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SUNDAY 17 JANUARY 2021
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WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

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Prelude
Canzona (1984) by Jack Hawes (1916-2004)


Lord, you know us and our world better than we know ourselves. With that understanding you have called us to be the Body of Christ. So, today we pray that you make us worthy of that calling, avid in our prayer and worship, loving, faithful and honest in our lives, so that that as a church we may display what You, Lord God, are like. Amen.


STF 443 (Tune - Wonderful Love :Frederick Luke Wiseman (1858-1944))

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true;
out of the heart of the Father above, streaming to me and to you:
wonderful love dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell, joyfully came;
came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell, sharing their sorrow and shame;
seeking the lost, saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet; why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget; home, weary wanderer, home!
Wonderful love dwells in the heart of the Father a
bove.

Robert Walmsley (1831-1905)

Bible Reading
John 1:  43-51 (Revised English Bible)

week of prayer

 Anthem

A Prayer of St Richard of Chichester : Choir of Lichfield Cathedral

Calling of Nathaniel
Christ with Nathaniel and Phillip beneath the fig tree
(Victoria Road United Reformed Church, Newport)


I wonder who the first person would be you would tell exciting news – maybe when you’ve had the vaccine?! In these days where there is so much depressing news, it is even more important to share any good news stories that we have. I remember as a child being desperate to tell my parents of any incident I considered exciting that had happened to me, and of them having to endure every little detail in the retelling!

Those who attended our Covenant Service might remember that we were thinking about being called to be light to the nations. This might feel like a daunting task. Well, our reading today gives us a manageable pattern to fulfil our calling. Philip encounters Jesus, and answers Jesus’ invitation to follow him. Having spent some time with Jesus, he heads off to tell his friend, Nathanael, the exciting news, and invites him to meet Jesus himself.

This offers us an encouraging pattern. Firstly, Philip went to his friend. When we think abut being ‘light to the nations’ we often imagine this means approaching strangers, or knocking on their door and having to initiate a conversation. Whilst this is the calling of some people, most of us are called to go to those we know. The relationship has already begun and our calling is just to make our faith a natural part of that relationship and conversation – which is easier said than done!

If that thought still seems daunting, then Philip continues to encourage us. When he came to Nathanael he said, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ This is hardly a profound statement of who Jesus is. In fact, at that point, Philip wouldn’t have understood much about who Jesus is. Yet there is something about his encounter with Jesus that makes him realise that he is someone special, someone worth following, and someone he feels Nathanael should follow as well. We may not feel we have the necessary words or thoughts to convince someone. Yet our calling isn’t to have those answers. Our calling is to respond to our encounter and experience with Jesus and believe it to be good enough news to want to share it with those we are closest with.

But what if they don’t believe me? Nathanael was not overly excited by what he heard – ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip didn’t try and convince him with clever arguments. Instead, he simply replied, ‘Come and see.’ Our calling is not to convince or prove our faith. Our calling is to invite others to come and see, to encounter Jesus for themselves and make up their own minds. This is harder during these times, but the calling is no less real. We can point them to our worship that we have online or on paper, invite them to other acts of worship online, offer to pray with them, provide material for them to read or videos to watch. If there are people you would like to invite to something, do speak to me, as I would be delighted to organise something particular people can be invited to.

The good news is our calling is not to convert people – that is God’s business. Our calling is to seek deeper experiences of Jesus and his love for us, so that we can’t help but invite others to encounter him also. When Jesus said to Nathanael, ‘I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man,’ the ‘you’ he uses is actually plural – he is saying it to all of us. When we seek and follow Jesus we too can see heaven opened. Through Jesus the divide between heaven and earth is bridged.

So in these days of continued lockdown seek to know Jesus deeper and for his love to fill you more fully. As you encounter Jesus more and witness the bridging of heaven and earth, don’t hold the good news to yourself. Instead, invite those you know and love to come and meet Jesus for themselves, and do it all for the glory of God. Amen.


We give you thanks, O Lord, for you have called us to know you and proclaim you. Make us worthy of our calling; may we be faithful in our discipleship so that we may grow as people and grow closer to you. We pray that each in their calling may seek to do your will; that your church may be attentive to your word, and that we may share in the mission and saving work of Christ our Lord. Draw us closer: closer to the heart of God. 

We pray for all who are seeking to answer and live up to their calling, for all who are striving to keep the ideals that they see. We remember all whose work has been frustrated, by maliciousness or by accident. We pray for the underprivileged, the unemployed, for the work weary and for the exploited. Draw us closer:  closer to the heart of God. 

Lord make us aware that you are ever calling us to new ventures, new visions: you call us to extend ourselves and to be open. We pray for the communities in which we belong and in which we have an active share. May we see our daily work as part of our discipleship and discipline. Draw us closer: closer to the heart of God. 


We pray for all who feel they have laboured in vain, for all who have toiled hard and feel they have achieved nothing, for those whose world has collapsed around them. We remember all who have been recently made homeless, those who have lost loved ones or possessions, whether they be close at home or abroad. We pray for all who through illness are unable to fulfil themselves, for all who are frustrated with life, all who feel like giving up. There are many who need you and who need to be reminded that they are loved and not alone, but we especially pray for…………………...Draw us closer: 
 closer to the heart of God. 


We give thanks for all who have been faithful disciples, who have heeded your call and followed your commands as best they could. We pray for those who now serve you with the saints in glory. Draw us closer: 
 closer to the heart of God. 


Lord we lift these and other prayers to you, as we pray the prayer your Son Christ taught us to pray :O
ur Father in heaven…
  hallowed be your Name,

your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
for the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.
Amen 



Let us give thanks for all that points us towards the beauty of God’s love, and draws us closer to God, so that we may answer our own callings. And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and those whom you love, living and departed, this day and for ever more. Amen.


                                We invite you to share in singing our Vesper

Postlude
Ricercare by Jacob Fogliano (1473-1548)
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 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Video editing : Rod
Scripture quotations taken from the Revised English Bible, copyright © Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press 1989. All rights reserved.  Read by Lynn

Panoramic photographs : Christina
                       Anthem : "The Prayer of St Richard of Chichester" (YouTube)
                                                                            Prelude, Hymn accompaniment and Postlude  : Phillip                                                                            Vesper : Richard
                    Page, website design and Website Editor : Keith

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