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Third Sunday after The Epiphany - Homily "God's Work & Ours" by Pr. Jim



660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


24 January 2021


A warm welcome to all who have joined us today in worship and praise of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May this time of worship make us eager to share in the proclamation of the Good News of God’s love and redemption in Christ as we go forth into 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        Follow Me

Jonah was a reluctant follower. He went to Nineveh under protest, but through him God called Nineveh to repentance. Jesus invited Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow him, and promised that through them, God would call many to repentance. In Baptism, God has called us to follow him, and promises that through us, as well, people will be called to repentance and new life. Dedicated to his service and committed to his mission, we pray that we may be ready and willing to serve him with all that we are and have.


Lord God, it is through our lives that your love touches others. Stir us by your Spirit to serve all people with willing hearts and bring them the message of your love. We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore

Step by step


As we continue through the time after Epiphany, stories of the call to discipleship show us the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins by proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of brothers leave everything they had known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people. On this Third Sunday after Epiphany Jesus summons us: “Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?”

PRELUDE To God Be the Glory—Larry Schackley

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano

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 say that we have fellowship with God while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true. But 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.

Today the Good News is announced. The Savior calls.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection & Self-examination +

Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot

free ourselves. Our lives have been shortsighted and surrounded only

with ourselves. We need repentance and the good news your Son Jesus Christ came to proclaim. For his sake 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.

Even before we knew our need, God knew us, and called us by our name. In fulfillment of his promises God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to open heaven for all who believe. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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.    


Almighty God, by grace alone you call and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind us the broken hearted, and proclaim liberty to the captive; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON          Jonah 3:1-5, 10

[Unlike other prophetic books that focus on the prophet’s message, this book focuses on the

prophet himself. The book of Jonah is really a comedy starring a reluctant prophet who is given

a one-sentence message. Nineveh will be destroyed in forty days. Much to Jonah’s dismay, the

people of Nineveh repent. The point of the story is to get the reader to wrestle with the question

“On whom should God have mercy?” ]

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to

the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three day’s walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least …. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

PSALM 72 [Please join the Praise Team in singing the Refrain.]  

Refrain: Let the people praise you, O God. Let all the people praise you.

Endow the King with your justice, O God, the royal Son with your righteousness.

He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy.

He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.

He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. Refrain

All kings will bow down to him, and all nations will serve him.

All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.

Praise be to the LORD God, who alone does marvelous deeds.

May the whole earth be filled with his glory. Refrain                              

SECOND LESSON    1 Corinthians 7:29-31

[In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul addresses many problems experienced by those who want faith to shape daily life. Here he insists that our future hope in Christ ought to affect the way we conduct ourselves in the present.]

Brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC A Song of Praise—Matt Schinske

GOSPEL         Mark1:14-20

[Before Jesus calls his first disciples, he proclaims a message that becomes known as “the gospel” or good news from God. God is ready to rule our lives. Those who recognize this good news will respond with repentance and faith.]

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew asting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. The Gospel of our Lord Praise to You, O Christ.

GRACE CHOIR I Can Tell the World—Jester Hairston              

HOMILY God’s Work & Ours Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim

Jonah 3:1-5; I Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

                                                   God’s Work & Ours

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


In four short phrases, Jesus sums up God’s work for us, with us, and in us …

The time is fulfilled,

the kingdom of God has come near;


believe in the good news.

All announcements of important things come in direct, unforgettable words … supremely so with the announcement of our Lord. God’s kingdom and royal reign in the hearts and lives of mankind has come in Jesus Christ. All the promises and preparation of the previous centuries lead to Him—and Him alone. What God planned … even before the foundations of the world were laid … reached the fullness of time in Christ. To receive the kingdom is to open one’s heart in faith by the power of the Spirit, and lay hold of God’s promises. All that is God’s work.

To see where Jesus goes to declare that work … God’s work … the gospel of Mark points to where people live and work. One day, writes Mark, Jesus came walking along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. He saw two set of brothers there, working at their jobs as fishermen. He called them to follow Him … and they did.

On this Third Sunday after The Epiphany of our Lord, I have a feeling that it isn’t always immediately apparent to us that God’s work is located where we live and work. Somehow or other, we feel that God’s work is located somewhere else … and done by someone else.

So, the question on this Sunday is: Where do you find God’s work? Where’s your marketplace … your family … your neighborhood … your classroom, coffee shop or gym … or your kitchen? These, I’m sure, aren’t the first answers that come to mind. More than likely we think of church where we meet God and find His work … some quiet spot that’s conducive to meditation, learning, and prayer. Today’s text, however, turns our attention in a direction not of our own choosing.

You see, there’s a needed lesson here. Most often, the custom is to think of the church as a building with distinctive architecture and appointments … a pastor on hand … a credible denomination … and a congregation of committed people. It comes naturally to us to think of people coming to church. “If you build it … they will come.” But notice, Jesus did none of these things. Rather, He went to where the people were … the churched and the un-churched. It seems to me, then, that the church which bears His Name and lives in His Epiphany light can and must do the same. For that’s what mission is all about … reaching out to people where they arenot where we think they ought to be.

The text tells us that Jesus went to Simon and Andrew, James, and John, in order to call them to follow Him. Eight more were called to follow Him for the three years that Jesus taught and healed and proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom. Following Him ultimately meant being led to the Cross. And though all of them failed Him in the final hours before His death on the Cross, He did not fail them. Nor … did the kingdom stumble and falter because of their weakness and lack of faith. Our Lord stayed true to His mission … seeing it through to the bitter end. The time was truly fulfilled when Jesus cried out from the Cross, “It is finished!” That little pluperfect phrase in the Greek means that the saving work for which our Lord became incarnate was accomplished once and for all. His death on the Cross has meaning for the past and the present with on-going meaning and ramifications for the future. God’s work centered in His Son was to forgive all men. The resurrection of our Lord is the sign that God’s kingdom is now ready to be spread through the world in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Our call to follow Christ comes in the very same Gospel proclaimed through apostolic witness and recorded in the Book of Acts. It is the good news that God’s saving work in Christ has our name on it. God so loved you and me that He gave His only begotten Son … that believing in Him we might have eternal life. God has called you and me to Himself through water and the Word because He loves us. Our baptisms are the beginning of our new life and covenant in His grace where we are.

Where then does God’s work take you? Whether child or adult, to serve according to one’s calling means that the Holy Spirit is using you to call others through your witness where you are … to roll up your sleeves and put yourself into the work of the day. Calling or vocation … you know … is a great word of our faith as Lutheran Christians. It’s a word that is sorely absent in the world in which we live. “To be called” … to have a sense of one’s vocation and purpose … means that one’s life and activities are organized around and centered in the Christ of the Cross. It means doing what you do because of what Christ has first done for you.

Just take time to stop and think for a minute what that means in terms of mission and service … what it means for you personally as God’s child … what the implications are for the vision of mission and service of this parish. Think of the challenging and rewarding things that can happen as each of us awakens to our part in God’s work here in this place. Think of seeing where we live … where we work … where we play as our places to do God’s work.

On this Third Sunday after The Epiphany, you and I are reminded that we are an integral part of this God-given work of the Kingdom. It is our calling … we’ll be there! God’s work goes on out there … we’ll be there! Life is too short to be unfulfilling. Make your work and life an offering to the Lord who spared not even His life for you and me.

In doing so, you will discover what four fishermen learned long ago. The voice that called, “Come, follow Me!” is the same voice that calls you and me. To walk in His steps … to do His work … is to live the abundant life. The blessed apostle Paul summed it up this way: Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Sweet Lord, you have looked into my eyes; kindly smiling, you’ve called out my name.

On the sand I have abandoned my small boat; now with you, I will seek other seas.

+ 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.


Guided by Christ made known to the nations, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all who are in need.

Lord God, call your whole Church, beyond small hopes and half-hearted witness. Stir your people to risk everything to follow you for the sake of your plan of salvation among us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. Call our hearts to greater love and care for your creation, that we see its goodness and beauty as a common trust to preserve for ages to come. Raise up advocates and scientists to inspire and guide us as faithful and wise stewards of the earth and all its resources. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. Call parliaments, councils, legislatures, and all governing bodies to put aside divisive rhetoric and partisan rancor. Diminish the thirst for personal or party victories and move us to overcome that which divides us so that together we may seek the common good. Protect police officers and firefighters, attorneys and paralegals, peacekeepers, military personnel, as they work to provide protection to all people, especially the most vulnerable. Send peace in our time. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. Gently watch over the sick and all who hunger for healing. Enfold them in the fullness of your embrace. Refresh those who labor under the weight of pain or sickness. We commend to your care : Kristel (recuperating from recent surgery), 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. Call this assembly to 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 to help us tend to our tasks of service and proclamation during these days of COVID challenges to ministry. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. Call us to greater service through the example of all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith. We thank you for the faith of those who have led us to know and follow you.

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.

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: Now we remain


We give you thanks, gracious God, that you have once again fed us with the body and blood of Christ. Through this mystery, send us to proclaim your promise to a world in need; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.



Go in peace and serve the Lord.