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’s.
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 David useful for teaching, regarding the time David fought Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah, and Joab returned and killed 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. To be sung to the tune “Lily of the Testimony.”
You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses.
You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.
You have shaken our land and split it open.
Seal the cracks, for the land trembles.
You have been very hard on us,
making us drink wine that sent us reeling.
But you have raised a banner for those who fear you—
a rallying point in the face of attack. Interlude
Now rescue your beloved people.
Answer and save us by your power.
God has promised this by his holiness:
“I will divide up Shechem with joy.
I will measure out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine,
and Manasseh, too.
Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors,
and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings.
But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant,
and I will wipe my feet on Edom
and shout in triumph over Philistia.”
Who will bring me into the fortified city?
Who will bring me victory over Edom?
Have you rejected us, O God?
Will you no longer march with our armies?
Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless.
With God’s help we will do mighty things,
for he will trample down our foes.
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
Dinah Is Attacked
At this time Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of the land, saw her, he took her and forced her to have sexual relations with him. Shechem fell in love with Dinah, and he spoke kindly to her. He told his father, Hamor, “Please get this girl for me so I can marry her.”
Jacob learned how Shechem had disgraced his daughter, but since his sons were out in the field with the cattle, Jacob said nothing until they came home. While he waited, Hamor father of Shechem went to talk with Jacob.
When Jacob’s sons heard what had happened, they came in from the field. They were very angry that Shechem had done such a wicked thing to Israel. It was wrong for him to have sexual relations with Jacob’s daughter; a thing like this should not be done.
But Hamor talked to Dinah’s brothers and said, “My son Shechem is deeply in love with Dinah. Please let him marry her. Marry our people. Give your women to our men as wives and take our women for your men as wives. You can live in the same land with us. You will be free to own land and to trade here.”
Shechem also talked to Jacob and to Dinah’s brothers and said, “Please accept my offer. I will give anything you ask. Ask as much as you want for the payment for the bride, and I will give it to you. Just let me marry Dinah.”
Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father with lies, because Shechem had disgraced their sister Dinah. The brothers said to them, “We cannot allow you to marry our sister, because you are not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. But we will allow you to marry her if you do this one thing: Every man in your town must be circumcised like us. Then your men can marry our women, and our men can marry your women, and we will live in your land and become one people. If you refuse to be circumcised, we will take Dinah and leave.”
What they asked seemed fair to Hamor and Shechem. So Shechem quickly went to be circumcised because he loved Jacob’s daughter.
Now Shechem was the most respected man in his family. So Hamor and Shechem went to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, “These people want to be friends with us. So let them live in our land and trade here. There is enough land for all of us. Let us marry their women, and we can let them marry our women. But we must agree to one thing: All our men must be circumcised as they are. Then they will agree to live in our land, and we will be one people. If we do this, their cattle and their animals will belong to us. Let us do what they say, and they will stay in our land.” All the people who had come to the city gate heard this. They agreed with Hamor and Shechem, and every man was circumcised.
Three days later the men who were circumcised were still in pain. Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi (Dinah’s brothers), took their swords and made a surprise attack on the city, killing all the men there. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem and then took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and left. Jacob’s sons came upon the dead bodies and stole everything that was in the city, to pay them back for what Shechem had done to their sister. So the brothers took the flocks, herds, and donkeys, and everything in the city and in the fields. They took every valuable thing the people owned, even their wives and children and everything in the houses.
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have caused me a lot of trouble. Now the Canaanites and the Perizzites who live in the land will hate me. Since there are only a few of us, if they join together to attack us, my people and I will be destroyed.”
But the brothers said, “We will not allow our sister to be treated like a prostitute.”
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.