WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
January 17, 2021
First, a word on fancy words. In worship we have this phrase we use called liturgy that feels like a formal way of having a worship leader saying stuffy things about God. The word means, “the work of the people” and liturgy is meant to be held, and owned by the worshippers, i.e. you. This service is planned to give you a path, a guide to pray, interact with scripture, wrestle with it – wrestle with God – and in so doing, have a moment of coming face to face with the divine right here, right now.
So, come and lay all the worries of the day aside. Take a deep breath, and we will start with a prayer.
PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
When first hearing about this “Jesus, from Nazareth,” Nathanael asks, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The derision was fair. Nazareth was not only a backwater, but in the hinterlands of Galilee, a region known for producing Zealots and other religious fanatics bent on returning Israel to self-rule. In fact, in the insurrection that would lead to the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem in 66-70, it was the Zealots who led the revolt. Nathanael’s first thoughts of Jesus, hearing where he is from places him beyond the pale.
The story we hear today is about Jesus bridging this gap between expectation and reality. As so often happens, God shows up when mysterious and unexpected ways.
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Almighty God, we pray for your blessing on the church in this place. Here may the faithful find salvation, and the careless be awakened. Here may the doubting find faith, and the anxious be encouraged. Here may the tempted find help, and the sorrowful comfort. Here may the weary find rest, and the strong be renewed. Here may the aged find consolation and the young be inspired; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
In Christ we meet God’s true self, along with our own. Coming to confession we see the gap clearly between the us we are, and the us we are living. Taking time in this prayer to lift everything that holds us back from the life we have been giving closes this gap and restores our souls.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Creator of all worlds, we confess to sporadic beliefs and inconsistent faithfulness. Before the mystery of the universe our minds cannot grasp a God who embraces infinity. In the face of natural disasters and cruel inhumanity we doubt that love reigns. O God, reclaim us and help us to reclaim our baptism: we need your healing, forgiving, transforming Spirit. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The proof of God’s amazing love is this, while we were sinners Christ died for us. Because we have faith in him we dare to approach God with confidence, knowing that God forgives us and cleanses us from every kind of wrong. Trust this, and be at peace.
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Father, you meet us in unexpected ways and unexpected places. Return to us now in these lines of this story, and surprise us once more by calling us back to ourselves. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus, the one we follow. Amen.
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 towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come 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.’
He Aint From Around Here
Rev. Jeremy Jinkins
Here I Am Lord
SUNDAY SCHOOL AT HOME
Although we can’t be in the same proximity physically, we can be together in spirit. We are happy to be able to provide to you age appropriate Sunday school lessons each week for you to do with your children. Click the Sunday School button to be directed to our weekly lessons.
STAYING CONNECTED FOR ADULTS
Faith Formation is pleased to announce the following adult learning opportunities that are meeting “virtually” while we “shelter in place”. Anyone is welcome to participate. Contact information and more details can be found by clicking the Adult Opportunities button.
RESPONDING TO THE WORD
Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer
The reflection below is the prayer that begins the opening chapter of St. Augustine’s Confessions. Perhaps the most famous work of devotion, this book is part, on-going prayer, reflection, story, and – well – confession. Today we use these words to consider the unexpected ways God meets us, resides with us, holds us in company, and provides us with support and comfort and grace.
You are great Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is your power, and to your wisdom there is no end. And humans, being part of your creation, desire to praise you – humans, who carry with us our mortality, the witness of our sin and the witness that you resist the proud. Yet, humanity, this part of your creation, desires to praise you, for you have formed us for yourself; and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.
O how will I call on God, my God and Lord, since when I call for him, I will be calling him into myself? And what room is there within me, where my God can come into me? Where can God come into me, God who made heaven and earth? Is there, indeed, O Lord my God, anything in me that can contain you?
Since you fill heaven and earth do they contain you? Or, because nothing which exists could exist without you, does therefore whatever exists contain you? Since then, I too exist, why do I seek that you should enter me. I would not be if you were not in me. Why? Because I am not gone down in hell, and yet you are there also. For if I go down into hell, you are there. I could not be then, O my God, could not be at all, if you were not in me; or rather, unless I were in you, of whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things! Even so, Lord, even so. From where should I call you, since I am in you? Or where can you enter me? For where can I go beyond heaven and earth, that there my God should come into me, who has said, “I fill the heaven and the earth?”
O God, the vessels which you fill do not contain you, since though we were broken, you were not poured out. You were not cast down, but you uplift us. You are not scattered, we are drawn together.
You are invited to silently lift the names of particular people or situations that weigh heavily on your soul at this time.
We seal these prayers with the one he taught us, saying together:
Our Father, who 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 debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and power and the glory, Amen.
How can we pray for you?
Click the button to send us your prayer concerns and joys and stay connected.
OFFERING OUR GIFTS
Jesus seems to “spring” on the scene in John’s gospel. In fact, according to John’s telling of the story, Jesus’ first followers are prompted by John the Baptist pointing Jesus out amid his own hurried ministry. As Jesus begins to call to followers some jump immediately while others initially scoff. What remains consistent throughout is that God is up to something unique and profound with this man from Nazareth, and people respond by giving themselves completely over. Jesus calls and we respond.
We can join in this work by volunteering to help our neighbors, by joining with our ministries to continue making an impact in the lives of our fellow church members – like helping to teach our children. We can also help by pledging to support this church community financially as we make a bigger and bigger impact in our local, regional, and even international communities.
If you have struggled finding a way to help support the work PCW does in our local and broader community in these days of worshipping remotely, remember, you can send checks to 140 Mountain Avenue, Westfield, NJ 07090, or email Tina Barulli at email@example.com if you have that ability.
There are many demands on our attention these days, many calls for our loyalty, fealty, and focus. God shows up in unexpected places – often at risk of being missed – and calls us to experience a life blessed beyond measure; like Nathanael, we are promised the comfort of living beneath the fig tree. My only prayer is that we will recognize the call as it is made.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who calls us to new life; the love of the Father, who calls us back to abundant life; and the communion of the Holy Spirit, who sustains us still with every breath we take, be with you now and always. Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE
Peace be with you
Please pass the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to your neighbors.
Assorted prayers for this week have been taken and/or adapted from The Worship Sourceboo.
The opening reflection and Prayer of Invocation were written by John Birch.