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Fourth Sunday after The Epiphany - Homily "A Servant's Authority by Pr. Jim



660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


31 January 2021


A warm welcome to all who have joined us today in worship and praise of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May this time of worship make us eager to share in the proclamation of the Good News of God’s love and redemption in Christ as we go forth into another week of service in his Name. Guests and visitors, we are happy that you have joined us in worship. Please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER        One With Authority

In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses, who will speak for God. In Psalm 111 God shows the people the power of God’s works. For The Church these are ways of pointing to the unique authority people sensed in Jesus’ actions and words. We encounter that authority in God’s word, around which we gather, the word that prevails over any lesser spirit that would claim power over us, freeing us to follow Jesus.


Lord God, overtake our weakness with your power so that we may proclaim the saving Gospel to all nations. Remove from us all fear and doubt, and move us toward those who have not heard the story of your love. We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


PRE-SERVICE MUSIC The trumpets sound, the angels sing

We are called


Those who heard Jesus teach recognized that he did so with an authority that gave him power, even over the unclean spirits (The Holy Gospel). Moses had prophesied that God would raise up such a mighty prophet from the people and warned that people should listen to him (The First Lesson). Paul points out that the freedom we have in The Prophet must not be misused at the risk of the conscience of others.

PRELUDE The Lord’s My ShepherdTracey Craig McKibben

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano

INVOCATION & CONFESSION                                                                                                                                                      

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with God while we are walking in

darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.

But if we walk in the light as God himself is in the light, we have fellowship

with one another,

and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us from all sin.

Today we hear the voice of him who speaks to us with authority, the promised

prophet of the Lord.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection & Self-examination +

Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We turn from your word and shrink from your will, and so we

follow other gods. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on

us. Forgive us, renew us, and let your light shine upon us, so that we may

delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

The Son of God has come with great authority; his death effects forgiveness, and

his Word promises life and freedom. As a called and ordained servant of Christ,

and by his authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the

Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The grace of God that extends to all nations in Christ Jesus through the work of

the Holy Spirit be with you all.

               And also with you.


In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the peace from above and for our salvation

let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of

The Church of God, and for the unity of all let us pray

to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For this holy house and for all who offer here their

worship and praise let us pray to the Lord.

     Lord, have mercy.

Help, save, and defend us, O God. Amen.    


Gracious God, you gather the whole universe into your radiant presence and continuously reveal your Son as our Savior. Bring wholeness to all that is broken and speak truth to us in our confusion, that all creation will see and know your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON          Deuteronomy 18:15-20

[Today’s reading is part of a longer discourse in Deuteronomy, an updating of the law for the Israelite community as the people wait to enter the promised land. Here Moses assures the people that God will continue to guide them through prophets who will proclaim the divine word.]

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God anymore, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

PSALM of THE DAY Psalm 119 [Please join the Praise Team in singing the Refrain.]  

Refrain: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless

Who walk according to the law of the LORD.

Blessed are they who keep his statutes

And seek him with all their heart.

You have laid down precepts

That are to be fully obeyed. REFRAIN

Oh, that my ways were steadfast

In obeying your decrees!

Then I would not be put to shame

When I consider all your commands.

I will praise you with an upright heart

As I learn your righteous laws. REFRAIN

SECOND LESSON    1 Corinthians 8:1-13

[Paul is concerned about the way some Corinthian Christians use their freedom in Christ as license

to engage in non-Christian behavior that sets a damaging example to other, impressionable believers. Christians have a responsibility to each other that their behavior does not cause another to sin.]

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.”

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not

yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really

exists, and that there is no God but one.” Indeed even though there may be so-called gods

in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—yet 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.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so

accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol;

and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are

no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours

does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is

a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

The Word of the Lord.

                 Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC My Savior First of All—Lynell Leatherman

GOSPEL         Mark 1:21-28

[The story has barely begun, and already the battle is joined. Forces that would bring death and disease have taken hold of a man, yet they recognize Jesus and know what his power means for them. Jesus command these forces to leave and people are amazed at his authority.]

Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then 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. 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.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the region of Galilee.

The Gospel of our Lord. Praise to You, O Christ.

GRACE CHOIR Come with Joyful Singing—Joseph Martin

HOMILY A Servant’s Authority Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim

Deuteronomy 18:15-20; I Corinthians 8:1-13, Mark 1:21-28


+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

Authority—how would you rate it these days?

One can hardly be blamed as a cynic if the answer is: Not in good standing. Judging from the media, sociologists, and our own day-to-day observations, it’s accurate to say that authority is in trouble. But when you stop to think about it, it always was. Ever since the temptation in the Garden of Eden, we humans are faced with a dilemma: We can’t live with authority. And we can’t live without it.

That’s the dilemma at the heart of today’s Gospel Lesson from the 1st chapter of Mark. Jesus’ authority is one that arises out of the epiphany (that is, the manifestation) of His truth and love. Mark notes: “He taught as one having authority.”

In His teaching, Jesus cut through the comparing … speculating … and postulating of previous rabbis and teachers. Instead of going back over the tortuous grounds of “this rabbi taught this” and “that rabbi taught that,” Jesus cut through the maze of teachings based on comparison of thought. Remember that frequent phrase of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? “You have heard it said by men of old … but I say to you.” “But I say to you” has the ring of authority. It gets people’s attention. “Love the Lord your God with whole heart and sound and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is the heart of the Law. On this everything else hangs,” said Jesus. (Matthew 23:37-40)

It wasn’t “business as usual” that day in the synagogue at Capernaum, writes Mark. “They were astonished,” says the Gospel text, “for he taught them as one who had authority and not as the scribes.”

And then suddenly, there was a blood-curdling scream. A man possessed with an unclean spirit came in … a man totally out of control—under a demonic spell.

Now came the test of Jesus’ teaching—the test of His authority. But the challenge of His authority was by a darker source … not by the scribes and rabbinic schools of thought that day in the synagogue at Capernaum.

From the possessed man came a voice: “Jesus of Nazareth, what have you to do with us? Have you come to destroy us?” Then notes the Gospel, comes an attempt to control Jesus: “I know who you are, the Holy One of Israel.”

Now in reading and understanding that phrase, you have to remember that in Jesus’ time to know someone’s name was to have control or power over an individual. So, to name Jesus as the Holy One of God was to claim authority over Him, control Him, or seek privilege from Him. It’s an out-and-out challenge. Demonic authority has challenged Divine authority.

But Jesus doesn’t give an inch. “Be silent,” rebukes Jesus, “come out of him.” Jesus’ authority is the authority of God Himself. “Come out of him” is the command for the evil one to give up hold on one of God’s own creatures.

Our Lord’s authority, you see, is based on His very person … the Holy One of God. His authority is manifested or revealed in what He does. His authority is not detached from love … from healing … or from making people whole. That’s the great thing that everyone witnessed that day in the synagogue at Capernaum. It wasn’t just an astonishing work of healing, but the Divine authority revealed in that healing. Jesus’ authority is not to lord it over the poor man possessed with demons. Jesus’ authority is the power of love at work—returning a man to the wholeness that God intends for him.

Only by faith can Christ’s authority be recognized and obeyed. The account of Jesus’ entire ministry is given to us so we can follow Him step by step from Capernaum to Calvary. Over and over again He teaches and heals … restores and forgives with authority … an authority that is loving and strong without being destructive.

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus spoke with that authority: “In my Father’s house there are many rooms … I go to prepare a place for you … I will come and take you to myself (John 10:18).” At Lazarus’ grave, Jesus commands, “Come forth.” All these words of Jesus were fulfilled in His own cry from the Cross: “It is finished!” His death paid the price of sin once and for all. His resurrection is the seal of God the Father’s hand at work in His Son. And as the risen and ascended Lord, Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and earth is given to me—go, baptize, teach, and disciple the world.” (Matthew 28:19ff)

“They were astonished,” says the text. On this 4th Sunday after The Epiphany, we are to let the amazement in Capernaum continue. And the amazement is this: Christ entrusts His authority to proclaim the Good News to others. Jesus places His authority to disciple the world and our community into our hands … into our hearts and onto our lips.

You and I are given that authority without demanding it. By God’s grace through Word and Sacrament, it’s conferred upon us by the power of the Spirit in the waters of Baptism. We don’t create it. There is a difference between power and authority, you know. Power exists by keeping others under control. Its tactics are always strong-armed … get the upper hand … gain control by hook or crook. Authority, on the other hand, comes about by honoring and serving others with selfless love … which sees no other reward than the good of others.

On the night of His betrayal our Lord gave us an example of the authority to which He calls us. Taking a towel and basin, He washed the feet of His disciples. To have authority is to exercise authority as a servant. By our baptisms, we are reborn to a new life—recreated for a purpose and entrusted with the authority to serve as we have been served by our Lord.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen.


Called to know, love, and follow you, O God, we pray for The Church, the world, and all who are in need.

Lord God, we pray for all who share the gospel and proclaim freedom in Christ throughout the world: prophets, teachers, pastors, deacons, and lay leaders. Call your whole Church, beyond small hopes and half-hearted witness to risk everything for the sake of sharing your plan of salvation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Call our hearts to greater love and care for all your works in creation: plants and animals, water and soil, forests and farms. We pray for those tasked with protecting our natural resources and all that exists for ages to come. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Call parliaments, councils, legislatures, and all governing bodies to put aside divisive rhetoric and partisan rancor. Diminish the thirst for personal or party victories and move us to overcome that which divides us so that together we may seek the common good. Protect police officers and firefighters, attorneys and paralegals, peacekeepers, military personnel, as they work to provide protection to all people, especially the most vulnerable. Send peace in our time. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Gently watch over those who suffer in mind, body, or spirit: those who are sick and all who hunger for healing. Enfold them in the fullness of your embrace. We commend to your care: Charlie and Marguerite (MaryAnn’s father and mother), Rusty (under hospice care), and Shari. Raise the spirits of those who are home-bound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Call this assembly to expand our vision in these COVID times to see your kingdom present and working among us. Energize our ministries so that many will hear the message of hope and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Raise up willing workers and volunteers from among us to help tend the tasks of service and proclamation during these challenging days of ministry. Continue to guide our Call Committee by the power of your Holy Spirit as it seeks to identify the pastoral candidate you have chosen to serve as your under-shepherd among us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Call us to greater service through the example of all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith. In the fullness of time, give us our inheritance in Christ and gather us all together in your eternal presence. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Merciful God, hear the prayers of your people, spoken or silent, for the sake of the One who dwells among us, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.



Lord God, as you have blessed us with many gifts, so receive now these offerings of ourselves, our time, and our possessions. Through this meal unite us as your body, that we may be a light to all nations; for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Holy God, creator of all and source of all life,

at the birth of time your Word brought light

into the world.

In the fullness of time, you sent your Word, born

of Mary, to shine in our darkness and make us

your sons and daughters.

   Now in the words of our Lord, we are bold to pray:

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.

Distribution music: I Am the Bread of Life


We give you thanks, gracious God, that you have once again fed us with the body and blood of Christ. Through this mystery, send us to proclaim your promise to a world in need; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


POST-SERVICE MUSIC The trees of the field

Go in peace and serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

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