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Fourth Sunday After The Epiphany

Lectionary Worship Workbook
Series IV, Cycle B
Call To Worship
A central theme this week is the power and authority of God's Word.

Leader: Your word, O Lord, is a lamp unto our feet,
People: And a light unto our paths.
Leader: Your word is eternal;
People: Standing firm in your heavens.
Leader: We can depend on it always.
People: We can take our stand on it.
Leader: We can base our lives on it.
People: Your faithfulness continues in every generation.
Leader: Your promises are for each of us.
People: Always.
Leader: So we raise to you our praises.
People: We exult you above all others.
Leader: Come, let us worship God.
People: Amen.

How about one that just praises God?
Leader: Allelu!
People: Praise!
Leader: Yah!
People: God!
Leader: Allelu-yah
People: Praise God!
Leader: Let's do it, for the Lord is good.
People: Alleluia
Leader: The Lord is great!
People: Alleluia
Leader: God is great indeed.
People: Alleluia!

Psalm 111 is a marvelous psalm of praise. Begin a joyful worship by having it read dramatically by several readers.
Reader 1: Praise the Lord!
Reader 2: I will extol the Lord with all my heart.
Reader 3: I will do it in the midst of the people.
Reader 1: Great are the works of the Lord;
Reader 2: They cause wonderment in all who ponder them.
Reader 3: Glorious and majestic are God's deeds, and God's righteousness endures forever,
Reader 1: Along with his gracious compassion.
Reader 2: God provides food for those who fear him;
Reader 3: And remembers his promises forever.
Reader 1: The works of God's hands are faithful and just;
Reader 2: All his precepts are trustworthy.
Reader 3: They are steadfast forever.
Reader 1: Holy and awesome is his name.
Reader 2: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
Reader 3: All who follow his precepts have good understanding.
All 3 Readers: Let us praise God. Amen!

Prayer Of Confession
Confessions on the topic of how we respond to the Word.
Leader: Your Word is true.
People: Ours is skewed.
Leader: Your Word is love.
People: Ours is self-justifying.
Leader: Your Word builds up.
People: Ours tears down.
Leader: Your Word is always the same.
People: Ours is sometimes two-faced.
Leader: Lord, forgive us for using a most precious gift
People: To promote hatred
Leader: And division,
People: Rather than love and healing.
Leader: Help us change.
People: Help us speak as you speak.
Leader: In Jesus' name we ask. Amen.

Another approach to the Word.
Leader: For ignorance of your Word, O Lord,
People: We beg forgiveness.
Leader: For knowing more of the world than of you,
People: We are full of regrets.
Leader: For knowing more of Will and Grace than of Matthew and Mark,
People: We repent.
Leader: Father, forgive us for trying to live in your glorious creation without knowledge of you, the creator,
People: Fill our hearts with an ache
Leader: That can only be relieved by the medicine of your Word.
People: We ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.

One last approach deals with the fact that a major reason for ignorance of the Word is busyness.
Leader: A typical "to do" list: People: Finish report for the boss;
Leader: Billy to the doctor;
People: Susie to her soccer game;
Leader: Dance lessons for Dana;
People: Aerobics class for Mom;
Leader: A big meeting at the office;
People: Committee meeting at church;
Leader: Clean the house;
People: Do the shopping;
Leader: Landscape the yard;
People: Scout meeting;
Leader: Dinner with the Smiths;
People: Lots of other stuff ...
Leader: So, the question is, "Who is running our lives?"
People: Gracious God, forgive us
Leader: For allowing the world,
People: And the things of the world
Leader: To rule us.
People: Strengthen us,
Leader: That we might break free of the inner compulsion to keep up with everyone else.
People: So that we might keep up with you instead.
Leader: We ask it in the name of Jesus Christ,
People: Our Lord. Amen.

Assurance Of Pardon
Leader: We seek forgiveness all the time.
People: And God grants it like a rich father who spoils his children.
Leader: God is to be praised for this mercy.
People: Yes, God is greatly to be praised.
Leader: But let us not stop with thanks, let's also change.
People: Yes, let's change,
Leader: To better conform to the image of God in each of us.
People: And let's begin the change
Leader: By better acquainting ourselves with God's Word.
People: Amen.

Prayer For Illumination
You could simply use the reading from Mark today to lead into a prayer of illumination.
Introduction to the prayer:

Mark tells us in Mark 1:21-22: "Jesus and the disciples went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law."

Let us pray: Jesus, teach now with the same power and authority that smote the hearts of those in Capernaum 2,000 years ago. Smite our hearts. Give us the same sense that we are hearing the deep truths of the cosmos being spoken as the words of scripture are read and preached to us this morning. Amen.

Another creative option might be to use the Amy Grant song "Thy Word" to sing your way into the reading of scripture. The chorus can be found in many hymnals today. It is based on Psalm 119, and the chorus consists of a single line: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Just have someone lead the congregation in singing it five or six times as a prayer.

Pastoral Prayer
Let us pray: Lord, if there were one gift I could give my sisters and brothers in Christ, it would be a love for and respect of your Word. As the Word set fire to the hearts of the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus, I pray that we become so hungry for it that we cannot but read, and that in our reading our hearts be set ablaze as theirs were. A daily dose of your Word not only lights the way but adjusts the attitude; not only provides nuggets of truth but gives proper perspective; not only draws us close to you, but increases the abundance of the spirit out of which we live. May your Word minister to us each this week in the very places in which we find ourselves.

We ask in the name of the one who is the Word of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. Amen.

God's Word is life indeed. May we store it up within ourselves, that we will overflow with truth not so much in our speaking, as in our living. Amen.


A Glory Guilds The Sacred Page

According To Thy Gracious Word

Bible Stands, The

Break Thou The Bread Of Life

Christ In His Word Draws Near

Come, Divine Interpreter

Faith In The Word Of God

Fed Upon The Finest Of The Wheat

God's Word Is Like A Flaming Sword

His Words Are True

Holy Bible, Book Divine

How Firm A Foundation

Lamp Of Our Feet

Lord, Speak To Me

O Word Of God Incarnate

O How I Love Thy Holy Word

Standing On The Promises

Thy Word

Thy Word Sheds Light Upon My Path

Wonderful Words Of Life

Contemporary Choruses

I Will Call Upon The Lord, Michael O'Shields

More Precious Than Silver, Lynn DeShazo

Potter's Hand, The, Darlene Zschech

Other Music

Take You at Your Word, Avalon
In this song we are challenged to take God at his word.

Thy Word, Amy Grant
You might have someone sing this whole song based on Psalm 119.

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The Immediate Word

Katy Stenta
Mary Austin
Christopher Keating
George Reed
Bethany Peerbolte
Dean Feldmeyer
Thomas Willadsen
The texts this week are centered on the church’s testimony and witness. That is the essence of what Peter and the Apostles are up to Acts. Luke reminds us that when the times get tough, the tough go to worship — which is exactly where we find Peter and John this Sunday. Peter’s healing of a paralyzed person produces praise. The crowd’s amazement leads to Peter’s proclamation.


John Jamison
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”


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Pause, Sign, Ponder, Reflect
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Psalm 4

When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. (Psalm 4:4)

Emphasis Preaching Journal

Bonnie Bates
Bill Thomas
Mark Ellingsen
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Acts 3:12-19
Wayne Brouwer
Note: This installment was originally published for April 22, 2012.

During the time of the Reformation, John Foxe of England was impressed by the testimony of the early Christians. He gleaned the pages of early historical writings, and wrote a book that has become a classic in the church: Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

One story he tells is about an early church leader named Lawrence. Lawrence acted as a pastor for a church community. He also collected the offerings for the poor each week and that led to his death.

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Call to Worship:
Jesus said, "Peace be with you. You are witnesses to the living Christ." Let us welcome the living Christ in our worship today.

Invitation to Confession:

Jesus, sometimes we are frightened and anxious.
Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, sometimes we aren't good witnesses to you.
Christ, have mercy.

Jesus, forgive us for all those things we think and do which we know are wrong.


John A. Stroman
The theme of 1 John all along has been the love of God. The author now expands that love in the phrase, "the children of God," and for the first time he considers what it means to be the children of God. Earlier, he presented love within the fellowship and now he speaks of the meaning of God's love for us and its implications for the future. The consequences and proof of the love of God are evident in being called "the children of God." He is careful to point out that the love of God is a gift; we do not earn it.
Robert A. Noblett
Here's the scene. The disciples are huddled together and they have just heard Simon's account of experiencing the risen Christ when Cleopas and his companion enter and add word of their encounter with the risen Christ. Luke describes the scene like this: "While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' They were startled and terrified, and thought they were seeing a ghost" (v. 36).
James R. Wilson
First Lesson: Acts 3:12-19
Theme: Responding to God with repentance

Call To Worship
Leader: Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!
People: Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven!
Leader: Let us proclaim in all the world the glory due God's name!
People: Let us bring our offerings into the courts of Almighty God!
Leader: Let us come together and bring praise for our salvation in Christ!
All: Blessed be the name of the Lord!


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