Sunday at St Andrew's

Sunday 17 January 2021

Morning Worship 10 am on Zoom  

Epiphany 2

'Come and see Christ in his Glory'

Revelation 5. 1-10

John 1. 43-51 

Speaker: Diana Timms (Lay Minister at St Thomas Norwich)

 

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Welcome to this service at St Andrew’s Eaton

 

‘Come and see Christ in his glory’

 

Our readings today invite us to see.

That’s quite an invitation at a time when so many of us are stuck indoors, seeing not much beyond our own  four walls!

In the Old Testament, God often showed his people strange visions, and then asked them, ‘What do you see?’ – asking them to interpret what it was that he was showing them.

Ultimately, he would do the same of Jesus – showing himself to the world in Jesus.  And of Jesus, God still asks, ‘What do you see?’

So - in Jesus, what do we see?  

 

As we begin, let’s pray that God will still our hearts and minds and speak to us in this time today.

 

INTRODUCTION       

Leader: Grace, mercy and peace

             from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

             be with you.

All:        And also with you.

 

Leader: God in Christ has revealed his glory.

All:        Come let us worship.

 

Leader: From the rising of the sun to its setting

All:        the Lord’s name is greatly to be praised.

 

Leader: Give him praise, you servants of the Lord.

All:        O praise the name of the Lord!

 

HYMN: Hail to the Lord’s anointed 

 

CONFESSION

 

Leader:   When the Lord comes,

he will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness,

and will disclose the purposes of the heart.

Therefore in the light of Christ let us confess our sins.

 

Leader:   God be gracious to us and bless us,

and make your face shine upon us:

Lord, have mercy.

All:        Lord, have mercy.

 

Leader:   May your ways be known on the earth,

your saving power among the nations:

Christ, have mercy.

All:        Christ, have mercy.

 

Leader:   You, Lord, have made known your salvation,

and reveal your justice in the sight of the nations:

Lord, have mercy.

All:        Lord, have mercy.

 

Leader: May the God of all healing and forgiveness

draw you to himself

and cleanse you from all your sins,

that you may behold the glory of his Son,

the Word made flesh,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:        Amen.

 

PSALM 139 verses 1-5, 12-18, 23-24

 

All:        Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

 

FIRST READING

Revelation chapter 5 verses 1-10 

 

The Scroll and the Lamb

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

HYMN: Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father 

 

SECOND READING

John chapter 1 verses 43-51

 

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

‘COME AND SEE CHRIST IN HIS GLORY’ (Diana Timms)

Revelation 5.1-10 & John 1.43-51

 

I wonder when you last had your eyes checked? Recently I’d noticed that when I woke up in the morning my sight was quite clouded, I kept blinking to try and clear the vision, and wondered if I was starting to get cataracts. Then I picked up conjunctivitis and seeing became incredibly painful, like a needle being stabbed into my eye. Thankfully I was due a check-up and the optician announced that I had a tendency to dry eye, the glands in my eyelids were blocked and the solution was to massage the eyelids and put drops in four times a day. Job done! Except it isn’t – every day I need to keep massaging the lids and putting in the drops or the problem will return.

It seems to me something similar is true with our faith – our spiritual sight if you like. To see clearly, we need to keep seeing things from God’s perspective and that will mean every day adding insights from God’s Word to counterbalance all that we are seeing in the media (and all that we are not seeing stuck in our own four walls!)

 

For us to see Jesus we need the help of those disciples who actually lived with Jesus whilst he walked around on earth – and no-one knows more about Jesus than the apostle John who wrote of Jesus as One “we have seen with our eyes, we have looked at and our hands have touched” (1 John 1.1) Let’s go with John as he introduces Jesus (in our Gospel reading) to new followers –and twice they are invited to “come and see”. As readers of John’s Gospel today, we too are invited to “Come and See”! So, Jesus calls Philip to follow Him; Philip is then keen for Nathanael to meet Jesus too, saying - “we have found the One Moses wrote about in the law and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1.45) Philip sees beyond the appearance of Jesus as an ordinary human being, growing up in a very ordinary place called Nazareth, to One whose coming has been prophesied by Moses and by numerous other prophets. 

 

Intrigued, his friend goes along and Jesus reveals that he saw Nathanael sitting under a fig tree before Philip even called him. Jesus can clearly see things beyond the human eye and this prompts Nathanael to declare “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel” (John 1.49) What do these titles reveal? Jesus is a Rabbi, a great teacher of God’s law, despite the fact he is a carpenter from Galilee with no formal religious training. Jesus is the Son of God and king of Israel –the promised descendant of David’s royal line, so God’s Messiah. And there is more – Jesus promises these first followers “you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1.51).

 

Those of you who know your Old Testament will recognise two references here - one is to the Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel (in 6th century BC) prophesied would approach the throne of the Ancient of Days and be given glory, sovereign power and an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7.13). For those with eyes to see it, Jesus is saying ‘that’s me!’ The second reference is to the story of Jacob – the revered ancestor of God’s people Israel and so Jesus’ own ancestor. (Genesis 28.11-19) On a journey Jacob had a dream of a ladder resting on the earth and its top reaching to heaven, with the Lord standing above him and angels ascending and descending upon him. Jesus is saying that he is the fulfilment of that vision – He is that ladder: he is the One who has come down from God and through whom a way is possible for humans to come back to God, so heaven is now open. For those who have “eyes to see” the real Jesus, both then and now, he is the awesome fulfilment of promises and visions given to Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, numerous prophets – you could say the entire Old Testament is pointing forward to his coming.

 

And then God grants the apostle John his own personal vision of Jesus. In Revelation chapter 4 John begins “after this I looked and there before me was a door standing open in heaven” and now he is invited to come up and see. So, what does he see? John sees a throne - his whole vision is dominated by the throne and someone sitting on it. The throne is encircled by a rainbow, surrounding the throne are 24 other thrones, around the throne are four living creatures, and it is through worship day and night of the One sitting on the throne that we learn - He is the Lord God Almighty who created all things. (Revelation 4.8,11) This is the reality of heaven – not just in the future but now, even as we sit here in our various living rooms. If we could pull back the curtain, God is sitting on the throne, flashes of lightning and peals of thunder are sounding forth from that throne, all power and authority are His, all glory and honour are His – NOW! 

 

This could be a reassuring thought or a terrifying thought, depending on how you feel about what happens next… (follow it if you like, we are now in Revelation chapter 5) God on the throne is holding a sealed-up scroll and no-one is found worthy to open it and look inside – no-one in heaven, no-one on earth, no-one under the earth and John is filled with sorrow that this is the case. Then an elder reassures John there is just One who is able to open the scroll: “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has triumphed”. What do these titles mean? 

 

Again, knowledge of the Old Testament comes to our aid – when Jacob was blessing his sons, he described Judah like a lion and a lion’s cub, and foretold the royal sceptre would not depart from his descendants “until he to whom it belongs shall come” (Genesis 49.9-10). Later Isaiah prophesied (some 700 years before Christ) that the Messiah would shoot up from the stump of Jesse, and that the nations will rally to the Root of Jesse, and his resting place will be glorious (Isaiah 11.1,10) The One who fulfils these prophesies – the one who is both Lion and King - is now standing in heaven. So, what does John actually see? “Then I saw…a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered” who approaches the throne and takes the scroll from God’s right hand, because it is rightfully His.

 

John the Baptist when he saw Jesus said “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1.29) and now this Lamb – this Jesus - stands in the centre of the throne and blood is seen pouring out of his wounds as in a slaughterhouse. What is going on? There isn’t time to unpack all the Scriptures behind this verse, but the key truth is spelt out in the worship song of heaven (v.9) “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation”. The blood of the Lamb, the blood of Jesus, was the price that had to be paid to cleanse us from our sins and to redeem us for God – the price to fulfil the vision of Jacob’s ladder and to give us (wherever we come from) a rightful place in heaven.

 

I hope I have excited you again about Jesus, and that you know personally that His blood has washed you clean. If that’s you, can I encourage you, in this season of lockdown and limited opportunities, to make the most of the time you have to get to know this Jesus better. Read a Gospel through at a sitting, then go back and use a commentary or the internet to look up the references which are not immediately obvious, just as I have done. And let what you see in the Bible, lead you to worship Jesus, joining in the praise of heaven from your living room. And if that’s not you, or you’re not sure, use what life you have left to encounter Jesus –talk to Phil and join in this week the START course he’s running (which introduces people to the Christian faith - which is all about Jesus Christ). To Him be the glory both now and forever.

 

A version of this talk in video format will be available on the St Andrew’s channel on YouTube, from later on Sunday 17 January.  

 

HYMN: Will you come and follow me? 

 

PRAYERS (Margaret Smith)

Loving Father, at the beginning of another week we come to you with our thanks and praise for all your many blessings to us, but also we come with our fears and worries. We thank you for answered prayer in these difficult days – for effective vaccines now available, for the vaccine programme as it gathers pace, for the dedication of hospital staff and care workers labouring long hours. We thank you for modern technology which allows us to worship in our homes yet together. We have so much to praise and thank you for. Help us to remember your goodness and trust in your care.

Leader:    Lord, in your mercy,

All:           hear our prayer.

 

Lord, we look at the world you have made and realise how far short of that perfection it has fallen. We pray for countries blighted by famine often caused by destructive human activities, for people living with the effects of global warming and pollution. We pray that each of us will play our part to protect the environment in small ways, in our homes and our lifestyles. We pray that leaders worldwide will take seriously the damage being done to the world and work for the common good.

Leader:    Lord, in your mercy,

All:           hear our prayer.

 

Lord God, you are the God of perfect justice and righteousness. We pray for peace and stability amongst the nations. Where there is division we pray for unity. Where there is mistrust we pray for openness and honesty; Where there is anger we pray for peace.

Especially we pray for the inauguration of President Joe Biden in the USA on Wednesday. We ask that it will be a peaceful and orderly ceremony, that those intent on violence and uprising will be stopped, and that you will give President Biden the gifts of peacemaker and healer of factions.

Leader:    Lord, in your mercy,

All:           hear our prayer.

 

Closer to home, Father God, we pray for our nation in lockdown, especially for families coping with home schooling, the vulnerable and lonely, the homeless and unemployed, the fearful and the frail. We pray for the Government as they consider ways to boost the economy, to offer financial assistance to businesses and families in need. Bless agencies seeking to help those in special need, thinking of those in danger of losing their jobs, or their home, or where there is abuse and neglect.

Leader:    Lord, in your mercy,

All:           hear our prayer.

 

Father God, help us as your body here in Eaton, to reach out to those living in our neighbourhood, with friendship and support, encouragement and help. We pray for Phil, James, Sheila, the Pastoral Team and others as we continue to contact the housebound and those unable to join in worship on Zoom. We pray especially for those self-isolating through health conditions and for families with young children cooped up in poor weather. Help us to be good neighbours and friends, remembering that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as ourselves.

Leader:    Lord, in your mercy,

All:           hear our prayer.

 

We remember those who are unwell at this time, and the bereaved, especially the family and friends of those who have recently died. Bring them comfort, healing, and hope and make us aware of the needs of others so that we can serve as Jesus himself served.

 

Finally, a verse from one of my favourite hymns, as a prayer for us all:

 

Lord, you are the King who ever reigns

Earth’s rulers rise and fall; your throne remains.

Rule our lives, O Lord, we yield ourselves anew

Your name to glorify, living for you. Amen. 

 

A Collect for Today

 

Leader: Almighty God,

in Christ you make all things new:

transform the poverty of our nature

by the riches of your grace,

and in the renewal of our lives

make known your heavenly glory;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

All       Amen.

 

Leader: As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

 

All       Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done, 

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours

now and for ever. 

Amen.

 

HYMN: Crown him with many crowns 

 

BLESSING

 

Leader:   May Christ draw you to humility and worship,

and bring you to see God at work;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.

All:        Amen.

 

Leader:   The peace of the Lord be always with you.

All:        We go into the world

to walk in the light of Christ,

to rejoice in the love of Christ

and to reflect the glory of Christ.

Amen.

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION

 

1.   What might it mean for heaven to be opened   (John 1.51)?

2.   In Jesus, what do we see?

3.  Is there someone you know who you’d like to invite to ‘come and see’?

 

 

 

 

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