Material for Worship on the Third Sunday after Epiphany

The Lord called the disciples to be fishers of men.
He calls us to follow him, to trust in, rely on and have confidence in him.
Come, let us cast our nets into his waters and offer ourselves in worship.

Our readings today are 1 Corinthians 7.29-31read by Margaret and Mark 1.14-20 read by Les.

You are invited to listen to David playing the tune Kelvingrove as you follow the words of John Bell’s hymn ‘The Summons’ or to sing along.

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown in you, and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare,
should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded man see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean,
and do such as this unseen?
And admit to what I mean in you, and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell that fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound in you, and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go,
where your love and footsteps show,
thus I’ll move and live and grow in you, and you in me.

Revd Moira Jamieson writes:

Whenever I sing the words of this hymn, it reminds me of my commitment to be a follower of Christ at my confirmation many, many years ago. It also reminds me of the promises I made at my ordination in 2008. The call to discipleship is what our Gospel passage this morning, reminds us of. When Jesus called his first disciples, he wasn’t just inviting them to come and follow him, but to learn from and be taught by him. The story is basically a fishing story. It’s a fishing story about Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. Simon Peter, as you know, was a fisherman by trade. He fished on the Sea of Galilee, a beautiful big lake, thirteen miles long and eight miles wide. A lake which Sandy and I sailed on three years ago after eating some Tilapia fish (or Peter’s fish). The men who fished on the lake weren’t fishing as sport, they were fishing for their livelihoods.

The passages preceding our text today speak of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. Now he has emerged and is ready to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He sees the fishermen Simon and Andrew and he calls to them. They immediately drop their nets and follow Jesus, as do James and John who are further down the shoreline. Amazingly none of these four men ask any questions. They don’t enquire about pay, fringe benefits, time off for holidays or even what position they might have in this Kingdom of God – although we know that they eventually got round to that last question! They don’t ask who Jesus is, what he is about, or where he is going. This makes me wonder if they had heard stories of Jesus from others. Had they perhaps witnessed his baptism by John, and had they, maybe, heard him preach some days before he arrived in their fishing village, sensing something ‘different’ about this man?

If we look at John 1.41-42, we find that Andrew did in fact know about Jesus as he was a follower of John the Baptist. When he heard John speak about Jesus. he then went and spoke to his brother Simon and told him, “we have found the Messiah.” Whatever the answers are to these questions, Christians today know what it is to be called by God. You or I wouldn’t be members of St. Mary’s today if we didn’t feel that call from God, through the Holy Spirit, to follow Jesus and his teachings. The Holy Spirit stirs up within us the need to be in God’s house, to hear his holy scriptures and to sing praises to him. However, as we have experienced during this Covid pandemic, we don’t need to be in a church building to experience God’s presence with us and to connect with him in worship. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit makes us restless, makes us uncomfortable, and especially at this time of year as we move towards Lent, it makes us look back at our past actions to see if there is anything we need to change. The Holy Spirit can also be reassuring and can bring us peace and calm, soothing our souls in times of trouble. I hope that this has been evident for you during the times of lockdown and all the restrictions we have had to follow.

There is a popular belief that to be a disciple of Jesus is to simply follow him. However, the true meaning of the word ‘disciple’ is in fact someone who learns. The twelve disciples of Jesus who were his close companions were always getting the wrong end of the stick and were often accused of not understanding the things that Jesus was trying to teach them, especially in the parables. They were being called to be fishers of people and not fish, and they probably didn’t know just how hard it would be. Many times they would be shunned and persecuted for spreading the good news of the gospel, many times they would struggle to make their voices heard, and many times they would have to rely on the hospitality of strangers to sustain them. In our gospel passage this morning, Jesus said, ‘Follow me, I will make you fish for people.’ Jesus taught Simon Peter and his followers how to ‘fish for people,’ they had to learn a new skill, a new talent, a new ability. If there is one thing that’s true about a good fisherman, it’s that he has to be taught by other skilled fishermen. If we are to be true followers of Jesus, we too must learn what it means to be a fisher of people. What does that mean for us? What are some of the characteristics of becoming good fishers of people? Well, I believe that we must have the right attitude in order to show people that we are living out the gospel in our lives. We need to show people that we are filled with God’s love and that we want to show that love to them and to others. We should try to be encouraging, without being pushy, and we need to be ready to share our faith whenever an opportunity comes along. If people can see that we have God in our lives, we are well on the way to being good fishers of people. We should also take stock of how we are living our lives and be ready to repent if things aren’t This coming season Lent, don’t worry too much about what you can give up, instead let’s all try to be learning disciples, finding time to read our Bibles and learning more about how we too can be good fishers of people.

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, clothe us with the armour of faith as we trust in you for our every need. Help us to be good stewards of your wonderful creation, always mindful of the impact our lifestyle choices make on the lives of others. As we seek to serve you in our communities, strengthen our faith and give us ears to hear your call to us. Whatever you have given us to do in this world, enable us to do it with firm resolve and joyful obedience, so that our lives and the lives our others are enriched by it.

Lord, we are aware of the suffering that is going on in our world just now. The lives of many are on hold until they receive the Covid vaccine. We pray for those who are struggling with mental health issues, those who are fearful for loved ones in hospital and those whose routine hospital appointments are being cancelled and treatments delayed. Give us strength and courage Lord as we face new challenges each day and help us to put our trust in you. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In a world where there is much inequality, help us to count our blessings as we hear of others who are struggling to feed their families and to be generous with what we can do and what we can give to help others. We thank you for food banks and for local charities who are reaching out to families in need, but we pray that world leaders and those in our own governments would do more to promote equality in all areas of life to help eradicate poverty and homelessness. Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Lord, bless and protect all who are working in healthcare in hospitals and in the community and all essential workers who are in contact with the public each day. Help us to obey the guidelines we are given so that we might help to protect others. We thank you for our times of good health and bring before you now those who are ill at this time either at home or in hospital, and those who are grieving. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We thank you for the church and for our faith during the times of restrictions. Bless our Primus Mark, our Bishop Ian and Nerys, Peter and Jeanette. Lord, bless your Church throughout the world and protect those who are persecuted for their faith. May we all seek to spread the Good News of your Kingdom with those we meet. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Finally Lord, we pray for ourselves and our families. May we always trust in you as we travel along on our journey of faith together as your disciples. Bless us this week and keep us safe. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.