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Sermon (2) and Liturgy For The Third Sunday After Epiphany - Year B
II Corinthians 5:16-21, Psalm 62, Mark 1:14-20
"A Twofold Calling"

READING:  II Corinthians 5:16-21, Psalm 62, Mark 1:14-20
SERMON :  "A Twofold Calling"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-or03su 866000

   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.
   The children's story is from Charles Kirkpatrick 
   for January 26 2003.  The Prayers of The People are adapted 
   from "The Servant Prayer" by Patrick Kelly ( of 
   Shepherd's Care Chapel, Tucson, AZ, 14 Jan 2000.  The Invocation 
   and Offering prayer are adapted from materials from John Maynard, 
   "Prayers and Litanies for the Third Sunday After Epipany" as sent 
   to the PRCL-List in January 2000.  

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

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  To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls.
P  Show me your ways, O Lord, 
   teach me your paths.
L  In you we trust, O my God. 
   Do not let us be put to shame, 
   nor let our enemies triumph over us. 
P  Show me your ways, O Lord, 
   teach me your paths.
L  Guide us in you truth and teach us, 
   for you are our God.
P  Show me your ways, O Lord, 
   for our hope is in you all day long.

God of Glory, Lord of Love,  Mother and Father of us all, You sent Your Son
into the world to proclaim Your kingdom and to teach with authority, and to
open the way of peace and wholeness to all people.  Anoint us in this time
of worship with the power of Your Holy Spirit, that we, too, may bring good
news to the afflicted, that we may be empowered to bind up the broken
hearted and to fearlessly proclaim liberty to the captive.  Bless us with
your word, shine upon us with your wisdom, and bring us into deeper
communion with you and one another through Your Christ Jesus, our Lord and
our Saviour.  Amen.

* HYMN:  "Holy Spirit, Hear Us"                                    - VU 377

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Follow The Leader"
Theme     Following Jesus - Wherever He Goes
Object    None (or video "Peter Pan")
Source    Charles Kirkpatrick's "" for January 26 2003.
          by permission.

   As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his
   brother Andrew casting 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.  Mark 1:16-18

Recently I was watching the movie, "Peter Pan." Have you ever watched this
movie?  In the movie, the children sing a song and play a game called
"Following the Leader.  (Sing a bit of it, if you can.)

   Following the leader, the leader, the leader
   We're following the leader wherever he may go.

Have any of you ever played "Follow the Leader?"  Of course you have!

I played the game when I was a child - my father played the game when he
was a child -- his father played the game when he was a child.  Follow the
Leader is a game that is played and enjoyed by children all over the world.

The rules are very simple.  You choose a leader and you follow him wherever
he goes and do whatever he does.  You stomp through puddles, climb over
fences, swing from a tree -- all to stay in the game because nobody wants
to be "a quitter."

Follow  the Leader is a great game, but in our daily lives we play follow
the leader too.  In school, in Church, in sports, in any activity we are
in, there are always leaders.  Every day we are faced with making a choice
of which leader we will follow.  We must be sure to choose a leader that
will lead us in the right direction.

One day Jesus was walking along the sea shore.  He saw two fishermen, Peter
and Andrew, who were throwing their fishing nets out into the sea.  Jesus
called out to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."  The
Bible tells us that they immediately laid down their nets and followed
Jesus.  Jesus went a little farther and he saw two more men, James and
John, sitting in their boat mending their nets.  Jesus called out to them
and the Bible tells us that they left their boat and followed Jesus. 
(vs. 19-20)

Jesus is still calling people to follow him today. He has called you and me
to follow him.  Now it's up to us to decide if we will follow the leader.

   Dear Jesus, - you have called us to follow you. -  May we, like
   Peter, Andrew, James, and John -  say, "Yes, Lord, - I'll follow you
   - wherever you may lead." 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:  "Jesus, Teacher, Brave and Bold"                            VU 605

   (NIV)  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.
   Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 
   Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has
   gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to
   himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
   that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not
   counting men's sins against them.  And he has committed to us the
   message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ's ambassadors,
   as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on
   Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin
   to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness
   of God.

L  This is the Word of The Lord.     
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 62 (Voices United 779) & 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

   (NIV) After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee,
   proclaiming the good news of God. 

   "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and
   believe the good news!" 

   As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother
   Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  "Come,
   follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 

   At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a
   little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a
   boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left
   their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

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

* HYMN:  "Jesus Calls Us"                                          - VU 562

SERMON:  "A Twofold Calling"

   Let us Pray - Creator and maker of us all - bless the words of my
   lips and the meditations of our hearts - grow thou in us and show us
   your ways and inspire us to live by your truth.  Amen

The very first words of Jesus when he met Simon Peter and his brother
Andrew on the shores of the Sea of Galilee were  "Follow me, and I will
make you a fisher of men." 

Most of you knew that before - and if you didn't - you heard them read
today from the first chapter of the Gospel  According to Mark.

But how many of you know what the last words of Jesus to Simon Peter were?
Words also spoken down by the waters of the sea of Galilee - just before
Jesus was taken up into heaven?

Yes - this is a bible test... something for you to think about - but to
have mercy - I will give you the answer.

His very last words to Peter, 
   words spoken just before he was taken up into heaven, 
   words spoken after Peter and the others had been his daily companions
   for three years,
were virtually the same as the first:  "Feed my sheep, Follow me."

Our calling - the calling of every single person here - and the call that
is extended to all of God's children is the same as that of Peter.

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
Follow me and feed my sheep.

We have a twofold calling - you and I.

We are called to be disciples 
   - to be ones who walk with Jesus and who learn from him
and we are called to be apostles  
   - to be ones who go forth 
and in the particular way that God gifts us for,
act as Christ's ambassadors in the world 
   - to be ones who allow Jesus to speak through us.
   - to be ones who minister God's reconciling love to the world,
   - to be one's who bring God's word of forgiveness and of hope, God's
life giving word to all who need it.

A twofold calling.

The first aspect of our calling is to enter into a relationship with Jesus
that is one of complete and utter trust.
   - To come to him as he asks us to come - and to give to him our
   weariness, our burdens, our anxieties - and to receive from him  those
   things he wants to give us - peace, hope, joy, truth, love, strength,
   - To come to him - and to follow him - where-ever he leads - even if it
   be to a cross.
   - To come to him and to learn from him.
   - To come to him and to live in him - and have him live in us.
   - To come to him and to be made new by him and in him.

This is not easy.

It is not easy 
   - not because Christ is unable to bear our burdens and to give us rest,
   - nor because Jesus does not have the power to make us new and turn us
   into the salt of the earth and the light of the world .
It is not easy 
because it demands of us more than most people are willing to give.

It demands discipline, single-mindedness, a determination to indeed make
Christ the centre of our lives.

It demands of us the resolve to do those things that our Lord asks us to
do, to go where-ever our Lord leads us - even if that involves leaving
behind things precious and dear to us - even if that involves doing things
we think we can't do - or wish that we would not have to do.

In United Church circles there is a story told about Dr. George Darby who
served as a mission Doctor on the Pacific Northwest Coast for over 45

   "I hope that no one will ever say to me that I stuck it out here",
   Darby said at a retirement party in Wadham's in 1959.  "It was a
   privilege, and I thank you."

When Doctor Darby graduated from Medical School in Toronto in 1914 his
professors recognized in him a great deal of surgical skill and tried to
persuade him to take up a lucrative practice in the city, but he was
determined to minister in Christ's name and out of his love for a people
who needed someone to care.

And he did - in tiny fishing and logging camps and Indian villages from
Alert Bay to Prince Rupert, and under conditions that were frequently harsh
and almost always uncomfortable.

Compare that to the choices some people make.

Compare it to those folk who can't even spend a hour or so a week at
worship or three or four hours a week helping children or youth learn about
or experience the love of God because these activities take place at the
same time as skiing lessons or might interfere with a favourite TV show.

The benefits, my friends, of the Christian life, can only come if we
actually live the Christian life,
   if we actually follow Christ where he went and learn and do what Christ
   taught and did.

Christ prayed every day - indeed he prayed continually.
Christ went to the synagogue to worship and to learn every week.
And Christ allowed his meals to be interrupted and his time of relaxation
to be interfered with by the hungry, the crippled, and the needy.

Does this few, relatively little things I have lifted up, describe our
lives?  In whole?  Or even in part.

Discipleship involves discipline.

No one, as Paul puts it in another place in his letter to the Corinthians
can win the prize if he doesn't run the race.  No one can receive the crown
of victory - if he doesn't persevere to the end of the course.

Or as Jesus said - "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either
hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the

Jesus spoke those words about choosing between God and Money.  But they
apply to every area of our lives.  We either serve God - we either follow
Christ - or we follow after the desires of our own hearts.

Our call to be disciples and our life as disciples is perhaps best
described as a choice - a choice between living like everybody else, or
living in the way Christ shows to live: living in the way of the cross -
knowing that the this will lead us as well to the resurrection.

Peter and Andrew, James and John and all the rest were told over and over
again by Jesus that they must chose and that all who would follow him must
choose: that they must chose between seeking to save their lives - between
pursuing their own desires and wants - and the cross, his cross.

We sang about that choice a few minutes ago:

   Jesus calls us from the worship of the vain world's golden store
   from each idol that would keep us, "saying Christian, love me more"
   In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil and hours of ease,
   still he calls, in cares and pleasures, 
   "Christian love me more than these"

Our Apostleship flows forth from our discipleship.

Those who are called to follow are also sent forth,
they are given a ministry - what Paul calls the ministry of reconciliation

and told variously 
to feed Christ's sheep 
to fish for men 
to be Christ's Ambassadors,
to allow God to make his appeal to all humankind through us.

This is not a hard thing - though it may involve hardships
This is not a difficult thing - though it may involve difficulties.

It - as I said - flows forth from our discipleship; it flows forth from the
fact that as we follow Jesus we are made new in him, 
   - by his power we are equipped and made ready to do all that we are
   called to do,
   - we are made to be, as Paul puts it in our epistle reading today, 
   "the righteousness of God"
   - we are made to be people who embody the saving love of God - and who
   share it.

When we join God's team - when we follow Christ day by day, God equips us,
God empowers us, God uses us, God supports us, God helps us.

We are all called to the ministry of reconciliation.  
And we are all equipped to discharge that ministry.

We are made, by the power of Christ within us, to be the salt of the earth,
We are made, by our daily choosing to follow Christ, the light of the

All of us are called - each in our own way - to follow and to serve.
All of us are called - each in our own way - to be made new in Christ - and
to allow Christ to speak through us, to allow God to act within us and to
reach out and touch others using our hands - our hearts - our words.

When  follow Christ
   when we learn from him and obey him,
       when we allow him to come in and live in us and then go out and
       carry him to the world 
great things happen - no matter who we think we are - or who others might
think us to be.

Rick Warren, in the book "The Purpose Driven Church" writes:

   Small ministries often make the greatest difference.  The most 
   important light in my home is not the large chandelier in our dining
   room, but the little nightlight that keeps me from stubbing  my toe
   when I get up to use the bathroom at night.  It's small, but it's
   more useful to me than the show-off light." 

In the dark night of the soul that our friends, our neighbours, our co-
workers, might be experiencing, the light we have because we are disciples
of Christ - because we are followers in his way - might be the most
important thing in their lives.

We are called to let it shine. 

Our Christian life revolves around two poles
   - discipleship - following Christ
   - and apostleship - carrying Christ into the world.

May you indeed be fully resolved to follow him
and live up to your calling as fishers of men,
as ones who feed his sheep.


Precious Lord Jesus, Wonderful Holy Spirit, Loving Father, we are grateful
you have touched us and called us to be your servants.  We thank you that
as we follow you, you take upon yourself our burdens and our fears and
grant to us rest and peace.  Our hearts know you are within us, above us,
and all around us.  We thank you for the call you have put on our hearts
and lives and for the full and abundant life you give us when we respond to
that call and live each day  as your disciples....  Lord, hear our

Lord, we pray that you would strengthen us in our calling to follow you. 
Help us to be disciplined in practice of devotion, prayer, and meditation. 
Help us to avail ourselves of the nourishment you provide us day by day
that we may be the new creation that you seek to make us be.  Give us the
grace to choose rightly and draw us closer to you and to our brothers and
sisters so that we may better know your will and experience the fullness of
your grace.  Lord, hear our prayer...

Lord, you call us not only to follow you and to receive from you your
wisdom and your love, you also call us to go out into the world and to feed
your sheep, to be fishers of men, ministers of reconciliation, your
righteousness in the world.  Strengthen us in our calling.  When we see the
world in its darkness, help us to know what to say and do, and to say and
do it.  Work in and through us.   When we see sickness, help us heal.  When
we see poverty, help us enrich.  When we see grief, help us give comfort. 
When we see despair, help us bring hope.  When we see hunger, help us to
provide food...  Lord, hear our prayer....

We pray, O God, not only for ourselves this day and for our calling as your
people, we pray for those around us - those whose joys and concerns you
have placed upon our hearts and those who names and whose needs have been
shared by our brothers and sisters here today....:

We pray O God for:  (Bidding Prayer)
...Lord, hear our prayer....

These things we ask in the name of teacher, our Lord, and our Saviour. 


* 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

   We offer these gifts, O God, as a sign of our pledge, to serve you,
   not only in this place, but in all places.  Accept and use them, and
   use us, as instruments of your peace; through Christ our Lord. 

* DEPARTING HYMN: "Take My Life And Let It Be"                     - VU 506

* COMMISSIONING (Unison): 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

Go in peace; love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
- and may the blessings of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit go with you and radiate forth from you to the glory of His name, 
both now and forevermore.  Amen

* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2003 - 2006
             please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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