Third Sunday After the Epiphany
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
Epiphany is the season of light, and these texts proclaim the light that has come into the world. This light has come particularly to those who sit in darkness: the darkness of exile, the darkness of division, the darkness of suffering, or the darkness of ignorance to the true word of God. And
when the light dawns on their minds and souls and hearts, it calls forth a response—rejoicing, renewed commitment to God, walking in God’s ways, and even following a stranger into an unknown, uncertain future.
INVITATION AND GATHERING
Call to Worship (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27, Matthew 4)
To those who sit in darkness, light has dawned.
To those who dwell in gloom and despair,
God’s glorious presence has appeared.
God is indeed our light and our salvation.
We will follow, unafraid,
where God and Jesus lead us.
Let us worship our God of light and promise.
Let us celebrate the hope and joy of our salvation.
Opening Prayer (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27, Matthew 4)
God of light and love,
we come this morning
with eyes stinging from the brightness
of your glory.
We have become so accustomed to the darkness,
that your radiant light sometimes overwhelms us.
Open our eyes to the light of your dawn,
that our souls may be flooded
with love and mercy and joy.
Open our hearts to receive your message
of comfort and peace and security,
that we may find rest
in your loving, protective presence.
Open our spirits to follow the path you put before us,
that we may lead lives committed to your Way. Amen.
PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE
Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27,1 Corinthians 1, Matthew 4)
God of our light and our salvation,
sometimes we prefer to live in dakness,
embracing the safety and anonymity
of the shadows;
sometimes we delight in our divisions,
believing we are better than others;
sometimes the yoke of our calling feels too heavy,
and we seek to slip out from under the bar
across our shoulders.
Forgive our fear.
Forgive our aversion to the light.
Forgive our unresponsiveness to your call.
Forgive our willful blindness and deafness to the Way.
Help us know deep in our souls
that you are our light and our salvation,
our joy and our wonder,
our very life.
Hear us as we cry aloud in our need. Amen.
Words of Assurance (Psalm 27)
Our God of light and love hears us when we cry aloud.
We have nothing to fear.
Know that this God of light
wraps us in comforting arms,
lifts us from the darkness of our guilt and sin,
and forgives us once and for all.
Know that we will dwell in safety in God’s house,
now and forevermore.
Passing the Peace of Christ (Psalm 27)
Greet one another with these words: “The God of light and love and salvation surrounds you with joy and peace.”
Prayer of Preparation (Isaiah 9)
Open the eyes of our hearts, O God, to the dawning light of your words of love and salvation.
Response to the Word (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27, Matthew 4)
for the light your words bring to our understanding,
for the hope your words bring to our fear,
for the guidance your words bring to our path,
we give you thanks.
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Invitation to the Offering (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27)
Light has dawned in our lives and in our world. We are called to share that light, and to speak words of comfort and calling in a world shrouded still in gloom and darkness. Our offering will enable this community to be a beacon of light to those caught in the darkness of suffering and wandering.
Offering Prayer (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27, Matthew 4)
What can we offer in thanksgiving
for the gift of light and life and love
we have received from you
and from your Beloved Community
here on earth?
We offer our all:
our resources, our energy, our time, our very selves
to answer your call and to follow without fear.
Benediction (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27, Matthew 4)
Go forth bathed in the light and love of God.
Go forth to join with Jesus to proclaim the good news
of this love and light.
Go forth empowered by the Spirit
to live the Way with courage, conviction, and joy.
Gathering Words (Isaiah 9, Psalm 27)
Hey you. . . yes you over there . . . and you over there . . .
you sitting in darkness.
Don’t you know the light is dawning?
Can’t you feel it on your face and in your soul?
Get up, embrace the light, shout and sing for joy!
Let’s worship this blazing God of light and love.
Praise Sentences (Psalm 27)
God is our light and our salvation!
We’ll never be afraid again!
Sing and make joyful music to our amazing God!
God is our light and our salvation!
From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017 is now available.