January 23, 2005 – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
RC/Pres: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Revised Common Lectionary Readings
Psalm 27:1, 4-9
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
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.
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.
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.
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.
Come follow Christ into generous life.
Let us bring our gifts to God.
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.
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.