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Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

His work is full of majesty and splendour, and his righteousness endures for ever.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
00:00 / 01:22

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 Corinthians 8:1-13
00:00 / 02:03

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Mark.

Mark 1:21-28
00:00 / 01:18

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Relational NOT Positional Authority
00:00 / 10:52

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon Epiphany 4, 28th Jan 2024

Take my lips O God and speak through them, take our minds O God and think through them, take our hearts O God and love through them this day. <Amen>

Last year, 2023, Kim and I visited Capernaum, the hometown of Peter, and we stood in the remains of the temple - the setting for today’s gospel. Jesus has gone into this synagogue and the people are astounded at His teaching … for he taught them “as one having authority, not as the scribes.”

I’ve always found this a bit of a curious statement for Mark to make because surely, in his day, the teachers of the law had the ultimate authority? They had been the spiritual leaders in that community for years, they had deep learning, they were revered for their knowledge, they were, in many respects, the brokers of what was just and true and what was not. What could be done and what could not. How could Mark say, then, that Jesus taught as one who had authority, not like the teachers of the law?

In its essence, authority is the right someone has or a right that an institution holds to enforce or expect obedience from others. Certainly the teachers of the law had that type of authority: they had legal qualifications, they had the right to judge people, and so people would indeed obey the teachers of the law.

However, there are two types of authority.

There is Positional Authority and there is Relational Authority.

Positional Authority is where someone “expects” people to respect him or her because of the position they hold. Some people demand or expect respect to be given to them because of their title or the role they have played.

I think you will all agree with me … Positional Authority is a dangerous and ungodly thing.

It is contrary to the example of Christ who, as we we read in Philippians 2, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.”

The example of Jesus Christ is the exact opposite of Positional Authority. It is the absolute rejection of Positional Authority.

Instead, Jesus acted with of Relational Authority.

Relational Authority is exhibited by leaders who seek to win respect, who seek to be transparent with those they lead, transparent about their mission and vision for the future, transparent about their own failings and shortcomings, and strive to continue to proclaim The Kingdom of God.

So, when Mark says, “[Jesus] taught them as one having authority”, that is a reflection on His “Relational Authority”; that he was humble and had become deeply human and was allowing people to meet Him in their humanity too.

Because those people in the synagogue that day had become so used to people leading out of Positional Authority, we read in verse 22 that the people were “astounded at his teaching”.

This notion of amazement is a strong word: it almost has the connotation of putting people into shock or even panic, such was the strength and power of Jesus’ Relational Authority.

The like of this had not been seen before in a world that knew nothing other than Empires and Emperors, Kings and Kingdoms, wars and colonisation.

Into this setting walks the Son of God - one who humbles himself, one who brings healing and light and truth to the world not by demanding and forcing but by loving and serving and showing us the power of His Relational Authority. <PAUSE>

Then, as Jesus heals the man and drives out the unclean spirit, he demonstrated His authority over Satan and the uncleanness of this world. <PAUSE>

Mark concludes this passage by saying: “At once His fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee”.

The Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ began to spread because of word and deed.

So it is, so it must be, with us as disciples of Christ, the Good News of Jesus will spread throughout our communities as we engage in mission through word and deed. I want Christ to be known throughout our communities and I want each of us to commit ourselves to this vision.

Mark confirms the truth that Jesus Christ has authority over us. It is not a demanding Positional Authority. WE have a choice to accept His Relational Authority.

Mark confirms for us that the light of Christ will spread through our communities as we engage in both word and deed.

WE must be a people committed to Relational Authority as we spread Christ’s mission in the world around us.

So, today, let us re-commit ourselves to the authority of Jesus Christ - NOT because we are forced to but because WE WANT TO. We ask that, in this year of 2024, the Good News will be spread throughout our communities and the world …..

Always remembering that when we commit ourselves to Christ, then, to God, will be the glory.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Everlasting God, thank you for welcoming us in love, hear us as we pray for the good of Your people,, the world and especially for all in need this day.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your Mercy” Our plea is, “Hear our prayer”

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we pray for all who preach the authority of Jesus Christ, those who seek to inspire, lead and grow us as disciples as we reach out to those in need in our communities and in our world.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.


God of every land and nation, Your spoke Your word with authority and revealed His good news. We pray for our troubled world its peoples and their leaders. We pray for those caught up in war, and violence, and hatred; especially the innocent victims of these evils. May peace abound and righteousness flourish, that we may vanquish injustice and wrong.


(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Holy God, although we are sometimes separated by language and culture from the people we live amongst, and\or reach out to, we long to see Your will done here on earth as it is in heaven. We pray for our neighbours, not only with words but day by day, moment by moment, in the things we do and the way we do them.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Abundant God, be with those of us that desire and need Your restoration and healing. As we remember the way Your son Jesus Christ cast out demons we remember today all those who live in the depths of depression and mental illness. Today, we ask for your blessing and healing touch upon them

We especially raise before you all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Merciful God, Your love reaches beyond the grave. At the end of our days on earth be with us and with those we love. May those who have gone before us rest in Your eternal peace.  We remember before you those who have died and we pray for all whose life is saddened by the death of a loved one, be with them in their sorrow.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, our authority along the way, in a moment of silence we place before You our personal prayers for ourselves, our families, friends, for all whom we love and for our personal ministries. Make us worthy to follow you.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Lord God we pray that as we journey through the week ahead, we ask that in all we do, we may we walk more closely with You at our side safe in the knowledge that Your Fatherly love and care knows no bounds.

(Short Silence) Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach 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 for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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