We apologise that these sermons and meditations have been temporarily suspended while our vicar remains unwell. We are praying for his speedy recovery.
THE VICAR PROVIDES FOOD FOR OUR SOULS As we are not able to meet together on Sundays to praise God and hear his Word due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am providing weekly sermons on line as food for our souls. Please read them and meditate upon them. If you know of anyone who would appreciate a paper copy as they are not online, please inform me and I will arrange for it to be delivered to their home.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY Readings: 1 Samuel 3.1-10; Psalm 139.1-10; Revelation 5. 1-10; John 1. 43-51. Collect for the week Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. SERMON MEDITATION: GOD SPEAKS 1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 3, VERSES 1-10 Now the boy Samuel was serving the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had just gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly, the Lord called out, "Samuel! Samuel!" "Yes?" Samuel replied. "What is it?" He jumped up and ran to Eli. "Here I am. What do you need?" "I didn't call you," Eli replied. "Go on back to bed." So he did. Then the Lord called out again, "Samuel!" Again Samuel jumped up and ran to Eli. "Here I am," he said. "What do you need?" "I didn't call you, my son," Eli said. "Go on back to bed." Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So now the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel jumped up and ran to Eli. "Here I am," he said. "What do you need?" Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, "Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, 'Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel replied, "Yes, your servant is listening." JOHN CHAPTER 1, VERSES 43-51 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Come, be my disciple." Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter's hometown. Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." "Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?" "Just come and see for yourself," Philip said. As they approached, Jesus said, "Here comes an honest man—a true son of Israel." "How do you know about me?" Nathanael asked. And Jesus replied, "I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you." Nathanael replied, "Teacher, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!" Jesus asked him, "Do you believe all this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." Then he said, "The truth is, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down upon the Son of Man."
As we are unable to get out and about if we want to make contact with people we either use the telephone, a letter or social media. In the Bible we also hear of God making contact with people, very often in order to call them to do different things for him. The call of Samuel In the Old Testament we hear of him making contact with Samuel during a barren period in the spiritual life of God's people when messages from the Lord were very rare People were not accustomed to God speaking to them. When God first called out to young Samuel, neither Samuel himself nor Eli realised it was his voice. But God spoke persistently. Finally, the old experienced priest realised that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and advised him that if someone called again, he was to say, 'Yes, Lord, your servant is listening'. So when God called again Samuel did as requested, and God spoke to him calling him to be one of his prophets; one of his spokesmen in the world. God speaks to others in the Old Testament Throughout the Old Testament God is constantly communicating with people. Other men as well as Samuel were called to be prophets too: men like Isaiah who received the call when he was serving God at the altar in the temple. Noah was called by God to build an ark to save his family from the flood. Abraham was called to leave his homeland to go to be the father of a nation. Moses was called by God at the burning bush to lead his people out of bondage in Egypt. God speaks to others in the New Testament In the New Testament we hear of God continuing to communicating with people, usually through the mouth of his son, Jesus. God called twelve men to be Jesus’s disciples. Sometimes they were called directly by Jesus, men such as Andrew and Philip and James and John. At other times other people were used to bring people to Jesus: for instance, Andrew called his brother, Peter; whilst Philip called his friend, Nathaniel. Later on we hear in the Book of Acts Matthias being called by God to take the place of Judas through the process of casting lots (something like drawing straws). God called Paul to be a follower of Jesus and a missionary by means of a vision on the road to Damascus. God also spoke to men and women to be deacons and deaconesses to look after the practical needs of the churches. Others were likewise called by God to do specific things in the churches. Lessons for life 1. God makes contact with people today God still makes contact with people today. It might be to call them to be a follower of Jesus Christ or to do certain things for him in the world. It might be take a certain position of responsibility in the church or to do a specific task for him. It might to give people inner peace, comfort or guidance. How does God contact us? i. The Bible: the Word of God. Think of particular verses which speak to you. ii. A little voice inside us, especially when we pray. iii. Preaching. Is there a sermon that sticks in your mind? iv. Life's circumstances. Looking back on your life can you recall occasions when God spoke to you through certain events? v. Other people. I can think of many people through whom God spoke to me. Can you? Thank God for them, even if they are now no longer with us. 2. We must listen If God speaks we must listen. Often people are good talkers, but poor listeners. Sometimes, we don’t hear the voice of God because it is drowned out by our own voice or the voices in the world around us. Other times, we turn a deaf ear to the voice of God because we don’t want to hear what he has to say to us as it is too disturbing. An example from an incident in the White House The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House when he was president. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what he said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who came down the line to be presented to him and shake hands, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning”. The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvellous!", "Keep up the good work", "We are proud of you", "God bless you, sir". It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming to her, sir”. Do we listen to others? Do we listen to God? 3. We must act As Samuel and the other Bible people not only listened to the voice of God but also responded, so must we. Never let God's words go in through one ear and out through the other, but use them to prompt us to action. INTERCESSIONS God in heaven, thank you for the people in the Bible who listened to you and responded to your voice by living lives in faithful obedience to your will. Help me to open my ears to hear your words and open my heart to respond to them so that I may obediently serve you in the world. Loving Lord, hear my prayer. Gracious God, I pray for peace in your world, and especially for those involved in the process of reconciliation and bridge-building between peoples, cultures or nations. I pray for the people of the United States during tense times as a new president takes office. Guide him and protect him as he leads his divided nation during difficult times. Help me in my everyday life to be an instrument of your peace. Loving Lord, hear my prayer. Sovereign King of the universe, I pray for our own nation, and for all who serve the people at all levels of government and responsibility during the current pandemic. I pray especially for careful and considered leadership that transcends party politics and works for the betterment of all sections of our diverse society during difficult times. Help us all to play our part in creating and maintaining a secure, just, equitable and loving society. Loving Lord, hear my prayer. Loving Father, I remember before you now those who are without even the most basic necessities of life. Bless the work of all aid agencies bringing hope to peoples in desperation and in situations that often seem hopeless. I pray for a fairer distribution of the earth’s resources in our world where millions suffer economic and social hardship. Loving Lord, hear my prayer. Loving Father, I turn my thoughts and prayers to those who have specific physical, mental or spiritual needs, including victims of coronavirus. I also remember before you those who faithfully and lovingly care for them. May all broken people feel your healing touch on their lives and come to know your peace. Loving Lord, hear my prayer. Lord, I pray that you will refresh and renew your Church. Show us new ways to make outreach in our own local community, and enable us to be bold in the profession of our faith. Bless the work of our Sunday School where Jesus and his love is presented to a new generation. Give me courage and strength to follow your Son, and not be shy to tell others about Jesus. Loving Lord, hear my prayer. Finally, Lord, I give you thanks for all who have influenced my life and have now been called to higher service with you. Through the merits of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, grant us a place with them in heaven when we die. Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen. Adrian Teale, January 2021
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST, JANUARY 10th Readings: Genesis 1. 1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19. 1-7; Mark 1. 4-11. The Collect Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant that we who are born again by water and the Spirit may rejoice to be called your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
SERMON MEDITATION MARK 1, VERSES 4-11 Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Belovèd, with whom I am well pleased.’ One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and he was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Jesus’s baptism We have no accounts of the nativity of Jesus in Mark’s gospel, the earliest gospel to be written. Whether or not he was aware of the birth narratives is a matter of conjecture. Mark begins his gospel with Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. Unlike others, Jesus didn’t need to repent and be baptised as a sign of having his sins washed, as he was sinless. He did so to show he was identifying totally with us, fallen sinful people. In his baptism Jesus has a mystical experience: he feels he’s being filled with the Holy Spirit and experiences the voice of God confirming him in his convictions. A decisive turning point Jesus’s baptism is thus a decisive turning point in his life. It marks a special anointing of power from on high to equip him for the challenges that lie before him; combined with the culmination of a growing awareness that he has a special relationship with God, that he’s unique, and that God his Father has special work for him to do in the world. Thereafter once he’s worked out in the wilderness what precisely God wants him to accomplish, he’s ready for mission. Lessons for life 1. In his baptism Jesus was set aside to serve God Jesus's baptism marked the point when he was set aside to serve God his Father in a special way. Like Jesus, all of us who are baptised, whether as adults or children, are set aside to work for God in the world. He's depending on us to serve him. That work may involve: practical help; counselling; advice; preaching, bringing healing to others. 2. In his baptism Jesus was given the Holy Spiritto equip him for his mission Having been set aside to work for God, Jesus didn't have to depend on his own resources as he was given the gift of the Holy Spirit to equip him for his task. The Holy Spirit also equips us for our life of a discipleship. As no appliance in the home will work unless it is plugged into the electricity supply, so too we need to be plugged into the power supply given to us by the Holy Spirit. 3. God affirmed that was pleased with Jesus God the Father was very proud of his son Jesus: he was his heart’s delight. He was his pride and joy. He took great satisfaction in him. We have evidence of this in his baptism when a supernatural voice was heard to proclaim: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” This praise was reaffirmed at the Transfiguration. Why was Jesus God’s pride and joy? Why was Jesus God’s pride and joy? Why was he so well pleased with him? Because he never let him down. He never turned his back on him. He was always obedient – endeavouring to please God by doing what he wanted rather than what he wanted himself. Is God proud of us? I wonder if God is proud of us? If our pictures were on God’s mantelpiece could he say of us: “These are my beloved children in whom I am well pleased?” Are we the type of people whose behaviour and lifestyle gives God joy and pleasure and satisfaction? Is God able to tap us on the back and congratulate us because we are living lives pleasing to him? Or is God disappointed in us, as children sometimes turn out to be a great disappointment to their parents by constantly letting them down by their behaviour and lifestyle? God wants to be proud of us God wants to be proud of each and every one of us as he was proud of Jesus. Every time we let him down by doing things and saying things that displease him we break not just his law, his rules, but more importantly his heart. Let us endeavour with greater rigour to please ourselves less and please God more by living lives the type of lives that give him satisfaction and joy. INTERCESSIONS Father God, at his baptism your Son Jesus Christ dedicated himself to doing your work in the world. I pray that more Christians will follow his example to giving of themselves in your service. Forgive me the many times when I have become negligent in doing your work in the world. Give me a deeper desire to reveal your love to others by word and deed. Gracious Father, hear my prayer. Heavenly Father, I pray that all who are made members of your Church by baptism may receive the grace of your Holy Spirit to enable them to live lives worthy of their calling. Teach us what it means to be the Body of Christ in this place, so that all your disciples here may in their differing ways make a positive contribution to the ongoing life of our fellowship. Gracious Father, hear my prayer. Lord, I pray for all parents who have brought their children to be baptised. As their children get older help them to remember the promises they have made to bring up their children as members of the Church. I also pray that you will make all parents aware of their responsibilities to care for the moral and spiritual welfare of their children. Gracious Father, hear my prayer. Father, I pray for people who live in fear due to the present adverse circumstances: fear of catching coronavirus; fear of losing their homes and financial security; fear of losing their businesses; fear of redundancy. I pray that the strong will support the weak and vulnerable; and that people living in local communities will work together to foster the common good. Gracious Father, hear my prayer. I pray Lord for all who are without faith, hope or love. I remember before you those who are sick, desperate or bereaved; and those who care for them, and seek to bring them relief from their suffering. I pray especially for all those known to us who are in special need of our prayers, and we remember them now before you. Gracious Father, hear my prayer. I remember before you, O Lord, those who have died, especially my loved ones. In your mercy, O Lord, bring us all to the joy of the resurrection and entry into eternal light and peace. Gracious Father, hear my prayer. Eternal God and Father, may all who are united to your Son through baptism daily rededicate themselves anew to loving and serving you and our Saviour. Take me and use me as a channel of your love and grace so that I may be a source of blessing to others. Gracious Father, hear my prayers and grant my requests, offered to you in the name of our Lord and Advocate, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Adrian Teale, January 2021.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275