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Africana Resources for Epiphany

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Epiphany, Year B

Safiyah Fosua

WE SUFFER FROM LACK OF LIGHT

An Epiphany Prayer, Inspired by Isaiah 60:1-6

Lord, we suffer from lack of light.
We have become too much like creatures found at the bottom of the sea.
Unrecognizable.
We have been deprived of light for too long.
We are not ourselves.
We do not recognize the hollow eyes staring back at us in the mirror.
We are not at our best.
We settle for less than what is righteous.
We are not the people that you created us to be.
We need your light.
Shine your light into our darkness, so that we might again find our way.
Help us to see clearly, to choose wisely, and to walk as People of the Light.
Amen.

WE HAVE COME TO WORSHIP HIM!

For Matthew 2:1-12

Leader: Wise men came to Jerusalem, looking for Jesus.
People: Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?

Leader: The prospect of a real, God-given, heaven-born king frightened King Herod, who immediately set out to destroy my Jesus.
People: But we found him anyway and laid our gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh at his feet.

All: For we have seen his star at its rising, and have come to worship him.

Baptism of the Lord, Year B

Curry F. Butler

WE COME, REPENTING

Gathering Words for use with Mark 1:4-11
(*Note: this author’s use of gendered language was intentional.)

We have come together today as the children of God
To praise and worship our Father,
The Creator of heaven and earth.
We gather as people from all walks of life
And when we leave this place, we go back to them,
But while we are together, we have two things in common:
(1) We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and
(2) We all have a Father who specializes in forgiveness.
Let us come repenting of our sins, being baptized
No longer of water,
But of the Holy Spirit.
Here we are God.
We are your beloved children.
Be pleased with our worship today, Father.

WE COME, ASKING FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS

An Invocation Based on Acts 19:1-7

Lord, we come to you today, exposed,
With the understanding that we have sinned against you.
We have done wrong in your sight
And we asked that you show us your forgiving spirit.
Forgive us of our sins that we may be able to forgive ourselves.
Lord, we want to be pleasing in your sight.
We understand that our baptism was of water.
It was a baptism of repentance.
Today, we ask that you touch us, Lord, and baptize us in your Spirit.
Pour out your Spirit upon us so that your sons and daughters may prophesy,
Your young men may see visions,
Your old men may dream dreams.
Baptize us, Lord, in your Holy Spirit, so that we may do your will.
It’s in your darling Son Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

WE ARE WITNESSES OF YOUR CREATIVITY

A Call to Worship for Genesis 1:1-5

Leader: In the beginning, you created.
People: God, baptize me with your creativity.

Leader: Allow your hands to wash over me like when you created the heavens and the earth.
People: God, baptize me with your creativity.

Leader: Let your mind see into my darkness,
Filling my void, so that I will never be formless again.
People: God, baptize me in your creativity.

Leader. I am your canvas, and you are the master.
Make me the masterpiece that you desire me to be.
People: God, baptize me in your creativity.

All: God, baptize me in your creativity,
So that I might be a witness of your splendor and majesty.

RELEASE US FOR CREATIVE WORSHIP

A Prayer Inspired by Genesis 1:1-5

Dear Heavenly Father, we come today to tell you thank you for being our Creator. You creatively gave of yourself when you created the heavens and the earth, the moon, and the stars, and both man and woman. You did not withhold your creative hand from us; let us not withhold our creativity from you. Let our creativity flow with the clapping of our hands and the lifting of our voices. Let our creativity flow with the gestures in our dance and the inflections in our preaching. Let it be a worthy offering to you. It is in your darling son Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

LORD, OPEN THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN,

A Prayer Inspired by Acts 19:1-7

Lord, open the windows of heaven and pour out your Spirit upon us. Let it fall like rain on a hot summer’s day. Let every drip and drop be as a refreshing breeze. Let it penetrate our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. Lord, we are your vessels. Let your Holy Spirit wash over us and fill us, so that we may walk as you have called us to walk and talk as you have called us to talk. Let us now have the power to carry your gospel to our neighbors far and wide. It is in your wonderful son, Jesus’ name, we pray, AMEN.

THANK YOU FOR THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF BAPTISM

A Prayer for use with Mark 1:4-11

Lord, we love you. We magnify your name because there is none like you. We give your name praise because we understand that you love us and that you care for us as only a father can. You have given us the precious gift of baptism, and we don’t take it for granted. You sent your Son, Jesus, to be baptized with water, so that we in turn could be baptized with your Holy Spirit. Lord, for that, we thank you. It is in Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

LET THE WORLD MARVEL AT OUR UNITY

A Sending Inspired by Acts 19:1-7

Let us go out into the world with the understanding that we are in the world, but not of the world. We are indeed pilgrims in this barren land, and we come together being baptized both of water and of the Holy Spirit. Let the world marvel at our unity.

MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE,

A Sending Inspired by Genesis 1:1-5

Now let us go, saturating the world with the same spirit of creativity that created the heavens and the earth, showing them that we are our Father’s children, each equipped with a special uniqueness that makes the world a better place.

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Taylor Marie James and Lindsey Baynham

GOD HAS DRAWN US TOGETHER

A Call to Worship Inspired by Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
(Lindsey Baynham)

All voices: We enter with praise and awe,
One voice: Because the God of all has drawn us together.

All voices: In our worship, we draw nearer to God in our connectedness to one another.
One voice: Because the many members of the one body have shown that love is a more excellent way of life.

All voices: How wonderful it is to be in worship one more time.

SPOKEN WORD CLOSING

(Taylor Marie James)

Some days it’s going to feel like the world is on your back.
You’re going to open the mailbox, and all you’re going to see are bills.
Your responsibilities are just going to keep piling up,
To the point where you don’t have a single ounce of motivation in your body.

You feel like a broken record playing in somebody else’s home.
Your mind is constantly moving,
Trying to figure out how to deal with one thing
Before you have finished the other.
How to add this into the pile.
How this bill is going to get paid.
And how you're going to fit in an extra shift,
Because you need the money, but you lack the time.

With all of this on your mind,
You’re going to call on the Lord for any type of reassurance
That you’re doing something right,
And ask for a sign,
Or a word,
Or a slap in the face.
And when you don’t get anything back,
You’re going to feel discouraged and disappointed,
As if you don’t even know who you’re talking to anymore.

But he’s still there,
Watching over you and making sure that your life is nothing that you can’t handle.
He’s going to come to you
When your heart is open
And your mind is free,
Because he wants to be your first priority.
He’s going to call you so casually, and out of the blue,
You’re going to be just like Samuel,
Thinking that someone else is shouting your name.

The Lord knows that these moments are rare,
So he’s going to keep calling and calling,
Until he gathers your attention.

When this happens, you need to know how to receive his message.

The Lord already knows who you are,
And the last thing he wants
Is for your mind to get too full of everything else, once again.

Like you read in the text,
He waits until you are listening for him to speak.

So,
Just as Eli told Samuel:
Tell the Lord to speak and then listen,
I challenge you to tell the Lord to speak,
And you listen,
Instead of talking about your problems and wants,
And never hearing what he has to tell you.
If you want relief,
And you want to experience the greatness of God given through faith,
I challenge you to listen.

Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Kachael J

OPENING SHOUT

For Psalm 62

All:
Our Rock
Our Salvation
Our Glory
Our Refuge
All Power belongs to you! (Repeat 3x)

Leader: When you speak, we will listen.
When you call us, we will answer.
When you give orders, we will obey.

All:
Our Rock
Our Salvation
Our Glory
Our Refuge
All Power belongs to you!

EXPECTATION – PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Like a family readies the home for the arrival of a new baby, so we order and prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No family expecting twins buys only one set of clothes or one car seat. So we, your people, prepare our hearts to the level of our expectation.

We confess that we have not always consciously prepared beforehand for your arrival and visitation. Yet, our hearts sank with disappointment when we did not receive what we had hoped from you. You are the Creator of the Universe, yet we limit you and what you want to do in our lives.

We recognize that you have tried to make a quintuple-sized deposit…
…but we prepared only for a single birth.
Help us, O Lord…
…to expect more from you.
Teach us, our Father …
…to prepare a place to receive at the level of our expectation.
This we pray in the precious name of Jesus.
Amen.

FISH MEN

(Spoken Word)
Consider having this read or dramatically presented from memory before or after the sermon
(*Note: The author’s use of gendered language in this piece is intentional.)

Stretched Out,
Hanging ‘round,
The wind whipping through me.
After working hard all day, I enjoy this reprieve.
The peace and solitude, a time to mend the holes caused by the beating from the previous day.
Gathered up, I bounce back and forth. Forth and back, in step, in time.
The bounce gives way to my sway.
It is almost time.
I feel it, the moisture in the air.
It slowly starts to seep into my rough weave.
I rest on the bow, my burden momentarily lifted.
A light, bright and steadfast appears, but not from the east.
The horizon is still dark.
It is steadfast. Immovable and unwavering,
The embodiment of Bright.
What could put the dawn to shame with such glory?
The light slowly recedes, my man along with it.
I am left to ponder this wonderment as I am lulled to sleep by the lapping waves.
How does one fish men? They don’t live in water!
One thing is for sure: they will need a net much bigger than me if they wish to accomplish that feat!

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Ashley Johnson

WON’T YOU RAISE US UP?

A Gathering Meditation Based on Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Won’t you raise us up, Lord?

They said that the sun will rise in the morning.

Well, some of us woke up, and it's dark.
Some of us slept, but it wasn't in heavenly peace.
Last night, we cuddled with terror.

Fear.
Our fears kept us warm.

As we drifted off to sleep, we knew for a fact
that time was moving so slowly that it was moving backward.
When we woke up, nothing felt familiar.
We felt afraid.
The sun hasn't risen yet,
but tears have fallen.

And…

Won’t you raise us up, Lord?

TEACH US TO LISTEN

A Prayer Based on Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Lord, teach us to listen.
Unstop our sluggish ears so that we can listen to…
your still small voice and your awe-inspiring voice
smacking us upside the head.

Teach us to listen deeply.
Unblock our ears so that we can listen deeply to…
the voice of our ancestors
and the voice of our young people
who will lead us on to the Promised Land.

Teach us to listen deeply to one another.
Unplug our ears so that we can listen to…

the prophets in our sanctuaries
and the prophets in the streets,
prophets that the Lord is raising up for us among our own people.

Teach us to listen. Teach us to listen deeply. Lord, teach us to listen deeply to one another so that we may hear your voice and dare to respond.

Amen.

GIT OUT!

A Response to the Word based on Mark 1:21-28

One: Racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism

Many: Git Out!

One: Violence, pain, brokenness

Many: Git Out!

One: Negative energies

All: Git out! Git out! Git out!
We’re putting you on notice.
There is no room for anything that tries to rob us of our sacredness here!

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Kaleb A. Oates and Alexis Carter

PRAISE THE LORD!

A Call to Worship Based on Psalm 147: 1-11
(Kaleb A. Oates)

Leader: Praise the Lord because he is good!
Congregation: Sing praises to our God. It is good and pleasant to praise him.

Leader: The Lord rebuilds places that were once torn down; he protects the innocence of his children.
Congregation: He heals their broken hearts and bandages their wounds.

Leader: He counts the stars and knows each of them by name.
Congregation: Our Lord is great and powerful. There is no limit to what he knows.

Leader: The Lord supports the humble, but he shames the wicked.
Congregation: Give thanks to the Lord. Praise our God with the sounds of the instruments.

Leader: He fills the sky with clouds. He sends rain to the earth. He makes grass grow on the ground.
Congregation: He gives food to the animals. He feeds the young birds that cry out.

Leader: This earth and everything therein belongs to him. Give God the glory, honor, and praise.
All: The Lord enjoys people who worship him and trust in his faithful love! So, we bless his name!

WE HAVE NOT TRUSTED IN YOUR POWER

An Altar Prayer
(Alexis Carter)

Almighty and gracious God,
Because your lovingkindness is better than life, our lips will praise you.
To whom all hearts are open. No secrets hidden. All desires known.

We have not believed you or trusted in your power.
Lord, help our unbelief.
We have stained our souls by our action and inaction.
Cleanse us, Lord.
We are broken by disease,
bruised by the sins of others,
weakened and unable to repair ourselves.

Heal us, Lord.

We ignore your call to center our lives in you,
and so are deaf to the hopes and cries of the poor, the sick, the needy, and the land.

Give us faith and strength to answer your call and steward our resources well.

In the midst of heartache, hazardous politics, and a hunger for justice,
we ask that you heal our hearts, satisfy our souls with your presence,
and feed us when we starve for justice.

When black bodies are bloodied without care and value,
Lord, have mercy.
When we are angry and we abhor what is going on in our nation,
Lord have mercy.

You not only hold the whole world in your hands,
but you hold the ultimate trump card that silences your enemies and brings us all to our knees.
Because your lovingkindness is better than life, our lips will praise you.

Comfort those who are bereaved.
Be with those who are school shopping, beginning college,
and stressing about a new season before them.

Strengthen and uphold our pastor as he/she shepherds us,
serves many and struggles on our behalf in ways that we will never know.

Pour out your Spirit upon us, that we may be your servants of truth, peace, hope and love.
In the name of the one who shed his blood, whom death could not hold down,
the Risen King,
seated in majesty,
the one whose works we proclaim until he comes again.
Amen.

Transfiguration Sunday, Year B

Safiyah Fosua

BREAKING THE MOLD

A Gathering Meditation for Transfiguration Sunday

Jesus,
Jesus, clothes dazzling with such intensity that the gospel writer groped for words:
Such as no one could bleach them…
Jesus, keeping good company,
On the mountain, with the recognizable Moses the Lawgiver,
And Elijah, the greatest prophet in their memory.
And all Peter could think to do was to build three dwellings!

Really, Peter?
Build more churches?

Perhaps it is time to rethink our responses to God.
There are times when the best response is not a bigger building, a revival, or a fundraiser.

God prompted Peter: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7)

No instructions for a monument, a memorial, or a building fund.
Just an admonishment to listen.
Lord, may we have ears to truly listen on this Transfiguration Sunday.

WE WANT A PORTION LIKE ELISHA’S

A Call to Worship for 2 Kings 2:1-12

Leader: As we enter into worship on this day
Make us like Jacob, wrestling with the Angel of the Lord
People: We won’t let you go until you bless us!

Leader: Make us like the woman who kept appearing before the unjust judge
People: God, we are going to keep coming, and worshiping, and praying,
Until our souls find their rest in you.

Leader: Make us like the woman with the issue who would not give up
People: We are going to press our way until we can touch the hem of your garment
Leader: Lord, make us like Elisha who was like a son to Elijah.

All: Lord, we want the portion of the eldest child!
Pour us out a double portion of your Spirit!


Writers

Rev. Lindsey Baynham is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church currently serving as the Director of Clergy Excellence in the Virginia Annual Conference. This proud alumna of Randolph-Macon College and Duke Divinity School has a passion for worship design, preaching and teaching, laughter over a meal with friends, and connecting folks.

Valerie Boyer was born and raised in Galveston, Texas, the home of Juneteenth, curated at Howard University, with a journey to Detroit, Michigan, and now Columbus, Ohio. Valerie has embraced life through the lens of preaching, praying, poetry, and activism, working to make a difference in different pockets of the world, one person at a time.

Curry F. Butler, Jr. is a certified candidate in the Memphis Annual Conference and an alumnus of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rev. Alexis Carter Thomas is a writer, researcher, and adjunct professor who lives with her husband, John, in South Carolina. Her current work includes an ethnographic study of the flourishing of Black clergywomen and providing soul care as a form of reparations to women to give their time, resources, and life to the thriving of Black churches.

Taylor Marie James is an undergraduate student at Emory University and a member of the Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Taylor has plans to attend medical school.

Ashley Johnson is a proud alumna of Spelman College. She received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University and has enjoyed serving as an elementary school teacher for more than ten years. In 2017, Ashley graduated from BU’s School of Theology with a MTS. She is a provisional deacon in The United Methodist Church, and she currently serves at Union Church, Boston.

Kachael J was a voracious reader growing up and enjoys exploring new worlds through literature. A researcher by training and a worshiper at heart, she desires to see people and communities raised, repaired, and restored by the power of the Holy Spirit and preaching of the gospel. Using one of her hobbies, video editing, Kachael creates videos to encourage and help others in their faith walk. The daughter of a United Methodist Church-ordained elder and a native of Atlanta, Georgia, she currently resides in the Atlanta Metro area and works in commercial real estate.

Kaleb A. Oates, a native of Detroit, is a dynamic orator, educator, and musician. He currently serves as the music director of the historic Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. A proud graduate of Howard University, Kaleb is currently pursuing graduate studies at American University. An impassioned teacher, Kaleb enjoys reading, laughing, cooking, and traveling.

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