Sunday 24 January 2021 Kinlochleven and Nether Lochaber Parish Churches

Opening Words May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Hymn I hear the words that Jesus spake
To them of Galilee;
To fishermen beside the lake
He said: “Come, follow Me.”

   “Follow Me, Follow Me!
Fishers of men henceforth to be,”
Echo the words from Galilee;
Jesus! I follow Thee!


2 I long to make Thy words my own!
O, Jesus may it be;
Thou spakest not to them alone,
But even now to me? [Refrain]


3 I’ll follow on with all my heart,
I’ll walk with Thee today;
Though vile I am, do not depart,
Forgive and cleanse, I pray! [Refrain]


4 Within my heart Thy love beget
A fisherman to be;
And teach me where to cast the net
As when in Galilee. [Refrain]




Prayer Loving God we turn to you. Lord of all goodness and faithfulness we honour you and worship you, for you are worthy of all praise. We have come before you to hear your word and to honour you by the giving of our lives. Where we have fallen short of your standards of righteousness, forgive us. Restore the world to how it should be. Make us too what we should be. By your Spirit mould us and grant us a servant heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Old Testament Jonah 3:1-5 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.

Gospel Matthew 4:17-22 17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” 18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him. 21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.


Message The qualities of a successful fisherman include courage, perseverance, hard graft, risk-taking, having the right equipment ready, patience, a sense of timing, also being unobtrusive at times, being ready to go out of one’s comfort zone. A successful fisherman must know his or her surroundings, and needs to enjoy the activity.  The men whom Jesus called as his first disciples had all these qualities, and more. Andrew and Peter, and James and John were perhaps rough and ready, but they were willing to learn and to adapt to what was asked of them. They were not so set in their ways that they could not rise to a challenge. Jesus found them more amenable than many of his other hearers. They were clearly struck by both the personality and the message of Jesus. Jesus began his mission in Galilee, in particular in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. There were a lot of people in Galilee, there were over two hundred villages each of over 15,000 inhabitants. It was known as Galilee of the Gentiles. It stood one of the great trade routes linking places far beyond the land of Israel. It was a good place to start. Jesus called these fishermen. He asked them firstly to follow him, and told them they soon would be learning to reach out to others. Those qualities so needful to being fishermen would stand them in good stead. They will for us, too, if we are to become ‘fishers of men’. We must be willing to go out to where people are, and have the sense of timing, sometimes being unobtrusive, patience, persevering, and flexible. The equipment we need includes the Word of God, God’s message of hope and love and mercy, and the wider support of the church. The calling of the church is to be fishers of people, presenting living testimonies of lives God has touched. Jesus began proclaiming the message, asking his hearers to turn from wrong and turn to God. The Kingdom of God was near, in their midst, within their grasp. It is for us too. The Kingdom of God suggests there is a King. God rules as King. And it suggests that we must serve the King. We start to do so when we surrender to Christ the King, when we respond to his gracious invitation, ‘come, follow me’. And we soon discover that our lives are being drawn into his gracious rule. There are kingdom blessings. God wants to grant us joy and hope and wholeness and lots of other good things. In the story of Jonah, Jonah struggled with the thought that God might be asking him to take a message of hope to the people of Nineveh. It was not a place he hoped to be. It was a vast city in the area we know as Iraq, near Mosul. It was the seat of the later Assyrian empire. It was far out of his comfort zone. But God knew the people of Nineveh needed to hear his message of his love and mercy, and he hoped they would respond. They heard and they did respond, turning from sinful ways, and putting on burlap, or sackcloth as a sign of sorrow. Remember that it is not just hearing God’s word that pleases him, but us responding obediently to it. Perhaps we are a bit like Jonah, reluctant to go beyond what is comfortable and familiar. Jonah needed to love the people in Nineveh as God loved them. Ask God to give you a love for people, and a heart for the unreached and unchurched.

                 Prayer Loving God we thank you for the advances in medicine that are enabling people to be inoculated against this dreadful virus. Please do what will eradicate it altogether. We think of how so much is on hold. Be swift to save us and rescue us. May your Kingly rule spread through the world, and rule in our lives. May the day come when we can gather in church and sing your praises. What joy will be in our hearts! Give us the courage to entrust ourselves without fear and hesitation to Jesus and to follow him wherever he leads us, sharing his love with our brothers and sisters. In the words our Saviour has taught us we are bold to pray further, saying, Our Father…

 Closing Words May God’s blessing be upon us, the blessing of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.