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Third Sunday after Epiphany

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

In God is my safety and my honor; God is my strong rock and my refuge.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Saviour Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
00:00 / 00:54

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Corinthians 7:29-31
00:00 / 00:42

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Mark.

Mark 1:14-20
00:00 / 01:05

Listen to David speak to this gospel

We are all "Fishers of People"
00:00 / 12:26

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Epiphany 3, 21st Jan 2024

Last week, we remembered - through the calling of Philip and Nathanael - that God finds us, NOT the other way around.

Today, it is Saint Mark’s gospel that reminds us of the courageous, inspirational response of those people who first responded to the call from The Messiah.

We don’t know what there was about Jesus that led Simon, Andrew, James, John, and others to leave their homes and families to follow Jesus. Whatever, there was something remarkably compelling about Jesus that caused these and others to follow Him into an uncertain future.

The astonishing feature of the story is that they followed Jesus with no idea of where it would lead. <PAUSE>

We know very little of the background of any of the disciples whom Jesus calls. The four in today’s story were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9). What had the other seven done before Jesus found them and entered their lives? We don’t know.

As far as we can tell, the twelve persons Jesus called to be his companions were ordinary men. As far as we can tell, Jesus didn’t do background checks to determine IQ levels, financial acumen, professional skills, or temple education. He picked people probably much like you and me. Furthermore, his disciples were anything but perfect. Many times they misunderstood him. Many times they disagreed and argued. They often hesitated to follow him. Judas betrayed him and Peter denied him.

But eleven of these would be the persons who would continue Jesus’ work on earth after he left — ordinary people, like you and me. They were found, called, and they responded.

As far as we know, every one of the disciples was found and called personally by Jesus.

We believe that God calls each one of us. God not only calls us to follow Jesus, but also calls us into the fields and careers of our lives. We often speak of “God’s call” too narrowly, as if God “calls” people only into ordained ministry. That is true: God does call people to be pastors and church workers. But God’s call is not limited to clergy. God calls every single one of us.

In the Middle Ages the clergy was considered a higher status of Christian than laypersons. They had their own regimen of frequent daily worship that laypersons didn’t have. They had church rules to follow, which laypersons didn’t have. They usually lived in communities — monasteries and convents — unlike laypersons.

The Reformation eliminated those distinctions between clergy and laity by affirming that God calls everybody. The word for this call to everyone is “vocation,” from the Latin vocatio, “calling.” Everyone has vocations (note I use the plural here) in life, in how society functions. Every job that works to build up and maintain society is a calling — teacher, insurance salesman, car mechanic, politician, etc. We also have callings within family structures — mother, father, aunt, uncle, child, etc. We serve God in these family callings as well.

So, in some sense, in whatever we do, wherever we are, in some way, EVERY Christian is called to be a “fisher of people”.

Called to help bring people that sit in darkness and show them the great light that is Christ. Jesus is calling His followers to be light bearers into a world of ever-increasing secularism.

Okay, so that’s the great challenge to us … but, how do we get there? What's required if we answer this calling?

Well, listen again to this inspirational gospel story … “at once they left their nets and followed Him “. Now if you’re a Galilean fishermen in the first century your net symbolises your livelihood, your professionalism, your connection to the economic world, your security. If you took a Galilean fisherman's net away you were taking away his very existence … BUT … they WILLINGLY “leave their nets”.

It means they left their preoccupation with, their priority of, money, livelihood and financial security. They let go of that AND PLACED THEIR FAITH, THEIR HOPE, THEIR TRUST, THEIR PRIORITY - FIRST AND FOREMOST IN JESUS. <PAUSE>

It’s like they were saying … I’m abandoning ship! I’m abandoning my independence because I'm now going to get into Christ’s boat. I'm going to do what He wants. I'm going to go where He leads me. I'm going to answer His call and follow Him. <PAUSE>

God’s call is always into an uncertain future. When we enter into our callings we have no idea how it will all end up. We choose our careers and jobs hoping that we can use the gifts and talents God has given us. We answer God’s call hoping to spread the great good news of Christ with the world … but … BUT … there are no guarantees. <PAUSE>

WOW … challenging stuff again this week? Leave your own nets! Leave your own boat! As scary as these great moves to re-prioritise our lives are … well … no, no … let’s not see them that way. Let’s see them rather as an invitation to freedom. To a freedom that turns away from chasing all the earthly stuff and talking about all this worldly stuff AHEAD to talking about Christ … and … TRULY trust in, and follow, the Christ who will NEVER stop loving us, NEVER stop feeding us, NEVER stop protecting us, and NEVER stop providing for us.

It’s the freedom that allows each and every one of us to be FULLY free to be the fishers of people that Jesus needs … and when fishing for people … to God will be the glory.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Holy God, You call us to be Your people, to carry Your truth in our times and places, to go where You send us, to help spread Your gospel. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may share Your good news with a world in need.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Caring God, as You called Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow You and made them fishers of people, so send us, faithful disciples of Your Gospel, today. Increase the spirit of all who seek to speak in Christ’s name for the spread of the Gospel and the service and growth of Your people

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.


Eternal Lord, in light of every current distress in our world, give constancy and contentment to Your people. Give comfort and faithfulness to all who seek. Give wisdom to all who lead so that in this year, 2024, leaders will strive to address injustices relating to race, gender, poverty, human slavery and climate change.


(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God you call disciples and gave them the power to heal.  Help us to bring healing by our visits, our care and our prayers that we may strengthen the spirits of those we love especially at this time when the pandemic is still so virulent and so many are affected both in body and in spirit.

We especially raise before you all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Ever-living God, your call is to “Follow Me” and we know in answering that call You free us from the grave. Be with us in our mourning as we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and for all those who have died and now follow you in the fullness of eternal life.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer. Jesus Christ, Son of God, our guide along the way, in a moment of silence we place before You our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, friends, for all whom we love and for our personal ministries. Make us worthy to follow you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we rejoice in answering Your call to follow Christ, to believe in the Gospel, and to be united with the successors Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Send us out into the coming week ready to demonstrate our calling in all that we do and say.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

Our 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 conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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