FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

SUNDAY 5TH FEBRUARY 2023

OPENING SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE –

Light shines in the darkness for the upright.

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

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.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Description: Description: Description: Confession under section 67 NDPS Act to be admitted or not, yet to ...

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear in love. We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

SILENCE

God our Father,

we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA sung by Dougie Byers

COLLECT

O Lord,

watch over your household with constant love:

that, supported, by you alone,

we may always stand firm in your protection;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING: Isaiah 58: 1-9a read by David Kerr

True Fasting

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

11 Bible Verses about Fasting - KJV & ESV - DailyVerses.net

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

SILENCE

SECOND READING 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 read by Robyn Brotherston

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the testimony of God to you with superior speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were made not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

The True Wisdom of God

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are being destroyed. But we speak God’s wisdom, a hidden mystery, which God decreed before the ages for our glory and which none of the rulers of this age understood, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

1 corinthians 2

God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING Matthew 5:13-20 read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 5 beginning at verse 13

Glory to Christ our Saviour

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Sunday's Reading for February 5, 2023 | The Episcopal Church of  Bethesda-by-the-Sea - Palm Beach, FL

The Law and the Prophets

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord.

SERMON

There was once a couple where the husband became convinced that his wife was losing her hearing. She was equally convinced that she wasn’t, and this became quite a point of tension between them. One day the husband decided to do a little experiment. He was standing in the kitchen, his wife was sitting in the lounge, and he asked, ‘Would you like a cup of tea, dear?’ There was no response, which was what he’d expected. He went into the passageway between the two rooms and he said again, ‘Would you like a cup of tea, dear?’ There was no response, and again he was not surprised. He stood right behind his wife and said, ‘Would you like a cup of tea, dear?’ And she said, ‘For the third time, yes!’

Not everything is what it seems...

The problem was not really as the husband thought – indeed it was the other way round. In this passage in Isaiah there is a problem and the people think that the problem lies with God but the reality is that the problem lies the other way round with the Israelite people. The people are deceiving themselves and in many ways blind to what they are doing. Their words and deeds are against God. The prophet Isaiah is told by God to declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. The people are like broken walls in need of repair but they do not see this brokenness. They ask God-why have we fasted and you have not seen it? Why have you humbled ourselves and you have not noticed?

Indeed, the people seem to believe they are doing all the right things and that it is God who has not been keeping faith. They are genuinely confused. They think that by fasting they will please God and bring favour. Indeed, they have been formed in this ancient practice, and instructed that it is a pious act to fast and humble oneself before God. How could God not be pleased? It must have been a shock to hear the prophet’s strong rebuke of these faithful acts.

The prophet interrupts their claims to piety by pointing out what a true fast is. The responsibility of a good prophet like Isaiah is like that of a good physician; first of all, to make an accurate diagnosis and secondly to prescribe an effective remedy. The diagnosis is that the people are oppressing others, they are blaming others, their speech is unwholesome and evil. They are filled with self- satisfaction and self-entitlement. They are blind to their privilege and to their acts of injustice and unkindness. In other words, as Isaiah says they have forsaken God and his commands. They are operating out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. The people of Israel have forsaken God and their relationship with him is in tatters- the walls of their relationship with God are broken and in need of urgent repair.

So, what is the Remedy? The people of Israel believe the remedy is performing ritual acts. But what is the remedy: what does God require of us? Well, God does not require things but what he does require is people surrendered to him. Instead of the traditional fast days, “the fast that I choose,” says God, is a whole new way of life.

Baptists Together (@baptistuniongb) / Twitter

This whole new way of life involves fasting from certain activities and a certain way of life domination. It is about fasting from blaming others; it is about fasting from evil speech; it is about fasting from self-satisfaction; it is about fasting from entitlement and blindness to one’s privilege. The fast that God seeks is all to do with justice and generosity day in and day out. God wants us to be salt and light in the world for his name’s sake. To be this salt and light God wants his people to loosen the bonds of injustice, to share what we have with those who have not, to bring the homeless into one’s house, to give clothing and shelter to the naked, to reconcile with one’s family, to help the afflicted. These are more than one- time actions. These are behaviours with broad social consequences, actions that will restructure relationships. God’s desire is not for singular, pious acts, but for a dismantling of unjust relationships. Indeed, what God requires of his people to repair those broken walls of their relationship is, as we heard in our reading last week, to act justly, show loving kindness and walk humbly with their God. In other words, they are to be salt and light in the world.

So, what exactly does it to be salt and light? What does it mean, to act justly, show loving kindness and walk humbly with our God?

Act Justly Love Mercy Walk Humbly

Let me look first of all at loving kindness and shining as a light to others. A lady called Marilyn said that she forgot about the rule that liquids cannot be taken on in carry-on luggage, so when she hit security at the airport, she had to give up all her painting supplies. When she returned a week later, an attendant was at the baggage area with her paints. Not only had he kept them for her, but he’d looked up her return date and time in order to meet her. That’s kindness. That kindness shares God’s salt and light. To be kind is the least we can do in this unkind world.

5 myths about kindness to retire - LeadBIG

Of course, the Bible places no limits on our kindness. We are even to be kind to those who are unkind to us. Exodus 23:5 requires the children of Israel not to oppress strangers–with the reminder that they were once strangers themselves. Jesus, of course, went even farther than that: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . . There are to be no limits placed upon our kindness. We are to pour out acts of love and generosity even toward persons that we may deem undeserving. For Christians this is particularly significant because we believe that God poured out his love on us when we were undeserving. Kindness is among the most basic requirements for the believer. Sometimes our acts of kindness meet with only cold ingratitude from the recipients of those acts. That’s all right. That’s their problem. We have shed light, and we have sought to obey Jesus. Kindness is the first business of a follower of Jesus. Someone once asked, if you were given a pound for every kind word or deed which you said or did, and then had to give back fifty pence for every unkind word or deed, would you be rich or poor? Think about it. We are to be salt and light by showing loving kindness to others.

We are also to do justice. Justice is a much larger and more complicated concept than kindness. Kindness is an individual act. I see a person in need and, like the Good Samaritan, I try to help. That is kindness. Justice, on the other hand, is the passion that followers of Jesus have for making certain that every person on earth has a decent opportunity for a healthy, wholesome, rewarding life.

Abraham Lincoln once saw a slave girl being sold on an auction block like a head of cattle. She was being sold away from her family and friends. Lincoln saw the fright and terror in her eyes. “This thing must go,” Lincoln said. He was referring to the institution of slavery. And he dedicated his life to the destruction of that barbaric institution. That is doing justice. No concept is more Christian than is the demand for justice. Wherever there are people who are oppressed–whether it be political oppression, economic oppression, racial oppression, or whatever form that oppression may take, we must raise our voices.

Criminal Justice Administration Nigeria – Citizen Commons International

A Lutheran pastor Ed Markquart gives one of the best examples of the difference between kindness and justice that I know of. He reminds us of a story from Charles Dickens’ England some two hundred years ago. At that time, many twelve -year- old boys were working in coal mines, down in the dangerous mine shafts. Their life was miserable but that was what was expected of twelve- year- old boys in poor families in Britain at that time: a lifetime of hard work in the coal mines beginning when they were only children. The church tried to be kind to these poor boys. They would offer presents at Christmas time. Their families would receive charity and holiday turkeys. The church would offer prayers for the little boys working away in those coal mines.

word of 2018: Food for thought: 'Justice' becomes 2018 word of the year -  The Economic Times

However, one day some determined leaders in that nation passed a much-needed law. The law said that little boys could no longer work in coal mines. The law also insisted that these boys go to school instead of go to the coal mines to work. That’s the difference between acts of kindness and doing justice. Kindness is giving Christmas presents to disadvantaged boys in coal mines; doing justice is working to change the laws so that it is illegal for little boys to work in the coal mines in the first place.

54,760 Salt Light Stock Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime

I fear that we in the church are content to be kind. Kindness is great. It is the first step in following Jesus and being salt and light, but it is only the beginning of that journey. It is the bare minimum. We are also to do justice. Whether it be in Syria, Ukraine or here at home. Where there are people, who are being treated cruelly, we have a mission. Doing justice is much more complicated than loving kindness–but it is equally a part of Christian witness of spreading salt and shedding light.

What does the Lord require of us but to show loving kindness, to act justly and finally to walk humbly with your God? Few characteristics are as appealing in a person as genuine humility. We are not talking about the shy, timid mouse of a person who is content to serve as the world’s doormat. Rather what we are talking about are people who are so committed to serving God and serving other people that they have an astounding impact on our world. The humility that God was talking about is the person who has so surrendered his or her life completely to God that he or she develops a fierce determination and persistence in seeing God’s kingdom being realized. From these humble people light shines and salt keeps its tastiness.

love-in-action-or-betsy-calloway

When thinking about this, Mother Teresa came to my mind. I remembered the story when one day a man visited Mother Teresa’s home for the poor and dying in Calcutta. He arrived just as the sisters were bringing in some of the dying off the streets. They had picked up a man out of the gutter, and he was covered with dirt and sores. Without knowing that she was being watched, one of the Sisters, began to care for the dying man. The man kept watching the Sister as she worked. He saw how tenderly she cared for her patient. He noticed how as she washed the man, she smiled at him. She did not miss a detail in her attentive care of the dying man. After carefully watching the sister, the man turned to Mother Teresa and said “When I came here today, I didn’t believe in God, and my heart was full of hate. But now I am leaving here believing in God. I have seen the love of God in action. Through the hands of that Sister, through her tenderness, through her gestures which were so full of love for that wretched man, I have seen God’s love descend upon him, I now believe.”

Our society today- is it any different from Isaiah’s. In some ways it definitely is, but in many ways, it is very similar for we too have forsaken God. We too think we are doing right, and don’t understand why God does not bless our efforts. We like the people of Israel have not always been kind; we have ignored injustices and we have been self- absorbed, forgetting God and others. We cannot rebuild the walls of relationship with God and others by simply offering Christian work and money. We need first of all to seek God’s forgiveness and then with his restoration and renewal strive to act justly, show loving kindness and walk humbly with our God, and to be God’s people of salt and light in Dumfries, Annan, Thornhill and beyond. Amen

THE CREED

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

God from God,

Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father.

With the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Prayer Requests – Baildon Methodist Church

PRAYERS

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Lord of heaven and earth

we give you thanks

for the seed of faith, you sow in us.

Thank you that you call us

to minister to others as laity or clergy.

Equip us to serve you with courage,

love and wisdom

and may your kingdom grow,

through your Holy Spirit

at work in us and through us.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Seed of Faith PH - YouTube

Lord of heaven and earth,

may your kingdom grow

through the seeds of love,

compassion and humility

that you have sown in our hearts,

so that we can be salt and light in the world.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Perfect Harmony (TV series) - Wikipedia

Lord of heaven and earth

may your kingdom grow

in all nations and peoples.

Sow the seeds of harmony and unity,

peace and tranquillity,

in those lands of discord, hostility and war.

We lift particularly to you

the nations of Afghanistan, Iran,

Ukraine and Russia

and ask you to mysteriously work your healing and renewal.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

The Seed of Hope - South Flint Tabernacle

Lord of heaven and earth,

may your kingdom grow,

in every place of suffering and anguish.

We remember those whose

lives have been torn apart by abuse,

sow your seed of hope and restoration.

We lift to you those who are unemployed,

who are stressed by financial concerns and burdens,

which in turn is affecting family and social relationships,

sow your seed of hope and of new life.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

At G20, Climate Change and Vaccine Access Confront Leaders - The New York  Times

Lord of heaven and earth

We pray for your world leaders

and all who hold positions of responsibility and authority,

that they may have at the core of their being,

the wider needs of the community local, national and global,

and that they may strive in your strength

and wisdom to bring freedom and justice,

equality and respect to all.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Lord of heaven and earth,

We pray for the starving and malnourished

and for all who are weakened through lack of sufficient food;

for all refugees and asylum seekers,

sow in us all a seed of readiness to support and help

in whatever small ways or steps we can.

Poor Kid Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Lord of heaven and earth,

we offer to you in prayer those

whose life are in turmoil

through sickness, bereavement, broken relationships, betrayal

and invite you to bring forth healing and strength, hope and dignity.

In the quiet we lift to you those known to us …

and ask for your healing touch and blessing.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Archbishop Cranmer

Lord of heaven and earth

In the knowledge that we must all one day

meet you face to face,

we pray for all those who have died.

We thank you that in Christ is our dying and our rising,

and so, we entrust our loved ones to you,

while at the same time seeking your comfort and peace

for those who are bereaved and mourn.

Draw near and may your love

and peace be both reassuring and strengthening.

Lord of heaven

Let your kingdom grow!

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

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.

Do not bring us

to the time of trial+

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power

and the glory are yours,

now and forever. Amen.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Elevation Worship - The Blessing (Lyrics) ft. Kari Jobe & Cody ...

BLESSING

Christ the Son of God 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 among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN

DISMISSAL

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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