January 22, 2023
ANNOUNCEMENTS— Fellowship Time! Mark your calendars. Pastor Joyce will share a few photos and experiences from her trip to Iceland on Sunday, February 26, following worship. A fellowship lunch will also be provided. Invite a friend, and put in your RSVP on the sheet beside the Administrative Office.
Funeral Lunches. Please add your name to the list of people who can help serve, assuming you are available, for funeral lunches as the need arises in the future.
PRAYER REQUESTS Please hold the following in your prayers.
The family of Marilyn Neymeyer as they grieve the loss of their mother and grandmother.
Arlene Pawlik who is recovering from a broken leg.
Those who are on hospice: Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner.
For the Nominating Committee as they seek members for the Pastor Nominating Committee—that group who will seek our next pastor.
*CALL TO WORSHIP
L: We heard a call this morning— the jangling of an alarm, the aroma of coffee brewing, the whine of
a puppy, the voice of a loved one.
P: We sat up and rubbed our eyes. We arose, and our day began.
L: Now we come to hear God’s call.
P: We come to find the light of Christ that shines upon our lives.
L: We come to listen and obey, to follow and to know the goodness of our Christ.
P: Let us be alert and receptive; Let us worship and praise; Let us sing to the Lord. Amen.
Lord God, we come to you a people who too often walk in darkness. Receive this day our fragile egos, our self-serving whispers and our nervous hesitation to serve. Help us to see and respond to the dawning of the great light and to recognize it as your amazing love. Amen.
*HYMN Come, Christians, Join to Sing #150
(You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
Like the disciples, we, too, are called to walk with Christ along the way. Part of this call is to let go of our failings and guilt in order to receive the power to begin again. Let us heed God’s call. Let us pour ourselves out to our Lord.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Forgive us Lord, for assuming that those fishermen who were casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee were somehow unique and different from us. Forgive us for ignoring your call that we, too, should leave behind some of the trappings of our former life, in order to walk with you. Forgive us for ignoring your invitation to step with both feet into the light of your love. Help us, Lord, to offer our whole being to you. May we be used to proclaim your kingdom to all the land. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
“Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fish for people.” He didn’t disqualify them for their very human failings. Instead, he forgave those fishermen and offered to them the light of his love. This is the way our God works, calling, forgiving and enabling disciples. Let us, modern day disciples of Christ, know the joy of that forgiveness.
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
May the peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
(Please move to greet one another --No hand shaking, please. Let’s avoid the flu!)
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Loving Savior. To hear your call, we must listen well. Help us to set aside our worries and to-do lists. Help us to contain our wandering thoughts and lingering resentments. Help us to truly attend to your presence as scripture is read and proclaimed. May we feel you sitting beside us and hear your voice of loving authority. Amen.
Isaiah 9: 1-4
9 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Matthew 4: 12-23
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
SERMON “Called into the Light”
Hi-Yo, Silver! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty, “Hi-Yo, Silver.” Don’t we all recognize the opening to one of our favorite shows growing up. The Lone Ranger was a hero for justice.
The backstory is this: John Reid was one of 6 Texas Rangers who went looking for an outlaw in the Old West. They were tricked into riding into a box canyon where the bad guys waited to ambush them. Five of the rangers were killed, but one, Reid survived and vowed to hunt down and deliver justice to the outlaw who had killed his friends. The Lone Ranger came into being, riding with a mask so his enemies wouldn’t know they were being hunted. But here’s the part that confuses me—his title, “the Lone Ranger.” He didn’t ride alone. Beside him was his trusty friend, Tonto. It was always the two of them fighting the injustice they encountered.
Sometimes we think of Jesus as a Lone Ranger type of figure—operating all on his own to bring salvation and healing into our world. He is our Savior, our Lord. He is the Son of God, BUT our scripture is pretty clear that he didn’t go at this task all by himself.
In the first place we know that Jesus is a part of the Holy Trinity. God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, God’s agent that offers us all we need to follow in Christ’s path.
But even beyond that, Jesus operated as a part of a human team, and it must have been pretty important because it was the very first thing he did. He called together companions for the task ahead.
Jesus arose from the waters of Baptism with a new sense of himself and a call to fulfill his mission as the Son of God. He’d heard the voice of God claim him as God’s Son, call him ‘Beloved’ and proclaim that God was well pleased with him. Immediately Jesus was led into the wilderness. That’s where he struggled to gain a sense of what it all meant. He wasn’t alone. Satan was there pushing and pulling to get Jesus to fulfill his agenda. But this Son of God was able to resist and to hear God’s plan.
When he returned from his time in the desert, he learned that John the Baptist had been arrested. John was out of the picture. No one was calling the people to God. Someone needed to do it. Who else but Jesus, the one who had stood against Satan and who had a firm sense of God’s desire for his people.
Immediately Jesus left his hometown of Nazareth. Too many distractions there. Too many people who couldn’t hear him as God’s Messiah because they knew him as Mary and Joseph’s boy. He went to Capernaum, a trading city on the Sea of Galilee where both Jews and Gentiles travelled through the region.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” It was word for word the exact message of John the Baptist, but didn’t it take on a new meaning, a richer meaning when the Son of God was the speaker?
And what was Jesus first action? Does he go to Jerusalem to check in with the religious authorities and register his call from God? Does he try his hand at a few miracles—healings or casting out demons to see how he does? Does he set up shop and buy the things he will need—the tools to live out his call?
Nope. He goes for a walk along the Sea of Galilee where he sees two fishermen—Peter and Andrew. They were casting out their nets to bring in the fish that would be sold to support themselves and their families. In Matthew’s account these brothers have never seen Jesus before. They haven’t heard about him or been present for one of his sermons. For that matter, Jesus has no earthly knowledge of them, either. Perhaps he is directed by God—probably he was directed by God. He sees them and says, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” “Immediately,” Matthew tells us. Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
Can you imagine? Ten words spoken, an invitation, an instruction issued and they drop what they were doing and followed. We don’ t know if they were given time to go home and say goodbye, grab a toothbrush and a clean pair of underwear or not. Either way-- they heard and they followed. Their whole life trajectory was changed with ten words spoken by Jesus. James and John, two more fishermen hear the same call, and they, too, follow.
The point Matthew is making is that when Jesus calls, we need to follow. No debate, no bargaining, no pause to make sure that it fits into our plans. Jesus calls and we say, “Here am I, Lord. Let’s go.
If that frightens you, I get it. Especially in America we’ve been brought up with the idea that we are the ones who control our destiny. We make plans based on what we want to accomplish, what is good for us, what will make us happy. The idea of giving anyone, even Jesus, control over our lives is frightening.
But there’s more in our scripture for today that answers that fear. Matthew uses our Isaiah scripture to explain why Jesus settled in Capernaum. Capernaum is in the region that Isaiah spoke of—the Land of Zebulon, and it’s also a place where the nations (Gentiles) live.
Isaiah pronounces that a “great light” will shine upon this region. The people who had formerly walked in darkness see that a great light shines forth. And what is the result? Joy. Their burdens are lifted and it’s as if a wonderful harvest has come in. It’s as if the enslavement of an enemy has been lifted. It’s as if they have riches and plunder to divide and enjoy. All of this because the light of God has landed upon them.
Do you think the light of God landed on those fishermen brothers? I don’t mean that their lives are going to be easy or filled with luxury, comfort or wealth. I mean that the light of God offers them something that they didn’t even know they were missing—a purpose and meaning, the sense that they were doing something powerful and of great worth to the world. The presence in their lives of God’s grace that called them to be a people of grace.
So what about us? How do we walk in darkness and despair?
Have you ever carried a deep resentment and allowed it to fester and diminish a relationship that had once been vital and important? Isn’t that darkness?
*HYMN O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee #357
(You may be seated.)
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.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (From a Brief Statement of Faith)
In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom and peace.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit,
we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks
and to live holy and joyful lives,
even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth
praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
*HYMN I Sing a Song of the Saints of God #364
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.