Epiphany

Words and Actions

beach staticeYearly Rhythm

1 February 2015
The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany,
Year B, Colour: Green

‘As Jesus’ disciple, I am his apprentice in kingdom living. I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if he were I.’ Dallas Willard

Daily Rhythm

Making worship part of the everyday

Devotional Diary
26 January –  1 February 2015

DOWNLOAD THE DEVOTIONAL DIARY AND ADDITIONAL COMMENTS AS A PDF HERE

Revised Common Lectionary Readings with thanks to www.gbod.org. The 4th Sunday after Epiphany.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20The people are afraid to hear God’s voice directly. God promises to raise up a future prophet, like Moses, to continue speaking to them. The people will be accountable for what the prophet tells them. And the prophet must speak only God’s word, or die.

Psalm Response: Psalm 111Praise to God for fulfilling promises of deliverance, establishing the nation, and providing guidance for the people.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13. Some in the church in Corinth have no qualms about eating meat that has been offered in pagan rites (which may very well have been nearly all the meat in Corinth!), because they — personally — do not recognize the existence of the gods to whom the meat was offered or the validity of the rites by which they were offered. Paul reminds these “cognoscenti” that while their reasoning may be correct in theory, most folks in Corinth would have been so saturated by the polytheistic culture that following Jesus for them would require them to stay away from any association with other ritual practices. Therefore, he warns them not to engage in any action that could be misinterpreted and so “wound the conscience” of “the weak.”

Mark 1:21-28Jesus teaches with authority and performs an exorcism in the synagogue at Capernaum. In Jewish practice, a person known to be a demoniac would not have been admitted into the synagogue. The presence and prophetic authority of Jesus both surface the demon and cast it out. The people are amazed, and the report about this “went out” (same verb in Greek as the command to the unclean spirit to “come out”) to the entire region of Galilee.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life.  Today: Think of home…

Confession: This week examine your use of the power and influence that God has given you.  If God had to ask you to account for your use of the power (gifts, talents, abilities, resources,) he has given you, how would you answer?  Use the prayer of dedication to help you in this process of repentance.   Possible focus: Indecision.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray for your own life: how is God seeking to send you?

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

             Dedication: “God I come to you as an empty vessel.  I have no power of own; that is no genuine, life giving power.  Make me an instrument of your power, I ask, and fill me with your life giving Spirit.  I yield myself to your mission and purposes.  Make me sensitive to your promptings.  Lord, I pray that the journey ahead may be a journey of power in “yieldedness” to your Spirit.”

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life.  Today: Think of people…

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Possible focus: Pride

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray for your church. Pray for a specific part of its life of service.

Personal Prayers:

            Dedication: See Monday’s dedication.

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life. Today: Think of creation…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Possible focus: Success/service

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray for ministers of the Gospel that they may lead while following Christ.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: See Monday’s dedication.

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life. Today: Think of church…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Possible focus: the example of Christ.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray for your denominational church body:  that it may be empowered for mission.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: See Monday’s dedication.

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life.  Think of God’s word…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Possible focus: Sacrifice.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray for all who are struggling to see themselves as empowered to serve God.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: See Monday’s dedication.

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life.  Think of your country…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Possible focus: Submission

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray for all who are facing opposition and hardship in their service of God.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: See Monday’s dedication.

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Each day praise God for a blessing that has touched your life.  Think of God…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Possible focus: being set free to serve.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for God’s direction and strength in our service in His name.  Today pray that in your worship you may serve God by lifting up his name.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: See Monday’s dedication.

 

Weekly Rhythm

Joining our stories with the stories of God’s people.

 Additional information about the readings: (Notes in italics are with thanks to www.gbod.org.)

Deuteronomy 18:15-20The people are afraid to hear God’s voice directly. God promises to raise up a future prophet, like Moses, to continue speaking to them. The people will be accountable for what the prophet tells them. And the prophet must speak only God’s word, or die.

 *How has God spoken to you recently?
*What message have you heard?
*How have you responded?

Psalm Response: Psalm 111Praise to God for fulfilling promises of deliverance, establishing the nation, and providing guidance for the people.

 

The works of the Lord sustain us.
God has blessed us with life.
The precepts of the Lord guide us.
God has blessed us with wisdom.
The love of the Lord redeems us.
God has blessed us with salvation.
Go with God’s blessings.

— from the Worship Elements page of the Ministry Matters website.

 

*How does God sustain you, give you wisdom and bless you with salvation?
(Think of your community as you reflect on this question.)

 

1 Corinthians 8:1-13. Some in the church in Corinth have no qualms about eating meat that has been offered in pagan rites (which may very well have been nearly all the meat in Corinth!), because they — personally — do not recognize the existence of the gods to whom the meat was offered or the validity of the rites by which they were offered. Paul reminds these “cognoscenti” that while their reasoning may be correct in theory, most folks in Corinth would have been so saturated by the polytheistic culture that following Jesus for them would require them to stay away from any association with other ritual practices. Therefore, he warns them not to engage in any action that could be misinterpreted and so “wound the conscience” of “the weak.”

*How does this passage call us to be loving rather than right?

Prayer of Confession 

(based on 1 Corinthians 8: 1-13)

Holy God, we confess that we are an arrogant people – so full of “knowledge” that we hardly have any room for love.  We confess that we too often judge when we really need to listen.  We confess that we push people away when we you call us to welcome them into our communities.  We confess that we think only about protecting ourselves when we are challenged to risk everything for others.  Lord, forgive us for being more concerned with “being right” than we are with “showing love”.  Forgive us for demanding uniformity when you call us to celebrate diversity.  Guide us, Great God, to live according to your unconditional love.  Teach us to see one another as sisters and brothers so that we may learn to live as one family.

— written by Amy Loving,
and posted on The Worship Closet: The Place for Creative Worship Ideas. 


Mark 1:21-28
Jesus teaches with authority and performs an exorcism in the synagogue at Capernaum. In Jewish practice, a person known to be a demoniac would not have been admitted into the synagogue. The presence and prophetic authority of Jesus both surface the demon and cast it out. The people are amazed, and the report about this “went out” (same verb in Greek as the command to the unclean spirit to “come out”) to the entire region of Galilee.

Prayer for Worship

(inspired by Mark 1:21-28)

Brothers and sisters in Christ,
what hopes do you bring to worship?
We bring hope for health and wholeness.
What  afflictions do you bring to worship?
Physical pain?
    From illness and injury.
Emotional pain?
    From sad and scary life situations.
Mental pain?
    From dis-ease of many kinds.
With all of these afflictions,
it’s a miracle that any of us have made it to worship this morning!
But where else would we be?
We yearn to know God’s powerful love
and to know that wholeness is possible.
In today’s gospel, a person with an “afflicting spirit” * interrupts Jesus
and Jesus frees him.
And where does the miracle of his story and our stories begin?
When we bring all of who we are
—hopeful, afflicted, bold—
 into relationship with the Divine.
So come, let us enter this sanctuary with our whole selves
—hopeful, afflicted and bold—
Come, let us worship!

 

— taken from Holy, Whole-y One: Service Prayers for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany,
written by the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel,
pastor of Plymouth United Church, UCC, in Spring, Texas.
Posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website.

 

*What would it mean for you and how would you “bring all of who you are – hopeful, afflicted and bold – into the relationship with the divine”?

Baptised, Affirmed, Empowered, Sent!

new beginningsYearly Rhythm

11 January 2015
The First Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
Colour: White or Gold

The Season after Epiphany (also called Ordinary Time) begins this Sunday and ends with Transfiguration Sunday, just before Lent.
Sundays that commemorate an event in Jesus’ life are marked using the colours white or gold in the sanctuary decorations or the dress of those officiating in the service, depending on your tradition.

Daily Rhythm

Devotional Diary  5 – 11 January

Making worship part of the everyday

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday 11 January 2015. With thanks to www.gbod.org

Genesis 1:1-5Darkness, chaos, waters, and then the Word that brings order to them all; the emergence of light from the midst of darkness. The Hebrew reads “Day 1.”

Psalm 29. Floods, tornadoes, lightning strikes, devastation, and God reigning in the midst of it all — images of the awesome and dangerous power of God.

Acts 19:1-7.  This story is a reminder of the influence and extent of the ministry of John the Baptizer — reaching all the way from Judea to the western shores of Asia Minor (Turkey) by mid-century (probably some 25-30 years after his execution). John had taught people to live differently in light of the coming Kingdom. What they didn’t know was how the Holy Spirit would give them the power of life.

It is probably no accident that Luke tells us the number of these believers was about 12, a symbol of the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel, for Ephesus became the seat of apostolic ministry in and from western Asia Minor for decades to come.

Mark 1:4-11.  While John’s baptismal ministry seems to unite folks from Judea and all Jerusalem in confession and repentance, his baptism of Jesus “splits the heavens” (like lightning). The announcement of the voice from the heavens (like thunder) answers the hope for the arrival of one chosen by God to pour out the Holy Spirit.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to.  Todays suggested focus:  Baby steps (small adjustments).

The Word: Use the above readings or any other bible reading plan you are following.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015.  Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

               Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 57:10)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to. Todays suggested focus: Not on your own: rest in God.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015. Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal Prayers:

               Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. (Psalm 54:4)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to.  Todays suggested focus:  He paves your way!

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015. Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. (Psalm 52:9)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to. Todays suggested focus: Awakening old dreams…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015. Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: The Mighty One, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. (Psalm 50:1)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to. Todays suggested focus: New dreams…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015. Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:15)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to. Todays suggested focus: Not my efforts, God’s love expressed through me!

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015. Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. (Psalm 48:14)

Confession: In this week we end the old year and begin the new: Spend some time this week reflecting on the new beginnings that God is calling you to. Today’s suggested focus:  God’s grace accepts and loves you right now!

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week: Praying for nourishment for the journey ahead.  Each day pray for an area of your personal life that needs nourishment so that you may shine for Christ in 2015. Relate this prayer to the confession focus above.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: The Lord says, “I will never let go of your hand!”

Weekly Rhythm

Joining our stories with the stories of God’s people.

Additional information about the readings: (Notes in italics are with thanks to www.gbod.org.)

This week our primary text (Mark 1:4-11) focusses on the Baptism of Jesus.  As we begin our journey into the New Year we could not have asked for a better text.  Use this week’s readings to equip and send you into the year with a new sense of who you are who God is and how He connects to you and what your life’s mission is all about.

Genesis 1:1-5Darkness, chaos, waters, and then the Word that brings order to them all; the emergence of light from the midst of darkness. The Hebrew reads “Day 1.”

Who is God and what is He doing among us?  Relate this question to our Genesis text.  What is God doing in these texts? 

How is creation an ongoing event?  How is God inviting you into the continuing work of creation? 

How might you accept this invitation as you journey in 2015?

Psalm 29. Floods, tornadoes, lightning strikes, devastation, and God reigning in the midst of it all — images of the awesome and dangerous power of God.

How does this psalm portray God?  Note the “voice of God”.   This theme of the voice appears in all of our readings this week.  This mighty God is with you and for you, and his voice creates, changes and affirms.

A Prayer

(based on Psalm 29)

Glorious God, we come to worship and praise you in response to your voice that calls us to our home in you. We join with all the voices of the earth, together with all the voices of the heavens, to praise the glorious name of our God; and to bow down in awe before the mighty energies of our God, as we experience them in nature.

Almighty and Unshakeable God, we hear your voice in its many tones and accents, and experience something of your powers and your strength in the surging waves of the seas; and in the swirling forces of the waves as they crash against the rocky outcrops along the shore. We sing our praises to the power of our Unshakeable God!

Powerful and ever-present God, we praise your holy name, and listen for your voice as it continues to echo through the mighty canyons, and amongst the huge forest giants that wilt before your power and majesty. Your holy voice speaks to all creation in the thunder and lightning of storms; and in the noise of trees crashing to the earth like tiny twigs before the relentless forces of the forest fires and winds.

Majestic God, your voice is heard in the wind and rain as they roar across the open plains; and in the rush of flood waters that sweep all before it. Even in that devastation, the voice of God is heard and nothing can compare to it.

Mighty God, King all powerful, we are overwhelmed before such awesome majesty, and our response to the voice of God can only be to come in reverent worship with songs of praise that glorify and honour our holy and invincible God, as we bow in worship, and as we praise and celebrate our God. Amen.

 — written by Joan Stott, on the Geelong City Parish UCA website.
© 2011 Joan Stott – “The Timeless Psalms” RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission.

 Acts 19:1-7This story is a reminder of the influence and extent of the ministry of John the Baptizer — reaching all the way from Judea to the western shores of Asia Minor (Turkey) by mid-century (probably some 25-30 years after his execution). John had taught people to live differently in light of the coming Kingdom. What they didn’t know was how the Holy Spirit would give them the power of life.

It is probably no accident that Luke tells us the number of these believers was about 12, a symbol of the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel, for Ephesus became the seat of apostolic ministry in and from western Asia Minor for decades to come.

How would you answer the question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became a believer?”
What are the differences between John’s baptism and Jesus’s baptism?
How does this reflect what John said about Jesus at Jesus’s baptism (After me will come…)
What does “baptism” mean in your life?
What might the significance of the twelve be?

Mark 1:4-11While John’s baptismal ministry seems to unite folks from Judea and all Jerusalem in confession and repentance, his baptism of Jesus “splits the heavens” (like lightning). The announcement of the voice from the heavens (like thunder) answers the hope for the arrival of one chosen by God to pour out the Holy Spirit. (In the scriptures the voice of God is related to the Holy Spirit.)

What parallels do you see with the baptism of Jesus and the baptism of the twelve at Ephesus as described in our Acts passage?
How do you relate to this moment of baptism in your own life?

 Litany: God of the Waters

(Inspired by Mark 1: 4-11, Luke 3:21-22)

 

God of the waters. Water of birth,
moving us from safety into the world.

God of the waters. Water of connection,
engaging the playful Spirit,
the passionate Christ,
the challenging God.

God of the waters. Water of life,
sustaining,
quenching,
cleansing.

God of the waters. Water of trouble,
journeying us from here to there,

from the known to the unknown.

God of the waters.
Birth us.
Connect us.
Live in us.
Trouble us.

— written by Scott A. Ressman in Immerse Yourself: Elements for a Liturgy on Baptism of Christ Sunday.
Posted on the United Church of Christ website.

 

A Prayer for the New Year:

 “A new year stands on my doorstep
ready to enter my life’s journey.

Something in me welcomes this visitor:
the hope of bountiful blessings
the joy of a new beginning
the freshness of unclaimed surprises

Something in me rebuffs this visitor:
the swiftness of the coming
the boldness of the entrance
the challenge of a year’s good-bye.

Something in me fears this visitor:
the unnamed events of future days
the wisdom needed to walk love well
the demands of giving away and growing.

A new year stands on my doorstep.
with fragile caution I move
to open the door for its entrance,
my heart leaps with surprise,
joy jumps in my eyes,
for there, beside this brand new year
stands my God with outstretched hand!

God smiles and gently asks of me:
Can we walk this year together?
And I, so overwhelmed with goodness,
can barely whisper my reply: “Welcome in!””

— posted on the Sisters of Saint Martha of Antigonish website.