Lectionary: 2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Mark 1:40-45.
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1:
L: Sing praises to God, O faithful people!
P: Shout of God’s power and mercy!
L: The Lord has heard our cries!
P: The Lord has redeemed our souls!
L: Praise be to God!
P: Hallelujah! AMEN.
Call to Worship #2:
L: God’s healing love is extended to us today!
P: God’s mercy is graciously given to us.
L: Let us rejoice in all that God is doing for us.
P: Let us open our hearts and spirits to God’s will.
Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 266, “Heal Us, Emmanuel, Hear Our Prayer.” offer the following call to worship as directed.]
L: We cry out to the Lord in our distress.
P: Heal us, Emmanuel. Hear our cries!
L: We call upon the Lord to lift our burdens and lighten our load.
P: Heal us, Emmanuel. Hear our call to you.
Choir: singing verse 1 of “Heal Us, Emmanuel, Hear Our Prayer”
L: God has heard our cries and comes to us with mercy and justice.
P: God has been attentive to our calls and bids us come!
L: Lord, guide our steps and our spirit.
P: Lord, open our hearts to you this day. AMEN.
Call to Worship #4:
L: Whenever something good happens to us, we want to shout it from the rooftops.
P: But sometimes it is better just to wait, thanking God for the blessing we have been given.
L: Lord, help us understand your healing love and your ministry of peace.
P: Make us ready for service.
L: In Jesus’ Name, we offer ourselves, our souls, and our lives to you, O Lord.
PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION
Lord of great understanding and patience, be with us today as we listen to the Gospel story of the leper who was healed. Help us to understand that our focus needs to be on you and on our gratitude to you for all you do for us. Give us courage to be faithful disciples, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
Whenever something good happens to us, we want to proclaim it to the high heavens. We want to shout about our good fortune. But we don’t necessarily want to praise or thank you, O Lord. We think that these things happen because we’ve been especially good or because we deserve to receive all good things. Help us learn from the gospel lesson that the focus is not on us, but on your mercy and your love for us. Forgive us when we place ourselves and our situations first, drawing the spotlight to us, rather than being grateful to you. Heal us, O Lord. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
Be assured, Beloved of God, that God’s healing love is poured over you this day. Rejoice! For God has called you blessed. AMEN.
Lord, when we hear the story of the leper whom Jesus cleansed, we wonder why Jesus would warn him not to go spreading the news of the healing. Jesus asked him to go first to the temple priests for the ritual of cleansing and then to return to their homes. We would jump for joy at Jesus’ healing touch, telling everyone in sight, e-mailing everyone, telephoning everyone about our good fortune and the blessing Jesus has given. But Jesus wants us to pay attention to what’s important. Because of the healing we will be able to do many good things; our job is not to jump for joy, but to stride forward in ministries of peace and justice. Keep us mindful of the mission on which we have been placed, O Lord. Help us remember that we are in training to serve you, not to bring glory to ourselves. Get us ready to be faithful witnesses through deeds of loving kindness. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
I understand that this prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, healed you. Is this true? What can you tell our listening audience about this healing? How are you doing? Where are you going first?
Listen. I got this leprosy thing, you know, that made me an outcast. Can you imagine going through town, when I was allowed to, shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” How would you like that? My family couldn’t come to see me. None of my friends came near me; they all looked the other way, just as if I didn’t exist. More and more I felt as though no one cared. I just wanted to die. But people were talking about this wilderness prophet Jesus. Some said that he was a powerful healer. I didn’t have anything to lose. When he came near to the outskirts of town, where I lived in the pit, provided for the lepers, I shouted to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Hah! How’s that for bold! And you know, he turned to me and said, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Be made clean? I couldn’t believe it. Be made clean? The rotting flesh being restored, the oozing sores healing immediately, the damaged and downcast spirit lifted up! And then he told me to go to the temple priests--“Don’t say anything to anyone about your healing on the way”--just go and do the ritual thing so that I would be admitted back into town, back to my family. What a surprise this will be for them, huh? Like I wasn’t going to tell anyone. What was he talking about? Everyone who knew me would find out and ask questions. Better be honest right from the get go! So I told everyone! I told everyone I saw. I told people I didn’t even know. Then I went to the temple priests.
I don’t see anything wrong with that! You were happy! You were freed of a terrible disease! What’s wrong with telling everyone? I heard about you, and you even got an interview. See, the good news is spreading!!
Yeh! That’s what I thought. But I was wrong. The minute I spread the news, everyone in town got all their sick people together and started to barrage him with their needs. He couldn’t go anywhere. He couldn’t speak. The only thing they wanted was instant healing! They didn’t care what he said, must as long as he healed them. Now his life would be in demand and probably for all the wrong reasons.
You’re being overly sensitive. He’ll be all right.
I’m all right because of him. But now it will be harder for him to really let us know who he is and why he came to us. Now we have put up the obstacles of our own needs and selfishness, and he will have to cross these. Look, I can’t talk any more. I need some space, some time to be with my family, to help them understand.
Well, you can be assured that people will want to hear your story over and over again. You may have to make some time to squeeze your family in to your public speaking career! That’s it! That’s the good news for tonight, folks! Tune in tomorrow to hear about the miracle of the goat.
Go in peace, feeling the healing presence and power of God with you. Bring the good news of God’s love to all whom you meet. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is: GREEN
The gospel lesson lends itself to an interesting display. In this lesson, Jesus healed a leper and instructed him to tell no one; but as the case would be, he told everyone, and soon all of the people in the area who were ill or infirm went to Jesus for healing. This setting will be a pathway to the cross, it will wind its way from in front of the worship center, up a couple of risers and directly at the foot of the cross.
Place a 10” riser in the center back of the worship center. Place a riser in front of the worship center that is about 10” below the main level. Place another riser in front of this one, that is about 10” below the level of the riser behind it.
Cover the entire worship center in burlap (I prefer the landscapers’ burlap, which is rough and a more open weave; however, air it out before you use it). Make sure that the burlap goes onto the floor and out from the worship center. Beginning on the 10” riser in the center of the worship table, make a pathway of green cloth, which you may wrinkle slightly, so that it comes directly across the worship table, over the two risers in front and out onto the floor.
Place a 10” white pillar candle directly in front of the cross on the 10” riser.
Use some plants that are dying at the base of the worship center, some plants that are wilted and some that are strong. Flowers are not suggested for this setting. Do not use many plants, but just enough to give a contrast to healthy and ill.
Place some rocks along the pathway, on the floor, on the risers, and on the main table.
Place a brass cross on the 10” riser on the center of the worship table. If you have rolls of bandages, crutches, and other items that might reflect moving from illness to healing, scatter them along the path. Crutches should be placed, leaning against the first riser, bandages may be strewn anywhere.