Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Ordinary Time
MARK 1:21–28/1:19–25 IV
Jesus, the Teacher
Deuteronomy 18:15–20, Psalm 111, 1 Corinthians 8:1–13, Doctrine and Covenants 165:2a–f
Invite People to Christ
Welcome and Invitation
Invite congregants to greet one another.
Call to Worship
Read with enthusiasm and emphasis.
Reader 1: Hallelujah!
Reader 2: I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got—
Reader 1: Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
Reader 2: God’s works are so great,
Reader 1: worth a lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Reader 2: Splendor and beauty mark the Savior’s craft;
Reader 1: God’s generosity never gives out.
Reader 2: The miracles are a memorial—
Reader 1: This God of Grace, this God of Love,
Reader 2: who gave food to those in fear.
Reader 1: The Holy One remembered to keep the ancient promise.
Reader 2: God proved to all people that the promises would be kept.
Reader 1: Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!
Reader 2: Our Lord manufactures truth and justice;
Reader 1: All of God’s products are guaranteed to last—
Reader 2: Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rustproof.
Reader 1: All that is made is honest and true.
Reader 2: Jesus Christ paid the ransom for all people,
Reader 1: God ordered the covenant kept forever.
Reader 2: The Holy Spirit is so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
Reader 1: The good life begins in God—
Reader 2: You will always know the blessings of God.
Both: Hallelujah lasts forever!
—Psalm 111, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” CCS 86
OR “Teach Me, God, to Wonder” CCS 176
OR “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CCS 101
Congregational Mission Prayer
Print or project this prayer so all in the congregation can share it.
God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.
Develop Disciples to Serve
Mark 1:21–28 “The Man with an Unclean Spirit”
Read as a spontaneous melodrama with a narrator and someone acting out the parts of Jesus and the man with the unclean spirit. The congregation reads the part of those in the synagogue. Project or print the words.
Narrator: They 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,
Unclean Spirit: “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.”
Narrator: But Jesus rebuked him, saying,
Jesus: “Be silent, and come out of him!”
Narrator: And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another,
Congregation: “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
Narrator: At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Display a remote control and ask what it is. What can it do? Discuss how some of the universal remote controls can do many more things. In our scripture today we are reminded that Jesus always seems to be able to control the situation. He heals, he teaches, he loves. He wants to be part of your life too, not as a “control freak” but as someone who loves you and wants the choices you make to be good ones because you are loved so much!
Brainstorm some of Jesus’ most well-known teachings. Ask the congregants to share—with a partner or in small groups—about the one who shapes their lives. Play music to bring the gathering back as one.
To extend the learning for children, hand out an activity (such as, coloring sheets or find-a-word sheets) on the theme of the day.
Pursue Peace on Earth
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle.
Hymn of Peace
Sing one of the following hymns as the Prayer for Peace.
“O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come” CCS 544
OR “Prayer of Peace” CCS 164
OR “Jesus, Partner, Lover, Friend” CCS 40
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.
Based on Mark 1:21–28/1:19–25 IV
Ministry of Music
Soloist or group sings as a response to the message.
OR Congregational Hymn
“Holy Presence, Holy Teacher” CCS 601
OR “Holy Spirit, Teacher, Friend” CCS 181
Invite people to silently read CCS 168, “I Will Talk to My Heart” or have it read to the congregation while someone uses sign language to interpret the text.
Experience Congregations in Mission
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 165:2a–f
Working in a shopping centre, I observed many people. One day I came across a little girl in distress because she wanted to buy her mummy a very special birthday card and though she had saved her money, she didn’t quite have enough the shopkeeper told her. It was a practice of mine to pick up the loose change I would find as I walked around the centre, and so I happily gave her the 20 cents extra she needed to buy the “very special card” for her mummy. Immediately her tear-stained face turned to a beaming smile. I then took her to a friend’s shop and explained what this precious child wanted to do—he then helped me put together a basket of treats for her mother from some broken packages he had out the back. Afterward, she gathered the goods up and ran off toward where her mummy was waiting, but suddenly she stopped and ran back with a beautiful “thank you.” I was reminded that day that sometimes so little can do so much. Remember whether it is a lot or a little, a mite or a million, your generosity makes a difference.
—Barry Ballard, Green Cathedral Ministries, Australia Mission
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples -generous-response-tools.
Hymn of Sending Forth
“Holy Presence, Holy Teacher” CCS 601
OR “Praise the Source of Faith and Learning” CCS 174
OR “In Nature’s Voice We Hear You, Lord” CCS 368
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Ordinary Time
Exploring the Scripture
In the context of Mark’s Gospel, God’s creation is broken. Satan’s demons live in people. Nature is chaotic and threatening. Illness brings impurity. Religious and political leaders dominate—instead of serving—the people. Into this world, Jesus brought good news: God’s rule has come, and healing can begin!
The story of the man with the unclean spirit is Mark’s first example of how Jesus, as God’s agent for God’s rule, can restore wholeness. But in this Gospel, the disciples don’t understand Jesus’ identity or true purpose. The reader knows because Mark announces that Jesus is the anointed one, the Son of God. Unclean spirits recognize and obey Jesus. The sea and wind recognize his authority. In the end, even a Roman centurion announces that “Surely this man is the Son of God.” Here, in these verses, Mark prepares us for the ironic fact that at first all creation recognizes Jesus except the people closest to him.
After being tested in the desert, Jesus announced the rule of God; called Simon, Andrew, James, and John; and began to teach in the synagogue in Capernaum. There, a man with an unclean spirit approached him and called him by name, identifying him as the holy one of God.
In Jesus’ day, a name was more than a label. It stood for one’s character, personality, even destiny. To know someone’s name was to lay claim to them. People believed that if enemies knew your name, they had power over you. So when the man with the unclean spirit named Jesus, he was trying to control Jesus. Jesus told him to be quiet and commanded the unclean spirit to leave. First-century people believed Satan had power over unclean spirits. The exorcism of the unclean spirit is a direct result of Jesus’ successful confrontation with Satan in the desert.
The unclean spirit in this man foreshadows all that is wrong in the humans whom Jesus will encounter. The man was present in the synagogue—suggesting the religious authorities in Galilee and Jerusalem. He was afraid of Jesus, just like the disciples, the religious leaders, and the Romans. He tried to wield power and control over Jesus, as both the disciples and the religious leaders tried to do. And the unclean spirit was willing to destroy to save itself and secure its future. In the end, it was Jesus who showed power and brought about wholeness and salvation.
New teachings with new authority need new commitments and loyalty. Many who were curious sought this Jesus. Others were confused or uneasy with a new expression of authority. The authorities in Jerusalem noticed, and they felt fear. Simon responded with an invitation to his mother-in-law’s house, where she lay sick. Jesus healed her. She immediately got up and began to serve her guests. She fulfilled the pattern of servant ministry, the role Jesus tried over and over to explain to his followers.
Did the man who was healed become a follower? The Gospel doesn’t tell us. He experienced a transforming moment with Jesus, but his response is hidden within his history.
- The world that God created and called good is awry. It needs the good news of God’s rule bringing wholeness and renewal.
- Jesus was God’s agent, announcing that God’s rule has come into the world and inviting all to be part of that reign.
- Fear, domination, self-preservation at the expense of others, and rebellion against God’s rule reflect illnesses of the spirit in need of Christ’s healing.
- Each person who encounters Jesus’ healing touch is responsible for the choice of following or not following Christ.
Questions to Consider
- How is God’s rule bringing wholeness into the world today? Give examples.
- How have you allowed fear, domination, self-preservation, and rebellion to keep you far from the rule of God? How have you overcome those things to minister?
- Who do you say Jesus is? How do you respond to Christ’s touch in your life?
- What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do in your life and ministry? In the life of the congregation? In your pursuit of mission and the rule of God?