Sunday, 17th January: 2nd after Epiphany

Welcome to today’s service which comes from St Nicolas Church. It is 28 minutes in length. Click the link below to watch and listen to the service. All the text of the service is below.

The Lord be with you. And also with you.

The grace of God has dawned upon the world through our Saviour Jesus Christ, who sanctified himself for us to purify a people as his own. Let us confess our sins.

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
though our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.  Amen.

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy on you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for Today

Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Hymn: Praise to the Holiest in the Height – The words are in the recording

The Gospel Reading: John 1: 43-end. Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”  Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Today’s Reflection: from Rev. Jane Cresswell, our Vicar

“Come and See”

We are still in the season of Epiphany when things are revealed or made manifest to us about the Son of God, the Word made flesh.  It is a season where we learn more about who he is and about who we are called to be in his name.  In our everyday speech we might use the word epiphany to indicate we have suddenly worked something out or discovered something amazing.  

In today’s gospel Nathanael is someone who is open to the epiphany moments in his life, and when he is invited by Philip to “come and see” Jesus of Nazareth, the one written of by Moses and the prophets, he simply gets up and follows, unwilling to let this opportunity pass by.

Nathanael is portrayed as someone who we might describe as straightforward and honest like a child.  He states a truth when he asks a question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, which hints once again at the scandal of God being born as a baby in a stable full of animals and growing up in a small town of no repute.  It’s like asking “Can anything good come out of Slough?”, so often the butt of ridicule, and not least by the condemnation of John Betjeman’s poem!

But although it all seems so dubious and unlikely; Nathanael has his eyes open to the possibilities that are being revealed.

Jesus also sees the world clearly and he sees Nathanael under the fig tree for who he is, an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.  It’s as if Jesus says to Nathanael “I see you”.  Nathanael was, from the beginning, known and loved by God, and he responds to Jesus with these words, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel!”  This is his own personal moment of epiphany when he gets down on his knees to praise God in Christ who is standing before him.

Nathanael embodies for us what it means to be a follower of Christ.  Initially he has questions, he is doubtful and dubious, but his uncertainties don’t overrule the possibility of grace and truth, which is just around the corner.  He responds to the call, letting God see him and know him and love him.  

To be a Christian is to be exposed to the gaze of God, to stand humbly before the throne of grace and open up our whole lives to the light of Christ.  In his light we are able to see the world and ourselves within it more clearly.  

In his light we offer to God all that we are and all that we have, and our response to the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ is to say boldly, “here I am” as Nathanael did, and recognise Jesus as the Son of God.

Most of the time, we move toward God in small steps taken as much out of curiosity as out of faith. We’re interested in thinking about how we could live better lives, but only up to a point. We quite like them as they are, thank you very much.

Yet I believe that deep in our souls, we are looking for something to believe in and hold on to, something important enough to live for, and something big enough to claim our passions. We are looking for challenge and purpose. We are looking for God. The emptiness we feel in our lives from time to time is God calling us to the paths that lead to meaning. God lets us know that we can look beyond our computers and coffee cups, beyond our TV screens and mobiles, beyond our daily work, the bowls club fixtures, family gatherings, DIY, gardening, concerts or whatever else absorbs us; God lets us know that we can look beyond all these things into the enchanted possibilities of grace. And perhaps this year, when many of those things have been ripped from us by the pandemic, we have a unique chance to re-evaluate our lives and listen to that deeper longing in our hearts. God draws us toward life even when we don’t recognize what’s happening. God sees us and knows us.

What begins with curiosity on our part becomes a step toward grace. 

“Come and see” is a wonderful line and a great way to start a story. “Come and see” is the invitation to explore, discover, and travel without knowing exactly where we are going, but to know that if we catch a glimpse of God, we will also catch a glimpse of who we can be. Come and see. Come and see what it means to hope, believe, and follow. Come and see what it means to be church in the future.

Today as we worship, together yet apart, we are here to open ourselves to God, who will lead us to new places. The spirit of adventure is what calls us to worship. We worship as church to seek the meaning of life, join with people on the journey, and ask God to help us see where grace invites us. We are here to look at the gifts we’ve been given and the needs of the world. We come to discover the possibilities. If we worship God, if we share our lives with other people looking for God, we will see beyond what we have assumed. If we look for God, we will find that God is looking for us, offering life. 

And as you journey onward through the coming weeks and months, which we know will not be easy, never forget that God is reaching out for you, nudging you forward, calling you to new possibilities and new challenges, longing for you to discover, grow and nurture the gifts you already have in his service.  Let the Holy Spirit call you on to a new adventure.  

Listen for the voice of God’s spirit calling you to come and see; be prepared to leave behind the familiar and discover the new things God offers; because security lies not in the safe and familiar but in the presence of Jesus Christ who is with you always, drawing you forward along the path that leads to life.

Enjoy the Adventure!

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, 
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.   Amen.

Hymn: Take my Life. The words are in the recording

The Intercessions

Everlasting God, you choose people to send forth as workers into your world.  You spoke to awaken Samuel with Your call. Thank you for awakening us and hear us now as we pray for the church and the world.

Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer

Creator God, you called Abram to be the Father of many nations, and so we pray for the nations of our world and their leaders.  We continue to pray for peace in your world, and especially for those involved in the process of reconciliation and bridge-building between peoples, cultures and nations.  Help us wherever and whenever we can in our everyday lives to be instruments of your peace.

Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer

Father God, you called Moses, to be the shepherd who led the Israelites from Egypt. Help us all to lead Christian lives and encourage others by our example.  We pray for our families, our friends and our neighbours and all who touch our lives, here in Taplow and throughout the world.

Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer

Loving God you called the Apostles to be ambassadors for Christ and gave them the power to heal.  Help us to bring healing through our care and our prayers that we may strengthen the spirits of those we love especially at this time of the pandemic. Protect and support all who work to protect the lives and wellbeing of others.

Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, your son Jesus Christ wept at the grave of Lazarus his friend. Be with us in our mourning as we pray for all who are coming to the end of their journey here on earth and for all those who have died and now rejoice in the fullness of eternal life. 

Lord in Your mercy: Hear our prayer

Faithful God, like Nathanael, we know you see and love us. We rejoice in the call to belong to the Church, to believe in the Gospel, and to be united as a community.  Send us out into the coming week ready to demonstrate our calling in all that we say and do.

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

This Week’s Notices: Click this link to read the notices.

The Blessing:

Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his glory and 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.

Next Sunday:

Our service will be led by our Curate, Rev Suzanne Johnson. Please do join us again.