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Sermon (2) and Liturgy For The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany - Year B
Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11; Mark 1:29-39
"I Will Raise You Up"


READING:  Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11; Mark 1:29-39
SERMON :  I Will Raise You Up"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or05sx 101700

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   
   Sources: Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com" children's
   story for Epiphany 5, Year B, 2003.  It is reproduced and adapted
   by permission.  The Prayer Invocation and of Dedication are
   almost entirely those of John Maynard from  "Prayers and Litanies
   For Epiphany 5, Year B" as sent to the PRCL List in February
   2003.  Portions of the Prayers of the People are also from
   Maynard and from Christine Odell, "Companion to the RCL", Vol. I,
   p. 70) as found in Maynard.

 
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)
               
                         
* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    Sing praises, sing praises to our God.
P    Exalt the name of the Lord our God, for God is good.
L    Our God watches over us like a mother tending her child.
P    Our Lord cares for us and shows us what is good.
L    God helps us to walk in the way of life. 
P    The Lord gives strength and wisdom to all who turn to him.


* PRAYER OF APPROACH
Let us pray... Oh Lord our God, you have sent Your only Son as the Word of
life for our eyes to  see and our ears to hear. Help us to believe with joy
what the Scriptures proclaim and to worship you in Spirit and in Truth.  We
ask it in His name.  Amen

                         
* HYMN:  "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"                        - VU 220


CHILDREN'S TIME  "How Do You Say, "I Love You"
Theme:    Jesus showed his love by his actions
Object:   A Valentine card, a box of candy, or flowers (something that
          says, "I love you.")
Source    Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com" children's story for
          Epiphany 5, Year B, 2003. Reproduced and adapted by permission.

     Scripture:  That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus
     all the sick and demon-possessed.  The whole town gathered at the
     door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.   Mark
     1:32-34a

This week many people around the world will celebrate a holiday called
Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day is a very special day when we tell
friends, family members, and sweethearts how much we love them.  Some
people do that by sending Valentine cards. Others may send a box of candy. 
My wife likes it when I get her a card.   She also likes candles. 

A Valentine or a gift is nice, but do you know what is even better?  It is
better to show our love for someone by the nice things that we do for them
each and every day.  What are some of the things we can do to show our love
for a person each day????   

When someone is sick, a visit from a friend might do them more good than a
dose of medicine.  When someone is sad or having a bad day, a smile and a
friendly "hello" would surely brighten their day.  Have you ever seen
someone sitting all alone at school who doesn't seem to have very many
friends?  If you sat down and talked to them, it just might make them feel
as if someone cares about them.  A simple act of kindness can say a lot
more than a Valentine.

Jesus was always kind and helpful to the people he met. One day he was in
the home of Simon Peter.  Peter's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a
fever.  Jesus went into the room where she was and took her by the hand and
helped her out of bed.  When Jesus touched her, the fever left her
immediately.  Later that evening people brought everyone who was sick and
those who were demon-possessed so that Jesus could heal them.  The Bible
says that the whole town was gathered around outside the door. Jesus healed
the sick and drove out evil spirits. Jesus showed his love by caring for
those who needed his healing touch.

As we celebrate Valentine Day, let's remember that we show others we care,
not just by sending cards and candy, but by showing acts of kindness each
and every day - just like Jesus did.


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
     Dear Jesus, Loving God -  you show us how to love one another.  - 
     May we follow your example - and each day we live - show our love
     by acts of kindness - to our family and friends - and to everyone
     we meet.  Amen

     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; and forgive us our trespasses, as we
     forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into
     temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom,
     the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Praise Our Maker"                                        - VU 316


TIME FOR SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS
- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns



TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD  (verse 2 - VU 371)
  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!


A READING FROM ISAIAH 40:21-31
     (NIV)   Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Has it not been
     told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the
     earth was founded?  He sits enthroned above the circle of the
     earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out
     the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to
     live in.  He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of
     this world to nothing.  No sooner are they planted, no sooner are
     they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he
     blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away
     like chaff.  
                              
     "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy
     One. 

     Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? 
     He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each
     by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one
     of them is missing.  Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O
     Israel,  "My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded
     by my God"? 

     Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting
     God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired
     or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives
     strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even
     youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but
     those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will
     soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they
     will walk and not be faint.

L    This is the Word of the Lord
P    Thanks Be To God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 147:1-11 (VU 868, Part 1) & Gloria Patri (sung)
              
     Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  
     World without end.  Amen


A READING FROM MARK 1:29-39
     (NIV)  As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James
     and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.  Simon's mother-in-law
     was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.  So he
     went to her, took her hand and helped her up.  The fever left her
     and she began to wait on them. 

     That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the
     sick and demon-possessed.  The whole town gathered at the door,
     and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.  He also drove
     out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because
     they knew who he was. 

     Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up,
     left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 
     Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they
     found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" 

     Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages
     - so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come."  So he
     travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and
     driving out demons.

L    This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
P    Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


* HYMN:  "On Eagles Wings (Psalm 91)"                              - VU 808


SERMON:   "I Will Raise You Up"

     Let us Pray - Lord God, Creator and Maker of us all, speak in the
     calming of our minds and in the longings of our hearts, by the
     words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord,
     for your servants listen.  Amen.

The story is told about how Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. 

     In his opening address he said, "We can't keep Christians from
     going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and
     knowing the truth.  We can't even keep them from forming an
     intimate relationship with their saviour.  Once they gain that
     connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken."

     So let them go to their churches; let them have their Pot Luck
     Suppers and fellowship events, but steal their time so they don't
     have time to develop a relationship with Jesus."

     "This is what I want you to do", said the devil.; "Distract them
     from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital
     connection throughout their day!"

     "How shall we do this?" his demons shouted.

     "Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent
     innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered.  "Tempt
     them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. 
     Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands
     to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford
     their empty lifestyles.  Keep them from spending time with their
     children.  As their families fragment, soon, their homes will
     offer no escape from the pressures of work!"

     "Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still,
     small voice trying to talk to them.   Entice them to play the
     radio or cassette player whenever they drive; to keep the TV,
     VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home; and see to
     it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music
     constantly.  This will jam their minds and break that union with
     Christ."

     "Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers.  Pound
     their minds with the news 24 hours a day.  Invade their driving
     moments with billboards.  Flood their mailboxes with junk mail,
     mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter
     and promotional offering free products, services and false
     hopes."

     "Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines and TV so their
     husbands will believe that outward beauty is what's important and
     they'll become dissatisfied with their wives.  Keep the wives too
     tired to love their husbands at night.  Give them headaches too! 
     Make them dissatisfied with one another so they begin to look
     elsewhere. That will fragment their families quickly!"

     "Give them Santa Claus to distract them from teaching their
     children the real meaning of Christmas.  Give them an Easter
     bunny so they won't talk about his resurrection and his power
     over sin and death."

     "Even in their recreation, let them be excessive!  Have them
     return from their recreation exhausted.  Keep them too busy to go
     out in nature and reflect on God's creation.  Send them to
     amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies
     instead.  And when they do go out on the mountains or to the
     shoreline - get them do it on their day of worship - and make
     them so active in what they do there that they don't have time to
     pray, time to think, time to remember their God or thank him for
     his goodness. 

     "Keep them busy, busy, busy!"

     "And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, leave them with
     troubled consciences.  Crowd their lives with so many good causes
     they have no time to seek power from Jesus.  It they must talk to
     God, make sure that they don't take time to listen to God.  Soon
     they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their
     health and family for the good of the cause."

     "Do this and it will work!", Satan concluded. 

     "It will work!"  His demons replied.

So they the convention ended. The demons went eagerly to their assignments
causing Christians everywhere to have little time for their God or their
families.  Having no time to tell others about the power  of Jesus to
change lives and to meet their real needs.   

I guess the question is, has the devil been successful at his scheme?

You be the judge!
---------------- 

Are you being drained?   Are you failing to see what the point of it all
is.  Are you losing hope?  Is joy harder and harder to find?   Are you
finding it harder and harder to remember the goals and the dreams that God
has placed in your hearts?  Are you feeling besieged from all sides and
unable to get it together?

In today's Gospel reading we see Jesus on the Sabbath doing many things -
he has already, as we heard last week, attended worship at the Synagogue
and there, during worship, cast an unclean spirit out of man and brought
him healing.   Then he went with his disciples to Peter and Andrew's home -
and there he brought healing to Peter's mother-in-law.   Later, in the
evening. a huge crowd gathered at the door and Jesus healed many of the
sick - many of the possessed.  It was a full day.  Very full.  Very busy.

The next morning, very early in the morning - while it was still dark, we
hear that Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place, a
quiet place, where he prayed.  It must have been for quite a while, because
we discover in the passage that Simon Peter and his companions go looking
for him - and when they find him - they tell him that everyone is looking
for him back in Capernaum - people with needs, people who want healing,
people who want his touch, his word, his hope.

The passage concludes with Jesus telling his disciples - "Let us go
somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also.  That
is why I have come."   And so he does.  

He travels through Galilee, preaching and healing and driving out demons -
spreading by word and deed the good news of God's Kingdom - the news that
God is near at hand, the news that God is coming to deliver his people, the
news that God is forgiving, that news that God will raise up all who wait
upon him, the news that God will give strength to those who turn to him;
the news that God loves all people and wants everyone to draw near to him,
everyone to repent and to believe in him, everyone to trust, to know, and
to follow him so that he may shower them with the blessings that last
forever, so that they may have peace in their hearts and live in peace with
one another and with God..

And always - always, we find as we read the Gospel accounts - we see Jesus
drawing aside from the crowds that gather to hear him and to be healed by
him to go and to pray.  Always we find Jesus leaving his disciples for a
time and going to a quiet place by himself for a talk with God, for a time
of waiting upon the Lord, for a time of developing his relationship - and
maintaining his relationship with God - for a time of strengthening - a
time of remembering - a time of being "re-attached" to the Father.

How about us?   Do we remember why we are here in the first place?   Do we
recall the simplicity of  what God wants of us?  Do we recall the glory of
what God has promised us?   Do we recall how God has helped us in the past?

Do we remember where there is fuel for our tanks, food for our journey,
supplies for our task, recovery for our soul, hope for hearts, and
direction for our days?  

Do we turn aside from the hustle and bustle - the fret and the worry - and
allow God to inhabit us - to fill us - to restore us - to guide us so that
we can do with those days what God wants us to do?  So that we can be what
God wants us to be?  What God has made us to be?  

The message of God for us today in the prophet Isaiah is precisely this.

It is a call to a people who are living in exile - in bondage - to take
heart.

It is a call to them to remember who God is and how God has helped them in
the past.

It is a call to them to come to God so that everything can be put into
perspective.

It is a call to them to wait upon God, to listen to God - as well as to
speak to God, 
     so God can raise them up, 
     so God can restore them to health, 
     so God can unfold his plan for them,
a plan in which their freedom is to be restored, their nation rebuilt, 
and their cup of suffering replaced with the cup of eternal joy.

In his address to the nation on the day of the Shuttle Disaster  
President Bush quoted from this section of Isaiah as he sought to bring
comfort to the nation.

As he spoke of the 7 men and woman who died in their quest to help bring us
closer to the stars, he called us to remember the big picture - and how God
cares for each one within it.

     Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these?
     Remember that God brings out the starry host one by one,
     that He calls them each by name,
     that because of his great power and mighty strength 
     not one of them is missing.

Not one of them is missing.....
God knows each star by name.  He knows us by name.

     Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,  
     "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? 

     Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  
     The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
     He will not grow tired or weary, 
     and his understanding no one can fathom.  

Remember what God has done - who God is  - what God's purpose is.

     He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  
     Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 
     but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  
     They will soar on wings like eagles; 
     they will run and not grow weary, 
     they will walk and not be faint.

Why did Jesus go the synagogue on the Sabbath Day?  Week in and week out?

Why did he worship at the temple with God's people as well as keep the Law
of God?

Why did he continually turn aside during his busy days of doing God's work,
of preaching, and go to a quiet place and pray?

Why did he withdraw from his disciples and from the crowds to go up on the
mountainsides - or into garden groves to wait upon God?

Might I suggest to you that he did this because that is what helped him
keep on track?
     Might I suggest to you that he did this because that is what gave him
     strength?
          Might I suggest to you that he did this because without doing it
          - he could not have done all he did?

God has a purpose for us.
God will  redeem us.
God will raise us up.

And when we hope in that.
     When we feed ourselves with God's word.
          When we allow God to speak to us - instead just talking at him
          all the time,
When we take time aside - when we take time to be holy - 
     God moves in us to do what we cannot do on our own
     God moves in us to give us the strength and the peace that lasts.

Recall with me the first verse and chorus of Psalm 91 again and think of
what it says.

You who dwell in the shelter of our God,
who abide in this shadow for life;
say to the Lord, "my refuge, 
my Rock in whom I trust"

And I will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.

Praise be to God who raises us up.
May his Word - his Gospel - his promises - his direction 
be heard by you, be loved by you, be clung to by you,
day by day.   Amen


TIME OF TESTIMONY AND PRAYER IN RESPONSE TO THE WORD
     - a chance for the people of God to reflect on how God has spoken
     to them, guided them, and helped them.


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE   (Singing #400 at the start of the prayer time.  Our
prayer response to "Lord, hear our Prayer" is "And in Your Love Answer")
               
          Lord, listen to your children praying,
          Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
          Lord, listen to your children praying,
          send us love, send us power, send us grace!

God of our life, our everlasting, never ending hope; by your great will and
power you have created and sustained the vast and unfathomable universe. 
In the midst of all this greatness and splendour, you have set  us,
creatures in Your own image!  By your grace you have called us to serve you
and to be your people.  In your love and mercy you have chosen and laid
hold on us, to be a light in darkness!  Teach us, O God, your ways.  Help
us, each day to turn aside and to listen for you, and to study your word,
and to pray to you, so that we might live as your people, and give
ourselves - all we are and all we have - in obedience to your will - so
that we might have strength and hope - peace and joy - and so that we might
be able to impart these to others in your name.... Lord, hear our prayer...

Lord, You are the giver of life.  In the midst of suffering we celebrate
the promise of Your peace.  In the midst of oppression - the promise of
your freedom.  In the midst of doubt and despair - the promise of your
presence and your kingdom.  In the midst of fear - the promise of
everlasting joy.  In the midst of sin and decay - the promise of salvation
and of renewal.  In the midst of death the promise of life eternal.  May we
dwell in your promises and lift them up before others with love and
compassion....  Lord, hear our prayer...

God, so many people are in need.  We pray for them as we pray for
ourselves.

God, our healer, we pray for those who are sick,
     and for those who look after them.
We pray for those who are full of dread and anxiety 
     and for those who carry the word of courage and faith.
God, our consoler, we pray for those who are sorrowful, 
     and for those who have been bereaved
We pray for the weary 
     and for those  weighed down by chronic illness, pain or frailty.  
We pray for those exhausted by the demands of work or caring for others.
     And for those who turn to you for new strength...
And we pray for those who are hungry, those who are without a home,
     and all those live under the threat of war.
Lord, hear our prayer.....

O God, we pray for the concerns and the individuals  whom you have placed
upon our hearts this day.  Hear now the prayers that rise from our
midst.... BIDDING PRAYER..... Lord hear our prayer....

We ask these things through Christ Jesus your Son, our Lord, our brother,
and our friend..  Amen.


MINUTE FOR MISSION


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

     God of every soul in heaven and on earth - we bring our tithes
     and offerings in support of your life-saving work, of your
     reaching out to gather close to yourself all who are in need. 
     And we offer ourselves as disciples of Jesus - committed to
     living and loving in his way - to being used for his purposes. 
     Bless these gifts and strengthen us by the power of your Word. 
     Amen.


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"                - VU 664


* COMMISSIONING:   In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into
     the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
     Christ.
                    

* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace,  
- and may God touch you and embrace you, 
- may he raise you up on his wings and give you strength, and wisdom and
joy,
- may his Word dwell in you and his Spirit guide your steps,
- may his Praise endure forever in your hearts and cast His light upon all
about you,
this both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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