APC 17th January 2021 “Domino Discipleship.”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Sunday morning worship. Today we continue our journey to Easter following Jesus through some of the main events during His life and ministry. Last week we looked at Jesus’ Baptism and today we consider the domino effect of discipleship. Jesus calls people to follow Him. They in turn tell their friends. The ripple effect is that the good news spreads and the church begins to grow. But why would fishermen and tax collectors leave their nets and books to follow Christ? Why do people today sacrifice much to follow Him? Well our opening song gives us the answer…Our worth is not in what we own. Knowing Christ is the greatest treasure…
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Opening Song “My worth is not in what I own”
Let’s take a moment to talk to our heavenly Father, let’s pray…
God of all, we come to proclaim your greatness, to sing of your might, to declare your Majesty and to rejoice in all that you have done. You are a God of love and mercy and we praise you.
We come to hear again of your great acts across history, your wonderful deeds among your people, all that you have accomplished in Christ.
You are a God of love and mercy and we praise you.
We come to lift up our hearts, to lift up our voices and to celebrate again the Gospel.
You are a God of love and mercy and we praise you.
But as we bring our praise so also we bring our confession. Confession that too often our praise has been hollow, our worship restricted to a Sunday, to even this short time online.
That when the chance has come to speak for you we have kept silent, and when the opportunity has arisen to serve you we have held back. That when we have known what we should do we have failed to do it, and when we have known what not to do we have gone ahead and done it.
That we have forgotten that you are always ready to forgive us and renew us, and consequently have burdened ourselves with feelings of guilt and despair.
You are a God of love and mercy and we praise you.
Merciful God, forgive us now for failing to practice what we preach, for denying what we proclaim by the way we live, for letting you down in so many ways through our half-heartedness.
You are a God of love and mercy and we praise you.
Help us to live in such a way that our words and actions may be one and our faith seen to be real. And so may all we say, all we do, and all we are, witness to you and the wonder of your love shown through Jesus Christ our Lord.
You are a God of love and mercy and we praise you.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Join me as we say the Lord’s Prayer thoughtfully and sincerely together…
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Introduction to Kids Video
We come to the part of the service which is especially for the younger members of our church family. So if your kids aren’t beside you right now, why not pause the recording, and call them in to watch a short animation about….. And at the end of this video I’ve a few words to say to the children so don’t let them rush away.
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Kid’s Video ‘Jesus Calls Peter and Andrew’
Kid’s Talk Summary
Hey boys and girls. I hope you’ve had a fun week getting used to your online schooling again. I hope you’ve enjoyed the little video about Jesus calling Andrew and Peter to follow Him. You know, even though you might be young, Jesus also calls you to follow Him. You are following Him by making time to watch this video and by listening to me today. You can follow Him by talking to Him or by reading your bible story book. You can follow Him by being kind and helpful to other people like He was. You know Jesus is God, the one who made the whole world and who made us. Isn’t it amazing that we can follow Him and that we can have God as our best friend? I’ve been following Jesus for about 30 years now and He has never let me down. He is my best friend. I hope that you keep on following Jesus because He deserves it and also because He will always be there for you. If you ask your mam or dad they can go onto the church website or the Facebook page and find the link to a colouring sheet of Jesus and Peter in the boat fishing. Don’t forget to tune in again next Sunday. Bye for now and I hope your online schoolwork this week is still fun.
Colouring Sheet Link “Follow Me!”
Bible Reading John 1 v 35-51
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
Reflection Domino Discipleship
Over the next few months I want to bring you on a journey following the lectionary readings for 2021 as we shadow Jesus in His ministry and share something of his highs and lows including His death and resurrection. All the time we will be asking, “What can I learn from this?” Last week we stood by the shores of the Jordan River and watched as our Lord was baptised by his cousin John. Today we pick up the story…
I’m sure the conversations had continued long into the night… “Did you see the heavens open? What about the dove? Wasn’t that amazing the way it just came down at that exact moment and landed on him? And did you hear the voice? ‘This is my Son, whom I love. I am so pleased with Him.’ Do you think that was God speaking?”
It’s no surprise then that soon after this event we find at least two of John’s disciples coming to their guru and saying, “Who is this man Jesus? What does this mean for us?”
Without any hint of jealousy, graciously John points them to Jesus and says, “He is the one we’ve been waiting for. He is the Lamb of God, the Messiah, God’s anointed King. Now go, follow Him, not me!”
Like two university students leaving their parents, these two disciples, Andrew and John, excitedly but fearfully leave the apron strings of John the Baptist and go in search of Jesus. When they find him they approach him respectfully saying, “Rabbi or teacher.”
He turns to them and says, “What is it that you are looking for?” As always, Jesus is looking for honesty. Were they simply wanting to trip him up like the Pharisees? Were they power seekers like the Sadducees? Were they Nationalists expecting him to bring political and military freedom? Or were they humble men of prayer seeking answers to life’s greatest questions and forgiveness for their sins?
Their reply is equally interesting, “Where are you staying?” they ask him. It was not mere curiosity which made them ask that question. What they meant was that they did not wish only to speak to Jesus on the road, in passing, as chance acquaintances might stop and exchange a few words. They wished to enter in and linger long with Him and talk out their problems and their troubles. They wished to learn from Him and follow His teaching.
What about us? Why have we logged on this morning?
My earnest hope is that you’re listening in today because just like John and Andrew you are keen to be a disciple or apprentice of Jesus. The Word used in the NT is the word ‘Mathetes’ which literally means ‘a Learner’. Today by logging on we have chosen to sit at Jesus’ feet, to listen to His teaching, to see how he treated people and to learn from His example.
You know if I was to ask you, “What is your main goal in life?” what would you answer? Many people’s aim in life is to be secure. To have enough not to have to worry for themselves or their family. That’s a good thing but for an ultimate goal it’s insufficient because no matter how hard we work or how much we provide, life is uncertain, unpredictable as these last 12 months have shown us.
Many people’s main aim in life is to be successful and happy. Again, both of these are good things, especially when they emphasise serving others. But they too are insufficient goals to be the primary purpose of our lives because they are limited by time and this world.
Ultimately the only goal which will bring us true fulfilment and contentment both now and forever is to seek our maker, to know Him and to allow ourselves to be led and guided by Him each day.
It is my earnest prayer that like Andrew and John we will all commit ourselves to Christ completely and make the main goal in our lives to know our Creator and become more and more like Jesus in all our attitudes and actions. This is what it means to be a real Christian.
But why would we do this? Why put Jesus first? Again the experience of these first followers gives us the answer. They called Him many things. Rabbi which literally means ‘my great one.’ Messiah or Christ which means ‘God’s Anointed King’. The Lamb of God, a reference explained by His death for our sins. The Son of God. A term which at the time pointed to Jesus being God’s promised King. The one who would come to restore God’s Kingdom. The Son of Man. A reference to a heavenly figure in the book of Daniel. One who would come in greatness and authority to bring judgement and restore righteousness on earth.
Then there were the impressions left by their interactions with him. Nathanael’s is perhaps the most impressive of all. When told by his brother Philip that he had found the messiah, a man from Nazareth, Nathanael arrogantly refused to believe. “That can’t be true!” he laughed. Nothing good could ever come out of Nazareth.” As in much of Ireland neighbouring towns and villages in Ancient Israel were fiercely competitive. Nazarites had a reputation for being loose in their morals and religious practices.
But Nathanael changed his tune when miraculously Jesus told him things about himself that no one could ever have naturally known. “How do you know all about me?” Nathanael asked indignantly. “Before Philip called you, you were sitting under a fig tree.” Jesus replied. It’s clear from Nathanael’s apologetic response that this was more than just a coincidence or the result of good private investigation. Nathanael knew that what Jesus understood about Him had been supernaturally given to him by God. And in case you’re thinking this is all just a story let me tell you that this sort of thing still happens today. Some people are given the gift of prophecy today. Part of this involves God giving them the ability to supernaturally relay information to another person for their encouragement and help which they will know is definitely from God.
I know a chaplain who was exploring this whole concept and who decided to do an experiment. One day while visiting people he’d never met before in hospital he explained to each patient that he would pray and ask God to speak into their situation. Then he would simply wait in quiet and whatever came into his mind he would share with them. A picture of a tractor came into his mind when visiting the first man. When he shared it the man was open-mouthed. His favourite hobby was restoring vintage tractors. A picture of some knitting needles came to mind when visiting the next lady. When he shared this, the lady again looked shocked but pleasantly surprised. “Is that significant for you?” the chaplain asked. “Well I love to knit” the lady said “and I was planning to do lots of knitting to help me recuperate once I get out of hospital.” The Chaplain wasn’t sure what these incidents meant. But when he later read the story of Jesus and Nathanael he realised it was probably God’s way of showing these two individuals without a shadow of a doubt that He was real, that He knew all about them and loved them.
It is clear from all the names that they gave Him, that having witnessed his baptism, having interacted with Him and watched how He lived, these earliest disciples were convinced that Jesus Christ was who He said He was, God’s promised King.
There are equally many evidences today both natural and supernatural, if we are willing to see them that can enable us to be certain that in Jesus Christ we too have found the greatest treasure.
So we’ve looked at what the word disciple means and why we would wish to be a disciple of Jesus. The final question I want to consider is what will this mean for us?
Well the long answer is, it will mean many things and it will involve the journey of a lifetime. The truth is, in following Jesus, you never get your L plates down. But in terms of what our passage for today shows us, here are a few reminders to reflect on…
From Andrew we learn that following Jesus will often involve being willing to play second fiddle and to be content just to serve without being in the limelight. Andrew was the very first disciple of Christ, yet he was always known as the brother of Peter and he wasn’t one of the inner circle who made it to the healing of Jairus’ daughter or on the Mount of Transfiguration.
From Peter and Nathanael we learn that following Jesus will often require us to change. For Peter it involved a change of name and a change of occupation from fisherman to clergyman. For Nathanael it meant a change of attitude from arrogance to humility, from unbelief to faith. In various ways at various times Jesus Christ will call us to change too…
From Andrew and Philip we learn that being a disciple is supposed to have a domino effect. The first thing Philip did when he realised who Jesus was, was to go and tell his brother Nathanael. Andrew only comes to the foreground 3 times in the whole of the gospels. But each time we find him leading someone else to Christ. Here in John 1 he brings his brother Peter, in John 6 he brings a boy with a small lunchbox and in John 12 he brings some Greek enquirers to Jesus.
You know that’s our job too. Each of us are the only bible that most people will ever read. That means you are a missionary just as much as me. Through all of life whatever you do you can do it for God and as you do the people around you will be watching. That doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect but it does mean that over time they should see a difference that is positive. As you get close to people as you treat them kindly eventually opportunities will arise when they will ask you about what you believe. When that happens you just tell them simply and in your own words what Jesus means to you. You might even have the courage to pray for them, to give them some literature or to invite them to one of our services or point them online.
Let me encourage you not to hog the good news for yourself but to have the courage to always be ready to share it. That’s what it means to be a domino disciple. As each of us live for Him and share our story, in time many more people will fall at His feet in worship.
Introduction to Song of Response
Just like those first followers, Jesus says to us “Come and see”. Let’s do that now through the words of a beautiful song, “Jesus strong and kind.”
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Song “Jesus strong and kind”
Prayers for others
Living God, we thank you for the great message of your coming to our world through your Son Jesus Christ. May that message inspire us all in the Year ahead. Speak your word of love and move in the hearts of all who hear it.
We thank you that the good news of Christ has challenged people across the ages, and that it continues to be news for us and news for all – able still to speak to individuals across the world and change their lives. Speak your word of love and move in the hearts of all who hear it.
So now we pray for those who have been specially called to proclaim the good news – ministers, preachers, evangelists, teachers – all those with the special gift and responsibility of communicating your word. Grant them wisdom, dedication, inspiration and courage that they may faithfully witness to you in the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray especially that in your mercy that our Holiday Bible Club might be able to happen this summer. Speak your word of love and move in the hearts of all who hear it.
We pray too for each of us and ask that you will help us to accept the challenge to be your witnesses in our families, our work places, our clubs and societies and in our community. Help us to live in a way that will attract people to Christ. Give us the courage to share our faith when the opportunity arises.
We pray also for those who hear the good news, responding in different ways – those who have closed their minds to what you would say to them – may your love break through the barriers they erect; those who have heard but failed to understand – may their hearts be opened to the truth; those who have yet to grasp that the gospel is good news for them – may the experience of meeting Christ transform their lives; those who have responded and come to faith – may their knowledge of you continue to grow. Speak your word of love and move in the hearts of all who hear it.
We pray for those who long for good news, who cry out for glad tidings – the poor, starving, sick and lonely, the oppressed, persecuted, unloved, bereaved – so many people across the world who despair of ever seeing hope rekindled. May the message of the gospel mean good news for them. Speak your word of love and move in the hearts of all who hear it.
Living God, come again to your world in these difficult days through your word, your Spirit, your people and the living presence of Christ, and so may the message of the gospel truly be good news for all people.
Take a moment now to pray for all the people who are sick, for those who have died and for everyone who is really struggling in these days…
Take a moment to pray for government leaders across the world…
Pray for your family, friends and colleagues and ask that God will help you to be a good witness to them and that they may come to know Christ.
Pray that in mercy God will eradicate this virus and bring its devastating consequences to an end…
All this we ask in the name of Jesus, our Great High Priest who can empathise completely with our humanity and frailty, Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s reflection. Please do spend some time in quiet over the next couple of days reflecting on why Christ is worth following, what it means to follow Him and praying that God will give us opportunities to share our faith.
Let me encourage you to tune in again on Wednesday as we consider another of the stories Jesus told.
Normally at this time of year I would be inviting anyone from 6th Class upwards to attend Communicant or Confirmation classes. But I have decided to postpone these until we are able to meet again in person. These classes contain the most important spiritual teachings which would be very difficult to properly communicate over Zoom.
If you are feeling particularly low, then please do reach out and let me know. I’ll be more than happy to meet and pray with you in a safe and socially distanced way. Do keep in touch with your elder and let’s keep a special eye out for each other and keep praying for one another.
But for now, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
As you have come to worship, so go now to serve, showing the truth in your lives of what you have declared with your lips. And…
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
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