miraculous
or the symbolism and Mary can fade into the background…
Even the journey alone to Elizabeth’s, possibly through Samaria,
would have actually been a risky journey for an adolescent female on her own…

[2] You might also talk about the parallel story of John
who went out to the river, and offered baptism to people
And saved his savage criticism for the religious teachers and leaders of his day…
And of Jesus, the one John called people to look for, to wait for, to follow…

It’s symbolized in this passage as the women EMBRACE
I asked the group what they saw in the image, which typified any number of artworks...

We talked about the embrace as symbol of God's Spirit and cheek to cheek mirroring all the extra things their interconnection represents... the connections between their children, cousins John and Eshua [Jesus]!!

[3] BUT then we have Mary’s ‘song’

From v 46
46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

Follows a poetic tradition from the Hebrew Scripture
Parallels like soul and Spirit, what God has done for her and what God has done for Israel
Speaking of herself as lowly and also what God has done for the lowly..

[4] BUT that’s what I would want to talk about…

OUT of LOVE, not vindictiveness, GOD is on the side of the lowly, the poor,
Those on the very edges of the community,
GOD speaks through Mary’s song that through her 'humiliation' storytellers word not mine
[and you could hardly be more marginalized than a dirt poor, unmarried adolescent…]

[5] Mary moves from the personal to the political, 
Or from what God has done for her, to what God has done for all humanity
AND in v51, “he has shown strength with his arm”
An image from  Exodus and God leading the Hebrew slaves from Egypt [Exodus]
AND eludes to Israel living under the oppressive Roman tyranny they were…

[6] I should have asked 'who does Mary sing for? 
There's one for my Western Sydney Wanderers fan friends...
MARY  is singing to Israel a message about how God speaks, acts & triumphs,
not through vindictiveness or violence, but through compassionate LOVE…

God is calling each of us to participate in God’s mission in the world, through LOVE 
To raise the lowly, to care for the poor, to listen, to offer radical hospitality
To humble ourselves…
In how we speak of God, we see a continued pattern of “one and many”… 
I digressed to explain that and about getting the right balance between personal and community nature of this call... we don't get it right much...
Adam & humanity, Israel & the Prophets like Elijah & Micah calling them back to God,
Jesus and the call to follow as disciples 
Our idea of individual salvation & the reconciliation & renewal of the whole of creation
in which we are invited to participate…

MARY’s story invites us into a much BIGGER STORY,
The story of God’s compassion and love for all creation
AND our call to include all humanity& the creation ‘in’ the community of God’s people…
AND we talked about Mary's role in bringing up Jesus to be who he was... 
the 'social worker, activist, mum...

[7] WHAT?
SO MARY’S STORY is one of the most surprising, marginalized young women,
Who carries God’s message of favour, Who gives birth to God, become ‘one of us’

JESUS who shows us, teaches us, lives and dies and lives again,

And that’s our story to share… 
Or something like that... and it was shorter than this looks
The last 10% needed a better real exploration of how that can happen here in Rouchel but that's an ongoing conversation about 'hurts & hopes' in this community, with a 130 year school presence ended this year, pressure on farms, and issues of being a small isolated community...

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