Year A
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
9 February 2020


Eucharistic Preface

Let us lift up our hearts.
   We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
   It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for your mercy and justice are a light in our darkness
and your Word outlasts even heaven and earth
which you have created.

Before the ages, your wisdom destined us for glory
and you have revealed your depths to us through the Spirit.
When we failed in righteousness
and turned our worship into a mask
hiding our oppression, contempt and disregard of others,
you rejected our fasts and prayers
and sent prophets to denounce our rebellion
and call us back to your ways.

In your child, Jesus, and him crucified,
we have seen the light of the world,
and found a spring of healing that never fails.
You raised him from the dead,
and through him, gave us your Spirit.
who has begun the rebuilding of our integrity
on the ancient foundations of justice, mercy and compassion.

Therefore with .....

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




Short Preface
(for insertion into Eucharistic prayers with fixed prefaces)

We thank you that in your Son Jesus, and him crucified,
we have seen the light of the world and received your Spirit.
who has begun the rebuilding of our integrity
on the ancient foundations of justice, mercy and compassion.

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





General Prayer of Thanksgiving
(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for your mercy and justice are a light in our darkness
and your Word outlasts even heaven and earth
which you have created.

Before the ages, your wisdom destined us for glory
and you have revealed your depths to us through the Spirit.
When we failed in righteousness
and turned our worship into a mask
hiding our oppression, contempt and disregard of others,
you rejected our fasts and prayers
and sent prophets to denounce our rebellion
and call us back to your ways.

In your child, Jesus, and him crucified,
we have seen the light of the world,
and found a spring of healing that never fails.
You raised him from the dead,
and through him, gave us your Spirit.
who has begun the rebuilding of our integrity
on the ancient foundations of justice, mercy and compassion.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





Declaration of Grace / Absolution

Put an end to oppression, to contempt and to evil talk,
and GodÕs favour will shine on you like the morning sun.
Your wounds will be quickly healed.
God will be with you to save you,
and the SpiritÕs presence will protect you on every side.

Sisters and Brothers,
   your sins are forgiven;
      be at peace.

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





Commission & Benediction

You are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world.
Let your light shine before others
that seeing your justice. mercy and compassion
they may give glory to God in heaven.

And may God guide you continually;
May Christ Jesus satisfy your needs even in parched places,
And may the Holy Spirit keep you strong and well
and make your life as rich as a garden
whose springs of living water never fail.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
   In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net







Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany - Year A - Sunday 9 February 2020
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.



* Isaiah 58: 1-9a, (9b-12)

God has told me to shout until you people hear;
    to hammer home the message until it gets through.
You are GodÕs people, but God feels betrayed by you.
    Listen to what God has to say about your sins:

ÒDay after day, you look good:
    you turn up to worship and pay attention to my teachings.
You act like a people who want to do what is right;
    like a people who want to obey to the letter.
You ask me for directions before you do anything,
    and you seem enthusiastic about getting closer to me.

ÒDo you want to know why your religious behaviour turns me off?
    Do you want to know why I ignore your fasting and bowing?
IÕll tell you why. You put on a great performance of it all,
    but then you go straight back to feathering your own nest
        and ripping off your workers in the process.

ÒWhen you fast, it just makes you irritable and violent;
    and when you behave like that, IÕll just hang up on you.

ÒDo you really think this is what I like to see:
    a day of pious misery?
    black clothes, long faces and crocodile tears?
    giving up chocolate and ice-cream?
Do you think thatÕs worship?
    Do you think that pleases me?
        Give me a break!

ÒDo you want to know what IÕd really like to see?
    Dismantle the structures of injustice;
    take your feet off the throats of the poor;
    stop jailing the victims of unfair laws;
    and quit plundering natureÕs resources.

ÒDo you want to know what else IÕd like to see?
    Open your tables to the hungry;
    open your hearts and your homes to the refugees;
    open your wardrobes to those without clothes;
    and donÕt go hiding every time you see someone in need.

ÒDo that, and IÕll put your name up in lights!
    Do that and our relationship will be healed in an instant!
IÕll put you under my personal protection;
    anyone who attacks you will have to deal with me, the LORD!
IÕll be on hand to respond whenever you need me;
    just say the word, and IÕll be there for you.

ÒIf you abandon all forms of exploitation,
    and avoid bad-mouthing others to gain an edge;
if you share what you have with those in need,
    and respond to the real needs of suffering communities;
then youÕll find that the world will light up for you
    and life will be one beautiful day after another.

ÒI, the
LORD, will always be there to guide you;
    even in the grip of drought,
    IÕll keep you healthy and well fed.
YouÕll be like an irrigated vineyard with its own deep bore,
    green and lush and full of life!

ÒYour ruined houses will be renovated and new;
    youÕll be able to restore the homes
        that have been in your families for generations.
YouÕll get a reputation for making dreams possible,
    for enabling everyone to find a good place to live.Ó


©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Psalm 112: 1-9 (10)

We are singing your praises, LORD!

How good life is for those who respect you, LORD,
   for those who gladly do what you want them to do.

Their children will follow in their footsteps,
   doing whatÕs right and going from strength to strength.

You fill their homes with good things,
   and guarantee their good reputation.

Their generosity, tolerance, and integrity shine forth in a dark world,
   lighting up the way for others to follow.

LORD, you see that things go well
   for those who conduct their business fairly
   and lend generously to those in need.

You guarantee a firm footing for people of integrity;
   their reputation will long outlast them.

Bad news will not break them,
   for they have an inner strength grounded in you, LORD.
With their trust in you, they are calm in a crisis;
   fearless in the fight,
      and they always end up on top.

You will honour their strength
   and make their integrity a lasting legacy,
      for they have been open-handed, especially to the poor.

All this throws corrupt people into a snarling rage.
   Bitterness consumes them
      as their dreams crumble to nothing.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* 1 Corinthians 2: 1-12, (13-16)

   Brothers and sisters in Corinth, back when I first came your way to announce the mind-boggling truth about God, I didnÕt dress it up in fancy words or philosophical jargon. I wanted to keep it simple and avoid getting sidetracked, so I emptied my head of everything except the news about Jesus the Messiah and, in particular, about him strung up to die. I didnÕt cut a very impressive figure among you did I? A sickly little weed, scared out of my wits and shaking like a leaf. There was nothing in my conversation or my preaching that would have wowed the crowds or had anyone yelling for encores. But that didnÕt stop GodÕs Spirit and power showing themselves. Clearly then, your trust in Jesus was never based on any human theories, however profound, but on your first hand experience of GodÕs powerful work.
   Now donÕt get me wrong: we are happy to talk about deeper stuff with those who are far enough down the track to be ready for it. But even when we do, it is not the trendy pop-wisdom that is all the rage these days. Nor is it the opinions of those who call the shots on the world stage. TheyÕre on borrowed time anyway. But when it comes to speaking about GodÕs wisdom, we are prepared to dig down and explore depths that few ever plumb. There are riches to be discovered there which God laid down for us before the dawn of time. Clearly none of the worldÕs movers and shakers ever had a clue about this, because if they had, they would have known better than to knock off the Lord of glory on that cross. But, as the prophets noted:
   ÒWay beyond what anyone has ever seen or heard,
   or even begun to imagine,
   lie the things which are being prepared
   for the people who love God.Ó
And yet, GodÕs Spirit has given us a preview of these very things. There is nothing that the Spirit hasnÕt thoroughly explored; not even the deepest depths of God. It is usually true that Òit takes one to know oneÓ: only a human being can know what goes on in the human heart, and only the Spirit of God can truly know what goes on in the heart of God. But that is no longer the whole story for us because instead of just being on the same wavelength as the culture around us, we have been given the Spirit that comes from God and tunes us in to God, and so enables us to pick up on what these gifts God is giving us are all about. The books of philosophy and science donÕt even give us a language to talk about these things. We can only say anything meaningful about them if we tune into the Spirit, for the Spirit transmits spiritual truth to those who are spiritually attuned.
   Those who are not spiritually attuned donÕt receive any of the gifts that GodÕs Spirit is offering. They dismiss them as foolish and worthless. They donÕt recognise their depth or value because these things can only be picked up on a spiritual wavelength. Those who are spiritually attuned pick up everything, and yet no one else can get a clear picture of who they are or what they are on about. The prophets asked the question:
   ÒDoes anyone know what God has in mind,
   or what God is up to?Ó
Now the answer is ÔyesÕ, because the Messiah has shared his mind with us.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Matthew 5: 13-20

    Jesus taught his followers, saying, ÒThis is how you lot fit into the big picture: you are the salt without which the world would quickly go putrid. But if salt is left sitting around instead of being put to use, it soon dissolves away or gets contaminated. Then what can you do with it? It is completely useless, so it just gets chucked out.
    ÒOr again, you are the light without which the world would be left in the dark. Your light should be as obvious as a city built on a hill. No one turns on a lamp and then hides it under the bed. They put it out in the open, front and centre, so that it can light up the whole room. That is what you should be like. Live your lives openly, reflecting God brightly, so that everyone can bask in the light of your integrity and generous love, and give due credit to God who conceived you in heaven.
    ÒDonÕt go thinking that IÕve given you licence to start ignoring what the Bible says. IÕm not getting rid of it. IÕm unleashing it to do what it was always intended to do. I kid you not, until the world as we know it comes to an end and everything is put right, the Bible will still be necessary, and not one dot of an ÒiÓ or cross of a ÒtÓ will be struck out of it. If you start thinking that some of the BibleÕs instructions are no big deal, and start playing fast and loose with them, and encouraging others to follow suit, youÕll go straight to the bottom of the class in the culture of heaven. But if you take seriously what they are on about, and teach others to do likewise, theyÕll have your name up on the honour boards in the culture of heaven. Let me give it to you straight: donÕt take your cues from the experts in religious law or the devout Pharisees. Unless your integrity is way out of their league, youÕll never get within cooee of the culture of heaven.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net