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Observed Glory - Second Sunday of Epiphany - John 1

A service for the second Sunday of Epiphany based on John 1 and focusing on the incarnation of Jesus Christ who was the Word from the beginning.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Epiphany is concerned with the "manifestation" of Jesus as the light of the world and with the arrival of God's reign through Jesus. (See the material of last week about Epiphany.) In this service we focus on the incarnation of Jesus Christ who was the Word from the beginning. He came to us full of grace and truth, and we have seen his glory.

What does it mean that "we have seen his glory”? What is glory, and how can we see it? Once we are able to see it, how should we react? Those are the themes that are woven through this sermon and service.

* * *

On the second Sunday of Epiphany, we worship in the joy
of knowing we are able to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ.  

We Gather in the Presence of God 

Prelude: “All Glory Be to God on High” [see music notes]

The Call to Worship

Long ago, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets;
now God has spoken to us by a Son.
God made the world through the Son,
who has been appointed heir of all things
and the perfect reflection of God’s glory.
The Son is the exact representation of God’s being,
sustaining all things by his powerful Word.
Praise God for the gift of the Son.
We welcome the light of the world!
(based on Hebrews 1:1-3, TWS F.1.2.7)

*Opening Hymn: “All Glory Be to God on High” PH 133, PsH 247, RL 620, TH 102

*God's Greeting and Congregational Amen!  

*Song of Response: “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies” PsH 481, TH 398

We Are Renewed in God's Grace

The Children's Moment

Our Prayer of Confession

God of eternal hope,
you place a light in every darkness and a star in every sky,
and yet we sometimes choose to walk in the darkness of despair and worry.
Sometimes we forget that there is never a moment that you are not with us,
that your Son was called Immanuel, which means "God with us."
Shine your light upon our path and walk with us
through all the valleys of our lives.
Hear our confession of those times
when we try to forge ahead and handle life in our own strength.
[Silence for personal prayers or Sung Prayer: “Shine on Me” SNC 51]
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy and forgive us. Amen.

The Assurance of God's Pardon - John 1:10-13

Song: “Shine, Jesus Shine” RN 247, SFL 239, SNC 128, TWC 721, WOV 651

God's Will for Our Lives

You shall have no other gods before me.
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever!
You shall not make for yourself an idol.
In Christ we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—
the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live
long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
You shall not murder.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

You shall not commit adultery.
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
You shall not steal.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer,
but must work, doing something useful with his hands,
so that he may have something to share with those in need.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Instead, speaking the truth in love,
we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. PsH 1014 (see liturgy notes)

Anthem: “May I Love You Lord", Hopp

God Speaks to Us Through His Word

*Song: "Blessed Jesus, at Your Word” PH 454, PsH 280, RL 530, RN 93, SFL 56, TH 303, UMH 596

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of the first Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Reading of the Psalm: Psalm 29

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!  

The Reading of the Gospel: John 1:1-18  

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!  

Sermon: "Observed Glory"
  Text: John 1:14

The Prayer of Application

We Respond to God's Word

The Prayers of the People [see liturgy notes]

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: “All Glory Be to God on High” [see music notes]
We Offer our Gifts to….

We Go Out to Reflect God's Glory

*Song: “Father, We Love You” PsH 634, RN 37, SFL 77, TWC 10 [see music notes]

*The Sending and Blessing

In response to what we have heard
and to what we know ourselves to be,
let us begin anew.
We have been called to participate in his mission.
The Lord has laid upon us the responsibility for his world.
Let us offer ourselves
to him and to that world, which is his own.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Go in peace. Amen.
Amen.   (TWS, F.9.2.2)

Postlude: "Choral Song,” Wesley [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Liturgy Notes

  1. The Prayer of Confession is the same prayer that was included last week. There are times when the repetition of an action in the liturgy reinforces its content, especially in a seasonal context.
  2. The responsive reading of God's Will for Our Lives is a formulation of the Ten Commandments with echoes of the same command from the epistles in the New Testament.
  3. Three Scripture readings are included in this service: The first two are from the Revised Common Lectionary, and the third is the passage for the sermon from John. We suggest that different lay readers read each passage.
  4. For Prayers of the People that are appropriate to the Epiphany Season, we suggest you consult The Worship Sourcebook, pp. 505-511, for a helpful variety of suggestions. Last week "The Lord is My Light," a responsorial prayer in SNC 206, was suggested as a part of the prayer. If you did not include it last week, you may want to consider including it this week.
  5. The Call to Discipleship is placed at the conclusion of the service so that worshipers are sent out with God's call to participate in his mission ringing in their ears and hearts.

Sermon Notes

Christmas actually makes it possible for us to see the glory of God! That's what John says in our text. It's a profound statement that warrants careful reflection.

The concept of the glory of God is a very big one. It is a large part of the very fabric of the Christian faith so it's very natural that we would hear that Christ brings the glory of God. The Bible points to three ways in which the concept shows up in the Bible:
(1) The glory of God refers to the qualities of his nature, for in his essence he IS glorious.
(2) This world receives the glory of God when he reveals himself. When God reveals himself, he shows us his glory.
(3) We bring glory to God (glorify him) when our actions in worship and obedience are given to him.

There are many instances in Scripture that can be cited in which God has shown his glory, and we are to give him glory. Some of those instances can serve as illustrations in this sermon (consider Ephesians 1:12, Psalm 96:8, 1 Corinthians 10:31, John 16:8, and Revelation 4:9-11). In this sermon text, John highlights the fact that we see God’s glory clearly in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The word John uses indicates that we ought to "study" the incarnation to see the glory of God. While it may not be readily apparent, careful scrutiny will discover it. He begins with the concept of physical sight and adds the idea of contemplation and reflection so that we are seeing much more than the physical eye is able to observe.

We do well to scrutinize the events of the incarnation, for in their simplicity they are disarmingly complex. Once we get beneath the surface of what is happening we are able to see much bigger things, such as the grace and truth of God coming into our neighborhood. Unfortunately, so many of the events associated with the "holiday season" stand in the way of seeing glory, and we must exercise both caution and diligence to get beyond such distractions.

Music Notes

Both the prelude and offertory suggestions are based on the opening hymn.

ALLEIN GOTT [“All Glory Be to God on High”]

  • Organ
    • Armsdorff, Andreas. Music for a Celebration set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M) 
    • Bach, J. S. The Biggs Book of Organ Music. H. W. Grey GB 645 [1979] (M)
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-752 [1989] (E-M) 
    • Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M) 
    • Held, Wilbur. All Glory Be to God on High. Morningstar MSM-10-706 [1995] (E-M) 
    • Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M) 
    • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations. Concordia 97-4554 [1962] (E-M) 
    • Marpurg, Friedrich Wilhelm. Music for a Celebration set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M) 
    • Marpurg, Friedrich Wilhelm. Twenty-one Chorale Preludes. Augsburg 11-9506 [1967] (E-M) 
    • Pachelbel, Johann. Selected Organ Works vol. 2. Kalmus 3761(adaptable for piano, E-M) 
    • Scheidt, Samuel. Second Volume of the Sacred Hour at the Organ. Fischer O 3809 [1953] (E-M) 
    • Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon. Music for a Celebration set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M)
  • Alternative harmonizations on the opening hymn can be found in the following organ collections
    • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964] 
    • Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292 [1968]

The anthem “May I Love You, Lord” by Roy Hopp is scored for SATB accompanied choir. This piece is published by Augsburg 0-8006-7541-X [2002] (E-M).

A descant for the closing hymn “Father, We Love You” can be found in SFL 71.

The suggestion for postlude “Choral Song”, by Samuel Wesley can be found in the organ collection Wedding Music part 1. Concordia 97-1369 [1952] (M).

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations

  • PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
  • PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
  • RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
  • SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
  •   Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America;
  •   Great Commission Publications)
  • TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
  • UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
  • WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)