LITURGY

Third Sunday Year A

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WORD OF GOD
The Lord humbled
the land of Zebulun and Naphtali,
but in days to come
he will confer glory on them.
(Isaiah 8:23)

WORDS FOR WORSHIP
In your comings and your goings may the Father of light shine his face on you and illumine your hearts with joy.
Amen.
In moments of darkness and trouble may Jesus Christ, the light for the nations, guide your footsteps on the right paths.
Amen.
In times of doubt and discouragement may the Holy Spirit of God be an ever-present comfort and support to you.
Amen.
And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

WORD FOR TODAY
As Jesus begins his preaching mission the scriptures point to him as the Light of the world. To follow Jesus in our daily lives means to be called from despair to hope, from sadness to joy, and from darkness into light.

FAITH IN FOCUS: QUITE A SURPRISE
We all have our own prejudices. Some of us wouldn’t touch a German white wine if it were on prescription. Others would always go for a week’s bed and breakfast at Mrs Higginbottom’s boarding house in Eastbourne rather than a luxury holiday abroad in the sun. A new fashion design business would have an uphill struggle if it opened in Scunthorpe and a gourmet restaurant would have to prove itself to survive in West Bromwich. (Apologies to anyone who lives in these towns!)
The same was true in Jesus’s day. Of all the chic places to be found, the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, in northern Palestine, was not exactly at the top of the list. It had been attacked by the Assyrians and many people had been deported. So it’s with a sense of irony that Matthew remembers Isaiah’s prophecy about how God would make these places great. And now the eyes of the world look to Zebulun and Naphtali as the place from which God’s promised Messiah has come.
We have to fight against letting our prejudices get the better of us. For our God is a God of surprises. Just when we think we have got it all sewn up and we know what to expect, God pops up in the most unusual of circumstances and makes a nonsense of our best predictions. The pages of religious history are littered with the underdog proving victorious.
That’s because God doesn’t march to the same beat as we do. God is bigger than we can ever imagine and he chooses to work things out in his own way and not in ours. It’s only our puny expectations that prevent us from doing great things. We have learned not to expect much, even of God. And although God tells us to pray for the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we will accomplish wonders and marvels, we sometimes need some convincing.
As this year of Matthew’s gospel unfolds we will be invited to set no limits on what God can do in our lives, to expect the unhoped for, to await more than we could ever dream of. Alternatively we could put our faith on hold and try another week at Mrs Higginbottom’s. There are no surprises there.

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