St Lucia – Order of 21st February 2021  Lent 1

21/02/2021 @ 8:30 am


The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.  And also with you.


Call to Worship –

We are called together by God

formed into a community, a living body.

Even in the harsh places of life, Christ comes,

offering healing and wholeness in the midst of pain.

Today we come to worship – we enter into the life of the Spirit

and open our hearts to the one who is Love.

Let us worship in spirit and in truth!


Opening Prayer-

Creator and sovereign, our world and our lives are often under threat. We turn to you today to be reminded that you do not abandon us to the hard realities of our lives. You are the One who saves us. You are the One who faithfully teaches us your life-giving ways. You are the One who instils courage within us to rise from the waters of our baptism to walk your path. Enter our hearts and lives and strengthen us to serve your purposes, as your prophets of old did before us. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.


HYMN– TIS 90 I’ll praise my maker Isaac Watts 1674-1748.  alt. Public Domain


1.I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath, and when my voice is lost in death praise shall employ my nobler powers:

my days of praise shall ne’er be past, while life and thought and being last,

or immortality endures.

  1. Happy are those whose hopes rely on Israel’s God, who made the sky,

and earth and sea, with all their train:

his truth for ever stands secure. He saves the oppressed: he feeds the poor, and none shall find his promise vain.

  1. The Lord pours eyesight on the blind; the Lord supports the fainting mind;

he sends the labouring conscience peace.

He helps the stranger in distress, the widow and the fatherless,

and grants the prisoner sweet release.

4.I’ll praise him while he lends me breath; and when my voice is lost in death

praise shall employ my nobler powers:

my days of praise shall ne’er be past, while life and thought and being last,

or immortality endures.


Scripture Readings-

Genesis 9: 8-17; 1 Peter 3: 8-22; Mark 1: 9-15

Children’s time: rainbows


Prayer of Confession-

Psalm 25 says: ‘Show us your ways, O Lord and teach us your paths. Lead us in your truth and teach us for you are our salvation and in you we trust. Remember your compassion and love for they are everlasting. Remember not the sins of our past, for the sake of your goodness. You guide the humble in doing right and teach your ways to those who keep your covenant.’ And so,

God of faithful love and purpose, we acknowledge that there are times we are open to your leading with hope and courage, despite our fears. At other times, we close ourselves off, hoping that you will not tear open the skies and disrupt our lives completely, for we do not always understand your ways or the meaning of events. Unlike Jesus, we would rather not face the wilderness to learn from our mistakes and our frailty, instead we run away hoping to outmanoeuvre loss and finding instead, that we have not lived. Help us to seek true mercy: the compassion and kindness which is present in the midst of suffering and not in spite of it. Help us also to offer this mercy to those around us. Those who would seek love which is unafraid and all encompassing. We know that true mercy is found when we are honest, and so we come to you now, trusting in your love as we acknowledge our own faults, pain, and mistrust.  Amen.


Words of Assurance

What God said to Jesus at his baptism, God says to us today: You are my beloved children. In Christ, through Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.


Sermon –

At the beginning of Lent, we are reminded of God’s universal, unconditional promise never again to destroy the earth and all its creatures with a flood. This is a continuation of the story of Noah saving his family and 2 of every animal from destruction because of the evil of the people in Genesis chapters 6-8.

The rainbow is a sign of that promise by God to remember – to be compassionate and merciful, to sustain and not destroy. It is also a reminder to humans of God’s promise of love and care. When the scariness of the storms have passed, the rumble and loud noise of thunder claps gone, the oppressive threatening clouds and dark black skies retreat under the shining sun and blue sky, then we may see a rainbow through the rain-drenched atmosphere and hope and peace return for us.

After the solemnity of Ash Wednesday and our facing up to the ways we have sinned against God, as King David did in Psalm 51: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offences. Wash me through and through from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.’ Now we are reminded of God’s compassionate love as we walk with Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem – to betrayal and arrest, deliberate lies and unjust trials, torture and cruel crucifixion, death and then miraculous resurrection on Easter Sunday. The rainbow arches over us like God’s love connecting us with heaven and earth, reminding us that we can rest our weary souls in God and ‘trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be.’ (TIS 602 O Love that wilt not let me go by George Matheson)

But right now we have to face the reality of the immediate future and another Lent under the restrictions of Covid. On Wednesday afternoon, the Church Council members met with Presbytery and Trinity College representatives to begin planning for the Regeneration project here at St Lucia. What a helpful guide our Lectionary provides as we parallel our journey at this point with that of Jesus in our gospel passage. He is baptised by John in the river Jordan and sees when he rises from the water, the sky open – was that clouds separating? and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. He hears a voice from heaven saying: ‘You are my own dear Son, beloved, and I am pleased with you.’

The gospel writer of Mark, says that straight away, immediately, God’s Spirit directed Jesus into the desert or wilderness. Now around Jesus’ time, both before and after him, the wilderness or desert was the natural place people seeking God went to for solitude and reflection. Holy individuals or groups such as the Essenes, and later Christian hermits, went to the desert to practise their spirituality in ways they thought best connected them with God.

So it seems logical to me that, after hearing this voice of God declaring he was God’s Son and that God was pleased with him, Jesus would need to go off by himself to ‘process’ what that blessing meant for him. He had just been baptised by John – turning to God, repenting of sin and being promised the sins would be forgiven. What did turning to God now mean for his life? What was expected of God’s Son? Why was God pleased with him? So, Jesus goes off to the wilderness probably west of the Jordan river and north of Jerusalem. He does not go to the Essenes’ community in the south – he goes out alone. In later generations, some of his followers become monks and live in beautiful monasteries like this one out in the wilderness, but Jesus is alone with God and a little nature, exposed to the elements – open before God.

Mark’s gospel does not give us the details of this time as do those of Matthew and Luke. That is helpful, for I imagine Jesus was wrestling with the questions of his purpose as Son of God. What should he do? Should he be like John calling people to repent and turn to God and be baptised? or was there something more expected of him? How was his baptism or in-filling by the Holy Spirit a fulfilment of John’s earlier comment that One who came after him would baptise people with the Holy Spirit? (Mark 1: 8)

From his subsequent ministry, with all the value of hindsight, I imagine Jesus was more conscious of the poor and needy in his society – those who were excluded by the wealthy and religious leaders or exploited by them. What did God want Jesus to do for the ordinary people of Israel? The prophets often called for justice for the poor and freedom from oppression and unjust imprisonment. Was Jesus to be another Isaiah or Micah or Amos? The people needed healing of body and mind as well as spirit. The society had twisted God’s Law into laws that favoured the rich and excluded the poor, especially women, once more. How could Jesus save his people – from oppression, starvation, misguided leaders? What did God want him to do?

And as he listened for God, the opposer of God put ideas into his mind. “Use your power as Son of God – turn stones into bread to feed the people; do spectacular feats to attract the attention of the people to you; become famous and popular; let me be your Master directing you instead of God. I can do great things for you.” As Matthew and Luke tell the story, Jesus refuted the propositions and kept his focus on what God wanted him to do. His prayer  time in the desert, like ours so often, was disturbed and distracted by popular ideas of our society – ‘be modern and keep up with the realities of life now. Do it this way and you’ll succeed.’ Keeping a focus on what is God’s way, is hard. We are told Jesus was tempted or tested but angels also came to care for him.

Back he went from the desert, to begin his work for God. John had been arrested – presumably down in the south near the Jordan, for his preaching against the Pharisees and Herod – so Jesus goes north to Galilee to spread the good news: ‘The time has come! God’s kingdom will soon be here. Turn back to God and believe the good news.’ His message is different from John’s. It is filled with hope and promise, but the focus is still on turning back to God.

Our work as a church community who are disciples of Jesus parallels his original work and focus. We have been baptised and filled with God’s Holy Spirit. We were called to be witnesses to Jesus to spread his good news of love and forgiveness, of healing and hope, of justice and mercy, for our community today. What does God expect of us here at St Lucia? (or wherever you are in your church community) Like Jesus, we need to spend time listening to God, rejecting the false ideas of Satan/ the liar/ the opposer of God. Some of us need to spend more time understanding the ways of Jesus by giving more attention to prayer and bible study so we actually really know the story and teachings of Jesus and how they can inform our practice of faith today. But we also need to get on the road with Jesus – get into our community and see their needs as he did. We have to tell people the good news of Jesus’ understanding of God’s love for all people – and we have to live that loving and at times sacrificial way, so others are attracted to, not repelled by, our practices of faith in our daily lives. The early Christian church had some challenging advice in 1 Peter 3: 8-22 – read it again now, please.

May God’s Holy Spirit direct us on our Lenten journey. Amen.


HYMN— TIS 645 Father in heaven  Daniel Thambyrajah Niles 1908-70   alt. Copyright :Christian Conference of Asia


  1. Father in heaven, grant to your children

mercy and blessing, songs never ceasing,

love to unite us, grace to redeem us —

Father in heaven, Father our God.

  1. Jesus, Redeemer, may we remember

your gracious passion, your resurrection.

Worship we bring you, praise we shall sing you

Jesus, Redeemer, Jesus our Lord.

  1. Spirit descending whose is the blessing,

strength for the weary, help for the needy;

make us your temple, born a new people —

Spirit descending, Spirit adored.



  1. A) Cheques to be made out to ‘St Lucia UCA Parish account’ and posted to 7 Hawken Dr, St Lucia Qld. 4067, please. OR
  2. B) direct deposit to ‘St Lucia Uniting Church’ BSB: 334 040 acct#: 553 842 259 (St George Bank)


Prayers for others – please add your personal prayers to these starting points today.

Gracious God, trusting in your love and care, we bring before you the concerns of our hearts and minds this day.

We pray for our world:   for honesty in politics; compassion in communities; healing for those who are suffering; and hope for those who are oppressed.

We pray for our nation:  for Indigenous peoples; for farmers and industry; for those who are homeless; for people who feel lost.

We pray for our community:  for the sick and the dying; for those seeking new work; for children and parents. In all things, O God, move us to be your hands and feet in the world that our lives and our prayers dance together and are one. Through Christ we pray, 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 in the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen

HYMN- TIS 655 O let the Son of God  John Wimber© CMC Australasia Used by permission CCLI Licence No. 217268


  1. O, let the Son of God enfold you, with his Spirit and his love,

Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.

O let him have the things that hold you

and his Spirit like a dove, will descend upon your life and make you whole.

            Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill our lives.

            Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill our lives.

  1. O come and sing this song with gladness

as your hearts are filled with joy;

Lift your hands in sweet surrender to his name.

O give him all your tears and sadness,

Give him all your years of pain and you’ll enter into life in Jesus’ name.

Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill our lives.

            Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill our lives.


Benediction –

The Uniting Church affirms we are a people always on the way,

always moving along God’s paths of loving-kindness and hope.

Go knowing that you are surrounded by the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God…



Resources used in this service include Words for Worship year B 21st February 2021 by MediaCom (subscription of Rev Dr Elizabeth Nolan) and The Abingdon Worship Annual 2021 edited by Mary Scifres and B.J. Beu, Abingdon Press, Nashville USA (owned by EN);  and Uniting in Worship People’s Book by Uniting Church Press (JBCE) 1988 Melbourne and The Australian Hymn Book multiple copies owned by the St Lucia Uniting Church congregation. Copyright license #217268.



Comments are closed.