Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time A, February 5, 2017

A brief, political note: while I happen to be a very politically aware and opinionated citizen of the United States of America, I am trying to keep my liturgies rather neutral.  That being said, have you read the lectionary recently?  I have always had a hard time coming up with modern examples in sermons, for I find that scripture often speaks through the ages to today directly.  Right now it’s screaming.  So here we go, lectionary heavy on direct references.

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Psalm 112:1-9 (10)
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
Matthew 5:13-20

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: We gather to listen again to the prophetic words.
All: Day after day we seek the Lord and delight to know God’s ways.
One: We are seen honestly, broken and lacking as we are.
All: But the Lord will guide us continually.  Happy are those who fear the Lord.
One: Their hearts are steady; they will not be afraid.
All: Let us lift up our hearts in praise and attention.  Let us worship the Lord.

OPENING PRAYER
O Holy One, we play at following you and doing your will, but then your prophets speak so loudly again and remind us what it really is that you are asking of us.  It is so hard to do.  We would rather keep playing Christian than being one. We want lives enriched with wisdom, but so many other voices seem louder.  We want to shine your light, but we ignore your laws and commands.  Today we come to hear again your will for us.  May we be receptive to what the Holy Spirit brings to our ears, minds and hearts today.  Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
Let us not serve our own interests on the fast day but God’s.  Let us not choose a fast to humble ourselves but instead to serve the Lord.  Let us confess our sins.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, we have not loosed the bonds of injustice.  We have not broken the yoke and let the oppressed go free.  Our bread has not been shared with the hungry, the homeless are still on the streets and not in our homes, and the naked are still not clothed and protected.  We do not follow the guidance of the Lord but instead stay in our parched places satisfied with our own needs and darkness.  Yet we want to be the repairers of the breach.  We want be the light on the hill.  We want to be in your favor.  Forgive us, please.  Help us live into your way again.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Even in the face of our sins our Savior gives us hope of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  Even in the face of our sins our Savior is reaching out to us offering us living water from a spring that never fails.  Return to the Lord.  Know that in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior your sins are forgiven.  Now go and live salty lives full of light and righteousness and justice.

CALL FOR THE OFFERING
Our Lord has given us much work to do.  With thanksgiving and joy let us bring forth our tithes, offerings and ourselves to serve the Lord and do God’s will.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Gracious God, may what we have brought forth today from our pockets and ourselves go to offer food to the hungry, satisfy the needs of the afflicted, and bring light into the darkness.  Amen.

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
It is hard knowing that God is aware of our best and worst.  We come to this table vulnerable and fully aware of the wrong we have been a part of and how much work there is to do.  We come with hope but fear for how much needs to be done.  But we come.  We want to let our little lights shine.  And all our brothers and sisters?  We’re going to help them shine.  We join the community that reaches through time and space to this table that the Lord prepared for us.  Come and be filled.  Come and meet who is still hungry.  Come and find the nourishment to do what needs to be done.  Come.

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