Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Fourth 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 glory of God is often revealed when and where it is least expected. God uses our lips to declare that glory, inexperienced and hesitant though they may be. God uses our love to demonstrate that glory and so urges us to exercise it. God uses Jesus of Nazareth, water and the word, bread and wine, to reveal God’s glory where and when God chooses. Take heed, lest the glory of God slip through our midst unnoticed.
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
Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love; and that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet and consecrates him in the womb. Jeremiah’s task is to preach God’s word amid the difficult political realities of his time, before the Babylonian exile. He is to make God known not only to Judah, but also to the nations.
4Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”
9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”
Psalm: Psalm 71:1-6
From my mother’s womb you have been my strength. (Ps. 71:6)
1In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;
incline your ear to me and save me.
3Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;
you are my crag and my stronghold.
4Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.
5For you are my hope, O Lord God,
my confidence since I was young.
6I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; my praise shall be always of you.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Christians in Corinth prided themselves on their spiritual gifts. Paul reminds them that God gives us many gifts through the Holy Spirit, but the purpose behind all of them is love, the kind of love that God showed us in Jesus Christ.
1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Alleluia. You shall go to all to whom I send you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Alleluia.(Jer. 1:7, 8)
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
People in Jesus’ hometown are initially pleased when he says that God will free the oppressed. Their pleasure turns to rage when he reminds them that God’s prophetic mission typically pushes beyond human boundaries so that mercy and healing are extended to those regarded as outsiders.
21Then [Jesus] began to say to [all in the synagogue in Nazareth,] “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” 24And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Meditation by David O’Brien
Where is God sending you? What does He want you to do? These questions came to my mind while reading Jeremiah today. God had a plan for him even before he was born. God tells Jeremiah he has always known him, even before God had formed him in his mother’s womb. I remember a hymn that refers to God as a potter and likens all of us as being his clay. “Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou are the potter; I am the clay.” The notion that, before we are born, God has equipped us for whatever task he intends for us can be quite comforting. In the case of Jeremiah, God was sending him on his prophetic mission while he was yet a teenager. Like so many before and after him, including myself, Jeremiah doubts his own ability. He states that he is “only a boy”. But God tells him that he will go wherever God sends him and that He will give Jeremiah the words to say.
I want to pause on that thought for a moment. The words to be spoken by Jeremiah are given to him by God. They are not his own words, but rather, they are God’s. Jeremiah is concerned about being too young to speak with any authority. But the message he will deliver is coming from God and is not his own. God promises to be with Jeremiah and to protect him as he does the work that God has designed him to do. How comforting is that?! That works for us at Grace Lutheran as well. When we find ourselves carrying God’s message out to the world and doing God’s work by being His grace, we are really speaking His words and doing His work with our hands!
The Psalm today almost seems to be written in response to the reading from Jeremiah, though I’m told it is a song written to the Lord by someone advanced in years. The Psalmist appears to be calling on God for His protection and deliverance. The Psalmist also recognizes God has been with him since before he was born, just as God tells Jeremiah that He knew him from even before He formed him in his mother’s womb.
I am also reminded about God’s protection in today’s Gospel. At the end of the Gospel reading, the people of Nazareth, Christ’s hometown, intended to throw Him off of a cliff! But Jesus work isn’t even close to being done. He is able to walk right through the crowd and continue to where the Father is sending Him. It’s interesting that Jesus knows that they will not accept His words because “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown”. I can see why it would be difficult for someone who’s seen a child grown from an infant to become someone as wise as Christ to make that change. If you’re used to thinking of someone as a child and then they are speaking to you as an expert in something, that’s a bit of a hard adjustment to make. Think of the neighbor’s kid who was just making mud pies the other day and is now a doctor. It might be a bit difficult to accept his or her expertise. I also noticed that they wanted Him to perform the same miracles for them as He had in other communities. Sounds like they want Christ to think of Nazareth first.
I think about these things when contemplating the mission that I feel called to, serving incarcerated persons and persons reentering the community after incarceration. Some of the people I intend to serve may remember me from when I was a corrections officer, and it may be hard for them to adjust their view of me in a different role. I am confident, however, that God has given me the tools I need to do the work He has assigned to me. So, I gladly respond, “here I am Lord, send me”.
Whatever work God has assigned to you, know that He would not ask you to do something that you can’t do. God may ask you to do things that other people won’t understand or may even take offense at. But know that He has given you the tools you will need and He will be there, by your side, to guide you and protect 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.
Guide your church in the ways of faith, hope, and love, and bless Daniel and Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, in the same manner. Cultivate ministries and communities of compassion that bear witness to your enduring presence among us. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Teach us to live in humility on the earth. Curb arrogance that leads to destruction of natural resources and disregard for future generations. Inspire the work of scientists who urge us to live in harmony with your creation. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You are the refuge of all who seek hope and freedom. Accompany immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who cross borders to find safety and opportunity. Embolden leaders to draft compassionate policies on behalf of migrants and those who assist them. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Comfort with your love all who are lonely, fearful, or brokenhearted. Sustain the hope of all those who suffer in body or spirit, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board and those whom we bring before you now in prayer. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Your grace falls upon young and old alike. Bless the gifts of children in this congregation and in this community. Give us humble hearts to follow their leadership. Inspire us with their laughter, their insight, and their curiosity. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
We praise you for those who have gone before us and now see you face to face, especially those whose names we bring before you now, either aloud or in the silence of our hearts. Abide with us in this mortal life until we rest in the arms of your never ending love. 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.
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.