January 31, 2021, Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

Weather vane

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash, used with permission

Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service

“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”


We invite you to gather for quiet and centering prayer and reflection every Sunday at 10:15 am. May this time and space be a blessing for your journey.

For Your Reflection: “Authority without wisdom is like a heavy ax without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.” –Anne Bradstreet, 1612-1672, early American poet

“1963, because of the sense of moral authority that the civil rights movement had, we were able to get people to respond, because of the quality of our demand and our sense of moral authority.” –John Lewis, politician and civil rights activist, 1940-2020

Question: An “authority” is someone with official responsibility for a particular area of activity.

Do you consider yourself as one who has authority?  Have you ever considered the “ingredients” of your own authority?  Are you someone who challenges authority?  If so, when and under what conditions do you challenge authority?  What is your personal measure for authority?


Rev. Dee Ledger

God’s Light Grows 

Call To Worship (Responsive)

Rev. Dee and Nolan Ross

The Wisdom of God calls us to gather:
To learn from Love’s teachers, ancient and new.
The Wisdom of God is a companion in discernment:
Our guide through eras painful and distressing.
In community, we seek the knowledge of heaven, that we might:
Be delivered from evil.
Comfort and be comforted.
Practice lasting transformation.
With hope, let us welcome the wisdom of God.


#18 Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer

Music and lyrics to Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Opening Prayer (Unison)

Nolan Ross

Delivering One, with humility, we pray for your guidance. In so many ways, we have been taught to seek wisdom in people and places resistant to your love that liberates. Authority has been handed out according to power and privilege. And yet, we know Christ does not seek the spotlight, fit the norm, nor climb ladders of success. May your Spirit help us to perceive trustworthy sources of your teaching for these days. Amen.

Alleluia #765

Al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia;
Al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia;
I will praise you, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia;
I will praise you al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia

Passing The Peace

Leader:       The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
People:      And also with you.

Children’s Moment

The children may depart to the breakout room for their classes and activities.

The Contemporary Reading

Read by Rev. Jean Thompson

“By What Authority” by Maren C. Tirabassi

By what authority do you do these things?
they asked Jesus,
and by that they meant “boss,”
and so he tap-sandaled all around them
meeting question with question,

playing a jeopardy he could not win.

By what authority do you do these things?
If only they had said “author,”
perhaps he would have answered –

the one who wrote the stars.

Musical Meditation

“Be by my side” Filijada and Familbond, The Call, Album: Mountain Top; permission to use, Creative Commons Attribution

A Reading From The Gospel

Read by Nolan Ross

Mark 1:21-28

21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He[a] commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.


As One Having Authority


# 446 Jesus Still Lead On

Music and lyrics to Jesus, Still Lead On

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Giving Thanks

If you wish to give to support the work of Bethesda UCC, you can donate via Venmo @Bethesda-UCC or send a check via mail to Bethesda UCC c/o Treasurer; 10010 Fernwood Road; Bethesda, MD 20817

Invitation to offering

Divine Wisdom is a corrective to evil: Evil we have internalized or inherited. Evil we have allowed or encouraged. Evil that has been excused in the name of tradition or history. For all the ways Divine Wisdom, graciously abundant and available, lures us towards righteousness and flourishing, let us bring our offerings with thanks.

We thank you for your generous support of this faith community and of our ministry together.  Let us bless the offerings from this week together.

Prayer Of Dedication For The Offerings, Pledges, And Gifts Of Today And This Week   (Unison)

God of Many Truths, Christian supremacy has done so much damage in your name. In ways we know and ways still imperceivable to us, we acknowledge the destruction entangled with our religion. We grieve our complicity and pray for our deliverance from all that has distorted our collective practices of love. For the prophets guiding our learning and unlearning, we bring our offerings with thanks.  Amen

Joys/Concerns, Pastoral Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer

Rev. Jean Thompson

Our Mother/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 debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.


The Congregation


#471What A Covenant

Music and lyrics to What a Covenant

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712


The Wisdom of God is all around us, poured out among all of creation. Its teachers are old and new. It dwells deep within and on the edges. It takes on forms strange and ordinary.

All who seek God’s wisdom will find it if only we pay attention, open to surprise, open to challenge, and open to the prophets of our day. May it be so among us.


Blest Be the Tie that Binds

Notes on Resources and Acknowledgements: Unless otherwise marked, our liturgy comes from and is adapted to our worship setting.

More Food for Spiritual Thought:

  • What is one marginalized practice of religion or spirituality your community has prejudice against or suspicion of? How might you explore it together?
  • What are the impacts of a prophet coming from within a community verses a prophet from another community? How are they different and what role do each play?
  • How does your community practice resistance to Christian supremacy?

More about us

Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church.  United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:

Bethesda United Church of Christ
10010 Fernwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland  20817

Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger
Music Director: Kay Krekow

Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.

Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.

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