During the current cessation of regular Sunday Morning Services our Worship Group will prepare on each Sunday an act of worship which can be followed on this web-page.
This will continue for the foreseeable future
Clackmannan Parish Church of Scotland
Sunday 24th January 2021
(Prepared by the Worship Team)
Come, Follow Me ...
Follow previous weeks services
As we rejoice in the family of the church,
May all who come find love and fellowship.
Lord God, you give us your love, you give us yourself.
Open our ears to your call and stay with us as we gather together today.
Let us take a moment of silence before we join together in prayer.........
Help us as we look for your guidance, as we search for wisdom and understanding.
Open our hearts to all you would say, and our lives to all you would do.
We know we do not serve you as faithfully as we would like to.
We do not know you as fully as we want to,
And we do not love you as much as we should do.
So take the discipleship we offer, flawed though it is, and work within us
to make us what you would have us to be.
Lord we come to you hesitantly but we know you will welcome us with arms outstretched.
Hear us as we pray together with the words you have taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be 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 debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the glory,
From God’s word …
Mark 1:14-20 (NIV UK)
Jesus announces the good news
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 and saying, “The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Jesus calls his first disciples
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Today's bible reading may be a short one but it's full of exciting messages. It heralds the beginning of Jesus' reign and begins to give clues as to how he will go about God's work.
In recent weeks we have been following the preaching of John the Baptist who was preparing for the coming of Jesus. Jesus was baptised in the river Jordon by John who proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah chosen by God to change the world in which he lived. The baptism was the turning point of Jesus' life. The moment when he became convinced that God wanted him to act, and act he did in a way that rocked the establishment and ultimately his actions cost him his life.
In today's reading we learn that after John was arrested and put in prison, Jesus returned from the wilderness and went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came, he would bring the Kingdom of God with Him to this earth. And that’s what Jesus was announcing. That He was the Promised One, bringing the Kingdom of God to them - "The time has come".
This seemed a simple but powerful message. One that Jesus may well have deliberated on during his time in the wilderness. He announces that "The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" I'm sure this announcement would have electrified the countryside and caught people's attention. It would have been an exciting message for the people to hear because Jesus didn't just mean literally 'that it was near', He was saying that it was right here and now for all who followed two clear conditions, 'repent and believe' which were necessary to be received into the Kingdom of God.
In other words, to enter the Kingdom of God you would have to make a complete change of direction towards God and give absolute unconditional surrender to God as Sovereign.
Jesus had now entered the scene and was about to set himself on a collision course with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem where He considered the root of the trouble. He claimed that evil and corruption were ravaging the Jews most holy place, the temples and He rejected the lifestyle and teachings of the temple priests considering it to be a cauldron of political and religious tensions. There was general wide spread discontent and He had become critical of the temple system and seemingly wasn't the only one.
But Jesus believed that before the Jews could be freed they would have to put their own house in order first, but the time wasn't right for him to take them on in Jerusalem. To enable Him to pursue Gods work it's as though he decided on recruiting close supporters, it's almost as though he needed a power base to challenge them.
Now just sit back a moment and imagine a time when you were at work doing what you would normally do. Working in an office, a teacher at home marking homework or preparing lesson plans, installing a kitchen or getting your ketch ready to go fishing. Whatever work you do, or did, just imagine yourself doing it perhaps working under some pressure to meet deadlines...
Now imagine some sort of unexpected interruption. The phone rings or there's a knock at the door. It's that: "it's about that car accident you had" or "I just happened to be in the neighbourhood". How do you feel about it? I would be grumpy and slam the phone down or point out the 'No Cold Callers' sign on my door. One thing I rarely do is willingly abandon something I'm engrossed in just because someone else wants to grab my attention.
Likewise if I were seeking other opportunities in my lifetime job or career I would be searching the situations vacant, preparing my CV and applying for positions with organisations that I research to determine their stability, job opportunities, pension scheme, holiday entitlement and other important aspects of the job. I'm sure this scenario is common to most of us. Even if by some mysterious circumstances someone thought I was worth being 'headhunted', I would of course be pleased and perhaps flattered but I would systematically go through the same process and even check a few references about the person wanting to recruit me.
Yet in Marks Gospel we hear how Simon and his brother Andrew, and a little bit later, James and his brother John all quit their work to follow Jesus, just because he asks. They don’t dismiss Jesus with an irritated excuse, the way I’m likely to talk to a cold caller at the door right in the middle of me doing something important. “Well, I’d love to chat about this great deal you're about to offer me, but I’m just about to haul in this big load of fish, so I can’t really talk right now. You can leave your leaflet right there on that rock. I’ll take a look later.” These guys didn’t take time-out to talk to Jesus and explore what opportunities he was offering, all the while glancing back towards the net and the boat desperate to get back to what they were doing now and had been for all of their adult life. They didn't even say, “OK. I’ve got a couple of minutes. What do you want? What’s so important?”
They don’t even say, “Look, Jesus, just let me hand in my notice, tidy up some loose ends, leave a forwarding address and I’ll catch up with you further down the road.” Instead, Jesus said to them, "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people." Without hesitation they immediately left their nets and followed him. The most troubling aspect of these stories, though, is that James and John don’t just leave their nets, they leave their dad, Zebedee, behind preparing nets in the boat with the hired men. The boys leave their dad in the lurch; put the family business in jeopardy. For what? To follow some itinerant rabbi they just met. How’s that for family values? It’s the giving up–the walking away–that strikes me as hard. In any case there must have been something remarkably compelling about Jesus to cause them and others to follow Him into an uncertain future. The astonishing feature of this story is that they followed Jesus with no idea of where it would lead.
So it was that Jesus began to recruit the first of his disciples, He would be their leader, mentor and teacher enabling them to act as his disciples and bring people into the Kingdom of God. As far as we know, every one of the disciples was chosen and called personally by Jesus. Just as we believe that God calls each one of us. We often speak of 'God's call' too narrowly, as if God only 'calls' people into ordained ministry. That is true; God calls people to be ministers, pastors and church workers. But God's call is not limited to clergy. God calls every single one of us. We serve God in many ways and His call is always into an uncertain future. When we enter into our callings we have no idea how it will end up. We choose our vocations and careers hoping that we can use the gifts and talents God has given us, but there are no guarantees.
When YOU are called, don't hesitate because it will transform your life forever.
Please pray with us.
We thank you because we know that all things come from you.
You give us life, you give us love.
Pour your Spirit into our hearts and light in us the fire of your love,
that we may reveal your power in our lives and walk in the joy of your presence.
We thank you for the guidance of the Scriptures and for your Commandments.
Help us to find the time to connect with you on a daily basis.
Are our lives so busy that we cannot even find 5 minutes for reflection?
As we rejoice in the gift of each new day, walk with us and talk to us.
You have promised us that you are always with us and that you are our Helper, our Guide and our Friend and for that we give thanks.
Lord, hear us as we call on you
Our offerings …
Take our money and use it for the work of your Church.
Take our gifts and use them for the growth of your Kingdom.
Take our witness and use it to spread word of your Gospel.
Take our service and use it to make known your love.
Accept all we bring you today and use it for your glory.
We ask this in your name, Lord.
Prayers for ourselves and others
As we face another year which has begun with a great deal of uncertainty........
be with us
Hear us as we pray for those less fortunate than us, those for whom hunger has become a daily reality and a lifetime of poverty seems to be all that the future seems to offer ........
be with them
Hear us as we pray for all who are lonely, those who feel rejected by society and are unsure of their worth and who feel that they are no longer able to cope with the pressures of daily life at this time........
Hear us as we pray for all who work within our NHS and have given themselves totally to those in their care. Give them the strength to carry on. We also pray for all who share in the care for others........
We pray for the scientists who are constantly trying to find ways to stop this pandemic worldwide.
We pray for all other countries in the world who are suffering and like us are bearing the effects of this terrible situation.......
We give thanks for our homes and for all who care for us.
We remember and pray for all who are separated from their loved ones and friends both here and abroad.
Let us remember all our loved ones departed.
We pray for members of our community who may be struggling.
We pray for their well-being and ask that you bring some comfort to them by your presence.
we know that you accept us as we are and that nothing can separate us from your love.
In that knowledge we commit the whole world, our loved ones and ourselves to you and your love.
We ask that you accept these prayers for the sake of your Son
Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Let us remember all that God has done,
Let us rejoice in all he is doing,
Let us remember that:
Whoever you are,
Wherever you go,
Whatever your strengths,
Whatever your weaknesses:
God will be with you, to hold, to heal, to guide and to bless.
Let us go in peace, assured of His love.