5th Sunday after Epiphany

February 4, 2024

Lectionary Texts

Isaiah 40. 21-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? God is the everlasting God. Those who wait for God shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Psalm 147. God, heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. God lifts up the downtrodden, and casts the wicked to the ground. God’s word runs swiftly.

1 Corinthians 9. 16-23.
“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” “I have made myself a slave to all…” “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some…”

Mark 1.29-39. Jesus heals Simon’s mother in law, heals all the sick in town, centers himself in prayer and goes on to other villages, teaching and healing.

Preaching Thoughts

1 Corinthians
       Be careful how you toss around the idea of Paul “making himself a slave.” Slavery in Paul’s setting was not the same as American chattel slavery. Slavery was economic, and people sometimes moved in and out of slavery. But one can’t move in and out of race-based slavery. Paul couldn’t make himself a slave in our modern sense. He could commit to service for others, which we can do as well. It’s a call to let go of our own ways and preferences in order to bring the good news more effectively to others.

      Note with Peter’s mother in law her trajectory from need to healing to service. There’s the life of faith in a nutshell.
      Jesus goes off by himself to pray. He is unavailable. The gospels are keen to show us Jesus’ accomplishments, but they do let us see that he also engaged in a lot of solitude. This is all part of how God works in us: not in our busyness and over-functioning and high accomplishment, but in God’s presence in us as we are present for others. Solitude is the space we give ourselves to practice being present for God. Solitude is the garden soil of our faith in which our roots sink deep, so we can bear fruit.

Call to Worship

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
You alone are holy, and we worship you.
Glory be to you, O God of all Creation.
Thanks be to you, O Christ, for our salvation.
You heal the brokenhearted and lift up the downtrodden.
You have healed us in many ways; you have cast out evil and set us free.
Alleluia! Grant that we may be your humble servants.Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator God, you give us life.
All: We turn to you, to receive the gift of life.
Loving Christ, you give us the gift of healing.
We kneel before you, to be made whole.
Holy Spirit, you give us the gift of compassion.
We open our hearts to you, to be filled with your light.
Come, Spirit of Life, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

Gracious God, people gathered around the house to hear Jesus and to be healed. We, too, come to hear your Word proclaimed and to receive your healing deep in our hearts. Speak, for we are listening. Touch us, for we are still. Feed us, for we are hungry. Love us, for we are yours. Transform us, for we are ready to share your grace with all the world. We pray in the name and the spirit of Christ, who is present. Amen.

God of healing, Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law, and she began to serve them. In the reading of your scripture and the proclaiming of your Word, touch us and speak to us, so that me might be made whole and rise, strengthened to serve you, in the name of Christ, for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

Gracious God, Jesus went about proclaiming the message of your salvation and healing people. We come now to hear of our salvation, to be healed, and to join our lives with Christ in serving your Realm. Speak to us, make us whole, and fill us with your Spirit. Amen.

Gracious and tender God, Jesus cured those who were sick and cast out demons, and he proclaimed the good news of your Reign. In him we see your desire to bless, your grace that heals and restores us, and gives us life. We open our hearts to you now, that in hearing and reflecting on your Word, we may be healed and made new; that we may come to trust your gentle grace; and that we may be sent out to bear your healing to a hurting world. We pray in the name and the spirit of Jesus. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Jesus, we come with you
to a deserted place to pray.
We do not know how to pray,
but we sit with you in the stillness,
for it is you who are praying.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

       We give our hearts to God, Creator of all things, who forgives our sin and heals our diseases, who is merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love.

      We give our hearts to Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved and ours, who came that we may have life, and have it abundantly; who went about doing good and healing; who died, and was raised from death, and will come again. He is the living Word, the healing of our souls, our reconciliation with God, and the mending of all of life.

      We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, whose grace is upon us to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the oppressed and release to the prisoners, to proclaim the time of God’s favor. In the Spirit we embody healing, we bear the good news to strangers, and we join with Jesus in the healing of the world, to the glory of God. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

You can use the song “For Grace In Creation” (below) as a Eucharistic prayer,
with the Blessings & Covenant after the second verse.

[After the introduction, the body of the prayer may be read responsively with the presiding leader(s) and congregation, or by the leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God of love, we give thanks,
for you create the world as a flowering of your goodness.
You set free the oppressed and heal the broken.
You walk with us in new directions, healed, made new, and full of your light.
Your mercy flows freely, and we open ourselves to its light.
We hunger for your grace, and feast on your generosity.
Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise.

            [Sanctus, spoken or sung:]
        Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and might,
        heaven and earth are full of your glory.
        Hosanna in the highest.
        Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
        Hosanna in the highest.
               [or alternate version]

Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He taught and healed, and made his grace available to all.
He healed people’s bodies and souls, offering wholeness.
He healed relationships and communities.
He healed injustice; and in retaliation the powers of evil crucified him..
But in love you raised him from the dead, healing life itself,
faithful to your covenant that we may have life, and have it abundantly.

[The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

             [Memorial Acclamation, spoken or sung:]
        Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
        Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restores our life.
        Christ will come again in glory.
             [or alternative]
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
healed and restored to life,
and radiant with you grace,
sent out to the towns and villages of our lives
for the sake of others who reach out for mercy and healing.
In our compassion may your glory shine.

     [Spoken or sung]

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

[Adapt as needed.]
Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you. have given yourself to us.) You have called us to return always to the still, life-giving center where you have fed and healed us. Send us into the world now, to listen for your guiding and to follow your Word, to take your good news to others near and far, in words and in deeds, and so to be a part of your transformation of the world, in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you. have given yourself to us.) You have healed us by your presence with us and within us. Send us in your Spirit as your healers with Jesus into the world that so needs your healing. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for (the mystery that you give yourself to us / this mystery in which you. have given yourself to us.) You have served us, humbly offering your very life to us. Redeemed by your grace and filled with your Spirit, may we go now and humbly serve others in the name of Christ, and in the powerful companionship of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Christ our Healer (Tune: Joyful, Joyful … or … Love Divine, All Loves Excelling)

Christ, our healer, you have touched us, reaching through the dark divide,
healing broken hearts and bodies, casting death’s old shroud aside:
raised us from our bed of sorrows, put your arm around our pain,
raised us up to new tomorrows, bringing us to life again.

Christ, our teacher, in our healing you have given us your gift:
grace to bless, your love revealing, pow’r to heal and hope to lift.
In your Spirit, your forgiveness and compassion we embrace
ev’ry wounded, shamed or silenced child of God with gentle grace.

Christ, our savior, you are going on to every town and field,
on to every land and people, on until the world is healed.
Use us in the whole world’s mending, use us as your healing hands,
’till as one the world, made whole, takes up its mat with joy and stands.

For Grace in Creation    Tune: “The Ash Grove “ – Let All Things Now Living
[This song may be used as a Eucharistic Prayer,
with the Blessing and Covenant (“Words of Institution”)
between the second and third verse.]

For grace in Creation, and for our salvation,
O God, in thanksgiving we joyfully sing.
For giving us Jesus, who heals us and frees us,
who walks with us daily, our glad praise we bring.
       God, holy and mighty, your glory shines brightly!
       Hosanna on high! Love, your praise we proclaim!
Your welcome is spacious; your table is gracious.
God, bles-sed is each one who comes in your name.

God, in your great favor you sent us a savior,
Christ Jesus, our brother, our teacher, our friend.
He taught and he healed and your grace he revealed,
and he gave of himself in your love without end.
       Behold! Christ has died! Behold! Christ is risen!
       Behold, your Beloved Christ will come again!
Your grace throughout history we see in this mystery,
and feast on your presence, our savior, our friend.

Now humbly expressing our thanks for your blessing
we feast in the presence of your loving son.
Love, pour out your Spirit, that we may inherit
your love and compassion, and make us all one.
       With this bread and cup, fill our hearts, lift us up
       and re-make us, the Body of Christ once again!
With gracious self-giving in all of our living
we offer ourselves and we praise you! Amen.

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