Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Ordinary Time, Racial Justice Day
Here I Am!
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; John 1:43-51; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Doctrine and Covenants 164:5
Worship center elements might include a lantern or four candles. Have coloring sheets and crayons or pastels ready to distribute. On the internet search the words: “Hannah Samuel Eli Coloring Sheet Creative Commons license.” Then search for coloring sheets you can use with a Creative Commons license, being sure to provide credit as requested and following other terms of the license.
Include thoughts about this day designated by World Conference as Racial Justice Day. Consider telling the story behind the opening Hymn Seeking Justice (all three choices deal with Racial Justice in some way,) You might project images of the United States Civil Rights Movement, South Africa
Apartheid struggle, or other examples of those seeking racial justice. Be sure to secure permission to use the images.
Call to Worship
Leader: All-knowing God, we gather this day in your name to worship you. We give thanks that there is a small spark of God within each of us.
People: You knit us together in the womb. Wonderful are your works.
Leader: Enduring God, we gather this day in your name to worship you.
We celebrate your loving presence in our lives.
People: In your book were written all the days that were formed for us, when none of them yet existed.
Leader: Supporting God, we gather this day in your name to worship you.
We rejoice that you teach us about love and forgiveness.
People: You discern our thoughts and search out our paths. You know our ways.
Leader: Understanding God, we gather this day in your name to worship you.
We praise you for all that is fearfully and wonderfully made.
People: May your loving presence be a strong influence in our lives. May we remember that you are always with us.
—Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, adapted
Hymn Seeking Justice
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” CCS 555
OR “We Shall Overcome” CCS 261
OR “Senzeni Na?” CCS 200
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle.
Fount of Love and Well of Peace,
We thirst for your presence as we wander in a violent desert land. As children are gunned down and nations war, we cry for your peace. You have beautifully created us all, we are fearfully and wonderfully made: all sizes, shapes, and personalities. What blasphemy kills based on the differences you have created? What iniquity terrorizes through the barrel of a gun? Will warring madness never cease? We raise a petition for peace in your presence. Oh God, let us carry the banner of your peace with holy courage to the rulers of the nations. Hear our prayer and inspire our actions in accordance with your divine will, we pray. Amen.
A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn
“Sing of Colors/De colores” CCS 332
Encourage participants to sing in a language other than their own.
OR “Till All the Jails Are Empty” CCS 303
OR “All Are Called” CCS 606
All Are Called Guided Meditation
Pause or ring a chime between each statement
Assume a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and upright posture. Focus on deep relaxed breaths. Rest your hands on your lap or other comfortable position. Pay attention to your breath and listen to the words of guided meditation…
Here I Am, God…
Here I Am…
I Hear Your Call…
Your Call to All…
I Hear Your Call…
Here I Am…
Here I Am, God…
All Are Called Coloring Sheets
Distribute crayons and coloring sheets portraying Hannah, Samuel, and Eli from the 1 Samuel scripture. Crayons can be handed out individually or a small basket or small sandwich bag containing several crayons can be handed out for small groups to share.
As we continue in worship today, these coloring sheets help illustrate two stories about Hannah and Samuel. As Community of Christ, we uphold the enduring principle All Are Called. The story of Samuel is a foundational story for the nation of Israel. As we share in these stories, consider how people of all nations, all genders, all orientations, all races, and all social statuses are called by God to respond to God’s love. We are all called to respond to God’s love: Here I Am!
Hannah’s Story Based on 1 Samuel 1:1—2:36
There once was a woman in ancient Israel named Hannah who prayed for a son. She vowed that if she were given a son, then she would give her son to God as a servant in the temple. She prayed silently, only moving her lips. Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk and reprimanded her. But she explained that she was deeply troubled and was praying. Eli said, “Go in peace; the God of Israel will grant the petition you have made.”
Hannah eventually had a son and named her baby Samuel which means “I have asked him of the Lord.” Eventually, as promised, she took her young child to the temple to serve God under the priest Eli who would raise him. Hannah continued to be blessed by God and had more sons and two daughters. Little did she know, Samuel would eventually take up the prophetic mantle.
It was then revealed that the sons of the priest Eli, who were also priests, were using their office to advantage by demanding meat from those who intended it for burnt offerings. 1 Samuel 2:12 refers to them as scoundrels who “had no regard for the Lord.” Although Eli spoke to them about it, he did not do enough to stop them. A man of God came to visit Eli and prophesied against him and said that God would raise up a faithful priest.
Hannah’s and Eli’s stories provide several lessons:
- Turn to God in prayer during a time of need.
- Acknowledge thankfulness.
- Keep your commitments to God.
A Mother’s Hymn
“A Mother Lined a Basket” CCS 239
OR “How Long, O Lord” CCS 201
OR “Uthando Lwam’ Kuwe/My Love for You Will Remain” sing twice CCS 82
Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.
Prayer of Repentance
Forgive us, O God, when like Eli’s sons we do not listen to your call and elicit privileges we have not earned. In a world where people too often are judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character, privilege is too often afforded based on the false divisions of race. In a world where women, especially women of color, are marginalized by systemic discrimination, opportunity is meted out based on the false dichotomies of gender. We repent of false labels of every kind. We repent of privilege. Help us instead God to listen to your voice. In holy listening, may we find faith to respond. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Hymn of Calling
“God Is Calling” CCS 172
OR “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” CCS 581
OR “Deep in the Shadows of the Past” CCS 64
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-20
Based on 1 Samuel 3:1-20
Disciples’ Generous Response
Leader: God is Good! God Is Great!
People: Like Hannah, our prayers have been answered. Like Samuel, we sense God’s call.
Leader: Give thanks unto the Lord!
People: Our lives are blessed by the good news!
All: Let us respond and give our whole lives to God!
During this time of a Disciple’s Generous Response we focus on aligning our purposes with God’s purposes, aligning our heart with God’s heart. It is only when we first receive God’s grace that we can in turn respond with our own generosity. A disciple practices generosity as a spiritual discipline in response to God’s grace and love.
The life that Jesus lived combined the work of sage, rabbi, teacher, healer, and seeker of justice. A disciple is faithful in response to Christ’s ministry.
What we give and how we give is highly personal. Some place alms in the offering plate, others give online. A disciple’s financial response, while specific to individual circumstances, expresses love of God, neighbor, creation, and oneself.
As you share your mission tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, use this time to express gratitude for God’s many gifts in your life and to reflect on how we respond faithfully to those blessings. When we understand God’s love and grace are freely given to us, we respond out of gratitude and are liberated to share freely in return.
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 Commission
“I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” CCS 640
OR “For Such a Time” CCS 376
Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 164:5
Second Sunday after the Epiphany
1 Samuel 3:1–20
Exploring the Scripture
The scripture text tells the story of God’s call to Samuel, who was a young boy. The nation of Israel had had strong leaders in Moses and Joshua as it moved from captivity and through the wilderness into the “Promised Land.” The Israelites then had judges who ruled over them, but tribal loyalty was always in play. Life was not perfect in the Promised Land, and “the word of the Lord was rare” (v 1), and “all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
In the early hours of the morning, God speaks! God calls three times to Samuel. He hears this voice three times and responds by saying “Here I am” but he thinks it must be his mentor, Eli the priest. Eli at first tells Samuel that he did not call him and tells him to go back to bed with the instruction that if he hears the voice again to say, “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening” (v 9). Therefore, God calls Samuel for the fourth time, and Samuel responds this time as suggested by Eli. Then God says to Samuel “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of anyone who hears it tingle” (v 11). Samuel learns that God is calling him to speak up and call out the wickedness of the priests and the people who were abusing their position of leadership. Samuel responded, and God’s voice was heard again.
God consistently calls people to speak up for justice. When those who are poor, marginalized, or powerless, and when creation is being abused, God “weeps” because of the division in humanity. The Divine is speaking and calling us today to hear the voice that “echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew in this moment. Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom, even Zion, on behalf of the One whose name you claim” (Doctrine and Covenants 162:1b).
What does it mean to hear the call of God? Do we miss hearing the call because we do not recognize it, or are we too busy and not paying attention? The call can come to us as individuals, but it also can be for us as a community. In Community of Christ we use the six lenses of discerning God’s will—scripture, Continuing Revelation, common consent, tradition, personal and community experience, and knowledge and reason. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can hear the call.
God is speaking! God is calling! Today the injustices and abuses are being heaped on those who are poor, powerless, and marginalized, and our environment is being used and abused with significant consequences. Who will be the person, people, or community that hears and says, “Speak Lord, for we are listening” and then acts on that call?
- God is always speaking and calling—and God calls the most unexpected people.
- The divine Voice calls when those who are poor, powerless, or marginalized are abused.
- We may not recognize the Voice at first, but we can learn to listen and to act.
Questions for the Speaker
- Why does God want to communicate with us? Why does the Divine want this relationship with us?
- How can we learn to pay attention to hear the Divine call?
- How is the Divine calling you, or your community? What is God calling you to say and do, and to whom? Why?
- How can you respond?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1–20 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.
God, you are the still point of the circle within which all creation is found. I yearn to connect with your spirit of peace and experience the companionship of your presence in this moment. May I abide in the center of creation’s circle with you?
Creator of horizons, help us draw the circle wider to include those I know and love, and even those I struggle to understand and accept. Fill this circle with the gifts of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and peace. Give us the desire to include all whose paths cross ours into a place where acceptance is offered freely. Draw our circle wider.
Giver of dreams, let the peace we’ve dreamed of expand to embrace all your children. We remember all nations, including Saudi Arabia, the country we pray for today. Within this circle may we see the other as brother and sister, and act as mutual stewards of one another. You call us to live without borders that exclude. Help us draw the circle wider still.
God of all living things, your world longs to be whole and in harmony. The dream of shalom includes caregiving for the water, earth, air and all that has life in one great family. You created us with interdependencies. Give us mutual respect and tender care for all. Let this be our song: Nothing on your created Earth stands alone, but lives in shalom with all other living things. Draw the circle wide open.
Architect of life and peace, may we be blessed by your vision of shalom this day. May our minds, hearts, and spirits be wide enough for all to find a home. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, God’s shalom. Amen.
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
1 Samuel 3:1–20 NRSV
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.
In the early hours of the morning, God calls three times to Samuel. He hears this voice three times, but he thinks it must be his mentor, Eli the priest. Eli tells Samuel that he did not call him and tells him to go back to bed. After the third time, Eli sends Samuel back to bed with the instruction that if he hears the voice again to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
When God calls Samuel for the fourth time, Samuel responds as suggested by Eli. Samuel learns that God is calling him to speak up and call out the wickedness of the priests and people who were abusing their leadership positions.
Today injustices and abuses are being heaped on those who are poor, powerless, and marginalized. The environment is being abused with significant consequences. Who will be the person, people, or community that hears and says, “Speak Lord, for we are listening”?
In Community of Christ we use the six lenses of discerning God’s will: scripture, continuing revelation, common consent, tradition, personal and community experience, and knowledge and reason. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we, too, can hear God’s call.
- God communicates with each of us differently. How have you “heard” God speaking to you?
- What practices help you pay attention to the Spirit’s call?
- There are those in our own communities who are poor, powerless, marginalized, and abused. What is God calling you to say and do? How will you respond?
NOTE: If using “Thoughts for Children,” make time for participants to share their drawings at this time.
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 586, “The Summons”