Sunday (Zoom from the sanctuary) message: A different kind of authority

Lord, we thank You for opening our eyes anew to your awe-inspiring presence in our daily living. Thank You for the protection You provide us with. Thank You for the wisdom You give us. Wisdom also to do our part in protecting one another, in living lives that give new hope in hopeless circumstances. Thank You for the assurance that You have never given up on us. Thank You for hearts that look and find ways to smile again and know that You are God.

Worship on the Lord’s Day

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting:

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: I lift up my eyes to the hills –
from where will my help come?
P: My help comes from the Lord,   
    who made heaven and earth.
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Here I am to worship

Light of the world, You step down into darkness. Opened my eyes let me see. Beauty that made this heart adore you Hope of a life spent with you.

Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God, You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, Altogether wonderful to me.

Songwriter: Tim Hughes © 2000 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:

L: God’s praise endures forever,
P: and eternity meets us
    in fleeting moments.
L: God’s praise endures forever,
P: and glory bursts
    into ordinary activities.
L: God’s praise endures forever,
P: and faith is steadfast even
    in the midst of change and challenge.
L: Let us worship the Eternal God
who calls us to this time and place.

Prayers of approach and lament:

Loving Lord, you are the wisdom behind all mystery, the glory hidden in all that makes us wonder, the strength in all that nourishes. When our eyes are open and our spirits alert, we experience your glory around us. Scattered throughout the earth, smouldering deep inside us, radiating in acts of love, sparks of your glory reside. Deep is our joy each time we encounter You. So, we gather in worship to express our reverence and praise. Together we celebrate the good we have experienced, knowing it all comes from your hand, Gracious Lord.

To every view filling us with wonder, dear Lord, there is a shadow as well. Our world is filled with so much heartbreaking brokenness. These things fill us with a sense of lament. Our hearts yearn for times of freedom, times of joining with each other in joy and gladness. When, oh when will that come back to us? We are stunned at the way a pandemic took us into a totally different and difficult direction. It pierces our hearts with agony. When will You release us again, filling us with new hope? Now we spend a few moments with the lament of our own personal hearts…

Response: I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s faithfulness

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

Dear Lord, we have entered a new year. Many of us need a new perspective, would You provide it for us. There are those of us dealing with illness, would You grant us encouragement and patience to take it one step at a time towards better health. Some of us are dealing with loneliness, would You help us to find satisfaction in being by ourselves and reflecting upon all the goodness in our lives, give us strength in knowing you are with us, and courage to find new ways to fill our lives with meaningful experiences. There are those among us who are dealing with depression, give us hope. Hope and strategies that will help us deal with our sadness or misfortune. Help us to find medical strategies or emotional satisfaction through reading, learning, exercising or whatever we personally need. Only You know dear Lord what each of us struggles with and needs.

As we now turn to listening to your voice in various ways, we pray, Source of Wisdom, still our minds in these moments of listening, so that we may be fully present and attuned to your life-giving Word this day. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Song: The clay-stained hands of love

The clay-stained hands of love created human form, Praise love that made us from the earth, the love with clay-stained hands.

The healing hands of love gave speech and sight and strength, Praise love that came to touch and heal, the love with healing hands.

The wounded hands of love showed life had conquered death. Praise love that came in servant form, the love with wounded hands.

The hidden hands of love are building up the church, Praise love that works with living stone, the love with hidden hands.

We sing our praise, O Love, for your life-giving hands. O Maker, Saviour, Spirit, God, we sing our praise to you.

Words: Richard D. Leach ©1994 Selah Publishing
Music: Jack Noble White ©1994 Selah Publishing
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture readings:           

Psalm 111 (Common English Version adapted)

L: Shout praises to the LORD!
P: With all our hearts we will thank the LORD
             when the people meet.
L: The LORD has done many wonderful things!
P: Everyone who is pleased
             with God’s marvelous deeds
             will keep them in mind.
L: Everything the LORD does
is glorious and majestic,
P: and the LORD’s power to bring justice
             will never end.

L: The LORD God is famous
for many wonderful deeds,
P: The LORD God is kind and merciful.
L: The LORD God gives food to worshipers
P: and always keeps covenant with them.
L: The LORD God has shown mighty power
to the people
P: and has given them
             the lands of other nations.

L: God is always honest and fair,
P: God’s laws can be trusted.
L: They are true and right
P: and will stand forever.
L: God rescued the people;
and will never break covenant with them.
P: God is fearsome and holy.

L: Respect and obey the LORD!
P: This is what wisdom and good sense
             are all about –
             to always respect and obey God.

Mark 1:21-28 – New Testament (New Revised Standard Version)

The Man with an Unclean Spirit

21 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 silent, 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.

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

Message: “A different kind of authority”

Money Magazine has selected its top “Sin Stocks.” If you plan to invest in companies that make money out of our inclination to sin, here are the top Seven Deadly Sin Stocks, the stocks that will give you the greatest return on your investment (Money Magazine, November 2002):

  1. Lust: Playboy Enterprises, although it was discontinued in the meantime
  2. Anger: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
  3. Avarice: Trump Hotels & Casinos
  4. Sloth: La-Z-Boy
  5. Envy: Allergan (AGN) Botox injections
  6. Gluttony: Krispy Kreme (KKD)
  7. Pride: Fair Isaac (FIC) (credit rating company)

All we have to do is go to the Wall Street Journal, read a tabloid headline at the check-out counter, to know that unclean spirits still walk about on this planet earth. Mid-twentieth century biblical scholars made sure to invest lots of time and thought trying to modernize all the biblical references to unclean spirits and stores of demonic possession into psychological diagnoses and their therapeutic cures.

But after a half-century of world-wars, cold-wars, guerilla-wars, genocidal-wars, terrorist-wars, and now WMD-wars (WMD= “Weapons of Mass Destruction”), who among us has any reason to doubt the straightforward biblical perceptions that unclean spirits and demonic powers roam in our midst? [i]

Today’s message comes from Mark 1:21-28. The authority of Jesus over the unclean spirit makes it clear that in those instances when we are possessed, obsessed, or taken advantage of, by stronger forces, are the times when Christ’s power over evil is much stronger.

Last week, we saw Jesus say in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” What is the kingdom of God? It’s God’s presence coming to all peoples and cultures, pressing into the brokenness of the world, fulfilling God’s promise to restore all things. It means things will finally be done on earth as they are in heaven. God will rule and God’s people will be glad. We pick up the story now to see what life in God’s kingdom looks like.

This passage includes at least two things almost no one believes in anymore: authoritative teaching and spiritual warfare.

And there are two primary ways of ignoring them. One is to deny their existence completely. That’s what the Enlightenment thinkers told us to do. They said modern people must question all authority. They said all tradition, all revelation, all external authority must be put under the microscope of personal reason and submitted to the moral authority of the Self.

Part of that subjection to reason was a rejection of the supernatural—not only the supernatural miracles of God but even the person of God. Skepticism replaced faith.

So, today’s passage, in today’s world, is just about as crazy as it can get. Here we have the God-Man, Jesus, teaching not with suggestions for a better life but with the authority of the living God. And we have a demon-possessed man healed, the unclean spirit cast out, and everyone left totally awestruck. Could you imagine an event like this making the front page of the news websites today with any level of seriousness?

The other way is no less a denial but a much more subtle one. And it’s the one we swim in, we’re immersed in it, primarily, in our area today. Our culture really likes Jesus. But the popular Jesus is a far cry from the biblical Jesus. He fits squarely into the mold of self-centered thinking. Instead of accepting the Jesus of the Bible with all his claims of lordship and exclusivity, many have accepted a half-Jesus, which is really no Jesus. It’s a Jesus shaped and made out of our selfish mind, perfectly made according to our personal desires and what we feel we need. He has all the encouragement and good vibes we want without the lordship and salvation we need.

We can call this half-Jesus “Jesus Jr.” Who is Jesus Jr.? Jesus Jr. is a sanitized version of the real Jesus. Jesus Jr. doesn’t surprise us, astonish us, or amaze us. Jesus Jr. does not cause us to say, “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” Jesus Jr. is safe, comfortable, manageable. Jesus Jr. never disagrees with us.

The problem, however, is, “If your God never disagrees with you, you might just be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.” If your Jesus never stuns you with his glory, if he never causes you to fall down at his feet in worship, if you never realize before Him you are undeserving of his love and cry out for mercy only to find within Him storehouses of grace, you are deprived of the only One who can really do something glorious in your life. [ii]

The biggest thing that stands out in our text, is that this man with the unclean spirit encounters Jesus right in the synagogue, in the place of worship, the place we enter on a Sunday, even if we’re at home, watching it on Zoom.

Have there been times in your life when we’ve been possessed, taken advantage of? Perhaps when you were obsessed…

Coming to think of it, how much of our current pandemic is about the unclean, going right into our very own homes? What is it that defiles us today? What damages God’s image in us in 2021?

It may just be that when we dismiss the astonishing part about the exorcism of the demon-possessed man, that we are dismissing something vital in our own lives. We might be stumbling over the authority of Jesus that touches our very own existence, our day to day living.

How about this! I think this passage we read is far more relatable after unpacking these thoughts.

When we sanitize, cleanse, wash hands, stay clear, it may just well be that the Lord Jesus Christ is stepping into our regular lives, protecting us, filling us with so much reason to be abundantly thankful.

Peeking into our Psalm reading, we heard: “God is fearsome and holy. Respect and obey the Lord! This is what wisdom and good sense are all about – to always respect and obey God.

Jesus’ authority over our lives indeed fills us with awe and reverence! He certainly isn’t Jesus Jr. He truly is Jesus Christ, Lord over our lives, every moment, every breath that we take. Jesus is real. He is the One who astonishes with an authority that stands out above all other authorities, beyond any comparison. Let us serve Him anew. Amen

Song: Thou whose almighty word

Thou whose almighty word chaos and darkness heard and took their flight, hear us, we humbly pray, and where the gospel day sheds not its glorious ray Let There Be Light!

Saviour who came to bring on thy redeeming wing healing and sight, health to the sick in mind, sight to the inly blind, now to all humankind Let There Be Light!

Spirit of truth and love, lifegiving, holy Dove,
speed forth thy flight; move o’er the waters’ face, bearing the lamp of grace, and in earth’s darkest place Let There Be Light!

Blessed and holy Three, glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, Love, Might, boundless as ocean’s tide
rolling in fullest pride, through the world, far and wide, Let There Be Light!

Words: John Marriott; Public Domain
Music: Felice de Giardini; Public Domain

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Lord, we thank You for opening our eyes anew to your awe-inspiring presence in our daily living. Thank You for the protection You provide us with. Thank You for the wisdom You give us. Wisdom also to do our part in protecting one another, in living lives that give new hope in hopeless circumstances. Thank You for the assurance that You have never given up on us. Thank You for hearts that look and find ways to smile again and know that You are God. Amen

Response: Give thanks to the Lord

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully even though there is no offering plate going around the sanctuary. It may be a while before we return to that sanctuary. What a wonder it is to continue the precious ministry that defines Dayspring. Thank you for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

Song: There is a balm in Gilead 

Refrain:

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sinsick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain, but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.            (Refrain)

Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend, who, if you ask for knowledge, will never fail to lend.                            (Refrain)

If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus,
who died to save us all.           (Refrain)

Words and Music: African spiritual; public domain
Encourage folks to accept random Breakout Room assignment as a way of fostering community and care for each other.

Sending out with God’s blessing

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:13)

Response: God to enfold you

(Zoom breakout groups)


[i] Sweet, L. (2021, January 30). Orient your “itudes”. Sermons.com https://www.sermons.com/sermon/orient-your-itudes/1353926
[ii] McLemore, D. (2021, January 30). Matthew 1:21-28: The authority of Jesus. Things of the sort https://www.thingsofthesort.com/sermons-2/2019/2/3/mark-121-28-the-authority-of-jesus


4th Sunday of Epiphany

10:00 am January 31, 2021

led by Rev. Heinrich Grosskopf

Elder: Bill Davis

children’s time: Lynn Vaughan

vocalist: Glynnis McCrostie


Copyright 2021 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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