Home Service for 17th January ’20

Nathanael under the fig tree

Prayers of Approach

We come together into the presence of our Lord.
So, let us quieten our hearts and minds,
put aside our concerns and distractions.
Let us open ourselves to listen for God’s voice,
for the word God has for his people.

God of awe and wonder,
worthy of honour and praise,
you know us through and through,
from our beginning to our end,
and in every day of our lives.
We come into your presence,
amazed by your love for us
and your delight in knowing us.
We come to worship you,
ready to be changed.
Amen.

Music: Be still for the presence of the Lord

Readings: John 1:43-51

Introduction:

Where would Jesus find you?

How would he see you?

Where do you go to think or pray?

Music: I want to walk with Jesus Christ (R&S 367)

Sermon/Reflection

Now that Christmas is well and truly over we are in the church season of Epiphany, which means ‘showing’ or ‘revelation’ and John’s gospel takes us through a series of events in which Jesus is revealed as the Messiah, or God’s chosen one, his son. Jesus has ‘inherited’ his first disciples from John the Baptist and Andrew has brought along his brother Simon, (whom Jesus has named Peter), exclaiming excitedly, ‘We have found the Messiah!’

When Philip finds Nathanael however he gets a reaction which was probably totally unexpected. Instead of rejoicing at the news Nathanael is sceptical, retorting, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ ‘Come and see,’ says Philip, implying ‘then you’ll understand.’ And Nathanael does understand, discovering that Jesus ‘knows’ him more deeply than he could ever have imagined. From scepticism Nathanael moves to immediate enthusiastic belief declaring, ‘you are the son of God, you are the king of Israel!’

I wonder if Nathanael was surprised more by the fact that Jesus seemed to know him or by the way in which Jesus described him, ‘a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false’. How did Nathanael see himself? How would you describe yourself? That’s a question that we all hate especially when writing a CV or answering a question at a job interview, or at those church get togethers or training and study events. What are our strong points, what are our weak points? Can we sum ourselves up in a few words?

How would Jesus describe us? Jesus’ description obviously startled Nathanael. Was he perhaps a bit anxious that Jesus had heard about his obvious prejudice against people from Nazareth. We often choose how we define ourselves: ‘I’m a football fan’, ‘I’m no good at music’, ‘I like art’, ‘I’m not very creative.’ But instead of a definition describing reality, the definition may create reality. If I say that I’m not musical, does that then prevent me from learning about music, or trying to sing? If I describe myself as being not very outgoing, does that hinder my relationships with others?

Hearing someone else’s description of you can sometimes be quite startling, and occasionally quite different from the way you see yourself. Jesus’ description of Nathanael had a dramatic effect on him, and we, too, can have that effect: our words of praise, compliments we offer, genuinely spoken, can help others to see themselves as they are, and perhaps more significantly, as they could be. Nathanael is found in a comfortable place, somewhere that represents peace and security, and he is challenged to leave this to follow a man from Nazareth. No wonder he is dubious. But Jesus shows him new possibilities and opens up a whole new vision of what he could become.

Jesus calls his disciples in very different ways. Contrast this story, with its bantering tone and a conversation that starts with Nathanael’s rudeness and ends with him acknowledging Jesus, with the simplicity of the call of the fishermen: ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people’ (Mark 1.16). God’s call on everyone’s life is different, and he calls each of us in a different way. We must always be open to the possibility of God using us in different ways to call others. And for virtually everyone who is called, there is somebody else involved in supporting them and encouraging them on that journey. How can we appropriately support those around us in discovering Jesus?

Music: You are the king of glory (R&S 271)

Prayers of Intercession

Jesus, Son of God, we pray for our world,
for those who hold power to make a difference
in the lives of the poor and voiceless…
Jesus, Son of God, give wisdom and courage,
and hear our prayer.

Jesus, King of Israel, we pray for the Church,
for those who are exploring faith
and for those who teach them…
Jesus, King of Israel, give unity and peace,
and hear our prayer.

Jesus, Son of Man, we pray for those in need of healing and restoration…
and for the bereaved and those who have died in the faith of Christ…
Jesus, Son of Man, give patience and light,
and hear our prayer.

Jesus, Lamb of God, we pray for ourselves,
for the things we worry about
and the people we care about…
Jesus, Lamb of God, give hope and understanding,
and hear our prayer.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Music: Will you come and follow me (R&S 558)

Blessing.

Lord Jesus, you call us to follow you.
Go with us into the world.
Go before us in all we do.

We go in your name
to love you and those we meet,
and to be your light in the world.

May your blessing rest on us,

now and always.
Amen.


Rev Janet Calderley

Prayers copyright ROOTs for churches. Used by permission.

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