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!
As we continue through the time after Epiphany, stories of the call to discipleship show us the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, whose voice is upon the waters, whose mercy is poured out upon all people, whose goodness cascades over all creation.
Let us confess our sin, trusting in the abundant grace of God.
Holy God, you search us and know us.
You are acquainted with all our ways.
We confess that our hearts are burdened by sin— our own sins and the broken systems that bind us. We turn inward, failing to follow your outward way of love.
We distrust those who are not like us. We exploit the earth and its resources and fail to consider generations to come. Forgive us, gracious God, for all we have done and left undone. Even before the words are on our tongues,
you know them; receive them in your divine mercy.
How vast is God’s grace!
Through the power and promise of ☩ Christ Jesus, our sins are washed away and we are claimed as God’s own beloved. Indeed, we are forgiven.
In the wake of God’s forgiveness, we are called to be the beloved community living out Christ’s justice and the Spirit’s reconciling peace.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The book of Jonah is a comedy starring a reluctant prophet who is given a one-sentence message: Nineveh will be destroyed in forty days. Much to Jonah’s dismay, the people of Nineveh repent. The point of the story is to get the reader to wrestle with the question “On whom should God have mercy?” 1The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2“Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Psalm: Psalm 62:5-12
God alone is my rock and my salvation. (Ps. 62:6)
5For God alone I wait in silence; truly, my hope is in God.
6God alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall never be shaken. 7In God is my deliverance and my honor; God is my strong rock and my refuge. 8Put your trust in God always, O people, pour out your hearts before the one who is our refuge.
9Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath; those of low estate cannot be trusted.
Placed on the scales together they weigh even less than a breath. 10Put no trust in extortion; in robbery take no empty pride; though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
11God has spoken once, twice have I heard it, that power belongs to God.
12Steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord, for you repay all according to their deeds.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Paul does not disapprove of marriage or other human social institutions. He does, however, want
Christians to live in the present in fervent anticipation of God’s future, which even now has dawned through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
29Brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
Alleluia. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God | has come near;* repent, and believe in | the good news. Alleluia. (Mark 1:15)
Gospel: Mark 1:14-20
Before Jesus calls his first disciples, he proclaims a message that becomes known as “the gospel” or good news from God. God is ready to rule our lives. Those who realize this will respond with repentance and faith.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Meditation by David O’Brien
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, and give Glory to Your Name, Oh Lord. Amen
Not so long ago, people used to say “my bad” as an apology. If I bumped into someone, my bad. If I accused someone of something they didn’t do, my bad. I had even heard that phrase used by a defendant when addressing the Court. “My bad” always struck me as a way of brushing off any accusation of wrongdoing. It’s an apology, but only by half.
Our first reading today is about repentance. The people of the city of Nineveh, when they heard from Jonah that God intended to punish the city for its sins, became sorry for their actions and repented. We are told they declared a fast and everyone put on sackcloth to express their regret for what they had done that had angered God. But is that truly repentance or is it only a beginning? Is expressing regret for one’s sins repentance, but only by half?
When a defendant is being sentenced, he usually has an opportunity to say something to the Court and/or the victim if they are present. Sometimes they will offer an apology for the crime they committed, but it tends to ring hollow when they make no effort to repair the damage they’ve done. When I was the victim coordinator for the prison, I taught a class about victim awareness in which, as a final assignment, the offenders would write a letter of apology to the victims of their crimes. The offenders that were sincere in their apology would include in these letters what they’ve done while incarcerated to improve their behavior and what they plan to do in the future to be a better member of society.
My nephew, Jeremy, who is a priest in the Orthodox Church, recently posited in one of his sermons that sorrow for one’s misdeeds is the first step in a process of repentance. If it were to end there, it leaves us stuck in that sorrow. Shouldn’t repentance include an effort to do better? The Greek word for repentance translates more accurately to a change of mind. To be truly repentant, we must look at ourselves in total, take into account what we’ve done wrong and what we’ve done right and then ask ourselves how we can do better. Jeremy said in his sermon that repentance means allowing our minds and our hearts to be transformed in the Holy Spirit through the power of Jesus Christ. As Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, we should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds. With full repentance, we should be rejoicing in the knowledge that, no matter where we are starting from, we can do better with the help of our Lord.
Jesus also calls us to repentance in the Gospel reading, saying that, “the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” That Kingdom has come to us all. It has come to the entire world, our nation, our city and our congregation. As a people, we’ve had our rough patches, where we’ve fallen into varying degrees of sin. Wars would certainly fall into that category. As a human community of nations, we’ve tried to do better at handling our disagreements through diplomacy. The riots at the US Capitol earlier this month fall into the category of sin as well. I pray that we will look for ways to avoid such occurrences in the future and I mourn for the circumstances that caused them in the first place. The infighting and divisiveness that have plagued this congregation also strike me as sin. For whatever part I may have played in it, I’m sorry and will look for ways to be more inclusive of all of our congregation’s members. I pray that we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, will find ways to forgive one another for the hurts that may have been caused and that we will work together going forward so that we may better bless the world by being God’s grace.
Prayers of Intercession
Guided by Christ made known to the nations, let us offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all people in need.
A brief silence.
For the church throughout the world, for Elizabeth & Daniel, our Bishops, and Howard, our Pastor, for pastors and teachers, for deacons and deaconesses, and for musicians and servers, that all proclaim the good news of God’s reconciling love, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For skies and seas, for birds and fish, for favorable weather and clean water, and for the well-being of creation, that God raise up advocates and scientists to guide our care for all the earth, and for us to have open minds and hearts so that we may listen to them instead of doubting them, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For those who provide leadership in our cities and around the world, for nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, for planning commissions and homeless advocates, that God inspire all people in the just use of wealth, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
For those who are sick, distressed, or grieving; for the outcast and all who await relief especially those on our prayer list and those whom we hold in our hearts, that in the midst of suffering, God’s peace and mercy surround them, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
For our congregation and community, for families big and small, and for the organizations that meet here during the week, that God’s steadfast love serve as a model for all relationships, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
In thanksgiving for our ancestors in the faith whose lives serve as an example of gospel living, that they point us to salvation through Christ, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
Merciful God, hear the prayers of your people, spoken or silent, for the sake of the one who dwells among us, your Son, 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 is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
God the creator strengthen you; Jesus the beloved fill you; and the Holy Spirit the comforter ☩ keep you in peace.
Go in peace. Be the light of Christ.
Bless the world, be God’s grace. Thanks be to God.