January 17, 2021

Psalm 139
1 Samuel 3:1-10
John 1:43-51

“I Saw You Under the Fig Tree”

There is an obvious connection between the Old Testament and Gospel readings this morning. They are “call narratives” – stories about people who received a call from God.

In First Samuel 3, a little boy is called to become “a trustworthy prophet of the Lord,” and John’s Gospel tells the story of Philip and Nathanael leaving everything behind to follow Jesus when they realize that he is the one “about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote.”

Many of us worshipping together today (perhaps all of us) have also been called by God. We probably weren’t wakened by God’s voice calling out our name in the middle of the night, and we didn’t have Jesus literally walk up to us and say, “Come and follow me.” But we have heard God’s call in the words of the Bible, through the voices of preachers and teachers, or as an urgent sense of needing to get out of our own concerns and do something for God.

Some have heard calls to particular ministries in the church. Others have sensed a call to speak up for someone who was in trouble, or to … Read more »

January 10, 2021

Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

“Beginning with you”

It seems appropriate to me that every calendar year begins, in the Christian churches, with reading and reflecting on one of the stories about the day that Jesus was baptized. And this year, in Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary, we focus on the Gospel of Mark’s account of the baptism, where for Mark, this was truly the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Our Church Year does begin in late November or early December with the anticipation of the Messiah’s coming, and at Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth into our world to become Emmanuel, God-with-us. But while we find those birth narratives in Luke and Matthew, Mark simply begins with Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John. For Mark’s community, the baptism was the key moment when Jesus was divinely chosen, adopted, and sent to be God’s living presence in the world. The Gospel writer describes it as “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)

I know that we are already 10 days into our new calendar year. And those of you who made New Year’s resolutions may have them well in-hand, or perhaps you’ve already given up on … Read more »

January 3, 2021

“Christmas Carols & Their Stories”

Introduction to the Service

This morning I thought it would be fun and different to sing some different Christmas Carols and hear their stories. Throughout the history of the church, worship has included singing… from the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs mentioned in the New Testament, and through every generation, Christians have composed Psalm settings, sung our prayers as chants, written hymns, carols, and contemporary praise songs. Sometimes we have used instruments, and sometimes not. Sometimes the words have come straight from Scripture, and sometimes it has been poetry inspired by the Bible and a reflection on our faith.

The songs known as Christmas Carols are diverse too… some written specifically for corporate worship, and others sung primarily out in the community or in family homes, but carrying the Christian faith into the public realm of culture and daily life. So, this morning, as we continue to celebrate the birth of Christ, and as we share the Scriptures of Epiphany, we will sing and reflect on some of these carols. We begin with a psalm setting of Psalm 72.

The Story of “I saw three ships”

The first carol for today is “I Saw Three Ships.” Probably most of us … Read more »