Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on the Fifth Sunday of Epiphany
Let us sing and pray in God’s presence.
Praise be to God!
For God has created the world and called it good.
Praise be to God!
The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, calling us to follow Jesus.
All praise and glory to God.
Hymn 111 – Holy, holy, holy (1,2,4)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God ever creating, ever loving, ever leading:
your presence is peace when we are frantic;
your Word is truth when we face deception;
your Spirit offers freedom when we are paralyzed by fear.
You give purpose in confusing times; You call for justice when the world settles for inequality.
For all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will be, we worship and adore you,
One God, now and always.
you call us to fullness of life but we confess our shortcomings.
We have wandered from your ways and wasted your gifts. We have been suspicious of the motives of others, too quick to judge and too slow to forgive.
Lord, we know that You are slow to anger and abounding in love, so may we rest in that love knowing that we can have a fresh start, that today is the beginning of a new journey with You.
So Holy Spirit, encourage us to hear Your calling now.
Holy Spirit, enable us and teach us to fulfil our calling.
Holy Spirit, empower and sustain us in our service.
Readings – Isaiah 6: 1-8
Luke 5: 1-11
Hymn 340 – When Jesus saw the fishermen
Gracious God, thank you that you call us all to be your disciples. We pray for all who, like Isaiah, respond “Here I am, send me.” Help us in our daily lives of work, family and community to bear witness to the gospel in all that we say and do. Amen
I grew up in a mining community, and although the miners’ rows by the colliery had been demolished, mining families were still slightly on edge, in case the siren went off to announce a disaster with the miners trapped below. It was a precarious profession. Fishing was the same. Like mining, fishing communities have been hit and fewer boats are operating. But with the storms we have had over the last few weeks, I couldn’t help but think of any boat out at sea, though I suppose technology and common sense would have told them to stay put in harbour. Fisherfolk these days have had to live with years of overfishing, compulsory quotas and competition, let alone storms and have been impacted by political and economic changes, so boats have got bigger, but numbers involved have dropped – and fishing villages now make more from tourism than fishing.
The fishermen of Jesus’ time also had their own problems. The new town of Tiberias was being built just round the coast. It provided lots of jobs for craftsmen, but it was a Roman town, and observant Jews were not encouraged to work there. But also, money was needed to build it, so people were taxed. The fishers had to learn new practices of working together to minimise costs and maximise profit. This mutual support would have stood them in good stead in their new enterprise of Kingdom building, but an unsuccessful night’s fishing would not have helped them.
Jesus commandeered Simon Peter’s boat to preach to the crowds. He had healed his mother-in-law; he was becoming well-known and well-respected around Capernaum and the fishing villages around. Peter calls him ‘Master’. But when he had finished preaching, he told them to go back into the deep and drop their nets again. Peter would have been dead tired and wanting his bed after being up all night, but they seemed to trust him and they did so and came back with nets groaning with all the fish they had caught.
Peter’s reaction was to fall on his knees. He was aware that something special had happened, that he was in the presence of someone special, and he was aware of his own unworthiness and said, ‘I am a sinner’. It reminds us of Isaiah in the Temple in the year of King Uzziah’s death. Uzziah had reigned for over 50 years, so it was an upheaval for him to die – many had known no other ruler (Just as many have only known Elizabeth as queen!). There was change in the air, and that’s when the prophet has his vision in the temple. He is even hurt by a burning coal – there would be a cost to discipleship. But when the voice came, ‘Whom shall I send?’, Isaiah immediately replied, ‘Here I am. Send me’.
Simon Peter fell to his knees and felt his own unworthiness, but Jesus saw differently and beckoned him to follow, to get closer to God’s people, to be involved, leaving everything behind.
But Jesus also encouraged the Simon and his friends to take their boats into the deep, to go to the deep waters. More dangerous, but that’s where the fish were. If they stuck to the shallow waters, their nets would have been empty. As disciples, Simon Peter and his friends had to learn to go into the deep too, for that would be where the people were. They had to take risks and move from the shallow, from the comfortable into the deep, where the fish are, where people are longing for change.
Like Isaiah and Simon Peter, we too are called to follow Christ. We too are filled with awe and feel our own unworthiness. Yet Christ continues to call us and wants to use us, to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We are called to go into the Deep; it can be hard, but oh so rewarding.
Hymn 532 – Lord, you have come to the seashore
Prayers of Intercession
Jesus encouraged his disciples to keep fishing when they thought their nets were empty.
Encourage us to keep giving even when needs seem overwhelming and resources scarce.
We entrust our gifts to you with the faith you can surprise us through all they can accomplish in Jesus’ name.
Loving God, we bring our empty nets and ask you to fill them. We bring our tiredness and discouragement and ask you to fill us with energy and hope. We bring the skills that we have and ask you to teach us new ways of using them We bring such vision as we have of your kingdom and ask you to enlarge it. We bring ourselves, as we are, and ask you to use us, as you can, in the service of that kingdom of joy and peace.
Lord Jesus Christ, we celebrate the life of your church,
that international community of believers
whose worship and service strengthen our faith and challenge us to live what we believe.
We remember before you this day all the Church of Scotland mission partners and also our partner churches, giving thanks for their vision, courage and compassion.
We thank you for Christian Aid and other aid agencies. May they ever act swiftly to alleviate hardship with mercy and hope.
Spirit of healing and hope,
we remember before you the many communities and individuals experiencing ongoing conflict and violence, widespread drought or severe flooding,
crowded quarters in refugee compounds,
a yearning for education and a struggle for freedom.
God of grace and compassion,
We lift up those closest and dearest to us
and name them before you with affection and gratitude:
Keep a silence for 15 seconds.
Thank you that your love reaches into the very depths of their needs and gives them strength for their journeys.
Be with all who need your help at this time – the housebound, the sick, the lonely and those mourning.
Hymn 533 – Will you come and follow me (1,2,3,5)
Go with the love of God
Go with a heart for all people
Go and serve God's people
And the blessing of God Almighty…..