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 the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.
O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
for you loved them.
You are my King and my God.
You command victories for Israel.
Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow;
I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long
and constantly praise your name. Interlude
But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
You no longer lead our armies to battle.
You make us retreat from our enemies
and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
You have butchered us like sheep
and scattered us among the nations.
You sold your precious people for a pittance,
making nothing on the sale.
You let our neighbors mock us.
We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
You have made us the butt of their jokes;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.
We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
shame is written across our faces.
All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
All we see are our vengeful enemies.
All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.
We have not violated your covenant.
Our hearts have not deserted you.
We have not strayed from your path.
Yet you have crushed us in the jackal’s desert home.
You have covered us with darkness and death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods,
God would surely have known it,
for he knows the secrets of every heart.
But for your sake we are killed every day;
we are being slaughtered like sheep.
Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.
Rise up! Help us!
Ransom us because of your unfailing love.
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
Jacob Tricks Isaac
When Isaac was old, his eyesight was poor, so he could not see clearly. One day he called his older son Esau to him and said, “Son.”
Esau answered, “Here I am.”
Isaac said, “I am old and don’t know when I might die. So take your bow and arrows and go hunting in the field for an animal for me to eat. When you prepare the tasty food that I love, bring it to me, and I will eat. Then I will bless you before I die.” So Esau went out in the field to hunt.
Rebekah was listening as Isaac said this to his son Esau. She said to her son Jacob, “Listen, I heard your father saying to your brother Esau, ‘Kill an animal and prepare some tasty food for me to eat. Then I will bless you in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ So obey me, my son, and do what I tell you. Go out to our goats and bring me two of the best young ones. I will prepare them just the way your father likes them. Then you will take the food to your father, and he will bless you before he dies.”
But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “My brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am smooth! If my father touches me, he will know I am not Esau. Then he will not bless me but will place a curse on me because I tried to trick him.”
So Rebekah said to him, “If your father puts a curse on you, I will accept the blame. Just do what I said. Go get the goats for me.”
So Jacob went out and got two goats and brought them to his mother, and she cooked them in the special way Isaac enjoyed. She took the best clothes of her older son Esau that were in the house and put them on the younger son Jacob. She also took the skins of the goats and put them on Jacob’s hands and neck. Then she gave Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.
Jacob went in to his father and said, “Father.”
And his father said, “Yes, my son. Who are you?”
Jacob said to him, “I am Esau, your first son. I have done what you told me. Now sit up and eat some meat of the animal I hunted for you. Then bless me.”
But Isaac asked his son, “How did you find and kill the animal so quickly?”
Jacob answered, “Because the Lord your God helped me to find it.”
Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son. Then I will know if you are really my son Esau.”
So Jacob came near to Isaac his father. Isaac touched him and said, “Your voice sounds like Jacob’s voice, but your hands are hairy like the hands of Esau.” Isaac did not know it was Jacob, because his hands were hairy like Esau’s hands, so Isaac blessed him. Isaac asked, “Are you really my son Esau?”
Jacob answered, “Yes, I am.”
Then Isaac said, “Bring me the food, and I will eat it and bless you.” So Jacob gave him the food, and he ate. Jacob gave him wine, and he drank. Then Isaac said to him, “My son, come near and kiss me.” So Jacob went to his father and kissed him. When Isaac smelled Esau’s clothes, he blessed him and said,
“The smell of my son
is like the smell of the field
that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you plenty of rain
and good soil
so that you will have plenty of grain and new wine.
May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
May you be master over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
May everyone who curses you be cursed,
and may everyone who blesses you be blessed.”
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…)
Mighty God, as we come to the end of our week,
Grant your blessings over all we love and your increase upon all we do,
We ask this in Jesus name. 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.