Service for January 10th

ST. MARGARET; LOWESTOFT

 

‘AT HOME’ for Sunday January 10th

 

Today we are resuming our fortnightly ‘At home’ services. Each Sunday we are filming our service and placing it, courtesy of you tube, on our website by Monday lunchtime; we do invite you to join us in our worship.

Today we are thinking about the Baptism of Jesus, and just as Baptism is a new start for us, so it was for Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, so we are also thinking about new beginnings.

 

Lets begin our service by being still and quiet.

Our opening prayer:

This the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
We are the family of God. And are called by God’s name.
We are heirs of Christ’s kingdom. And born of the Spirit.
Therefore we come together in thanksgiving. Amen.

 

Our hymn is number 526 in Ancient and Modern New Standard: When Jesus came to Jordan

 

 

A prayer of confession

Lord, when you came into the world, things changed. When we came into a relationship with you, things changed. Life became filled with a new sense of purpose and peace. But, Lord, sometimes we let you down by doing wrong things or failing to do right things. We are sorry, Lord.

Sometimes, Lord, through pride, stubbornness or fear we build barriers and keep others at arm’s length – even you, Lord.  We are sorry, Lord.

At times we give in to our weaknesses and temptations, failing to draw on your strength. At times we are troubled by difficult situations and find it hard to trust you. 

We are sorry, Lord.

Help us to turn such things around and turn to you. Help us to learn from the past and, drawing on your strength and peace, make a better future. Amen.

 

Reading: Mark 1 verses 4 – 11

John appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 

Reflection:

Mark announces his Gospel as ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (v.1). He sets the scene for transformation by telling the story of John the Baptist, who fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy and makes the preparations. These are impressive in themselves. Mark describes crowds of people thronging from all directions to find John in the desert and seek his baptism. But this is only the prologue. John’s ministry reaches its climax with the announcement of the one who will baptize with water and the Holy Spirit – and then Jesus appears.

The whole passage centres on new beginnings. The first sentence of the Gospel spells out the way in which the world is entirely changed, now that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, is present. Mark goes on to describe the ways in which this new life is made real. People are offered the opportunity for a fresh start. The Greek word usually translated ‘repentance’ (v.4) carries the sense of ‘a change of mind’ or ‘a change of heart’. It relates far more to the promise of a new future than to mulling over the sins of the past. But this is only stage one of the new life into which God invites us.

The baptism of Jesus is also a moment of new beginning. Though there is nothing for Jesus to repent of (see Matthew 3.14), this is a new stage in his life too, as he moves away from the hidden years in Nazareth and begins his active ministry. At his baptism, God does something amazing. People of Jesus’ time tended to imagine a rigid, unbreakable barrier dividing earth and heaven, one that made it impossible for humanity to reach God. Now this barrier is torn apart (v.10) and God’s Spirit comes powering through, like a descending dove. The world is indeed changed and those who experience Jesus’ baptism in the Spirit will begin to discover what that means.

 

Our prayers:

Eternal God, it feels as if the whole world has changed and yet in you there is stability and the opportunity of a new beginning. So, we pray now for those whose lives are in turmoil, those whose lives have been turned upside down, those who feel lost. May they feel supported, find fresh hope.
 

We pray for those for whom the lockdown has come as a relief, for those who now feel safer, but we pray too for those who now feel desperate, alone and worried about their jobs, their finances, their mental health. May they feel supported, find fresh hope:

 

We pray for children and young adults as their schooling is disrupted, we pray for those who enjoy learning from home, but pray too for those who will lose confidence,
who miss their friends, who feel vulnerable. We pray for those who are still attending school; for the vulnerable, for those of key workers. We pray for teachers, support and administrative staff. May they feel supported, find fresh hope:

 

We pray for the people of a divided America at this time of political and racial tension and transition, and for the President-elect Joe Biden. We pray too for countries around the world struggling with ethnic violence and militancy; the people of West Africa and in particular the people of Niger, villagers who live in fear, those who have been wounded in recent attacks and those who have been bereaved. May they feel supported, find fresh hope:

We pray for one another, our families, our communities, our church family. May we support those who are unwell or grieving. May we bring fresh hope to those who feel forgotten and are vulnerable, and may we – both practically and prayerfully – share our faith in your Son Jesus in whose name we entrust these prayers to you. Amen.

 

Hymn: Songs of thankfulness and praise. It is number 53. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4cg0aOczWo

 

Our final prayer:

Lord, help us to be open to your prompting as we seek to discover what you would have us be and do. Remind as again and again that you have promised to be our guide and companion on our journey. Help us to look forward with renewed commitment, and bless our thinking and speaking and doing. In your name. Amen.

 

Much of this service is reproduced with permission, copyright Roots for Churches 2000-2021

 




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