We are currently in the Epiphany season; the time between Christmas and Lent. Epiphany celebrates the long awaited manifestation of Christ; no longer as a baby in a manger but as the Saviour of the World. The Epiphany season continues right through until the beginning of Lent and the gospel readings follow Jesus’ early ministry. The afternoon readings continue a chronological tour through the scriptures; whilst the readings at Compline continue to work their way through Paul’s letter to the Romans.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
A psalm of David, asking God to remember him.
O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your rage!
Your arrows have struck deep,
and your blows are crushing me.
Because of your anger, my whole body is sick;
my health is broken because of my sins.
My guilt overwhelms me—
it is a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and stink
because of my foolish sins.
I am bent over and racked with pain.
All day long I walk around filled with grief.
A raging fever burns within me,
and my health is broken.
I am exhausted and completely crushed.
My groans come from an anguished heart.
You know what I long for, Lord;
you hear my every sigh.
My heart beats wildly, my strength fails,
and I am going blind.
My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease.
Even my own family stands at a distance.
Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me.
Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me.
All day long they plan their treachery.
But I am deaf to all their threats.
I am silent before them as one who cannot speak.
I choose to hear nothing,
and I make no reply.
For I am waiting for you, O Lord.
You must answer for me, O Lord my God.
I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies gloat over me
or rejoice at my downfall.”
I am on the verge of collapse,
facing constant pain.
But I confess my sins;
I am deeply sorry for what I have done.
I have many aggressive enemies;
they hate me without reason.
They repay me evil for good
and oppose me for pursuing good.
Do not abandon me, O Lord.
Do not stand at a distance, my God.
Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my savior.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous. Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)
OLD TESTAMENT READING
A Wife for Isaac
Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to his oldest servant, who was in charge of everything he owned, “Put your hand under my leg. Make a promise to me before the Lord, the God of heaven and earth. Don’t get a wife for my son from the Canaanite girls who live around here. Instead, go back to my country, to the land of my relatives, and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
The servant said to him, “What if this woman does not want to return with me to this land? Then, should I take your son with me back to your homeland?”
Abraham said to him, “No! Don’t take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, brought me from the home of my father and the land of my relatives. And he promised me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ The Lord will send his angel before you to help you get a wife for my son there. If the girl won’t come back with you, you will be free from this promise. But you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under his master’s leg and made a promise to Abraham about this.
The servant took ten of Abraham’s camels and left, carrying with him many different kinds of beautiful gifts. He went to Northwest Mesopotamia to Nahor’s city. In the evening, when the women come out to get water, he made the camels kneel down at the well outside the city.
The servant said, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, allow me to find a wife for his son today. Please show this kindness to my master Abraham. Here I am, standing by the spring, and the girls from the city are coming out to get water. I will say to one of them, ‘Please put your jar down so I can drink.’ Then let her say, ‘Drink, and I will also give water to your camels.’ If that happens, I will know she is the right one for your servant Isaac and that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, came out of the city. (Bethuel was the son of Milcah and Nahor, Abraham’s brother.) Rebekah was carrying her water jar on her shoulder. She was very pretty, a virgin; she had never had sexual relations with a man. She went down to the spring and filled her jar, then came back up. The servant ran to her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
Rebekah said, “Drink, sir.” She quickly lowered the jar from her shoulder and gave him a drink. After he finished drinking, Rebekah said, “I will also pour some water for your camels.” So she quickly poured all the water from her jar into the drinking trough for the camels. Then she kept running to the well until she had given all the camels enough to drink.
The servant quietly watched her. He wanted to be sure the Lord had made his trip successful. After the camels had finished drinking, he gave Rebekah a gold ring weighing one-fifth of an ounce and two gold arm bracelets weighing about four ounces each. He asked, “Who is your father? Is there a place in his house for me and my men to spend the night?”
Rebekah answered, “My father is Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor.” Then she said, “And, yes, we have straw for your camels and a place for you to spend the night.”
The servant bowed and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed is the Lord, the God of my master Abraham. The Lord has been kind and truthful to him and has led me to my master’s relatives.”
Then Rebekah ran and told her mother’s family about all these things. She had a brother named Laban, who ran out to Abraham’s servant, who was still at the spring. Laban had heard what she had said and had seen the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms. So he ran out to the well, and there was the man standing by the camels at the spring. Laban said, “Sir, you are welcome to come in; you don’t have to stand outside. I have prepared the house for you and also a place for your camels.”
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pause for Reflection…
(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning. You may like to end with the following prayer…)
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the work of the morning,
For the challenges faced and the obstacles overcome.
Grant that the rest of this day be used for your glory,
As we offer ourselves afresh to you. Amen
Lord God, we thank you for your gift to us of this food;
Produce of earth, sky, many living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with prayerfulness, gratitude and moderation;
With renewed minds and spirit-controlled appetites.
May we eat with compassion for those who hunger today,
And in such a way that reduces the suffering of all creatures;
Healing and preserving our precious planet.
Use this food to strengthen our bodies, revive our spirits,
Nurture our family and nourish our resolve;
That we may continue to serve all that lives with all our life. Amen
Psalms in Bold – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved
All other Psalms – Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
All other Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.