Worship Connection: January 21, 2024

December 17th, 2020

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20


Call to Worship #1:

L: Gather this day in silence and hope
P: We wait for God’s word for us.

L: Let your hearts and spirits be open.
P: God is our strength and salvation.

L: Wait patiently for the Lord.
P: With willing hearts and spirits we wait for the Lord. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

L: Christ is calling you as disciples
P: Lord Jesus, let us follow you faithfully.

L: You will be led into fields of mission and service.
P: Lord Jesus, where you lead us, we will go.

L: Listen for Christ’s call to you.
P: We are ready to serve the Lord. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2165, "Cry of My Heart" have a soloist sing the first verse. Spoken words follow, then have the choir sing the second verse with the refrain. Finally, have the people and the choir sing the refrain]

Soloist (singing): [Refrain]"It is the cry of my heart to follow you. It is the cry of my heart to be close to you. It is the cry of my heart to follow all of the days of my life. [verse 1] Teach me your holy ways, O Lord, so I can walk in your truth. Teach me your holy ways, O Lord and make me wholly devoted to you."

L: Jesus has called us to leave our comfortable ways and venture forward with him.
P: Lord Jesus, we are so often afraid, it is easier for us to remain bound to our habits.

L: Jesus knows your fears and offers you healing.
P: Lord Jesus, Open our hearts and teach us your ways.

Choir (singing): [Refrain] "It is the cry of my heart to follow you. It is the cry of my heart to be close to you. It is the cry of my heart to follow all the days of my life. [verse 2] Open my eyes so I can see the wonderful things that you do. Open my heart up more and more, and make me wholly devoted to you."

Choir and people (singing) [Refrain] "It is the cry of my heart to follow you. It is the cry of my heart to be close to you. It is the cry of my heart to follow all of the days of my life."

Call to Worship #4:

L: God called to Jonah to get up, go to Nineveh and proclaim God’s word.
P: But Jonah refused, until God called a second time.

L: God is persistent. God believes in those whom God has called.
P: Jesus called the disciples by the lakeshore

L: They left their families and jobs to follow Jesus.
P: Lord, give us the courage to follow you all of our lives. AMEN.


Opening Prayer 

O God, you are our light and our salvation. Living in your presence, we have nothing to fear. Open our hearts to your word this day. As we hear the story of the call of the first disciples, make us ready to follow Jesus on whatever path he leads us. Cast aside our fears and doubts, and teach us to trust wholly in you. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Prayer of Confession 

We listen to the stories of the call of the disciples and find them interesting but unrealistic. When we look at our own lives, we believe that we could not leave everything to follow someone we didn’t know. We have many responsibilities and ties which keep us from following. But God is persistent. God understands our confusion and doubts. And God continues to call us to be in ministry and mission in this world. It may not mean leaving everything behind, but it does mean being willing to serve wherever God calls us. That’s hard. We want to place conditions on service, and usually those conditions are "if we have time", "if we have energy"; " if we can just try serving God for a little while to see how it all works out". Still God calls to each of us. Discipleship is difficult. Forgive us, patient and persistent Lord, for the very many times we turn our backs on serving you and focus on our own comforts. Forgive us when we look the other way when people are in need. Forgive us our angry attitudes and actions which hurt rather than heal. Wrap your arms around us, healing our wounds, binding us to you. Gently move us into service in your name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance 

Do not be afraid. God is with you! That is good news. You do not have to go through life alone, wondering if anyone cares about you or knows your heart. God knows and God loves you. Rejoice for thus it is , has always been, and will continue to be. God’s love for you is eternal. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer 

"Lord, you have come to the lakeshore, looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones. You only ask me to follow humbly. ..(UMH #344 "Tu Has Venido a la Orilla" [Lord, You Have come to the Lakeshore]. The words from this lovely hymn paint pictures of hard-working people, going about their daily tasks when they are confronted by Jesus. This same Jesus, who long ago called to those first disciples, calls to us each today. Our "lakeshores" are different. They are the places where we work and where we live. Yet in this song, Jesus is coming for each one of us, just as we are and inviting us to follow him humbly. We have lifted the names of loved ones today in prayerful petition for God’s healing love. We have uttered in our hearts names and situations that it would break our hearts to speak. And God hears all our cries and responds in love. This is one of the faithful works of the church; the work of prayer, asking for God’s healing mercy and blessings. As we have offered our prayers, let us also offer our lives, trusting in God’s love and call to us, responding with confidence. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray. AMEN.


L: Jesus is calling you to follow him.
P: We’d really like to but we have too much to do right now. Check back later, OK?

L: Jesus sees your labors and knows your gifts
P: Flattery will not work on us. We have bills to pay and work to do.

L: Jesus is ready for you to come.
P: Look, the stories are nice and all, but they really don’t work for us.

L: Have faith, place your trust in Jesus.
P: Well, everyone else seems to let us down. How can we be sure he won’t do the same?

L: He will prove his love to you with his life.
P: We didn’t ask for that.

L: What will it take for you to trust in him?
P: We don’t know. Trust is risky.

L: Then take the risk. Place your lives in his hands. He can handle all your problems.
P: Will he really guide us?

L: Absolutely, through bright days and dark nights, everywhere, all the time.
P: Can we rely on him?

L: Yes. He will not abandon you.
P: Perhaps we can try.

L: Don’t just try. Go ahead. Follow Jesus. You won’t regret it.
P: Jesus, help our unbelief. Where we are weak, give us strength; where we falter and hold back, gently bring us forward; where we fail, please forgive us. AMEN

Benediction, Blessing, Commission 

As the disciples walked with Christ so long ago, walk with Christ in your hearts and spirits. Feel the power of the Holy Spirit guiding your path. Know the love of God which is poured out for you and rejoice. Go in peace and may God’s peace go with you. AMEN.


Note: It is a good idea to write a brief description of the visual presentation in the worship bulletin describing the symbols and their meaning.

SURFACE: Use a 6" riser on the right rear of the worship table. Place a riser in front of the worship table. Use a 3" riser near the center/left of the worship center.

FABRIC: Cover the whole worship center with landscaper’s burlap, making sure that is puddles on the floor around the worship center. Make "ripples" on the top of the worship center by not pulling the fabric too tightly. From the center of the worship area, but not on the 6" riser, drape about 4-5 yards of silky blue cloth across the 3" riser and cascading down the front over the front riser, puddling it on the floor.

CANDLES: Use a 6" white pillar candle on the 6" riser. Place one 3" pillar candle on the 3" riser; place 2 three inch pillar candles on the riser in front of the worship center.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: You may use small leafy plants or grass-like plants on the left side of the worship center, and some larger leafy plants on the floor to the right and left of the worship center.

ROCKS/WOOD: Surround the pillar candles with small stones. Place larger rocks near the base of the blue fabric on the floor, along with pieces of driftwood or dead branches near the base. Do not use branches or driftwood on the worship center table. Smaller rocks may be placed with the wood and larger rocks at the base - this is a rather impressionistic "lakeshore" setting.

OTHER: You may use a brass cross on the center back of the worship table, but the candles and blue fabric should dominate the scene. The cross is a reminder of servanthood and things to come.

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