The Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 17, 2021
SERVICE OF THE WORD
This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word. Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.
M: We worship today in the name of our Triune God— God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Confession of Sins
M: We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children. But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment. Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.
C: Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray: Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love. Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.
M: God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins. By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever. You are His own dear child. May God give you strength to live according to His will.
Prayer and Praise
M: In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.
C: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who take refuge in Him. Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues forever. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
M: Let us pray.
Almighty God, you gave your one and only Son to be the light of the world. Grant that your people, illumined by your holy Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that He may be known, worshiped and believed to the ends of the earth; we ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
FIRST LESSON – 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (Sermon Text)
The LORD graciously calls Samuel to receive and share His revealed Word. When He comes to us may we reply, “Speak LORD, your servants are listening.”
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered. “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”(NIV1984)
PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face shine upon us;
may Your ways be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for You rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.
Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear Him.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen
SECOND LESSON – 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
The Lord calls all Christians to follow His revealed will for man’s sexuality. Use your body to show you belong to God, reflecting the Spirit who lives in you.”
“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV1984)
VERSE OF THE DAY
Alleluia. He said to me, “You are my servant in whom I will display my splendor.” Alleluia. (Isaiah 49:3)
C: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
GOSPEL LESSON – John 1:43-51
As Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to follow Him, He reveals His omniscience, promises even greater revelations of Himself and prompts their response to share Him.”
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”(NIV1984)
C: Praise be to you, O Christ!
SERMON Speak, LORD, for Your Servant is Listening!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It happened again last week. I saw Brenda working on something and I said to her, “If you had said something, I would have helped you.” You can probably guess her response. She said, “I did say something.” I mumbled something like, “I didn’t hear you.” Then I put on my shoes and helped her.
My Mom used to tell me that there were times when she would say something to me, and it was like it “went in one ear and out the other.” Over the course of the years I’ve heard a number of women say that men have something called “selective hearing.” While I’m not so sure I agree with that, over the course of the years I have learned that there is a difference between “hearing” what someone is saying to you and “listening” to what some is saying to you. “Listening” to what someone is saying to you requires effort, it requires concentration and sometimes it requires taking action.
Our sermon text for today is one of those beloved accounts in Scripture that we enjoy hearing over and over again. Most of us have probably heard this account so many times that we practically know it by heart! For that reason, our goal today is not to just “hear” these inspired words of our God, but to actually “listen” to these inspired words of our God. To that end we are going to borrow our sermon theme directly from the text itself. Our theme for today is: Speak, LORD, for Your Servant is Listening! There are two questions I want us to take to heart this morning. The first question is: How does the Lord speak to us? The second question is: How do we show that we are listening to Him?
The book of 1 Samuel marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of God’s Old Testament Chosen People. The period of the judges was coming to an end. On a spiritual level God’s people were not doing well. You may recall that the book of Judges ends with these ominous words, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25). Starting with the book of 1 Samuel we are able to see that two other institutions began to play more prominent roles in the lives of God’s people— the prophetic order and the monarchy. While there had been other prophets in Israel (See Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1; 15:20; Numbers 12:6; Deuteronomy 18:15; 34:10; Judges 4:4; 6:8), the Lord established a formal order of prophets beginning with Samuel.
Samuel was the “miracle child” of a couple by the name of Elkanah and Hannah. Hannah was being tormented by her rival wife, Peninnah, because Hannah had no children. Then one year, as Elkanah and his family were worshiping at the house of the Lord in Shiloh, Hannah was weeping bitterly as she prayed to the Lord, begging Him for a son. She vowed that if the Lord blessed her with a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord so that he could serve the Lord all the days of his life. The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and granted her a son— Samuel. After the child was weaned, Elkanah and Hannah brought Samuel to Shiloh and fulfilled Hannah’s vow. Samuel lived at the house of the Lord under the tutelage of the priest, Eli. That sets the background for the opening words of our text, “The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare, there were not many visions.”
The ancient historian Josephus says that Samuel was probably about twelve years old at this time. Since Jewish children were weaned around the age of three, that means that Samuel could have been “ministering before the LORD under Eli” for about nine years already. What did Samuel do at the Lord’s sanctuary in Shiloh? We get the impression that he was like an apprentice to the priest Eli. He may have helped Eli with the sacrifices, especially as Eli aged and had difficulty seeing. In verse three of our text we’re told, “Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.” Samuel may have been the one who made sure that the “lamp of God” did not go out during the course of the night. Later on in this same chapter we’re told that in the morning Samuel was in charge of opening the doors of the house of the Lord. (See verse 15) In short, the Lord God was training Samuel for the special work that the Lord had set aside for him— to be God’s prophet, that is, to faithfully proclaim God’s Word to God’s people.
The words, “In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions,” explains why Samuel did not recognize that it was the Lord who was calling out his name; it explains why Samuel ran to Eli when he heard someone calling out his name, and it explains why we are told in our text, “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.” All of that changed when Eli recognized that the Lord was speaking to Samuel. That’s when and why Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’”
In my eyes, the key verse in this text is actually the closing verse, “The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’” How did the Lord speak to Samuel? God graciously revealed Himself to Samuel in some visible way and spoke to Samuel— directly! The ever-obedient Samuel answered the Lord as Eli had instructed him and God’s long silence came to an end. Through Samuel the Lord was about to “speak” to His people in a very powerful way. Samuel’s response to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening” is an accurate description of everything Samuel did and said as he served the Lord for the rest of his life. Samuel listened to the Lord and then Samuel did everything the Lord his God commanded him to do!
“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” As we take those very familiar words and apply them to our hearts and to our lives today, the first question we need to address is: How does the Lord speak to us? I think we find a clear answer to that question in Hebrews 1:1, 2, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days (we are now living in the “last days”) he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”
Where do we find the words that Jesus has spoken to us? The answer to that question won’t surprise you. Jesus “speaks” to us through His holy Word and through His holy Sacraments. Every time we sit down to read our Bible, every time we hear someone faithfully teaching us the Truth of Scripture, we need to follow the example Samuel set for us and say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When we follow Samuel’s example, what do we hear the Lord speaking to us? We hear Him say that no matter what anyone else might claim, there is only one true God— the Triune God, our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier. We hear Him say that since heaven is His Home, He is the One who established the “entrance requirements” for anyone and everyone who wants to live with Him in His Home forever. Those requirements are, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2) and “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). We hear Him say that every single sin is a rebellion against Him, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth— a rebellion which deserves to be punished for all of eternity. (See Genesis 2:15-17) We hear Him say that there is only one way to be saved— believe and trust in what Jesus has done for you! (Pointing to the cross) (See John 14:6; 11:25, 26) We hear Him say that there are only two places where all people will spend eternity— either in heaven or in hell. (See Matthew 25:31ff; John 5:28, 29; Daniel 12:2) We hear Him say that His love for us is so awesome and His power is so overwhelming that we don’t have to worry about anything— whether in his life or the next! (See Mathew 6:25-34) In our epistle Lesson for today, we heard God say that for us, His children, the “My body-My life-My choice” mantra is unacceptable. (See 1 Corinthians 6:18-20) As Christians we need to live our life in a way that is pleasing to Him. (Pointing to the cross)
What does Jesus say to us in and through His holy Sacraments? That too is a very easy question! In the Sacrament of Holy Baptism Jesus says, “I have now adopted you to be My own dear child and an heir of my heavenly Kingdom!” And in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper He says, “Take and eat; this is My Body. Take and drink; this is my Blood. This is My visible tangible proof to you that I have completely forgiven all of your sins!”
This is just a small example of what the Lord “speaks” to us in His holy Word and in His holy Sacraments. The question now becomes: Are we listening to Him? Our automatic response to that question might be— “Of course I am listening to Him!” But are we really? When we examine our heart and when we examine our life, we must confess that our old sinful nature does not like to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening!” No, my friends, our old sinful nature is constantly tempting us to say, “Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking!” That’s what leads us to put aside and ignore what God says to us and pursue what we want to do and embrace what we think is right. A few years back I was talking with a member of my congregation about some of the ”hot button” social issues of our day. I was trying to remind him of what God says to us here in His holy Word. His response to me was, “You need to remember, Pastor, that we know more now than when the Bible was first written.” To me that is the perfect example of taking the words, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening,” and twisting them around to say, “Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking!”
So, how can we show that we are indeed listening to the Lord? It begins by gathering together in His Name to hear His Word proclaimed to us and to receive His holy Supper on a regular basis. It continues by reading and studying our Bibles in the privacy of our own home— this would include having home devotions with our family. It concludes by remembering Jesus’ words, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). We need to make sure that we are constantly examining the thoughts of our mind, the attitudes of our heart, and the actions of our life to make sure that they “line up” with what God says to us here in His holy Word. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5)
Brenda was undoubtedly right. She probably did say something, but I wasn’t listening. My Mom was undoubtedly right when she said that there were times when she would say something to me and “it went in one ear and out the other.” And that whole “selective hearing” thing may also ring true as well. We do not want to let anything like that happen when it comes to our relationship with our Lord. My prayer today is that each and every one of us will strive to have the commitment and the obedience that enables us to say along with Samuel, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening!”
To God be the glory!
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior. We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
Almighty God, heavenly Father, once again we have enjoyed the privilege of gathering in your holy Name to hear your holy and precious Word. May its message of salvation through Christ stir up our hearts to faith and love and produce the full fruits of good works in our lives. May we not forget your Word which we have heard or bring shame upon it by our lips speaking against it, our hearts not believing it, or our lives not obeying it. Through the power of your Holy Spirit open the Scriptures more and more to our understanding that we might know you better, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent to save us.
Father, we greatly need the comfort your Word brings us. We are by nature sinful and our flesh is continually opposed to your will. We often find that we act against your commandments, doing the very things you forbid and neglecting the things that you command. We justly deserve eternal separation from you in hell. But we plead your love and your mercy which is revealed to this world of sinners in your Word. Oh, let the blood of Jesus Christ, your Son, blot our sins from your memory and present us faultless before you. Our only plea is that you forgive us for His sake. There is nothing that we desire more than eternal life through Jesus’ merits and mediation.
All of this we ask in the Name of Jesus our Lord, who taught us to pray:
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
M: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.