Follow Me

Follow Me!

Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

How do we convince people that following Jesus is not simply about a state of being, but a call to doing? Certainly, there is a need for training, for preparation, for growing as disciples; but the end is always an outward focus, always looking for ways to connect, to widen the net.

Here is the clearest statement of the theme of this series. The overall title is the same as this week’s title, as you can see. This is a central moment in the Epiphany series. If you provide only one opportunity for people to come forward, or to somehow signal a willingness to enter or rededicate themselves to the discipleship path, this is the week to do it. It might be a physical, moving forward or kneeling at the rail, if you are in person; or it might be signing a card or sending a text or email indicating willingness to participate, if virtual. But give the worshiping congregation the opportunity to make this commitment. No matter how many times it has been made before, it is worth making again and again.

If you church has a clearly stated discipleship path, then invite the congregation to familiarize themselves with that path. Do some analysis: “Where am I on the path? What would my next steps be?” If there is no clear path outlined, then provide some suggestions about what each worshiper might do to keep the commitment made in this act of worship. Find ways to partner people. Growing as disciples is always easier when people do it together.

Here could be an emphasis on or relaunch of small groups. What groups already exist that would be open to receiving new members? What groups can you start? How could a “buddy system” or a mentoring relationship be established?

Much of this is an extension of the worship experience, and the planning team might think this is someone else’s job. But worship can be a great encourager to help people over the hump of deciding to participate. Bring in testimonies of those who have grown in their relationship with Christ through groups or studies or mentors.

You task, as the worship planning team, is to emphasize the call and to help bring some understanding of what the call involves. Point out, for example, that the call is “follow me” much more often than it is “believe in me.” Our faith is not simply a head thing; it is a life thing. How do I follow with my whole life and not just in the hour of worship? Help people find the links between worship and life. Perhaps remind the congregation that a benediction is not really the end of worship. It is a transition moment between corporate worship in the sanctuary and the ongoing worship of each life in the world.

Call to Worship

(based on Psalm 62, Mark 1: 14-20)

It is time to become focused,
not on our wants or complaints but on God:
In the silent places of my soul I turn to God,
for God alone is our rock and salvation.

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the good news of God,
saying the time has come, the realm of God is at hand.
The realm of God is not very far from any one of us,
for in God we live and, move and have our being.

Jesus said: repent and believe the good news.
The time has come.
In the silent places of my soul I turn to God,
for God alone is our rock and salvation.

— written by Bruce Prewer, on Bruce Prewer’s Homepage.

Intergenerational Call to Worship

(inspired by Jonah 3, Matthew 4: 18-22, Mark 1: 14-20)

For just this hour,
Follow me
Listen to my word
Follow me
Think about your life as my disciple every day
Follow me
Follow me
Follow me
Come, let us worship God!

Intergenerational Closing

(inspired by Jonah 3, Matthew 4: 18-22, Mark 1: 14-20)

As you go out into the world
Follow me
At home with your household
Follow me
At school and work
Follow me
In everything you do this week
Follow me
And as you do, remember that I am with you always,
even to the end of the world.

— written by Carolyn Brown, and posted on her excellent Worshipping with Children website. Reposted:


You call us,
Wanderer of seashores and sidewalks,
inviting us to sail out of our smug harbors
into the uncharted waters of faith
to wander off from our predictable paths to follow You
into the unpredictable footsteps of the kingdom;
to leave the comfort of our homes and accompany
You into the uncomfortable neighborhoods we usually avoid.

As we wait,
in our simple, sometimes crazy,
constantly uncertain lives,
speak to us, Spirit of Grace:
of that hope which is our anchor;
of that peace which is our rock;
of that grace which is our refuge.

~ from a worship order prepared by Rev. Bob Gibson for the London Conference of the United Church of Canada.



“O God We Long for Your Presence”

One: Though often misunderstood, often held captive by our fabricated realities, our souls long for peace.

Many: O God, we long for your presence; we long for peace.

One: We run without a destination, surrounded by highways of turbulent noise. We are tired, worn and battered, and our souls long for joy.

Many: O God, we long for your presence; we long for joy.

One: Through it all; in it all; and around all of it – choose to love the astounding teachings of the Messiah. Look to experience peace and joy – even in the midst of disappointment, war, injustice, or poverty. Allow your soul to become acquainted with the One who changes hard challenges into opportunities for transformation and growth.

Many: Peace and Joy are possible in the presence of the Savior.

All: In spite of the world’s challenges, we choose peace; we choose joy; we choose to follow YOU, Lord!

(Carolyn W. Dandridge, The Africana Worship Book for Year B, Discipleship Resources, 2007, p. 61.)

Prayer of Commitment

(based on Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1: 14-20, Micah 6: 1-8)

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’” Mark 1:17

Lord Jesus,
The one and only Christ,
You called many people
From many walks of life -
To leave their own ways and follow you;
To be your disciples;
And to prize people as something to seek, find and restore.

Lord Jesus,
The one true leader of every church,
We choose to stand as one church – your church –
And to lift our focus from our differences and divides.
We will leave our own ways and follow you together;
Support each other as we seek to be your disciples;
And work together to focus on fishing once more.

For we must act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly together
Before you – and each other.
For the sake of our worship of you,
Our love for each other,
And the future and freedom of all those still living in poverty.

Lord Jesus,
We ask for your Spirit's help with this
For we are quick to focus on ourselves, our labels and our differences
Rather than the same nets in our hands, and the same leader before us.
Christ have mercy - in your precious name which unites us all. Amen.

— from the Monthly Prayers page of the Christian Aid website

Prayer of Confession

Almighty God, as the church, we are part of your redeeming work in history. Yet we know that often we seek our own success and salvation, and fear to follow Christ in commitment to a vision of wholeness for the world and its peoples. Help us to speak and act our parts of the great drama of your love, and in the freeing gospel of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance

Leader: Hear the good news! God has forgiven each one of us and calls us to take our parts in the drama of redeeming love.

People: Praise God, who accepts and uses our very human lives in the unfolding story of salvation and new life!

Ruth Duck, Bread for the Journey, Pilgrim Press, 1981, pp. 28-29.

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Jonah; Mark 1:14-20)

God…you call us…and sometimes…we duck under the table…
hoping you didn’t notice us when you walked into the room.
You call us…and sometimes…we grab a stapler and a stack of papers…
trying to look too busy to be bothered at the moment.
You call us…and sometimes we just say, “No!”
We know that we aren’t expected to do everything…
but we often forget that you call us to be ourselves
in the places where our very self is what is most needed.
So give us the grace to say “Yes” to your call…
even now…as we offer our silent confessions…

— written by Rev. Scott Cervas, and posted on the LiturgyLink website.

Commission & Benediction

Go now, follow where Christ calls you
and proclaim the message God gives you.
Wait in hope for God.
Avoid become bound up in the business of the world,
but live in readiness for the in-breaking of the Kingdom.

And may God be your haven and your glory;
May Christ Jesus give you courage for his mission;
And may the Spirit embrace your soul in God’s silence.

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

© 2003 Nathan Nettleton,

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