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