SUNDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 2021

I wonder who makes all these beautiful pictures?

OPENING SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE

–O Lord my God I cried out to you and you restored me to health.

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.

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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 Douglas Byers

COLLECT

Almighty God,

grant that with our minds set always on your wisdom and love, we may pursue both in word and deed those things that are pleasing in your sight;

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:

2 KINGS 5:1-14 read by Alicen Byers


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Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

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So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

SILENCE

SECOND READING

1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27 read by David Kerr


Imagine if the only results you could get from an images search were words? 1 corinthians 9:24-27 NRSV

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

GRADUAL HYMN



GOSPEL READING

Mark 1:40-45 read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Mark chapter 1 beginning at verse 40

Glory to Christ our Saviour

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A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord.

SERMON

I watched last Saturday evening a film entitled “Miracles from Heaven.” This film is based on the true story of Christine Beam’s daughter Annabel Beam. When Annabel Beam was five years old, she was diagnosed with two rare life-threatening digestive disorders, pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and antral hypomotility disorder, which resulted in frequent hospital stays. The former is characterized by altered and inefficient contractions of the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, which help to move food content along. Instead of food content being passed efficiently, the intestines react as if there is a blockage, leading to inefficient absorption of nutrients. The latter, antral hypomotility disorder, is characterized by weak contractions in the antrum part of the stomach.

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Without going into the film in much detail, it is suffice to say, that there was no cure for Annabel’s illness and yet despite all odds she was healed. The consultant and the specialists were amazed. To date Annabel is cured and her healing remains inexplicable. “They just say that she’s asymptomatic,” says Annabel Beam’s mom Christy. “They’ve released us from the care of a paediatric gastroenterologist, specialist. … They say that they don’t know, but that she shows no more symptoms and she is on zero medications today.”  The family and those who know them are in no doubt that a miracle has taken place. Miracles- do they still happen today?

Our Gospel reading today is all about a miracle- the healing of the leper. We read that the leper was “covered in leprosy.” This is an advanced stage of the disease. There are three forms of leprosy. First of all there is nodular or tubercular leprosy. It begins with an unaccountable lethargy and pains in the joints. Then there appear on the body, especially on the back, symmetrical discoloured patches. On them little nodules form, at first pink, then turning brown. The skin is thickened. The nodules grow larger and larger; they ulcerate and from them comes a foul discharge. The eye-brows fail out; the eyes become staring; the voice becomes hoarse and the breath wheezes because of the ulceration of the vocal chords. The hands and the feet also ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. The average course of the disease is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma and ultimately death. the sufferer becomes utterly repulsive both to himself and to others.

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The second type is anaesthetic leprosy. The initial stages are the same; but the nerve trunks also are affected. The infected area loses all sensation. This may happen without the sufferer knowing that it has happened; and he may not realize that it has happened until he suffers some burning or scalding and finds that there is no feeling whatsoever where pain ought to be. The duration of the disease is anything from twenty to thirty years. It is a kind of terrible progressive death of the body.

The third kind of leprosy is a type–the commonest of all–where nodular and anaesthetic leprosy are mixed. That is leprosy proper, and there is no doubt that there were many lepers like that in Palestine in the time of Jesus.

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Any such skin disease rendered the sufferer unclean. He was banished from the fellowship of the community; he must dwell alone outside the camp; he must go with rent clothes, bared head, a covering upon his upper lip, and as he went he must give warning of his polluted presence with the cry, “Unclean, unclean!” We see the same thing in the Middle Ages, which merely applied the Mosaic law. The priest, wearing his stole and carrying a crucifix, led the leper into the church, and read the burial service over him/her. The leper was a man or woman who was already dead, though still alive. He had to wear a black garment that all might recognize and live in a leper- or lazar-house. He must not come into a church service but while the service went on he might peer through the leper “squint” cut in the walls. The leper had not only to bear the physical pain of his disease; he had to bear the mental anguish and the heart-break of being completely banished from human society and totally shunned.

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This leper came with his foul disease to Jesus. He broke the rules. He came in desperation and saw Jesus as his last hope. His approach to Jesus was one of humility and respect. He knelt before Jesus and said “if you are willing” indicating that he knew Jesus was in charge and believed that Jesus could do something for him. He didn’t demand, he simply asked. Yet he had a confidence that Jesus could heal and cleanse him. In a way we are a bit like the leper… we may not have a foul disease but sin is an ugly disease in our lives. Like the leper we too can approach Jesus just as we are. We come to Jesus humbly and with respect, recognising he is Lord, and that his healing, his forgiveness is not something that we can demand but simply request. That being said we can approach Jesus with confidence, knowing that He alone has the power to cleanse and heal.

This hope and confidence is based on how Jesus reached out to the leper. He did not drive away a man who had broken the law. The leper had no right to have spoken to him at all, but Jesus met the desperation of human need with an understanding compassion. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. He touched the man who was unclean. To Jesus he was not unclean; he was simply a human soul in desperate need. Jesus cares. Jesus sympathised with this man’s horrible condition, he felt the agony of this man’s isolation and distress and he grieved for what this man had lost over the years. Jesus’ compassion moved him to take action. As followers of Jesus we are encouraged to follow the path of compassion. We are to love our neighbours, and have compassion on those who are hurting, who are afraid, or worried. In Colossians it says “clothe yourself with compassion”.

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When we are moved with compassion, then action follows. The first thing Jesus did after he was moved with compassion is that he reached out and touched the man with leprosy. In Scripture a touch can mean so much more than just a touch. For example, when the people would offer up sacrifices to God they would lay their hands on them as a way of identifying with the animal with the symbolic act of the sins being transferred to the animal before the animal was sacrificed. When Jesus was touching this man, he was identifying himself with the leper. He was entering into the leper’s world. Everyone who saw it thought that Jesus was contaminating himself but in reality Jesus was symbolically passing his power to the leper. Jesus identifies with the leper. He was willing to touch the leper, enter his world, and give the leper something he could not find on his own- healing. Daily Jesus identifies with us. He is willing to touch the rejected, abandoned and forgotten. His compassion touches all- he says I love you just as you are, warts and all and I am here to help you. Like Jesus we are encouraged to identify with people in their pain and let them know that we are available and that we will help them.

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Linked to Jesus’ compassion and his ability to identify with people in suffering is his power to heal. Jesus heals. When Jesus responded to the man with the words “I am willing be healed”, instantly the leprosy disappeared and the man was healed. There is no period of recovery or rehabilitation. He who came to Jesus disfigured, defiled and despicable goes away completely healed and restored. For me it is not simply that Jesus stopped the disease from taking further grip on this man’s life but he reversed the damage already done by this disease on this man’s body. That is a miracle! This man had been given a brand new life. For this brand new life to take full effect. The man must go to the priest and let the priest examine him. We are told that Jesus “sent him on his way” with the stern warning not to tell anyone. Jesus sends. This man is given a mission, a task to fulfil. His witnessing was to the priests.

Apart from confronting the priests with the reality of Jesus’ undeniable healing power, he needed an official document from them claiming that he had been healed so that he could go back into society.

Finally Jesus exchanges. Jesus exchanges places with the leper. In Mark it says “the man went and spread the word proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result large crowds soon surrounded Jesus and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere.” It is ironic. The leper had to live outside of the towns but Jesus could move freely within them. After Jesus healed the man, the man could move freely inside the town but Jesus had to remain outside. It’s like they exchanged places. Maybe a reference to how Jesus on the cross will exchange places with us.

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In this account of the leper something supernatural, something beyond the power of the natural and human took place- a miracle. Do miracles still happen today? In Scripture it says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever… so he still cares, identifies us with us and heals. There are at least two options regarding miracles. One option… describes a God who can do miracles but won’t. He sees hurts and turns away. This reveals an insensitive and uncaring God. Option two God does do miracles. His heart still breaks for those who suffer. His desire to heal never changes – he’s the same yesterday, today and forever.

To say that there are no miracles today is to say that God has lost his power or he is not involved with creation. Neither statement can be true. God has a hands-on policy when it comes to the world today and he manifests his power into our lives because he cares and loves us. God just doesn’t need to do those miracles to the same degree he did before, when he needed to reveal his true nature and purpose. It is interesting to note that at the end of John’s gospel it says Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded in this book. Maybe these miracles were more low key, quiet displays of power that didn’t attract so much attention, but they were special enough to be called a miracle. Annabel whom I referred to at the beginning experienced a miracle. Miracles are by nature rare but I believe they still happen in small low key ways as well as in dramatic ways. God is still very much at work in our world and if we listen around the world we will marvel at his miracles and how God still touches our lives today. 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.

PRAYERS

Prayer Requests – Baildon Methodist Church

O Holy Spirit, Giver of love fills us with life afresh that as you love, so may we love and do what you would do.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

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God, love is your gift.

We praise you for the love you revealed to us in Christ.

In Christ your love breaks through in so many unexpected and exciting ways, bringing freedom, hope and peace.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

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God, love is your mark, – it is the standard on which we base all our choices and decisions.

Help us by our words and deeds to demonstrate your love and wisdom and so draw others into your loving embrace.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

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God, love is your sign Your love leaves no –one untouched, especially ourselves strengthen all that restores us in your image and make us worthy of our calling as your sons and daughters.

Fill us with a desire to serve your people so that by our love we may be signs of your love, healing and compassion.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

God, love is your name, may the church clear way any barriers which prevent your love flooding it.

Wash away all that is selfish and negative and help us to build strong loving foundations.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

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God love is your strength, as we seek to love you with our whole hearts, give us courage to stand up and speak for those who have no voice, and grant us courage too to sit down and listen, to those who are of a different opinion and mind-set that in all we do and say we are proclaiming your gospel of love.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

God, love is your way Marriage is your gift.

May newly- weds grow in your love.

May those celebrating many years of marriage know vibrant and tender love.

May those whose lives have been scarred by marriage sense your healing.

May those longing for marriage but single trust in your abiding love.

Empower us on this St Valentine’s day so that love might be our way.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

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God, love is your word we pray for those who doubt your promises in difficult times of bereavement and in the hard times of unemployment and unrest.

We ask that you will enfold them in your love, fill them with your strength and peace, and restore their trust in your living word.

We pray for those who have this week lost a loved one and we ask you to draw near and remind them of your promise that you are the resurrection and life.

In you is our rising and our hope

Help us Lord,

to love one another

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God, love is your touch-your touch of healing and grace.

We pray for those who still suffer today from leprosy.

Thank you for all the work of leprosy mission and pray for the disease to be eradicated.

We pray for those known to us who are sick in body, mind, or spirit at this time.

May you loving God be present in their darkness and pain, and as deep calls to deep, may you bring inner quiet and hope, and may your touch of healing and grace be evident to all in need.

Help us Lord,

to love one another

God, your love is our hope.

We thank you for those who bring us hope in our lives.

We lift to you our families and those whom we hold dear and thank you for them and for all they mean to us.

May we cherish and appreciate their love and may we never take your gift of love O God, for granted.

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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.

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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

1 day 20 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John’s Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

1 day 20 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

6 days 20 hours ago

Sunday 25th February 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11:00am! You are most welcome to come along to our service. Be great to see you! Contemporary service is on Sunday

St John's Church

6 days 22 hours ago

Booking is necessary to attend the Pamper Session on Thursday 14th March starting at 3.45pm until 6pm, in St John’s Church Hall, Lovers’ Walk, Dumfries, DG1 1LW. For more information