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2nd Sunday After Epiphany,

Holy Eucharist (Rite II)

January 17, 2021

The Celebrant and LEM stand, maintaining physical distance. There is no procession.

Opening Rites

Celebrant:       Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

LEM:               And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.

Celebrant:      Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Celebrant:    Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,
LEM:           Have mercy upon us.

Opening Hymn:  Blessed Jesus at thy word                       Hymnal 1982  #440

Blesséd Jesus, at thy word

we are gathered all to hear thee;

let our hearts and souls be stirred

now to seek and love and fear thee;

by thy teachings pure and holy,

drawn from earth to love thee solely.

All our knowledge, sense, and sight

lie in deepest darkness shrouded,

till thy Spirit breaks our night

with the beams of truth unclouded;

thou alone to God canst win us;

thou must work all good within us.

The Collect of the Day

Celebrant:    The Lord be with you,
LEM:           And also with you.

Celebrant:      Let us pray.

The Celebrant says the Collect.

Summoning God,

Inviting us to see

What we find so hard to notice –

The blinkers we wear

The lies we accept:

As we are held in our gaze,

May our faith awaken

To see your kingdom growing

And heavens open wide;

Through Jesus Christ, the son of God.    Amen

The Lessons[1]

The Old Testament Lesson                                      I Samuel 3:1-20

1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”

Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.

LEM:               The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.

Psalm of the Day                                          Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
    I come to the end[a]—I am still with you.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

The New Testament Lesson                                        I Corinthians 6:12-20

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,”[a] and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple[b] of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

LEM:               The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.

Gradual Hymn: Song of thankfulness and praise      Hymnal 1982 #135

Songs of thankfulness and praise,

Jesus, Lord, to thee we raise,

manifested by the star

to the sages from afar;

branch of royal David’s stem

in thy birth at Bethlehem;

anthems be to thee addressed,

God in man made manifest.

Manifest at Jordan’s stream,

Prophet, Priest, and King supreme;

and at Cana, wedding-guest,

in thy Godhead manifest;

manifest in power divine,

changing water into wine;

anthems be to thee addressed,

God in man made manifest.

The Gospel                                                                  John1:43-51

Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying

Celebrant:       The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

LEM:               Glory to you, Lord Christ.

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you,[a] you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Priest:      The Gospel of the Lord.

LEM:       Praise to you, Lord Christ.

The Sermon: “Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?”[2]

Epiphany 2 B

Historic rivalries being what they are, when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, it was always easy  get a laugh when reading this gospel was to change the name of the town Nathaniel refers to, and read the passage, “Can anything good come out of Cleveland?” Coming up, as it does, in football season somewhere between the regular season and playoffs, at times the complaint could have some bitterness or bite to it, depend on whether the Steelers or the Browns were doing better that year. I can’t remember off the top of my head which of those teams sports six Super Bowl rings and which none, but I’d not be surprised if churches in the Diocese of Ohio – centered in Cleveland – had similar experiences during the reading of this gospel, hearing chuckles of approval should Nathaniel’s words be reported as having been, “Can anything good come out of Pittsburgh?” Though, I suspect, they probably would say something like Youngstown or Toledo.

Residents of Chicago and Philadelphia are no doubt amused by this sort of thing among their juniors, even as residents of Tonopah or Cripple Creek, if there still are any, might be mystified by it. Now there are two hard-luck, busted-out mining towns, from which all the good was taken long back, leaving behind nothing so much as the desert, misery, and remorse, reminding us with the broken statue of Ozymandias in the desert to, ‘look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.’ Both midwestern cities are still going concerns, after all, and after some hard knocks and hard times, testimonies each of them to the resilience of the US economy and the American system of federal & representative democracy to find a way to heal its hurts and overcome itself at its worst. The Cuyahoga River no longer catches fire from all the waste that is in it, after all, as it did when I was young. Pittsburgh is no longer hell with the lid off, a place where the coal smoke could make darkness cover the noonday. We can, see, fix things – as long as we work together, understand what the actual problems are and are honest about them, put people who know what they’re doing in charge and keep them there, and never give up hope of setting to rights what others set, selfishly or ignorantly, wrong.

It seems very much in the spirit of Nathaniel to say all this, given that all we really know about him is that he had a brother named Philip, liked to sit under fig trees – which is a wise place to find shade, btw., and very biblical – was winningly if disarmingly cynical, and was surprised to find anyone from his hometown or country who didn’t lie to him or anybody else. While anti-Semites made much of this one Jew’s assessment of other Jews – ‘it’s worse even than Sodom and Gomorrah; look how surprised he was to find in the tribe even one that doesn’t lie’ – it’s better for us to read this young man’s cynicism for what it really was, and what such an attitude always is: hope with scars and a memory of how it got them, but hope nonetheless. Nathaniel wanted to find himself among good and honest people; he just never knew how to find them or get to them until Jesus came along and his brother told him all about the man from Galilee, from just down the road, in a town just like this one with all its disappointments and petty jealousies. Philip, too, is apparently another Israelite in whom is no deceit, since everything he told his brother about Jesus was true and could prove itself so. Both he and Nathaniel knew a good thing when they saw it, and weren’t afraid to say so.

We never learn whether Nathaniel got to see what Jesus promised him would be greater than figuring out that a man might be found sitting in the best shade around on a hot day at noon. Whether or not he saw angels descend upon, and ascend from, the Son of Man we do not know, except in a general sense from the stories of the Ascension, by which celebration next May we all might be able to gather again here for public worship. From the tone of this passage, it sounds like Nathaniel’s getting a special treat, not a general dispensation, but then he’d be the last one to be surprised at a promise that turned out to be somewhat less impressive than it sounded when made. What is that old line about the actual task of a minister being to disappoint people at a rate they can absorb? Maybe Nathaniel’s the first one of Jesus’s followers who understands that. They leave home to follow this man from Galilee, don’t forget, home and job and family and whatever place they had in the world. It wasn’t much, but it was home. Was this only so that we could watch him heal, preach, and die? Or die and then return and leave again, leaving it all to us to take it from there? Not to mention that this Jesus is perfectly capable of cursing a perfectly good fig tree for not bearing fruit, no matter how much good shade it offered at noon. All this, plus abuse from both Jewish and Roman authority? Where do I sign?

Yet sign he did, and follow he would, faithful to the end, and as far as we know after the end (John 21.2). No other gospel tradition makes mention of him by this name – elsewhere he’s Bartholomew, which means “Son of Tolmai,” whoever that was. I must report that they would like us to call him “Nathanael,” not “Nathaniel,” since that name more matches his Hebrew original, “God has given.” His insight as to who Jesus really was and what it would mean is, one might say, rather too neatly handled and timed by half, but maybe he did get it that quickly. “God has given” this one a brain after all, and the wit to see what was in front of his face and not be deceived either by it or about it. He’s certainly someone you’d want to have around. I’d have pegged him for the driver, if these people went anywhere by car or bus; he’d be sure to be sober all the time and to get us there, even when we had no idea where we were going. I’d also have him be the one to keep an eye on that Judas with that common purse he’s always making sure is never too far from his, dare we say, deceitful hands.

This knack of Nathanael’s for asking the right question at the right time is also something that people remembered. An ancient Christian, if not quite orthodox, text called the Questions of Bartholomew has him asking Jesus, Mary, and others several pointed question, such as “What were you actually doing for three days in hell?” “Did you get to meet Satan?” and “How, exactly, does a virgin give birth to a son who is…um, God?” In due course these questions get their answers, mostly of the “Musn’t ask, not its business” variety, but Bartholomew does get to have a Jesus-chaperoned chat with Old Hob himself, tied down in the infernal regions by a battalion of angels but reeking nonetheless, about how the Great Deceiver goes about seducing and deceiving people here on earth. Turns out there’s quite an art to it, since you can’t force people to believe a lie any more than you can force them to believe the truth. You have to make it sound good, sound right in their ears, like they can’t believe they didn’t think of it themselves or realize it already. Which of course is how it happens, in our day as in theirs.

As you know, I’ve spent a good part of my professional life as a college English teacher trying to get people to learn how to make arguments that are persuasive. As the years have gone by, I’ve had to be more and more intentional about making them realize the importance of doing so ethically and with integrity. This is not because they, my students, didn’t by and large realize this. Few, indeed, have been the rank frauds and deceivers, trying to pass off someone else’s work as their own. That sort, I’ve learned, will out in the end, one way or another, often to my disappointment but rarely to my surprise. No, it is for other reasons, known to all of you as well as to me, that afflict the world we all live in that has made me help them understand that truth and facts aren’t convincing simply because the are true. Truth is often, as my mirror shows me daily, unpleasant, but unless we trust and follow it, we have no hope indeed. Yet facts have to be shown to be true, and the value of that truth be made to appeal to what people already believe and think about themselves, if they’re going to matter before disaster strikes, or gets worse. To those who would doubt them, but do so honestly, as Nathanael does in this gospel, truths and facts can be put convincingly as long as one does so with respect, and with care for the ideas and often hurt feelings of those who’ve dwelt too long in the shadows or breathed the sweet smells of deceit. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t always pleasant, but it is necessary, and because it is necessary, we have to find ways to make it possible.

My students have grown up in a world, and perhaps we all did, where a very great many of the people and powers that shape their lives lie to them and deceive them constantly, consistently, and with increasing panache and skill, and do so without compunction or pause. I have to help them, help us, and they and you have to help me, to not be cynical about this, but to act as though truth matters and facts are to be preferred to lies. The process of enlightenment – for this is what we are, literally, about – may be long but it should also be steady, even, balanced, and consistent. What use is a light that flickers in the cold and cowers in the wind? The light, whenever it comes among us, dispels the darkness all around, and the darkness cannot overwhelm it unless we help it do so. So let us never do so. Let us instead remind each other that even the weakest candle can shine like a sunbeam, if the darkness is deep enough and one keeps the wick trimmed and the candle aflame.

Yet, we who would not lie must needs be honest about unpleasant truths. Every source of light is also a source of pain, be it in the flame of a candle or a fire, the heat and sharp glass of the bulb. The brightest light in our world – the sun – can cause the most pain of all, and that should tell us something. That, you might say, is a metaphor; knowledge, like the power it brings, will hurt, and has a price. Part of that price is not being able to live amidst deception or in illusions. Yet it can be painful to lose them, just as it can hurt to have to leave childish things behind. Another part of the price is never being able to foster deceit or illusion again, and to quail at any request to do so, even when that request comes as a command.

Yes, for everything we would know, as for everything we love or desire, there is a price that must be paid. Nathanael and Philip in our gospel for today, and Samuel in our first reading, knew it well. To know what God wants you to do and how to follow means giving up everything you were certain of and could lay a course by, except the one thing without which none of us can do anything for certain or for long: the truth. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Of course it can, said Philip. Here he is; listen to him. Of course I can, said Jesus. Here I am. Will you follow? Leave the shade of your fig tree, Nathanael, and follow? Come on, then. What are you waiting for? It’ll be amazing. I promise.

So he did, and it was. Amen.

The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.

The People make ready their gifts of bread and wine. The LEM continues

The Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,

     maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God, begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made human.

  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Prayers of the People

The LEM prays. In the silence after each bidding, the People offer their prayers without speaking.

I ask your prayers for all God’s people; for our bishops, our clergy, and this gathering, and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.


I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.


I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison.
Pray for those in any need or trouble.


I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of God.
Pray that they may seek, and pray that they might find.


I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.


I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.


The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.

The Peace

The People stand.

Celebrant:  The peace of the Lord be always with you,

LEM:          And also with you.

The Ministers and People greet one another in silence while keeping physical distance.

The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving

Celebrant:    The Lord be with you,

LEM:           And also with you.

Celebrant:    Lift up your hearts.

LEM:           We lift them to the Lord.

Celebrant:    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

LEM:           It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, because in the mystery of the Word made flesh, you have caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of your glory in the face of your son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the host of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to the glory of your Name:

The LEM says

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.                      Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord.   Hosanna in the highest.

The people stand or kneel. The People hold forth their gifts. The Celebrant continues

We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.

On the night he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me.”

Therefore, according to his command, O Lord:

LEM    We remember his death. We proclaim his resurrection. We await his coming in glory;

The Celebrant continues

And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all, presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine.

We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In the fullness of time, put all things in subjection under your Christ, and bring us to that heavenly country where, with [­­N.N.   and] all your saints, we may enter the everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation,

By whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

Now, as Christ taught us, we are bold to say,

The LEM prays

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,
    for ever and ever. Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread

The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread, and then keeps a period of silence. The Celebrant continues

Celebrant:       [Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
LEM:            Therefore, let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]
Celebrant:      The Gifts of God for the People of God.

The People come forward to retrieve the hosts, maintaining physical distance. They consume the hosts upon returning to their seats. They consume their gifts. After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray.  The Celebrant prays

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal

The Celebrant says

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.

The Lord be with you, this day and always, and give you peace.

The LEM says

            Let us go forth, in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

Withdrawal Hymn:

Ye Servants of God, your Master proclaim                           Hymnal 1982, # 535

Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,

and publish abroad his wonderful Name;

the Name all-victorious of Jesus extol:

his kingdom is glorious; he rules over all.

God ruleth on high, almighty to save;

and still he is nigh: his presence we have.

The great congregation his triumph shall sing,

ascribing salvation to Jesus our King.

The Celebrant, the LEM, and the People depart, maintaining physical distance.

We hope that today’s service has been a blessing to you.
We are here to serve you, and hope to see you again.
Please feel free to call us, email us, or visit us online.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD

12621 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD  20904 * 301-622-5860 ext. 101

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge * 301-622-5860 ext. 102

Linda Lee, Parish Administrator  * 301-622-5860 ext. 104

Beresford Coker, Musical Director

Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant

Charles Smith, Senior Warden

Lee Mericle, Junior Warden

For information about St. Mark’s, please visit our website:

[1] The readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary. See:

The table for readings in Year B (Epiphany) may be found here:

[2] Sermon text © 2021 Christopher Wilkins. All rights reserved.

Resources (available for free online)

These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.


This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office,


Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.

    The Episcopal Church:

     Episcopal News Service:

     The Episcopal Diocese of Washington:

     St. Mark’s, Fairland: