The 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany
Holy Eucharist, Rite II
January 24, 2021
The Celebrant and LEM stand, maintaining physical distance. There is no procession.
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: Christ whose glory fills the skies Hymnal 1982 #7
Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise! Triumph o’er the shades of night:
Dayspring from on high, be near; Day-star, in my heart appear.
Dark and cheerless is the morn, unaccompanied by thee;
Joyless is the day’s return, till thy mercy’s beams I see,
Till they inward light impart, glad my eyes and warm my heart.
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.
God of blessing and appearing,
Calling us to see clearly what we cannot ignore –
The evils that threaten us,
The weaknesses that bedevil us,
And the ever-present temptation to despair,
Heal us in what we see and how,
Strengthen our faith, and give us hope
That love matters and that life is good, always.
The Old Testament Lesson: Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying,
2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”
3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.
4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
10 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.
LEM: The Word of the Lord.
Celebrant: Thanks be to God.
Psalm of the Day: Psalm 62:5-12
5 For God alone my soul in silence waits, for my hope is from him.
6 He is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in him always, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
9 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; together they are lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard it: power belongs to you, O God,
12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.
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 7:29-31
29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none,
30 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,
31 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.
LEM: The Word of the Lord.
Celebrant: Thanks be to God.
Gradual Hymn: Spread, o spread thou mighty word Hymnal 1982 #530
Spread, O spread, thou mighty word, spread the kingdom of the Lord,
That to earth’s remotest bound all may heed the joyful sound;
Word of how the Father’s will made the world, and keeps it, still;
How his only Son he gave, earth from sin and death to save.
The Gospel: Mark 1:14-20
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.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
16 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.
17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.
20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Priest: The Gospel of the Lord.
LEM: Praise to you, Lord Christ.
The Sermon: “Casting, Mending…”
(The printed sermon text may differ from the spoken sermon)
…Following, you want to say. Following is what comes next. It must be. The moment he said to do so, they put down their nets and followed him.
Just like that, without even a moment’s hesitation. “I will make you fish for people” – though I did like the monosyllable nature of the older version, “men,” at the end there more than the trochee: PEE-pul, with its dying fall – was all he had to say, and off they went, leaving the casting and mending to their father and the hired men, in the case of the sons of Zebedee, and to no-one in particular, in the case of Simon and Andrew.
Just like that. Without a moment’s hesitation. They left their livelihood and their homes, their fathers and their wives, their mothers and their children, if they had any, to follow a man they’d never met before to wherever it was he was going, which they didn’t know. To do what? They didn’t know that, either. “Fish for people” or in the KJV, to become “fishers of men,” whatever that means. But off they went, and never looked behind. Unworthy are those, Jesus was later to say, who put their hand on the plow and look back, wondering. Unworthier still, one imagines, those who leave their casting and drop their mending to follow the man from Galilee on his mission, quest, thing.
Good luck if you were counting on these young men to support you with the sweat of their brow and the work of their lake-soaked hands. Good luck if your old age depending on your sons, Zebedee, still working hard in the family biz. Good luck if you were used to buying their fish at the end of the day, or early in the morning, whenever it was they landed their catch, to have as your meal. Hope you got some salted away, friends, for these fellas are off on a mission from – indeed, a mission with – God. Casting and mending, let alone catching and cooking, will have to wait.
The message baked in and salted through this week’s lessons is hard to mistake but also hard, right now, to hear: leave everything for God because God said to, and preach repentance from sins and belief in the good news, because the time is at hand, or fulfilled, or almost up. Come on. If you do that, it may be that the people repent in time, and the destruction they so richly deserve will not come upon them. That’s what the except from Jonah 3 is all about, and the words from 1st Corinthians 7: “for the present form of this world is passing away.” That’s what Mark is saying Jesus was saying. He took over from John, who baptized him, once that teller of truths was jailed by the murderous liar who ruled that land, and preached the same message John had, and that Jonah had in his day: repent, for the time is at hand. Stop doing what you know you shouldn’t. Stop right now. Not tomorrow – today. Not three days from now, when you’ve had time to think about it – today. Right now. Don’t wait another minute. But then he adds more: Fellas, I need your help doing that. Drop your nets, drop your lives, leave your loved ones, follow me. I got things to say, and we got work to do. Help me catch ‘em so they’ll listen.
Repenting is one thing; following is another. If you make the latter choice, you’d better be right – and being sure you’re right is not enough, not by a country mile. What is that line from Yeats’s “Second Coming,” “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity”? How in the world did Simon and Andrew, James and John know they could trust Jesus, that he was not some Trump glump or QAnon con, a false prophet or idol-waver bent on getting everyone to follow a lie that could get them, and the rest of us, killed if it worked? How, for that matter, did Jonah know that the repentance and threat he preached to Nineveh was from God Almighty, and not the ravings of a conspiracy theorist trying to impose by force what he could not get the rest of us to agree to either by forthrightness or fraud? How, for another matter, did Paul know that the appointed time had grown so short that sex, grief, and commerce all needed to stop at once, as well as shopping trips and parties, and that the form of this world was passing away? How, for that matter, did Yeats in his poem know that “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned” – and that something rough and slouching this way comes, to boot?
As I said, when you say things like that, and people listen to things like that, you’d better be right, better be on the side of the facts and the truth, or else. That’s not a threat, btw. It’s a promise, and like a road. You’d better be driving where the road is, and not where it is not, particularly if you’re coming up on a river or the edge of a cliff. Woe to that driver who is certain that a bridge, of which the sign says “Bridge Out,” is not out – and woe to any who has followed that driver to the extent of riding along. When the blind lead the blind, as Jesus says elsewhere, both will fall into the ditch. As Bruce Springsteen says in a famous intro to his cover of “War!”: “Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed.”
He said this in 1985, when many people, particularly young men, my age were concerned that some portion of us would be sent against our will and judgment to Colombia or El Salvador on some mad mess of a mission much like that to which so many of Springsteen’s peers had been sent twenty years before, and from so many did not return. None of us could’ve predicted, or at least none of us did predict, that thirty-five years later we would look upon a lethal and, I’m convinced, endemic domestic insurrection in the heart of our own country – in the Capitol itself, no less – breaking out in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, one that has been made more difficult and more deadly by the very agents whose words and actions inspire the insurrection. As Toni Morrison has the character Stamp Paid say in the 2nd part of her magisterial novel Beloved, “What are these people? Jesus, you tell me. What are they?”
Followers, mostly. Followers of a false prophet and, in some cases, a false god, and you can tell it’s a false god they follow since its name is not Love. A god who is not love is no god at all. Steadfast love does not belong to such a god, and does not flow from it. Its words neither soothe nor heal, and its news is not good. It does not deliver salvation and it does not provide hope. It offers no refuge, and it enables no self-knowledge or self-reflection. Instead, it riles people up, feeds people falsehoods, and gets people killed. Some of these people are its own, victims of their own victimizing, blindly falling into the ditch into which, blind, their false god has led them. The other victims are the rest of us, and could be any of us, all of whom this false god and its followers have made their enemies, though we did not desire it and do not want it to be so. But so long as they will it, it will be so, and we cannot change that in their minds, but only encourage them to change their minds or raise the costs they bear for not changing them, which right now they, for the most part, do not bear. The followers of the false god of lies have made us their enemies because of our, god-willing, decency and goodness, because of our commitment to truth and to a multicultural, multi-ethnic and truly free democracy, and well as the power we have and the pledge we make to stand against murderous lies and the would-be tyrants who lie them, bewildered though we may be at the need to do time and time again.
After all, Jonah was similarly bewildered in his day, and Paul in his own way was in his own. Jesus probably was, at the end, though something tells me his predecessor John, who baptized with water, probably was not. Nonetheless, each knew the cost, and the responsibility, and the necessity of preaching repentance in his own day and time, and that the ears most in need of listening to it would resist it the most, even to the point of violence. What is it Baldwin says, in The Fire Next Time? “White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other” before the racism, demagoguery, and deceitfulness at the heart of the idolatry of the false god so many of them follow, and that I once followed (shame though it is to say so, yet people who look like me can repent and learn) will be cast out, and those beset with it repent of it, and learn, perhaps for the first time, to love with all that they have, and all that they are, the God who is Love, and all whom that God made good.
He called them to leave their casting and mending to fish for such people, Jesus did, way back then and there in Galilee. They knew who he was, coming down the road. In those small lakeside towns where nothing much ever went on, word about Jesus and his teaching and his preaching, his healing and his authority, his wisdom and his compassion, spread fast. By the time they saw him coming down the road, they and everybody else in the neighborhood knew who he was, what he stood for, and what he meant. Do you think they left everything they knew blindly, on a whim, with nary a moment’s hesitation or thought? Of course they didn’t. He’d been all anyone could talk about for weeks, months even, before they saw him walking by where they worked every day. How else did he know when they’d be back ashore? How else did he know to call them by their own true names? Find the right words to say to make them make the most momentous decision of their lives? Simon, Andrew, James, and John did not follow Jesus blindly, trusting that their baseless trust would be enough. They followed him with their eyes wide open and their hearts ablaze, knowing that the God he brought them was the true God, because he was the God whose name is Love, and that he would teach them how to show that love to people who needed it more than anything else in the world.
We’ve seen over the last four years – in case the hundreds of years preceding it in this country had not been enough – the damage that hate and lies can do. Now must be the time that love and truth hold the line and heal the world. If it be our task to fish people out of the muck of deception and mires of delusion, so be it. If it be our task to free people from the manacles forged in their own minds, so be it. As the time was ripe for Jonah and Paul, Simon and Andrew, James and John, the other John and then Jesus itself, so it is for us. Now is the time, while time still is. 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
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 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:
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: Christ for the world we sing Hymnal 1982, # 537
Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with loving zeal;
the poor, and them that mourn, the faith and overborne,
sin-sick and sorrow-worn, whom Christ doth heal.
Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with joyful song;
the newborn souls, whose days, reclaimed from error’s ways,
inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong.
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
email@example.com * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge
firstname.lastname@example.org * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001
Linda Lee, Parish Administrator
email@example.com * 301-622-5860 ext. 1003
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:
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.
- Book of Common Prayer, www.bcponline.org
- Enriching Our Worship 1, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-1/enrichingourworship1.pdf
- Enriching Our Worship 2, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-2/enrichingourworship2.pdf
- Hymnal 1982: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/EH1982
- Hymnal 1940: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/HPEC1940
- Lift Every Voice and Sing II: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/LEVS1993
- Wonder, Love, and Praise: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/WLP1997
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, https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/
Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.