Worship for Sunday 14th January 2024, by Rev. Sharon Read

Call to worship

God reaches out to us in so many ways,
in beauty around us and silence within,
stirring us to action or helping us wait.
Let us reach out to God now
and give ourselves space to see, feel and hear the call.

STF 495   Dear Lord and father of mankind


Vibrant God, call us afresh today
to a new vision of your kingdom,
to a new understanding of your purposes,
to a new knowing of how best to serve you,
to a new appreciation of your presence with us,
to a new awareness of all that you would have us do,
as your people in this place and time.

God of all knowing and all loving,
you fashioned us and know us through and through:
we rejoice at your love and care for us.
Lord Jesus, you know the cries of the world
and call us to reach out to those in need:
we rejoice at your love and care for us.
Holy Spirit, you call us deep within, and empower us
to trust the gifts you have equipped us with:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we rejoice at your love and care for us.


A prayer of confession:

Response after each phrase:
Forgive me and help me to trust you more deeply.
Dear God, when knowing myself causes me –
to doubt that you could ever want me as your disciple:
to doubt that you could ever love me:
to doubt that you could ever accept me:
In Jesus’ name I pray.

Assurance of forgiveness

Generous God, thank you that, in forgiving us, you give us
fresh energy to serve you,
fresh understanding of our calling,
fresh wisdom as we share our faith,
fresh purpose as we live out that faith day by day,
fresh appreciation of the gifts of others,
and fresh hope for all that lies ahead.

STF 404 God’s spirit is in my heart

Readings 1 Samuel 3: 1-10 & John 1: 43-51


In our Gospel reading today we hear Jesus say to each of us “follow me.”  This of course is something that Jesus says to us every day so that in following Him, we become His disciples and in turn we invite others to “come and see.”  How often do people say to us, “you’re a church-goer, why do you bother going?”  If we take our lead from today’s reading we can imitate Philip who was first called by the Lord, and who in turn says to Nathanael “come and see.”  We can say “come and see why I go to church.”  As Christians we are called to speak to others of our friendship with Jesus.  It is through our relationship with Christ that others come to realise that they are loved and necessary in God’s eyes.

Jesus called Philip to follow Him and Philip brings his sceptical friend, Nathanael. But when Nathanael realised that Jesus knew him before meeting him in the flesh, he too becomes a faithful disciple.  Jesus instantly recognised that Nathanael was somebody who was open and upright, He recognised that Nathanael was ready to become a disciple.

Jesus did not directly call Nathanael to be one of the Twelve, He called Philip. It sounds from the Gospel reading as though Jesus actively sought out Philip to invite him to become one of the inner band of apostles, just as he had actively sought out Andrew the previous day. Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus and in today’s reading Philip seeks out his friend Nathanael, eagerly telling him that Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited Messiah. But Nathanael is highly sceptical and laughs in Philip’s face. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” he mocks, since the people of Nazareth were universally despised. But despite his scepticism, Nathanael went with his friend and met Jesus.

As soon as Jesus spotted Nathanael he saw a young man who was both honest and upright, someone who might be outspoken in his views but who bore no malice and who would be a loyal and faithful supporter.   Nathanael immediately trusted and believed in Jesus, simply because Jesus told Nathanael that he saw him standing under the fig tree where Philip found him. But Nathanael was instantly aware that there was much more to Jesus. Nathanael was conscious that Jesus actually knew him through and through, even though they had never met before. That was enough for Nathanael. He did not bother to ask questions rather, he gave himself wholly to Jesus and became exactly what Jesus foresaw, a loyal and faithful supporter.

Nathanael came to faith through his friend. Philip did not urge him or cajole him into following Jesus, but merely shared his own excitement and invited Nathanael to see for himself. Philip did no more; Jesus did all the rest. As soon as Nathanael met Jesus for himself, he believed. As Christians, all we are required to do is to share our excitement about Jesus and invite our friends to come with us. Once they meet Jesus for themselves, they too may believe, for Jesus does all the rest. Jesus can see the potential within every person and can bring that potential to fruition. But he needs us to say to our friends, “Come and see.”

STF 663  I, the Lord of sea and sky

Prayers of intercession

God of healing and hope,
you bring us the challenge of seeking a better way to live –
attentive to your voice and ready to respond.
In a world full of distractions,
teach us to discern the call that is from you.
We pray for all who are struggling with God’s call to them
because the message is tough or because they feel inadequate.
May we all learn to trust that you will give us what we need
and find courage in your promise that you will never leave us.

Through our lives and by our prayers
Your kingdom come.

God of healing and hope,
your wide and generous love extends to all creation.
May we your people extend the same generosity,
welcoming friends and strangers into the community you seek to build among us.
We pray that anyone who is lonely would find company with us,
and that all who are broken by debt worries, destructive relationships
or cost-of-living challenges would find in us a listening ear
and practical support in life’s problems.

Through our lives and by our prayers
Your kingdom come.

God of healing and hope,
your voice is sometimes surprising,
coming from the margins and from unexpected people.
We pray for children and young people in our community
and for all adults who accompany them in their journey of faith,
in church, in school and at home.
May we all pay attention to the voices of children and young people;
help us to learn from one another what it means to follow you
and how to build a more inclusive community,
where we see others as you see them
and no-one is too small or insignificant
too young or too old to be a part of your plans.

Through our lives and by our prayers
Your kingdom come.

God of healing and hope,
your voice shakes us out of complacency
and summons us to speak and act for justice and peace.
We pray for places where critics of the status quo are silenced,
where protest is prevented and the cries against injustice go unheard.
We pray for journalists in Gaza and Israel that their stories would shine light into suffering
and for protection from risk for all who seek to tell the truth in hostile environments.
Help us to hear the call of unlikely heroes
the ones who are persistent in calling for things to be put right.
We pray for all the Post Office workers who were wrongly accused and convicted;
for their families who were often financially ruined
and for decision-makers in the search for a speedy resolution.
May we not ignore the inconvenient voices that point us to change.

Through our lives and by our prayers
Your kingdom come.

God of healing and hope,
you walk with us in the toughest of times
and constantly call us back to your love.
We pray for all who have lost homes and livelihoods in recent floods.
We pray for the sick and the dying and for everyone who has asked for prayer, including:
(add names of people who have asked for prayer).
We pray for anyone who today needs to hear your voice again
and who needs to remember the depth of your love for them.
In the quiet, we name to God the people we know who are suffering today.
Gather everyone in need into your loving arms
and make us a community that hears the cry of people’s hearts and responds.

Through our lives and by our prayers
Your kingdom come.

God of healing and hope,
you have searched for us and called us by name
and our lives are in your hands.
May we respond faithfully and humbly to what you ask of us
so that your kingdom of hope, justice and love can be seen among us.

Through our lives and by our prayers
Your kingdom come.


STF 482  There is no moment in my life

Closing Prayer

So now we go out with confidence in you,
our loving God who leads us;
you know our weaknesses and our strengths.
Lord, call us, guide us,
and strengthen us in your service.

Other prayers © ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2023.

Reproduced with permission.