COCU12B.Epiphany4B.28Jan2018

This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Epiphany – a season in which we reflect upon and rejoice about the ways in which Christ is revealed to us.

Readings
Deuteronomy 18:15-20: Moses promises that God will raise up a prophet for Israel like him, but warns that the people will be held accountable for whether they listen to that prophet.
Psalm 111: A song in praise of God’s deeds, God’s care and provision for God’s people, and celebrating how the fear of God brings wisdom.
(Note: Psalm 111 is an acrostic poem with 22 phrases, each beginning with the subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet, thus serving as a tool for remembering and reciting).
1 Corinthians 8:1-13: Though idols are nothing, if eating meat sacrificed to an idol causes a brother or sister to stumble, we should rather not eat. Rather than knowledge, which creates pride, we should seek love, which builds up.
Mark 1:21-28: As Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Capernaum, the people are amazed at him. When he casts out a demon, they are staggered and the news about him spreads throughout the entire region.
(Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

John also provides a global application each week for the readings which is well worth a look. Here’s the one for this week which is very appropriate in our current global context (political, social, economic):
Global Application:
The issue of power and glory is a massive one in our world – as it has always been. Power, by our understanding, is “power over” – the capacity to conquer, to coerce or to humiliate. Authority is the ability to command and direct others and not to be under the command of others. In service of this kind of power, dictators have brought suffering on their own people, corrupt politicians and business leaders have feathered their own nests, while ordinary people have to pay the consequences for their greed. In service of this power, wars are fought and nations deny their connectedness. In service of this power, men beat and abuse the women and children they claim to love. In service of this power religious organisations have lobbied governments, excluded those of different creeds or ideologies, and have pronounced judgement on the world. This quest for this kind of power has created systems like Nazism, Apartheid and all sorts of destructive nationalisms. Napoleon was right when he said that power corrupts. But, when Jesus reveals God’s power and glory, it is an authority of a whole different order. It is not a “power over”. Nor is it a manipulative “power under”. Rather, Jesus calls people into God’s liberating community – collaborative, shared power. This is why Paul encourages the believers not just to enjoy their own freedom, but to consider its effects on others, and to serve them. That’s why Jesus’ teaching was so captivating for people – he called them to share in God’s Reign, and he revealed the freedom it offers. He did not use his authority to oppress, judge or control. In a world where a few powerful nations use their power to shape the world’s systems in their favour, where super wealthy people resist carrying larger tax burdens for the sake of those who have less, and where strong economies dictate the terms of trade to smaller and weaker ones, we could do with a lesson in power from Jesus. And, as those who seek to follow Christ, we can work within our systems to collaborate with others, whoever they may be, to work for greater justice and equality, without trying to control things according to our own agendas, or fearing that we will somehow lose if we share our “power”. It’s easy to stand in judgement on those who see justice differently from us, but that simply polarises our world more. It may be that Christ’s example calls us to stand with those who still believe in the idols of wealth and power, while gently revealing the freedom of Christ through our grace, love and servanthood.

There are a number of websites that provide paraphrased Bible readings which enable people to hear the readings in a fresh way. Nan C. Merrill’s ‘Psalms for Praying: An invitation to wholeness’ is a great resource. Psalm 111 is printed below. There’s a link below with more information about the book and where you can purchase it.

Praise the Beloved, O my soul!
I will give thanks to you with my whole heart;
to all who will listen, I will tell of your goodness.
Wondrous is Creation, Great Builder;
I take pleasure in pondering your work.
Full of honour and integrity are your teachings;
those who follow them will find new life.
You lift the hearts of those who suffer;
You come to them in their need.
Your steadfast Love is food for the soul,
nourishment in times of fear.
You are ever mindful of your covenant,
a very Presence to the weary and afflicted.
Your voice is truth to those with ears to hear,
your precepts are sure; written on the hearts of your people,
they are to be lived forever with faith-filled love and assurance.
You bring new life to the world;
Yes! life in abundance is your gift to us.
Holy and glorious is your name!
Reverence for you, O Holy One,
is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all who practice it.
Your Spirit endures for ever.
(Source: Psalms for Praying: Psalm 111, Nan C. Merrill, pp227-228)

Gathering prayers

Prayers of confession/Prayers of who we are

Prayer of Adoration & Confession
God of creation,
God of love,
God of justice,
You made us,
You know us,
You hear us…
You created us to be agents of peace,
You created us to be purveyors of justice,
You created us to share your love with others.
You know that our lives do not always mirror this…
You know that we sometimes let opportunities pass us by.
You know that we sometimes keep your good news to ourselves…
In words of grace you forgive us
of living a life that does not speak of your reign.
Hear us when we confess that our living is not always balanced…
May you rejoice with us when it is…
Hear us when we confess that our loving is not always made known… May you rejoice with us when it is…
May we find your authority
in the way Jesus lived
May we live in his Spirit,
and bring about the justice you call for.
Forgiveness we seek, new life we need. (Pause)
As we confess our sin,
We seek your forgiveness.
In the words we have spoken and have left unsaid.
(Pause)
God of creation,
God of love,
God of justice,
Who made us,
who knows us,
who hears us…
Be with us
as we dedicate ourselves once more to your way
and once more to your reign…
So be it. Amen
(Source: Church of Scotland)

casting out demons: a prayer of thanksgiving and confession, to go alongside Mark 1:21-28
God, we thank you for this extraordinary world
and its reminders of resilience, grace, hope and life:
for when grass shoots break through concrete
when the sun emerges after storms
for when people offer laughter in deep sadness
In these moments we see glimpses of who you are –
and we are grateful.

Yet if we reduce you to being like the cycle of nature
or the best of humankind,
we diminish your power to make the impossible real:
to break apart the impenetrable evils of oppression,
to cast out the very real fears that paralyse us
to banish the insidious demons of judgement and worthlessness

Forgive us God when we do not trust you to deal with the unspeakable awfulness in our lives and world.
In the silence we name the parts of our lives and our world that we believe are
too broken to ever be made whole
Cast out our demons, Lord:
Make us new again
Forgive us when contribute to the brokenness of the world and the lives of people around us.
In the silence we name the things we have done that separate us
from you and from others
Cast out our demons, Lord:
Make us new again
Forgive us when we trust darkness more than we trust your light.
In the silence we name the things we think we need to keep hidden.
Cast out our demons, Lord:
Make us new again

Scripture says that those who are in Christ are a new creation;
everything old has passed away;
see, the new has come!
Hear then Christ’s word of grace to us:
‘Your sins are forgiven’
Thanks be to God.
(Source: Cheryl Lawrie, holdthisspace.org.au)

Prayer of Confession/Prayers of who we are: Demons
God, I do not know what burdens people carry,
what demons they wrestle with silently,
what triumph it may for them to appear normal,
to be decent, to show up.
Give me compassion for each person,
aware that spirits haunt us all.
Give me grace to bless and not to judge,
to heal and not to hurt,
even those who invite hurting.
Free me from my own demons,
my ego and its demands on myself and others.
(a silence for reflection)
I do not know another’s inner story,
its landscape, its dark places, its villains.
I don’t know; I don’t need to know.
I only know your tremendous love
even for me, and equally for them.
Help me remember.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Other resources on this site for worship resources:
Prayers of dedication/prayers of offering
Prayers for others
Words to conclude Prayers for others
Lord’s Prayer– various
Words of Mission
Benediction and Blessing

Music resources
Two reliable ‘go to’ websites are Singing from the Lectionary managed by Natalie Sims and Together to Celebrate managed by David MacGregor. There are many other sites, including denominational websites (eg United Methodist Church USA)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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