Led by: Dr Ann Sinclair
Today’s service was done via Zoom and streamed to YouTube
Please fast-forward to 6 minutes 15 seconds for start of service
Lord of our journeys, help us this day to have eyes to see Your leading, ears to hear your guidance and a heart of courage that we may journey faithfully and find Your way – even when the path may seem difficult and dark. AMEN
Welcome to our Communion Service.
Following today’s service a Zoom Coffee Hour will be held.
On Wednesday morning there is a Zoom midweek service at 10 am followed by coffee.
On Friday the Executive Team meets via Zoom at 10.00 am.
Next Sunday’s worship at 11.00 am via Zoom and Youtube will be led by the Revd Dave Herbert, Moderator of the Northern Synod.
Call to Worship
“We may not all be gathered in the same building, but at this time, when we need each other so much, you are invited to worship together, from where you are – knowing that God can hear us all and can blend even distant voices into one song of worship.”
A new year has begun, let us leave behind all that is past, and walk together into the future. Let us trust in the God of new beginnings, and worship the God of fresh hopes. AMEN
HYMN R&S 187 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
1 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,
kneel and adore him: the Lord is his name.
2 Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness:
high on his heart he will bear it for thee,
comfort thy sorrows, and answer thy prayerfulness,
guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.
3 Fear not to enter his courts in the slenderness
of the poor wealth thou would’st reckon as thine:
truth in its beauty, and love in its tenderness,
these are the offerings to lay on his shrine.
4 These, though we bring them in trembling and fearfulness,
he will accept for the name that is dear;
mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness,
trust for our trembling and hope for our fear.
5 Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,
bring and adore him: the Lord is his name. J.S.B.Monsell (1811-75)
Checking in my diary last year on the first Sunday of the year I lead worship at St Andrew’s. I spoke then of being your first foot at Church and said you must have felt short changed instead of someone tall, dark and handsome you had me…what can I say?
I’m back, not quite the same place but certainly the same time and with you again… but this year perhaps others may be joining us through YouTube, some we know and others we don’t know, no matter, each and every one of you is very warmly welcome to worship this morning.
Now the first Sunday of the month in St Andrew’s is Communion Sunday, and we have each been asked to bring some bread and a drink as we come together sitting around tables in the kitchen, the dining or sitting rooms or at desks in our studies; but we have come together to worship and to share a meal at the invitation of our Lord Jesus Christ on this first Sunday of 2021.
Christians talk about Communion as a meal in remembrance, a meal the Lord shared with his disciples the night before he was crucified however, from the original gospel in Greek the word for remembrance is anamnesis-against amnesia, it is more, as Mary Luti writes, edgier, it is not just remembering but not forgetting. Not forgetting—we remember him; we remember each other; we remember everything…we refuse to forget and that shall be the core of the Communion Service later, but remembering and not forgetting also runs through the Readings and Reflection in this service also.
Prayer of Adoration
Almighty God, full of wisdom and power, whose mighty arms stretches over all the earth we bow down before you in humble adoration. Holy Saviour, full of grace, lighting up our world, we bow down in humble adoration.
Spirit of the Living God, full of boundless riches offered to us in Christ, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one: we bow down in humble adoration
Father, Son and Holy Spirit three in one, we bow down in humble adoration with open ears and minds to your call. AMEN
PRAYER OF CONFESION
Gracious God, we come before you to ask for forgiveness. We ask for the courage to put down what we need carry no longer, and loosen our hold on the hurts we have received. You know well our woundedness; You understand and accept our regret. Come close and tend to our pain and heal us, for we long to be whole. Extend Your love to those we are finding hard to love, and set us free to love again. These prayers we ask in Jesus name.
And in an ASSURANCE OF PARDON
‘God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that everyone who has faith in Him may not perish but have eternal life’. To all who repent and believe we declare in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: God grants you the forgiveness of your sins. AMEN
READINGS: ISAIAH 60: 1-6
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, and all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
MATTHEW: 2: 1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“ But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
May God bless the reading of His Holy Word AMEN
Here is the stuff of Christmas cards and Nativity Plays. In the Reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we have a story of wonder of the wise men, or as often referred to as the magi or three kings who travelled far following a star, a sign that would show them where the new born king of the Jews was to be found. This is a story that has captured the imagination and inspired artists and legends across the centuries.
The story may seem extraordinary to us in the 21st century, yet it is exactly the kind of thing that could have easily come about in the ancient world. The ancient world was an amazing world buzzing with trading across the silk roads, the trade routes connecting east and west from China and Asia to Persia, Africa and Europe, trade routes that had been established long before Christ was born and continued until the 18th century. It was a trade route of silks and spices, as well as an exchange of cultures, knowledge, philosophies, mathematics, language, architecture, religions and astrology and astrology was important to the people of the ancient world.
It was a world that would know great differences between light and dark. Just picture the world then, a world with no street lights and no light pollution, when darkness fell it would be all enveloping; and the heavens would be a different picture for some today: a huge bowl of starlight and moonlight. People on earth could look up and look out.
This was a time when there was the belief that heaven and earth were interconnected, they were one whole piece, in a way that whatever happened on earth was reflected in the heavens; or something remarkable that happened in the heavens, such as movement of the stars and planets or a shooting star predicated or reflected a remarkable event to happen on earth. People at that time believed deeply in astrology; that a person’s destiny was decreed by the star they were born under. So perhaps if there was something new happening in the heavens they would try and make sense of it, what was going on? Was this a sign of changes?
But it wasn’t a peaceful time, history tells us there was a constant shift in power with one nation at war with another. There are plenty examples we can find in the Bible: the Egyptians, the Babylonians and outside Scripture, think of the example of Alexander the Great, sweeping across from Greece to India and of course we mustn’t forget the Romans and the Roman Empire and how far they stretched their armies to conquer other lands even as far as Britain; alongside this think of all the in-fighting, the killings among powerful families to rule – brother against brother, father against son, mothers against sons to be kings or on occasions queens of nations.
Yet, as one commentator suggested, at that time there was an air of expectation of the coming of a king to rule the world. Before the end of the first century, Roman poets wrote of the golden days to come while Roman historians wrote about a long-held belief that had spread across all of the Orient at that time and a belief that men would come from Judaea to rule the world. The Jewish people had the belief that one of their country should become governor of their land. Indeed, at almost the same time as Jesus was born, the Roman Emperor was named saviour of the world. This seemed to be a world in waiting.
All these historical facts were part of Matthew’s story; this was the kind of thing that could happen in the ancient world.
There are different layers in the text from Matthew. In the wider context of the Gospel Matthew draws on the Jewish Scriptures of what we know as the Old Testament to make a statement to his Jewish audience that Jesus was the Messiah and explain God’s kingdom through the fulfilment of the prophecies. The story of wise men from other lands widens those teachings, that the news of Jesus Christ was not just for Jews but also Gentiles. Added to this and in contrast to the worship of the shepherds, the poor and the lowly, here were wise men, some say kings, rich and wise but they too came to worship and in worshipping became servants to Jesus; the message Matthew was putting over was that the good news of Jesus Christ is for everyone, rich and poor.
But I would like to take a slightly different approach to this Reading, a simple thought.
This was the story of a journey, a journey of searching, of seeking for the new born baby, king of the Jews. Indeed, the concepts of searching and finding run through Matthew’s Gospel, think the of passages that ask listeners and readers to seek and ye shall find; seek first the kingdom of God….
There was a lot of searching in the story of the wise men and they didn’t have a straightforward journey, there were twists and turns in the story, they were lost, but they persevered, they were persistent, they had faith and hope; they sought guidance and were prepared to change their plans and they followed a light.
We can learn much from this story …we too are on a journey, a journey of faith, searching and seeking; but like the wise men it’s not a straightforward journey and we can get lost and struggle; we can have dreams that appear to be God’s calling in our journey of faith but we need to be prepared to change our plans and seek guidance; we need to search and seek what direction God calls us…. to persevere, to be persistent/ determined…we need to keep searching for the light, the light of the world that is Jesus Christ and keep our eyes on that light.
Just as in the story of the wise men finding the king of the Jews – a baby in a stable – we too can find Jesus Christ, and likewise as in the story – rather than in expected places, in ordinary and unexpected places. We can learn from the story of the wise men seeking and searching in our journey of faith, to persevere, to be determined to remember and not forget in keeping our faces turned to the light that is Jesus Christ. AMEN
Prayers of Intercession: Barbara Burgess
Let us pray:
We remember this Sunday those whose names appear in our Remembrance Book in January:
Frances (Fran) Birt,
Michael James Black
Isabella Paxton Barbour
Denise Muriel Swinton Tancock
James Raymond Lisle
O God you share in our sorrows, you enter into our darkness. We pray for all who are in the darkness of pain or distress, those whose dread of the Covid virus makes them fearful, troubled or anxious.
We pray for all the scientists who have journeyed a long way seeking for a vaccine to kill this evil virus all over the world to lighten its darkness; at last to find it through God’s will and now, after so long, to process it, test it and at last start using it, first on the most elderly and then down through everyone. This vaccine is non-profit-making – it has been made for the world. Surely this is God’s work to bring his children back out of fear into the light.
We come Lord out of the dark tunnel of fear, suddenly into the shining light of God’s pure love. I think of the picture of William Holman Hunt’s painting of Jesus knocking at a door covered with thorns and weeds. It says ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock.’ The painting is called ‘the Light of the World’ but we cannot see the light unless we pull down all the weeds and thorns, revealing the door to Jesus, away from the darkness of this work of art through the door out of the dark tunnel of fear, suddenly into God’s most glorious shining light, the eternal light.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, creator of light and life. We rejoice in Your presence and seek to live fully in Your light.
HYMN As the deer pants for water
1 As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You.
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You.
2 I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye.
You alone are my strength ….
3 You’re my friend and You are my brother
Even though You are a King.
I love you more than any other
So much more than anything.
You alone are my strength …
Martin J. Nystrom (b1956)
THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
PRAYER of DEDICATION
Lord God, we bring before You this bread and this wine, the ordinary things of life and ask Your blessings on this food the gifts of God for the people of God.
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE
As Jesus revealed his glory to people from near and far at his birth and baptism, so, to those who seek him, he offers himself here and now in bread and wine.
This is the table of the Lord for those who love him and for those who want to love him more…. Come not because it is I who invite you, it is our Lord, it is his will that those who want him should meet him here Amen
Now lets us hear the story of how the sacrament began
From 1 Corinthians 11 v23-26:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took some bread, and he had given thanks, he broke it and said ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, he took the cup also, after supper saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (NLT)
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
As we approach sharing communion with our Lord let us express our thanksgiving to God: we thank you God for the freedom to worship and name you, for when we were nothing, you made us something; when we had no name, and no faith, and no future you called us your children; when we lost our way or turned away you did not abandon us; when we came back to you, Your arms opened wide in welcome. And here now you offer not just bread and wine but your very self so that we may be filled, forgiven healed and blessed and made new again.
And let us say the Prayer that our Lord Jesus taught his disciples:
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. AMEN
SHARING THE BREAD AND WINE
Here is your Lord coming to you in bread and wine.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
The bread which we break is the communion of the Body of Christ.
The cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ.
Jesus said:’ Take eat this is the body of Christ which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
Jesus said: This is my blood shed for you, drink all of it in remembrance of me.’
In a poem by Revd Dr Carla Grosch Miller:
We are people on a journey
We are people on a journey.
Cloud and fire mark the way.
Bread from heaven, rock sprung water,
Freedom-bound for God’s new day.
Songs and stories, prayers and poems,
Words that leap right off the page,
Calling forth a new creation
Come alive in every age.
Word made flesh, our brother Jesus,
Passion’s preacher, finest friend,
Life laid down to open heaven,
Walks beside us ‘til time’s end.
Holy Spirit, wild and restless,
Breath of life, angelic dove,
Sending justice, kindling kindness,
Summoning the Way of Love.
All our needs have been provided:
Water, wine, wheat, wind and Word
Drinking deeply from God’s goodness,
Hope and confidence are stirred.
Broken Bread, you make us whole,
Winsome Wind, you lead us onward,
God our source and Guide and Goal.
Revd Dr Carla Grosch-Miller
Most Gracious God, we praise you for what you have given and what you have promised us here. You have made us one with all the people in heaven and on earth. You have fed us with the bread of life and renewed us for your service. Now we give ourselves to you and we ask that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom and that our love may be your love reaching out into the life of the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
HYMN R&S 586 All my hope on God is founded
1 All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
calls my heart to be his own.
2 Human pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple, fall to dust.
But God’s power,
hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.
3 God’s great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendour, light, and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
from his store
new-born worlds rise and adore.
4 Daily doth th’ Almighty giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand;
joy doth wait on his command.
Robert Bridges (1844-1930) altd. Based on Joachim Meander (1650-80)
Lord God, as we continue our journey, and we strive to live our faith every day, give us the wisdom to seek your guidance, hold us when we struggle, and surround us with your love in the light of your Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ.…and may the grace of God, the love of our Saviour Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each and every one of us and those we love now and forever more. AMEN
CCL No. 213535 / One Licence A-632495