Read-along Service for Sunday, January 10, 2021

Baptism of Jesus Sunday
10th January 2021
Order of Service

Prelude
Words of welcome, announcements
Lighting the Christ Candle
In this season of Light, we light this candle to remind us of God’s light that shines even in the darkness. May this light of hope, peace, and justice shine for all the world to see. May this light bless our homes and our journey in the days that lie ahead.

Call To Worship
On a special day so long ago, the heavens opened and God’s Spirit descended to earth like a dove. Jesus emerged from the water. And a voice echoes through the blue expanse. “This is my child, the Beloved, with whom I am well-pleased.” In that moment Jesus is named. Claimed as part of God’s beloved family. On this special day, we come to the water. We come to remember what happened to Jesus long ago. We come to experience that same gift for ourselves. For each of us is named and claimed as part of God’s beloved family. You are precious in the eyes of God. You are part of God’s beloved family. Let us worship the one who names and claims us all.

Prayer of Approach
God who watches over us, offering us light and hope, Be with us this day as we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism. Help us to remember your healing, cleansing, and claiming love for us. Remind us again of the many ways in which you reach out to us. May the image of the waters be for us an image of hope. Bring us closer to you, loving God. Embrace us again with your love. We open our hearts to you this day. AMEN.

Hymn                   As the Deer Pants for the Water               Psalm 42, VU 766

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.
Chorus:    
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.

Day and night I cry; my heart is breaking, tears my only food;
while my enemies jeer and taunt me saying: “Where now is your God?”
Chorus

Why am I so sad, so troubled, why must suffering be so long?
I will hope in you, my God and saviour, praise you with a song!
Chorus

Scriptures           Genesis 1:1-5 Mark 1:4-11

Special Music

Homily “Jesus’ journey of faith”

Musical Response

The offering

Lord our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are three in one, the mother of us all. We give you thanks and praise and we offer our gifts to you.
We dedicate the workings of our hands, the thinking of our minds, and the loving of our hearts. May each gift be used to help your light shine for all to see here in this community of faith, and around the world.

Hymn                  When Jesus Comes to Be Baptized                 VU 100

When Jesus comes to be baptized,
He leaves the hidden years behind,
The years of safety and of peace,
To bear the sins of humankind.

The Spirit of the Lord comes down,
anoints the Christ to suffering,
to preach the word, to free the bound,
and to the mourner, comfort bring.

He will not quench the dying flame,
and what is bruised he will not break,
but heal the wound injustice dealt,
and out of death his triumph make.

O Spirit help us be like Christ,
to live in love and charity,
to walk in truth and justice now,
and grow in Christian dignity.

We praise you, God, source of all life,
we praise you, Christ eternal Word,
we praise you, Spirit, gracious gift;
your triune presence fills our world.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord God, as we move forward into a new year, we ask you to bless all for whom the year is not being looked forward to. We think of people who are ill and fearful of what the year will bring. We think of all who have family difficulties and are concerned as to how to solve them.
We think of all for whom the new year is bringing money problems, and all who are fearful for their jobs. Lord, for us all the future is unknown— help us to have the faith to trust in you, the wisdom to do the right thing, and to be guided by you constantly.
Remind us, Lord, that you always keep your promises; remind us too that they are kept in your time and not ours. We ask your blessing on all who have turned their back on You; or who have not known You.
May they hear your word and respond to your love. Be with those who are lost, who have never known you. Help them to seek and find the peace and love found in you and you alone. Loving God, you are father and mother of us all. We, and all of creation are your children.
We pray to you And give you thanks and praise through the name of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. Heavenly Father we bring before you our loved ones, and in the silence we pray for them.
For our family, our friends, for all whom we know. May this year be good for all whom we love, Lord God, guide us in our lives. May others see your love shine through us. May our words and actions constantly point to you; may we put You first in everything and serve You always.
We ask you to be with us that this may be a year where we know we are guided by your presence. Whatever the year holds may we never lose sight of you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn                  Be Thou My Vision                                              VU 642

Be thou my vision, O joy of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art,
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, my calm in all strife;
I ever with thee and thou in my life.
Thou my loving parent; thy child may I be,
Thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.

Be thou my battle shield, sword for the fight,
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tower,
raise thou me heavenward, O power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only the first in my heart,
Great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.

Great God of heaven, after victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Benediction

May the path that Christ walks to bring justice upon the earth,
to bring light to those who sit in darkness,
to free those who live in bondage,
to create life in abundance
may this be your path as well.

May the Holy Spirit guide you
with every step you take.
May the light of God’s love
shine a light that shows you the way.

Go now in peace. Amen.

Postlude

Thank you for worshipping with us today.

“Jesus’ Journey of Faith”

Epiphany Sunday, January 3rd 2021.

Written by Rev. James Murray, Trinity-St. Andrew’s United Church

There is an old tradition of telling stories about stories in the Bible.
This is a story of what might have led to Jesus being baptized.

When Joseph died, his family gathered to say their farewells. Joseph had been weak for some time, so Mary had sent word to her children that they should come soon if they wanted to see their father one last time. Some of the children and grandchildren had travelled from Cana and Capernaum and they had said their good-byes before he passed. Some of his sons and daughters only made it for the funeral which was the next day.

It was Mary and her two daughters Anna and Salome who washed and prepared Joseph’s body for burial. There was a lot of tears as they held his rough hands for the last time.  Joseph’s large hands were scarred from years of working with sharp tools. Mary commented how his hands were always so gentle when he kissed her when he left for work each morning.  The two girls did laugh when they put the ceremonial robe on him, because they had never seen their father Joseph looking so dapper.

Jesus and his four brothers went out to the workshop and they built a casket for their father. They shared memories of all the days they had spent there chasing each other and building imaginary forts in the lumber pile. In the afternoon they went to the cemetery to dig their father’s grave.

Since Jesus was the oldest, he was the first to break the ground. When he tired, he passed the shovel to James. James quickly passed the shovel on to little Joseph who was the next brother, and was quick to tell little Joseph to put his back into it.  They still called him little Joseph, even though he was now the tallest of the boys.  Judas and Simon took their turn when little Joseph was done. The brothers didn’t see a lot of each other much anymore. Since their father only had the carpenter’s shop and a little garden, each of the boys when they got old enough had to strike out on their own. Some of them had apprenticed under Joseph, but the younger brothers Judas and Joseph had to do their apprenticeship down in the city of Sepphoris. It was only four miles away, but that Roman city was worlds away from the quiet beauty of Nazareth.  Simon had gone further up into the hills, setting up shop in Cana. It felt good to be together, even though they knew things would never be the same.

After the funeral prayers had been said, the family returned to the house for a meal. Several of the women from the village had gathered to help prepare the feast. As the meal progressed the family started telling stories. They remembered the time little Joseph fell down the well and his father had to climb down the well to save him. They laughed about the time Anna had tried to cook the unleavened bread for the Passover but had burned it. Simon said it was so hard it really was the Bread of Affliction to have to eat it. Salome asked Mary to tell the story of how she met Joseph. This was Salome’s favourite story because she always liked romantic tales.  Little Joseph always teased Salome about this, so he started telling his version of the birth of Jesus, except he kept getting the part about the shepherds all mixed up. Mary put a stop to his silliness when she said some things are to be pondered and treasured and not made fun of.

It didn’t take long for Mary to start telling the rest of the story. Her children all knew it very well, for it was the story of their family. So they were comforted to hear it one more time. Mary told the story of that strange and wonderful night when Jesus was born. She told of them finding a place to stay in Bethlehem while she recovered. Joseph had found work repairing wagons. She described the strange sights and sounds and smells when the three travellers from the East payed them a mysterious visit. The two girls always got scared when Mary told the part about fleeing to Egypt when Herod slaughtered all the children. Jesus could still say a few words in Egyptian but they were all the words for his toys. The boys always tease Jesus about the time he got lost in Jerusalem, and the girls always tease Mary that it took her two days to realize that she had lost one of her sons. These were the good stories the family would tell.

They knew some of these stories pointed to something special about Jesus, but no one really had a sense of what that might be. Jesus didn’t take part much in the telling of these stories about him. He was a bit embarrassed that he had caused so much trouble by being born. He always felt a pang of guilt knowing that hundreds of children had been murdered by the Roman troops when they were hunting for him. He never did quite know what to make of those three wise men and what they must have seen in him to make such a difficult journey. All of his siblings were amazed at the wondrous adventures that Jesus had when he was very small. As they grew into adults, they were even more amazed that he was content to stay home and not go seeking more great journeys.

James could see his brother was getting lost in deep thought. Jesus seemed to be doing this more and more. Jesus had stayed home to work with his father. As his father Joseph had weakened,   Jesus had taken over more and more of the family business. The rebuilding of the city of  Sepphoris had been a real boon to them. The Romans had burned that city to the ground around the time Jesus was born. Now it had been built up to a bustling city of twenty thousand people. Having the Roman Legion stationed there meant there was a lot of good money to be made. James had gone down to Sepphoris with Jesus many times to do business. They would often stay late to see what was playing at the Roman amphitheatre. Sometimes it was a musical act from Rome, or a play from Greece. James really liked the plays. Jesus really liked it when the philosophers would stand up and recite the great works of Plato. It was such a different world than what they had grown up in.

James often wondered why Jesus had not moved to the city. It might have been easier on him. The stigma of having been born out of wedlock really hurt Jesus’ chances of finding a wife. There were still those nasty rumours going around that Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier. Mary still says it was God’s hand that caused her to become pregnant, but James still did not know what that might mean. All James knew was that when Jesus got that far away look in his eye, he could get lost in his mind like that for days. Jesus was a great older brother because he always had time for his six siblings. He had been there to help each of them find their way, even as he stayed behind to help their father.

Towards the end of the meal, little Joseph shared some interesting news. He had gone to hear their cousin John preach. John was from a priestly family and everyone had expected him to become a priest at the Temple in Jerusalem like his father Zechariah. The big news was that John was so critical of the way the Temple was being run that he was preaching out by the Jordan River. Salome was surprised by this. She wondered if John was out of his mind, acting like he was a new Joshua. Little Joseph shocked everyone when he said that John was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Judas said that baptism is what dirty foreigners must do in order to become a Jew. Simon agreed saying no self-respecting Jew had need of being baptized unless they had done something really terrible.

The next morning, Mary’s five sons and two daughters said their good-byes. To everyone’s surprise, Jesus also said good-bye to his mother. He asked little Joseph if he would stay and take over their father’s carpentry business. Mary asked her eldest son where he was going, because she needed him now more than ever. Jesus gave his mother a kiss on the cheek and he said “I’m going to hear our cousin John preach. My journey isn’t over. Maybe my adventure is just beginning.”

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