Mitchells Presbyterian Church
Audio/Video Service February 7, 2021
5th Sunday after the Epiphany
“Sing to the Lord a new song”
Welcome and Announcements:
Welcome everyone to Mitchells Presbyterian Church on this February 7th , the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany! I’m Reverend Michael Clang, Covenant Pastor here at Mitchells and I am so glad that you all have tuned in to our YouTube channel to worship with us today. It’s my hope and prayer that the next 30 minutes will be a real blessing to you.
A reminder that your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is holding a short Prayer Vigil every Sunday at 1pm, so if you are able to, just stop what you are doing and hold a brief time of silence in support of this committee. We trust that the Spirit is guiding just the right person to this most amazing place!
With the Lenten season approaching, we are going to do another “virtual” Bible Study starting on Ash Wednesday (February 17th ) at 10:00am. The book that we will be studying is: “The Sign and the Sacrifice” The Meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection by Rowan Williams: It explores the meaning of the cross and the significance of Christ's resurrection, discussing what these events meant to Jesus’ followers in the early years and what they can say to us today. Sign up information will be on the screen after today’s service.
The table is set today for us to share in virtual communion. In this meal, we are eating and drinking in communion with the risen Lord and we remember that wherever we are in time and space we are in communion with each other, being fed and nurtured to carry on the work of Christ’s church. If you have not done so already, I would invite you to gather a piece of bread or cracker along with some liquid to drink so that we can celebrate together a bit later in the service.
United together as one, wherever we may be this day, let us now call ourselves to worship.
Call to Worship (from Isaiah 40):
L: Have we not known? Have we not heard?
P: Has it not been told to us since the beginning?
L: Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.
P: They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
L: They shall run and not be weary.
P: They shall walk and not faint.
Hymn of Adoration: Maroon Hymnal #320 “I Am Thine, O Lord” (v. 1&3)
1 I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
3 Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!
Prayer of Confession:
Trusting in the promise of grace, let us pour out our hearts before God. God, you are everlasting, the creator of all that is. Your understanding is beyond measure. We confess to you that we have sinned against you and our neighbors. In your compassion, forgive us, for we place our hope in your steadfast love. (silent confession) Amen.
Assurance of Pardon:
Hear the good news: In Christ, you are a new creation! The old is gone and behold, the new has come. Know that you are forgiven and be at peace. Amen
Prayer for Illumination:
Holy God, speak to us what has been told from the beginning, your Word that is the foundation of the world. Amen.
Lessons: Isaiah 40:21-31 & Mark 1: 29-39
Sermon: “Have You Not Heard?”
“Let the words of my mouth . . . “
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I enjoy getting lost on the internet. You know what I mean. You start reading an article of interest and that leads to another article and then another and before you know it, you have taken a deep dive down some rabbit hole that you never would have found if not for the beautiful but sometimes scary computer algorithms that keep our interest. This happened to me the other day. I don’t even remember what my initial search involved, but eventually I was reading an article from “Scientific America” on the storage capacity of our brains. It was mind blowing . . . literally. ha.
According to this article, researchers have discovered that our brains have the capacity to hold one petabyte of information. How much is a petabyte you ask? It’s the equivalent of 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with 13 years of High-Definition TV recordings or 4.7 billion books! [mind blown emoji]. No wonder I get a headache sometimes!
But for all this amazing capacity, we has humans are a forgetful species. Now I don’t mean forgetting someone’s name or forgetting where you placed your keys or parked your car. No. I’m talking about how, in the middle of adversity or stress, that we forget about our origins. We forget the big picture of who we are, who we belong too and what we are called to do. We see this in our lessons today as both were written to communities that were smack dab in the middle of a time of uncertainty. Sound familiar?
Tired, worn out, and living under Babylonian rule, the Israelites had forgotten about the God who had called them and redeemed them and set them up to be a light for all nations. They were crying that God had forgotten them, that God had hidden God’s self from them, that all hope in ever returning home was lost. Isaiah’s oracle is a call to remember. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning”? Look around you, God is saying. These heavens, these stars, these planets, they all exist because of me. These rulers you are under, yep, they are in my control.
Wait on me and you will run faster than you have ever run before and you will fly higher than you can even imagine. Wait on me and I will raise you up again. Wait on me and I will restore you to wholeness where you can once again be my witness to the nations. Isaiah basically laid out God’s resume before them to help them remember and to give them hope. Mark’s community is going to need the same.
Sitting in the aftermath of the destruction of the temple, Mark’s community was feeling lost and abandoned. You can almost hear them asking the same question, “where are you God in all of this”? They needed some “Good News” or “Gospel” to help them remember. And Mark sums it all up in today’s healing story. Leaving the synagogue where Jesus had delivered his inaugural address and exorcised an evil spirit, this small group headed straight to Simon Peter’s house to wait for the end of the Sabbath. But we are soon to hear that things at the house are not running like normal.
I shared with you all before my first experience with Middle Eastern hospitality when we helped resettle a Syrian refugee family. Every single time that we would go to their house, whether it was for a formal gathering or just to pass on a single tidbit of information they would always invite us to sit down for tea and sweets. We learned quickly that saying no was not an option because this was how you were supposed to treat your guests.
In 1st century Palestine, this form of hospitality would have been the expectation and I’m guessing that Peter’s mother-in-law would have been in charge to make it happen. But as this group arrives, there would not have been any tea or sweets; in fact, the whole household might have been in chaos. Maybe the same type of chaos that Mark’s community was feeling, or that maybe we are feeling. Things are not working like they should. Things are not right with my life, my family, my world. We have forgotten whose we are.
Jesus is immediately told of her fever and he proceeds to her where we are told that “he took her by the hand and lifted her up”. The word for “lifted up” could have been translated, “raised her up” as it will be the same word used to describe Jesus’ resurrection.
In other words, she is raised back to her life, a life that remembers who she belongs to and what she has been called to do. Because Mark tells us that she immediately began to serve them. Which, on the most literal level, means that she get ups and prepares and serves the food. She is back performing the level of hospitality that would have been important in her household and in her culture.
But she does not serve because she has too, because she is compelled to, because someone asks her to, because it’s her place. She serves because this is what discipleship looks like. She serves, to remind us what following Jesus will really mean. Her response to Jesus was not in words, but in action. Rise up and serve.
When I look around today, I see this service embodied at places like CARITAS that is training and teaching life and job skills to those who have struggled with addiction. I see it at our Food Banks, the staff and volunteers that are working tirelessly to make sure that those facing food scarcity are being taken care of. I see it with countless dog rescue groups that are volunteering their time and energy to care for abused and neglected animals. I see it with all the volunteers who are helping here in Culpeper with COVID testing and vaccinations. I see it in the numerous acts of kindness and service done by members of this congregation.
Rise up and serve because that is the mark of discipleship. Yes, we human beings have amazing capacity to fill our brains with information but we easily forget what is important. In this one verse, Mark has put flesh and blood on those words from Isaiah and the other prophets who remind us that no matter what situation we are facing, we must remember that above all else, we belong to God. And this God is in the business of loving; restoring; reconciling; lifting up; and raising us to new life; a life of service; a life that is modeled after Jesus who said, “I came not to be served, but to serve”. May it be so. Thanks be to God!
Affirmation of Faith (Apostles Creed):
As our response to the scriptures being read and proclaimed, let us affirm together what we believe by reciting together our Statement of Faith: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
Call for Offering:
“From the fullness of God, we have all received grace upon grace.”
Thank you everyone for continuing to send in your tithes and offerings to the church office. For the offerings that we have received this week, let us pray:
Prayer of Dedication:
Holy One, we give you thanks for your generosity to us. Bless these gifts and multiply them, for the sake of those in need around us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
We read today how Jesus modeled going to a quiet place to pray. So as we come to this time of prayer, let us start with 30 seconds of silence to calm our busy minds and open our hearts to the presence of the living God who fills us and completes us and makes us whole. I invite you to take some nice slow breaths in and out; breathing in calm and letting go of anything that is troubling you. Let’s breathe [go 30 seconds]:
God of all kindness, you gave you only Son, because you loved the world so much. Through the testimony of those who know your love you have guided us to ask for what we need. Our Lord Jesus called his disciples to live as a city on a hill and a lamp on a stand, that all may see the glory of God.
We pray for the peace of the world. Move among us by your Spirit, break down barriers of fear, suspicion, and hatred. Heal the human family of its divisions and unite it in the bonds of justice and peace.
We pray for our country. Enrich our common life; strengthen the forces of truth and goodness; teach us to share prosperity, that those whose lives are impoverished may pass from need and despair to dignity and joy.
We pray for those who suffer, especially those on our prayer list. Surround them with your love, support them with your strength, console them with your comfort, and give them hope and courage beyond themselves.
We pray for our families, for those whom we love. Protect them at home; support them in times of difficulty and anxiety, that they may grow together in mutual love and understanding, and rest content in one another.
We pray for the Church. Keep us true to the gospel and responsive to the gift and needs of all. Make known your saving power in Jesus Christ, by the witness of our faith, our worship, and our life.
Loving God strengthen this congregation in its work and worship. Fill our hearts with your self- giving love, that our voices may speak your praise and our lives conform to the image of your Son. In the silence of this moment we lift up to you our own personal concerns . . . O God, in your loving purpose answer our prayers and fulfill our hopes. Strengthen us as we journey with Jesus, for it’s in his name we pray. AMEN.
This table is where we remember. Jesus will tell his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me”. In other words, remember ALL the things that I have done and that I came, “not to be served but to serve” and that you are to go and do likewise.
Even though we are all apart, we come together in this meal. It’s what our one loaf symbolizes. Wherever we are celebrating this meal today, we are united together as one body so that we can be Christ in the world. Let’s now share our prayer of Great Thanksgiving . . .
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right and a joyful thing to offer thanks to you, O God, the source of all creation. You brought forth the world in love, and in your great love creation finds at last its proper end. Therefore we praise you, joining the chorus of the wind and the streams, the animals and flowers, the living and the dead, the stars and the planets, and all the company of heaven: Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
You fill the world with glory and light, and yet our mortal eyes cannot behold so bright a truth. Therefore, in time you sent us Jesus Christ, your truth made flesh. He lived among us, teaching, healing, and revealing the boundless riches of your grace, that everyone might see and know the power of your love for us.
We are grateful that on the night before he died, he took bread and, after giving thanks for it, broke it and shared it with his companions, saying, “Take, eat, this is my body, given for you.” After the meal was ended, he took the cup and passed it to them, saying, “Take this cup and drink from it, all of you, for this is my life poured out for you. Now when you eat and drink of this remember me.”
We remember Jesus as we share this meal, one in the Spirit. God, bless these simple gifts of the earth – this bread and this cup – that they may become for us, through the power of your Holy Spirit, Christ’s presence with us, transforming us into the body of Christ in the world.
May this meal inspire and strengthen us to love you, each other, and this world until Christ comes again and brings all things to their fulfillment. Though Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty God, now and forever. And all Gods people said, “AMEN”!
THE LORD’S PRAYER
And now, with confidence of children of God, let us pray together in unison the prayer that Jesus taught us saying: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
RECEIVE THE ELEMENTS
[Breaking the bread] – Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”.
[Pouring the cup] – Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Come to me and never be hungry. Trust in me and never thirst.
Friends, these are the gifts of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!
[At home, take a piece of bread/cracker and eat it saying: “The Body of Christ”; then take a drink of juice/wine/milk/water saying: “The cup of salvation”.]
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
We thank you, O God that through this Sacrament you have given us your Son, who is the true bread from heaven, and food for eternal life. Strengthen us in your service that our daily living may show our thanks, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn of Dedication: Maroon Hymnal #411 “Take the Name of Jesus with You” (Verses 1&2)
1 Take the name of Jesus with you,
Child of sorrow and of woe.
It will joy and comfort give you,
Take it then where’er you go.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
2 Take the name of Jesus ever
As protection ev’rywhere.
If temptations ‘round you gather,
Breathe that holy name in prayer.
Having be fed and nurtured at the table today, let’s remember those words of Jesus . . .Rise up and serve! Where can you be of service today?
You all are amazing and so loved! Have a great week! Here is your virtual hug.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord be kind and gracious to you.
May the Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace.
God’s Shalom! Today and every day! Amen.