Sunday Worship, 17th January 2021


Arise, shine, for your light has come; and over you the glory of the LORD has dawned.

Watch our service here:

Links to today’s hymns:

You may also follow the script below:

Hymn             106 Bring to the Lord a glad new song

1 Bring to the Lord a glad new song,

children of grace extol your king;

worship and praise to God belong–

to instruments of music, sing!

Let those be warned who spurn God’s name,

let rulers all obey God’s word;

for justice shall bring tyrants shame:

let every creature praise the Lord!

2 Sing praise within these hallowed walls,

worship beneath the dome of heaven;

by cymbals’ sounds and trumpets’ calls

let praises fit for God be given:

with strings and brass and wind rejoice –

then, join our song in full accord

all living things with breath and voice:

let every creature praise the Lord!



You are a mystery to us

Our minds cannot grasp you

 how can you be present everywhere in the universe?

 how can you be outside time

 never created, never coming to an end?

Yet you have chosen to make yourself known to us

 in the shape of the universe

 in the working out of life

 in the nagging of conscience

You revealed yourself to the Hebrew people

 in the events of life

 in the guidance that you gave them

 in the words of the prophets

 in times of quiet reflection

  and coming together in worship

But you most clearly revealed yourself in Jesus

 in him, in his teaching, in his actions, in his attitudes to people

 we see what you are really like

 we learn what you want us to be like

 what you want us to do with our lives

Forgive us for the times we get it all wrong

 and for the times we don’t try

help us to live by Jesus’ teaching and example

 and be the people you want us to be

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time

We have become used to wearing masks in recent months

Particularly during the winter, with hats on or hoods up, it can be hard to recognise people

(Anyone said ‘Hello’ to the wrong person, or walked past someone they know well?)

You can’t see someone’s smile. How good are you at spotting the emotions shown in their eyes?

Can you guess the emotions from these examples?


John 1: 43-51

Hymn             97 O Lord you search me and you know me


One of our favourite books for reading to children and grandchildren is Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. It begins:

Here’s a little baby

One, two, three

Stands in his cot

What does he see?

What indeed do toddlers see? ‘Seeing’ involves both the eyes and the brain to collect and process images, so do toddlers ‘see’ the same thing that adults see? It is sometimes suggested that some people with dementia see things differently from the way they used to, as communication in the brain break down. Some people see colours differently (and it’s not just a man/woman thing!). When people give accounts of an event/incident that they have seen , there are often differences in the story – maybe some images register and some don’t? Sometimes it seems that just as we can hear ‘what we want to hear’, so we ‘see what we want to see’.

Perhaps it’s because of the role that the brain plays in processing information that we have so many words and phrases that link ‘seeing’ with understanding. ‘Oh, I see!’, ‘It gives us an insight into…’, ‘We’re in the dark about…’ Sometimes we might feel tempted to say something like, ‘Can they not see that Trump lost the election?’ or ‘can they not see the need to follow the guidelines, keep their distance, wear a mask and don’t meet up in groups?’ It’s not something confined to the English language, but can be found across a range of languages and cultures. We find it in the Old and New Testaments, and the Gospel-writer John often uses it. Biblical writers often also use it to describe understanding more about God, his plans and his action in the world.

The term is used 3 times in our story today. The call of Philip and Nathanael marks the closing part of the introduction to John’s Gospel. The reader is let into the secret of Jesus’ true identity right at the start. John the Baptist is preparing the way for someone – he doesn’t know who – until Jesus’ identity is revealed. Andrew recognised Jesus as the ‘promised one’ and invited Peter to come and meet him, but neither really understands what being the ‘promised one’ means.

  • Now Philip invites Nathanael to come and see Jesus – as though ‘seeing’ him saves Philip trying to explain further to a sceptic. We learn at the end of the Gospel that Nathanael comes from Cana, a small village near Nazareth, which probably explains his scathing comment on Nazareth
  • Jesus says he ‘saw’ Nathanael under the fig tree. It is more than just physically noticing him. We often find that Jesus ‘sees’ into someone’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears. By allusion to words in the prophet Micah, Jesus may see Nathanael’s hope that God will send someone to bring peace and justice to the world
  • As the passage concludes, Jesus again alludes to an Old Testament image, this time from the story of the Patriarch Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel. Only this time Jesus describes himself as the link between humanity and God

In the next chapter (in the wedding at Cana) Jesus will begin to reveal the power that comes from being the promised one/ God’s Son.

What does this mean for us?

  • Jesus called people so that they would meet him and follow him, and he commissioned them (and us) to do the same for other people. It was maybe OK for Andrew to say to his brother, ‘Come and meet the Messiah’, but not for Philip to phrase his invitation to Nathanael in the same terms. He just said, ‘Come and see’. Jesus still wants us to invite people to come and meet him, but maybe he gives us permission to use the style and language suitable for us, and for the person whom we are inviting
  • As Jesus saw into Nathanael’s ‘soul’, so he sees into ours. We often find in John’s Gospel that such insight prepares the way for affirming, healing conversation. Maybe we need to ask Jesus to help us develop that skill
  • We don’t have to wander around Dumbarton (or wherever) looking for a Stairway to Heaven, but we do need to remember that Jesus wants us to get to know him more and more, follow more closely his ways (his values and his standards), and work with him more and more in building his Kingdom on earth.

Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for eyes and  the ability to see

 and for the ability of our brains to process what we see

 and to wrestle with information from all sorts of sources

 to give us insights and understanding

Thank you for all those who are trained

 to check our vision, provide us with spectacles or contact lens

 or carry out other procedures on our eyes

We pray for all who cannot see, or who have poor eyesight

 some as a result of illness

 some as a result of age

 some because they cannot access appropriate trained professionals

We pray for all whose work involves dealing with eyes

 and for groups that work to provide care

  where there are no other eye-care facilities

We pray for all who are ill,

 those who look after them

 and those who worry about them

those waiting for or receiving treatment

 and those for whom there is no treatment

those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one

those who are worried about home, work or money

 a friend or a relative

those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters

those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home

those who long to live in peace and safety

those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

We pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

We pray for you church

 the worldwide church

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn             512 To God be the glory


May the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ

shine in your hearts,

transform your lives,

and brighten the world

and the blessing of God Almighty

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

rest and remain with you

today and every day and forever. Amen

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