Epiphany 2 – 17th January 2021

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This weeks childrens activity sheet from Roots at Home is available here

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to our shared time of worship this morning . We find ourselves in different places each with our own concerns so let us begin by saying this prayer:

God of our days and years
We set this time apart for you.
Form us in the likeness of Christ
So that our lives may glorify you
Amen.

 Today is the second Sunday of Epiphany and we will be hearing about how some of the first disciples were drawn to follow Jesus Christ. I wonder what is it that draws you to be a disciple of Christ? Our first two worship songs have within them some bold statements  

 There is nothing greater than knowing Jesus, Jesus you’re my all, you’re the best you’re my Joy            my righteousness. We seek your kingdom first, lord you’re our Joy and prize.  How do you personally relate to those statements.

We start  our worship today by saying together some verses from psalm 139 which reminds us that God already knows everything about us , God is with us through every situation, in every trial, protecting,  loving and  guiding us. He knows and loves us completely.

We say together

Psalm139

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Worship

Word

Jesus Chooses Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, "Come, follow me." 44 (Philip's hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.) 45 Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, "We've found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It's Jesus, Joseph's son, the one from Nazareth!" 46 Nathanael said, "Nazareth? You've got to be kidding." But Philip said, "Come, see for yourself." 47 When Jesus saw him coming he said, "There's a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body." 48 Nathanael said, "Where did you get that idea? You don't know me." Jesus answered, "One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree." 49 Nathanael exclaimed, "Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!" 

50 Jesus said, "You've become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven't seen anything yet! 51 Before this is over, you're going to see heaven open and God's angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again."

John 1
43-51 (The Message)

At this moment in time the world is in a desperate race to administer a vaccine that will protect us all from the fatal consequences of the different strains of the viral disease called Covid 19. In Britain there is criticism and even derision of the immense efforts that are being made to role out this protection.

We all want a return to  the way we think things should be. What people often call a return to normal But for those people who have lost loved ones during the time of this pandemic normal can never return. The problem is each one of us has a different idea of what normal is or should be. It is a sobering thought that the origins and spread of this disease derive solely from the ways people on this planet live their normal lives. We all leave a footprint behind us that has consequences for someone else. And as I write this the news is full of requests for people to follow the guidelines for the sake of others. We cannot exist in isolation. We are all interdependent.  Yet this pandemic has highlighted the huge differences in behaviours, living conditions and opportunities of people living in different countries. It has shone a spot light on the systemic inequalities in life chances between people living in the same country. It has demonstrated how the lust for power has corrupted the thinking of some political leaders and made us all question what is the actual truth. Above all It has become apparent that the people who will lose the most as a result of this pandemic are yet again the lowest paid and the marginalised communities.  More surprisingly it has demonstrated how much we need the natural world for our mental well-being, and further highlighted how everything in creation is interdependent and the damage our normal living has done and continues to do to the world we all depend on.  In the light of all this can we really return to our old ways  after the pandemic. 

For me more than anything the pandemic has reinforced that the most important things in my life do not have a cash value. They are my  family and friendships, the support of loving and caring people in the community alongside  the  calming reassurance  and  comfort that the  knowledge of the presence of God brings with it. These are the things that I believe bring us closest to the Kingdom of God. That is a treasure worth more than all the possessions you have. As a Christian I  believe that  by   following  Jesus Christ we are  protected  from the fatal consequences of continuing to live in denial and defiance of  God.

In todays reading At a time when people were looking forward to the coming of a Messiah  to restore things to what they once were Jesus is gathering followers around him. Phillip a Greek name and Nathanael, a Hebrew name represent the mix of cultures in Galilee. The message of Jesus is addressed to all cultures. Phillip is the first disciple that we are told Jesus called to follow him . Philip  tells Nathaniel about Jesus. Nathanael is at first sceptical about Jesus but he is willing to go and find out for himself. We must accept the same thing    Nathanael was about to learn; Christ may appear from where we least expect him. Jesus describes Nathanael    as someone in whom there is nothing false. This does not mean that he has never done anything wrong or has no wrong beliefs rather the word dolos suggests a more fundamental internal disposition in which there is no deceit. He is a man of integrity who desires truth before anything else. Nathanael doesn’t understand how this person Jesus who he has never met knows about him. He is even more taken aback when Jesus describes what he was doing before Philip came to find him. These two extra ordinary events lead Nathanael to recognise Jesus true identity. He declares that Jesus is The Son of God, Israel’s king. Consequently, by referring to Jacobs dream of a ladder between heaven and earth Jesus informs Nathanael that he is going to see God at work.

Nathanael story   tells us that God knows what we are really like through and through.  How do you honestly feel about the fact  that God knows the real you and wants you to follow him anyway.? We can  take comfort in the fact that God wants us as we are. But if we stop there  we miss the most important part , he wants us to follow Jesus! When we do follow Jesus, we will see God at work. Following means recognising our need for God and by God’s grace giving up our ways and preferences to prioritise adopting His ways and His preferences. Remember God’s ways are not necessarily our ways. Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts says the Lord And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. “God’s ways are higher than our ways because His ways are always part of a bigger plan. We can only see our small piece of the puzzle; God sees the finished work. God calls us to live in step with His plan, if we do that, we can have confidence that, even when bad things happen, God is still in control. He has a history of taking seemingly hopeless situations and turning them into good for the salvation of many. God’s priority is the expansion of His kingdom. God wants everyone not just to be aware of the stories about him but to be reconciled with Him and to be in a living  relationship with Him through following  his anointed Son Jesus. In this way His Kingdom will grow.   No matter what circumstances we find ourselves facing Christians are called to introduce other people to Jesus Christ just as Philip went to find Nathaniel and told him about Jesus.

 We are members of the body of all Christian’s that have been called by God to be his witnesses here in the community of Totley in the year 2021. The world in which we live and work is changing rapidly. And those changes have been exacerbated by the pandemic. So why do we Christian’s look forward to returning to worshiping and witnessing in the old familiar ways when we are aware  that those ways  have not  increased  Gods Kingdom here in Sheffield. Gods knowledge and wisdom are far greater than ours. So, we are foolish to try to fit God into our mould. To make his plans and purposes conform to ours. Yet that is often what we strive to do when we worship and witness for Christ only in ways which are comfortable to us . Doing things, we like to do and avoiding the unfamiliar or challenging situations. Is there a danger that in the pursuit of  our own   personal peace we are confusing inessential trappings  with the essential truth and in the process changing that truth. Do our preferences and prejudices stand in the way of others coming to know Christ do they in fact prevent us from seeing God at work. Have we considered that God might be calling us to follow Jesus along a fresh path that is not so familiar or comfortable in order that more people may be introduced to Jesus? Are we willing to go the extra mile for the sake of expanding His kingdom. Like Nathanael in spite of our doubts and regardless of what we see dare we anticipate that the  best is yet to come?

So what is  the most important thing to you   in your relationship with  Jesus Christ? In what way is he our joy and prize? And who amongst the people that you meet in person or virtually on your frontline have you told about it  in 2021. Who are you going to tell ?

what is  the most important thing to you   in your relationship with  Jesus Christ? In what way is he our joy and prize? And who amongst the people that you meet in person or virtually on your frontline have you told about it in 2021. Who are you going to tell ?

Prayer

Almighty God
Who called your church to witness
That you were in Christ reconciling the world to your self
Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love
That all who hear it may be reconciled to you;
Through him who died for us and rose again
And reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
One God, now and for ever.

Amen

lyrics:

We rejoice to be God’s chosen
Not through virtue work or skill
But because God’s love is generous
Unconformed to human will
And because God’s love is restless
Like the surging of the sea
We are pulled by heaven’s dynamic
To become not just to be

Verse 2

We rejoice to be God’s chosen
To be gathered to God’s side
Not to build a pious ghetto
Or be steeped in selfish pride
But to celebrate the goodness
Of the One who sets us free
From the smallness of our vision
To become not just to be

Verse 3

We rejoice to be God’s chosen
To align with heaven’s intent
To await where we are summoned
And accept where we are sent
We rejoice to be God’s chosen
And amidst all that we see
To anticipate with wonder
That the best is yet to be

Witness

Prayers

 Living God, Jesus calls his followers to seek first your Kingdom.   

Renew us as we make your love known;

Release us to share freely together in mission;

and Rejuvenate us to be fruitful in your service.

Give us courage, wisdom and compassion,

that strengthened with the grace of the Holy Spirit,

we may, as the Diocese of Sheffield,

both flourish and grow through Christ our Lord.                            

Amen

 

Heavenly father we lift to you a world in turmoil,

We pray for people who are already feeling the effects of climate change,

for the millions of people around the world who are facing famine and severe malnutrition. 

We pray for people in the 57 countries where there is armed conflict between rival factions.

 We pray for the countries where there is political unrest or suppression .

All of these people are struggling with the added devastation caused by Covid.

Lord we pray that you will bring them fresh hope and comfort in their trouble’s

Lord we particularly lift to you the people of the United States of America .

At this time at this time of political transition and racial tension we pray for peace and reconciliation and a recognition that disagreement does not mean division.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Lord we thank you for all those people who are key workers who continue to provide for us the essential things we need, farmers, lorry drivers, the supermarket workers, greengrocers, butchers, pharmacists, Gas, electric and water workers, the people who maintain our communications network, the post office workers, delivery van drivers. Lord we pray that they may know their hard work is valued and ask that you will strengthen them .

Lord we lift to you all those who work in the NHS , we thank you for their dedication, for their tireless efforts at this critical time and ask  that you  Give them comfort and relief  up hold and strengthen them Lord we pray.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for your Church here in Sheffield

Living God, Jesus calls his followers to seek first your Kingdom.   

Renew us as we make your love known;

Release us to share freely together in mission;

and Rejuvenate us to be fruitful in your service.

Give us courage, wisdom and compassion,

that strengthened with the grace of the Holy Spirit,

we may, as the Diocese of Sheffield,

both flourish and grow through Christ our Lord.                            

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

 

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,

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son  our saviour Jesus Christ

Amen

 

Final Prayer and Blessing

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
The love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us all, now and for evermore

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ

Amen

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

 

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church