Jan 11

3rd Sunday After Epiphany (Year B)

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

  • God is relentless.  Seriously.  Even when you thumb your nose at the Almighty, hop on a boat, sail in the direction that’s opposite from where God wants you to go, end up as fish bait after losing a rousing game of lots with your new sailing buddies, and get spit up onto the shore (smelling a whole lot like last month’s tuna salad sandwich)… the Good Lord still comes and entrusts us with the job of proclaiming God’s Word.
  • You must admit that Jonah – in spite of all of his failings – preaches the greatest sermon of all time in this passage.  He speaks one sentence, and the entire city repents!
  • Did you notice that God changes God’s mind?  Yes, it turns out that even when we want to make up God’s mind… God still has the final say.
  • If you are preaching on this text, you may want to use things like megaphones or microphones and amps in your worship decor.  Some party stores may even have small plastic megaphones that you can give to everyone (perhaps to use in the declaration of forgiveness, or some other responsive portion of the service).
  • If you want to be a little bolder, make a sandwich-board sign for someone to wear that says “The End Is Near” or “40 Days More and Nineveh Shall Be Overthrown”.  Have a volunteer wander around the worship space before the service begins (or, maybe just before the scripture or sermon).

Psalm 62:5-12

  • Where is your “safe place” or “refuge”?  Is it a place?  A person?  A particular time of day?
  • How/Where/When do we create and/or offer “safe places” or “refuges” to others?
  • God is described as being a “rock” and a “fortress”.  Find some large stones and boulders to use in your worship decor.  Lawn and garden centers may have large rocks that you could use, if you don’t already have one.  If you are crafty, you could even make one yourself using paper mache or carvable foam block.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

  • This passage offers an interesting take on life and priorities.  Basically, it requires us to think seriously about what we focus on the most (and what that means for how we live our lives and live out our faith).
  • It may be helpful to read a slightly longer pericope: 1 Corinthians 7:29-35.  The fuller context and content may help people grasp Paul’s words a little easier.
  • I especially like Eugene Peterson’s The Message for this passage.  He cuts through it all and gets right to the point, making it particularly user-friendly.

Mark 1:14-20

  • This is, perhaps, one of the most well-known “evangelism” texts in our scriptures.  Use it well.
  • Fishermen in Jesus’ time/place used dragnets and cast nets.  Do you know what you catch using these types of nets?  Everything.  Consider what that means when Jesus says, “I will make you fishers of people”.
  • Some party supply stores may have fishing nets that resemble dragnets and/or cast nets (if they carry supplies for themed parties, look for island, luau, beach, or “under-the-sea” type materials).  Sea shells and sand are also great materials to work with in your decor.
  • If you really want to be bold, have a large fish tank placed in the front of the worship space, filled with a variety of fish.  You don’t have to use actual, live fish to do this.  If you find a variety of plastic fish (and assorted sea life), tie them to small weights using different lengths of fishing line, and place them in the tank (so that they float in one place, giving the appearance of “swimming”).
  • I do NOT suggest using a fishing rod, reel, or bait in your decor.  Jesus’ people-fishing methods do not involve a bait and/or hook…

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