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Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany - Homily "Reach Out & Touch" by Pr. Jim



660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


7 February 2021


A warm welcome to all who have gathered for worship this morning, especially our guests and visitors. May this time of prayer and praise make us eager to share in the proclamation of the Good News of God’s love and redemption in Christ as we enter another week of service in his Name. Guests and visitors, we are happy that you have joined us in worship. Please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER        Miracles that Teach Us

Jesus begins his ministry of healing both body and spirit in today’s readings. He is, indeed, our Great Physician of body and soul. He healed those in need because he loved them. Our Lord continues this healing ministry today in our midst as he comes to us to restore us in body and spirit, to heal and strengthen, and ultimately, to give the crown of life to all who remain steadfast to the end.


Lord God, overtake our weakness with your power so that we may proclaim the saving Gospel to all nations. Remove from us all fear and doubt, and move us toward those who have not heard the story of your love. We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


PRE-SERVICE MUSIC Here in This Place

Let there be praise


Those who heard Jesus teach recognized that he did so with an authority that gave him power, even over the unclean spirits (The Holy Gospel). Moses had prophesied that God would raise up such a mighty prophet from the people and warned that people should listen to him (The First Lesson). Paul points out that the freedom we have in The Prophet must not be misused at the risk of the conscience of others.

PRELUDE Psalm XVIII The Heavens Declare the Glory of GodBenedetto Marcello

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Organ

INVOCATION & CONFESSION                                                                                                                                                        

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we walk in the light as God himself is in the light, we have fellowship

with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us

from all sin.

The Lord is eager to proclaim the good news. Let us prepare to receive it.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection & Self-examination +

Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin only to perish

in your presence. For our hearts are darkened, our minds beclouded; we

call for night to cover our deeds; we have love darkness rather than light.

For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us,

renew us, and let your light shine upon us, so that we may delight in your

will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. For his

sake God hears your prayer. Your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father and

of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As children of light, let us then be reconciled with one another and share the peace of the Lord.


The grace of God that extends to all nations in Christ Jesus through the work of

the Holy Spirit be with you all.

               And also with you.


In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above and for our salvation

let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of

The Church of God, and for the unity of all let us pray

to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For this holy house and for all who offer here their

worship and praise let us pray to the Lord.

     Lord, have mercy.

Help, save, and defend us, O God. Amen.    


Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint. Make us agents of your healing and wholeness, that your good news may be made known to the ends of your creation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON          Isaiah 40:21-31

[The Judeans in exile have a great reason to be hopeful: the One who will bring them to freedom is the God who created the world, the God who subdues the rulers of the earth and gives strength to those who are weary.]

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 grass-hoppers; 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 high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them 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 ever-lasting 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 be faint.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

SOLO How I Love Your WordMark Hayes SunRose Winslow, Soloist

SECOND LESSON    1 Corinthians 9:16-23

[God entrusted Paul with the responsibility of bringing the gospel to diverse people. Hence the focus

of Paul’s ministry is not his own rights or privileges as an apostle but the privilege of serving God

freely sharing the good news of Christ with others.]

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me,

and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward;

but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just

this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use

of my rights in the gospel

For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

The Word of the Lord.

                 Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC Prayer—Louis Niedermeyer

GOSPEL         Mark 1:29-39

[Everywhere Jesus goes, many people expect him to set them free from oppression. Everywhere he goes, he heals people and sets them free. Disease, devils, and death are running for their lives. The forces that diminish human life are rendered powerless by Jesus.]

As soon as [Jesus and the disciples] left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And

the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various

diseases, and cast out many demons, and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him In the morning, while it was still dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

The Gospel of our Lord

Praise to You, O Christ.

GRACE CHOIR Oh Love How Deep—Bradley Ellingboe

HOMILY Reach Out and Touch Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim

Isaiah 40:21-31; I Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

Reach Out & Touch

+ the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

It’s one thing to hear this text comfortably in church or at home via Zoom, blessed with another day of good health. But quite another thing to hear it lying on a gurney in a hospital emergency room at 5:30 am with all hell breaking loose in your body—or in a loved one’s, for whom you care greatly. If that’s your memory, you can identify with this text wholeheartedly.

All of us know sickness in some form or another. And all of us know recovery. We are made to be well and get well and stay well … it’s part and parcel of the design that God has given the miraculous creation that our bodies are.

When asked over the years of ministry whether I believe in miraculous healing, my answer was always “Yes.” Every occasion of healing … whether great or small … is miraculous in the sense of the incredible things the body does in mending and restoring itself—which is all a part of what God intended our bodies to do. Never take for granted a minor cut or bruise that heals and goes away or a fever that subsides. It’s truly astonishing … miraculous if you will … when you stop to think about it.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus enters the house of Simon Peter and Andrew, accompanied by James and John. No sooner was our Lord in the door when theywhoever they were … told Him that Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed ill with a fever. So, Jesus …

“went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up.”

There’s a lot of meaning in that simple gesture that reflects care … tenderness … strength … and above all love. Touching the sick is part of healing. In that day as well as today, illness isolates. And alienation sets in … whether subtle or obvious. Sometimes it’s more than protection against infectiousness, which may be necessary. But the sick are often separated for other reasons as well. Fear … apathy … revulsion … and shame can put distance between the sick and the well. In Jesus’ day the extreme form of this was the legally enforced isolation of those suffering from leprosy. In our day and age, it’s the isolation and sense of abandonment that comes to those in assisted living, nursing homes, or those suffering an infectious disease, who are unable to be visited by family or friend.

In such times and places … especially evidenced in these COVID times … the simple gesture of holding a hand … touching a cheek or brow … speaking a kind word is a missing oasis in the wilderness of isolating and loneliness.

Today’s text says that Jesus cured the mother of Simon Peter.

The fever left her at His touch. His touch was a sign of the kingdom of God breaking in … for God wills our shalomour health and wholeness and peace.

But this healing was not an end in itself. All the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ healing the sick point to a deeper, greater gift. And we’ll get to that.

But first, note how the word got out about Peter’s mother-in-law being healed. By sundown, the house of Peter and Andrew had become crowded with the sick and the demonized from all over. No surprise at all that a crowd gathered immediately. Nothing motivates people more than news of a cure or relief from the pain and misery of being ill. There they were crowding in … pushing … crying … pleading. And there was Jesus right in the middle of them … open and available to their cries and call.

It’s a powerful sign of the Messiah, who fulfills the vision of today’s First Lesson from Isaiah 40 …

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless … Even

youths shall faint 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 be faint [vv. 29-31].

The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law was a sign point to that greater gift and more essential need of our lives … the need for forgiveness. At the core of what ails us is sin, the barrier that cuts us off from God … from others … and from the image of God in which we were created.

Jesus went on from Capernaum to Calvary to bear our infirmities and carry our sorrows (to quote Isaiah again). He was wounded for our transgression, bruised for our iniquities, upon him was the punish-ment that made us whole, and by his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:3, 5).

This is the meaning of healing … the meaning of his healing touch. We are made whole again by God’s grace in Christ Jesus … wholeness of soul and mind and emotion and body … are the gift of shalom … God’s gift of peace and well-being. We can breathe free in God’s Holy Spirit. We are made right with our Maker. The isolation is gone. We have been touched and lifted up by The Christ.

His touch is seen in some predictable places and some that are surprising and unexpected. His touch is baptismal water poured upon the head in the Name of the Father, + Son and Holy Spirit. His touch is the Word in our ears. His touch is the bread in our hands and the wine on our lips. His touch is holding hands in the hospital or around the kitchen table. His touch is in the word that frees the troubled. His touch is in the assurance of the promise of Easter … the welcoming of a stranger … the passing of peace. His touch is in an email or text … a phone call … or a caring word sent in a card. His touch moves our hands in work and love … imprinting symbols on a check placed into an offering plate for the church’s mission and ministry at home and abroad. His touch comes in an embrace and words of encouragement.

Today’s Gospel Lesson sees to it that we have a record of how it was … and where Jesus went … so that we might know today how it is where Jesus goes and where we are to go. Then and now our Lord reaches out with His shalomtouches and makes all things new and whole. He proclaims God’s reign and people rejoice and cry out … Kyrie eleison—Lord, have mercy!

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen.


Called to know, love, and follow you, O God, we pray for The Church, the world, and all who are in need.

Lord God, we pray for The Church and its ministries of healing and wholeness; for hospital, hospice, and military chaplains; for those serving in prison ministries; and for all who proclaim freedom and release in the Name of Christ. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of all creation, we pray that our hearts may be filled with greater love and care for all your works: plants and animals, water and soil, forests, and farms. Strengthen our resolve to be better stewards of our natural resources and all that exists for ages to come. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of all, you call the nations and those who lead in cities and towns, states and countries, to govern with justice and peace, putting aside divisive rhetoric and partisan rancor for the common good of all. Send peace in our time. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of healing, gently watch over those who suffer in mind, body, or spirit; those who are sick and all who hunger for healing. Enfold them in the fullness of your embrace. We commend to your care: Charlie and Marguerite (MaryAnn’s father and mother), Rusty (under hospice care), and Shari. Raise the spirits of those who are home-bound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of love and tender care, expand our vision in these COVID times to see your kingdom present and working among us. Energize our ministries so that many will hear the message of hope and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Raise up willing workers and volunteers from among us to help tend the tasks of service and proclamation during these challenging days of ministry. Continue to guide our Call Committee by the power of your Holy Spirit as it seeks to identify the pastoral candidate you have chosen to serve as your under-shepherd among us. Keep us ever mindful that it is your Spirit who leads and guides us and will in due time make known our new pastor—yet unknown to us, but known and loved by you. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of life and death, we given you thanks for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and now rest in your arms. In the fullness of time, give us our inheritance in Christ and gather us all together in your eternal presence. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Merciful God, hear the prayers of your people, spoken or silent, for the sake of the One who dwells among us, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.


Lord God, as you have blessed us with many gifts, so receive now these offerings of ourselves, our time, and our possessions. Through this meal unite us as your body, that we may be a light to all nations; for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Holy God, creator of all and source of all life,

at the birth of time your Word brought light

into the world. In the fullness of time, you sent your Word, born

of Mary, to shine in our darkness and make us

your sons and daughters.

“In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

And gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Now in the words of our Lord, we are bold to pray:

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

and the power and the glory

forever and ever. Amen.

Distribution music: On Eagles’ Wings


God of glory, in this Sacrament you unite us in the body of your Son. May we who have been guests at this table grow in love for one another, that through us your light may shine in all the world; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.



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