Weekly Service Sheet 17th January 2021
Call: Come, let us worship the Lord who made us, who knows our every thought before it is formed. See the one from whom nothing is hidden, hear him speak. Come, let us worship and listen. We come into the presence of our Lord. So, let us quieten our hearts and minds, put aside our concerns and distractions. Let us open ourselves to listen for God’s voice, for the word God has for his people.
Psalms 139:1 – 6, 13 – 18
Prayer: Almighty God, you speak to us in so many ways. Help us, in our worship today, to hear your voice and know it is you. Speak to us in the silence, through Scripture and by the Spirit. Speak through others and through your creation, through images, experiences, music and encounters. Speak in ways that we can understand. So, speak, Lord and help us to listen. Amen.
Hymn: Praise and thanksgiving Father we offer StF 125/R&S 48
https://youtu.be/cNx8I0Alaug (instrumental only with words displayed)
We are now into Lockdown #3 and both Stamford URC and ChristChurch are not currently open for in-person worship. The Eldership and ECC are keeping the situation under constant review and will reopen the buildings as soon as risk assessment revisions deem it possible. Regular Zoom services are available from ChristChurch each Sunday and any wishing to have login details can contact Elaine Robinson on email@example.com
These service sheets draw heavily on materials from Roots and www.workingpreacher.com and follow the Revised Common Lectionary passages set for the week.
This week we hear about two friends who have an unexpected encounter with Jesus and initially react in very different ways. Together, Philip and Nathanael help each other to understand who Jesus is and they begin a journey that will redefine who they are. Nathanael is surprised that Jesus knows not only his name, but much about him too. Jesus knows each of us as individuals but sometimes, like Nathanael, we can wonder ‘Why would God be interested in me?’ Some of us will be, like Philip, keen to follow straight away. Some of us will be more like Nathanael – full of questions and concerns.
Lord, we come before you to say sorry. Sorry for all the times
we’ve let you, ourselves and others down. Sometimes, Lord, we’re so busy talking and doing that we fail to hear you. We miss the still small voice saying, ‘Stop. Listen.’ Lord, we’re sorry for being too busy to hear you. You speak in so many different ways, Lord, one being through other people – but very often we take no notice and continue in our own way. Help us to tune in to your voice. Lord, as you use others to speak to us, so you use us to draw people to you. But speaking does not always require words. People see our lives, our attitudes and character. Lord, we’re sorry for the times we’ve let you down in these areas when we pressurise others to conform to our ideas, or fail to listen and give others the space to draw closer to you.
Lord, as we spend these few moments in personal reflection, we ask you to speak to us. Show us anything for which we need to say sorry and change our ways. Lord, we lift our confessions to you, in your precious name. Father God, we thank you that we don’t have to earn your forgiveness. It is not based on how worthy we are. We are forgiven through Christ Jesus. It is by grace that our sins are forgiven. Amen.
Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of mankind StF 495/ R&S 492
https://youtu.be/o4KnlQwzl3Y (Songs of Praise)
Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1 – 20
John 1:43 – 51
Message: Samuel was named to remind everyone that he was an answer to his mother’s prayer for a child, his name means ‘The Lord heard’. In this story it is Samuel who hears the Lord, but he doesn’t immediately understand what is going on. The powerful dynamic of two-way hearing takes a little while to be established between Samuel and the Lord, and communication is achieved only with advice from Eli, more experienced in the ways of God. God calls this young priest to be a prophet, one who speaks out God’s word truthfully and courageously. Through Samuel, many will hear God’s voice of rebuke or encouragement, and his closeness to God is essential for this ministry.
One of the things I am learning from covid ministry is the need to rely on God through Jesus and by the power of the Spirit to listen to the spoken and unspoken words of the congregation; to challenge doubt; to praise faith; to celebrate joy and to support, encourage and strengthen during disappointment. The best advice I can give is not to judge another’s journey or choice. Outside the text I wonder what conversation Nathaniel and Philip had?
John introduces his hearers to Jesus’ mission a day at a time. On the previous day, Andrew and another disciple found Jesus, along with Simon Peter. Now, Jesus takes the initiative and finds Philip. When he then tries to introduce Nathanael, he does not accept the invitation but challenges Philip to prove that anything good can come from Nazareth! Philip’s reply recalls Jesus’ invitation to the two disciples the previous day – ‘Come and see’ (1.39). The Greek word ‘see’ implies far more than ‘take a look’. To see is to understand.
For Nathanael, though, it is not seeing but hearing that overcomes his reluctance. In conversation with Jesus, he discovers that Jesus knows far more about him than he expected. Jesus acknowledges him as ‘truly an Israelite’, living in God’s ‘shalom’. The change is remarkable as Nathanael.
How do we find out if something is true? The internet may be our ‘go to’ these days. But, even with fact-checking websites, can we trust the information we find there? What is reliable? What is fake? These new disciples wanted to find out more about Jesus. Were John’s claims about him true? Was he really the Messiah? No hi-tech options for them. ‘Come and see,’ said Jesus, and they spent the day with him in conversation, sharing food, and enjoying each other’s company. Simply being together with each other and with the Lord creates effective opportunities for checking out our feelings and intuitions, and trying to get the facts straight. Fellowship has always been at the heart of Christian life – come and see!
Life can be very noisy. Sound surrounds us so much of the time. Even in silence there is often the constant chatter of our minds. The Gospel passage tells of Jesus deliberately creating opportunities for the disciples to come away from the noise – to listen to him, without distraction, so that their faith could begin to flourish. How can we create opportunities for one another to listen to God speaking to us?
Why not take time this week and simply listen for the still small voice prompting us to (re)engage with the faith we have or want to experience. You never know you might be called to help and serve brother and sister in Christ in new and unexpected ways?
Eternal God, it feels as if the whole world has changed and yet in you
there is stability and the opportunity of a new beginning. So, we pray
now for those whose lives are in turmoil, those whose lives have been
turned upside down, those who feel lost. May they feel supported, find fresh
hope. We pray for those for whom the
lockdown has come as a relief, for those who now feel safer, but we pray
too for those who now feel desperate, alone and worried about their jobs,
their finances, their mental health. May
they feel supported, find fresh hope: We
pray for children and young adults as their schooling is disrupted, we
pray for those who enjoy learning from home, but pray too for those who
will lose confidence, who miss their friends, who feel vulnerable. We
remember their parents and the parents of children with special
needs, struggling to cope on their own.
We pray for teachers, administrative staff, and all those who feel
overwhelmed. May they feel supported,
find fresh hope: We pray for the people of a divided America at this time
of political and racial tension and transition, for outgoing President
Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. We pray too for countries around
struggling with ethnic violence and militancy. We remember the people of West Africa and in particular the people of Niger, villagers who live in fear, those who have been wounded in recent attacks and those who have been bereaved. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: We pray for those who have been injured or lost their homes and loved ones in the severe weather, remembering particularly the people of Norway affected by landslides, and those in Australia battered by cyclones. We pray for those who work in the emergency services, those whose work is dangerous and traumatic. We pray for those in refugees camps with little protection from the weather, those who sleep rough, those who can't afford to heat their homes. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: We pray for one another, our families, our communities, our church fellowships. May we support those who are unwell or grieving.
May we bring fresh hope to those who feel forgotten and are vulnerable,
and may we – both practically and prayerfully – share our faith in your Son Jesus in whose name we entrust these prayers to you. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn: All I once held dear StF 489/not in R&S
Blessing: Lord, what we have learned this day help us remember. Teach us to recognise your voice. Teach us how to see you in our lives and encounters. Help us to give others space so that they may hear you too. And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Spirit be with us always. Amen.
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