Lighting of the Christ Candle: Colleen Fleming
We light the Christ candle as a symbol of Christ, the light of the world among us.
With the light of Christ on our path, shall we approach with a moment of meditation to quiet our minds and welcome God into our hearts as we join in praise and worship.

Opening Hymn:  VU#238 “How Great Thou Art”

Our meditation today will revolve around the theme of Jesus being the light of the world and what it means when Jesus commands us to also be a light to the world. This is also sometimes referred to as the week of prayer for Christian unity

For our call to Worship: Words of VU#86 An Epiphany Prayer – read in unison

Radiant God, light for all people and all places, by the guidance of a star, you led the Magi to worship the Christ child.

By the light of faith lead us to worship you in peace and love and guide us in your way.

We pray in the name of Christ, light of the world. Amen

Opening prayer: Gathering Pg.48 lower right & pg.49 upper left (responsively)

Let us follow Jesus lead in praying that “all may be one”
When we hear of the struggles toward peace in a world torn with hate
We pray from the deepest part of ourselves that “all may be one”
When we are aware of the good that would be possible if local churches worked in closer harmony
We pray from the deepest part of ourselves that “all may be one”
When the conflicts and divisions of the communities of which we are part come home to us
We pray from the deepest part of ourselves that “all may be one”
When we see our Christian life as a personal journey rather than a venture with our sisters and brothers in the faith
We pray from the deepest part of ourselves that “all may be one”

In the name of Jesus Christ, who brought people together, we pray as he taught:

Lord’s prayer (unison) Our Father …

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that 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.

Prayer of confession: Gathering Pg.44 lower right :

“Even though it causes us pain O God, we confess that we are not the people we could be.

We are too quick to judge. We are too quick to magnify the faults of others, too quick to justify and minimize our own. Help us to focus on being people of grace and compassion.

Help us to be your light in the world. Amen

Our words of assurance of pardon this morning are the very familiar words of John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

We believe and although we fall short, we must persevere to the end. Hold tight to His Word.

Our worship now continues with the anthem of the choir: Majesty

Learning with the children

Before I start, we will listen to a short part of scripture with some of Jesus instructions for us.

Scripture: John 8:12   Matthew 5:13-16  Belinda O’Brien

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

So what do we have here?   [a light or lamp]
What is a lamp supposed to do?    [give light so we can see]
[flip switch] Why doesn’t this lamp seem to work?   [it isn’t plugged into anything]
[plug it in] so now it is plugged in but it still isn’t giving light. Why? [plugged in and turned on]

So when a light is plugged in and turned on, what is it connected to? What makes it shine?

Electricity!

In the Bible we heard Jesus tell us to be a light to the world. Now if you imagine God as electricity. Just as the electricity is connected to all the different lights in the church so that they can help us see, we can be connected to God and give light. We are all different but we can all do the same job and that is to give light.

I have a couple examples for you on how you can be a light

When we cheer up a sad person, our light helps get rid of their darkness and sadness
When you speak up in truth you are being the light in that situation.

Now before you go to Sunday School shall we sing a little song that reminds us about being a light for Jesus and for those around us.

Hymn: VU# 585 “Jesus Bids Us Shine”

Prayer of Enlightenment

God almighty, it is our prayer this morning that you will speak to us from your word. That we may receive assurance, comfort and guidance. Remove all distractions from our minds. Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 9:1, 2, 6, 7      Matthew 4: 12-17     Isaiah 9: 1,2,6,7

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this

Jesus Begins to Preach

Matthew 4:12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”[f]

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Hymn: VU#336 “Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies”

Sermon: All See, and no be?

The very first thing that God did was create light. In Genesis 1:3 we read “God said, let there be light and there was light. Then we read that God saw that the light was good”

This light we read about was not the sun.

It was not until verse 15 in Genesis 1, on what was the fourth day that God made 2 great lights, the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night. The sun was necessary to provide physical energy for all the plant and animal life which God would create the next two days

Since the dawn of time, the word of God is full of analogies and metaphors of darkness versus physical light or darkness versus spiritual light. In Psalm 27, King David boldly professes “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”

For God’s people in the Old Testament, the light that God provided for his people was the light of the Law. Even though God had created light, throughout the Old Testament, people were often wandering around aimlessly in the darkness. Through sin, humanity’s connection with God was broken and the light was often dim.

Then God, through the prophet Isaiah made the bold prophesy and promise which we heard in our Old Testament scripture. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

This was not going to be an ordinary light, this was going to be the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This promised light would reign on David’s throne establishing justice and righteousness forever.

In Matthew 4 we read how this promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. Our New Testament reading ended with the words “from that time Jesus began to preach…”

What did Jesus preach about? Among others things Jesus proclaimed “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Never walk in darkness? Never? … that’s a long time.

We have all had those times when we felt like we were doing a pretty good job of following Jesus. But there was that surgery or we were really challenged with the things our kids did or work really presented us with some brutal choices … it sure felt dark.

What about the promise of Jesus for those who follow him will never walk in darkness? I believe that the answer to that is in part, the other part of our reading this morning.

Jesus declares “You are the light of the world” and then commands us to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

There is clearly a connection between God as the source, Jesus as the light, our lights and the evidence of that light.

During my chat with the children earlier, I used the analogy of God as electricity. Electricity is the power to run everything … the lights, the furnace, the sound system, our computers, the equipment at work, you name it, it needs electricity.

For any of these things to work, they have to be plugged in or connected. But they also need to be turned on. In the same way we need to be connected to God. There is more to it though then just following Jesus and believing in Jesus.

God created us with free will. Free will to turn on our connection to God or to turn it off. When we turn on our connection to God, Jesus says our light will allow others to see our good deeds. Our sins are breaks in our connection to God.

Just like a lamp or a machine or a computer does not have to earn the right to being connected, Jesus gives us a connection to God. When we turn on that connection, we have a light on our path. Even more important, we are a light in the darkness of others, others will see our good deeds, our acts of light.

A couple of days ago The People’s Choice Awards were on TV. Some of you may have watched it. Personally I do not make time for that stuff, but the acceptance speech of Tyler Perry came across one of my internet feeds.

Tyler Perry was given the award for Favourite Humanitarian. His acceptance speech was capped at 3 minutes so it was considered odd when he started talking about safety features of the building they were in. His speech had a profound message that ties in with what I have been talking about.

Tyler’s speech focused on becoming a positive force for good in other people’s lives when they need it most. He used the emergency lights in the building as an example. The batteries are connected to the electricity so that when the power goes out, there still is a light in the darkness to show us the way.

Tyler pointed out “it is so important that we know that no matter how dark it gets, we all have to be light for each other.” You turn on your phone, you turn on your television, you’re met with darkness, negativity, death, destruction, terrorism, murder, hate, racism. You know, you don’t even need to search for it, because it’s searching for you.

Many people are very concerned these days about the darkness that seems to be coming from the leader and going down. Consider light as an attitude. When you turn on the light, darkness simply disappears since they can not coexist.

Recently I listened to a fascinating talk by Marianne Williamson on the spiritual purpose of relationships. If anyone is interested I can email you the link for the talk.

She compared the universe to a house wired for electricity and we are the lamps. It doesn’t matter if we are big or small, pretty or ugly, whatever colour. The power of the lamp is from the electricity. The light does not come from the lamp, it comes from the electricity that flows through it.

She suggested that if we identify with our physical selves we identify with the lamp but if we identify with the spirit we identify with the electricity that flows through us to give light to the world around us. Marianne further stated “My sole purpose is to plug in so that light can shine around. It is not me, it is the electricity flowing through me and working in me.” [end quote]

This is a portrait of discipleship. Jesus, who is the light of the world, re-creates us into the light of the world. We are light, not because of anything in ourselves, but because we are in a union with the light of the world

We cannot make ourselves the light of the world. Jesus says you are the light of the world because of your relationship with him. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul says “The God who said, ‘Out of darkness the light shall shine!’ is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ”

So what are some of the ways that we can be the light that is not hidden? How will the light from our lamp be a witness?

I briefly gave a couple of examples to the children

When you bring flowers to someone who is grieving the loss of a spouse, your light shows that person he or she is not alone.

When you speak up in truth, even if it makes you unpopular, you are being the light in that situation. Scripture tells us “the truth will set you free”

Giving a hug to someone who is struggling with the challenges of chemo gives light and hope and courage. It says “I hurt with you, I am scared with you, you are not alone”

When the electricity flows through my lamp, through me, the electricity becomes one with me. It becomes one with every other lamp in the house. It is no longer a relationship about “me”. It is a relationship about “we” … about “us”. Our light becomes our bond with our church family. It can become our bond with our community, with our world, through our witness, by sharing our light.

Me being up here leading in worship is letting my light shine. With my connection to you through God, that task is no more important then doing the sound, leading Sunday, sitting in the pew listening, giving your offering.

It is not enough to SEE the light, we must BE the light. What have you done lately to nourish your connection with God so that his light can shine through you?

Amen

In the mortal or physical world, when I give something away, I no longer have it. In the spiritual world, when I give something away, I have more of the same in my life. We now have opportunity of sharing in some of our material possessions. May this giving be done with a heart filled with gratitude for the abundance we have been blessed. The offering will now be received.

Offertory Solo: Peyton “What a friend we have in Jesus”

Offertory hymn: VU#543 “We Give Thee but Thine Own”

Offertory Prayer: Creator God, creator of all of our abundance, we present these gifts as a token of our gratitude for all that you have done for us. Bless the givers and the gifts in your service both here and abroad. Amen

Prayers of the People

Before I begin the prayers of the people I would like to share a little update on Derek Green. As you may or may not know, he had a stroke in mid December and is now in St.Joseph’s Rehab in Guelph hoping to get into Royal Terrace but hoping at the least to be closer to his wife Cynthia.

Here I am having trouble imagining being in his position, and Derek is expressing gratitude for having a cell phone to talk to Cynthia daily, for the person running his errands, etc.

Derek is not alone unfortunately in his forced separation from a spouse. Not only do we need to remember these people in our prayers, we need to remember them with visits, with hugs. That is letting our light shine.

Shall we bow in prayer. Merciful God and Father, it is with gratitude and concerns that we collectively approach you in prayer this morning
Freedom to worship, Canada, fellowship of friends and family, all the material things we are blessed with, our homes, our jobs, our opportunities to serve in this church community.
Thanks for sending a new shepherd for this flock, thanks for providing weekly worship leaders
Think of our world, all the hate, help us to be instruments of peace, light and joy
Be those who are struggling with health, finances, mobility issues as they get older
Be with those who have to live apart
Be with those grieving the loss of a loved one
Help us to seize in every opportunity to be a light in the world

Closing Hymn: VU#87 “I Am the Light of the World”

Commissioning and Benediction: as we prepare to leave this place, may these words guide our actions for this week

I turn this day over to God’s plan so that He can work through me and I through Him”

The Lord bless you and keep you until we meet again

Choral Commissioning: VU#964 “Go now in Peace”

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