She Began to Serve

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Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Let us celebrate service today, but not as another call to do more, to give more, to work harder or to fill our overburdened schedules with work. Yes, there is always a call to more service. But instead, let’s celebrate service by saying “thank you.”

By Kaleb A. Oates and Alexis Carter


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.

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.

Kaleb 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.

In This Series...

Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Transfiguration Sunday, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes