Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, February 6, 2022
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
The fifth Sunday after Epiphany continues to highlight unlikely instruments and circumstances appointed to reveal God’s glory. “Who will go for us?” God asks. A person of unclean lips, a former persecutor of the church of God, and three fishermen who couldn’t catch a thing. More surprising still, perhaps, is that we are also called.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who creates us,
and calls us by name.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
and your beloved children.
We have turned our faces away from your glory
when it did not appear as we expected.
We have rejected your word
when it made us confront ourselves.
We have failed to show hospitality
to those you called us to welcome.
Accept our repentance for the things we have done
and the things we have left undone.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.
Forgive us and lead us, that we may bathe
in the glory of your Son born among us,
and reflect your love for all creation.
Rejoice in this good news:
In ☩ Christ Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
You are descendants of the Most High,
adopted into the household of Christ,
and inheritors of eternal life.
Live as freed and forgiven children of God.
Prayer of the Day
Most holy God, the earth is filled with your glory, and before you angels and saints stand in awe. Enlarge our vision to see your power at work in the world, and by your grace make us heralds of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]
Through a vision in the temple, the eighth-century prophet Isaiah is called by God to announce judgment against Israel. Aware of his sinfulness and shortcomings, Isaiah is initially hesitant. But when God calls, Isaiah responds, “Here am I; send me!”
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” [9And he said, “Go and say to this people:
‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.’
10Make the mind of this people dull,
and stop their ears,
and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
and turn and be healed.”
11Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without people,
and the land is utterly desolate;
12until the Lord sends everyone far away,
and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
13Even if a tenth part remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak
whose stump remains standing
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.
Psalm: Psalm 138
I will bow down toward your holy temple. (Ps. 138:2)
1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.
3When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
6The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar.
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
8You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Paul delivers in a nutshell the story of the gospel that was given to him. In the lineage of the Christian faith, we have received the good news of God’s love from generations of believers before us, and we continue to tell this story to the world.
1Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
Alleluia. Jesus says, Follow me, and I will make you fish for people. Alleluia. (Matt. 4:19)
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
Jesus’ teaching of God’s word has begun to draw great crowds. For Simon, James, and John, Jesus’ teaching inspires hospitality, then obedience, and then risk. After Jesus’ creative power is revealed, fear and amazement leads these three fishermen to leave everything behind to become apostles.
1Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Meditation by David O’Brien
Last week, we read about Jeremiah and how God had formed him in his mother’s womb, before he was born, for the task ahead of him. Jeremiah expressed his reservations saying he was too young to speak with any authority of his own and God told him that he would be speaking, not with his own words, but with the words of God. Jeremiah was not the first nor would he be the last to essentially say that he’s not worthy of Gods calling. Today, it’s Isaiah’s turn.
Isaiah is witness to the glory of God when he saw Him sitting on a throne. With the angels around Him and calling out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts”, a phrase we often use in our worship services today (an Old Testament foreshadowing of our understanding of the Holy Trinity?). When Isaiah sees all of this, he is overwhelmed and feels completely unworthy because he has unclean lips and lives with others who also have unclean lips. By this, Isaiah meant that he and his people were sinful. God sends one of His angels with a hot coal from the altar, to touch the lips of Isaiah and thus cleanses him of his sinfulness. Then Isaiah is eager to serve the Lord, saying “here I am; send me!”
This vision came to Isaiah the year that King Uzziah, his cousin, had died. Uzziah was one of Judah’s better kings. Under him, Judah prospered. They’d won many victories on the battlefield and built new inventions and stronger, fortified cities. But he had his faults. His successes had made him arrogant and he tried to assume more than was his place. He went into the temple and burned incense on the altar, something reserved for the priests and was stricken with leprosy. Uzziah tried to place himself above the law. He died a leper and a disgrace because he wasn’t able to handle his success and power with humility. It’s understandable why Isaiah would want to tread lightly in God’s presence, given this recent experience.
The Gospel today also shows some people being overwhelmed by God. When Jesus showed Simon-Peter his power by giving him a catch that was more than he could handle. Simon-Peter felt so unworthy, he asked Christ to “go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”. Here’s another instance of someone saying to the Lord “I’m not worthy”. Just as God wasn’t done with Isaiah, Jesus isn’t done with Simon-Peter. He chooses him for a disciple and tells him that he shouldn’t be afraid. “From now on you will be catching people”. Despite his faults, and Simon-Peter had a few of them, Christ loved him. This wasn’t because of who Simon-Peter was. It was because of who Jesus is!
Are we all that different than the people off Isaiah’s time? We live in a nation that is hugely successful and powerful. Most of us live in safety and security. As a result, we have become arrogant. But we’re not that different than Isaiah or any other sinner in this world. Each one of us has been conceived and born into a sinful world. By nature, we are sinful. Today, mankind is not always ready to admit the sin that infects us all. All too often sin is denied: “People are generally good at heart”. Sometimes sin is rejected outright: “Everyone is doing it, it’s okay”. Some sins are now reclassified as sicknesses, such as sex addiction. Not one of these excuses can remove the inheritance that is ours by birth. So, when we see God’s glory, we too should be overwhelmed. None of us are worthy. But there’s cause for hope. Because God can make us all clean with a word.
Lord, Jesus, I know that I’m not worthy of your love. None of us are. But I also know that you do love us all. It’s not because of who we are, or anything we’ve done, but because of your divine nature. Thank you for making me clean and equipping me to do the work you’ve assigned to me in this world.
Prayers of Intercession
The Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us in abundance; so we are bold to pray for the church, the world, and all that God has made.
A brief silence.
Equip your church, Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Howard our pastor, to proclaim the good news that we have first received: the forgiveness and grace shown to us through Jesus Christ. Send us out as apostles, sharing the hope of your salvation with a waiting world. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Holy are you, O God of hosts. Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Reveal your splendor in fiery sunsets and in deep blue twilights. Teach us to recognize you in the beauty of our natural world. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Soften the hearts of rulers and governments that they perceive and tend to the needs of all people. Remove corruption and the impulse toward violence. Protect first responders and military personnel who risk their lives in service of others. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon those who look to you for hope and healing. Bless doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and all caregivers. Draw near to those who are scared, sick, or in pain, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and on our prayer board. God of grace, hear our prayer.
The disciples received help from partners as they brought in an abundant catch of fish. So strengthen this congregation’s partnerships with community organizations and ministries, especially those serving the homeless and under privileged during these cold, winter months. Multiply our shared efforts and bring joy to our relationships. God of grace, hear our prayer.
We give thanks for our ancestors in faith who boldly answered your call. By their example give us courage to live in faith and to proclaim your mercy until the day that you gather us into your glory. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Since we have such great hope in your promises, O God, we lift these and all of our prayers to you in confidence and faith; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
God, who leads you in pathways of righteousness,
who rejoices over you,
and who calls you by name,
☩ bless your going out and your coming in,
today and forever.
Go with Christ into a weary world.
Share the good news.
Thanks be to God.