We welcome everyone to our services at Yetholm (10am) and Morebattle (11.15) on the fourth Sunday of Epiphany. Please stay for refreshments after the Yetholm service.
Call to Worship
As Christians living in a broken world, we are aware of the need for healing in our own lives, in the lives of others, and in our world. Christ offers us that healing, wholeness, and transformation. So come and praise the God who makes us whole. Come and hear his life-giving word. As we gather to worship in God's name: may the Lord be with us.
Hymn 198 – Let us build a house
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
you are the wisdom behind all mystery,
the glory hidden in all that makes us wonder,
the strength in all that nourishes.
With eyes open and spirits alert, we experience your glory around us.
Scattered throughout the earth,
smoldering deep inside us and radiating in acts of love,
sparks of your glory reside.
We feel joy each time we encounter you.
So we gather to express our praise and gratitude
for all the good we have experienced,
knowing it all comes from your hand,
for you are Creator, Christ and Spirit,
Ever Three and Ever One.
Healing and forgiving God, we confess to you before this congregation, the times we have failed to recognise you in those whom we meet. We confess to you the times we have walked away from those who need your healing presence. We confess to you the times we have hurt and failed others. Be gracious, be merciful and heal us.
Hear the good news: Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone. New life has begun. Thanks be to God that we can make a new start, forgiven and set free.
Readings – Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Mark 1:21- 28
Hymn 36 – God is our refuge and our strength
Lord God, we thank you that you have raised up Jesus who us our Prophet, Priest and King. We ask that in all we do, we may we walk more closely with you at our side, safe in the knowledge that your Fatherly love and care knows no bounds. Amen
A new hotel was being built just up the coast from Tiberias. Right on the Sea of Galilee, it would be a brilliant position, especially for pilgrim groups. Work was going steadily; they had earmarked the opening for the following year. Then as they dug the foundations for the restaurant, they discovered ancient remains. Not a body, but walls. The archaeologists were brought in, and work on the hotel would stop for several years, for what they had uncovered were the remains of an ancient synagogue. AND from the time of Jesus. I was there at the time, and it was fascinating to watch as they excavated the whole area and exciting to visit knowing Jesus could have preached at that very spot. It was at Magdala, where Mary Magdalene came from, and they even found a stone slab where the scrolls of Scripture would be read from.
In the Gospels we don’t have any record of Jesus preaching at Magdala, but I am sure he would have; but today we read of him preaching at Capernaum, several miles along the Lake. There are ruins of a synagogue there, but from a later time than Jesus. But let’s go back 2000 years. For the worshippers, it was just any other Sabbath; they went along, expecting to pray and hear Scriptures read and someone expounding them. But they would also meet friends, chat about the price of fish or who was new in the area. They didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen. Little did they know!. But that particular Sabbath, someone got up, the carpenter chappie who sometimes helped mend the fishing boats, and he began to read the Scripture and speak about it. Immediately there was silence, no fidgeting, for he spoke with such weightiness, with such power. He seemed to speak to their very hearts, and everything seemed so clear. In fact they wanted to hear more.
Two things happened in Capernaum. Firstly, the young man interpreting the Scriptures spoke with such authority. They couldn’t daydream or let their minds drift to what’s for dinner. He was offering something new; the Scripture came alive when he spoke. But the other thing that happened was that there was a commotion at the back. A man in the congregation started to shout out. Well, people just didn’t know where to look. How embarrassing.
But the man seemed overcome; it was an evil spirit that seemed to speak from within him, challenging Jesus. ‘Why have you come? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – Jesus of Nazareth, the holy one from God’. The evil Spirit recognised Jesus, but Jesus confronted the spirit and did indeed drive it out of the man.
What do you think of this story? It seems alien to us here in 21st Century Scotland. It is surely something which happened in 1st Century Palestine. There are no evil spirits here. Apart from in horror movies. We can readily believe in angels watching over us, but what about evil spirits? But in some parts of the world this is very real. In Africa I remember in my first church there someone convulsing in the church and people praying over her. The students I taught at the Theological College were positively eager to cast out demons. While I would regularly be asked to bless houses and cars. There was an awareness of evil and evil spirits. There was an awareness of evil and having to confront it.
But then there is evil still round us. We look at the news and get depressed. But where we see the killing of civilians and children, that’s evil. Where we see targeted destruction of homes and hospitals and shipping, that’s evil. Where there is rape and humiliation, where people are smuggled into this country to be exploited and abused, their freedom taken away, that’s evil. Where young people are introduced to drugs and become addicted, that’s evil.
Someone said that "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."
God invites all of us to work together in overcoming evil, in its many forms: disease, injustice, oppression, greed, war, etc., by following Jesus, doing what we can each day, loving our neighbour as ourselves and working with others to care for those most disadvantaged, to promote wellbeing and justice in the world. As Paul says in Romans, "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good".
There is so much seeking to undermine us; let us put our trust in the one who spoke with authority and liberates and heals the broken. Let us challenge the evils in our society in the small ways we can and speak ever of God’s love.
Hymn 718 – We cannot measure how you heal
Prayers of Dedication
Generous God, giver of life and full of grace and mercy, we come humbly before you and present our offerings. Take and use them for the building of your kingdom, may they enable your word to be spread far and wide for everyone to hear.
Prayers of Thanksgiving & Intercession
Holy God, Lord of heaven and earth,
Your energy fills the cosmos. You are around us, within us, and beyond us. Thank you for the simple pleasures of each day, and for the strength to meet the challenges that arise. When it feels like we have come to the end of our own resources,
replenish us with the energy of your Spirit
so that we know you are there for us.
In these uncertain times,
we are grateful for prayer in its many forms
which lead us to be at one with you -
through word and silence, music and movement,
feeling the Spirit’s breath within us.
Draw close to us whenever we need you,
and renew our spirits to continue serving you as best we can.
We pray for those with power, shaping the lives of nations, changing the world as they make their choices. Grant them wisdom, touch their hearts with gentleness, fire their imaginations with generosity, reveal to them your will.
Some in power are wielding power to kill and destroy.
We pray for those in Israel and those in Gaza and the West Bank. We pray for those in Ukraine and those in Russia. We pray for those in Yemen and on the Red Sea. We pray for the prophetic words and actions
of those willing to seek and build peace with justice.
Some in power are wielding power to hide and abuse.
We pray for those caught up in the Post Office scandal. We pray for those fearful as jobs are lost and money dries up. We pray for those trapped in poverty and exploitation. We pray for the prophetic words and actions of those who turn compassion into food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, justice for the ignored.
Some in power are wielding power to care and to mend. Some devote themselves to looking after others and healing the wounds of your world.
We pray for those giving care in hospital, hospice or home. We pray for those seeking healing and hope wherever they may be.
We pray for our own circle of family and friends.
Heal, bless, lead and encourage them.
We pray for neighbours and strangers in our community who face struggles and sorrows we can’t even imagine. Remind us that we belong to each other and to you and help us respond to one another with compassion and kindness.
Finally, in silence, we bring to you the cares and hopes on our minds today. [Silence]
Hymn MP 617 - Stand up, stand up for Jesus
Recessional Hymn 786 – May the God of peace
We welcome everyone to our services at Yetholm (10am) and Morebattle (11.15) on the third Sunday of Epiphany. Please stay for refreshments after the Yetholm service. The services today will be led by Arthur and Kathleen Bates, as Colin is on Interim Moderator duties at Makerstoun.
Call to Worship (Psalm 62: 5 -8)
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honour depend on God[c];
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Hymn 489 - Come Down O Love Divine.
Prayers of Adoration, Confession/ Lord’s Prayer.
Bible Readings: Jonah 3: 1-5 + 10 (Pg 928)
Mark 1: 14 – 20 (Pg 1002)
Hymn 166 – Lord of all hopefulness.
Almighty God, today finds us in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; help us to listen to your voice still calling us to unity in our diversity. Thank you that you are aways a God of the second chance. Help us to keep our commitment to always follow you with our whole heart and trust in you. Amen
Hymn 402 -Take up the cross the Saviour said.
Prayers of dedication and intercession
Hymn 644 - O Jesus, I have promised.
Our united service is at 11am at Linton on Epiphany Sunday. Please stay for refreshments after the service. Please note that there are NO services at Yetholm or Morebattle this Sunday
Call to Worship
Arise, shine: for your light has come!
The glory of the Lord has risen upon us.
Lift up your eyes and look around!
We shall see and be radiant; our hearts shall rejoice.
For the Lord will be our everlasting light and our glory!
And so we worship God in humble expectation.
Carol 327 – Brightest and Best
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Since the beginning, O Ancient of Days,
You have called people to follow. Inspiring humanity with moon and star, sun and rain, majestic mountain, fast flowing river, and with the very mystery of life itself, You have called people to be Your own.
In the simplicity of Your manger, Lord Jesus,
You drew people to Yourself; awe filled shepherds and exotic magi came to worship and to see in You the hopes and fulfilment of all their yearnings.
Like a light in the gloom, O Holy Spirit,
we see Your brilliance, feel our hearts warmed
and gain a sense of direction and purpose.
Forgive us, O Most High,
when we fail to see you in Creation, and so exploit and misuse the abundance of life with which we share the planet. Help us to learn, soon, O God, how to live in harmony with nature.
Forgive us Lord Jesus, when we seek fulfilment in other things and turn away from You. Teach us, quickly, O Christ that our restless hearts will only find their rest in You.
Forgive us, Most Holy Spirit, when we look for warmth and purpose in strange places instead of in Your all-powerful love. Forgive us, and give us time to change!
Hear good news: God’s love seeks us out at great cost. When we turn back to God we find that, like a father, God runs towards us with arms open wide in welcome. Like a mother, God surrounds us with fierce love. Like a rock upon which we stand, God gives us a secure foundation for life. So accept the forgiveness on offer, learn to forgive others, and find the strength to forgive yourself.
Readings – Isaiah 60: 1-6 (Pg 747)
Matthew 2: 1-12 (pg 966)
Carol – We three kings (MP 740)
We are reminded that the Magi came from the East to worship your Son Jesus. Father, grant us the spirit of adoration so that through our worship we may reflect the glorious light of Christ which has come among us. Amen
‘We three kings of Orient are’. These figures from the East fascinate us coming from afar with their flowing robes and exotic gifts to stoop in the cold stable to worship the baby Jesus. We give them names, Caspar and Melchior and Bathasar, and have grown stories around them, even saying there was a 4th wise man, even saying that there were the three wise woman. But we don’t know their names, we don’t even know how many there were. If they were important, they would surely have travelled in a caravan with their servants. Yet for Matthew they were so important that he has them adoring the Christ child. Here is what the poet T.S Eliot wrote of their journey:
‘Journey off the Magi’
There is so much in the poem, but maybe suffice to say it captures something of their mystique, that they were from another culture and had to make an arduous journey, led by a star. Kings, priests, more likely astrologers who noticed something strange in the sky and felt compelled to follow it, believing something momentous was happening. So they left behind their comfort, their sherbet and summer palaces, for a quest, a puzzle, from which they would return changed, transformed.
They were from the afar, and Matthew places them at the birth of Christ; Matthew who was sure to place Jesus in the genealogy tracing him back to figures of faith like Abraham, but who also has foreigners recognising his royalty and bathing in the light of the Christ child. The Gospel writer is saying that all are included, that the birth of Christ connects everyone. All people may claim Christ as king. It doesn’t matter how mysterious or plain or ordinary your background is.
But these travellers were also human, fallible, made assumptions. But then the star that they followed seemed to come and go. To be seen brightly one night, then the next be covered in cloud. So they went to the capital city, Jerusalem, for where else would someone born to be king be found? And so they spoke with Herod and set in motion the events leading to the awful massacre of the infant boys in Bethlehem. But in the meantime, Herod instructed his scholars to research into where a Messiah would be born, and their answer was Bethlehem. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, when asked why the star didn’t lead them straight to Bethlehem, said that it was to teach us that we should follow scriptures and not our own ideas.
The Magi were drawn to the baby, but what draws us to Christ? What leads us to seek his company? What brings us to worship on a regular basis? When we reflect on the wise men’s trek from afar, we realise that each of us has our own journey across life’s plains and deserts and hills to come face to face with our Lord. What is the star that leads us? For some it could be the Bible or it could be the words or a presence of a particular person who shared God’s love? Or it may be the life of selfless care as embodied in the Church. The Church can be many things. It needs to be a centre for worship and community service, a place we learn more about our faith and how to love. It needs to be a voice for justice and compassion in the world, but it also needs to be a welcoming place, where people are drawn to get to know Christ
When the wise men did reach their destination and met the baby, they were transformed. Matthew says that they didn’t return to Jerusalem but left by a different way. Eliot in his poem tells powerfully of their unease with the old familiar ways. An encounter with Christ changes us if we are but open to Him. An encounter with Christ demands a reaction. The Magi fell down on their knees and worshipped. What about us? Later in the service we will have our covenant prayer which we may use to dedicate ourselves at the start of a new year to another year of service, and with the wise men adore the Christ.
Carol 326 – As with gladness
Epiphany opens with the story of the Magi offering gifts to the newborn king. Our gifts today and throughout the year honour Jesus as Lord of our lives and Saviour of the world. We may not bring gold, frankincense and myrrh, but all our gifts are welcome to keep the light of Christ shining into the world.
Prayers of Dedication
God of majesty and mystery, we bring our gifts to you, grateful that you are always with us. We do not know what the year ahead will hold, but your love shines like a star to guide us. Bless these gifts that they may keep the light of Christ shining through the church to embrace the world you love. Amen.
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'
Prayers of Intercession
God of the stars,
we gaze at the heavens in awe, we see the moon and the planets, satellites orbiting the earth, twinkling light from millions of miles away, we wonder at how the ancients navigated by these lights, and saw meaning in their movement.
We gaze and wonder if humanity is alone in the universe or if, in some far off corner, You’ve got other civilizations, other worlds that You care about.
We pray today for all who study the stars,
who seek to explore our solar system, and to increase our knowledge of the vast abyss of space.
God of the stable, we gaze at the nativity scene and struggle to take it all in. God in the dirt; animals attending like courtiers, smelly shepherds and exotic magi. We wonder at the danger of it all, the cruelty of the tyrant Herod, the protection of Joseph, the trust of Mary. We pray today for all who are living in danger, refugees and asylum seekers, the poor and hungry, those on the edge of our societies to whom the wealth never seems to trickle down, those struggling to pay their rent, mortgage or power bills.
God of the Scriptures, we gaze at the magi and wonder they trusted in ancient words and clear dreams. We are horrified that those who knew Your word turned to murder, whilst outsiders turned to worship. We thank You for the ways in which You speak to us, through ancient words and contemporary dreams, through the Church and deep in our own hearts. We pray today for those who search for You, in Scripture, stable and star, that You may be found and that we may be signposts pointing to You.
We remember in prayer this week the Leadership and church community of Bonnyrigg, praying for their shared youth worker Josh, for links with all the local churches so that they would be a bright light for Jesus in Bonnyrigg.
God of star, stable and Scripture, we pray now for all those we love and worry about
Hymn 235 – God is working his purpose out
May the light of God lead you,
the light of Christ embrace you,
and the light of the Holy Spirit enliven you
So that you know both hope and peace
this day and each coming day.