Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Racial Justice Day
Will You Come and Follow Me?
Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Doctrine and Covenants 161:1b
For the Reflection after the Message, recruit nine participants—seven to be designated colors and two additional. It’s best if they can rehearse before the service. None of the participants speak. Person 1 and Person 2 only laugh. Prepare seven cardboard signs to hang around the seven participants’ necks. Each person representing a color wears a sign, plain color on one side and a letter on the other side. Together the signs spell r-a-i-n-b-o-w. Colors: Purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy. Number them to display the word “rainbow” when lined up in order and in the usual order of colors in a rainbow.
“Gather Us In” Stanzas 1, 2, and 4
OR “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother?”
Welcome, Joys, and Concerns
Call to Worship
There…He said it…“If you can’t stand for something, you’re not good for nuthin”
Trapped in that moment, defined by words disguising malice with values
based in usefulness to others on terms not finding root or birth from within.
What usefulness? What others? What shared experiences beckon me to respond to an attack on my life’s choices that may or may not be of use to someone else?
My journey is mine...Not his. …How can he say that…Who died and made him the boss of me?
“Forgive them, father, they know not what they do.”
So what if I am not willing to spend time doing things that are different from what I like. …Things hat are familiar. …Things that ask me to change who I think I am…I think I’m doing fine just as I am. …Anyhow I don’t feel comfortable doing stuff with people I don’t know….
do this to the least among you, and you have done it to me also.
Choices…Choices to be an answer and not an onlooker. Choices to reach beyond the very tips of your fingers to grasp a life of new. Choices to be the one in the middle of where the journey beckons, on the road possibility lays out, climbing hills yet unexplored…. Choices to accept, to care, to nurture. Choices to face need that is ever present in a world trapped… not by hatred, but by indifference.
faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love
Love is the source of a heart willing to respond to need. …Love is the power that drives willing sacrifice to be in the midst of the chaotic beauty of life. Love is the force expressed in receiving and then giving grace. Love is the gift that calls each of us. …To stand.
—Dean Robinson; Used with permission.
“Light Dawns on a Weary World”
OR “When the Church of Jesus”
Processing Mark 1:14-20
Ask someone to read the scripture aloud and project or print the first two statements with associated questions. Ask participants to discuss in pairs or small groups.
- God is not far away, but here in our lives. How has the scripture helped you become aware of God in your life?
- What have you learned? How has the scripture taught you to embrace something new or something you must let go?
Repeat the scripture and project or print the final two statements with associated questions for discussion.
- Reflect on how the scripture has helped you change. How have you been challenged?
- What can you do to help God help others and creation?
Conclude the processing by projecting or printing the scripture passage for all to see and read aloud together.
Prayer for Peace
“Come and Bring Light” Choose several stanza.
OR “Soften My Heart” Sing twice.
Light the Peace Candle.
Use a mixture of online and in-room participants.
Participant 1: I know what it’s like to stumble in the dark.
Participant 2: I know what it’s like to be invisible.
Participant 3: I know what it’s like to be unforgiven.
Presider: Who will care? Who will change themselves so they can change the world?
Participant 1: I stumble in the dark. I’ve learned to be ashamed of who I am. Where do I belong?
Participant 2: I’m invisible. I’ve learned to slink away. Where do I belong?
Participant 3: I won’t be forgiven. I know my need is too much for people. Where do I belong?
Congregation: Is there hope? Is hope real?
Presider: Light of the star illuminates the dark. The star makes us visible. The son forgives the unforgivable. The dream is real. That you don’t matter is a lie.
Congregation: We stand with you. We will not turn away. You are at home here.
ALL: We pray for this kind of peace. Amen.
Ministry of Music OR Congregational Hymn
OR “You Walk along Our Shoreline”
Sharing in the Spoken Word
Based on Mark 1:14-20
See Preparation at the beginning of the service for more details.
Two people, Person 1 and Person 2, enter and start whispering and giggling.
A color enters and Person 1 and Person 2 laugh.
More colors enter and Person 1 and Person 2 laugh even more.
Colors group together out of order, then form a semicircle.
Person 1 and Person 2 still laugh.
Colors group together again, but this time in ‘rainbow order’ and again form a semicircle. Turn the colors over so the congregation sees “r-a-i-n-b-o-w.”
Person 1 and Person 2 stop laughing and gaze at them. They then say, “Odoo!”
Disciples’ Generous Response
“Nada te turbe” Sing twice.
For assistance with Spanish pronunciation, sing along with the vocal
recording found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings,
available from HeraldHouse.org.
OR “Christ, You Call Us All to Service”
In this message an online worship experience, Community of Christ
President Steve Veazey provides focus, inspiration, and guidance.
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
“I, the Lord of Sea and Sky”
OR “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”
Doctrine and Covenants 161:1b
SERMON AND CLASS HELPS
Third Sunday after the Epiphany (Ordinary Time)
Exploring the Scripture
This scripture passage explores Jesus’ proclamation of “good news.” The author of Mark asserts Jesus as the Son of God who embodies love and calls people to believe. This passage highlights the following key ideas.
Through life and ministry, Jesus is about to show God’s radical interest in humanity. He helped reshape thinking about a loving and creative God. This mission will be dangerous and will need extraordinary commitment. His followers are willing to leave their families and possessions to follow Jesus. This passage asks readers to evaluate their life and ministry through the lens of the ministry and life of Jesus and to examine what is important to God.
Verse 14 shares the understanding that this critical mission is indeed dangerous, noting John’s recent arrest. John was proclaiming Jesus as the Savior, preaching repentance and forgiveness in a radical way not heard before. For his commitment to God and Jesus, he was arrested and finally executed. For Jesus, this was a sign of supreme sacrifice. Disciples today are asked to examine their lives and discern what is important.
Verses 15–20 model the witness of invitation by Jesus. Disciples were asked to drop their nets and follow him. The account in Mark shows the first disciples as doing just that. They left everything they owned, their families, and friends to follow Jesus into the unknown. They showed faith and commitment. Common thought today is that they were just simple fishers who had little to give up to follow Jesus. These fishers from the shores of Galilee had businesses, employees, and family who depended on them. These fishers risked everything to follow Jesus.
These early disciples would be called to proclaim the good news after Jesus’ death and transform from followers to leaders. It is not hard to imagine these fishers spent much time in prayer to discern how they were called to commit themselves more fully to God. It is equally safe to assume they didn’t know the extent of how those simple prayers would change their lives and, maybe more important, history.
How many lives became hope-filled because of their risk-taking and testimony? How are we called to make such astounding changes in our lives so we can follow Jesus today? How can our risk-taking magnify our call to create communities of joy, hope, love, and peace?
We are called to wrestle with the tough challenges of being God’s creation. We are called to co-create with God a better world. At times, the mission will be difficult and maybe dangerous. But the mission demands sacrificial love. We may never see the changes in others’ lives, but the simple act of “dropping our nets” and following Jesus will be life changing.
- Life as a disciple calls for commitment and risk for the good of others.
- The journey is difficult and requires sacrificial love.
- We are called to invite others to join in the cause of Jesus Christ and proclaim the good news.
Questions for the Speaker
- How have you seen risk-taking, by you or others, improve the lives of others?
- Have you ever resented suffering and risk-taking? How did you overcome those feelings, and how did it help you understand more clearly the Mission Initiative of Invite People to Christ?
- How does your congregation become “fishers of people”?
What does it mean to sacrificially love in today’s world?
SACRED SPACE: A RESOURCE FOR SMALL-GROUP MINISTRY
Third Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: Mark 1:14–20 NRSV
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Ask people to share one- or two-word answers to, “Where in your life, in the world, or within God’s creation do you see the need for peace?”
After people have shared, offer this prayer:
Lord of peace,
We pray for peace in our lives, in our world, and for our Earth. Amen.
Blessings of Loving Kindness
Take a few moments to quiet yourself. When you feel a sense of calm, begin by repeating the following blessing, giving the words time to resonate in your heart and mind:
May I be blessed with loving kindness. May I be blessed with health. May I be blessed with true happiness. May I be blessed with peace.
Think of someone who is beloved to you. Visualize the person. As you pray, insert the person’s name into the prayer.
May my beloved be blessed with loving kindness. May my beloved be blessed with health. May my beloved be blessed with true happiness. May my beloved be blessed with peace.
Now think of a close friend. Visualize the person as you pray:
May my friend be blessed with loving kindness. May my friend be blessed with health. May my friend be blessed with true happiness. May my friend be blessed with peace.
Think of someone who has harmed you or with whom you are in conflict. Visualize this person. Take a moment. Breathe deeply and visualize the person, lovingly pray this blessing:
May the one who harmed me be blessed with loving kindness. May the one who harmed me be blessed with health. May the one who harmed me be blessed with true happiness. May the one who harmed me be blessed with peace.
Invite people to share the thoughts, emotions, and images they experienced during this time of blessing.
Sharing Around the Table
Mark 1:14–20 NRSV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Jesus invited the first disciples to drop their nets and follow him. They had to leave their families, friends, livelihoods, and possessions to follow Jesus into the unknown. In doing so, they showed courage, faith, and commitment. These first disciples risked everything to follow Jesus.
We, too, are called to wrestle with the realities of discipleship. At times, following Jesus will be difficult, frustrating, and maybe even dangerous. But we still are called to proclaim the grace and peace of Jesus Christ. As we emulate these early disciples in the simple act of “dropping our nets” and choosing to follow Jesus, our lives will be forever changed.
- How are we called to make such astounding changes in our lives so we can follow Jesus today?
- Are there aspects of your life that you find hard to leave behind as you journey with Jesus?
- How can risk-taking magnify our call to create communities of joy, hope, love, and peace?
“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).
We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
The offering prayer for the season after Epiphany is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
Gracious God, May we always be generous. You have gifted each of us with boundless grace and unending love. May our response to that love and grace be humble service to others, and may generosity be part of our nature. Amen.
Invitation to Next Meeting
CCS 586, “The Summons”
Thoughts for Children
Jesus invited people to follow him. Let’s play a game of “follow me.”
Say, “Follow me,” and pretend to read a book, walk in place, pray, or exercise. Have fun and create some silly movements. Now invite each person to take a turn as the leader. Make sure every child has a chance to lead the group.
Now share statements that describe how we can follow Jesus. Create actions to go with them. Encourage others to “follow” your actions.
Jesus said, “Follow me to help feed others.” (Make motions of spoon-feeding someone from a bowl.)
Jesus said, “Follow me to invite those who are not invited.” (Reach out to shake someone’s hand.)
Jesus said, “Follow me to be kind to others.” (Wave and say “hi” to each one.)
Jesus said, “Follow me to study and learn.” (Demonstrate reading.)
Invite participants to share their ideas on how to follow Jesus.