COCU is a coding index so the lectionary weeks remain consistent for each year.

Jeremiah 1:4-10: Jeremiah is called to be a prophet, and God explains God’s knowledge of Jeremiah from his conception, and God’s message for Jeremiah to preach. Note both the “yes” and the “no” in the message Jeremiah is given.

Psalm 71:1-6: A prayer for God to protect and be a refuge from one who has trusted and praised God since the womb.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13: A celebration of the noble and godly characteristics of love, which lasts forever and is the greatest of all things. Again note the “yes” (love is…) and the “no” (love is not…).

Luke 4:21-30: After reading the “yes” in Isaiah’s scroll (last week) and claiming the prophecy for himself, Jesus confronts the people of Nazareth with a “no” because, like their ancestors, they are offended by the idea that God can work in and through “outsiders” and Gentiles, and they refuse to accept the teachings of the prophets. This offends the people, and so they attempt to kill Jesus.
(Bible readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Components of worship
(Scroll down for resources for this particular Sunday)
Acknowledgement of Land
Prayer of thanksgiving
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are
Words of Assurance
Prayer for Illumination
Prayers for others
Lord’s Prayer
Prayer of Dedication
Benediction and sending out
(Communion Hymns)

Gathering (Together in the spirit of prayer)
As followers of Jesus
we gather to seek the intimate presence
of the Source of life
whose wonder we see in morning light
and cosmic radiance…
and ponder in ancient bedrock and new life …
Yet mixed with that celebration
is an awareness of times
when indignation, envy or selfish anger
have blinded us
to signs
of the ancient yet living promises,
and closed our ears
to the murmurs of the faithfulness
of the holy mystery we name God.
We yearn to have the Breath of life
open our lives
to horizons wider than our landscape …
to following Jesus to the edge …
and beyond;
and open our mouths to sing the praise
and speak the compassion, justice and hope
of the Word of life
in the midst the confusion and strife of the world …
to speak, unknowing, a healing word
to those whose troubles are known
only to the Holy One …
and in our living
encourage and sustain
those who we name in our silence and on our lips…
As followers of Jesus
we express our concern for others …
and for ourselves …
In listening for the voice of the divine Spirit of grace
heard in Jesus,
may our lives be open
to a bigger vision
of good news for the poor …
hope for the hope-less …
release for the captives …
of comfort for the grieving …
of a national generosity of spirit
that welcomes rather than shuns …
that respects rather than demeans …
May our living be more fruitful …
as we follow in the way of Jesus …
and pray as he taught his friends:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen
(Source: Jeff Shrowder)

A call to worship (Psalm 71:1-6)
Come near to God
seeking refuge;
here with Holy One
there is no shame.

Come near to God,
seek right relationship:
Holy One hears, listens,
rescues, redeems.

Come near to God,
seeking Sacred strength,
a rock, a fortress,
is Holy One.

Come near to God,
turn away from the wicked,
here with Holy One
find justice, find hope.

Come near to God,
trusted through the ages,
Holy One is faithful,
come, give God your praise.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

When God calls us on to larger life, we rarely see much beyond the next step. When Isaiah was called by God, his first response was to say, “Woe is me! I’m lost!” When Moses was called, he hid his face in his terror. When poor Jeremiah was called, he was scared and pleaded, I am just a boy and I’m not good at speaking. But to each one of them, God spoke these gentle and gracious words. “Don’t be afraid. I will be with you.”
(Br. Geoffrey Tristram, Society of Saint John the Evangelist)

Good News? (reflecting on Luke 4:16-30 )
You claimed to fulfil the prophesy
To proclaim good news to the poor.
To proclaim freedom for the prisoners
To help the blind in the recovery of sight
To set the oppressed free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
But what does that mean?
What is good news for the poor?
There have always been poor and it is not likely that there won’t be poor in the foreseeable future.
Did you mean poor in spirit?
Morally poor?
Poverty of character?
What sort of prisoners were you talking about?
Surely it wasn’t criminals?
Was it about prisoners or captives of circumstance?
Was it about political prisoners?
Was it about those in an occupied territory?
Was it about human condition such as poverty or slavery or detention?
What blindness were you giving sight to?
Was it literally people who are blind and cannot see?
Was it metaphorically blindness?
Blindness to the truth?
Blindness to the struggles of others?
Blindness of bias or prejudice?
Blindness to our own faults or weaknesses?
What oppression were you freeing people from,
Because there is and has been oppression in many forms since you spoke these words?
Oppression due to poverty?
Oppression by governments and powers?
Oppression by slavery ?
Oppression by discrimination and injustice of the denial of human rights?
Oppression by fear and violence?
And what is the Lord’s favour?
Does that mean God has favourites?
Does God take sides?
Does God give blessings to some more than others?
And what year do you mean because the world is still as messed up as it always has been? Are you referring to a time to come?
A time of change?
An ongoing period of renewal?
So, help us Lord.
Help us to understand these words.
May we not be so confused or confounded that we wish you out of our lives or wish you dead like your people did.
May we learn to wait on your answers.
May we learn patience in following you.
May we learn wisdom in the slow release of your anti-kingdom.
May we learn persistence in walking your prophetic way of the cross.
May all this be so.
(Source: Jon Humphries)

Spirit of the Lord – open our eyes to see with clarity and our hearts to fill with compassion,
Anointed us with your blessing, that we might be empowered to do good in the world.
Not only in our words but our actions and in a changing of our values may we proclaim good news to the poor.
Send us courage and insight that we might recognise those who are imprisoned by a sense of guilt or shame, those locked away by loneliness and mental illness, those restricted by social barriers that we might help them on the way to freedom.
Liberate us from apathy and empower us to work to set right injustice in the world which leads to oppression of the innocent and vulnerable.
God, open our eyes that we may no longer be so blind to the suffering and struggles of others, that we might see hope and proclaim your blessing for all.
This is asked in the name of Jesus. Amen

1 Corinthians 13
No matter how powerfully or eloquently I speak,
if I do not speak in love,
it’s all just noise.
If I know everything
and understand life completely
and have miracle-producing faith
but do not act in love
it’s all for nothing.
If I give away everything I own
and die a heroic martyr’s death
but do it without love,
I have just wasted my time.
To love is to be kind.
To have time for the other.
To be generous, humble and gentle.
To let go of keeping score of faults,
and instead to rejoice in what is good and true.
To love is to bear willingly,
to trust deeply,
to hope boldly,
to endure patiently.
Love does not die.
Beliefs will end; languages will fade;
knowledge will exhaust itself:
knowledge and belief are not the whole picture.
But there is a wholeness,
and we let go of the part for the whole.
When I was a child
I spoke and thought like a child.
Becoming an adult, I abandoned those ways.
Now we see through foggy glass,
but in time we will see clearly, face to face.
Now I know only partially;
in time I will know fully—
and know that I have been fully known.
We have these three great gifts: faith, hope and love.
And the greatest is love.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK (John van de Laar)
When Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah in his hometown of Nazareth, the people listened attentively. When he claimed that he was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, they were amazed and questioned how it could be, but they were still open to Jesus’ message. It was only when Jesus began to challenge their sense of entitlement, and when he pointed out God’s concern for outsiders, that they got murderously angry. The radical inclusivity of Jesus was scandalous and offensive to these people. They wanted to believe that they were “in” with God, and that meant there had to be others who were “out”. But, when Jesus suggested that outsiders were really the true insiders, they refused to let go of their stereotypes, their sense of privilege, and their need for exclusivity.
It’s tragic when God’s people are more like the people of Nazareth than Jesus. We love to talk about Jesus the Messiah, and to hear how God’s Reign has come to us. But, sometimes, when we are challenged by the Gospel to welcome those whom we believe are “sinners” or “outside” of God’s “chosen ones,” we may prefer to attack the messenger rather than do the difficult work of opening our hearts. We all have those we struggle to love. We all have those whom we believe are undeserving of God’s grace. But, if God’s favour could be earned – even by praying a “sinner’s” prayer – it wouldn’t be grace. The challenge of the Gospel is the way it calls us constantly to expand our welcome and inclusion until all people discover that they are actually “in” with God. This challenging journey into radical, inclusive grace is the focus of this week.


I have had
many beautiful encounters with love
in my life –
Sometimes it has been the love of nature – the soft lines,
strong trunks
and the mossy smell of bush.
Sometimes has been
the tenderness of another person – a oneness in relationship,
shared silence,
the mingling of tears,
the fragile flower of romance.
Sometimes love has been
a passion for justice,
the fight for equality,
a concern for others,
grief at the Church’s divisions, anger at its petty-mindedness.
Sometimes love has been parenting
of child and adult, of others and self, of nature and ideas.
Sometimes love has been creating
words and music, color and form, line and texture, buildings and gardens,
one’s own kind
and one’s own life.
Sometimes love has been pain and sorrow,
sometimes dream and fulfillment,
sometimes tearful ecstasy,
sometimes common sense practicality,
But at all times
love has nurtured me,
enlivened me,
fulfilled me,
wooed me
and drawn me on into the oneness of God,
divine lover,
never-dying life,
the source of all our loving.
And now
in the knowledge
that no love is ever wasted
and that all love
becomes part of God’s love,
I thankfully celebrate
all the loving that God
has graciously allowed me to partake,
or enhance.
(Source: Progressive Christianity website)


The world needs love
The world needs love; so many hearts are hurting.
Lord, work through us, help us to spread your peace,
bringing to all – through your forgiving spirit –
freedom from guilt, from bitterness release.
Reconcile us; help us to share your calmness,
’till anger stills and all our conflicts cease.

The world needs hope, a vision for the future,
what life might be, if all would live in you.
Help us to lead – through your transforming spirit –
lives that reflect what you would have us do,
to share our gifts, show forth your loving kindness,
encourage all to find their hope in you.

The world needs faith, a willing dedication
of all we are and all we might yet be.
Help us to serve – through your empowering spirit –
in active faith in our community.
Love for each soul, respecting and upholding,
declares the worth of all humanity.

The world needs joy, a sense of celebration
that human lives have such diversity.
Help us to see – through your dynamic spirit –
each person’s part in life’s vitality.
Sharing our joys, supporting others’ sorrows
make our small world a better place to be.
(Words: Philip Sudworth 2002, Tune: Finlandia)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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