Epiphany 4 – Year B, January 31, 2021

Holy, Whole One
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany:
January 31, 2021

Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for will be edited for online use.  “Rubrics” for virtual services will be noted in red;  take and adapt as you need!

Deuteronomy 18:15-20  •  Psalm 111  •  1 Corinthians 8:1-13  •  Mark 1:21-28

Opening Dialogue: Call to Worship
Leader should speak the lines of the people, along with the Leader’s lines

Friends in Christ,
what hopes do you bring to worship?
People:         Out loud, but muted
We bring hope for health and wholeness.

What  afflictions do you bring to worship?
Physical pain?
                       Out loud, but muted
From illness and injury.
Emotional pain?
Out loud, but muted
From sad and scary life situations.
Mental pain?
Out loud, but muted
From dis-ease of many kinds.
With all of these afflictions,
it’s a miracle that any of us have made it to worship this morning!
Out loud, but muted
But where else would we be?
                   We yearn to know God’s powerful love
                   and to know that wholeness is possible.

In today’s gospel, a person with an “afflicting spirit” * interrupts Jesus
Out loud, but muted
And Jesus sets the person free.

And where does the miracle of this story and our stories begin?
Out loud, but muted

                  When we bring all of who we are
                  –Hopeful, afflicted, bold—
into relationship with the Divine.

So come, let us enter this sanctuary with our whole selves
Out loud, but muted
–Hopeful, afflicted and bold–        

Come, let us worship!

*“Afflicting spirit” is a term taken from The Message, translation of Mark 1: 21-28 by Eugene Petersen


Prayer of Reconciliation

O Divine Healer,
we confess that sometimes we yearn for you
to wave a magic wand on our wounded lives
to remove our pain, illness, and suffering.
We hear the gospel story of the one seeking healing from Jesus
and assume you will perform a similar miracle for all of us –
if we just pray hard enough!
And we do pray!
Open our eyes to recognize the teachings and tools
you have given us with which to seek healing
in the midst of our afflictions and dis-eases.
You whisper to us that wholeness requires self-care and rest;
           (what are some ways…?)
           You nudge us toward caregivers who can support and advise us;
           (who may help us…?)
           You breathe into us energy to move and stretch and reach toward health;
           (what are some ways…?)
           You place in us an urgency to seek justice
so that all may enjoy adequate health care;
           (what are some actions…?)
           Renew our spirits in the midst of our dis-eases and afflicting spirits.
Transform us, O Whole-y One, for the health of your creation. Amen.

Assurance of Blessing

In the midst of struggle, dis-ease and affliction,
know that you are made in God’s image
and God sees you as whole and good.
So may you celebrate God in your midst
through opportunities of wholeness and justice.

Scripture, Sermon, Prayers of the People

Notes for the worship planners in 2021:
Consider a simple message or even an  interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Scriptures for today.

  •  For the Prayers of the People, you might use a bidding prayer (“God, we pray today for those who are sick, including ….”) and encourage folk to type in their prayers using Zoom chat or Facebook Live; allow for more time in silence for those prayers to be typed and read. Consider a collective response at the end of each bidding prayer.
  • A caution regarding prayers of the People online: Folks gathered in-person often recount a lot of detail in their prayers concerning other members or family (“Elderly Name, living alone, experiencing isolation…”  In  a private, in-person gathering, this information may be safe, but online, it can expose vulnerable people to harm, since we can’t control who will join the gathering or access it later online.  Invite people to be prudent in offering prayers:  “For First name only, in need of healing”; “For First name only, comfort in grief”  etc. 

Encourage people to contact the pastor directly with news of those needed extra pastoral care.


When we give of ourselves to meet the needs of others,
we are co-creators in the health of God’s creation.
As we have been given much, let us give in return.


Out loud, but muted
Transforming God, we dedicate our gifts for the health of your creation.
May those who receive these gifts be blessed by your love
and inspired to give to others
so that your creation will continue to be transformed by your love.


And now in the wholeness and the goodness of God, go forth.
Go and laugh with your friends,
reconcile with those who have hurt you,
be kind to strangers, and feel the Divine smile upon us.
Now and forevermore. Amen.


Holy, Whole One: Service Prayers for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany was written by the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel, Conference Minister for the Missouri-Mid South Conference, UCC.

Copyright 2021 Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.

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