What Have You to Do with Us?

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Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

We are people on a journey of transformation, and it isn’t always easy. Today, we acknowledge the hard work of becoming disciples and of setting aside the weight that clings so closely, of handing over the reins of our lives so that we can be led into wholeness. And so, we can proclaim wholeness to the broken world around us.

True worship brings transformation into our minds and hearts and souls. This story is about the challenge that Christ brings into our lives. Are we willing to surrender that to which we are beholden? Are we willing to allow the Spirit to work within us that we might be vessels of grace and invitation in the world around us? Here we are reminded that this discipleship thing isn’t easy and that it does require a readjustment of our whole lives that we might follow where Christ leads.

Testimony is the best way to cast a vision of a “before and after” kind of discipleship. Hearing the stories of those who have walked a difficult path, and maybe still are, but are beginning to see a difference in how they live their lives can be compelling to the hearer.

This could also be an appropriate time for a healing service to be a part of worship. Be sure to follow all the safety protocols. Perhaps, pray from a distance; even anoint from a distance. But the willingness to offer prayers, specific and general, for healing and for peace of mind and heart will help make the theme concrete.

Opening Litany

(inspired by Mark 1:21-28)

Brothers and sisters in Christ,
what hopes do you bring to worship?
We bring hope for health and wholeness.

What afflictions do you bring to worship?
Physical pain?
From illness and injury.
Emotional pain?
From sad and scary life situations.
Mental pain?
From dis-ease of many kinds.

With all of these afflictions,
it’s a miracle that any of us have made it to worship this morning!
But where else would we be?
We yearn to know God’s powerful love
and to know that wholeness is possible.

In today’s gospel, a person with an “afflicting spirit” * interrupts Jesus
and Jesus frees him.

And where does the miracle of his story and our stories begin?
When we bring all of who we are
—hopeful, afflicted, bold—
into relationship with the Divine.

So come, let us enter this sanctuary with our whole selves
—hopeful, afflicted and bold—

Come, let us worship!

— taken from Holy, Whole-y One: Service Prayers for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, written by the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel, pastor of Plymouth United Church, UCC, in Spring, Texas. Posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/01/opening-litany-epiphany-4b.html

Call to Worship

L: Come to worship this day. Bring with you all your joys and sorrows.
P: Jesus will offer hope.
L: Come to worship this day believing in the power of God through Jesus Christ.
P: Jesus will bring us healing.
L: Come to worship this day feeling the presence of God.
P: Jesus will teach us new ways to live. AMEN.

Nancy C. Townley, https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/2279/classic-worship-connection-january-28-2018

Prayer of Confession

Let us confess together that we have not always lived as those forgiven, set free, and united in Christ:

O God, source of life and grace, we are aware that we are, at times, prisoners of fear and habit. Through the healing touch of Christ, set us free to live and to love, that we may be the people you have created us to be. Amen.

Words of Assurance

The good news is that Christ calls us to new life and enables us to begin again and again and again. Let us praise God with songs of joy!

Ruth Duck, Bread for the Journey, Pilgrim Press, 1981, p. 29.

Prayer for Illumination

(inspired by Mark 1:21-28)

Un-stop our ears, O God,
that we may hear your Word proclaimed this day.
Open our minds and hearts to be changed.
Free us from the unclean spirits of worry, fear, destruction, and pride.
Teach us, Lord, that we may follow you more faithfully.

written by Amy Loving, and posted on The Worship Closet: The Place for Creative Worship Ideas. http://worshipcloset.com/baptism-of-the-lord-sunday-year-b-words-for-worship/ Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2015/01/prayer-of-illumination-mark-1-21-28.html

Prayer for Others: Epiphany 4B

Most holy Friend, Saviour of those who call on you, please give us more of the compassion and authority of Jesus. Embolden us to heal the multiple diseases that afflict humanity and drive out the demons that afflict our contemporary world. Hear us, O God.

Loving God, in your abundant grace, hear our prayers

Send your agents to lands that lie under darkness and oppression; where government is corrupt, justice is rare, abuse is endemic, and the weak and the poor have nowhere to turn for hope. Please increase the spiritual authority of the Red Cross, Amnesty, and Christian World Service, to more adequately become your ready channels of compassion, justice, practical aid, reconciliation and peace. Hear us, O God.

Loving God, in your abundant grace, hear our prayers

Send your messengers to situations where diseases like AIDS are reaping a grim harvest. Especially we pray for the afflicted nations of Africa and Asia. Please give authority to people of disciplined compassion, to provide pharmaceutical help, nursing care, and better health education that will drive out the demons of superstition and fatalism. Hear us, O God.

Loving God, in your abundant grace, hear our prayers

Send your servants into places where food is scarce and crops are poor. Please strengthen the authority of those local leaders and outside advisers, who seek to empower the people to conserve water, dig new wells, plant trees, grow new food crops, farm fish, start new cottage industries, and obtain better prices for their goods. Hear us, O God.

Loving God, in your abundant grace, hear our prayers

Send your human angels of mercy into situations, both here and abroad, where there is neglect, illness, sorrow, frustration and anger. Please give some of the compassionate authority of Jesus to chaplains in hospitals and prisons, to nurses and ambulance offices, physicians and surgeons, social workers and foster parents, police officers and counsellors. Hear us, O God.

Loving God, in your abundant grace, hear our prayers

Send your gifts of comfort and great joy among the many congregations of your church. May more of the spiritual authority of Jesus empower every ordinary church member, and the wisdom and compassion of Christ enlarge the ministries of lay leaders and ordained pastors. By the grace of Christ, may our deeds more adequately match our creeds, and our love expand to embrace those misfits who appear lonely and unlovable. Hear us, O God.

Loving God, in your abundant grace, hear our prayers

God, our most holy Friend, in your mercy may we go from strength to strength in things of the spirit, and become the lovers and the agents of that holy awe which is the beginning of true wisdom.

Through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

— written by Bruce Prewer, and posted on Bruce Prewer’s Homepage. Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/01/prayers-of-people-for-january-29-2012.html

Benediction, Blessing, Commission

Jesus comes to us, offering healing and hope, speaking and acting with authority. Listen to him. Go into this world, confident in God’s love and healing power. Go in peace and may God’s love and peace always be with you. AMEN.

Nancy C. Townley, https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/2279/classic-worship-connection-january-28-2018


(based on Mark 1:21-28)

Go forth…
…replenished by the grace and mercy of God,
…blessed by the healing love of Jesus,
…energized by the limitless power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

— written by Moira Laidlaw, and posted on her Liturgies Online website.
Reposted: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/01/benediction-epiphany-4b.html

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