Readings And Sermons or Talks

Readings for today, the Third Sunday After Epiphany

The Collect for Today, the Third Sunday After Epiphany

Almighty God, whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence: renew your people with your  heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Post Communion Prayer for Today, the Third Sunday After Epiphany

Almighty Father, whose Son our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world: may your people, illumined by your word and sacraments, shine with the radiance of his glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen

Today’s Psalm is Psalm 62 : 5 – 12 (not used in Holy Communion service)

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.Selah Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and shall be forever. Amen

Today’s first reading is from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians : 1 Corinthians 7 : 29 - 31

I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. This is the word of the Lord Thanks be to God

Today’s Gospel reading is from the Gospel according to St Mark. Mark 1 : 14 - 20

Hear the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to Mark Glory to you, O Lord.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. This is the Gospel of the Lord Praise to you, O Christ

Today’s Sermon is by Denise

The Gospel this morning is a challenging passage. It is meant to be. It is meant to challenge you with the message of God’s Kingdom, with the call to discipleship and our response to it. Are you following Jesus? If not then are you a true Christian. Are we really saved? A Christian is someone who follows Jesus. That is the call.

V17. Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men/people.

Jesus calls us to follow him and in following him bring others along. God’s Kingdom is meant to be shared. We need to be wise and looking for opportunities to lead others to Christ.

Recently we have read about John the Bapist baptizing and preaching in the wilderness, and then straight in with this mornings reading we hear the sombre news that John had been put in prison. Everything had been going well, lots of people were being baptised. Jesus came from Galilee to be Baptised by John in the River Jordan and confirmed as the Son of God. Jesus’ ministry overlapped with Johns and some of Jesus’ disciples also baptised people. John’s ministry began to decrease.

JOHN 4 V1-2. The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. 

Around the time John was arrested, Jesus returned to Galilee. It was here that he started his public ministry, proclaiming the Good News of God. The phrase Good News can also be translated as Gospel. When we think of the Gospel, we think of the whole story: that Jesus came to earth, Jesus died, Jesus rose again and we may have new life through him. This is our Good News. But at that time in history, those things had not happened yet, and yet Jesus could still proclaim the good news of God in terms of what was happening right then and there.

A summary of his preaching is spelled out in v15 The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the good news!

The promises of God are being fulfilled. This is what the Old Testament promises pointed forward to and so Jesus announced that the time had come. Repent and believe! This means turning back to God, turning away from our old way of life and follow Jesus.

Jesus needs help, so seeing Simon and Andrew, two young fishermen he calls them, “Come follow me.” The invitation was for them to be with him, get to know me, enjoy my friendship. But also, share my mission, I will make you fishers of people. He wanted them to teach and preach, heal and serve just as he did. What a responsibility, but what a privilege! They were two ordinary men. They would not have been well educated. Not a requirement! What is important is a willingness to follow Jesus and be available. Discipleship involves a change in our values until they measure up to the values of Jesus. Simon and Andrew did not need a second bidding. Do you think they had already listened to him in the synagogue or preaching on the shore of the Lake? Did they already realise that in his work he was going to need followers. He was calling them to a global mission. They have no relevant experience, no training for the job. There would not be much on their CV’s. I grew up here in Galilee, I fish. Short and sweet! They are just ordinary, good men, with no wealth or position. What is amazing is that they have no certainties, little knowledge of him, and yet they risk all for him. He continues to call ordinary people like us to be his followers,through the Holy Spirit. The ways of following Jesus are as varied as people themselves. But they always entail breaking free from old ways, leaving old ways behind. Simon and Andrew responded with immediate obedience. You get the impression they did not even take the time to pull the net back in. Some of us take much longer to hear the call. In my case, I ignored it and turned away, it was third time lucky. I feel I did a Jonah, (that was the old testament reading for today.) My biggest regret is that I did not respond sooner. They left everything behind too. In the last verses we read how Jesus spotted James and John further along the shore. When he called them they left everything behind in order to follow Jesus. They left their nets, their boat, the family business, and even their father Zebedee! Does Jesus call us to leave our possessions, our occupation and our family ? no not usually, but sometimes, yet he does call us to follow him without hesitation and to be obedient. We are true followers when we challenge ourselves with the question, “How would Jesus act in the situation I am in right now?” is there something prompting you which tells you how you could do more for Christ’s Kingdom? When this pandemic has eased and we return to a ‘new normal’ , getting everything back to how we were will need all of us to be obedient to his call. Gathering our children back into the fold will need such energy, - Junior Church, our Toddler group, all our through the week activties. Remember he will raise us up to more than we can be- he gives us the gifts we need even when our CV’s are fairly thin. The Holy Spirit is able to re-energise us, I believe he can stretch time, give us the words we need as long as we are followers. The most awe inspiring thing for me is that his followers form the largest body of believers on the planet. Those simple working men, did a marvellous job and his current followers continue to do so today.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, you are our life itself, pointing to what we can become and calling out all our power of service and devotion. We leave the frailty that is in us open to your touch. We commit the joy and the brokenness of our life to you. Father you call disciples to follow you and share your mission. May nothing hinder us from generously responding to your daily call to follow you, in the name of Christ, Amen.

This is the reflection on the Holy Spirit from Julie :

The Fruit of the Spirit

Holy Spirit Reflection

This reflection is the introduction to a series of reflections on the fruit of the Spirit.

The first one is about the Holy Spirit in general and then we will take a closer look at the fruit of the Spirit in later reflections.

These reflections are meant to give you an opportunity to spend some time with God, allowing him to speak to you and to minister to you. As you work through it, take it slowly, give yourself plenty of time, you can take as long as you need, a few days if you like. I have divided it into three parts which can be done separately and part three could be split further to use over a few days if you want.

The questions in this reflection are there to give you a start in your thoughts, to help you; there are no right or wrong answers, only your answers. You don’t even have to answer all of the questions if you don’t want to, they are meant to be starting points to get you thinking and praying and working with God.

Part One.

Read the following passage several times, slowly and prayerfully looking for words or phrases that speak to you. If a word or phrase speaks to you spend some time with it, think about it, reflect on it and pray about it. Ask God to speak to you through it.

15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in[c] you. 18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:15-21, 26)

Just sit quietly for a moment with God and reflect and pray about whatever spoke to you in this passage.

Part Two

Think for a moment about your understanding of the Holy Spirit.

What do you think of when you think of the Holy Spirit?

What do you feel is the role of the Holy Spirit?

How do you think the Spirit works in us?

Have there been any significant times in your life when you felt filled with the Holy Spirit?

Part Three

The Greek word used to denote the Holy Spirit is “paraclete” which is a difficult word to translate, it means “one called alongside” a counsellor, a comforter, an encourager. It has also been understood as advocate, helper, interpreter, friend.

Which words appeal to you? Why?

Which words do you struggle with? Why?

Are there any words that are not listed here that you think might be a good translation of “paraclete”. Why?

Now read the above passage again, replacing the word “Advocate” with some of the other words that we mentioned above.

Does this change your understanding and if so how?

What is your understanding of the Holy Spirit now?

A final prayer:

God of power may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength now and always. Amen (A New Zealand Prayer Book)