Sunday 24 January 2021 @ 10.00am Come, See, Hear
Opening words Jeremiah 29:12-13
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Hymn 590 Seek ye first
We have come together into the presence of our Lord. So, let us quieten our hearts and minds, put aside our concerns and distractions. Let us open ourselves to listen for God’s voice, for the word God has for his people.
Almighty God, you speak to us in so many ways. Help us, in our worship today, to hear your voice and know it is you. Speak to us in the silence, through Scripture and by the Spirit. Speak through others and through your creation, through images, experiences, music and encounters. Speak in ways that we can understand. So, speak, Lord – and help us to listen. Amen.
Creator God, how awesome you are! Our lives were known to you before we came into being. Marvellous Lord, Everything we do, think and say – you know about.
Such infinite wonder! Eternal, loving Lord, Ever helping us to see and be more like you.
How awesome you are, glorious Lord. Everywhere we go your hand is with us, Always guiding and Revealing your blessings – as we praise, listen and act. Amen.
1 Samuel 3.1-10 Psalm 139.1-6,13-18 John 1.43-51
Hymn 857 Here I am lord
I am by nature quite a lively jolly person, and when I go into the classroom when we're face to face teaching, I normally bounce in there and try and get everybody chatting and talking and you know to be jolly and awake, young people nowadays tend to be asleep most of the time and I have to say teaching online it's really, really difficult to try and enthuse them with anything at 9:00 o'clock in the morning, but before I start an online lesson, being a glass full sort of person that I am, I still try. I know that in the circumstances that we face at the moment it is quite difficult to be upbeat, to be jolly but I think it's even more important today than ever before that we learn how to raise people up, to give them some sort of hope and joy. The situation we face is awful and when you look at the deaths everyday, they are bad, but sometimes we just need to focus on the positives as well, cases are falling, the vaccine has already been administered to more people than have caught Covid during the entire 10 months that we only have been aware of it. Hope springs eternal and Jesus came to bring us hope.
Israel, when Jesus was born was a Country under occupation, they were given so many rules and instructions and guidelines to follow, so many financial implications of being a Roman citizen, they were deemed to be second class citizens and many, many struggled. But Jesus’ birth, which many thought would bring them a release from the Roman occupation, did in a way release them but not as they thought, for Jesus came to bring them and us more than a release from occupation, He came to bring us life and life in all its fullness. As Christians we are called upon to live life to the full, to dedicate our lives to Him, to work for Him, to be His hands and His feet and His eyes and His words to a world that needs uplifting. We need to represent Jesus here on earth.
As we get older we tend not to have the enthusiasm that a young child might have, and I think it is wonderful when a small child comes bounding up full of excitement and longing to share something that they have made, or to tell you something that's really, really important to them. Perhaps Phillip approached Nathaniel in the same way, bursting with good news, he has found the Messiah. But Nathaniel brushed off his announcement with contempt, ‘how can anything good come out of Nazareth’, how that must have burst Philip’s bubble. But Philip didn't give up, no he carried on, he kept on going, he literally dragged Nathaniel to meet Jesus for himself. When Nathaniel met Jesus he realised Philip was right. It’s easy to be downhearted when people don’t share our enthusiasm for Jesus. We might even wonder if we have made a mistake. But it is not up to us to form someone else’s relationship with Jesus. We can trust Jesus himself to do that, in his own time and with his own words, as he did for Nathanael, we just need to tell people about Him.
How do you find out if something is true? The internet may be our ‘go to’ these days. But, even with fact-checking websites, can we trust the information we find there? What is reliable? What is fake?
The inauguration of Joe Biden on Wednesday was surrounded by guards and the military, after the storming of Capital Hill three weeks ago, many of the followers of Trump thought that the elections were false, even though it was apparent to all they were real. Some websites claim COIVD is not real, we all know that is not true, and some websites are telling people that the vaccines are really the Government attempt to put a chip in us all so they can monitor our movements. We know all of this is not true, not many believe.
So, when the disciples started talking about Jesus, what was true and what was not? These new disciples wanted to find out more about Jesus. Were John’s claims about him true? Was he really the Messiah? No hi-tech options for them. ‘Come and see,’ said Jesus, and they spent the day with him in conversation, sharing food, and enjoying each other’s company. Simply being together with each other and with the Lord creates effective opportunities for checking out our feelings and intuitions, and trying to get the facts straight. Fellowship has always been at the heart of Christian life – come and see! One day soon, we will be able to all meet together face to face and enjoy such fellowship again, cant wait!.
The amazing thing about this passage in John’s Gospel is that Jesus knew what Nathaniel thought about Him. We have read Psalm 139 which talks about Jesus knowing us intimately, He knows what we think, He knows what we feel and for some people that might be quite scary, for me I find that so comforting. That God is so close to me, that He knows what I think and feel. That's why sometimes, when I'm lost for words when I pray, it doesn't matter, I can just sit in silence, because God knows what is in my heart and my mind. Psalm 139 talks about the fact that wherever we go we can never escape from God, for someone like Jonah that might well have been a bit scary and for many people here that might be scary, but once again for me, I find that so beautiful, that it doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing God is always beside me. His presence is always with me , I don't need to be afraid of anything because God is with me, He will guide me and He will lead me and He will never ever leave me, that is the sheer beauty of Psalm 139. Nathaniel believed because Jesus told him he had seen him under the fig tree, and we too will see miracles and wonders when we follow Jesus.
Life can be very noisy. Sound surrounds us so much of the time. Even in silence there is often the constant chatter of our minds. The Gospel passage tells of Jesus deliberately creating opportunities for the disciples to come away from the noise – to listen to him, without distraction, so that their faith could begin to flourish. How can we create opportunities for one another to listen to God speaking to us?
When preparing I found this – which I would like to share with you
Hearing the master’s voice
Do you remember the old HMV logo – a dog sitting in front of a wax-cylinder phonograph, and listening to the sound coming from the horn? It is based on a painting by Liverpool artist, Francis Barraud, titled ‘His Master’s Voice’. Which, of course, is where the company name HMV comes from.
The painting is in turn based on real events. Francis’ brother Mark died, but left recordings of his voice on a wax cylinder. Whenever Francis played them, Mark’s dog – Nipper – would run over to the machine and listen intently. He truly recognised his master’s voice.
If we have a pet, we may be familiar with this and have our own stories to tell. If not pets, then perhaps very young children! Of course, pets – and very young children – don’t always understand what is being said. But in the context of today’s Gospel reading, it raises two questions:
· Do we recognise our master’s voice, God’s voice?
· Do we understand it?
Perhaps, we expect to receive some kind of personal message, like Samuel.
In reality, God uses many different ways of speaking – as this poem declares:
Not only in words
Why do you want me to speak? Is not my presence sufficient for you? The kiss of my love in the sunlight, Or the scent of my being on a flower? Why do you want me to speak, When I hug you in the embrace of a friend? When I move you by the fall of a song? When I show you the scars on my hands? Why do you ask me to speak, When I use other voices not mine? For mine is the cry of the stranger, The hungry, the prisoner, the poor. Why do you ask me to speak, When I've spoken so often before? Heed my world, read my Word Seek my Son and then you will hear me.
K Gire, Windows of the Soul: Hearing God in the Everyday Moments of Your Life, Zondervan, 2017, ISBN 978-0310352273