Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Third 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!
God’s glory is revealed in the reading of scripture. People stand at attention. People weep. People prostrate themselves in prayer. The unity of the church is another reflection of God’s glory. Most gloriously, the promises of God are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Gather round. Listen up. Glimpse the glory of God.
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
Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
First Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
The exiles have returned and rebuilt Jerusalem. Now Ezra, the priest, reads the law of Moses to them in the public square. When they hear it, they weep for their sins and for the long years in exile, but Ezra reminds them that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
1All the people [of Israel] gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. 2Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 8So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Psalm: Psalm 19
The teaching of the Lord revives the soul. (Ps. 19:7)
1The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky proclaims its maker’s handiwork.
2One day tells its tale to another,
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
3Although they have no words or language,
and their voices are not heard,
4their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world, where God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5It comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
6It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens and runs about to the end of it again; nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
7The teaching of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
8The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.
9The fear of the Lord is clean and endures forever;
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.
11By them also is your servant enlightened,
and in keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can detect one’s own offenses?
Cleanse me from my secret faults.
13Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not get dominion over me; then shall I be whole and sound, and innocent of a great offense.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
The apostle and pastor Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to describe how intimately connected we are in the church. For this struggling congregation in Corinth, Paul delivers a vital message of unity that is a mark of the church today.
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31aBut strive for the greater gifts.
Alleluia. The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to bring good news | to the poor,* and to proclaim release to the captives. Alleluia. (Luke 4:18)
Gospel: Luke 4:14-21
Near the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, he visits his hometown of Nazareth. In the words of Isaiah, he states and claims his identity, purpose, and mission.
14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
For those of you who don’t know, there’s this game I like to watch from time to time called hockey. I think it’s a really great sport because it requires teamwork from start to finish. Each team is supposed to have six players on the ice at a time and they all have their designated roles. There are two defense men, two forwards, a center and a goalie. Every so often, one of the players violates a rule and the team has to do without him or her for several minutes. This places them at a big disadvantage because it becomes very unlikely that they can score a goal without that player and it becomes more likely that the other team can. It’s easy to see how each player has his or her own part to play in the game and the consequences if that player is lost, even if only for a short time. I was thinking about this while reading First Corinthians today.
Paul is trying to explain to the Church at Corinth that each of them is important to that Church’s mission. If one is lost, the whole suffers. He illustrates this using the human body as an example. The body, he tells them, has many members, each with their specific role, and each one is important. I remember a movie series from some time ago called the Karate Kid. In one of the movies, Daniel, the hero, is being instructed in some tactics in order to disable his opponent in a tournament. His instructor tells him to strike his opponent in the nose, causing it to bleed and obstructing his vision. “If a man can’t see, he can’t fight,” the instructor tells him. He’s also told to take out the opponent’s legs. “If he can’t stand, he can’t fight”. This instructor was the villain in the show and was teaching Daniel tactics that were against the rules, but I think this is also a good illustration of Paul’s message that each part of the body has its function, and they are all vital to the proper functioning of the whole.
From the Church at Corinth’s standpoint, perhaps they have one member that is a particularly good musician. The music he or she plays inspires the rest of the congregation. Perhaps another is a really good public speaker and the messages they deliver are thoughtful and touch several members of the congregation. Perhaps another is a good businessman or woman, and they work to keep the Church afloat, financially speaking. And the folks in the congregation? You never know when or where their talent might reveal itself or how. They might be there for someone in a time of crises to guide or comfort them. As Paul also advises them in 1 Corinthians 12:4, “there are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit distributes them”. Every member of the congregation has value.
How does this apply to us today? Here at Grace Lutheran, we have several folks with lots of different talents. Cathy has been really great at keeping the office running on a day-to-day basis along with Gretchen, who’s been great at getting things like the blood drives organized. Between the first and second services, we have several musicians who help to make our services more enjoyable and inspiring. Pastor Howard has been there for us for more than just Sunday services. For me personally, he’s been an inspiration and a mentor. Everybody does their part, whether it’s helping people to their seats and distributing communion, as the ushers do, or baking cookies for fellowship after the service. Organizing the ongoing feed your neighbors drive or working with the youth of our congregation and others. All of these people play a vital role in our congregation and we need them all. We don’t have to imagine what it’s like to lose one of these people. At the first service, we’ve been without a choir director, and as a result, without a choir since last summer, and I think that we’ve been diminished because of it. I pray that any of you reading this right now realizes that you are a valued member of Grace Lutheran Church. Without you, we are lessened. May God bless you.
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.
You reveal yourself to us in the reading of scripture. Fulfill your word through the faithful witness of Elizabeth and Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all your church. Send us out to bring your liberating good news to all people. God of grace, hear our prayer.
All creation proclaims your handiwork. Teach us to love the intricate and beautiful bodies that you have created. Bless tiny insects, enormous whales, and every creature in between. Sustain species at risk of extinction and make us better stewards of the world which you have loaned to us. God of grace, hear our prayer.
You desire that there be no dissension among us. Where we are divided in our society, nation, or world, come quickly to reunite us into one body. Ease conflict, dispel violence, and bring an end to war. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Anoint with your Spirit all who seek your favor. Grant provision and justice for people living in poverty, people living with disability, those living with pain, or those living under oppression especially those we remember on our prayer list and prayer board, and those whom we hold in the silence of our hearts. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Build up the body of Christ in this place. Bless the variety of ministries in this congregation. Empower us to freely welcome and deeply value each person who enters into worship and ministry among us. God of grace, hear our prayer.
In thanksgiving we lift before you the saints for whom the promise of salvation has now been fulfilled. Tend to those who mourn. Bring us together in your everlasting 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.