Epiphany 4

Matins

✠ The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany ✠

JANUARY 31, A. D. 2021

(Pastor Maag is away in London this weekend.  Please bear with this printed and simplified form of worship today.  Thank you).

Prelude

“In Babilone” by Paul Manz


Versicles

O Lord, open my lips,
    And my mouth will declare your praise.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me;
    Make haste to help me, O Lord.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
    and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
    is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Praise to You, O Christ. Alleluia.

Psalmody

Blessed be God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    O come, let us worship Him.

Venite

Venite ‎‎‎(Psalm 95)‎‎‎


Blessed be God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    O come, let us worship Him.

Psalm
32:1–2, 5-7 (Antiphon: Psalm 32:10)
Many are the sorrows of the wicked;
    but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven;
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity;
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
    surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
    and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
    is now and will be forever. Amen.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked;
    but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.

Office Hymn

LSB 842 - "Son Of God, Eternal Saviour"


Readings

Deuteronomy 18:15-20:
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ (ESV)

O Lord, have mercy on us.
    Thanks be to God.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13:
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (ESV)

O Lord, have mercy on us.
    Thanks be to God.

Mark 1:21-28:
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “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 out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. (ESV)

O Lord, have mercy on us.
    Thanks be to God.

Propers for Epiphany 4


Common Responsory

Forever, O Lord, your Word is firmly set in the heavens.
Lord, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it.
Lord, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Lord, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.


Sermon:  Mark 1:21-28 - "A New Teaching"

In the name of the Father, and of the ✠ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Jesus was not like other teachers. It was the actual teaching of our Lord that was different. Unlike the others, he taught with authority. Jesus taught from the Scriptures, from the writings of the holy prophets of God. Jesus, however, did not speculate or peddle mere opinions. He properly interpreted God's Word. He spoke with clarity, certainty and confidence. He brought an understanding and forcefulness to his preaching unseen except in the prophets of long ago. He spoke to the people truly as God's messenger, as God's mouth-piece, even as Moses and Elijah had done before. Yet, his teaching was even more remarkable, for our Lord taught with an authority that seemed to be his very own. His hearers observed his extraordinary manner and they commented: “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” And so it was, for he was God's own Son.

Our Lord Christ, however, did not demonstrate his power and authority only in words, but also in deeds. We read in St. Mark's account:

“And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. 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.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.”

Dear friends, do not underestimate the power and wickedness of Satan and his evil angels. But the power of Satan is seen not only in such extraordinary behaviour as demon-possession, but also in the utter rejection of God's truth. What is it but Satan's own work when one who knows and confesses the truth of God in Christ utterly forsakes that truth for error and falsehood and so abandons Christ? We ought to take Satan very seriously, for if we allow him to have power over us, he will surely drag us with him into hell.

Nevertheless, we should not underestimate the power and authority of Jesus Christ. With one scolding command our Lord drove the devil out of the man. The scribes and teachers of the law had never seen or done anything like that. As the people said:

“He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

The disciples of Jesus would see even greater things than that. When Jesus calmed the storm, they asked each other: “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” People were amazed at the signs and wonders that he worked. They said: “Where did this man get these things? What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!” They said: “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Our Lord Jesus raised the dead, no less. What power and authority!

What was this authority given God's Son? It was the authority promised of old, authority to “open eyes that are blind . . . to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour,” in the words of Isaiah. Jesus Christ is the prophet promised to us in our Old Testament lesson. The Lord said to Moses:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. "

The authority Jesus had was the authority of the Lord God Almighty, the authority to preach the Gospel and perform wonders in God's name. His was the authority to call the world to repentance and to teach of the love and mercy of the heavenly Father. Finally, his was the authority to lay down his life for sinful mankind so that we may know freedom from death, release from the darkness of sin and joy in the Lord's favour. By far, the most remarkable authority our Lord possessed was the authority to forgive sins. Even the scribes and Pharisees picked up on this, for they had read of healing and resurrection already in Moses and the prophets. Who but God himself, however, could forgive sins? This power is the highest and best of all, for by it sinful people are released from terrors of conscience, freed from guilt, given peace of mind and soul and assured of eternal life. Again, who but God has the power to forgive sins? Jesus Christ our Lord, however, is true God, begotten of his Father from eternity.

That authority is among us today as well, for it is the power of the preached Gospel and the Sacraments of Christ entrusted by God to his Church to be managed and administered by his called ministers. The authority of Christ is the authority with which your pastor preaches to you, the authority by which he absolves of sins, the authority by which he baptizes and admits the penitent to the Lord's Table. It is not the pastor's personal authority. It has nothing to do with his university degrees or experience, his age or appearance. It is the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ given through his Church to certain men to preach with power and confidence. And what are the sacraments except the most gracious signs and miracles given to man -- not mere physical wonders -- but miracles that affect the soul!? Though we do not raise the dead, heal or cast out demons, we have authority to baptize in God's name for the forgiveness of sins and the authority to distribute the very Body and Blood of the Son of God, for the eternal life and salvation of all who receive the Sacrament of the Altar by faith. Of course, these things do not appear like much at all, but all this is really a casting out of demons and a raising of the dead to life everlasting!

Consider what occurs in Holy Baptism where a sinner, a child of Satan, is made a child of the Most High God. Is baptism not an exorcism? In Luther’s form of the baptismal rite the pastor declares, “Therefore, depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Consider what is said to the penitent to conclude the Rite of Private Confession: “Go, you are free!” We are free, free of sins, free of Satan's power to accuse, free in Christ! The world with all its wonders, its power and might, has nothing on this. What great authority Christ has given to his Church!

There is nothing so obvious as a preacher who preaches from his own authority as though he has earned the right to teach his own opinion, and as though God's people gather merely to hear his pious thoughts and dreams. His sermon will be one long string of remarks like “I think . . . , I believe . . . , In my opinion . . . . , It's my impression that . . ." This is like the preaching of the scribes of Jesus' day -- mere speculation, teaching filled with doubt and uncertainty. But God says:

“A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say . . . must be put to death.”

Beloved, death was the Old Testament remedy for preaching without God's authority. New Testament pastors and preachers will also answer for their false preaching -- on the day of the Lord! Sadly, many people will follow such false teachers and will share their same fate. People say that it doesn't matter which church one attends.  God says, however, that It matters whom you follow, whose word you hear, for to listen to a false preacher and believe his lies is to find only God’s judgment and the torments of hell.

How do we respond to the authority of Christ? The authority of God's Word, the power of the Gospel to forgive sins, reveals the identity of the One who stands behind it. But not all people respond in the same way. Do we respond as the devils did? They knew the Christ. They believed in his existence and power, but they did not trust in his mercy. They cried out, “What do want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” On account of our sinfulness, we too, have reason to fear the power and authority of the holy God, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Like the demons, we have reason to tremble and to shriek.

Unfortunately, sinful man is generally more silly than the demons. Like the people of Capernaum, when we are confronted with the power and authority of God's Word, we may be rightly astounded and amazed. Today, if a preacher stands in the pulpit proclaiming, “Thus says the Lord,” people take notice. Any pastor who preaches the pure Word of God will get the attention of his hearers, and immediately the news will spread through the whole countryside. God promised that it would be so. But we are more foolish than the demons in that while we recognize the expression of authority, we don't see so easily the Holy One of God, God's Son, behind the messenger. A pastor teaches and practises what he must according to the Scriptures. He proclaims and announces the truth. His hearers marvel at it and debate it. Some take offence. Perhaps, like the scribes, we argue with God's prophet: “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you authority to do this?” How hard it is, however, to see and hear Christ in one's pastor and to take the pastor's word as the Word of the Lord, for Jesus said,
He who hears you, hears me. How hard it is truly to fear the Lord Jesus who speaks to us with such power and authority. The devils were terrified; sinful man marvels, debates and often rejects and abandons the prophetic Word, and so loses salvation as well. God spare us from such attacks of the Evil One.

Our Lord Jesus desires that we fear him, that we revere him, honour and respect him. The highest and best response to the Word of God, however, is not fear alone, but fear, love and trust. After all, our Lord did not come to terrify and destroy us. “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” And he replies: “I want you! I want you to be my brother or sister, to be holy and blameless, to receive my righteousness by faith, to enjoy with me the eternal blessings of heaven, to live with me forever in peace and contentment, to sing the praises of the heavenly Father in eternity.” Our Lord Christ has power and authority to bring these things to pass among us even by the means of his grace, the preached Gospel and the holy Sacraments. This is his promise to us, for he has the power and authority of heaven to do it. God grant us faith to respond with St. Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Amen.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Te Deum

Te Deum ‎‎‎(short ending)‎‎‎


Prayers

Lord, have mercy;
    Christ, have mercy;
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
    Amen


God of heaven and earth, Your voice was heard at Sinai and Your authority was made manifest in Christ, the Prophet greater than Moses, we therefore pray You to make the preachers and ministers of Christ diligent to listen to His Word and speak it faithfully in His name and also to preserve us from false prophets who would lead us away from His truth; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
    Amen

Heavenly Father, we pray for our families and homes, that You would guard them and build them up in love, support parents in their task of instructing their children, strengthen those whose faith is weak, and make us bold to forego convenience and security to attest the truths of our most holy faith with heart and action; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
    Amen.

Heavenly Father, You sent Your own Son into this world as the child of Mary. We thank you for the life of Noah Mitrovic, entrusted to the care of his parents. Bring him to the saving waters of Holy Baptism, and grant him that precious inheritance awaiting him in your eternal kingdom; for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
    Amen.

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day; defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
    Amen.

Benedicamus and Blessing

Let us bless the Lord.
    Thanks be to God.

The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
    Amen.

Postlude

"Prelude in C Major 9/8" by J. S. Bach


✠ ✠ ✠

Matins from Lutheran Service Book. Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.