A Shorter Communion Service for the the 4th Sunday of Epiphany

HYMN - Christ whose glory fills the skies  NEH 234 - Ratisbon 

1 Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o'er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

2 Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by thee;
Joyless is the day's return,
Till thy mercy's beams I see;
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

3 Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.

PRAYER OF PREPARATION
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. Amen

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE
Christ the light of the world has come to dispel the darkness of our hearts. In his light let us examine ourselves and confess our sins.
Lord of grace and truth, we confess our unworthiness
to stand in your presence as your children.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

The Virgin Mary accepted your call to be the mother of Jesus.
Forgive our disobedience to your will.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

The wise men followed the star to find Jesus the King.
Forgive our reluctance to seek you.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

Your Son our Saviour in humility accepted the baptism of John.
Forgive our pride and rejection of your ways.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

At a wedding in Cana Jesus changed water into wine.
Forgive our failure to let your transforming presence change us.
We have sinned:

Forgive and heal us.

May the God of love and power forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen

THE COLLECT

God our creator, who in the beginning
commanded the light to shine out of darkness:
we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ
may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief,
shine into the hearts of all your people,
and reveal the knowledge of your glory
in the face of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, Amen

FIRST READING - Deuteronomy 18.15-20

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”

HYMN - Father of heaven, whose love profound NEH 358 - Rievaulx 

1 Father of heaven, whose love profound
A ransom for our souls hath found,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
To us thy pardoning love extend.

2 Almighty Son, incarnate Word,
Our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
To us thy saving grace extend.

3 Eternal Spirit, by whose breath
The soul is raised from sin and death,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
To us thy quickening power extend.

4 Thrice Holy! Father, Spirit, Son,
Mysterious Godhead, Three in One,
Before thy throne we sinners bend:
Grace, pardon, life to us extend.

GOSPEL - Mark 1.21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

SERMON - Dr Keith Atton

I have been reading a book written by Marina Wheeler, a well known lawyer. Her father was the even more well known BBC foreign correspondent, Charles Wheeler and her mother was a Sikh, Dip Singh from the what was the Punjab and is now in Pakistan. The book is the story of her family in the Indian sub-continent. In the early part of the book, she describes the life of her mother in a very prosperous and politically very well connected family during the British Raj, in a society where people from different religious backgrounds could live peacefully side by side and even intermarry. Then came the Partition of India; many lost their lives in inter religious strife, but her family only lost their home (“a paradise on earth”) and their belongings as they fled the new Muslim state of Pakistan.

In late 19th Century France, at first the army general staff, then the government, then the press and finally society in general became consumed with the Dreyfus Affair, as it became known. There was evidence there was a spy in high places in the army and who could it be but Dreyfus; he was a brilliant young officer but he was a Jew and he came from Alsace, an area recently lost in war to Germany and whose Alsatian language sounded just like German to a non-German speaker. He was convicted of treason and imprisoned. The real spy, who was providing information to the German military, Esterhazy, was unmasked, but exonerated by the military court although he then admitted his guilt when he was safe in England. A re-trial of Drayfus was held but it ended with the same result - conviction. Initially pardoned, Dreyfus was after two further years restored to the army and promoted, twelve years after his initial arrest. However, the Affair had allowed populist politicians, most Roman Catholic clergy and most newspapers to indulge in violent anti-semitism, resulting in hostile crowds at Drayfue' re-trial and Dreyfus himself being shot and wounded after he had been released.

I could give many other examples from other places and other times. But I want to ask, what would Jesus say and do. The Parable of Good Samaritan, where the hero is a foreigner who helped someone in need, just because he was another human, gives an answer. (Luke 10.25-37). Recently the present Bishop of Truro was asked to produce a report for the Foreign Office on the persecution of Christians. It concluded that where Christians suffer, it’s very likely that other religious minorities are also suffering, and that in the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus made it clear that our calling as Christians is to seek justice for them too. The Bishop said “I was asked to do this review into the persecution of Christians – and I would absolutely defend that because I think Christians have been significantly overlooked in the global understanding of what religious persecution looks like – but I was absolutely clear that my recommendations needed to be framed in terms of guaranteeing the freedom of religion or belief of everybody. That includes the freedom not to believe, as well as the freedom to believe and to change your religious affiliation.” 

Jesus made the same point again by his action in the less well known story of His healing of the Roman Officer's servant (Matthew 8.5-13 and Luke 7.1-10). This teaching is re-enforced by the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman. (Mark 7.24-30 and Matthew 15.21-28) Jesus' story of the final judgement gives an example of what should be the response in relation to those seen as others: “I was a stranger and you received me in your homes”( Matthew 25.35)

The early church had clear ideals taken from Jesus' life and teaching as to how to treat others, as is shown by Paul's teaching, even if the churches he had founded did not always keep up to those ideals. Later, when Matthew's gospel was written, the story of the Wise Men was included. Whatever the historical accuracy of the story – the names and number of the Wise Men, for example – the point of the story is that foreigners, from afar, are included among those who worshipped Jesus. This is something to keep reminding ourselves of throughout this season of Epiphany.

The teaching and life of Jesus was always an example of swimming against the tide, was counter cultural. In the affairs of humans, the stranger, religious and or geographical has so often been someone to be discriminated against, a figure of hate as the examples of the Drayfus Affair and of the Partition of India remind us. Politicians have stirred hate to gain power and still do (as Marina Wheeler, until her recent divorce, Mrs Boris Johnson, suggests is true in India now). Newspaper proprietors, to gain readership and therefore money and power have aided them. We now have internet sites which do the same. We are called to do all we can to make a better world, one where the other, the stranger, is not demonised.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

INTERCESSIONS - Myra Wilkinson

Lord, we pray that you will fill us and your whole church with your spirit of wisdom, your grace and mercy without limits, as we pray to you for help and guidance.  We have heard how you spoke in the Temple with power and authority, we pray for your Holy Spirit to empower all who preach your gospel to do so with clarity and vision, so that we may live in your Kingdom on earth. We pray for the ministry of our Archbishops, Bishops and clergy and in this benefice for William, with thanks for his continued teaching and care for us all. We pray for everyone who works so hard to sustain our buildings and to ensure that our shared worship continues to reach our church family. 

Lord in your mercy,  Hear our prayer

We pray for all in authority as they rule and lead their people. Give them the vision and courage to uphold their responsibilities, even when difficult decisions are necessary. We pray for all who plan our future, for scientists, geneticists, research workers and inventors; for those who influence us through broadcasting and the press. We pray for a healing of divisions between countries and peoples, for conflict resolution, for the protection and resettlement of refugees, for humanitarian aid to reach the people of Yemen and, for all your people, compassion and freedom from injustice, poverty and hunger.  In the wake of holocaust memorial day we pray for tolerance and peace and hope that we will learn lessons from the past.

Lord in your mercy,  Hear our prayer

We bring before you our friends and families, those we love and who love us. Please give them strength and hope as they cope with the pressures and anxiety of work and home schooling, and for many, through no fault of their own, the loss of security and employment,. We pray for everyone who reaches out in love and charity to help others, please help us to follow your example to love our neighbours as ourselves. We pray for your love and safeguarding of the future and mental wellbeing of children and young people whose lives and education have been so disrupted by the pandemic.

Lord in your mercy,  Hear our prayer

We ask for your compassion, healing  and grace for all who suffer, in body mind or spirit, for everyone who is lonely, anxious and without hope.  We pray for all who selflessly care for them, often near the end of their own strength and endurance. We thank you for the knowledge and research that has enabled the development of effective vaccines, giving hope for the future. 

This week has marked a grim milestone of death, help us to remember that every single person is loved and missed by family and friends, Please comfort those who were unable to be there at their passing and support them as they grieve. In a moment of silence we bring before you those known to us who need your healing touch……..

Please walk beside us Lord, enfold us with your love and help us to live in faith. 

Merciful Father, 

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

THE PEACE

In the tender mercy of our God the dayspring from on high has broken upon us, to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you

and also with you

HYMN - Laisserons-nous à notre table

Refrain: Ne laissons pas mourir la terre,
Ne laissons pas mourir le feu,
Tendons nos mains vers la lumière
Pour accueillir le don de Dieu. (bis)

1. Laisserons-nous à notre table un peu d’espace à l’étranger?
Trouvera-t-il quand il viendra un peu de pain et d’amitié?
2. Laisserons-nous à nos paroles un peu de temps à l’étranger?
Trouvera-t-il quand il viendra un cœur pour l’écouter?
3. Laisserons-nous à notre fête un pas de danse à l’étranger?
Trouvera-t-il quand il viendra des mains tendues pour l’écouter?
4. Laisserons-nous à nos fontaines un peu d’eau vive à l’étranger?
Trouvera-t-il quand il viendra des hommes libres et assoiffés?
5. Laisserons-nous à nos églises un peu d’espace à l’étranger?
Trouvera-t-il quand il viendra des cœurs de pauvres et d’affamés?

Refrain: Let us not let the earth die,
Let us not let the fire die,
Let us stretch out our hands towards the light,
To welcome the gift from God.

1. Shall we leave at our table, a place for the stranger/foreigner?
Will he find when he comes, some bread and friendship?
2. Shall we leave when we speak, some space for the stranger/foreigner?
Will he find when he comes, a heart open to listen to him?
3. Shall we leave in our dances,some steps for the stranger/foreigner?
Will he find when he comes, hands held out to welcome him?
4. Shall we leave at our fountains, some living water for the stranger/foreigner?
Will he find when he comes, free and thirsty people?
5. Shall we leave in our churches, a place for the stranger/foreigner?
Will he find when he comes, poor and hungry hearts?

The Preparation of the Table

Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour, and the majesty;
for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you, 
and of your own do we give you.

Eucharistic Prayer H 

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;
in your love you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
you did not reject us,
but came to meet us in your Son.
You embraced us as your children
and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.
In Christ you shared our life
that we might live in him and he in us.
He opened his arms of love upon the cross
and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.
On the night he was betrayed,
at supper with his friends
he took bread, and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to them, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his body is the bread of life.
At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
he gave you thanks, and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
his blood is shed for all.
As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
may be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.
As we eat and drink these holy gifts
make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.
With your whole Church throughout the world
we offer you this sacrifice of praise
and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
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.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body, 
because we all share in one bread.
Jesus, lamb of God: have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us
Jesus, redeemer of the world: grant us your peace.

As Mary’s body was given for Jesus,
so Jesus’ body is given for us.
Here the Word made flesh
comes to us,
cradled in bread and wine.

POST COMMUNION PRAYER
Generous Lord,
in word and eucharist we have proclaimed the mystery of your love:
help us so to live out our days
that we may be signs of your wonders in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

BLESSING
Mysterious God, confounding expectations, 
meeting us where we least expect to find you,
be with us this Epiphany.
Child of the manger, healing our pain,
sharing our weakness,
be with us this Epiphany. 
Source of life
birth of God within our own experience,
be with us this Epiphany.
Be with us in our frailty
be with us on our journey
walk beside us, live within us
lead us to glory, lead us home.

Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his glory and gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN - At the name of Jesus NEH 338 - Camberwell

1 At the name of Jesus
Every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess him
King of glory now;
’Tis the Father’s pleasure
We should call him Lord,
Who from the beginning
Was the mighty Word.

2 At his voice creation
Sprang at once to sight,
All the angel faces,
All the hosts of light,
Thrones and bright dominations,
Stars upon their way,
All the heavenly orders,
In their great array.

3 Humbled for a season,
To receive a name
From the lips of sinners
Unto whom he came,
Faithfully he bore it
Spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious
When from death he passed:

4 Bore it up triumphant
With its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures,
To the central height,
To the throne of Godhead,
To the Father’s breast;
Filled it with the glory
Of that perfect rest.

5 In your hearts enthrone him;
There let him subdue
All that is not holy,
All that is not true:
He is God the Saviour,
He is Christ the Lord,
Ever to be worshipped,
Trusted, and adored.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ. Amen