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January 23, 2005 – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany

                                          RC/Pres: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

        Revised Common Lectionary Readings

        Isaiah 9:1-4

        Psalm 27:1, 4-9

        1 Corinthians 1:10-18

        Matthew 4:12-23

Sitting in the Shadow

*Call to Worship

Jesus Christ, light of very light,

warming and revealing,

challenging and refreshing all that is.

God of all creation, breaking forth with new life

like buds cherished in gentle rain

and invited into the daring color of the flowers.

Spirit of grace, Spirit of truth,

singing with hope deep within our shadows,

leading us kindly toward the sun of your love.

You are our God; you are the one we trust.

*Prayer of Invocation        

Call to us here, Jesus Christ.

Call to our hearts

as you did long ago with those you met,

showing us now the promise of abundant life,

life beyond our dreams.

Be known among us now, we pray. Amen.

*Prayer of Confession       

We confess, with grieving, O God,

that sometimes we choose

to sit in the regions of life,

just outside your fullness and peace.

We stay in the shadows,

not far from the sunlight,

fearing that to move

would be worse rather than better.

Silent reflection.

Sometimes we come into your sanctuary

and leave the very things

that most trouble us

outside the door,

for we fear that these doubts and fears

will be unacceptable in your holy presence.

We believe that we should be able

to deal with them ourselves,

or that you will not love us

if we come to you just as we are.

Silent reflection.

Forgive us

if we present a pious face to each other,

rather than living

with an open confession of our humanness

and truly sharing our humble journeying

in ways that would witness to your love for all.


Forgive us, O God.

Bring us out

from our shadowy places

and into the light of your forgiveness,

we pray. Amen.

*Words of Assurance       

There is no place

into which God does not bring life.

Jesus walks the earth in all our realities

and reaches toward every frail and fearful one.

We are forgiven this day.

Thanks be to God.



*Prayer of Thanksgiving   

We thank you, O God,

for never failing to find us

when we feel hidden.

We thank you for coming and sitting beside us,

and transforming us into people

who rise up in thanksgiving for all your grace,

making us ready to stride into the world

and announce the great hope that is ours,

in the gifts from you

that we never expected to receive.

Thanks be to you, O God,

for the wonder of your generous life. Amen.

*Stewardship Thought      

Within the gospel’s well-known passage is an interesting verse: “and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned” (Mt 4:16b). We often reflect on when we sit in the darkness and then see a great light, but this gives us another image and one that may well refer to more of us. How many of us make our connection with Jesus Christ, sometimes from an environment of darkness through to great light, but then find ourselves not in darkness but in the shadow? It is as though we make the big move and then get stuck somewhere or fail to grow any further. What was the great light in the first moments becomes a shadow with a little gleam of light somewhere. To step out of the shadows and grow or decide for something seems too hard for us, so the shadows become our normal living place with God.

*Offertory Sentence                           

Come follow Christ into generous life.

Let us bring our gifts to God.

*Offertory Prayer                                

Receive our gifts, O God,

as signs of our commitment

to be your faithful disciples.

Guide us in their use

for the bringing in of your reign. Amen.

*Prayer of Intercession      

We hear your warning

and your promise, O God:

the warning that your reign is near

and that we are called

to be part of the bringing of light

into every corner of creation,

and the promise

that you are there ahead of us,

calling us to follow you in faith.

Silent reflection.

O God,

when the task seems more than we can bear,

like a heavy yoke around our shoulders,

weighing down our lives

so that we long to rest in the shade,

be with us in clarity and strength.

Renew us, O God,

with the energy of your commitment,

and free us to be still when we need,

or to laugh and play in confidence,

knowing that tomorrow you will

lift up our hearts for the next day

of our pilgrimage.

We pray for others who tread your way

in places where life is much harder

than we will ever know.

We especially gather these for whom we pray

into the safe haven of your loving arms.

The people pray.

Hear our prayers, O God.

Hold justice near to them,

bring healing close to them,

rise in freedom before them

and light the way

like sunlight in the noontime.

This we pray in your name. Amen.


Go in faith to follow Jesus Christ,

trusting that we will know the way

because the Spirit is our guide.


May the voice of Christ

speak into the dark,

the love of God

reach far into the shadows with gentleness,

and the Holy Spirit

turn us firmly toward the light. Amen.

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