Fourth after Epiphany, Year B

Musical Reflection
Quiet Warrior by Jewel



God of liberation,
confronting the powers
that exclude the unclean
and bind us to death:
may we receive
your word of authority,
your rule of peace,
your earthly holiness,
which comes
not to destroy
but to set us free;
through Jesus Christ, the holy one of God.
First Reading
by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities –
We cannot speak.

A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
“How did you lose your leg?”
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg,
It comes back jocosely
And he says, “A bear bit it off.”
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe.

There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d’Arc
Saying amid the flames, “Blessed Jesus” –
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.

And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?
Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.

Second Reading

by Thomas Hood
There is a silence where hath been no sound,
   There is a silence where no sound may be,
   In the cold grave—under the deep deep sea,
Or in the wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
   No voice is hush’d—no life treads silently,
   But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
   Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena, calls,
   And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.
Gospel Reading
Mark 1:21-28

Jesus and his followers went into Capernaum. Immediately on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and started teaching. The people were amazed by his teaching, for he was teaching them with authority, not like the legal experts. Suddenly, there in the synagogue, a person with an evil spirit screamed, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”

“Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” The unclean spirit shook him and screamed, then it came out.

Everyone was shaken and questioned among themselves, “What’s this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands unclean spirits and they obey him!” Right away the news about him spread throughout the entire region of Galilee.


Musical Reflection
The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel


Silent Prayer
Prayer of Silence and Listening and Patience by Le Blog de la Bergerie, adapted

God, we offer you this moment of silence.

This moment is for you.
We consent to your action
In our minds and in our hearts
In our wills and in our souls.
We welcome your action!

And to prepare ourselves, to make room for you,
We will sit here, quietly, with our eyes closed,
In an attitude of peaceful rest and loving devotion,
Our intent is to welcome you.
We will slow down our thoughts and our imaginations,
We will calm down our fears and our emotions,
We will exercise patience and humility
And we offer you these efforts.

We lift up our souls to you,
Whispering in our hearts and in our minds,
“Here we are! Quiet but attentive to you.”


The Lord’s Prayer

our Father and Mother,
in whom is heaven,
hallowed be your name,
followed be your royal way,
done be your will and rule,
throughout the whole creation.
With the bread we need for today,
feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test,
strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure,
spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil,
free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
Now and forever.

Musical Reflection
When Silence is the Only Sound by the Infamous Stringdusters


May Christ, who draws the nations to himself,
teach us to love our enemies;
may Christ, who enters the water of baptism,
lead us to die to all but love;
may Christ, who gives new wine for the world,
turn our bitterness into joy;

and the blessing of God,
the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.



Artwork by Chris Bracey

Invocation and Blessing from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Quiet Warrior by Jewel

Poem Silence by Edgar Lee Masters

Poem Silence by Thomas Hood

Musical Reflection The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel

Prayer by Le Blog de la Bergerie

Lord’s Prayer from Human Rites: Worship Resources for an Age of Change

Musical Reflection When Silence is the Only Sound by the Infamous Stringdusters

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