Sunday, 17th January

Together in Prayer
2nd Sunday of Epiphany

O Lord open our lips.
And our mouth shall declare your praise!
Reveal among us the light of your presence.
that we may behold your power and glory.

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.

Preparing our hearts
Lord, as you called the disciples,
open our ears to your calling,
open our eyes to your presence,
open our hearts to your love,
that we may hear you, and hearing you may love you,
and loving you may serve you,
whom to serve is perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ, the lamb of God.

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.”

Thought for the week: Rev Joe.
The set readings during the season of Epiphany can seem a little wild. One moment we’re with the magi on their transformational journey, next we’re with Jesus being baptised, and today we’re with Jesus as he begins to call his disciples. Strangely, as this season draws to its conclusion, we’ll return to Jesus as a baby, focussing on his presentation in the temple.

It’s strange that this too-ing and fro-ing is all about epiphany – moments of realisation, of revelation, where the light turns on and all is unveiled. For the Magi, they saw that Jesus was not only a king of the Jews but a king of gentiles, the King of kings. At Jesus’ baptism, we hear God’s voice and see the Holy Spirit affirming that Jesus is God’s Son. And, in our reading today, we witness a wonderful encounter between Jesus and Nathanael, and for those with eyes to see, the reading enlightens yet more detail about who Jesus is.

Quite clearly, Nathanael repeats both affirmations, that Jesus is the King and the Son of God (verse 49). But something else is unveiled. Nathanael has said that Jesus is the king of ‘Israel’, and our first thoughts might go to the nation and people of the Jews. But the name ‘Israel’ was first given to Jacob. Having stolen his brother’s identity, and his inheritance, Jacob wrestles with God in the desert until he admits his name is Jacob (Genesis 32). At that point, he is renamed, Israel. Another story we might remember about Jacob is the famous dream of a ladder between heaven and earth, with angels ascending and descending. At that point, God reaffirms his commitment to use Jacob’s family to bless all the earth, to renew the harmony once known in Eden.

When we go back to Jesus and Nathanael, we see that this is what Jesus has in mind. He says, ‘you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ What’s going on here?

Nathanael has said ‘you are the King of Israel.’ And Jesus has played with that word and reminded Nathanael about its origin. To be that king, is to be the one who carries the promise of God’s saving love, of God’s love for the whole world, to be the one who will bring blessing to all the earth. Jesus is the place where heaven and earth meet, and an encounter with him transforms everything.

That’s why, when Philip calls Nathanael, all he can say to him is ‘come and see’. He means, come, and meet the saviour, the king, the one who gives hope to everything and everyone. Come and see – have your eyes opened to see the world differently, to see that God is on a mission to change the world, and you’re invited.

This is why this passage is about epiphany. It’s about truly seeing the way things are, and the way they can be. It’s about seeing who Jesus is. And, quite incredibly, it’s also about seeing ourselves. The reading begins with the invitation ‘follow me.’ Not only are we invited to see Jesus, to understand that God is at work in the world, and to recognise the glimpses of heaven on earth, but we are also called to join in with that mission.
The epiphany is about Jesus, but we might see that our own identity is caught up in this revelation. When we see who Jesus is, we see who we are. And this is emphasised with Jesus’ own words to Nathanael, ‘I saw you’ (verse 48).
God sees you. He knows you. He likes you. And, in his great love, he has called you to follow him, which means living out there prayer, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.’
Where do you see glimpses of heaven on earth?
And how can this new lockdown give you the chance to encounter Jesus afresh?
What would that look like?

Collect – 2nd Sunday of Epiphany.
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.

Lord, we give thanks for you have called us to know you and to proclaim you.
Lord, make us worthy of our calling; may we be faithful to you in our discipleship.
We pray that each in their calling may seek to do your will;
that your church may be attentive to your word and seek to do your will,
that we may share in the mission and saving work of Christ our Lord.
Lord you are our strength.
You are our salvation.

Lord, we pray for all who are seeking to live up to their calling,
for all who are striving to keep the ideals that they see.
We remember all who have continued to work throughout
these difficult times.
We pray for those who have lost their jobs, the unemployed,
For the work weary and for those who are exploited.
Lord you are our strength.
You are our salvation.

Lord make us aware of your calling to stay strong for the challenges we face,
you call us to extend ourselves in your deep love.
We pray for the communities to which we belong and in which we have an active share.
May we see our daily work as part of our discipleship and discipline.
Lord you are our strength.
You are our salvation.

We pray for all who feel they have laboured in vain,
for all who have toiled hard and feel they have achieved nothing,
for those whose world has collapsed around them.
We remember all who have been made homeless,
Those who have lost loved ones or possessions.
We pray for all who are struggling with illness and unable to fulfil themselves,
for all who are feeling frustrated with this life, and all who feel like giving up.
Lord you are our strength.
You are our salvation.

Finally Lord, we give you thanks for all who have been faithful disciples,
who have heeded your call and obeyed your commands.
We pray for those who now serve you with the saints in glory,
especially remembering…………… at this time
Lord you are our strength.
You are our salvation.

You may wish to add your own prayers at this time.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
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.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

The Peace
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
and also with you.

The Blessing
God who called you to work with him,
Strengthen you by the power of his calling;
and may the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ
be with us all this day and forever more.