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 psalm of David.
O Lord, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.
The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
For the honor of your name, O Lord,
forgive my many, many sins.
Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.
They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land.
The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.
My eyes are always on the Lord,
for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
Turn to me and have mercy,
for I am alone and in deep distress.
My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!
Feel my pain and see my trouble.
Forgive all my sins.
See how many enemies I have
and how viciously they hate me!
Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.
May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in you.
O God, ransom Israel
from all its troubles.
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
Joseph Sets a Trap
Then Joseph gave a command to the servant in charge of his house. He said, “Fill the men’s sacks with as much grain as they can carry, and put each man’s money into his sack with the grain. Put my silver cup in the sack of the youngest brother, along with his money for the grain.” The servant did what Joseph told him.
At dawn the brothers were sent away with their donkeys. They were not far from the city when Joseph said to the servant in charge of his house, “Go after the men. When you catch up with them, say, ‘Why have you paid back evil for good? The cup you have stolen is the one my master uses for drinking and for explaining dreams. You have done a very wicked thing!’”
So the servant caught up with the brothers and said to them what Joseph had told him to say.
But the brothers said to the servant, “Why do you say these things? We would not do anything like that! We brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found in our sacks. So surely we would not steal silver or gold from your master’s house. If you find that silver cup in the sack of one of us, then let him die, and we will be your slaves.”
The servant said, “We will do as you say, but only the man who has taken the cup will become my slave. The rest of you may go free.”
Then every brother quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. The servant searched the sacks, going from the oldest brother to the youngest, and found the cup in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers tore their clothes to show they were afraid. Then they put their sacks back on the donkeys and returned to the city.
When Judah and his brothers went back to Joseph’s house, Joseph was still there, so the brothers bowed facedown on the ground before him. Joseph said to them, “What have you done? Didn’t you know that a man like me can learn things by signs and dreams?”
Judah said, “Master, what can we say? And how can we show we are not guilty? God has uncovered our guilt, so all of us will be your slaves, not just Benjamin.”
But Joseph said, “I will not make you all slaves! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back safely to your father.”
Then Judah went to Joseph and said, “Master, please let me speak plainly to you, and please don’t be angry with me. I know that you are as powerful as the king of Egypt himself. When we were here before, you asked us, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ And we answered you, ‘We have an old father. And we have a younger brother, who was born when our father was old. This youngest son’s brother is dead, so he is the only one of his mother’s children left alive, and our father loves him very much.’ Then you said to us, ‘Bring that brother to me. I want to see him.’ And we said to you, ‘That young boy cannot leave his father, because if he leaves him, his father would die.’ But you said to us, ‘If you don’t bring your youngest brother, you will not be allowed to see me again.’ So we went back to our father and told him what you had said.
“Later, our father said, ‘Go again and buy us a little more food.’ We said to our father, ‘We cannot go without our youngest brother. Without our youngest brother, we will not be allowed to see the governor.’ Then my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife Rachel gave me two sons. When one son left me, I thought, “Surely he has been torn apart by a wild animal,” and I haven’t seen him since. Now you want to take this son away from me also. But something terrible might happen to him, and I would be miserable until the day I die.’ Now what will happen if we go home to our father without our youngest brother? He is so important in our father’s life that when our father sees the young boy is not with us, he will die. And it will be our fault. We will cause the great sorrow that kills our father.
“I gave my father a guarantee that the young boy would be safe. I said to my father, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, you can blame me all my life.’ So now, please allow me to stay here and be your slave, and let the young boy go back home with his brothers. I cannot go back to my father if the boy is not with me. I couldn’t stand to see my father that sad.”
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 Father, we commit to you the work already done today,
Bless the work of our hands and forgive our many errors,
That we may we be empowered to serve you ever more fully. 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.