Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1: 29-42

Resources: Textweek, Church of Scotland Starters for Sunday,

Commentary: (a multitude of links on Textweek also)
Rev Andrew Prior, One Man’s Web

This coming Sunday marks the second Sunday after Epiphany. Already there have been the almost annual collection of social media posts lamenting the appearance of hot cross buns and Easter eggs in the stores and shops. I am certainly not a fan of the consumerism that drives this, but as a person of faith, I am a little glad of what these things remind me of. The appearance of reminders of Easter so soon after Christmas can be helpful to us who follow the Christ. It helps break us out of any sentimental or nostalgic idea of Christmas and a toothless baby Jesus. The incarnation is one of the bookends of the Jesus story. The other is the cross (of course there is the prologue before the birth narratives and the epilogue of the post-resurrection occurances), but we sell the gospel short if we fall into the trap of the Creeds and neglect the life and ministry of Jesus.
As we journey through the in-between time of After Epiphany, after Christmas and before Lent and Easter, we are reminded of the life, purpose and ministry of the Christ who calls us to follow. Let us mind the gap in our creeds, for there is more to the incarnation than a baby in a manger, and salvation holds more than the cross. In this time we are reminded of Christ’s baptism and are called to reflect upon our own.
Who is this Christ that we follow?
What is his work that we are called to join in?
How can we better embody Christ as the Church, both together and as individuals?
This is something to think about.
(Source: Jon Humphries)

Call to worship
Jesus invited the disciples to come and see
Jesus invites us to come and see.
Jesus invited the disciples to notice God’s presence.
Jesus invites us to notice God’s presence.
Jesus invited the disciples to follow.
Jesus invites us to follow.
Come, friends, let us notice what is here among us,
let us notice God present here,
let us follow God’s call to be here. A silence is kept.
God asks us to remember that God is present in each of us,
to remember that God is present in me, in you, in this community.
Sometimes we forget.
We may see but we do not know God.
With all of our being, we need to look more closely.
We need to look more clearly. 
We need to look more carefully.

The Spirit will descend like a dove
The Spirit will descend like a dove,
The Spirit will fit you, each, like a glove.
Jesus said, come and see, and they came;
Jesus says, follow me, with him we remain.
Creator says, my beloved, my son;
Creator speaks and the world will be one.
Wisdom will welcome all to the feast;
Wisdom has walked with humble and least.
The Holy comes to earth to reside.
The Holy leads us all towards life!
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Praying the Story)

Approach to God
God beyond all names,
We do not know all of your names, because you are known by so many. But you know all of our names.
We are here because we have been called into being,
named into being.
To know some of your names is to know some of your glory.
We know you as father and mother,
we know you as redeemer and sustainer.
We know you as comforter.
We know you as friend.
May we know you, and may we know ourselves
and may we know each other
by many names
Oh God beyond names.
(Source: Church of Scotland)

Opening prayer
O God, when we least expect you, you appear.
You appear in the facesof strangers and friends,
you appear in places of danger and calm,
you appear in our times of weakness and strength.
Open our eyes to see you here and now,
and then open our mouths to speak and sing and shout
the good news that you are here, you are there,
you are everywhere. Amen.

We give thanks for callings of leadership, callings of service, callings of insight, callings of challenge.
God, you have called us by our names.
We give thanks for the gift of difficult conversations, knowing that we are called into deeper fellowship and friendship with each other.
God, you have called us by our names.
We give thanks for those who have the courage to call others into their own deepest name
God, you have called us by our names.
We give thanks for those who know how to rest, knowing that we are more than what we do.
God, you have called us by our names.
We give thanks for the gift of being known. To be known is to be loved.
God, you have called us by our names.
May we turn with love towards all those we meet, to offer the gift of naming, knowing and loving.
God, you have called us by our names.
(Source: Church of Scotland)

In the life of John, we witness the power of vocation and the power of humility.
We each have capacities and incapacities, callings and limitations.
Often, we respond to each other with comparison, jealousy and pain.
Help us change from the chaos of comparison, and more toward the vocation of life.
In the life of two cousins, Jesus and John, we witness people who knew their purpose and identity.
Our deepest purpose is love. Make us people who live in our purpose.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, the one who invites us to join him where he is. Amen
(Source: Church of Scotland)

Jesus, friend of many, when two people asked you where you lived, you said “Come and see”.
Yours is the open heart that makes space for all.
May we find space, and may we make space.
Jesus, you are close to those searching for homes in our towns and cities, because you, too, searched for homes. You found home with your friends.
Yours is the open heart that makes space for all.
May we find space, and may we make space.
Jesus you are close to those who seek employment in our communities. You had work to do, you knew your deepest purpose. You lived your deepest purpose.
Yours is the open heart that makes space for all.
May we find space, and may we make space.
Jesus, you are close to those who are ill and in need of support. You were the one to whom people turned when they were at the end of themselves. And you, too, turned to friends, when you were near the end.
Yours is the open heart that makes space for all.
May we find space, and may we make space.
Jesus you are close to those who are seeking refuge. Before you began to remember, you were carried from one country to another, and there, refuge was given.
Yours is the open heart that makes space for all.
May we find space, and may we make space.
Jesus you are close to the marginalised. You were friends with those on the margins. You honoured and respected people from the margins. And you, too, were forced to the margins. And even there, you brought belonging and home.
Yours is the open heart that makes space for all.
May we find space, and may we make space. Amen.
(Source: Church of Scotland)

People of the Light
In this season of Epiphany,
we are still the people walking.
We are still people in the dark,
and the darkness looms large around us,
beset as we are by fear,
loss –
a dozen alienations that we cannot manage.
We are – we could be – people of your light.
So we pray for the light of your glorious presence
as we wait for your appearing;
we pray for the light of your wondrous grace
as we exhaust our coping capacity;
we pray for your gift of newness that
will override our weariness;
we pray that we may see and know and hear and trust
in your good rule.
That we may have energy, courage, and freedom to enact
your rule through the demands of this day.
We submit our day to you and to your rule,
with deep joy and high hope.
(Source: Walter Brueggemann,  Prayers for a Privileged People)

Litany for 2 voices (inspired by 1 Corinthians – and a short summary thereof!)
For no one can lay any foundation
other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (3:11)
The foundation for blessing and grace.
The foundation for our unity.
I always thank my God for you
because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. (1:3, 4)
The source of wisdom.
The source of our ministry and teaching.
God is the source of your life in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1:30)
What is God’s wisdom for human sexuality, legal disputes,
marriage, singleness, widowhood, food sacrificed to idols?
What is God’s wisdom for testing and temptation?
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
which you have from God,
and that you are not your own?
For you were bought with a price;
therefore glorify God in your body. (6:19-20)
How do we glorify God in what we wear for worship,
how we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
How do we recognize and release the gifts of the Spirit
for the common good?
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three,
and the greatest of these is love. (13:13)
Let us receive and proclaim the good news
of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Let us give thanks for this life
and for the resurrection of the dead.
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting? (15:54-55)
For Jesus Christ is our sure foundation.
For Jesus Christ is our sure foundation.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” (16:23)
(Source: April Yamasaki, Emmanuel Mennonite Church)

Epiphany Prayer
God of revelation and epiphany –
Through the words of the prophets
You have shown us the world
of your dreaming and longing:
A world built on justice,
overflowing with plenty,
and crowned with joy.

And through the coming of Emmanuel –
his living and loving,
his words and actions –
you have shown us
how such a world might be fashioned.
Help us to take, hold and grow into these understandings;
and, like Jesus,
may we always be ready
to live generously,
love expansively,
speak boldly
and act courageously,
that the Kingdom of your dreaming,
with its justice, abundance and joy,
may become the present reality
of all the peoples of this world.
(Source: Christian Aid website)

Surely my cause is with the Holy One, and my reward with my God (Isaiah 49.4)
A bird I have not seen appears at our feeder.
Before I fetch the little book I know
it has a name and habits
and my unknowing does not touch it.
Its name is Thou. Its name is My Precious.
Its habit is magnifying the glory of God.

The world only knows the name it gives you.
The Panel of Judges that sits in your head
does not know your name, Beloved,
cannot see beyond certain accomplishments
and people you have influenced,
can’t see what only God sees,
how well you receive God’s love
and let it overflow from your tiny hands.

There are birds in your soul no one has named.
But an Unseen One knows such delight
watching them feed on grace.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Sermons (a small sample of the many online resources)
Lectionary Lab 2017

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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