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 the latter half of the New Testament.
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 prayer of David.
O Lord, hear my plea for justice.
Listen to my cry for help.
Pay attention to my prayer,
for it comes from honest lips.
Declare me innocent,
for you see those who do right.
You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.
You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong.
I am determined not to sin in what I say.
I have followed your commands,
which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
My steps have stayed on your path;
I have not wavered from following you.
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
By your mighty power you rescue
those who seek refuge from their enemies.
Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
from murderous enemies who surround me.
They are without pity.
Listen to their boasting!
They track me down and surround me,
watching for the chance to throw me to the ground.
They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart—
like young lions hiding in ambush.
Arise, O Lord!
Stand against them, and bring them to their knees!
Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!
By the power of your hand, O Lord,
destroy those who look to this world for their reward.
But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones.
May their children have plenty,
leaving an inheritance for their descendants.
Because I am righteous, I will see you.
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.
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
The King’s Dreams
Two years later the king dreamed he was standing on the bank of the Nile River. He saw seven fat and beautiful cows come up out of the river, and they stood there, eating the grass. Then seven more cows came up out of the river, but they were thin and ugly. They stood beside the seven beautiful cows on the bank of the Nile. The seven thin and ugly cows ate the seven beautiful fat cows. Then the king woke up. The king slept again and dreamed a second time. In his dream he saw seven full and good heads of grain growing on one stalk. After that, seven more heads of grain sprang up, but they were thin and burned by the hot east wind. The thin heads of grain ate the seven full and good heads. Then the king woke up again, and he realized it was only a dream. The next morning the king was troubled about these dreams, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. The king told them his dreams, but no one could explain their meaning to him.
Then the chief officer who served wine to the king said to him, “Now I remember something I promised to do, but I forgot about it. There was a time when you were angry with the baker and me, and you put us in prison in the house of the captain of the guard. In prison we each had a dream on the same night, and each dream had a different meaning. A young Hebrew man, a servant of the captain of the guard, was in the prison with us. When we told him our dreams, he explained their meanings to us. He told each man the meaning of his dream, and things happened exactly as he said they would: I was given back my old position, and the baker was hanged.”
So the king called for Joseph. The guards quickly brought him out of the prison, and he shaved, put on clean clothes, and went before the king.
The king said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can explain its meaning to me. I have heard that you can explain a dream when someone tells it to you.”
Joseph answered the king, “I am not able to explain the meaning of dreams, but God will do this for the king.”
Then the king said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile River. I saw seven fat and beautiful cows that came up out of the river and ate the grass. Then I saw seven more cows come out of the river that were thin and lean and ugly—the worst looking cows I have seen in all the land of Egypt. And these thin and ugly cows ate the first seven fat cows, but after they had eaten the seven cows, no one could tell they had eaten them. They looked just as thin and ugly as they did in the beginning. Then I woke up.
“I had another dream. I saw seven full and good heads of grain growing on one stalk. Then seven more heads of grain sprang up after them, but these heads were thin and ugly and were burned by the hot east wind. Then the thin heads ate the seven good heads. I told this dream to the magicians, but no one could explain its meaning to me.”
Joseph Tells the Dreams’ Meaning
Then Joseph said to the king, “Both of these dreams mean the same thing. God is telling you what he is about to do. The seven good cows stand for seven years, and the seven good heads of grain stand for seven years. Both dreams mean the same thing. The seven thin and ugly cows stand for seven years, and the seven thin heads of grain burned by the hot east wind stand for seven years of hunger. This will happen as I told you. God is showing the king what he is about to do. You will have seven years of good crops and plenty to eat in all the land of Egypt. But after those seven years, there will come seven years of hunger, and all the food that grew in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The time of hunger will eat up the land. People will forget what it was like to have plenty of food, because the hunger that follows will be so great. You had two dreams which mean the same thing. This shows that God has firmly decided that this will happen, and he will make it happen soon.
“So let the king choose a man who is very wise and understanding and set him over the land of Egypt. And let the king also appoint officers over the land, who should take one-fifth of all the food that is grown during the seven good years. They should gather all the food that is produced during the good years that are coming, and under the king’s authority they should store the grain in the cities and guard it. That food should be saved to use during the seven years of hunger that will come on the land of Egypt. Then the people in Egypt will not die during the seven years of hunger.”
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 another morning in Your House,
For the Word as pronounced to your people,
For the Worship as presented by your people,
For the Witness as proclaimed through your people,
And for the gathering of your Bride all over the world.
We ask your blessings upon the rest of this day,
May we enjoy Sabbath rest, renewed strength and a firmer hope,
As we run the race and stretch forth towards the prize. 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.