SUNDAY 30TH JANUARY 2022

OPENING SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE

You are my hope, O Lord God

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.

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 Sue Turner

COLLECT

O God, through our human frailty,
we cannot stand firm:
give us strength and protection,
that, with your help,
we may overcome all difficulties;
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: Jeremiah 1:4-10 read by Ann Toner

Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God!

Truly I do not know how to speak,

for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

SILENCE

SECOND READING
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
read by Mark Toner

The Gift of Love

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.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Luke 4:21-30
read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 14 beginning at verse 21

Glory to Christ our Saviour

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.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord.

SERMON

Today’s passage is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13 has been read at countless weddings over the years – perhaps even your own! The apostle Paul’s famous words about love have been described as a beautiful poetic masterpiece – as a great work of literature that can moisten the eye, stir the heart and tremble even the stiffest upper lip! But it is also a deeper, more challenging passage than it may first appear.

More challenging than may first appear was my climb of Helvellyn, with it striding edge. I froze briefly half way along the striding edge… utter drop of thousands of feet on either side. At a distance Helvellyn is a beautiful and majestic mountain but up close it is enormously challenging and demanding.

The same is true of 1 Corinthians 13. For all its beauty and popularity, it is actually a very challenging chapter of the Bible. A chapter that is superficially sentimental, but close-up is a call to radical Christian discipleship. It is a chapter designed to challenge us and call us to repentance, rather than simply warm our hearts and moisten our eyes.

What do you think a church needs most? What does any Christian congregation need above all else? Does it most need to be more prayerful? Or does it most need better worship, better children’s work or better house groups? Does it most need a better understanding of the Bible or a stronger faith that could move mountains? Those are all very good things.- things we should certainly be ambitious for at St. John’s. But they are not the most important thing a Christian congregation needs. The thing a Church needs most must be love. We may be spiritually gifted, theologically knowledgeable, financially affluent and remarkably talented – but without love they count for little. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Love must be the first priority for every Christian fellowship.

Paul wrote those words because some Christians in Corinth were very proud of themselves. They had some spectacular spiritual gifts, had witnessed some remarkable miracles and claimed to have heavenly knowledge that set them apart from others. But they lacked love. They looked down on their Christian brothers and sisters. They were more interested in making a name for themselves than in serving others. Their attitudes and actions were selfish, not sacrificial. So, Paul reminds them that without love all our other spiritual gifts, talents and qualities are worthless.

If nothing we do matters apart from love, we had better understand what Paul means by the word. We use the word “love” in so many different ways in our culture. I love golf; I love my wife; I love my music. I love this church. I love my dogs. I love my family. I love going out to eat. I particularly love Mexican food, seafood and Italian. I love good humour and laughter. Now obviously the word “love” did not mean exactly the same thing in all those sentences. What is love? Is it something you feel or something you do? Well, it depends. The Greeks understood that love has different meanings in different contexts. They even used different words to capture some of those meanings. They used the word “philos” to speak about friendship love and mutual affection. They used the word “eros” to describe romantic love with all of its passion and desire. And they had another word for love which they hardly used at all – that was the word “agape.” This was the word that the Greek translation of the Old Testament most often used to speak of God’s love.

Now if “philos” is the love of friendshp, and “eros” is the love of romance, “agape” is the love of choice and commitment – choosing to love another person. The New Testament writers picked up on this word and used it extensively to describe God’s self-sacrificing love for humankind displayed in the sending of his Son, Jesus Christ. And so, the word came to represent unconditional love, choosing to love another person regardless of your feelings. You could not have friendship love or romantic love for your enemy, but you could have “agape” love. You could choose to love your enemy unconditionally regardless of how he treated you back. The word Paul uses for love here in 1 Corinthians 13 is “agape.” And so, when Paul describes the character of love in these verses, he is talking about “agape” love.

As we study Paul’s description, it becomes clear that he is not talking about a warm feeling but rather a conscious decision to love other people no matter what. Paul describes “agape” love in verses 4-7 using a series of 15 verbs. Our English translations change some of the verbs to adjectives, but in the Greek they are all verbs. I believe that’s significant. The love Paul is talking about is not primarily something you feel but something you do. We may not always be able to control our feelings, but we can control our actions, and even to some extent our motivations. “Agape” love is something that you choose to do or not to do. And God measures your entire life by it.

Paul begins with two verbs which describe positively what love is. Secondly, he gives a series of seven verbs which describe negatively what love is not. Thirdly, he gives a contrasting statement to describe love: love does not do this but rather that. And then fourthly and finally, he describes four things that love always does.

First of all, Paul begins with two verbs which describe positively what love is. “Love is patient, love is kind They are not describing so much what love is but how love acts. Love acts patiently; love acts kindly. Isn’t it interesting that the very first word Paul chooses to describe love is patience? The word here means “to bear patiently with other people’s faults and offenses, to be longsuffering.” This is the first characteristic of agape love because it is totally unconditional. It is choosing to love another not because of who they are, but in spite of who they are, in spite of what they do to you or have done to you. It is a love which understands the frailties of human nature and refuses to take offense. It is a love which sees the potential in people and does not demand instant maturity or growth. It is a love which continues to desire the best for others even when it is slandered or abused. It is a love remarkably like God’s.

Love is kind. It is not difficult to be kind. It doesn’t take much effort, but it does take intention. And that is what Paul is talking about here – caring enough to be kind. Love practices simple acts of kindness to others. I heard of a church whose entire evangelism program is structured around random acts of kindness. It is an idea that was spearheaded by Steve Sjogren in his book The Conspiracy of Kindness. On a typical Saturday, members from the church go out into the community in groups to practice kindness. They offer to mow somebody’s lawn. They give somebody a ride. They wash the windows of a local office building. Then they simply leave them a card with their church name and address and go their way. Not everyone who receives a card visits their church afterwards, but some do, and many have come to faith in Christ through this simple ministry of kindness. Kindness is a powerful medicine for a hurting world. Many people will remember an act of kindness forever.

Love described negatively – what love is not.  Love does not envy.” The word here is a strong word which literally means to burn with zeal, but when applied negatively it means to burn or boil with envy. We can envy many things – a person’s position in life, their possessions, or their appearance. We can even envy another person’s spiritual gifts or service for God! Love does not envy, because love is glad for what the other person has. There is no rivalry or competition in love. You cannot love someone and envy them at the same time. Envy causes us to treat others in wrongful ways.

Love does not boast. Some people feel the need always to be on centre stage. They want others to notice them, to admire them. They look for what they can get from others rather than what they can give to others. You cannot boast and love at the same time, because boasting is concerned with you, while love is concerned with others.

Love is not rude. Paul is speaking here about common courtesy. This is love in relationship to society. We are social beings who live in community. As such we have certain social customs and expectations. Therefore, love does not dress, speak or act in a way that defies general standards and offends other people.

Love is not “self-seeking.” Love does not use people to gain its own advantage. It looks outward rather than inward. Love is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs.” “Not easily angered” has to do with the short-term, while “keeping no record of wrongs” has more to do with the long-term.

To be easily angered means to be easily provoked or stirred up, to be irritated or touchy, to yield to provocation. Now understand this, we all have certain buttons which when pushed will trigger an unloving reaction. Some people are covered with buttons. They seem to take special pride in polishing and grooming their buttons, and then they wear them all over the front of their life where people can’t help but bump into them. Paul says that is not love.

That’s the short-term, blowing up when someone presses your buttons. Others struggle more with the long-term side of this: “love keeps no record of wrongs.” Being easily angered is a quick reaction which results in hurtful words and harmful actions. Keeping a record of wrongs is the long-term decision to hold on to bitterness and resentment, to choose not to forgive. It is the difference between the quick flare and the slow burn.

As we think of love, like this, it is not long before we all realise, if we are honest that we all fall short of God’s loving standards. The four things Paul concludes with about God’s love is that God’s love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. This is the love that we are to strive after, this is the love that Christ mirrored for us. It is impossible to have this love without God’s spirit. The more we rest in God’s presence, the more the Holy Spirit sheds that love abroad in her hearts. This is the love that every church and person needs. Amen

THE CREED

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.

PRAYERS

Jesus, your love is an excellent love.
Your love is so amazing, so divine,
it demands our life, our soul, our all.
Fill us Lord with your generous and patient love
so that we may sacrificially reach out
and bless others with the richness of your presence and unfailing love.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God
your teaching astounded those in the synagogue
build up your church through godly preachers
and teachers of your word.
Excite our hearts to declare your power and glory.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God,
your authority awakened the people.
Raise up leaders of vision and justice,
and sustain all who carry the burden of government.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God
your fame spread throughout the region,
and yet you remained humble and gracious.
Draw our hearts to value integrity above image
and to know our worth lies in your unfailing love.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God,
your healing sparked amazement,
give peace to all who are disturbed
by ailments of mind, body and spirit.
Pour upon them your compassion and healing love.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy one of God,
your time and energy was spent
in different homes and households.
May all homes represented in our churches
make plenty of room for the weaker member
and show them much kindness and consideration.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God,
you called all the little children to come to you.
We thank you for the gift of children
for all they bring in vitality, love and joy
to the home family and to the church family.
Bless all children in their home schooling
and grant their parents patience, wisdom and perseverance,
as they try to teach and help them as best as they can.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God
you appeared to your disciples from the dead.
fill us with this hope in grief and at our hour of death
bring us to rejoice in your salvation.

Holy God
may your will be done

Jesus, Holy One of God
as we step into each new day
fill us with your heart of love
and your vision and purpose for the world.

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.

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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St John's Church

5 days 1 hour ago

Sunday 16th June 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. There is no Choral Evensong at 6pm

St John's Church

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Sunday 9th June 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. There is NO Contemporary Service at 6pm

St John's Church

2 weeks 5 days ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John’s Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, 2nd June, when the choir of St John’s Church will

St John's Church

3 weeks 2 days ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, 2nd June, when the choir of St John's Church will