We welcome everyone to our services at Yetholm (10am) and Linton (11.15) on the fifth Sunday of Epiphany.
Call to Worship
Come to this time of worship
We bring our hearts and our minds.
Come with your joys and your wounds.
We bring them all before God.
Come, trust that God will raise you up.
We sing praise to the Lord of Creation.
Hymn 184 – Sing to the Lord a joyful song
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
O Lord our God, Creator and Ruler of the universe, you are great beyond all things. You are clothed in honour and majesty, wrapped in light as a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers. You gave us your son Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah and the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Comforter. We give you glory, honour and praise now and forever.
Draw us into a moment of quiet now as we remember our frailty. We acknowledge what has been difficult in our lives. The things that we have done, the significant things that we have left undone. The wrong paths taken, or the opportunities missed. Help us to bring it all to you in a moment of quiet……
Forgive us our wrongs and create in us new hearts and new minds. Grant us enlarged visions to see your image in everyone we encounter regardless of their background, race and ethnicity. God’s love is there new every morning. Let us know ourselves a forgiven, accepted and loved.
Readings – Isaiah 40:21-31 (Pg 724)
Mark 1: 29-39 (pg 1003)
Hymn 162 – The God of Abraham praise
Ever Living God, our Creator and Redeemer, you love us and know us better than we know ourselves. With a word you created all things and so we ask you to renew our strength as we trust in you. We pray for all those who need your touch today, remembering that your touch has still its ancient power to heal. Amen
It brings in all back. The Covid Inquiry, that is. It brings back all the uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear. Except a few years on, we see the crisis from a different angle, as the various politicians and scientists and medics tell it from their point of view. It seems another world to when we were clapping every Thursday and glued to television or radio when the First Minister spoke. And if some were winging it, weren’t we all. Trying to make sense amidst the uncertainty.
The Israelites in Babylon were winging it, as they tried to make sense of their own chaotic situation. Jerusalem had fallen to Nebuchadnezzar’s armies; the Temple ransacked and destroyed, the city walls torn down, the great and the good taken into exile to Babylon. They had to adjust to a new culture, a new set of values, as their own religion didn’t fit any more. And they sat by the rivers of Babylon, and they wept remembering Zion. Where was God now? Why wasn’t God doing something?
Fortunately, they had Isaiah the prophet to keep them grounded. ‘Do you not know, haven’t you seen?’ Isaiah asks them. God is the eternal one, who sees the wider picture. ‘Do you not know, haven’t you seen?’ Just because we are impatient, it doesn’t mean that God has stopped working. God is in it for the long haul. For the Israelites, they had to learn to wait on the Lord and trust in the Lord. So must we too.
Like the Israelites we can be impatient and want God to keep to our timeline and grow discouraged when he doesn’t. But Isaiah gives a wonderful picture of even when the youth growing weary, those who wait on the Lord, those who put their trust in God, will renew their strength and rise up with eagles’ wings. They will walk and not faint, not grow weary. They are being held by God. Sometimes I see birds of prey, which I call hawks or eagles, but probably are something else, and they don’t get from place to place by continually flapping their wings, but rather seem to catch the breeze and are lifted up in it. So wait for the Lord and can be lifted by the Spirit and held in the palm of God’s hand.
The disciples had to learn this as well. Jesus had become a sensation in Capernaum. He had cast out evil spirits, which we looked at last week, and this week we read what happened next. There were several little scenes. Firstly, Jesus goes to the house of Simon Peter and finds his wife’s mother sick. Jesus heals her, and immediately she gets up and starts to make dinner. The word used is related to diakonia, service, and Simon’s mother-in-law is seen to embody service.
But then the scene changes to the threshold of the house. The sabbath is finishing, and people are beginning to gather looking for Jesus. He has become the talk of the town, he has become a sensation. People have brought loved ones for healing; they have brought themselves for healing. Eventually they go home and Jesus must have caught some sleep, but the scene changes again, and he has risen early and gone to a private place to pray, to fill the batteries, but also reflect on what had happened.
Matt Perry, the actor who died last year, was a star in Friends. At one time he was writing another show with a friend. They needed a break. I’ll go for a walk, the friend said, to clear my head. Do you want to come?’ Matt Perry said, That’s precisely what I can’t do’. If he went for a walk, immediately people would recognise him and want to talk or watch. It was getting like that for Jesus.
The disciples didn’t know where he was; they were hunting for him, and when they found him, they said. ‘Come back to Capernaum. Everyone is talking about you. They are queuing up to see you’. He could have spent his whole life in Capernaum, healing people. Set up a clinic and capitalise on his success, and people would have travelled from far and wide. But that wasn’t why he had come. It is like the temptation to turn rocks into bread. So good, but there was more to do. There was the message of wholeness and salvation to preach. And so they moved on to preach in other places. The disciples had to learn to see the wider picture.
With the Covid Inquiry we need to see the wider picture. With the state of our world we need to see the wider picture and work for a world where the kingdom values of peace and hope and justice and God’s shalom flourish. We have to learn to wait on the Lord.
Hymn 705 – It is God who holds the nations
Prayers of Dedication
Jesus touched so many lives in so many different ways. We ask that these gifts will touch many lives, too, with your healing and hope in these difficult days. Amen
Prayers of Thanksgiving & Intercession
Holy and loving God,
we thank you for the story of Christ’s life among us,
a pattern for the way we live. We give you thanks for moments of quiet and contemplation that restore us. Teach us to trust in your strength,
so that we can live with confidence and courage
even in the midst of stress and anxiety.
God of love,
you give power to the faint and strength to the powerless. Many of us can feel exhausted,
caring for children and grandchildren,
responding to demands of work or family life
or dealing with a sense of isolation or anxiety. Renew us, we pray.
We pray for all church leaders.
Encourage and strengthen them in their work, and
give us all fresh vision for the future of church
and renew our Imagination, creativity and wisdom.
God of love,
you restore what is broken and you bring together what has been split apart. Today we continue to pray for the Middle East and Ukraine and Yemen.
We ask for peace in a dangerous and fragile situation. We pray for Northern Ireland as we hope the power-sharing agreement begins to operate again.
God of all creation, you restore the face of the earth : stir us up to action to protect our planet.
May our feet tread lightly on the earth
and our actions and priorities bring healing to our battered world.
God of love,
you heal the broken hearted and you gather in all who are lost. We pray for all who are mourning the loss of family members or friends. We place before you all who are suffering in mind or body…
asking for peace, and for your healing presence in their need.
Send your blessing on all who are afraid or alone or hungry, on those whose lives are being destroyed by abuse or violence and on all for whom home is not a safe place. Amen
Hymn 517 – Fight the good fight
May your strength be renewed this day,
so that you may run into the world to live the
gospel and never be weary.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
Our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
be with you and those you love,
this day and always. Amen.