All Saints’ Church Renhold Bedfordshire, England


 THE EUCHARIST FOR EPIPHANY SEASON


Words of welcome or introduction may be said.

The Gathering


The president says


Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe.

From the rising of the sun to its setting your name is proclaimed in all the world.    The Lord be with you.

All   and also with you.

PRAYER OF PREPARATION

Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

PRAYERS OF PENITENCE


The President introduces the confession:

The grace of God has dawned upon the world through our Saviour Jesus Christ, who sacrificed 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,

through 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 upon 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.


GLORIA IN EXCELSIS


Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father.

Amen.

COLLECT

The prayer for the day is said:


Let us pray

O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face; 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.

Amen


The Liturgy of the Word




Psalm 139


1  O Lord, you have searched me out and known me; ♦︎
    you know my sitting down and my rising up;
     you discern my thoughts from afar.
2  You mark out my journeys and my resting place ♦︎
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
3  For there is not a word on my tongue, ♦︎
    but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
4  You encompass me behind and before ♦︎
    and lay your hand upon me.
5  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, ♦︎
    so high that I cannot attain it.
6  Where can I go then from your spirit? ♦︎
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
7  If I climb up to heaven, you are there; ♦︎
    if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8   If I take the wings of the morning ♦︎
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9  Even there your hand shall lead me, ♦︎
    your right hand hold me fast.


Glory to the father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end – Amen



New Testament Reading:

Revelation 5.1-10


Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.  And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.  He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.  When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.’


This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.



GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

The following acclamation or an alternative may be used.

Alleluia, alleluia.

Christ was revealed in flesh,

proclaimed among the nations

and believed in throughout the world.


Alleluia.


GOSPEL READING

When the Gospel is announced the reader says:

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

Glory to you, O Lord.


John 1.43-end


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.’


This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.


SERMON                     John 1:43-51 -  


I am sure that this morning’s reading is familiar to all of us who will recognise it at the calling of the first disciples. It is a reading that for the last 10 years or so, has challenged me especially as I discerned my calling by God to a role of a Priest in his Church – I have often struggled to come to terms with how the first Disciples – Phillip in this case, immediately left their lives and followed him. I am only too willing to admit that I questioned his call on me, before I realised that God was serious, was not going to give up on me and really was calling me; and I gingerly started taking those first steps on the path to Ordination and the privilege of serving God and his people in this place. As the first anniversary of my installation, or licensing passes I feel truly blessed to be here among you (even remotely) and thank God for his goodness.

This passage from John’s Gospel this morning encourages us to take a step back and think about what it means to follow Jesus. I suppose in a sense, every sermon is about what it means to follow Jesus - but this morning it is even more clear as we hear the response of the first disciples.

As we heard the scene is set for us as Jesus decides to head for Galilee, and that is when the encounter with Philip begins.

The first point we notice is actually very easy to miss when at the very start of the story, John says: “Jesus found Philip”. It does not say that Jesus bumped into him and had a chat – the emphasis is on Jesus looking for and found Philip.

My commentary is very quick to pick up on this point as it gives the example of If you go to any book shop and look in the spirituality section, you will find autobiographies of people who have devoted themselves to the spiritual life through the years. And very often, they write about how they spent many years seeking out a spiritual leader to follow. They may have tried out the ideas of gurus, or philosophers, they may have sat at the feet of great preachers and wise teachers trying to decide who to follow. But that is not the same for us as Christians: because, as John says, “Jesus found Philip”. Philip did not find Christ. Christ found Philip.

This is the truth at the heart of Christianity, it is not that you and I have found Christ, but Christ has found us. 

We did not decide for God. God decided for us and there is a narrative that runs throughout the Bible of a God who constantly seeks out his people. Right from the beginning of Scripture in Genesis, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they realised they were naked and were embarrassed, so they hid. We are told that God is walking in the garden and looking for Adam and Eve, but he was not just looking as in the next verse we are told: “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Right from the beginning of time, God has been seeking us out and finding us.

This has to be the first thing that we remember when each of us are called to whatever ministry God has intended for us “Do not think that we chose God: he has chosen us. This is important, because the knowledge that God has sought us out, rather than vice versa, is crucial in keeping us humble before God. Even our own faith is not our own decision!

And we heard that once Jesus finds Philip, he issues a single command: “Follow me” and Philip is compelled to follow Him – and he leaves everything else behind: his work, his family, his possessions, his ambitions. To me that is so powerful, and what faith Philip is showing in this relative stranger

For us too following Jesus is a radical commitment that demands every aspect of our being. Of course, we get it wrong from time to time and fall short of the ideal - but the intention of radical discipleship should always be before us as we live out our callings in word and in deed.

The next thing we notice is what Philip did, or probably better to say what he did not do, when he set out to follow Jesus

He did not go on an Alpha Course, he did not even go to a church, he did not get baptised, the first thing he did, according to John, was find his brother Nathanael and tell him about Jesus! And this is the first rule of being a disciple of Jesus; and it is very simple: Tell other people about Jesus!

And what really makes this account relevant to me and I suspect many others is that Philip did not have any great learning, no degree in theology, no diploma, no training at all; and yet the Gospel accounts tell us in several places that he was really effective in being an evangelist for Jesus.

So often, we think we cannot tell other people about Jesus because we do not know enough, or we don’t know our Bibles well enough…but none of that matters. We do not need to be theologians to be effective. We just need to be passionate for Jesus, and he will do the rest!

To be a follower of Jesus needs some resilience, the strength to keep on going despite the knocks. As we heard this morning, Nathanael’s response to Philip is not particularly encouraging, is it? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip had come running over to Nathanael, passionate about sharing this good news about Jesus, only to be met with a cynical response. And it can be the same when we tell people about Jesus, we too can be met with cynicism or rudeness or apathy and it can be really discouraging, and it can knock our self-confidence. But when it happened to Philip, he did not get into some theological debate about the merits of Nazareth as a geographical region or its place within the salvation history of Israel, or anything like that…He just said to Nathanael, “Come and see!”

When it comes to evangelism, that’s all we need to keep saying: “Come and see!” We do not need to get involved in heavy theological debates. We just need to Invite people to Come and see!” - and let God do the rest.

The other night, when I was thinking about this morning’s reading, this sermon and what it meant to me, I recalled my own experiences, as we all do in life. I thought back to my early days after realising that I may be being called by God. One of the most valuable experiences I had was to attend a course organised by the Diocese called seeking the way. In those pre-COVID days (11 years ago) a group of 16 of us met for three Saturdays in Redbourne, and with a facilitator named Su and some representatives and presenters from local churches and charities. We had time and space to think about what God was calling us to do (I remember describing it as my pit-stop on the super-highway of life) – It was not all about looking at ordination and the priesthood but the possibilities in serving God in every area of church and in life. Of my group of 16, many of whom I am still in contact with; only 3 of us have been ordained and only 1 has become a lay reader, the others have become church musicians, a librarian, a youth leader, trustees of charities or just become more active within their churches supporting the mission and ministry in their parishes – it was the most valuable opportunity for me on my spiritual journey, which I think can only be exceeded by my BAP, but that is another story.

On Friday night/early hours of yesterday morning, I received a “Tweet” from the Diocese with a header asking, “Is God calling you, or someone you know” and when checking my emails, I find a communication from the Vocations team advising me of this year’s Seeking the way course. Do you think God is trying to tell me something?

If you or anyone you know are in a position where you think God may be calling you to some form of ministry or you are looking to explore opportunities available to you as you journey to and with Christ, then I can fully recommend Seeking the way. In this changing world, in the changing forms of ministry, in the different missional needs of our communities, perhaps you have the talents and desires to Live God’s love in other ways needed now - then please do speak with me for more details and information. – God is calling us all to serve him in some way, not just the younger generation

As Christians, we know that peace and blessing can only come from our relationship with Jesus. The more we allow Jesus to be the centre of our lives, the more we know His peace in our hearts. Amen

THE CREED

Stand

We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is,

seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven,

was incarnate from the Holy Spirit

and the Virgin Mary

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge

the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son

is worshipped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic

and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come.

Amen.


PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

Let us pray.

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 in hearing you may love you and in loving you may serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom, in Christ we pray – Amen


Loving Father, we give thanks that you have called us, you have called us to know you, to love you and to serve you, Lord make us worthy of our calling. We offer you all that we are, all we possess and pray that we, your church may be drawn ever towards you. Guide and inspire our Archbishops, Bishops, Archdeacons, our clergy, readers and all who proclaim your gospel, that there may be a deepening of love and commitment in all Christian people the world over.  We pray for your church here in this Parish as we journey through these difficult times, that we may travel the road as caring companions in hope and joy with your love in our hearts.  Lord in your mercy


We pray for all who are seeking to live up to their calling, for all who are striving to keep the ideals in which we believe. We pray for your world, for the leaders of all the nations, that the decisions they make and actions they take may be for the wellbeing of all people; and that justice and mercy be upheld in line with your loving will. We pray for all those who have been subjected to oppression, for those who have fled their home in search of safety; we pray for all who have been affected by natural disasters, and this morning we think of those affected by the adverse weather conditions both in this country and across your world. We pray for the emergency services and all “First Responders” as they strive to love our neighbours in their time of need.   Lord in your mercy


Lord make us aware that you are ever calling us to new ventures and new visions, you call us to extend ourselves as we serve you. We give thanks for those who have brought us to know you and pray for all the faithful within our communities.  May all the families on earth be blessed with mutual love and a caring consideration for one another, we pray that arguments and misunderstandings be properly resolved and help us all to be more aware and more considerate of the needs of others. Lord; May our homes be centres of love, acceptance and welcome; bless our families and our friends, our homes and our communities, that they may be places of joy, peace, hope and Love     Lord in your mercy..

We pray for all who are in sorrow, pain or distress at this time, May those for whom days and nights creep past in pain or sorrow be given comfort and hope, may the frightened find reassurance and the anxious peace of mind. Lord may they have an awareness of your constant presence; and the courage to place their hand in yours. We bring before God those who we know who are ill, giving thanks for those who treat or nurse them; we pray for their loved ones who hold them in their hearts. we remember in our prayers today…. Father surround all who are ill or suffering today with your healing Love. Lord in your mercy…


Lord God, welcome into your kingdom those whose days on Earth have ended, and as we miss their physical presence, we thank you for the gift of their lives and the love we shared. We bring before God those who we know and love who we see no longer …. May they find the fullness of your eternity, be flooded with the light of your love and experience the blessing of your peace. Lord in your mercy. ..


Finally, We pray for selves, bringing our cares, worries, our angers and our joys at this time … Lord may we feel your presence near us and be guided by your holy Spirit within us as we live and work to your praise and glory… Merciful father… accept


And at the end:

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.




The Liturgy of the Sacrament

THE PEACE

Christ is our peace.  If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old has passed away: behold everything has become new..

cf 2 Cor 5:17

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

and also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.


PREPARATION OF THE TABLE


Gracious God, accept the offering of your Church,

the hearts of your people joined in praise and thanksgiving,

in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

Amen.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness

we have this bread to set before you,

which earth has given and human hands have made.

It will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed be God for ever.


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:

through your goodness

we have this wine to set before you,

fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

It will become for us the cup of salvation.

Blessed be God for ever.


EUCHARISTIC PRAYER (A)

The Lord be with you

and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

All honour and praise be yours always and everywhere,

mighty creator, ever-living God,

through Jesus Christ your only Son our Lord:

for at this time we celebrate your glory

made present in our midst.

In the coming of the Magi

the King of all the world was revealed to the nations.

In the waters of baptism

Jesus was revealed as the Christ,

the Saviour sent to redeem us.

In the water made wine

the new creation was revealed at the wedding feast.

Poverty was turned to riches, sorrow into joy.

Therefore with all the angels of heaven

we lift our voices to proclaim the glory of your name

and sing our joyful hymn of praise:


Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

Accept our praises, heavenly Father,

through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,

and as we follow his example and obey his command,

grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit

these gifts of bread and wine

may be to us his body and his blood;

who, in the same night that he was betrayed,

took bread and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.


In the same way, after supper

he took the cup and gave you thanks;

he gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of me.

Therefore, heavenly Father,

we remember his offering of himself

made once for all upon the cross;

we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension;

we look for the coming of your kingdom,

and with this bread and this cup

we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.


The President says

Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died:

Christ is risen:

Christ will come again.

Accept through him, our great high priest,

this our sacrifice of thanks and praise,

and as we eat and drink these holy gifts

in the presence of your divine majesty,

renew us by your Spirit,

inspire us with your love

and unite us in the body of your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.


Through him, and with him, and in him,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

with all who stand before you in earth and heaven,

we worship you, Father almighty,

in songs of everlasting praise:

Blessing and honour and glory and power

be yours for ever and ever.   Amen.


THE LORD’S PRAYER

Believing the promises of God,

let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us

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 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.

BREAKING OF THE BREAD

The president breaks the consecrated bread:

We break the bread of life,

and that life is the light of the world.

God here among us,

Light in the midst of us, bring us to light and life.


The Agnus Dei is said or sung here or during the distribution.

Lamb of God, you take away

the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.


Lamb of God, you take away

the sin of the world,

have mercy on us.


Lamb of God, you take away

the sin of the world,

grant us peace.


GIVING OF COMMUNION

God’s holy gifts

for God’s holy people.

Jesus Christ is holy,

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.


The Prayer of Humble Access may be said by all present.

We do not presume

to come to this your table, merciful Lord,

trusting in our own righteousness,

but in your manifold and great mercies.

We are not worthy

so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.

But you are the same Lord

whose nature is always to have mercy.

Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,

so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ

and to drink his blood,

that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body

and our souls washed through his most precious blood,

and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.

Amen.

The president Declares      The Body and Blood of ChristAmen


PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

God of glory, you nourish us with your Word who is the bread of life: fill us with your Holy Spirit that through us the light of your glory may shine in all the world.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


followed by:

Father of all, we give you thanks and praise,

that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home.

Dying and living, he declared your love,

gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.

May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life;

we who drink his cup bring life to others;

we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.

Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,

so we and all your children shall be free,

and the whole earth live to praise your name;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


The Dismissal

BLESSING

Christ the Son of God

Perfect you in 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.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.  Amen.


The ministers and people depart.

Copyright Acknowledgements: - Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops Council, 2000 CW ORDER ONE – ORDINARY TIME AND HOLY DAYS. Intercessions based on Traces of Glory, David Adam, SPK, 1999

CCLI number - 804157