For Sunday February 5, 2012
Year B, Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany :: Green :: Isaiah 40:21-31 :: Psalm 147:1-11, 20c :: I Corinthians 9: 16-23 :: Mark 1:29-39
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 147
L: How good it is to sing praises to our God;
P: God is gracious, and songs of praise are fitting.
L: God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds;
P: Great is the LORD and abundant in power.
L: Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to God on the lyre.
P: Praise the LORD!
Invocation (from Isaiah):
O God who sits above the circle of the earth, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, who brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing, we have come to cast our eyes heavenward and see the marvel of your creation. Give power to those of us who are faint, and strengthen those among us who are powerless. Renew us, O God, in our worship that we shall rise up with wings like eagles, and praise your Holy Name.
I want to talk to you today about “Critical Presence”. Critical Presence is the watchword of how we as partners with Global Missions seek to “do” missionary work. In Critical Presence, the missionary must go into the setting and become as one of the people, listen to the people, and encourage the people. The Missionary is not there to pound the Gospel and solutions for the peoples’ lives as one with a giant hammer. Rather, the missionary is there to come alongside the people and in joining their journey, love the Gospel into them. The apostle Paul expressed this sentiment in First Corinthians when he said “in order to win the Jews, I became as a Jew. To win those under the law, I became as one under the law. . . . to the weak, I became weak; I have become all things to all people.”
For our missionaries to achieve this critical presence, they need our support. They need our gifts. They need our prayers. When you give, you support our Global Ministries, and in turn support the Critical Presence which becomes all things to all peoples. We will now receive the tithes and offerings which make Global Ministries possible.
O God of all people and places. We marvel at the way you have made us all in your image, yet life and circumstance has somehow made us so different. We bring these offerings today, O God, in hopes that some of the human divisions might be healed. We offer this gifts with the prayer that those who have been called into your mission field on our behalf will be able to show YOUR Critical Presence to those to whom they have been called. Glory, honor, and praise be yours forevermore. Amen.
Think with me, if you will, about your favorite Super Hero. It could be Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman or even the Mighty Isis. If you are a bit younger, it could even be Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl. Regardless, one of the great and endearing qualities of these heroes is the way they hide their identity. Did you ever wonder why? In the Gospel of Mark, even though Jesus is healing people and casting out demons by the scores, Jesus works hard to keep his identity a secret. It’s like Jesus should consider a mask and maybe a cape. Even when the people know how to find him, Jesus disappears and heads out to neighboring towns to proclaim the Gospel.
I think Jesus knows that it would be easy, even human nature, for others to want to control him, keep him around, have exclusive access. I also think, no, I know that Jesus wants no part of that. I know it because when Jesus first Instituted this meal of remembrance, he made it clear the Grace he was giving was for ALL. Come to the table of the one who can and does heal and cast out demons. Oh, and it’s okay to tell now – the book is out so it is no longer a secret.
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