JOHN CH 1 V 43-51

When my husband Phil was promoted to a job in Peterborough, I’m ashamed to admit I had no idea where Peterborough was. Fortunately I taught with a geography teacher who did have that information, although only to tell me that it was on the main railway line to London! And some years later we moved to South Luffenham which no-one had heard of. Where? people ask! In our reading today we hear Nathaniel being very derogatory about Nazareth and we can imagine him saying, “Where?” 

Nazareth is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament and after the death of Christ  sank again into obscurity and it was only later that it became a place of pilgrimage and under the Crusades became a bishopric. But Cana was seemingly more well-known even though it was only about four miles from Nazareth. In spite of this Philip does not make any retort except, Come and see!

The Old Testament reading for today is the story of the calling of Samuel as he slept in the Temple. He thought it was the priest Eli calling him and it wasn’t until Eli realised that it was God calling that he instructed Samuel to say “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” The chapter begins with the words: In those days there were very few messages from the Lord.  Perhaps there is a link between the two comments No messages and I am listening.

Philip had met Jesus and followed him but he was desperate for his friend to share in what he had found.  Nathaniel was less than enthusiastic; perhaps he wanted to be left alone; perhaps he didn’t need a saviour. But out of friendship or curiosity he went to see what all the fuss was about. Jesus saw something special in this man and Nathaniel realised that Jesus knew who he was. Not in the sense of knowing what he did but knew all the deep places in him. A very scary concept but Christ knows each one of us like that. And he still wants to have us with him. A sobering thought!

Most of us think that most of the time we are doing ok. But when we have time to reflect, which we have had in abundance recently, we can see the things that we have done that we ought not to have done and have not done those things which we ought to have done. Perhaps seemingly small things like not phoning to see how someone is, gossiping, being unkind but they are still dark stains on our hearts which Christ knows.

Eli told Samuel to listen and Philip told Nathaniel to come and see. We are not sure who Nathaniel is although he must have been in the inner circle as he is mentioned in John ch 21 v 2 in the list of disciples when Jesus appeared to them when they were fishing after the resurrection. But it doesn’t really matter who he was; what we can learn from him and his response to Jesus is the important thing. Nathaniel knew that Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel. He recognised his saviour. Jesus comes alongside us and calls us by name.

We don’t know much about Philip either; he appears to have worked faithfully in the background, preaching and ultimately being killed in the service of Christ. He guided people towards belief in Christ as he did with Nathaniel But as the Swiss theologian F.L.Godet wrote: One lighted torch serves to light another.

Philip wanted to share his new-found faith and Nathaniel believed and found his own faith. They followed Christ, giving their all, even life itself. We are unlikely to be asked to give our physical lives in the service of God but we are asked to give all of ourselves to him. At the beginning of each year the Methodists hold a Covenant service and the main prayer in this in the toughest I have ever seen and the most difficult to mean. However, I would like to share it with you and you can judge for yourselves.

I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

 And a more modern version does not make it any easier

I am no longer my own but yours. Your will, not mine, be done in all things, wherever you may place me, in all that I do and in all that I may endure; when there is work for me and when there is none; when I am troubled and when I am at peace. Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded; when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking; when I have all things, and when I have nothing. I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you, as and where you choose. Glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. May it be so for ever. Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven.

This is written in the first person so there is no chance of pretending that it only applies to everyone else! Samuel listened to God speaking to him and Philip and Nathaniel made this life changing commitment. Do we listen to God’s voice and give ourselves totally to him to follow him in all he asks of us?

A short prayer:

God, by your Holy Spirit, now send us in your name
To serve the lost and outcast, the poor for whom you came.
Through gifts of hope and healing, through loving ministry,
May we reach out, inviting the world to “Come and see!” Amen.


Now we will listen to Jean lead us in I, the Lord of sea and sky, thinking especially about the words of the chorus “I will go, Lord”




We may not all be gathered in the same building, but at this time, when we need each other so much, we are invited to pray together, from where we are – knowing that God can hear us all and can blend even distant voices into one song of praise.

Reconciling God, we pray for your world. May all that is divided by doctrine or politics, class or nationality, be united in your praise. We pray for a peaceful world, where children grow up without fear, where security rests on trust rather than threats, and where nations fight against poverty rather than against each other

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Loving Lord, we pray for all in authority in the church, that those who lead us, may establish right priorities, and that by your wisdom and their vision it may reflect your kingdom. We remember especially our bishops, Donald and John, as he fights to become well again. May members of your church be present wherever there is need

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

 Healing God, we pray for those who are ill and suffering and those who care for them, for all who are worried, for those who are grieving and we remember especially the family of Sheila Saunders, who died last Sunday. We pray for those experiencing trauma and for a world gripped by the repercussions of pandemic. May we know the power of Christ to sustain us and the love of friends near and distanced to support us. You know our greatest fears, our longings and our hopes, sometimes expressed and sometimes kept silent in our hearts.

  Lord, in your mercy,

 Hear our prayer

Eternal God, we remember before you all those who have guided us in to your light and who have loved us when seen at our worst.  We remember our friend Sheila, missed by so many and who has left a legacy of love and commitment. We bring them all before you, knowing that they are with you in your glory.

Lord, in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Eternal God, present among us, you are with us in our gathering, you are with us in our distancing. Hear our prayers, and blend our voices together, unite us by your Spirit as we join together in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father

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