January 28, 2024 – Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, January 28, at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, January 28.
Previous livestreams and other worship and musical content is available on our YouTube channel. You can also check out our entire worship services archive. Our SoundCloud channel has yet more music and worship content.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
Call to Worship
One: God’s praise endures forever,
All: and eternity meets us in fleeting moments.
One: God’s praise endures forever,
All: and glory bursts into ordinary activities.
One: God’s praise endures forever,
All: and faith is steadfast in the midst of change and challenge.
One: Let us worship the Eternal God who calls us to this time and place.
“Oh that I had a thousand voices” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 464). Original German words (1704) by German theologian and hymnwriter Johann Mentzer (1658–1734). English translation from The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941. Music (first published 1738; tune: “O Dass Ich Tausend Zungen Hätte”) by German composer Johann Balthasar König (1691–1758). Words, translation and music public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
you are the wisdom behind all mystery, the glory hidden in all that makes us wonder, the strength in all that nourishes. With eyes open and spirits alert, we experience your glory around us. Scattered throughout the earth, smoldering deep inside us and radiating in acts of love, sparks of your glory reside. We feel joy each time we encounter you. So we gather to express our praise and gratitude for all the good we have experienced, knowing it all comes from your hand, for you are Creator, Christ and Spirit, Ever Three and Ever One.
we confess there are many times we forget you. We focus on what troubles us and ignore the help you offer. We seek wisdom and meaning in the wrong places. In thoughtless moments, we harm the earth and each another. Forgive us. Remind us to live each day focused on your purposes revealed in Christ who loves us.
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 from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Declaration of Pardon
Hear the good news: Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone. New life has begun. Thanks be to God that we can make a new start, forgiven and set free.
Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
Guildwood Senior Choir Presents
“The Lord’s Prayer”. Music by American composer Bradley Ellingboe (1958–). Music copyright © 2000 Neil A. Kjos Music Company; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Fun with the Young at Heart (children’s story)
We sing verse 1 of “Jesus loves me this I know”.
“Jesus loves me, this I know” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 373). Words (1859 or 1860) by American writer Anna Bartlett Warner (1827–1915). Revisions to v2 and v3 by Canadian Anglican priest David Rutherford McGuire (1929–1971). Music (1862; tune: “Jesus loves me”) by American musician William Batchelder Bradbury (1816–1868). Words, revisions and music in the public domain.
Mark 1:21–28 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible
1 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
The gospel of Mark is believed to be written during the war time, when there was a war between Rome and Jerusalem (between 66 and 74 CE). In reality, it was not a war; it was a one-sided conflict and massacre. Jerusalem and many towns were completely destroyed during this period. When we realize how the gospel of Mark was written, it invites us to pause and think twice about what we read.
When we read the gospel of Mark, we must read each verse very slowly, prayerfully, and carefully. We must do that with every book in the Bible, but more so with the gospel of Mark. May we look at Mark 1:21, “They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.”
The first place Jesus chooses to take his disciples in Galilee is Capernaum—the starting point of his ministry. Capernaum, also known as Nahum’s village, in Hebrew, meaning ‘the town of comfort’ or ‘the town of consolation.’ It is a small fishing town in the often-overlooked and forgotten region of Galilee, where the people yearn for good news and consolation.
Going to Capernaum symbolizes the direction, desire, and intention of the ministry that Jesus has initiated and the ministry to which Jesus invites us to participate today. Jesus offers comfort and consolation rather than accusation or condemnation to the suffering people in Capernaum, a community in desperate need of comfort meaning peace and hope. That means all of us we live in Capernaum.
What Jesus wanted to accomplish by visiting Capernaum in the first place was to show God’s desire to fulfill the promise described in the book of Isaiah, (40:1–2) “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
Then, on the day of Sabbath, Jesus visits the synagogue.
The day of Sabbath was meant to be a day to join in God’s creation. It was meant to be a day to rest and praise God. It was meant to be a day to celebrate the love of God with one another. The day of Sabbath was meant for the people of God to stop creating for themselves, and stop being busy pursuing their ambitions to join in God’s creating and God’s renewing presence.
But somewhere along the line, it has become a day of separating the holy from the unholy, the righteous from the sinners, ‘us’ from ‘them’… Rather than being a day of sharing God’s abundant blessings with one another, it has become a day of self-righteousness.
What about the synagogue? The tradition of the synagogue began when the people of Israel became political prisoners and exiles in Babylon. Unable to visit the temple in Jerusalem any longer, they needed a place where they could worship and pray together—a place to meditate on the word of God daily. They sought a community where they could deepen their fellowship and encourage each other to go on. However, along the way, the synagogue transformed into a place of condemnation, judgment, separation, exclusion, blame and pride.
Jesus comes to the synagogue on the day of Sabbath to renew, restore and restart what was lost from them. He does so by teaching them. The gospel of Mark is not interested in telling us the content or the method of his teaching. We don’t even know if his teaching was done in preaching, singing, listening, or washing the dish in the kitchen or preparing coffee for fellowship, the gospel of Mark pays more attention who Jesus is and what happens through him, because in the gospel of Mark, Jesus is the message and Jesus is the teaching.
Jesus shines the light of God to those who were waiting for good news at the synagogue in Capernaum just like Simeon and Anna were waiting for the baby Jesus in Jerusalem. Jesus reveals what has been broken and what has been lost in their hearts. The people in Capernaum were moved and amazed just like how Simeon and Anna were moved to tears when they saw the baby Jesus.
Verse 22 describes the transformation that took place among the people in Capernaum. 22 “They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”
The Gospel of Mark does not want us to settle with merely knowing what Jesus said or did not say, not just settling for knowing what he did or did not do. Instead, the Gospel of Mark invites us to know him, welcome him, listen to him, and receive him today, here and now. To welcome Jesus is to partake in the astonishment and amazement of the people in Capernaum.
Describing what that astonishment and amazement are like is challenging. Our human words and knowledge are not enough to capture the joy and amazement of discovering Jesus in our hearts.
JS Bach “I have enough”….(Please, listen to the service)
“He leadeth me” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 650). Words (1862) by American Baptist minister and academic Joseph Henry Gilmore (1834–1911). Music (1864; tune: “He Leadeth Me”) by American musician William Batchelder Bradbury (1816–1868). Words and music public domain.
May we present our gifts to God in response to what we have received from God?
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Our offering will now be received.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306). Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.
Prayer of dedication
Lord Jesus, we bring our gifts to you, asking you to bless them so that they may accomplish more than we can ask or imagine. Bless us, too, so that our lives speak of our choice to follow you, offering others the healing and hope you have offered us. Amen.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving and Hope
Holy God, Lord of heaven and earth, Your energy fills the cosmos and enlivens every cell of our bodies. You are around us, within us, and beyond us. Thank you for the simple pleasures of each day, and for the strength to meet the challenges that arise. When it feels like we have come to the end of our own resources, replenish us with the energy of your Spirit so that we know you are there for us.
In these uncertain times, we are grateful for prayer in its many forms which lead us to communion with you – through word and silence, music and movement, feeling the Spirit’s breath within us. Draw close to us whenever we need you, and renew our spirits to continue serving you as best we can.
Hear us now as we pray for the earth, this precious, fragile home to all living things: For declining species of plant and animal life [Silence] For the earth’s climate and places with too much or too little water [Silence] For the oceans and rainforests, the skies and the air we breathe. [Silence] Teach us how to be more faithful stewards of your earth and live more respectfully in your creation.
Hear us as we pray for the economy: For those whose decisions shape it [Silence] For employers and business owners [Silence] For workers and those who cannot find work [Silence] For all who seek economic justice, fairness and the common good, and those who struggle to discern what this means in a complex world. [Silence] Teach us how to care for our neighbours in these days of economic uncertainty.
We pray for our own circle of family and friends. Heal, bless, lead and encourage them. [Silence] We pray for neighbours and strangers in our community who face struggles and sorrows we can’t even imagine. [Silence] Remind us that we belong to each other and to you and help us respond to one another with compassion and kindness.
Finally, in silence, we bring to you the cares and hopes on our minds today. [Silence] Thank you for hearing the prayers of every heart. We join our prayers with all who follow Jesus. Amen.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.
“Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
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