Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
Being a prophet is hard work! Jeremiah shies away from the task. The psalmist is beset by foes. And the folks in Jesus’ hometown want to stone him. Where is all the love Paul sings about in 1 Corinthians? It is there in the neverending, steadfast love of God that surrounds us from our mother’s womb to the earth’s tomb. It is a love that calls us to do things we feel inadequate to do. It is a love that strengthens us and gives us courage and perseverance in times of trial. It is a love that enables us to speak words of truth to a questioning and sometimes hostile world. Love, indeed, is the greatest of these.
INVITATION AND GATHERING
Call to Worship (Jeremiah 1, Luke 4)
Come! Hear the call of God:
“Speak of me to my people.”
But we are just ordinary folks.
Who will listen?
“I will give you the words.
I will always be with you as you speak
my words of truth and justice and love.”
We gather here to worship you,
to praise you for your loving presence,
and to be strengthened for the calling
you have given us.
Opening Prayer (Jeremiah 1, Psalm 71, 1 Corinthians 13, Luke 4)
in the midst of the cacophony of voices
that crush our spirit and deny our calling,
voices that say,
“Who do you think you are?”
we come to hear your voice of affirmation;
we come to hear your voice
calling us to be and do
what you have called us to be and do.
Let this time of worship quiet our fears,
soothe our bruised souls,
and energize us for ministry
in and with your beloved world.
Let faith abide.
Let hope abide.
Let love abide—
here in this sanctuary,
here in our community,
here in our world,
but most of all, here in us. Amen.
PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE
Prayer of Confession (Jeremiah 1, Luke 4)
God, who shapes the course of history,
it is so hard to be a prophet.
J A N U A R Y 3 1 , 2 0 1 0
We’re just ordinary folks.
What do you expect us to do?
Who will listen to us anyway?
Even if they do, they’ll only get mad.
You’d do better to find someone else—
someone older, someone younger,
someone more articulate,
someone with more courage,
someone with more faith.
But still we hear our call and your promise.
Forgive our feet of clay—
when we try and evade your call,
when we make excuses,
when we doubt your presence,
when we reject your prophets,
when we reject ourselves.
In the opportunities and challenges in our lives,
help us see that you are there,
and help us respond in faith, hope, and love.
Words of Assurance (Psalm 71)
God is our rock and our fortress.
In God we find our hope and our strength.
We are always surrounded by God’s forgiving love,
a love that has known us from birth
and will never leave us.
Passing the Peace of Christ (1 Corinthians 13)
The love of God surrounds us.
We rejoice in that love.
Let us greet one another in that love, in that hope,
in that abiding faith.
Response to the Word (Jeremiah 1, 1 Corinthians 13)
Hear God’s word—
the words of call,
the words of promise,
the words of faith,
the words of hope,
the words of love.
Live God’s word—
the words of life.
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Invitation to Offering (Jeremiah 1, Luke 4)
We have been called to speak and to live out the radical, abiding love of God in the world. We do so by offering all that we are, all that we do, and all that we have, knowing that God will use us and our gifts to bring the beloved community ever closer to being realized in this world.
Offering Prayer (Jeremiah 1, 1 Corinthians 13)
Gracious and loving God,
receive our gifts of self and substance.
They have belonged to you
since our very beginning.
We give them freely, joyfully, prayerfully.
With them we praise you.
With them we celebrate the great power
that is love—
a love that abides always,
a love that radically transforms,
a love that makes us whole.
Benediction (Jeremiah 1, Psalm 71, 1 Corinthians 13, Luke 4)
Go forth, celebrating faith.
Go forth, celebrating hope.
Go forth, celebrating love.
Go forth to be the transformed people
that God calls us to be.
Go forth to transform the world—
in times of prosperity,
but most especially, in times of disbelief,
hostility, fear, and rejection.
Go forth with the knowledge
that you are always surrounded
by the presence of our steadfast, loving God,
our rock and our redeemer.
Contemporary Gathering Words (Jeremiah 1, 1 Corinthians 13, Luke 4)
People of God, come hear the good news.
But we hear the voice of God calling us
to places we are afraid to go.
People of God, take courage in the loving,
sustaining presence of God.
We are here to find strength and courage,
to find faith and hope, to lean on
the everlasting, loving arms of God.
Praise Sentences (Jeremiah 1, Psalm 71, 1 Corinthians 13)
O God, you are our rock and our fortress.
In you we find strength to go on.
We praise you for the gifts of faith, hope, and love.
We will live out our call to be all
you have created us to be.