Epiphany Reflection for 17th January 2021

 

A Reflection from Margaret Beasley

GATHERING WORDS

 In the stillness   …   be still

In the quietness   …   be quiet

In the presence   …   be present

Be   …

Be yourself

Be at peace

Be here

In the Presence

 

HYMN        Will you come and follow me

Will you come and follow me

if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know

and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown,

Will you let my name be known,

Will you let my life be grown

in you and you in me?

 

Will you leave yourself behind

if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind

and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare

should your life attract or scare

Will you let me answer prayer                            

in you and you in me?

 

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide

if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside

and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found

to reshape the world around

Through my sight and touch and sound

in you and you in me?

 

Lord, your summons echoes true

when you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you

and never be the same.

In your company I’ll go

where your love and footsteps show

Thus I’ll move and live and grow

in you and you in me.

John Bell and Graham Maule.

 

READING            John 1: 43 – 51

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 of 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 a 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.’

REFLECTION

Have you ever received some news that’s so good, so exciting that you couldn’t wait to share it with a friend?   Philip was desperate to share his news with his friend Nathanael, so he rushed off and found him deep in thought under a fig tree.    Perhaps the conversation went something like this: –

Philip           Hey, Nathanael – I’ve found him!

Nathanael  Who?   What are you talking about?

Philip           I’ve met Jesus, the promised one … and he comes from Nazareth!

Nathanael  Nazareth?   Really?   You must be kidding!   Nothing good comes from there.

Philip           Oh, just come and see!

So despite his initial scorn, Nathanael DID come and see – and responded to Jesus’s invitation.

Some of us are perhaps like Philip and are ready to follow right away, while others of us are maybe more like Nathanael – full of doubts, questions and prejudices.   He was scathing that anything good could ever come out of Nazareth.  What doubts and prejudices might we have?    Looking at some of the more deprived areas of our city and it’s all too easy to label them as trouble spots full of gangs, drugs and crime, where surely, there can be little or no good to be found there.    But, stop and think for a moment.   Look, for example, at the Dandelion Community in Wythenshawe or the Oasis Centre in Gorton and how they have reached out in love and compassion to those families in their neighbourhoods struggling with many problems– AND bringing some to faith.     They have answered Christ’s call to follow without too many questions.

‘Will you come and follow me?’  ………..   That’s how the hymn starts.   And it was often the way many encounters with Jesus began as he called his disciples.   It is at that first moment that they (and we) have the choice to say yes or no – to allow the encounter to continue and explore what it means to follow Christ.    I love this hymn – but it’s a real challenge!   Do I love it because of its Scottish tune or is it the chance to really think about my faith?       How do I answer all the questions?       Can I really answer ‘Yes’ to all of them?      Perhaps for now it’s enough for me to answer ‘yes’ to that first question – ‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name’ and so begins a life-long adventure, though like any adventure, there will be highs and lows on the way.   I think, for me, the last verse of the hymn sums up that adventure and that journey –

Lord your summons echoes true

when you but call my name

Let me turn and follow you

and never be the same

In your company I’ll go

where your love and footsteps show

Then I’ll move and live and grow

in you and you in me.

 

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?

It takes courage to answer yes, but that yes could bring many blessings.

 

What will your answer be?

PRAYERS

Reconciling God,

We pray for a peaceful world where children grow up without fear, where security rests on trust, rather than threats, and where nations fight against poverty rather than against each other.         

Lord, hear our prayers.

 

Healing God,

We pray for all who are ill and suffering, for all who are worried, for those who are grieving or experiencing trauma, and for a world gripped by the repercussions of pandemic.

May we all know the power of Christ to sustain us and the love of friends near and distanced to support us.

You know our greatest fears, our longings and our hopes.

Lord, hear our prayers.

 

Eternal God, present among us. You are with us in our gathering and in our distancing,  hear us as together we join in the prayer Jesus taught us as we say …….

 

Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed by 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

 

BLESSING

God, bless us today that we may be a blessing in our seeing, in our hearing, in our speaking.

God, bless us today that we may be a blessing in our reaching, in our holding, in our letting go.

God, bless us today that we may be a blessing in our thinking, In our feeling, in our loving.

AMEN