Sunday 17 January Epiphany 2

This Sunday we will be worshipping online with Cafe Church at 10am. The service will be led by Rev’d Caroline Husband.

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Please note that we are suspending public worship for the safety of all during the current Lockdown.

Collect for the Second Sunday after Epiphany

Eternal Lord,
our beginning and our end:
bring us with the whole creation
to your glory, hidden through past ages
and made known
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Readings for Epiphany 2

1 Samuel 3: 1 – 10

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Psalm 139: 1 – 5, 12 – 18

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Revelation 5: 1 – 10

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”

John 1: 43 – end

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ 46 Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ 48 Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ 49 Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ 50 Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ 51 And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

Reflection

Most of you probably realise that I was brought up in South Wales (from my accent). Most of my childhood was spent in the town of Merthyr Tydfil. In those days (70s and 80s), the town did not have a very good reputation. There were a lot of social problems in the town, including a large housing estate on the edge of the town. If you said you come from Merthyr Tydfil, I can imagine some people raising their eyebrows and thinking to themselves Merthyr Tydfil? Can anything good come out of a place like that?  Well, Tom Jones did, actually!

It is easy to stereotype people and to think that because we know one thing about them that might be questionable, that we can judge them and know everything about them. This is what Nathanael was doing when he heard that Jesus was in town, and that he came from a place called Nazareth, a small community of a few hundred people: what you might call a “one-horse town”.  However, Philip is not put off. He invites him to “Come and see” for himself. And it is just as well he does because at once Jesus looks right at him and looks at his heart. Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. (Some translations say he is without guile). In other words, he is someone who is honest, genuine, of integrity and open-minded. That must be the case, because despite his initial reaction to Jesus, he is willing to get up and meet him for himself. As a result, he is one of the first disciples to recognise Jesus for who he is: the Son of God, and the King of Israel. Nathanael, therefore, is someone who is open-minded, is willing to think outside the box, and is ready to have their views changed as a result of meeting with Jesus.

I guess we have all had our expectations changed radically over the last year.  Our whole lives have been changed, and for some people more radically than others. We have had our freedom restricted, we have had to learn to live differently, we have had many events and special occasions cancelled or changed at the last minute. Everyone has had to adapt in different ways, over a long period of time. We’ve had to live with a lot of uncertainty, and it’s been difficult (let’s be honest). We still don’t know how long this is going to go on for. We have to keep an open mind. During this time, we have had to learn how to do and be church differently. Much of our church life has moved online and on the phone. We have had to change the way we worship, meet together, pray, make decisions, learn and keep in touch with each other.

The good news is that God has not changed.  Jesus still calls us to follow him, just as he called the first disciples. He still calls people to follow him, to serve him, to love him, and to show his love to others. We heard last week how Melanie has followed God’s call to serve him in a parish in Bristol. And God is calling a new person to come and serve with us as a curate in the summer. God calls us all to be his followers and friends. Are we open to hear him calling us? Are we open to exploring what his call means for us today? And are we open to shaping the church of the future according to his will and not our own? These are big questions which we shall be wrestling with over the coming weeks and months.

May God bless you as you continue to love, serve and follow Him. 

Rebecca Harris

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