Worship Outline and Sermon

Worship Outline: January 29 - Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - Worship with the Band

Introduction to the day

Who are the blessed ones of God? For Micah, they are those who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. For Paul, they are the ones who find wisdom in the weakness of the cross. For Jesus, they are the poor, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who mourn, and those who hunger for righteousness. In baptism we find our blessed identity and calling in this countercultural way of living and serving.

(*=please stand, as able)

Time for Quiet Reflection and Prayer


Welcome and Announcements

*Gathering Song Gather Us In (# 532, st. 1)


Here in this place the new light is streaming,

Now is the darkness vanished away;

See in this space our fears and our dreamings

Brought here to you in the light of the day.

Gather us in the lost and forsaken,

Gather us in, the blind and the lame;

Call to us now, and we shall awaken,

We shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young, our lives are a myst’ry,

We are the old who yearn for your face;

We have been sung throughout all of hist’ry,

Called to be light to the whole human race.

Gather us in, the rich and the haughty,

Gather us in, the proud and the strong;

Give us a heart, so meek and so lowly,

Give us the courage to enter the song.

(Text and music: Marty Haugen. © 1982, GIA Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved. Music: Johann R. Ahle, public domain.)


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

And also with you.

*Prayer of the Day

Let us pray.

Holy God, you confound the world’s wisdom in giving your kingdom to the lowly and the pure in heart. Give us such a hunger and thirst for justice, and perseverance in striving for peace, that in our words and deeds the world may see the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


First Reading: Micah 6:1-8

With the mountains and the foundations of the earth as the jury, God brings a lawsuit against Israel. God has “wearied” Israel with a long history of saving acts. God does not want or expect lavish sacrifices to attempt to earn divine favor. Rather God empowers the people to do justice, to love loyalty to God, and to walk shrewdly in God’s service.

1Hear what the Lord says:

  Rise, plead your case before the mountains,

  and let the hills hear your voice.

2Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,

  and you enduring foundations of the earth;

 for the Lord has a controversy with his people,

  and he will contend with Israel.

3“O my people, what have I done to you?

  In what have I wearied you? Answer me!

4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

  and redeemed you from the house of slavery;

 and I sent before you Moses,

  Aaron, and Miriam.

5O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,

  what Balaam son of Beor answered him,

 and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,

  that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

6“With what shall I come before the Lord,

  and bow myself before God on high?

 Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

  with calves a year old?

7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

  with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

 Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

  the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

  and what does the Lord require of you

 but to do justice, and to love kindness,

  and to walk humbly with your God?

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Hymn Holy Lord


Holy, holy, holy Lord God of pow’r and might.

Heaven and earth of your glory are filled

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of pow’r and might.

Heaven and earth of your glory are filled

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

(Text: from Greek and Latin liturgy, “Sanctus”, ca. 3rd-4th c., based on Isaiah 6:3 and Matthew 21:9; adapt. Steve Bell. Tune: Steve Bell. © 1991, Signpost Music. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

According to the world’s standards of power and might, the message of the cross seems stupid and offensive. Yet this word reveals the paradoxical way God has chosen to work power and salvation through weakness, rejection, and suffering. Hence the message of the cross becomes true wisdom and power for believers.

18The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

 “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

  and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

*Gospel Acclamation Halle, Halle, Hallelujah ( # 172, sung 2x)


Halle, halle, hallelujah.

Halle, halle, hallelujah.

Halle, halle, hallelujah.

Halle, halle, hallelujah.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

(Text: traditional, public domain. Music: Caribbean traditional; arr. Mark Sedio. Arr. © 1995, Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)

*Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

The holy gospel according to Matthew. Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus opens the Sermon on the Mount by naming those who are blessed in the reign of God.

1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon – Pastor Matthew

*Hymn of the Day Thy Holy Wings (# 613)


Thy holy wings, O Saviour,

Spread gently over me,

And let me rest securely

Through good and ill in thee.

Oh, be my strength and portion,

My rock and hiding place,

And let my ev’ry moment

Be lived within thy grace.

Oh, let me nestle near thee,

Within thy downy breast

Where I may find sweet comfort

And peace within thy nest.

Oh, close thy wings around me

And keep me safely there,

For I am but a newborn

And need thy tender care.

Oh, wash me in the waters

Of Noah’s cleansing flood.

Give me a willing spirit,

A heart both clean and good.

Oh, take into thy keeping

Thy children great and small,

And while we sweetly slumber,

Enfold us once and all.

(Text: Carolina Sandell Berg, sts. 1,3; Gracia Grindal, st. 2; tr. composite. © 1983, Selah Publishing Co. Tune: Swedish folk tune; arr. Hymnal version. © 1995, 2006 Augsburg Fortress. Text and music reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)

*Prayers of Intercession

Called together to follow Jesus, we pray for the church, the world, and all in need.

A brief silence.

Cultivate humility in your church. In gatherings of every size, teach us to boast only in the cross. Giving thanks for the 116 years of ministry in Our Saviour’s name, help this congregation to continue to seek to offer kindness, generosity, and justice. Merciful God, receive our prayer.

The foundations of the earth bear witness to your faithfulness; the mountains and hills echo with your holiness. When we mistreat your creation, show us the error of our ways. Inspire us with reverent awe to honor all you have made. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You make foolish the wisdom of the world. Raise up honorable leaders who seek justice, love mercy, and pursue peace. Frustrate plans that are corrupt, wicked, and self-seeking. Prosper the work of peacemakers. Merciful God, receive our prayer.

You have created all people in your image. Hear the cries of families whose children are the victims of violence and of abuse of power, and give them comfort and peace. Free us all from hate, that all may see your face in the faces of people around the world. Merciful God, receive our prayer.

Bless all whom the world rejects. Accompany those who are regarded as foolish, weak, low, and despised; reveal your power and presence at work where it is least expected. Give your life, strength, and wisdom to all in need. Merciful God, receive our prayer.

Be present this morning with those we lift before you in prayer, including ... Merciful God, receive our prayer.

Be with us when we reach out to you in need. Hear now our silent prayers … Merciful God, receive our prayer.

You raise up leaders to guide your people. Be with Pastor Sirpa as she continues her new ministry at Hilldale Lutheran Church. Keep the cross as the center of its life together. Merciful God, receive our prayer.

Praise to you for your blessed saints in every time and place. Trusting you accompanied them in poverty, persecution, and in every trial, we trust you abide with your people always. Merciful God, receive our prayer.

We bring to you our needs and hopes, O God, trusting your wisdom and power revealed in Christ crucified.


*Lord’s Prayer

Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

Offertory Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ (instrumental)

Offering Prayer

Liberating God, you break the bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Receive these offerings in thanksgiving for all your works of merciful power, and shape us as people of your justice and freedom. You we magnify and adore, through Jesus our Savior, Amen.


The God who faithfully brings forth justice and breaks the oppressor’s rod bless, strengthen, and uphold you, today and always.


*Sending Song Shine, Jesus, Shine


Lord, the light of your love is shining,

In the midst of the darkness, shining;

Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us,

Set us free by the truth you now bring us.

Shine on me, shine on me:


Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory;

Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.

Flow, river, flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy;

Send forth your Word, Lord, and let there be light!

As we gaze on your kingly brightness,

So our faces display your likeness,

Ever changing from glory to glory,

Mirrored here, may our lives tell your story.

Shine on me, shine on me:


(# 671. Text and music: Graham Kendrick. © 1987, Make Way Music. Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net #A-714392. All rights reserved.)


Go in peace. Follow the way of Jesus.

Thanks be to God.

From sundaysandseasons.com. Copyright © 2023 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Sermon: January 29 - Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Text: Matthew 5:1-2

Jesus talks a lot about blessings this morning. How do you measure your blessings? What criteria do you use to judge your successes or failures? How do you decide how you stack up against others? Moving on from human blessings to divine ones, do you have a secret notebook in your head to keep track of what you do that might earn you favour from God? How do you know if you are blessed or not? Jesus sits down in front of us this morning, and invites us to understand blessings, blessings for each of us, from the view of God, the God of grace, the God who is with you and me as much now as that day on the mountain.

Chelsea Harmon suggests it’s helpful to divide up Jesus’ teaching. The first four beatitudes remind his new followers and us that God ‘does not ignore our needs’. Related to this is the last one, where Jesus reveals ‘he knows the trouble we will see’. The four prior to that inform us God also doesn’t ignore how we share what we have’.

Seen in this way, ‘Jesus first speaks to those who might wonder whether they belong, measure up, ruin the image with their neediness. In each of the four teachings, Jesus tells them they indeed belong. They receive the assurance that God’s blessings extend to them even in those times when they feel farthest away from Creator.

Now, this might sound wonderful, and it is. Yet, for those hearing it 2000 years ago it was also quite extraordinary. ‘Jesus lived in a society that placed heavy meaning on actions would bring honour or shame to your family. Things that brought honour included wealth, power, and high-status positions. Alternatively, things that brought shame included breaking social norms, illness, and poverty’. It’s highly likely then, that those hearing Jesus, especially the disciples, would have been shocked. These promised blessings didn’t sound fair – God wasn’t like this. (FaithLens)

‘That’s the point’, says Jesus. In situations that would suggest being skipped over for blessings, Jesus invites them, and us, to ‘cling to and build our lives upon the deep hope planted in us by the Holy Spirit’. With these blessings, even though the world might not recognize them, Creator enables us ‘to live in the midst of the struggles and difficulties we face in this world’. Harmon puts it this way, ‘Yes, we might be poor in spirit when we look around us at the state of the world, but the kingdom of God is ours! Yes, we are mourning, but God will comfort us! Yes, we are meek in a world built on ‘getting ahead’, but God is giving us the world! Yes, we might know the pain of seeing our efforts to do right hit dead ends, but Jesus’ righteousness will fill us!’

I like how Pastor Robin Brown images this, drawing on the healings and crowds seen in the chapter before this passage. ‘Jesus stretches out his arms toward the masses of people with broken bodies, broken hearts, and broken minds, saying, ‘Blessed are they, blessed are those, and they, and them’. This new kingdom of God refuses to have its boundaries set ‘in the narrowness of human rules that judge people right and wrong’, blessed and unblessed. Instead, its spaciousness has room for all. (GHunger)

That’s a beautiful vision. Yet, it begs the question, ‘What about those times we DO feel blessed?’ What about when life is ‘full of beautiful things?’ There are moments when we feel happy, again suggests Brown, that we ‘are clean and prosperous, friendly and well-adjusted, rule-followers, organized, and hard workers.’ There are moments when we feel blessed because we are strong, or come to worship every Sunday, or are able to give time, talent, and treasure to the church and to those in need’.

Jesus is not saying that we discount these blessings. Instead, he teaches us here not to be content to rest on our good fortune. To feel blessed doesn’t give us bragging rights over those in the first set. Indeed, at any given moment we also might feel down, be grieving, or lost in God’s world. It is to understand that we seize the moment to share the good news, so that all might know God’s kingdom, God’s comfort, and God’s joy. When we know mercy, we are able to share it with those in need of it. As we feel peace, we can help make it reality for others. In times when we feel blessed to understand God’s vision, or at least feel God’s presence in our lives, we have the ability to share that hope with those who seek it but cannot find it, or with those not knowing what they are seeking but wanting something more.

Someone, at least a little tongue in cheek, recently reacted to Jesus’ teaching here by asking ‘how did they receive these teachings? There are no post-sermon interviews with the [disciples] to gauge their reactions, not even a quick five-question survey to rate their satisfaction with Jesus’ teachings’. (FL) In spite of these shortcomings of standard analysis, the author replies in this way: ‘But we do know that Jesus spoke to real people like you and me. He spoke to people who had chores and jobs and hopes and sorrows, to people who had experienced hardship, trauma, and setbacks. He spoke to people whose minds occasionally wandered and to people thinking about their next meal or something they forgot to do. Jesus taught his alternative kingdom values to everyday people’ like you and me.

Blessed are you. Share the good news. Amen.