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
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord!
He shouts with joy because you give him victory.
For you have given him his heart’s desire;
you have withheld nothing he requested. Interlude
You welcomed him back with success and prosperity.
You placed a crown of finest gold on his head.
He asked you to preserve his life,
and you granted his request.
The days of his life stretch on forever.
Your victory brings him great honor,
and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty.
You have endowed him with eternal blessings
and given him the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord.
The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling.
You will capture all your enemies.
Your strong right hand will seize all who hate you.
You will throw them in a flaming furnace
when you appear.
The Lord will consume them in his anger;
fire will devour them.
You will wipe their children from the face of the earth;
they will never have descendants.
Although they plot against you,
their evil schemes will never succeed.
For they will turn and run
when they see your arrows aimed at them.
Rise up, O Lord, in all your power.
With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts.
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 Brothers Go Back to Egypt
Still no food grew in the land of Canaan. When Jacob’s family had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, Jacob said to them, “Go to Egypt again and buy a little more grain for us to eat.”
But Judah said to Jacob, “The governor of that country strongly warned us, ‘If you don’t bring your brother back with you, you will not be allowed to see me.’ If you will send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you refuse to send Benjamin, we will not go. The governor of that country warned us that we would not see him if we didn’t bring Benjamin with us.”
Israel said, “Why did you tell the man you had another brother? You have caused me a lot of trouble.”
The brothers answered, “He questioned us carefully about ourselves and our family. He asked us, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ We just answered his questions. How could we know he would ask us to bring our other brother to him?”
Then Judah said to his father Jacob, “Send Benjamin with me, and we will go at once so that we, you, and our children may live and not die. I will guarantee you that he will be safe, and I will be personally responsible for him. If I don’t bring him back to you, you can blame me all my life. If we had not wasted all this time, we could have already made two trips.”
Then their father Jacob said to them, “If it has to be that way, then do this: Take some of the best foods in our land in your packs. Give them to the man as a gift: some balm, some honey, spices, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take twice as much money with you this time, and take back the money that was returned to you in your sacks last time. Maybe it was a mistake. And take Benjamin with you. Now leave and go to the man. I pray that God Almighty will cause the governor to be merciful to you and that he will allow Simeon and Benjamin to come back with you. If I am robbed of my children, then I am robbed of them!”
So the brothers took the gifts. They also took twice as much money as they had taken the first time, and they took Benjamin. They hurried down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.
When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant in charge of his house, “Bring those men into my house. Kill an animal and prepare a meal. Those men will eat with me today at noon.” The servant did as Joseph told him and brought the men to Joseph’s house.
The brothers were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house and thought, “We were brought here because of the money that was put in our sacks on the first trip. He wants to attack us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys.” So the brothers went to the servant in charge of Joseph’s house and spoke to him at the door of the house. They said, “Master, we came here once before to buy food. While we were going home, we stopped for the night and when we opened our sacks each of us found all his money in his sack. We brought that money with us to give it back to you. And we have brought more money to pay for the food we want to buy this time. We don’t know who put that money in our sacks.”
But the servant answered, “It’s all right. Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, must have put the money in your sacks. I got the money you paid me for the grain last time.” Then the servant brought Simeon out to them.
The servant led the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he gave their donkeys food to eat. The men prepared their gift to give to Joseph when he arrived at noon, because they had heard they were going to eat with him there.
When Joseph came home, the brothers gave him the gift they had brought into the house and bowed down to the ground in front of him. Joseph asked them how they were doing. He said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still alive?”
The brothers answered, “Your servant, our father, is well. He is still alive.” And they bowed low before Joseph to show him respect.
When Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, who had the same mother as he, Joseph asked, “Is this your youngest brother you told me about?” Then he said to Benjamin, “God be good to you, my son!” Then Joseph hurried off because he had to hold back the tears when he saw his brother Benjamin. So Joseph went into his room and cried there. Then he washed his face and came out. He controlled himself and said, “Serve the meal.”
So they served Joseph at one table, his brothers at another table, and the Egyptians who ate with him at another table. This was because Egyptians did not like Hebrews and never ate with them. Joseph’s brothers were seated in front of him in order of their ages, from oldest to youngest. They looked at each other because they were so amazed. Food from Joseph’s table was taken to them, but Benjamin was given five times more food than the others. Joseph’s brothers ate and drank freely with him.
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…)
Holy Spirit, guide us through the rest of our day.
May we know your wisdom in our hearts,
Your strength in our bodies,
And your peace in our lives. 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.