Sunday January 10th Worship at Wesley Chapel

On Sunday January 10th worship was led by Rev. Peter Whittaker one of our retired ministers, known in the Methodist Church as a Supernumerary minister. He is an inspired spiritual man who always makes worship meaningful and profound. Before we began worship Peter explained that it was both the celebration of the wise men in the Western Church and the baptism of Jesus, the Focus in the Eastern Church. He would bring both aspects of this time of year into his worship. We sang, ‘Hail to the Lord’s anointed’ after we heard the call to worship based on Isaiah 49 the Light of the Nations. His opening prayers were the collect for the day and a prayer by Thomas Merton, which focussed on having fire in the heart. We then heard the description of the wise men from Matthew 2.1-12 and the baptism of Jesus portrayed in Luke 4. After the former reading we were silent for a minute or two, before Peter prayed and then sang an acclamation; ‘the Lord is my light and my salvation, in God I trust’ and Peter repeated that procedure following the second reading. That enabled us to focus on each reading and the time of silence helped us to reflect on each reading.
We sang one of the best known Epiphany hymns, ‘Brightest and best of the sons of the morning.’ Before we sang it Peter reminisced about the singing words locally known in Huddersfield where he grew up to the song, ‘We three kings of Orient are’. It immediately reminded me of a version of ‘While Shepherds watched their flocks by night’, While shepherds washed their socks by night!
The Western church celebrated the showing of the son of man to the world in the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrated the baptism of Jesus in which God identifies with humanity, the Light of the World. The Magi or Kings are claimed part of many nations such as from ancient Persia, today’s Iran. Afghanistan may have been the source of one of the gifts at Jesus’ birth. The Medici family were bankers and their family were painted into frescos on the walls of their private chapel; the power brokers seemed to have been taking power from Jesus. The power of Christ drew the whole world to him both at his birth and at his death. All nations from the highest and lowest came to the stable.
God with us speaks across time and culture to all, including you and me. The wise men came to make the case for the Jewish Messiah to be the universal Saviour. This creates a dialogue with other faiths to offer the light of Christ to all who search for faith. Jesus the one who wise men worshipped is the Saviour and life giver potentially for all, even those with no faith, for pagans, even for militant atheists. Epiphany now as before reveals that Christ is not for one race or ethnic group, but the message of hope and love is for each and every person in the world. We are called to be messengers of that hope to all people.
We are called by baptism to serve Christ today so Jesus can be light to the nations, our communities, neighbours and families to each of us. Epiphany reveals God’s love to the world. The next hymn, ‘There is a Redeemer’ links the birth and death of our Lord.
Peter had a wonderful way of leading the prayers of intercession by introducing the prayers by us singing a Taizé chant; ‘Stay with me,’ after listening to the music played first; it made us prepare ourselves for the prayers, which focussed on the Middle East, the cradle of the faith in particular Lebanon, the world, the church and finally ourselves. We then sang ‘In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful’, having initially heard the music played. Doing the prayers in the way was really helpful to me and led me to recognise the presence of God in our worship. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘All I once held dear,’ and we were encouraged to rededicate our lives to serve Christ. It was one of the most uplifting services I have experienced; it is a privilege to worship under Peter’s leadership.

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4 Responses to Sunday January 10th Worship at Wesley Chapel

  1. SHUTTHATNEGATIVENOISEOFF! says:

    Is this Wesley Chapel, Florida?

  2. helenbeech says:

    No this is Wesley Chapel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire United Kingdom. I live in England and I attend the Methodist Chapel in the town centre and am a Methodist Local Preacher who preaches in the Nidd Vale District.

  3. selwyngoodacre says:

    re: misinterpreting hymns and so on – as a child I often wondered about that famous tar making company – we three kings of orient tar

  4. helenbeech says:

    I love that interpretation. When we are children we often do hear things wrong and learn them in that way. That is so special.

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