From the Pastor:     “Not Lacking”     


January 15, 2023

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Human Relations Sunday


Processional:                                                                                      “Great is Thy Faithfulness”


Invocation: Good morning and welcome!

To the church in Harper Woods  Located on Vernier street.
Let us make  a difference and serve as living witnesses of God’s transforming grace.

Let us raise our voices unashamedly Rivaling heaven’s angels
To praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Let us lift every voice and sing to our Master and Maker.


Call to Worship

L: I waited patiently for GOD; who turned to me and heard my cry, who lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; and set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

P: We sing a new song! Our mouths are full of the praise of God.

L: Blessed are we when we make the Lord our trust; when we do not turn aside to false gods.

P: We sing of all your many wonders, O God, too many to declare them all.

L: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but our ears you have pierced and a body you have prepared for us.

P: We sing, “Here I am, I have come— I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is in my heart.”

Written by The Rev. Marilyn K. Levine and posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website.


Words of Welcome and Parish News:


*Gathering Hymn:                                  “O Jesus, I Have Promised”                       UMH 396


Silent meditation and prayer:

Prayer Focus: People in need


The Lord’s Prayer: 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.


Scripture Readings:



Psalm 40

1I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.

2He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

4Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.

5You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

6Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

7Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

8I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

9I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.

10I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

11Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.


1 Corinthians 1:1-9

1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Special Music                              Clean Up                                 Heidi and Bronzie Simpson 


The Message                            “Not Lacking”                       Rev. Marshall Murphy Jr.


Today’s focus comes from our United Methodist Church Disciple Ministries.

This is Human Relations Sunday, as we remember that we are called to See All the People. Does our church reflect the wider community around you?


We also remember the call of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this weekend. His witness and call remind us that the work of antiracism and civil rights is not yet done, and we need to be engaged in the transforming work of the gospel, even in our neighborhoods. Even here, we come not from fear or from lack, but from an abundance of grace that calls us into action to be a part of the creation of beloved community in which everyone is welcome, and everyone is honored. Let us celebrate the church we are and we are becoming.


We look this weekend to the great orator and civil rights hero that was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What kind of nation would we be, what kind of church, if we learned from his example of faith and life?


As it is, I’m still learning. I’m still in process. Don’t expect much because I don’t have much. Or don’t expect much because I am not so much.


Does any of that sound like you? I have to confess that at times, I can sound like that. I can sound as though my lack of accomplishments is due to some external thing that I am missing. Some knowledge, some skill, some resource – if I just had that, then all sorts of wonderful things could happen. As it is, not much.


Oddly enough, the biblical passage for this week was not written to deal with this attitude. If anything, it was trying to deal with the opposite problem. Yes, in one of those mysterious, God kind of ways, it meets us where we are.


The problem in Corinth that brought about Paul’s letter was not a lack of confidence. If anything, it was the opposite. There was a group of Christians in the church at Corinth who considered themselves better than the average believer. They believed that their ability to speak in tongues was a signal that they were more equipped, more favored, more special than those whose gifts were more mundane.


They were even of the opinion that they really had to listen to no one but themselves. That is why Paul begins by stressing his credentials. Paul, “called to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” It’s hard to argue with a title like that. Hard to hold the opinion that this one has nothing to teach you. And then he also reminds them of their call, which is twofold. First, they were “called to be saints.” You would think that this is the kind of talk that would only add to their arrogance. How many of us look forward to having St. in front of our names someday? Not many, I would suspect.


Yet for Paul, the word Saint meant someone who recognizes the need for a savior. A saint is one who has said yes to Jesus Christ. It carried no honor except the honor of the one who called. It made no guarantee that the behavior of this person is exemplary. A saint was someone beholden to God through Jesus Christ.


Beholden is a wonderful word we don’t use any more. But it conveys images of being wrapped up as well as belonging. If we are beholden to God, then it is God who shows through more than us because we are wrapped up in that presence, that light. The good things that we do, the bright face that we show is the face of God shining through us, not our own visage, which might not be so holy.


Paul was reminding the Corinthians that they belonged to God and was asking them to examine their behavior to see if they still fit that description. When you become arrogant, you move the self to the center and anything else has to make way. But if God is supposed to be the center, then arrogance has no place in the community of faith.


The second thing that Paul wanted to remind the Corinthians is that they were a part of something larger than themselves. He called them saints “together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” Jesus isn’t the exclusive property of those who seek to define him in specific ways. The Corinthians had remade Christ in their image, and Paul was trying to help them take a larger view. You are a part of something bigger than your eyes and bigger than your imagination. All those who in every place – who can comprehend something on that scale? It was a way of putting things in perspective before he even got to the meat of the letter.


Both of these points are a part of King’s legacy to the church. A reminder, first of all that we are called to live not by our own wisdom, not by our own preferences and prejudices, but by the call of God, the vision of the kin-dom that defines our hopes and prayers and service. And that we are in this together. It is not just me or my church, my circle, the ones like me, the ones I get along with. No, our vision is always bigger, always for inclusion, always for beloved community. That is how we honor the memory of this servant of God who became the conscience of a nation for a brief time, and is needed again today.


But the problem of the Corinthians that brought forth this letter from Paul: their arrogance seems alien to our experience. We almost laugh at the idea. Who would ever proclaim themselves “super-Christian”? It seems to us that the very act of doing so would be evidence that there was still a lot to learn. No, our inclination is to want to step to the background or to sit on the sidelines. To us, Paul has another word. Well, he has the same word first. We too are saints; we too are part of something bigger than ourselves. But for us, it is a way to build us up and not to knock us down. It is a way to encourage us.

Excerpts from Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. 

Discipleship Ministries | Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A -… (


When we pause to think about the journey of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he was focused on the human condition. He saw many who were lacking dignity, justice, and marginalized in a society where love should be flowing. What did Jesus mean when he said feed my sheep?


Matthew 25:35-40

3For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


I’m reminded of Dr. King’s statement: I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.


Offertory Prayer: Good and generous God, we bring our gifts to you this day and pray you might dedicate them to your work. We confess that we have too often missed being the church you wanted and needed, and we have placed the blame on “not having enough” money, members, talent, time, or power. We needed to be reminded by the apostle Paul that we have all that we need, whatever our circumstances.


Offertory Music                                                                  “I Sing A Song of the Saints of God”


*Doxology:                                                                                                                     UMH 95


*Unison Prayer of Dedication: Renew us, loving God, and give us a new day and another chance. In Christ’s holy name, we pray. Amen.


*Closing Hymn:                                   “How Great Thou Art”                             UMH 77


Sending Forth:

Let us go from here today secure in the knowledge that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift. We go into our world surrounded by the blessing of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the equipping of the Spirit, to live and work as disciples who make disciples for the transformation of the world. Amen.


Recessional                        Just as I Come, I Come 

(Please remain seated to meditate and reflect on the music) 









































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