Year A
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Sunday 2 February 2020



Eucharistic Preface

Let us lift up our hearts.
    We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
    It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for you have always shown us
what is good and what you require of us.

You laid the foundations of the earth,
and the mountains and hills witness to your justice.
You redeemed your people from the house of slavery
and called us to remember your saving acts,
that we might know your ways
and live our lives in justice, kindness and humility.

When our own wisdom and discernment
failed to bring us near to you,
you chose what was foolish, weak and despised in our eyes
to break the grip of human wisdom and strength:
Christ Jesus our Lord,
and him crucified.
Raised to new life,
he has made known to us what the wise never guessed,
that you honour not what the world seeks
but those who walk with you the way of the cross.

Therefore with .....

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




Short Preface
(for insertion into Eucharistic prayers with fixed prefaces)

We give you thanks that through what was foolish, weak and despised
— Christ Jesus our Lord, and him crucified —
you broke the grip of human wisdom and strength,
honouring not what the world seeks
but those who walk with you the way of the cross.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





General Prayer of Thanksgiving
(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for you have always shown us
what is good and what you require of us.

You laid the foundations of the earth,
and the mountains and hills witness to your justice.
You redeemed your people from the house of slavery
and called us to remember your saving acts,
that we might know your ways
and live our lives in justice, kindness and humility.

When our own wisdom and discernment
failed to bring us near to you,
you chose what was foolish, weak and despised in our eyes
to break the grip of human wisdom and strength:
Christ Jesus our Lord,
and him crucified.
Raised to new life,
he has made known to us what the wise never guessed,
that you honour not what the world seeks
but those who walk with you the way of the cross.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

©2005 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





Declaration of Grace / Absolution

God decided, through a message considered foolish,
to save those who believe.
Through our life in Christ Jesus,
we have been put right with God,
and set free to be God’s holy people.

Sisters and Brothers,
    your sins are forgiven;
        be at peace.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net





Commission & Benediction

Go out into the world.
Walk with integrity.
Do only what is right.
Speak the truth with courage.

And may God reward your mercy with divine mercy;
May Christ Jesus allow you to see God;
And may the Holy Spirit lead you into righteousness and peace
    and fill you with all the blessings of God’s children.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
    In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net







Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany - Year A - Sunday 2 February 2020
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.



* Micah 6: 1-8

Open your ears, for this is what the LORD has to say:

If you have got a complaint, stand up and let it be heard.
    Let the mountains and hills be your witnesses.

For I am calling on the mountains to hear my dispute.
    I am calling on the earth itself
        to take my complaint to heart.
For I, the LORD, have a dispute to settle with my people,
    and I will have it out with you, my chosen ones.

When have I ever done the wrong thing by you, my people?
    What have I done to make you sick of me?
        Answer me that!

I was the one who got you out of the land where you were slaves;
    broke you free and put you back where you belonged.
I was the one who provided you with good leaders:
    Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

And don’t forget
    how King Balak of Moab conspired to curse you,
    and how it backfired on him
        when he gave the job to Balaam.
And don’t forget, my people,
    how you got from one side of the great river to the other.
Keep in mind all that I, the LORD, have done;
    all the actions I have taken to get you to safety.
Having been reminded of all this,
    how can we express our thanks to the LORD?
Is there anything we could ever give
    that would be worthy of our God?

Should we offer our most treasured possessions
    as a sacrifice on God’s altar?
Would the LORD like us to sacrifice a year’s wages,
    or even hand over everything we own?
Should we sacrifice our children to pay the price;
    our own flesh and blood for the sin deep within us?

Come on people! God has told us what is good.
    We know what the LORD wants from us:

    To make sure everybody gets a fair go;
    To be passionate about caring for others;
    And to stay on track with God without getting full of ourselves.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Psalm 15

LORD, who is welcome at your table?
........Who can stay in the place you call your own?

You have given us the answer, LORD.
........It is those who walk with integrity
................and do the right thing;
........those who speak the honest truth
................and do not use their words to wound;
........those who do not exploit their friends
................or put down their neighbours.
........It is those who hate corruption
................and look up to those who honour you, LORD;
........those who give their word
................and stand by it even if it costs them;
........those who lend freely, without seeking a profit,
................and cannot be bribed into shafting the innocent.

You honour such people, LORD,
........and anchor them on unshakable ground.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

........The message about the cross sounds like a lot of mindless cock-and-bull to those who have thrown their lot in with this present world order and are going down with the ship. But to those of us who are being saved from that, it is nothing less than the power of God! God spoke about this in the Scriptures:
“I will expose the brilliant insights of your experts
........and the wise counsel of your gurus;
I will expose them for what they really are,
........a load of codswallop!”
So where are the intellectuals now? Where are the religious experts? Where are those who have an answer for everything? What have they got to show for all their cleverness now that God has turned all the conventional wisdom on its head and made it look foolish? Seeing that no amount of human cleverness had ever woken anybody up to God’s ways, God made the wise decision to use something that seemed utterly foolish to everyone — our preaching! — to rescue those who would trust the message. Most people want something more than this. Those with a religious world view demand to see miraculous signs to prove that it is from God. Those with a modern rational world view insist that it should have to prove its intellectual credibility. But what we are preaching is a Messiah who was strung up and killed. The religious people find this unthinkable, and the intellectuals regard it as primitive nonsense; but to those who have heard the call of God, whatever their background, it is the ultimate good news of God’s chosen one — as miraculous and profound as one could ever wish for! When it’s all said and done, the sum total of the human race’s intellectual achievements don’t even begin to stack up against the foolishness of God; and the combined force of all the world’s powers is puny in comparison to the weakness of God.
........Sisters and brothers, you don’t have to look any further than your own experience of God’s call to see the truth of this. Not many of you were academic hot-shots. Not many of you were movers and shakers in the corridors of power. Not many of you were feted as celebrities. But God chose you! God chose those who were dismissed as fools to expose the bankruptcy of the world’s accepted wisdom. God chose those who were weak and vulnerable in the world to show up the corruption of those who wield power. God consistently chooses what is despised as the dregs by the world, things which are seen as worthless, to expose the worthlessness of things which are seen as being ‘it and a bit’. Because of this, no one who is accepted into God’s presence has any grounds for blowing their own trumpet. God and God alone is the source of the life you share in union with the Messiah, Jesus. It is only in Jesus that we have been able to tap into God’s wisdom. And it is only in Jesus that our lives have been put back on track, given a clean bill of health, and set on the path to wholeness. For this reason, the scriptures make sense to us when they say:
“If you are going to blow your trumpet about something,
........blow it about the Lord!”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net




* Matthew 5: 1-12

Jesus found himself increasingly surrounded by crowds of people, so one day he headed off up the mountain. He sat down up there and his committed followers gathered around to hear what he had to say. This is what he taught them:
“Those who depend entirely on God for their welfare
    have got it made,
        because they are already at home in the culture of heaven.

“Those who are stricken with grief
    have got it made,
        because they will receive the ultimate comfort.

“Those who allow others to have first claim on everything
    have got it made,
        because the whole world will be given to them.

“Those who hunger and thirst to see the world put right
    have got it made,
        because they will be richly satisfied.

“Those who readily treat others better than they deserve
    have got it made,
        because they will be treated with extravagant mercy.

“Those whose hearts are unpolluted
    have got it made,
        because they will see God.

“Those who forge peace and reconciliation in places of hostility
    have got it made,
        because they will be known as God’s own children.

“Those who are attacked and abused for sticking to what is right
    have got it made,
        because they are already at home in the culture of heaven.

“When people turn on you
    and do all they can to make your life a misery;
when they make false allegations about you
    and drag your name through the mud,
        all because of your association with me,
    you have really got it made!
Kick up your heels and party,
    because heaven is coming
        and you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams!
You are in great company,
    because they were just as vicious
        to God’s faithful messengers in the past.
©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net