Sunday, January 15, 2012

3rd Sunday after Epiphany/OT 3 - B

Texts:  Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1st Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

Call to Worship
L:    Pecking away at our computers, idling in a knot of traffic:
P:    we wait for you, God of all words, to speak to us.
L:    Pacing the halls of a hospital,
       sitting outside the principal's office:
P:    we wait for you, God of comfort, to fill us with hope.
L:    In the silence of each night, beginning each day's new journey:
P:    we wait for you, Steadfast Love, for you are our safe place.

Prayer of the Day
Keeper of every moment in eternity:
we come, not only to hear
those words which can transform us,
but to be filled with your grace and hope.
We have come, not out of habit,
but to respond to your call,
willing to be called away
from the familiar ways of our lives.

Walker of our journeys,
in the midst of our harried lives,
you call us to lay aside all that entangles us,
to follow you into service to others.
You invite us to step into
the waters of life and hope,
reaching out to draw others
to our side so, that together,
we might enter your kingdom
of laughter and joy.

When uncertainty fills every block
in our daily planners,
you come, Grace's Companion,
to offer that hope which anchors
us in God's heart;
to place our feet firmly
on that rock called peace;
to bring us safely to that haven
filled with God's steadfast love.

God in Community, Holy in One,
Rock of every age,
we offer the prayer Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Our lives tend to follow the same pattern: get up,
go to work or school or the gym, come home,
go to sleep.  We can fall into the same routine
when it comes to our foolishness and failures,
doing the same thing over and over and over.
But God calls to us, to leave such lives behind,
as we follow Jesus into forgiveness and new life.
Let us pray together saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     God of procrastinating prophets, we can spend
so much time waiting for the perfect moment, that
we might miss the chance to help another.  We may
worry so much about saying the right thing, that we
say nothing to encourage a person who needs such
words.  We may be so wrapped up in dealing with
the stresses of life, that we have no time to deal
with your hopes and dreams for us.
     Forgive us, God of second chances.  By your
grace, we can hear your words of compassion
and forgiveness; by your mercy, we can place
our feet back on the path of discipleship; by your
love, we are welcomed as your children by our
Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    If it can happen in Ninevah, repentance and
       forgiveness can happen in us; if God can call
       a stubborn person like Jonah, God can call us
       to lives of faithful discipleship.
P:    We will lay aside all our fears and doubts, all
        our worries and resistance, so we can follow
        Jesus, trusting always in the One who forgives
        us, in this moment, and all the moments to come.
        Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May the God of faith be with you.
P:  And also with you.
L:  Lift up your hearts to the One who calls you.
P:  We offer our hearts as we follow Jesus into the world.
L:  Sing your praise to the God who is with you
       every step of the way on your journey!
P:  Our voices rejoices in the One who is our faithful companion!

You walked across chaos,
God our Salvation,
calling all creation into life.
You poured out your heart,
in the meadows rippling with grass,
in the rivers splashing with life.
Shaping us in your image of love,
you filled us with joy and peace,
gifting us with that Garden
which was our refuge.
But hearing the seductive tunes
which temptation sang to us,
we got up, and set out
to follow them into sin.
You sent prophets like Jonah
to call us back to faithful living,
but we only laughed at foolish words.
Finally, when time was growing short,
you sent Jesus to us,
proclaiming the good news
of your kingdom drawing near.

So, with those who repent in every place,
and with those who follow in every time,
we join our voices in praise to you:

P:    Holy, holy, holy!  God of steadfast love!
        All creation sings your praises.
        Hosanna in the highest!

        Blessed is the One who calls us to new journeys.
        Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God our Hope,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Caller of disciples.
He left the refuge of glory
to confront the sin of our lives.
He wandered through our world,
casting out his hopes and dreams,
to draw all into your kingdom.
When time was of the essence,
he went to the cross at Calvary,
to deal with sin and death once and for all,
so they could have no more dealings with us,
bringing us into that kingdom
filled with life eternal.

As we remember his call to follow,
as we sing of his hope and peace,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

P:    Christ has died, that we might live;
        Christ is risen, that we might hope;
        Christ will come again, calling us into the kingdom.

At this time appointed for your Feast,
we pray you would pour out
your Breath of Hope
upon the gifts of the Table.
Tasting the Bread of Life,
may we get up and go
to serve the hungry and thirsty among us.
As we are filled with Grace's joy,
may we set out on that journey
which will take us to your side,
where we will join our broken lives with yours,
so that we might find healing and hope.

And when all time has been fulfilled,
and we have gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices with our sisters and brothers,
forever singing of your steadfast love,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

(c) 2011  Thom M. Shuman