Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
O Lord, open our lips,
And our mouths shall declare your praise.
O Lord, open our eyes,
So that we may behold your presence.
O Lord, open our ears,
So that we may hear your call to follow.
O Lord, open our hearts,
So that we may offer you worship in love and joy.
Hymn 132 – Immortal invisible
God of light and hope,
the grey days and long nights of winter are not lonely and dark to you. When the sky is cold and the curtains are closed, we may welcome your presence.
Amid rain and wind, we declare your sure and steady grace. We trace your purpose in the slow turning of seasons, and we name your goodness in the waiting time.
In this hour of worship, we ask for new perspective,
for courage in our difficulties,
fresh love for our neighbours,
and a patient spirit of service,
That even in trials and fears
we may live as people of Jesus.
God of mercy, we bring you the lives we have,
far from perfect, marred by selfishness and deceit,
and we ask again, humbly and confidently, to receive the forgiveness for which Jesus died, that we may go forward pardoned, clean and hopeful.
Let us rejoice, for God has put a new song in our mouths! Trust in God’s enduring love and mercy, washing over us every day. Know that forgiveness is yours through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.
All age Talk
Readings – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Hymn 500 – Lord of creation
Faithful God, we ask that you will keep us strong to the end of our lives. As we seek to follow Jesus, may we be the ones who radiate the Light of Christ in all that we do and in all that we say. Amen
What is your prize possession? What do you value more than anything? For Jim, it was his pocket watch, something that had been passed down his family through the generations. For Della, it was her hair, long fair tresses. Della and Jim were devoted to each other, but they lived in relative poverty. Christmas was coming, and each of them wondered what to give to the other as a present. Della decided to buy Jim a chain for his precious watch, but her purse was empty. Jim decided to buy Della a tortoiseshell clasp for her hair, but again his wallet was empty, but he so wanted to give Della this clasp that he sold his pocket watch to buy it. While Della, to buy the chain, went to the wigmaker and sold her hair. When they met up on Christmas Eve, both realised what they had done. It is a rather sentimental story by the American writer O Henry, but it emphasises how both were willing to sacrifice their most precious possession for the one they loved. When you love, you want to give of your best. The story is called ‘The gift of the Magi’, and while the wise men could afford the gold, frankincense and myrrh, they also gave of their time and of themselves, faced challenges and sacrificed family life to worship the Christ child.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus comes to be baptised by John, and John is so moved that he reacts by saying, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’. This is the one who was to come, the Messiah. ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’. It is an interesting thing to say. Was he referring to the lamb, slaughtered at the first Passover, whose blood was put on the lintels of the doorways, so that the angel of death would pass over and not harm those inside? Or maybe John referring to the lambs brought to the Temple as sacrifices. The lamb was to be without blemish, which meant it had to be perfect, the best. The worshippers had to offer the best to the Lord. So right at the start, at the baptism, John is recognising that Jesus faces a life of sacrifice, where he will give of himself to the point of death. He is the one who will give of his best for us.
‘Behold, the Lamb of God’. John says this to his disciples, and Andrew and a friend are so intrigued they engage with Jesus. Where are you staying?’, they ask Jesus. It is the same Greek word as John uses regarding the vines and branches in John 15 – Abide in me. So they are asking what Jesus is about, what he does, what kind of relationship he has with God. And Jesus says, ‘Come and see’. Andrew and his friend do ‘come and see’ and are so impressed that they will leave John the Baptist and follow Jesus – how John reacts to that, we don’t know, but I would like to think he would be gracious.
What do they see? They see someone giving of their best, offering compassion in the face of scorn; healing in the face of illness; freedom in the face of those possessed by demons; dignity in the face of oppression; inclusion and welcome in the face of exclusion; truth in the face of lies; life in the face of death. They saw someone who would give his all for them and for the world. That is the kind of person to follow. And Andrew even recommends Jesus to his brother Simon. ‘We have found the Messiah’, he says confidently, for he has come and seen what Jesus is.
When Paul wrote to the young church in Corinth, he had to deal with a lot of issues, for the church was quite divided. But even so, he addressed his letter to the ‘saints’ and recognised that, despite their problems, they were in fellowship with Christ and had their gifts and so were able to enrich and resource the fellowship. They were able to witness to Christ crucified and risen, because they too had come to see and had come to know Christ.
That invitation is given to us, to come and see Jesus, the lamb of God; to come and see how much God loves us, for he gave his best and his only son for us; to come and see and like the Corinthian church be enable to use our gifts and talents to enrich the church and community around us. Come and see – and we see the Christ willing to sacrifice himself for us.
Hymn 251 – I the Lord of sea and sky
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Gracious God, we offer you our gifts with humble hearts. Each gift seems small on its own, so bless each one and those of your people throughout the Church. Through the work of your Holy Spirit, surprise us with all that our gifts can accomplish, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God who calls us, forms us, polishes us, and gives us to the world to be light and point to your salvation, we pray to you now with our concerns for others, known and unknown.
We call to mind the people of Ukraine, where winter is compounding the issues brought about by war, a war that has been going on for eleven months and does not seem to have an end in sight. We pray that the aid workers are able to help with food, medicine, warmth, and for children and all who are vulnerable. We remember too the people of Russia, those who disagree with their leaders and have been silenced, for holding opinions that threaten the leaders. We pray for those who have been forced to fight, for their families who worry about them and do not know where they are.
We remember those who could not leave Afghanistan, especially women and girls who can no longer gain the education they deserve or work in the jobs they trained for. We also pray for the leaders who are operating from a point of fear; fear of losing control, fear of women, fear of free thinking.
We thank you for the work and witness of your Church, bringing your Good News into many lives and situations throughout the earth. Today we pray for congregations that are struggling financially,
for churches caught up in conflict, and for all those church members who are tired and need your renewing Spirit. Guide them with your grace.
We thank you for the healing that comes from your hand, O God, in times of reconciliation when your forgiving love is at work, and in times when pain is eased and grief is comforted.
Today we pray for those whose emotions are raw,
for those whose bodies are weakened in this winter of sickness and for any whose minds are troubled in any way. Give them hope for new life with you.
Hymn 680 – You are called to tell the story (1,2,4)
Go with strength and humility, for you are servants of Christ. And may the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit bless and sustain you, now and always. Amen.
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