January 14, 2024 – Second Sunday after the Epiphany
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, January 14, at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, January 14.
Previous livestreams and other worship and musical content is available on our YouTube channel. You can also check out our entire worship services archive. Our SoundCloud channel has yet more music and worship content.
Today we welcome guest organist Dr. Hanné Becker (DMA).
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
Call to Worship
One: Before we were born, God knew us.
All: God knit us together in the womb.
One: God searches out our paths, and tracks us along our way.
All: So we praise God, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
One: There is nowhere we can go where God is not with us.
All: How wonderful are all God’s works! Let us worship God together.
“Be thou my vision” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 461). Words (8th century) unknown Irish. English words by Irish linguist Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880–1931), set to verse (1912) by Anglo-Irish scholar Eleanor Henrietta Hull (1860–1935). Music (tune: “Slane”) traditional Irish. This harmony by English minister and musician Erik Reginald Routley (1917–1982); this descant by English hymnwriter John Whitridge Wilson (1905–1992). English words and verse setting, along with music in the public domain. Harmony copyright © 1975 and descant copyright © 1983 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God ever creating, ever loving, ever leading,
You are stillness when we are frantic; You are truth when we are perplexed. You give us freedom when fear takes hold; You send light when we have lost our way. You are love when we feel lonely and empty; You give us energy when we are ready to reach out. We praise you, Creator, Christ, Spirit, for all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will be for us. In our worship we offer you our love and loyalty, here and now, now and always.
God of mercy and patience,
you call us to follow you and offer us purpose and new possibilities. Yet we confess we often hesitate. We are not sure what we have to offer you. We’d prefer that someone else take the lead and maybe we will follow them. Forgive us when we hesitate. Help us trust in you and what you know we have to offer in Jesus’ name.
We pray in Jesus’ name, and continue to pray as he taught:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Declaration of Pardon
Believe the good news! In Christ, God has offered us forgiveness for all our sins and shortcomings. Trust that this forgiveness is for you, and know that God’s steadfast love and grace endure forever. Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
Guildwood Senior Choir Presents (or A musical Reflection: Solo)
Fun with the Young at Heart (children’s story)
We sing verse 1 of “Jesus loves me this I know”.
“Jesus loves me, this I know” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 373). Words (1859 or 1860) by American writer Anna Bartlett Warner (1827–1915). Revisions to v2 and v3 by Canadian Anglican priest David Rutherford McGuire (1929–1971). Music (1862; tune: “Jesus loves me”) by American musician William Batchelder Bradbury (1816–1868). Words, revisions and music in the public domain.
John 1:43–51 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
In my opinion, the gospel of John deepens our understanding of faith and what our life is about. The text we read today demonstrates that.
Verse 43, “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip said to him, ‘Follow me.’”
Jesus “decided” to go to Galilee. The Greek word used for “decided” is “ethelesen,” which could also be translated as “desired,” “purposed,” and “willed”. It is important to note that Jesus began his ministry intentionally in Galilee, a very troubled, divided, and marginalized place, and spent the majority of his time there. He did not begin his ministry from Jerusalem, but from Galilee.
He found Philip. Jesus did not accidentally run into Philip; instead, he found Philip, who was from Bethsaida, a small fishing town in Galilee, likely another fisherman. Unlike the synoptic gospels which mainly pay attention to Peter, Andrews, James and John; the gospel of John pays attention to Philip, the Greek name suggests, Philip has a foreign background. Jesus invited Philip by saying, “Follow me.”
Let’s pause here. If you were reading the synoptic Gospels, what would you expect to hear when Jesus invites someone with the words “Come and follow me”? We would anticipate that the person invited would follow Jesus immediately, leaving everything behind.
Mark 1:20, “Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” That is what we expect an invited disciple to respond to Jesus…
In fact, that is what we will explore next Sunday: how Simon Peter and his brother Andrew immediately followed Jesus. Yet, in the gospel of John, that is not how the invited disciple responds….
This is what Philip chooses to do when Jesus invites him to follow. Verse 44 and 45, “Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’”
I would like to highlight verse 45, “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’”
Rather than leaving everything behind to follow Jesus, Philip chooses to go out and find his friend Nathanael from Cana, another small town in Galilee. Just like Jesus finds Philip, Philip finds Nathanael.
Instead of telling Jesus, “Jesus I have a wonderful friend, could you go and talk to him?”, Philips finds Nathanael, he acts, he initiates and invites his friend, Nathanael to join him. This is what he says, “We have found him about whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” It is not just Jesus who found Philip, but Philip also found Jesus.
What the gospel of John is trying to show us is that there are different ways of responding to God’s call for us- different ways of experiencing God and following God. Yes, God comes and finds us, but at times, we too need to look for God and find God. God comes to those who are actively searching for God.
Philip’s response to Nathanael sheds further light on the matter, making it clearer. I just love how Philip responds to his friend, Nathanael who said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see.” Philip does not try to explain, he does not attempt to defend or argue why he should follow Jesus. Instead, he invites his friend to come and see Jesus for himself.
In the synoptic Gospels, following God may begin when we are ready to leave everything behind. But in the Gospel of John, following God may begin when we come and see the living Christ today, here and now with our own hearts and minds!
Come and see. To come is to walk, to start a journey, to initiate, and to act. To come is to transform our thoughts, dreams, prayers, and best intentions into our reality. To see is not merely to observe what is external with our physical eyes, but to grasp its essence and perceive beyond what meets the eye. To see is to discern with our hearts, to see is to examine with our minds.
Faith demands both action and discernment. When either is absent, our faith becomes lifeless. Following Jesus involves courageous action, paired with discernment and deep meditation on what it means to serve God. It requires not settling for what others dictate but engaging in constructive and wise thinking, seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus.
“Lord, Jesus, you shall be my song” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 665). English words (1970; translated from the original French words of 1961) by Anglo-Canadian priest, musician and theologian Stephen Sommerville (1931–); music (1961; tune: “Les Petities Soeurs”) by Les Petites Soeurs de Jésus. English words copyright © 1970 Stephen Sommerville. Music copyright © 1987 Les Petites Soeurs de Jésus.
For centuries, God has called people to give their lives serving God’s holy purposes. May the gifts we offer today also serve God’s purposes in the church and the world, for the sake of Christ our Lord.
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Our offering will now be received.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306). Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.
Prayer of dedication
God of new possibilities, in Christ you create a future for each of us, inviting us to flourish in our faith. Use us and the gifts we offer to create new possibilities for those who are uncertain about what the future holds. For we trust that you hold the future for us all. Amen.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving and Hope:
God of all life and each life, Each week our prayers combine with those of others in many different places. We face different challenges and yet we long for many of the same things, things you offer in your grace and mercy. Thank you for honouring all our prayers with the gift of your Spirit, so that we can find both strength and wisdom to serve you.
Today we remember before you people living face to face with war and violence, in places where hatred has been stirred up and fear stalks people on their own streets; And we pray for all those displaced by conflict, seeking refuge among us or in camps and communities around the world: God, speak to us a word of peace: Embrace us with your love.
We remember before you people struggling in these uncertain economic times, those who have lost their jobs or worry about making ends meet: God, speak to us a word of reassurance: Embrace us with your love.
We remember before you people facing discrimination and social prejudice every day, those who are bullied at school, at work or at home, and those who are made ashamed of who they are: God, speak to us a word of dignity: Embrace us with your love.
We remember before you people facing illness and suffering in their lives or in the lives of those they love, those struggling with disability and lack of access or needed resources, and those who know grief or anxiety: God, speak to us a word of healing: Embrace us with your love.
We remember before you your whole creation and its many vulnerable facets and faces. Teach us how to care for the world you love so we may live together wisely: God, speak to us a word of wisdom: Embrace us with your love.
And so, joining our voices to Jesus’ followers around the world, we pray [our closing hymn].
“Amazing Grace” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 670). Words (1772) by English composer and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807). Music (1835; tune “New Britain”) by American composer William Walker (1809–1875). Words and music in the public domain.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
“Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
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