Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
MARK 1:29-39/1:26-35 IV
Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
Provide paper, markers, pens, stickers, and envelopes at craft stations to make cards during the Focus Moment or bring pre-made get-well cards that participants can use to write their own message. Bring stamps and have congregational addresses available if the cards will be mailed or designate someone to hand-deliver them.
Prelude and Preparation for Worship
Welcome and Call to Worship
Leader: How good it is to sing praises to our God, for God is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
Congregation: Praise the LORD!
Leader: God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. God determines the number of the stars; God gives to all of them their names.
Congregation: Praise the LORD!
Leader: Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; God’s understanding is beyond measure.
All: Praise the LORD!
—Psalm 147:1-5 adapted
Song of Praise
“Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” Sing three times, with hand claps. CCS 86
OR “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CCS 101
OR “Praise the Lord Together Singing” CCS 642
Sing in unison, then divide participants into 2 or 4 parts and sing in a round.
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle. Prayer
Our prayer to you this day is for peace and healing. We seek you out to help us in our endeavors to be more peaceful people. We see the conflicts that surround us every day, nearby and far, and we seek to be a more peaceful people. We ask you to help us find ways to spread your peace. We also come today, aware of how much healing needs to take place in us and in those we love, as well as in those we have never met. We seek to follow Christ’s example and we seek to have you use us as your healers. Help us find ways to bring peace and healing to this world, as Jesus has taught us to do.
We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
For additional ideas, The Daily Prayer for Peace service offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:29-39
The scripture from Mark identifies Jesus as a healer. Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law and many other people who were dealing with illnesses.
Why do you think Jesus healed the sick? (Because he loved them and felt compassion for them.) As disciples we also want to find ways to help heal others. How can we be healers like Jesus? (We can pray and administer to those who are sick. We can visit those who are sick and cannot leave their homes or are in the hospital. We can prepare and bring meals or make/send get well cards.)
We can be healers by making and sending cards to those who are sick. As you create, sign, and address your cards, pray for those who will be receiving them.
At craft stations make cards for members and friends of the congregation who are dealing with illness. Suggestions:
- “Hope you get to feeling better soon!”
- “Looking forward to seeing you back at church when you are better.”
- “Wishing you well.”
- “Take extra good care!”
- “Here's to you—stronger and better each day.”
- “We hope you're taking it slow and easy right now.”
- “Take your sweet time getting well!”
- “We miss you at congregation. Hope you feel better next week.”
Hymn of Healing
“Lay Your Hands” CCS 545
OR “O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come” CCS 544
OR “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” CCS 31
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Based on Communion and Mark 1:29-39
Hymn of Preparation
“Let Us Break Bread Together” CCS 521
OR “You Satisfy the Hungry Heart” CCS 531
OR “In These Moments We Remember” CCS 515
Invitation to Communion
All are welcome at Christ’s table. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a sacrament in which we remember the life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. In Community of Christ, we also experience Communion as an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenant and to be formed as disciples who live Christ’s mission. Others may have different or added understandings within their faith traditions. We invite all who participate in the Lord’s Supper to do so in the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
Communion Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Blessing and Serving of the Bread and Wine
For guidelines on the Lord’s Supper, including online participation, see www.CofChrist.org/common/cms/resources/Guidelines-Lords-Supper-9-2019-EN.pdf.
Time for Reflection
Take time to be still and reflect on having taken the communion. During this time of silent reflection, suggest that congregants continue exploring their connection with God.
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.
The first Sunday of each month focuses on Abolish Poverty, End Suffering which includes Oblation and World Hunger ministry.
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Hymn of Sending Forth
“Go Now Forth into the World” CCS 646
OR “Now Let Us from This Table Rise” CCS 644
OR “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” CCS 648
Leader: We have eaten together as family around our common table.
Congregation: We are committed to feed one another.
Leader: We go forth to feed the world, that it may be filled with love.
Congregation: This we do, remembering Jesus.
Leader: We have been refreshed. We have heard God’s call as the Spirit has quietly come among us.
Congregation: We have praised God and celebrated the good news of Jesus Christ.
Leader: We have witnessed to each other of Jesus’ presence among us.
ALL: We go forth to be God’s presence in the world.
—Worship Resources for the Sacraments (Herald House, 1989), edited by Judy Judd, page 67, adapted.
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany Ordinary Time
Exploring the Scripture
The Gospel of Mark 1:29–39 offers two healing stories, an intentional time of prayer, and a reaffirmation of Jesus’ mission. First, Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. She has a fever, is confined to her bed, and unable to greet and serve her guests. Jesus immediately goes to her and heals her by taking her hand and lifting her up. Second, people from the village come to Simon’s home to have their illnesses and demonic possessions healed. Jesus heals all who come. In addition, Jesus commands the demons not to reveal his true identity.
The disciples want Jesus to continue his miraculous healings. Instead, in the morning after the healing miracles, Jesus goes to a deserted place to pray. When the disciples invite him back to Capernaum, Jesus refuses. Instead, he reaffirms his missional purpose and invites the disciples to come with him. They go throughout Galilee inviting others to come, hear Jesus’ teachings, be healed, and to share the message of God’s generous love with more people in more places.
When Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, he made her whole. His touch changed her state of illness to wholeness. Touch is an intimate action between people. When Jesus touches, he brings the other person into relationship with him.
The woman responded by ministering as a faithful disciple. She greeted, cared for, and fed her guests. Some may think she fulfilled her social and domestic duties. In contrast, consider that Simon’s mother-in-law responded to Jesus’ invitation to come, be healed, and serve. She opened her home to family, Jesus and the disciples. She created a gathering place for the community of believers to be in relationship with one another. In addition, she opened her home to the entire village modeling Jesus’ invitation to come and be healed. She received the gift of wholeness and shared her gratefulness through servant ministry.
Early Christian communities often met in house churches. These homes provided places to share new understandings and to invite others to hear Christ’s messages of justice and peace.
The next morning Jesus rose in the dark and went to a deserted place to pray. Jesus understood how critical it was to stay connected with God. We are reminded to follow Jesus’ example. Daily connection with our creator is essential for faithfulness.
The disciples did not understand the importance of daily prayer and meditation with God. They were frustrated by Jesus’ absence. Simon, in particular, wanted him to return and heal more people. Jesus reminded them his mission involved preaching and healing throughout Galilee. Jesus’ invites all to come and be healed. As we look at the text for today, we see Jesus brings healing and wholeness through touch. When we look to the sacraments in Community of Christ, we see many of them include the ministry of touch. We lay on hands for the healing of the sick. We bless babies by holding them. We baptize through holding. We confirm, ordain, and offer blessings by laying our hands on the person’s head. There is power in Jesus’ healing touch, and we are representatives of Christ and bring Christ’s healing in the world through loving touch. Simon’s mother-in-law responded to healing by going and serving others. When we receive the blessings of Christ, we are also called to respond by serving and sharing that love with the community.
- Jesus brings wholeness through his healing touch.
- Faithful disciples respond to Jesus’ healing by ministering and serving others.
- Jesus models the need for intentional daily prayer in deserted places.
- Jesus’ mission involves preaching and healing. He invites all to come and be healed.
Questions to Consider
- How has Jesus healed you and helped bring wholeness into your life?
- Describe how daily prayer and meditation are impacting your spiritual life.
- What are you, or your congregation, doing to invite new people into relationship with Christ?
- When has touch been a part of the ministry in your congregation? What is the power of Jesus’ touch?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: Isaiah 40:21–31 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
We give praise and honor to you for a world you have made for us to live in, and with more than enough to go around.
Your world is orderly; the seasons go by as we live and grow up and grow old. Yet in the world there is much suffering from war, and greed, and indifference.
Please instill in our hearts the desire for peace right where we live, and to do our best right at our home.
Give us wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect, and to be kind to each other so they can grow up with peace in mind.
Let us share all good things that you provide to us on this Earth.
You are the one who does not hesitate to respond to our call, and you are the cornerstone of peace.
Blessing of Loving Kindness
Today we will experience a blessing of loving kindness. I will say a phrase aloud. I invite you to silently repeat the words after each spoken phrase.
As we begin, take a few moments of quiet to center yourself. If you are comfortable doing so, close your eyes.
Allow the words of blessing to resonate in your heart and mind. I will pause at the end of each phrase so you can silently repeat the words.
May I be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May I be blessed with health. Pause.
May I be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May I be blessed with peace. Pause.
Think of someone who is beloved to you. Visualize the person as you pray. You may insert the person’s name into the prayer in your mind.
May my beloved be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with health. Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with peace. Pause.
Now think of a close friend. Visualize the person as you pray silently.
May my friend be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May my friend be blessed with health. Pause.
May my friend be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May my friend be blessed with peace. Pause.
Think of someone with whom you are in conflict or who has harmed you. Visualize this person. Breathe deeply and lovingly pray this blessing.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with health. Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with peace. Pause.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Sharing Around the Table
Isaiah 40:21–31 NRSV
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
mighty in power,
not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
This passage contains familiar imagery used by authors, poets, and lyricists through the years. Phrases like “lift up your eyes” and “calling them all by name” (verse 26), “power to the faint” and “strengthens the powerless” (verse 29), and “wait for the Lord [and] renew their strength” and “[God will lift you up] with wings like eagles” (verse 31). It is part of a poetic section beginning with Isaiah chapter 40. Many scholars argue that chapter 40 is understood to be the start of Second Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah), the second writer under the name Isaiah.
The Israelites’ connection to God had been understood through the temple. Being exiled in Babylon meant being separated from God and where God resides (the Temple in Jerusalem).
The generations born in exile depended on learning about God through the faith stories of others. The prophet spoke to the Israelites to help them remember their collective story about God and to remind them that God is present with them always, even in exile. God is their source of strength and perseverance in difficult times. God’s presence and eternal purposes provide hope for the people.
Today’s hearers often struggle with forgetfulness about God’s nature. Like the Israelites in Babylon, we let our circumstances overwhelm us whether we are experiencing fabulous success or deep despair. We sometimes find ourselves feeling distant from or abandoned by God.
The prophet Isaiah’s words awaken our collective memory. We are challenged to open ourselves to God’s presence. Through developing an intentional relationship with the Divine we are released from the captivity of being overwhelmed, returned to God’s loving presence, and restored to an understanding of God’s vision of shalom for the world.
- What are some of your earliest memories of God?
- How have you experienced your relationship with God in both good and bad times?
- How can you become more intentional in deepening your relationship with the Divine?
Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
The offering prayer for Epiphany is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
May we always be generous. You have gifted each of us with boundless grace and unending love. May our response to that love and grace be humble service to others, and may generosity be part of our nature.
Invitation to Next Meeting
Community of Christ Sings 240, “Light Dawns on a Weary World”