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, oppose those who oppose me.
Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armor, and take up your shield.
Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
“I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
a wind sent by the angel of the Lord.
Make their path dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.
Then I will rejoice in the Lord.
I will be glad because he rescues me.
With every bone in my body I will praise him:
“Lord, who can compare with you?
Who else rescues the helpless from the strong?
Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?”
Malicious witnesses testify against me.
They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
They repay me evil for good.
I am sick with despair.
Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.
I denied myself by fasting for them,
but my prayers returned unanswered.
I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,
as if I were grieving for my own mother.
But they are glad now that I am in trouble;
they gleefully join together against me.
I am attacked by people I don’t even know;
they slander me constantly.
They mock me and call me names;
they snarl at me.
How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?
Rescue me from their fierce attacks.
Protect my life from these lions!
Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly.
I will praise you before all the people.
Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat.
Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.
They don’t talk of peace;
they plot against innocent people who mind their own business.
They shout, “Aha! Aha!
With our own eyes we saw him do it!”
O Lord, you know all about this.
Do not stay silent.
Do not abandon me now, O Lord.
Wake up! Rise to my defense!
Take up my case, my God and my Lord.
Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice.
Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles.
Don’t let them say, “Look, we got what we wanted!
Now we will eat him alive!”
May those who rejoice at my troubles
be humiliated and disgraced.
May those who triumph over me
be covered with shame and dishonor.
But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”
Then I will proclaim your justice,
and I will praise you all day long.
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
Blessings for Manasseh and Ephraim
Some time later Joseph learned that his father was very sick, so he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim and went to his father. When Joseph arrived, someone told Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to see you.” Jacob was weak, so he used all his strength and sat up on his bed.
Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me there. He said to me, ‘I will give you many children. I will make you the father of many peoples, and I will give your descendants this land forever.’ Your two sons, who were born here in Egypt before I came, will be counted as my own sons. Ephraim and Manasseh will be my sons just as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. But if you have other children, they will be your own, and their land will be part of the land given to Ephraim and Manasseh. When I came from Northwest Mesopotamia, Rachel died in the land of Canaan, as we were traveling toward Ephrath. This made me very sad, and I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath.” (Today Ephrath is Bethlehem.)
Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons and said, “Who are these boys?”
Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons that God has given me here in Egypt.”
Israel said, “Bring your sons to me so I may bless them.”
At this time Israel’s eyesight was bad because he was old. So Joseph brought the boys close to him, and Israel kissed the boys and put his arms around them. He said to Joseph, “I thought I would never see you alive again, and now God has let me see you and also your children.” Then Joseph moved his sons off Israel’s lap and bowed facedown to the ground. He put Ephraim on his right side and Manasseh on his left. (So Ephraim was near Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh was near Israel’s right hand.) Joseph brought the boys close to Israel. But Israel crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of Ephraim, who was younger. He put his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the firstborn son. And Israel blessed Joseph and said,
“My ancestors Abraham and Isaac served our God,
and like a shepherd God has led me all my life.
He was the Angel who saved me from all my troubles.
Now I pray that he will bless these boys.
May my name be known through these boys,
and may the names of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac be known through them.
May they have many descendants
on the earth.”
When Joseph saw that his father put his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he didn’t like it. So he took hold of his father’s hand, wanting to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “You are doing it wrong, Father. Manasseh is the firstborn son. Put your right hand on his head.”
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. Manasseh will be great and have many descendants. But his younger brother will be greater, and his descendants will be enough to make a nation.”
So Israel blessed them that day and said,
“When a blessing is given in Israel, they will say:
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
In this way he made Ephraim greater than Manasseh.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “Look at me; I am about to die. But God will be with you and will take you back to the land of your fathers. I have given you something that I did not give your brothers—the land of Shechem that I took from the Amorite people with my sword and my bow.”
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 the work of the morning,
For the challenges faced and the obstacles overcome.
Grant that the rest of this day be used for your glory,
As we offer ourselves afresh to you. 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.