Worship Resources for January 24th, 2021—Third Sunday after Epiphany
Revised Common Lectionary: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
Narrative Lectionary: Fish for People, Luke 5:1-11 (Psalm 90:14-17)
Jonah was the most successful prophet in the Bible. Though for the first two chapters of Jonah he tried to do the opposite of what God had told him (literally fleeing in the opposite direction), he went to Nineveh and proclaimed that the city would be overthrown by God. Everyone in Nineveh believed what Jonah said, and they put on sackcloth and fasted. God changed their mind about what would happen to Nineveh, because the people changed their ways, and God did not bring about their destruction.
The psalmist sings of how God alone is the one they wait for, the one they know is their rock and holds their salvation in Psalm 62:5-12. They call upon the people to put their trust in God, and not the ways of the world. Greed, robbery, and extortion will lead people astray; however, power is found in God, and God knows our works.
Paul warned that “the present form of this world is passing away” in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. This brief passage warned the things believers took for granted—marriage, possessions, wealth, even grief and joy—all of this was changing soon in Paul’s view. The things that made meaning for people in his day would no longer have meaning.
Jesus began his ministry and called his first disciples after John was arrested in Mark 1:14-20. Jesus declared that the time was fulfilled, and the reign of God was at hand. He took on the message of John the Baptist: repent, and believe in the good news. Jesus then came upon some fisherman along the sea of Galilee—first Simon and Andrew, then James and John. He called them to follow him, for he would make them fish for people. James and John left their father Zebedee behind in the boat with the hired men, and followed Jesus. What Jesus said, or how he presented himself, we do not know, but it was enough that these fisherman left everything they knew, everything that gave their life meaning before, to follow him.
The Narrative Lectionary also follows the call of the first disciples, following Luke’s account in 5:1-11. In Luke’s account, Jesus has already begun preaching, even teaching in his hometown synagogue. Here, the crowds have followed Jesus to Lake Gennesaret to hear the word of God, and Jesus gets into the boat belonging to Simon. He teaches the crowds from the boat. After he finishes speaking, he tells Simon where to put his nets in the water. There is a miraculous catch of fish, in which Simon needs help to pull the nets in. Simon recognizes that Jesus must be from God, for he falls to Jesus’ knees and calls him Lord, telling Jesus to go away for he feels he is not worthy. However, Jesus tells him, and James and John, that from now on they will catch people.
Psalm 90:14-17 is part of a prayer to God for blessing upon the people who have served God faithfully, that God’s work would be made known among them. The psalmist specifically asks God to bless the work of the faithful, that God’s power would be made known through them and their children, that God’s favor would be upon them.
In the United States, we are living through a tumultuous time. This will be the first Sunday after the inauguration of a new president while the former president faces an impeachment trial (at least, at the time I am writing this). Who knows what is in store for us, and what is coming ahead in our Covid world? 2020 taught us that we can’t predict what is to come. But perhaps what we can do is listen for when Jesus is calling us. Listen to God, and we can’t go wrong, even if it is inconvenient, like it was for Jonah, or even if we are afraid we aren’t good enough or prepared enough, like Simon in Luke’s account. Or maybe we’re called, like James and John, to leave a relationship behind in the boat. Can you imagine what it felt like when they left their father behind in the boat? Or what was going through Zebedee’s mind as his sons just walked away from everything they knew? What might we be called to leave behind that is painful, but necessary in order to follow Jesus?
Call to Worship
“The time is fulfilled;
Repent, and believe in the Good News.
The reign of God has drawn near;
Repent, and believe in the Good News.”
Jesus is calling out to us;
“Repent, and believe in the Good News.
“Come, follow me, and gather people,
Repent, and believe in the Good News.”
Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
Savior Christ, we confess that though we have heard You call our name, we have been reluctant to follow You. We are stubborn to live into Your ways of justice that call us to dismantle structures that empower us over others. We hesitate to turn away from systems that benefit us. We squirm when called to repentance, unwilling to abandon the worldly systemic sin that create wealth and power for some, and requires others to go without. Forgive us. Call us into repentance, and call us by name, so we may turn our hearts to You. Savior Christ, help us to live into Your way, Your truth, and Your life. Amen.
Jesus calls us by name, calls us from the ways of the world and to use our gifts for the kin-dom of God. You have gifts that are precious to the work of Christ in this world. God needs you. You are blessed and beloved of God. Turn back to God, repent, and know God’s forgiveness, grace, and love. Show your love for one another and use your God-given gifts for Christ’s work in this world. Amen.
Holy One, hold us gently in this time of turmoil and uncertainty. Remind us of the everyday blessings of sunshine and rain, wind and clouds. Your presence is as sure as the ground beneath us. Help us to be rooted in You and to reach toward the sun, to stretch beyond what is in front of us to know Your warmth and grace are within us. May Your spirit move in us, reminding us that we are not alone, and we were created to be with one another. Grant us assurance in this season. Amen.