For January 29, 2012

For Sunday January 29, 2012
Year B, Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany :: Green :: Deuteronomy 18:15–20 :: Psalm 111 :: 1 Corinthians 8:1–13 :: Mark 1:21–28
Call to Worship (Responsive)       
Adapted from Psalm 111
L: Praise the LORD!
P: We will give thanks to the LORD with our whole heart.
L: The LORD has gained renown through wonderful deeds;
P: The LORD is gracious and merciful.
L: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
P: Holy and Awesome is God’s Name.
O LORD our God, you have called us forth into your assembly and have raised for us a prophet.  Guide us in our worship, that we may hear and heed  your words. Help us to know your truth, and live out in our words and deeds the message you have for us.
Stewardship Moment:
In the Gospel of Mark, near the beginning, Jesus enters the synagogue at Capernaum and begins to teach.  The scripture tells us “They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority(emphasis added), and not as the scribes.”  I think too often we come to reflect on our giving afraid to speak with authority, and we come off timid or uncertain like the scribes.  Today we shake off that mantle of fear: God has made clear in the holy word that tithes AND offerings are expected of God’s people.  Anything less is an insult to the change we received inside ourselves on receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Today I call you, as a prophet of old, to give in the manner God created you to give and expects you to give.  The gifts you give have the power not so much to make a difference here, in this church, as to transform the world when we bring everything God has imagined and planned we can.
Offertory Prayer:
Almighty and Everlasting God, forgive us when we are shy about teaching actions for which you have created us.  Forgive us when we fail to challenge one another to Love, to Share, to Serve, and to Give.  Help us to use these gifts faithfully.  Bless them to transform the world.  We offer them in Jesus’ Name, by Christ’s Grace, and for Christ’s SAKE.  Amen.
Communion Meditation:
The Apostle Paul answers the questions of the Church in Corinth about eating foods sacrificed to idols in the eighth Chapter of First Corinthians.  He cautions the Christians, that while they should not eat food that would hurt the faith of the weak for the sake of the weak, they should also know that there is no such thing as a real idol.  What I can assure you today is at THIS table, the food we offer is offered ONLY to the glory of God.   There is no risk of doing wrong or harm in accepting the gifts of Christ.  There is only the opportunity of realized Grace.  Here it is safe to take, eat, and remember.
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