For Sunday January 22, 2017
Year A, Second Sunday After the Epiphany
Second Sunday after the Epiphany :: Green ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 40
L: Wait patiently and the LORD will incline to us and hear our cries.
P: The LORD drew us up from the pit and set our feet upon the rock.
L: The LORD has put a song of praise in our mouths,
P: Happy are those who put their trust in the LORD.
L: You have multiplied, O God, your wondrous deeds to us,
P: Nothing can be compared to you, O God.
L: Do not withhold your mercy from us,
P: Your steadfast love and faithfulness will keep us safe forever.
We are assembled, O God of grace and mercy, gathered as your people. We have come together because you have called us, each by name, in your own inimitable way. We believe O God that no one is here by mistake or accident. It is you who has called us and claimed us. We come remembering our baptism, or hoping for it. We come remembering your sacrifice, and hoping to reclaim it. We come remembering your blessings and answers to prayers, and hoping for more blessings. We come because you have called us to come. Draw ever nearer to us in this time of worship, and make us aware of the presence of your Spirit. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ.
There are things in life we cannot afford. For some it’s a house or car or exotic vacation, for others it may be shoes or bread. Whatever it is, we look at the money available to us and see there isn’t enough for what we want. Sometimes it is a true lack of resources when we find ourselves in that situation. More often, it’s a lack of planning. Every once in a while, it is precisely because of planning. When what I want is simply something I cannot afford YET, it is probably because I am planning for it. Sometimes I hear about people that think they cannot afford to tithe or give to God. That one puzzles me because I cannot afford NOT to give. I have learned that you cannot out give God. God has too many resources. And every time I try, I fail. Make this year the one you try to out give God. I think you’ll find giving suddenly becomes something you cannot afford NOT to do.
Take our gifts, O God, and use them. Multiply their effectiveness and purpose. We bring them out of our love for you, your church, and the mission you are calling forth. We ask your blessing on the church’s mission, all who work for it, and all who will be touched by it. Amen.
The apostle Paul greets the church at Corinth with these words:
“To those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those, who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”
When we come around this table we are reminded that we are called to be saints. Not sometime in the future, but now . . . AND into the future. We are called to be saints because Christ has made us holy through the gift of his sacrifice. We come to remember that gift. We come to refuel ourselves for the journey ahead. We come to be reminded we are saints in the eyes of Christ our Lord, even when we do not feel all that saintly. Come and remember that Christ has sanctified – that is, made a saint of – YOU!
Year A, Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Third Sunday after the Epiphany :: Green ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 27
L: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
P: The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
L: Hear, O LORD, when we cry aloud;
P: Be gracious to us, and answer when we call.
L: My heart says, “Come, and seek God’s face.”
P: We come seeking to behold your Holy Presence.
L: Do not hide your face from us, or turn away in anger,
P: For you alone are the God of our salvation.
Even in the days of Winter, when the days are short and the weather is cold, we come, O God. We come because we want to draw nearer to you. We come to be in joyous fellowship with one another. We come to celebrate. We come to mourn. We come to catch a glimpse of your new day dawning, of your reign coming on earth. Again, we have come. Fill our spirits, enlighten our minds, use the words and actions of our servant leaders to break more fully into our lives. For we come in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ.
Imagine with me that we are about to have a meeting. The topic: how should we divide this week’s offerings. Do you think there would be a disagreement? Would there be discord? Would every idea be embraced? Obviously we do not do that. Why? Because the receiving and redistribution of money is not what the offering is about. Offering is about our opportunity to return to God some thanks for our blessings. Offering is about showing our allegiance to the overall mission of God and our love for God. We bring offerings because it is hard to set aside money to give, but it is even harder not to give to something you love. Because the cause of Christ IS something we love; because the Great Commission IS something we believe in; we will now receive our tithes and offerings.
We bring before you, O God, these tithes and offerings. We give them out of love for you and passion for the Gospel. We pray that you will use them, O God, to increase your reign on earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 4:17 tells us that after John the Baptist had been arrested Jesus began to preach “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”; and began to call together the Disciples. The launching point of Jesus’ ministry was born out loss – the loss of his cousin, John. The ministry of this table was also born out of loss – the sacrifice of the life of Christ. Yet in our case, there is a happy ending. We know now that this table is not only born in death, but in its defeat of death. Come to this table knowing that it is indeed a sign that the kingdom of heaven has come near.
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Scripture Quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Online Scripture links a service of the Jean and Alexander Heard Divinity Library, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Check out all of the awesome resources there at http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu