Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
THEME: LIGHT: The Light of Fulfillment
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: God has called us to share the good news of God's love.
P: But who am I, that God should call me?
L: You are a beloved child of God.
P: But I am weak I'm not a great speaker or preacher.
L: God is with you; don't be afraid.
P: Lord, help me to trust in your presence with me. Help me to serve you. AMEN
Call to Worship #2
L: In the Lord, we take refuge from our fears and troubles.
P: Help us, O Lord.
L: We feel besieged everywhere and we don't think anyone cares about US.
P: Listen to us, Lord, and deliver us.
L: The Lord is our hope and our trust.
P: The Lord will heal and guide us. We do not need to fear. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2130, "The Summons", offer the following call to worship as directed]
Soloist singing verse I of "The Summons"
L: God is calling each one of us.
P: Lord, help us to hear your call.
L: If you answer the summons, your life will be totally changed.
P: Lord, help us to be ready for that change.
Soloist singing verse 3 of "The Summons"
L: There is so much "blindness" in our world
P: Lord, help us to give sight to those whose sight is impaired.
L: People may not understand and may ridicule us.
P: Lord, give us courage and strength to withstand the ridicule and taunting.
Soloist singing verse 5 of "The Summons"
L: Lord, we come with willing hearts today to learn how to fulfill the promises given to the people.
P: Make us ready, O Lord, to be true disciples offering ministries of hope and compassion. AMEN.
Call to Worship #4
L: God has called each one of to serve, using the gifts we have been given.
P: I don't know where to start.
L: Place your trust in God's guidance.
P: What if I fail?
L: God is with you - place your trust in God's presence.
P: Help me, O God, to trust in you and in your gracious gifts to me. Help me to serve others in your name. AMEN.
PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION
Gracious God, we come to you with day, seeking your guidance and strength. You have called us to ministries for which we feel inadequate. Help us to understand that it is your love that will support and sustain our efforts. Give us the courage to place our trust in your abiding presence. We ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
God of great expectations, you know how easy it is for us to make excuses for inactivity. We love to run and hide when a task is set before us. We look at the expectation and think that we don't have the abilities, strength, or wisdom to accomplish this task. We think, too often, that we are doing these things all by ourselves. And we feel sorry for ourselves and angry that you expect so much from us. Forgive our ignorance, our stubbornness, and our stupidity, O Lord. Help us to understand that the opportunities for service that you offer to us also come with your abiding presence, love and support. It is your love which makes the impossible possible. Turn us around and place us back on the path of joyful service. Let our work be part of the fulfillment of the mandate of Jesus Christ when he made his proclamation in the synagogue so long ago. For it is in His Name that we pray. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
Even before we were born, God knew us. God has always been with us. Place your trust in God's presence and forgiving love. Rejoice! In the name of Jesus Christ, we all are forgiven! AMEN.
"If I speak in the languages of humankind or the angelic host, but do not have love I am just like a noisy clanging cymbal. If I have wonderful powers to see all the great possibilities in serving the Lord, and the wondrous journey which God has placed before us, but don't have love in my heart and in my actions, I am just making empty noises." Lord, too often we are like loud clanging cymbals or empty promises. We say we want to do things, but we back away because we think things will be too tough for us. We don't believe that you will be with us, guiding, healing, and strengthening us for service. So rather than doing your work, we just go through the motions. You are LOVE. In you resides all hope, peace, and justice. Your love has been poured out on us and all creation from before the beginning of time. Teach us again the great message of hope. Remind us that love is also risk. We risk censure and alienation from people who don't understand. Let us know that you are with us, through this time. Give us courage to be your faithful witnesses, by the kinds of loving service and care we give to others. For we ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.
Narrator: Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah and proclaimed that he was the one who was sent to fulfill the mandate of God, to serve and care for others. The proclamation was not treated too kindly by those who were present.
Reader 1: Who do you think you are, Jesus of Nazareth? You were born here. We remember what you were like when you were a little child, a teenager, and a young adult?
Reader 2: Jesus, why don't you just keep quiet? You are supposed to follow your father Joseph in the carpentry business. You have a family which needs you. Why are you making such waves? Reader 3: Do you just want to stir up trouble here in your hometown?
Jesus: Think about it. All those times when you could have been serving God by really caring for the people. Remember the time when there was a great famine? What did you do? You said, "I'll take care of my family. Everyone else is on their own." You cried to God and said "Send someone to help us.. ...we are your most deserving ones, you owe us this help." But God send Elijah, our great prophet, to a poor widow. It was she, with the little that she had, who helped Elijah and others. Reader 1: What do you know about this? Just stories! We were the faithful ones, the chosen people of God. God chose us and should have seen Elijah to each of us.
Reader 2: You weren't there. You don't know the whole story. I might have helped if I had realized the scope of the problem. Someone should have contacted me and explained it to me.
Reader 3: Listen, Jesus, you are just stirring up trouble. Keep quiet. Let bygones be bygones.
Jesus: You have many lepers here in the land and yet you turn your backs on them. Most of them have been your friends and neighbors, but when they contracted leprosy, they were forced out of their homes, out of their town, out of the compassion of their family and fiends. You asked them to shout "Unclean! Unclean!" so that you wouldn't be bothered and could run from them. But in God's wisdom, the prophet Elisha was sent to Naaman, a Syrian, and healed him. He alone was worthy. Reader 1: Now you've gone and done it! You blame us for everything! You have taunted us for the last time! We want you out of this town; out of our lives!
Reader 2: Get out of here! We should stone him for what he has said against us good people. How dare he!?
Reader 3: I told you…didn't I. But you wouldn't listen. Now you have lost your friends and neighbors because of your words.
Narrator: And the people rose up against Jesus, took him to the top of a steep hill and were going to throw him over the precipice. Jesus looked at them with great pity, and then turned and walked away through the midst of them.
God did not say that it would be easy to bring the good news to all people, but God did say that God would be with you. So go now in peace, walking humbly with God. Bring the good news of hope to all the people. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is: GREEN
Note: we are continuing our theme of LIGHT in this season of Epiphany. Today's theme is LIGHT OF FULFILLMENT and it is represented in a rich textured medium green fabric (it should be a shade darker than the fabric of the previous week).
SURFACE: Place a 10" riser at the center back of the worship table. Place a 6"riser slightly to the front left of the center riser. Place a 4" riser slightly ahead and to the right of the 6"riser. Place a 2" riser in the center of the worship center front. Place three risers in front of the worship center. The first one should be about 4" lower than the main level, and the successive ones should be about 4-6" lower than the previous ones. (they will appear to be stair steps. (if you have a small step ladder that you could use, this would also work well)
FABRIC: Cover the entire worship area in dark green fabric. (including the front risers/step ladder). Make sure that the fabric is tacked to the risers/step ladder (you will be placing candles on these steps and don't want the fabric to catch fire.)
CANDLES: On the 10" riser, place a 10" white pillar candle; on the successive risers place 3" pillar candles, including the main level of the worship center and down on the "steps" and onto the main floor. Be very careful to place them away from the fabric and put something under each of them to catch any wax that might drip.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Place "spiky" plants on either side of the 10" riser. You might want to place several kinds of succulents or cacti to create an atmosphere of sharpness and unwelcome. ROCKS/WOOD: Around each of the candles, place a collection of rocks and pebbles. You may use as many as you want, but make sure you pile them up around the candle base so that the "drip protectors" are not easily seen. Larger rocks may be placed at the base of the worship center and near the floor candle.
OTHER: On the 10" riser behind the 10" white pillar candle, place a brass or wooden cross. The scroll that was used in the previous worship setting last week can be placed on the floor, leaning on the worship center. It should be slightly unrolled.