Morning Service for Epiphany 4 2022


In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul has just listed all the gifts that a group of Christians might possess, from healing and prophecy to tongues and teaching, but now he tells his friends of something he calls ‘a more excellent way’ - the way of love. A love not of desire but of gift, a love that seeks nothing in return, that flows in one direction freely, unconditionally, from the giver to the given. This, for Paul, is the highest expression of humanity.

Morning Service for Epiphany 4 2022

HYMN – Christ whose glory fills the skies  NEH 234 / AMR 7 – 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.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen


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


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 – 1 Corinthians 13.1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

HYMN – God of mercy, God of grace NEH 366 / AMR 264 – Heathlands

1 God of mercy, God of grace,

Show the brightness of thy face:

Shine upon us, Saviour, shine,

Fill thy Church with light divine;

And thy saving health extend

Unto earth’s remotest end.

2 Let the people praise thee, Lord;

Be by all that live adored:

Let the nations shout and sing,

Glory to their Saviour King;

At thy feet their tributes pay,

And thy holy will obey.

3 Let the people praise thee, Lord;

Earth shall then its fruits afford;

God to man his blessing give,

Man to God devoted live;

All below, and all above,

One in joy, and light, and love.

GOSPEL -Luke 4.21-30

Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.


In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul has just listed all the gifts that a group of Christians might possess, from healing and prophecy to tongues and teaching, but now he tells his friends of something he calls ‘a more excellent way’ – the way of love. A love not of desire but of gift, a love that seeks nothing in return, that flows in one direction freely, unconditionally, from the giver to the given. This, for Paul, is the highest expression of humanity. You can have all the religion in the world, achieve the greatest fruits of piety and devotion, but without love, says Paul, it’s all utterly worthless. 

We read these words at weddings and funerals; it’s possibly the most loved passage in the whole of the Bible. And yet how can we possibly measure up to them? They strike at everything that we do because they tell us to look to our motives. They say it doesn’t matter how good we look, how good we feel about ourselves – or how bad – it’s what is in our heart, our true selves, that matters. These words issue us with a challenge that cannot help but bring us to our knees in humility and penitence. Which of us meets their ideal and their demand – and yet we know instinctively that they represent the highest standard of human living.

Jesus took a risk when he went back to his synagogue in his own home town, a place that had known him from childhood. Never go back, they say! St Mark tells the story rather differently from Luke, Mark has the reaction to Jesus as straightforward – mean rejection. In St Luke the matter is a little more complex, Jesus has read the passage in Isaiah foretelling a saviour, and he tells the congregation that the prophecy has been fulfilled in him… and they say, ” that’s nice dear – hasn’t Joe’s boy done well.” They don’t seem to have heard the bold and amazing thing Jesus had told them. But then, it’s one thing to listen to a sermon, it’s quite another to hear a sermon! 

Jesus of course exacerbates the situation and tells his people that if his own people cannot receive what he has to say then there are others who will. So here right at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, as told by Luke, we see that he has come, not just to Israel, but to the whole world. We see too the danger that he has placed himself in in the hands of his own countrymen – and the rejection that he must face. 

In this small incident is represented so much of the task of Jesus, and the fate of Jesus. He comes to a people, who are in regard to their religion, self-obsessed and whose vision of their God is limited. He comes to a people not expecting to find greatness in a neighbour’s son, a home town boy, he comes to a people unable to perceive his motives, his motivation. 

But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on these Nazarenes, we might not try to throw him off the cliffs, but our reaction would hardly be much different. 

So a broad sweep today of religion, what it was, what it is, and the danger inherent in getting it wrong. And we have three simple questions to ponder: can we perceive the glory of God in this our temple? Are we aware of our motives in our religion and in our relationships; is true selfless love at the heart of them? And do we make sure that we recognise Jesus when he comes to us, in sacrament and in neighbour?


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

Faithful God, help us to serve you faithfully and patiently, as we see your glory  revealed in our own lives, inspired by your Holy Spirit to share our life experience with wisdom, humility and gladness.  We pray for the work of your church throughout the world, for your liberating presence to comfort all believers who are persecuted for their faith.  In our benefice we pray for William and for all who support him in his ministry, for all the members of the body of Christ in this place, for their gifts and for their use in your service.  

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Lord God, we pray for all who work for peace and unity and for all world leaders, that they will continue to seek  an end to the suffering caused by war, violence, injustice and inequality, disease and prejudice, poverty and hopelessness and bring healing to the world. We pray for those fighting terrorism throughout the world, for a peaceful resolution of tension between Ukraine and Russia, for   Yemen, Afghanistan, where the people are starving as a result of conflict. On holocaust memorial day we remember again the millions who died and we pray for all who continue to be marginalised and killed for their ethnicity and religious beliefs.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Father God, your Son was part of a family at home in Nazareth.  We give you thanks for his presence with us in our homes and lives. We ask you to guide us in our relationships with our families and neighbours, in times of joy and in times of need, help us to listen and respond with love and wisdom. We pray for your guidance and support for all who teach and enrich our young people’s lives, in playgroups and nurseries, schools, colleges and voluntary organisations. 

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Gracious God, we pray for your healing presence for all who are suffering, in body mind or spirit, for those who because of their pain and weariness find it difficult to pray.  May they be aware of our prayer on their behalf and accept graciously the support and love of their families and friends. We pray for all who work in care homes, hospitals and in the community to relieve suffering, and we ask for your comfort and support as they work under pressure to care for others. 

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Merciful Lord, your love reaches beyond the grave, may those who have gone before us rest in your eternal peace. We remember before you those who have died and we pray for everyone whose life is saddened by the death of a loved one, be with them in their loneliness.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Everlasting God, as we go from this church today to start the week ahead, we ask that your glory may be revealed in all we say and do, that we may walk more closely with you at our side, safe in the knowledge that your love and care knows no limits.

Merciful Father, 

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

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.

HYMN – Gracious Spirit Holy Ghost  NEH367 / 233 – Capetown

1 Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,

Taught by thee, we covet most

Of thy gifts at Pentecost,

Holy, heavenly love.

2 Love is kind, and suffers long,

Love is meek, and thinks no wrong,

Love than death itself more strong;

Therefore give us love.

3 Prophecy will fade away,

Melting in the light of day;

Love will ever with us stay;

Therefore give us love.

4 Faith will vanish into sight;

Hope be emptied in delight;

Love in heaven will shine more bright;

Therefore give us love.

5 Faith and hope and love we see

Joining hand in hand agree;

But the greatest of the three,

And the best, is love.

6 From the overshadowing

Of thy gold and silver wing

Shed on us, who to thee sing,

Holy, heavenly love.


May he who who by his incarnation 

gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, 

grant us the fullness of peace and goodwill 

and the blessing of God Almighty, 

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 

be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN – Guide me O thou great redeemer NEH 368 / AMR 296 – Cwm Rhondda

1 Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but thou art mighty,

Hold me with thy powerful hand:

Bread of heaven,

Feed me till I want no more.

2 Open now the crystal fountain

Whence the healing stream doth flow;

Let the fire and cloudy pillar

Lead me all my journey through:

Strong Deliverer,

Be thou still my strength and shield.

3 When I tread the verge of Jordan,

Bid my anxious fears subside;

Death of death, and hell’s Destruction

Land me safe on Canaan’s side:

Songs of praises

I will ever give to thee.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

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