St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

St Mary’s Sunday Service Epiphany 5 for 7th February 2021

    Epiphany 5  7th February 2021

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this: 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Gloria:   Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, 
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.    Amen.

Collect:   Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Isaiah 40:21-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see:Who created these? He who brings out their starry host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?  
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for he Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Gospel:   Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Jesus was often found in people’s homes, eating, talking, bringing new life.  Today we have an intimate picture of Peter’s home on the Sabbath – a kind of ‘Sunday lunch’, the centre of the week.  But all was not well as the men returned from synagogue.

Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  Now dependent on Peter’s fishing and her daughter’s goodwill, was she worried that Peter would leave them in the lurch as he followed Jesus?  Would she be too frail to help out?

Peter’s wife must have been torn between her mother and her husband.  How were both of them to feel fulfilled, and how was she to flourish? Peter’s loyalties would have been divided between his family responsibilities and his new vocation as a ‘fisher of people’.

Relationships can become strained when we fear we will lose our sense of who we are and who we might be. Jesus must have felt the deeper currents of unease when he entered Peter’s house; he knew that real healing of the situation as well as the woman was needed.

Peter’s mother-in-law was enabled to serve – her worth was restored.
Maybe the conversation over the Sabbath meal turned to what following Jesus would mean, and perhaps Peter’s wife was reassured and even inspired.  We hear that she accompanied Peter on his mission trips in due course as a ‘believing wife’.  (1 Cor.9:5)

Healing relationships involves noticing the giftedness of those around us, blessing them, enabling them to bear fruit, without worrying about our own position too much.  Like Peter’s mother-in-law, let’s begin to serve one another, lifting each other up in hope and trust.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom you chose us, before the foundation of the world, and destined us in love to be your own: help us to pray for all your children.

For the life of the world; that your peace may be known and may prevail:  For harmony and generosity between the nations, and an end to oppression and violence, especially in Russia and China.

For all who suffer injury, death or loss; that they may know the hope to which you call us:  For the sick and grieving; for the anxious and fearful; for the bored, lonely and frustrated, young and old.

For all who exercise rule and authority; that they may acknowledge your power: For politicians, scientists, business leaders, educators and judges, as they seek to rebuild society after the pandemic.

For the Church which is Christ’s body; that it may live for the praise of your glory:  For Ian our bishop and Keith, newly-elected bishop of Argyll and the Isles.  For those responding to a call to serve your church in lay and ordained ministry.

For those who are in our thoughts and hearts at this time, especially …

God, you exerted your strength and power when you raised Christ from the dead, putting everything in subjection beneath his feet: accept the prayers which we offer in his name for the world you have created and redeemed; through him in whom you have set forth the mystery of your will, to unite all things in heaven and on earth, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Great Thanksgiving:
             Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
              for it is right to give our thanks and praise.
              Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; 
              Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established 
the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might 
for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth 
in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.       
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power 
you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and 
set your people free to be his Body in the world.
On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.” 

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed Passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice. Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.
Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages, 
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who 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.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you.    

Prayer:   Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called into your service:  strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

This hymn was written by Timothy Rees, who was a chaplain in World War 1 and Bishop of Llandaff during the Depression, Hear it sung at:

God is love, let heaven adore him;  God is love, let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,  and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation, He who spread the heavens above,
He who breathes through all creation, He is love, eternal love.

God is love and he enfolding all the world in one embrace;
with unfailing grasp is holding every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow’s iron rod,
Then they find the self-same aching deep within the heart of God.

God is love, and though with blindness sin afflicts each human soul,
God’s eternal loving-kindness holds and guides and keeps them whole.
Sin and death and hell shall never o’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so love for ever o’er the universe must reign.