SUNDAY 22ND JANUARY 2023

OPENING SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE

The Lord is my light and my salvation

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 Billy Dewar Riddick

COLLECT

Almighty and eternal God,
behold us in our weakness:
and stretch out your hands to protect us;
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 9:1-4
read by Simon Lidwell

The Righteous Reign of the Coming King

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied exultation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.

SILENCE

SECOND READING
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
read by Annabelle Guthrie

Divisions in the Church

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you but that you be knit together in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been made clear to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel—and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Matthew 4:12-23
read by Rev Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 4 beginning at verse 12

Glory to Christ our Saviour

Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishers. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord.

SERMON

On reading the gospel in preparation for this week, I realised afresh that the world Jesus was born into and grew up in, is not really so different from our own at present with its political turmoil, unrest, discontent, and protests. In the opening sentence of the Gospel, we see events take a turn for the worst. Herod arrests John. The prison cell replaces the wilderness. The voice that cries out in the wilderness has been silenced. Herod is doing what tyrants do best they remove people who threaten their authority and power.

But what Herod does not realise is that God cannot be silenced. God acts immediately. Jesus moved to Galilee. I was struck by Jesus’ courage to move to Galilee, for Galilee is where Herod Antipas is King. As an infant Jesus may have fled from Herod but as an adult he no longer runs. He walks steadily into the teeth of resistance. Jesus is indirectly challenging Herod here and whilst he runs the risk of suffering the same fate as John, Jesus is not going to be deterred.

There is a kind of symbolic finality in Jesus’ move to Galilee. In that moment Jesus left his home never again to return to live in it. It is as if he shut the door that lay behind him before he opened the door that stood in front of him. It was the clean cut between the old and the new. One chapter was ended and another had begun. In this new chapter, Jesus catches the baton that fell from the hand of John the Baptist. The voice in the wilderness has now become another voice in the villages and countryside. God’s message is not silenced. God in Christ is intent in bringing light into this dark world, and no oppressor is going to stop him. This all ties in with the divine plan and with the prophecy of Isaiah- those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.

When Jesus went into Galilee to begin his mission and his ministry, he knew what he was doing. Galilee was the most northerly district of Palestine. Small as Galilee was, it was densely populated. It was by far the most fertile region of Palestine; its fertility was indeed phenomenal and proverbial. Josephus, who was at one time governor of the province, says, “It is throughout rich in soil and pasturage, producing every variety of tree, and inviting by its productiveness even those who have the least inclination for agriculture; it is everywhere tilled; no part is allowed to lie idle, and everywhere it is productive.” The result of this was that for its size Galilee had an enormous population. Josephus tells us that in it there were two hundred and four villages, none with a population of fewer than fifteen thousand people. So, then, Jesus began his mission in that part of Palestine where there were most people to hear him; he began his work in an area teeming with people to whom the gospel proclamation might be made.

But not only was Galilee a populous district; its people were people of a certain kind. Of all parts of Palestine, Galilee was most open to new ideas. Josephus says of the Galileans, “They were ever fond of innovations, and by nature disposed to changes, and delighted in seditions.” They were ever ready to follow a leader and to begin an insurrection. They were notoriously quick in temper and given to quarrelling. “The Galileans,” said Josephus, “have never been destitute of courage.” ” The inborn characteristics of the Galileans were such as to make them most fertile ground for a new gospel to be preached to them.

However, to reach the Galileans Jesus needs help, so he needs to gather disciples for the work. He walks by the sea and chooses two brothers Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew. They were not men of great scholarship, or influence, or wealth, or social background. They were not poor, they were simple working people with no great background, and certainly, anyone would have said, with no great future.

Yet, it was these ordinary men that Jesus chose and whom he still chooses today. What Jesus needs is ordinary folk who will give him themselves. He can do anything with people who are willing to surrender themselves to him. These fishermen were ready and willing to follow Jesus. I have no doubt that they were chosen by Jesus because they possessed certain qualities that would be a prerequisite for becoming good fishers of men.

The first quality that they would possess would be patience. Fishermen must learn to wait patiently until the fish will take the bait. If they are restless and quick to move, they will never be good fishermen. The good fisher of men will likewise need to have patience, for rarely in preaching or in teaching will they see quick results. Disciples of Jesus must learn to wait and cultivate patience, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. In addition to patience, they must have perseverance. They must learn never to be discouraged, but always to try again. The fisherman must not be discouraged when nothing seems to happen. He must always be ready to try again. As present -day disciples of Christ, we too need these qualities of patience and perseverance.

Alongside these two qualities, disciples must have courage. As the old Greek said when he prayed for the protection of the gods: “My boat is so small and the sea is so large.” The fisherman must be ready to risk and to face the fury of the sea and of the gale. The good disciple must be aware that there is always a danger in telling people about the gospel. The person who shares the gospel with others, more often than not, takes their reputation and life into their own hands, as they can face fierce opposition.

So, disciples of Christ need patience, perseverance courage and also an eye for the right moment. The wise fisherman knows well that there are times when it is hopeless to fish. He knows when to cast and when not to cast. The good disciple chooses their moment. There are times when people will welcome the gospel, and times when they will resent the gospel. There are times when the gospel will move them, and times when the gospel will harden them. The wise disciple knows that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.

Furthermore, the fisherman must fit the bait to the fish. One fish will rise to one bait and another to another. Paul said that he became all things to all men if by any chance he might win some. The wise disciple knows that the same approach will not win all people. The disciple may even have to know and recognize his/her limitations. They may have to discover that there are certain spheres in which they themselves can work and others in which they cannot.

Finally, the wise fisherman must keep himself out of sight. If he obtrudes his own presence, even his own shadow, the fish will certainly not bite. The wise disciple will always seek to present not himself, but Jesus Christ. His aim is to fix people’s eyes, not on himself, but on that figure beyond.

Aside from these specific qualities, the disciple must be first caught by Jesus. In other words, their heart must be kindled with a passion for Jesus. This passion will mean turning their lives around… repenting of the follies of the past and embracing the new life with Christ. So, Simon and Andrew like Christ cut ties with their past and embarked on a new chapter in their life. Every disciple will need to repent or cut some ties with their past but that does not necessarily mean leaving family and home behind, but it might.

In the gospel Jesus is portrayed as a fascinating person. He does not back away from Herod, rather he goes about all of Galilee. He does not wait for people to come to him and ask to be his disciple. He assertively chooses them. This directness honours them and they leave what they are doing to follow him. Jesus is a forthright energy and this energy fascinates because it is the opposite of the universal trait of timidity. We want to know more about where this man is coming from. What drives him? Our curiosity and interest are piqued, and we long to learn more. As Jesus comes to us in Dumfries, he calls us afresh to follow him. As he calls us, we feel special, chosen, honoured, and blessed. Like the first disciples Jesus desires us to surrender ourselves wholeheartedly to him, the appointed Messiah and to cultivate in our lives those qualities of patience, perseverance courage, an eye for the moment and a passion for God. 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

Christ our light,  
by the seashore  
you called Peter, Andrew, to follow you. 
Unite your disciples in your purposes 
that lives will be transformed   
and that your light will shine in the darkness.  

Silence 

Christ our light, 
You break the rods of oppression 
and you set your people free. 
Inspire with your justice and transparency 
all who lead and govern 
and may your light shine 
in all lands of chaos and darkness. 

Silence 

Christ our light, 
you cause your light to shine on creation 
and bring forth nourishment and goodness. 
Save us from taking all your gifts for granted  
and help us by our sharing of gifts and resources 
to bring blessing and light to those in darkness and difficulty. 

Silence 

Christ our light, you shine your rays of hope
into the darkest of corners. 
We ask for your penetrating rays 
to touch and strengthen all who are in anguish,  
and all whose burdens are heavy and hard to bear. 
We think especially of all those 
who are uncertain about their employment, 
who are worrying about the cost of living 
and who are concerned about the various strikes and protests.  
Bring light and hope into their darkness. 

Silence 

Christ our light 
you see clearly the needs of your people 
draw near to those in sickness and in pain 
hold close those who are lost through depression and despair. 
We pray for those in intensive care wards 
and for all undergoing surgery or facing cancer treatments.  
In the quiet we remember those known to us. 
Bring to troubled hearts the light and refreshment of your peace. 

Silence 

Christ our light, 
You call and invite us to follow you, 
to walk in your shoes. 
We pray today for all your disciples 
that they will imitate your ways of living. 
and spread your light. 

Silence 

Christ our light, 
shine your rays on our path 
Just enough light to enable us
to take one step at a time 
and as we go forward in faith  
grant us your vision and wisdom. 

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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