Anything Good

Follow Me!

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” That’s our guiding phrase from our gospel text for this week. “Anything good?” Surely you can hear how that sounds. Surely in our contentious environment, you hear the presupposition behind the sarcasm. You can hear the prejudice tucked away in such an innocuous joke. We are potentially dealing with some difficult topics this week. They are not difficult because they are complicated but because they are threatening. And personal. And most folk have some pretty entrenched positions on race and ethnicity.

While the story in our gospel text might seem like a small town/big town rivalry or a southerner’s disdain for northerners, it is really an exposé of prejudice that often hides in all of us. In the current climate, this worship experience has the potential to trouble many participants. Therefore, it is up to the worship team to create an atmosphere of acceptance, even as there are opportunities for confession and true repentance. As stated in the planning notes, however, this is not the forum for a frank discussion about racism and prejudice. This is a place, however, for casting a vision of a kin-dom of inclusion and a church of hospitality.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ring especially well from this text, and it would be good to acknowledge the day set aside for remembrance of that civil rights prophet.

This is another opportunity to invite people to buy into the vision or to step onto or move farther on the discipleship path. “Come and see” is a winsome invitation that is easily given to any and to all.

Call to Worship

(based on Mark 1:17, Mark 2:14, Matthew 4:19, Luke 5:27-28, John 1:43-45)

Jesus comes along side us and calls us by name:
“[your name], follow me.”

A simple call. A hard call.
Because following requires leaving.
And we look around to see who else Jesus could be talking to.
And we look around to see the trappings of the life we know.

It’s hard to leave our nets and walk away from the lake.
But we have come this far,
to this place,

where we can listen and be transformed.

-written by Joanna Harader and posted on Spacious Faith,

Contemporary Gathering Words (John 1, Epiphany Season)

Come into worship,
and see what God has in store for us today!
We have busy lives, but still, we’re curious . . .
Come into God’s presence,
and see the difference love makes!
We’ve been burned by love before,
but still, we’re needy . . .

Come into the light and see the glory of God!
Our eyes have been closed for so long,
but still, we yearn for the light . . .

Come and see! Come and see!

By Laura Jaquith Bartlett,

Prayer for Illumination (1 Samuel 3, John 1)

Open our ears, O God,
that we might hear your Word
speaking to us in this moment.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might listen for your voice
calling to us through scripture.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might understand your promises
to followers both old and young, ancient and modern.
Open our hearts, O God,
that we might enter into the love
you offer us. Amen.

By Laura Jaquith Bartlett,

Epiphany Prayer

(based on 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 11-20 and John 1:43-51)

Lord God, you call your people to tasks we would not ourselves choose. Give us the grace to love you enough to follow when you call. You know our weakness and have promised to give resources for that which you ask of us. We praise you for your generous care. Like Samuel, let us say "Here I am." God of surprising light, here we are.

We are surrounded, O God, with people who need to hear the story, people who need to meet the one from Nazareth, Jesus our Lord. Make our places of worship places of hospitality and welcome. Make our words and actions, words and actions of invitation. Like Philip, let us say, "Come and see." God of surprising light, here we are.

— from Lift Up Your Hearts: Worship and Spirituality Site of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

Epiphany Prayer

(based on 1 Samuel 3, John 1: 43-51)

Beloved God,
You know us inside and out and you still call us to serve you.
Lord, honestly we are often hesitant, afraid, and wish to remain hidden.
Empower us to listen for and to hear your call
Empower us to answer your call with “Here I am Lord”
Empower us to follow you when you call us to follow you.

Lord of mercy and justice,
So many have gone before us working to bring
Justice and peace to our country and our world.
Their footsteps seem too big to step into
to continue the work you have called us all to;
so we hesitantly step one step at a time,
bringing your seeds of hope, justice and peace
in a world crying out for them.

Lord of hope,
We pray for our country, our leaders and especially our new president as he is inaugurated into leading our country in tumultuous times. We pray for healing of our country, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.

Lord of peace,
We pray for your compassion and healing for those individuals in our congregation who need it. We pray for your comfort and presence for those who are grieving lonely and oppressed. We pray for warmth, shelter, clothing and food for those who are without.

Lord we say to you this day,
“Here we are your servants willing to preach your word,
offer care where care is needed,
presence where presence is needed,
your love where your love is needed.”
Lord, strengthen us for our ministry today and everyday.
In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy spirit. Amen.

— written by Rev Abi, and posted on her Long and Winding Road blog.

Pastoral Prayer

Gracious God, you create us and love us; you invite us to live together in a community.

We acknowledge our slowness to do good, our blindness to injustice, and our complicity in deferring the dreams and hopes of the oppressed.

We condemn racial injustice in our pronouncements, yet we cling to the privileges derived from inequity. Forgive us, Gracious God.

On this day, we thank you for Martin Luther King, Jr. and all your children who have been filled with your vision for life and who have worked to bring your vision into reality.

May we join them on the journey of faith.

Fill us with your vision of love. Guide us to live by your vision of compassion and justice, and empower us to work to build the beloved community where everyone is welcomed, all are valued, power is shared, privilege is no more, and all your children know wholeness and well-being. In accordance with the commands of Jesus Christ, shake us from our sleep with your imperative to do justice; move us to action with the compassion of your grace; and give us courage to pay the price, however painful or costly, that the justice you intend, may be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Hear us now, as we pray this prayer with one voice…

Commission & Benediction

Go now. Listen for the voice of the Lord
and follow wherever it leads.
Do not be dominated by anything.
Allow no room within yourselves for deceit,
but offer yourselves as a temple for the Holy Spirit.

And may God be with you and speak through you;
May Christ Jesus be one with you and raise you to life;
And may the Holy Spirit dwell within you and make you holy.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
........In the name of Christ. Amen.

© 2002 Nathan Nettleton,


Jesus said “follow me” and “come and see” how we can change the world. Let us follow Jesus and see what happens next. Amen.

(Stephon Williams, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, 2007, p. 214.)

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