Lectionary -- Epiphany 4 (Ordinary 4) Year A

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Micah 6:1-8 act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with God
Psalm 15 O Lord who may abide in your tent?
1 Cor. 1:18-31 the foolishness of the message: Christ crucified
Matt. 5:1-12 Blessed are poor in spirit

Suggested Hymns (From Denis Towner. TIS = Together in Song; AHB = Australian Hymn Book; SA = Sing Alleluia)

lesson Hymns for Epiphany +4, Yr.A TIS AHB SA
All hail the power of Jesus' name 224 159
E All my hope on God is founded 560 465
Ps All the sleepy should have a place to sleep 697
O/G All who love and serve your city 634 562
E Be thou my vision 547 455
G Blessed are the poor in spirit 11
O Blessed Jesus at your word 437 352
G Blest are the pure in heart 448 376
G By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered 617 15
season Christ is our cornerstone 433 344
Come my way, my truth, my life 552 457
E Disposer supreme and judge of the earth 355
O Father all-loving and ruling in majesty 160 104
E Firmly I believe and truly 140 78
O/E/G Give thanks with a grateful heart 717
E Glorious things of you are spoken 446 374
Go now in peace 782
E God of grace and God of glory 611 543
G God as with silent hearts we bring to mind 680
season Hail to the Lord's anointed 275 203
G Help us, O Lord, to learn 428 340
I danced in the morning 242 183
G I sing a song of the saints of God 551
E I sing the almighty power of God 119 40
E If we will trust in God to guide us 554 469
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord 562 470
Ps Immortal, invisible, God only wise 143 80
G In praise of God meet duty and delight 471 50
E In the cross of Christ I glory 349 265
Just as I am without one plea 584 497
hc Let us break bread together 511 433
E Lift high the cross 351 271
E Lord Christ we praise your sacrifice 251 60
G Lord Jesus if the same you are 566 472
Lord Jesus joy of loving hearts 499 [420]
O Lord we are blind, the world of sight 633 563
G Make me a channel of your peace 607 66
E Nature with open volume stands 343 259
G Now thank we all our God 106 14
G O for a heart to praise my God 568 476
O Lord Jesus, Marrkapmirr 253 70
O O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder 155
O O Master let me walk with thee 601 522
Ps Our God our help in ages past 47 46
Praise and thanksgiving, Father, we offer 627 569
Praise God from whom all blessings flow 768 573 92
G Rejoice in God's saints 470 73
G Seek ye first the kingdom of God 745 75
G Sing of the Lord's goodness 183
E/G Son of God, eternal Saviour 606 529
G Teach me to dance
Ps The law of Christ alone can make us free 630 554
The Lord Jehovah reigns 37
Ps The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want 10 16
season The people that in darkness walked 274 202
E There's a wideness in God's mercy 136 [72]
E Thou art the Way, by thee alone 226 161
E We sing the praise of him who died 347 262
O What does the Lord require for praise 618 568
O What does the Lord require of you 751
O What shall we offer our good Lord 439 362
E When I survey the wondrous cross 342 258
Ps Where cross the crowded ways of life 608 532
Where there is charity and love 434 C591
E Who would true valour see 561 467
O Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness 454 382
E Yours be the glory, risen conquering Son 380 [303]

Other Possible Hymns

(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia. TIS = Together in Song)
472 (TIS 566) Jesus, if still the same thou art [.. v.2 .. the mourners blest ..]

Sermon summary

God's foolishness

It is only human, is it not, to wish to be strong and successful, and to be wise. We admire success. The poor, the ugly, and the defeated are less appealing. Much of the time it seems the meek are simply trodden upon and need to be helped to overcome their handicaps. How could Jesus have said Blessed are the meek?

Sermon on the Mount [The beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-12, compare Luke 6:20-23]
The poor who are gentle in spirit, are those who will be blessed. They were those who cried out for deliverance and were romised blessings [cf. Psalm 37]. Jesus chose to read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-3 [Luke 4:18] he has sent me to announce good news to the poor... [See also Luke 7:22 = Matt. 11:5]. He encouraged people to value the poor [Luke 14:12-14; and see James 2:5]. Poverty goes hand in hand with the `spiritual childhood' required to enter the kingdom of God [Isaiah 66:2 as with 61:1-3; and "the little child" Matt. 18:1 ff]

The stigma of a criminal's death
There is in normal human thinking no greater defeat than death, and scarcely anything more shameful than the death of a criminal who suffered the death penalty. To the Jews of the time of Jesus also it was a shameful thing. [Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13]. The cross was a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles [1 Corinthians 1:18,22-23]. Yet it was the power and the wisdom of God, in spite of popular teaching about wisdom [Colossians 2:4,8] so Paul recalled the ancient wisdom that God's ways are not our ways [Isaiah 29:14].

The great reversal:
It was a reversal of the same kind as was promised by the prophet Jeremiah. [Jer. 9:23-24 quoted by Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:17]. The foolishness of God in so blessing the meek through the death of their saviour has always been despised even mocked by the worldly wise. [eg "Alexander worships his god" with an ass's head.] The cross is stronger than men and women and what they count as power. He who accepted the suffering was raised up by God to a new life, the first born of a new creation. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. [1 Cor. 1:18]

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Order of Service - Epiphany 4 (Ordinary 4) Year A

The Gathering of the People of God

Open our lips, O Lord:
And we shall declare your praise.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, made haste to help us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Let us praise the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.
HYMN What shall we offer our good Lord TIS 439 AHB 362

Merciful God, our Maker and our Judge,
We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed:
We have not loved you with our whole heart,
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves;
We repent, and are sorry for all our sins.
Father, forgive us.
Strengthen us to love and obey you in newness of life;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 The good news is that all who trust in Christ will have their sins forgiven and receive eternal life. As you hold this faith, I declare that you are set free from all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Thanks be to God.

 Service of the Word

A word to the children.
OLD TESTAMENT Micah 6:1-8 act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God
PSALM O Lord who may abide in your tent?
EPISTLE 1 Cor. 1:18-31 the foolishness of the message: Christ crucified
GOSPEL Matt. 5:1-12 Blessed are poor in spirit

HYMN Blessed are the poor in spirit SA 11
HYMN In the cross of Christ I glory TIS 349 AHB 265

SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]

In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.
For all people in their daily life and work;
for our families, friends and neighbours, and for those who are alone.
For this community, our country, and the world;
for all who work for justice, freedom and peace.
For the just and proper use of your creation;
for the victims of hunger, fear, injustice and oppression.
For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;
for those who minister to the sick, the friendless and the needy.
For the peace and unity of the Church of God;
for all who proclaim the gospel, and for all seek the truth.
For the Uniting Church in Australia,
for James, President of the Assembly,
for ... our moderator and for .... our chairperson of presbytery, and for .... our Presbytery Minister,
for elders and members of the local church council,
and for all who hold office in this congregation;
for all who serve God in the church.

for our own needs, and for others for whom you have called us to pray.
The people may offer their own petition, either silently or aloud.]

Hear us, Lord
for your mercy is great.
We thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of life.
The people may offer their own thanksgivings, either silently or aloud.]
We exalt you, O God our king;
and praise your name for ever and ever.
We give thanks for all those who have died in the peace of Christ, and for the promise of your eternal kingdom.
In Christ you have called us to eternal glory;
to you be praise for ever and ever. Amen.


THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of the Hymn Book]

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN All hail the power of Jesus name TIS 224 AHB 159
DISMISSAL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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