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
For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of David.
I said to myself, “I will watch what I do
and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue
when the ungodly are around me.”
But as I stood there in silence—
not even speaking of good things—
the turmoil within me grew worse.
The more I thought about it,
the hotter I got,
igniting a fire of words:
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude
We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
Rescue me from my rebellion.
Do not let fools mock me.
I am silent before you; I won’t say a word,
for my punishment is from you.
But please stop striking me!
I am exhausted by the blows from your hand.
When you discipline us for our sins,
you consume like a moth what is precious to us.
Each of us is but a breath. Interlude
Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest—
a traveler passing through,
as my ancestors were before me.
Leave me alone so I can smile again
before I am gone and exist no more.
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
So Abraham’s servant went into the house. After Laban unloaded the camels and gave them straw and food, he gave water to Abraham’s servant so he and the men with him could wash their feet. Then Laban gave the servant food, but the servant said, “I will not eat until I have told you why I came.”
So Laban said, “Then tell us.”
He said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master in everything, and he has become a rich man. The Lord has given him many flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, camels, and horses. Sarah, my master’s wife, gave birth to a son when she was old, and my master has given everything he owns to that son. My master had me make a promise to him and said, ‘Don’t get a wife for my son from the Canaanite girls who live around here. Instead, you must go to my father’s people and to my family. There you must get a wife for my son.’ I said to my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ But he said, ‘I serve the Lord, who will send his angel with you and will help you. You will get a wife for my son from my family and my father’s people. Then you will be free from the promise. But if they will not give you a wife for my son, you will be free from this promise.’
“Today I came to this spring. I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, please make my trip successful. I am standing by this spring. I will wait for a young woman to come out to get water, and I will say, “Please give me water from your jar to drink.” Then let her say, “Drink this water, and I will also get water for your camels.” By this I will know the Lord has chosen her for my master’s son.’
“Before I finished my silent prayer, Rebekah came out of the city with her water jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and got water. I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ She quickly lowered the jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink this. I will also get water for your camels.’ So I drank, and she gave water to my camels too. When I asked her, ‘Who is your father?’ she answered, ‘My father is Bethuel son of Milcah and Nahor.’ Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, and I bowed my head and thanked the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, because he led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Now, tell me, will you be kind and truthful to my master? And if not, tell me so. Then I will know what I should do.”
Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is clearly from the Lord, and we cannot change what must happen. Rebekah is yours. Take her and go. Let her marry your master’s son as the Lord has commanded.”
When Abraham’s servant heard these words, he bowed facedown on the ground before the Lord. Then he gave Rebekah gold and silver jewelry and clothes. He also gave expensive gifts to her brother and mother. The servant and the men with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, the servant said, “Now let me go back to my master.”
Rebekah’s mother and her brother said, “Let Rebekah stay with us at least ten days. After that she may go.”
But the servant said to them, “Do not make me wait, because the Lord has made my trip successful. Now let me go back to my master.”
Rebekah’s brother and mother said, “We will call Rebekah and ask her what she wants to do.” They called her and asked her, “Do you want to go with this man now?”
She said, “Yes, I do.”
So they allowed Rebekah and her nurse to go with Abraham’s servant and his men. They blessed Rebekah and said,
“Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands of people,
and may your descendants capture the cities of their enemies.”
Then Rebekah and her servant girls got on the camels and followed the servant and his men. So the servant took Rebekah and left.
At this time Isaac had left Beer Lahai Roi and was living in southern Canaan. One evening when he went out to the field to think, he looked up and saw camels coming. Rebekah also looked and saw Isaac. Then she jumped down from the camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?”
The servant answered, “That is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face with her veil.
The servant told Isaac everything that had happened. Then Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of Sarah, his mother, and she became his wife. Isaac loved her very much, and so he was comforted after his mother’s death.
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, you worked with your hands as a carpenter.
May we who labour upon the earth never cease to give you praise,
And know your loving presence with us.
We ask this for your glory. 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.