Year B
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
31 January 2021



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 your justice stands in splendour and majesty,
and you nourish the faithful
with mercy and kindness.

You are the one God who created all things
and for whom we exist.
From the beginning you have revealed your mighty deeds
and upheld a covenant with your chosen ones.

You raised up among your people
a prophet greater even than Moses,
your Son and our teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.
With words and deeds of authority he has taught us,
not the knowledge that puffs up,
but the love that builds up.
You put your holy words in his mouth,
and at his word even the demons fall silent.
When he was killed, you raised him to life,
and now it is through him that we exist,
and in him, that the crippling grip of death is broken forever.

Therefore with .....

©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net



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

We give thanks for your Son and our teacher, Jesus of Nazareth,
who you raised up and gave words of authority,
to teach us the love that builds up,
to silence the demons
and to break the crippling grip of death forever.

©2003 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 your justice stands in splendour and majesty,
and you nourish the faithful
with mercy and kindness.

You are the one God who created all things
and for whom we exist.
From the beginning you have revealed your mighty deeds
and upheld a covenant with your chosen ones.

You raised up among your people
a prophet greater even than Moses,
your Son and our teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.
With words and deeds of authority he has taught us,
not the knowledge that puffs up,
but the love that builds up.
You put your holy words in his mouth,
and at his word even the demons fall silent.
When he was killed, you raised him to life,
and now it is through him that we exist,
and in him, that the crippling grip of death is broken forever.

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.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net




Declaration of Grace / Absolution

God, who is merciful and kind,
has come to us in Jesus Christ,
to establish a lasting covenant with us,
forgiving our sins
and releasing us from the grip of evil.

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

©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net




Commission & Benediction

Go now, and heed God’s message.
Never forget God’s wonderful mercy and kindness.
Welcome the freedom that is won in truth,
but never use your freedom to undermine others.
See that your words and actions are worthy of praise.

And may God uphold you in a lasting covenant.
May Christ Jesus free you from all that would harm you.
And may the Holy Spirit nourish you in wisdom and faithfulness.

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

©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net






Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany - Year B - 31 January 2021
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.



* Deuteronomy 18: 15-20

Moses said to the people, “The LORD your God will raise up someone from among you to be a prophet for you. This prophet will be from the same mould as me, and you are to carefully follow what such a prophet says. You yourselves asked the LORD your God to do this for you. Back on the day when we gathered at Mount Sinai, you all said that you would die if you were ever again directly exposed to the sound of the LORD’s voice or the glare of the LORD’s fiery presence. The LORD told me you were right, and said this to me:

I, the LORD, will raise up someone from among their own people to be a prophet for them. This prophet will be from the same mould as you, Moses. I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, and the prophet will tell the people everything I say they are to be told. Anyone who does not take any notice of what the prophet says on my behalf, will have to answer to me. But by the same token, if any prophet claims to represent some other source of truth, or makes out that they are speaking on my behalf when I have not told them to say anything, such a prophet must die.”
©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net



* Psalm 111

Wow! More power to you, LORD!
........We can’t thank you enough.
With all who stand for justice
........our hearts burst with gratitude.

The things you do are fantastic, LORD,
........and those who see and understand
........never tire of exploring them.

Your works are magnificent, majestic,
........and their integrity will never be eroded.

You have a reputation for doing amazing things,
........and all of them generous and merciful.

You nourish those who honour you
........and you are always true to your word.

You have left your people in no doubt
........about your power;
........you have given them the whole world on a plate.

Everything you put your hands to
........is faithful, fair and trustworthy,
........as is everything you say.

What you say goes, now and forever,
........and no one can afford to ignore it.

You rescue your people and bring them home safe,
........for you have committed yourself to them
........for all time.

The mere mention of your holy name
........makes us go weak all over!

Wisdom is born when your awesome presence
........knocks us to our knees
and those who never lose sight of that
........have got their heads on straight.

Awestruck, we give you honour and respect for ever.

©2001 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net



* 1 Corinthians 8: 1-13 - This paraphrase represents about six hours work. If it has saved you some time in working out how to communicate its meaning, how about clicking here and helping us pay its author.

Let us now look at your question about food that has been sacrificed to idols in the pagan temples. You ask whether it is okay for Christians to eat at meals where such food is served. What you have said is true:
“superior knowledge dispels superstition.”
But it is also true that superior knowledge can swell your head; while love will clear your head and underpin sound moral judgment. Anyone who claims that their superior knowledge enables them to make their own moral decisions without worrying about anyone else is just proving how little they really know. By contrast, those who love God and seek to express that love in all they do, are truly in-the-know with God.
........So, what does knowledge have to say about whether or not it is okay to eat food that has been offered to idols? Plenty! We enlightened people know that “idols are actually nothing,” and we know that “there is only one true God.” No matter how many so-called gods and lords there may be in the world — and there are certainly any number of things to which people devote themselves — we know better. We know that the one and only God is the Father, who brought all things into being and for whom we exist. And we know that the one and only Lord is Jesus the Messiah, through whom all things were brought into being, and through whom we exist.
........However, not everyone is up to speed on all this. Some people who, until recently, have been involved in the worship of idols, are not so easily able to make the separation in their heads between the food and the worship of the idols. Their moral warning lights go off more easily, and so if they go ahead and eat the food, they feel defiled by it and wracked with guilt. You can depend on this saying:
“We won’t get into God’s good books for what we eat.”
No one loses anything by abstaining from such food, and no one gains any special benefits from eating it. But — and this is a big but for those of you who feel free to eat it — unless you are very careful, this precious freedom of yours could turn into a minefield for those who are more morally timid. Because of your superior knowledge, you feel free to accept invitations to banquets held at pagan temples, and that’s all very well. But what if some less certain and secure Christians see you go? Perhaps, because they look up to you, they might feel that they should disregard their moral warning lights and join you in eating food that has been offered to idols. And once they start distrusting their own warning lights, they are in trouble because they no longer know which way to turn. Your superior knowledge would then be responsible for crashing the moral integrity of a timid believer for whom Christ laid down his life. You’ve wounded them, causing their fragile conscience to short-circuit. And if you dish out a kick in the guts to one who, under God, is a member of your own family, then you are kicking Christ in the guts. So, for myself, if such food could risk derailing someone, then I’d happily give up eating meat altogether in order to make sure that no one ever goes crashing off the rails because of something I did.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net



* Mark 1: 21-28

    Jesus and his new followers travelled to the city of Capernaum. On the Sabbath day, he taught in the synagogue there and the locals were stunned by his teaching. It was like nothing they had ever heard before. His words carried great weight and it was clear that he stood behind everything he said, which was quite a contrast to the religious teachers they were used to!
    While he was in their synagogue, a man who was defiled by a corrupt spirit came in and began screaming, “What business have you got with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to wipe us out? I’ve got you figured out: you are God’s Special Agent.”
    But Jesus cut him down to size, saying, “Shut up, and get out of him, now!”
    And the corrupt spirit screamed loudly, threw the man into a fit, and then cleared off. Everyone was gob-smacked, and couldn’t stop talking about it. “What’s going on?” they kept asking one another. “Is this some kind of new teaching? It’s certainly got some weight behind it. He even pulls rank on the corrupt spirits and sends them packing.”
    His reputation began to spread like wildfire all over the Galilean countryside.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton  LaughingBird.net