A(nother) Service of Letting Go and Letting God

As we’ve done previously, St. John’s is continuing to hold our fifth Sunday services of “Letting Go and Letting God.” You can watch the latest one here on our live stream and follow along with the order of service below. (Also, since both of our organists were unexpectedly out of commission on Sunday, you can also enjoy… or at least experience… my rudimentary guitar accompaniment skills, haha)

Thank you for joining us for worship! Wherever you are, we invite you to create space for worship, both in your physical space and in your heart — perhaps light a candle or fill a bowl with water to remember your baptism, or grab a bible or hymnal, or do whatever helps you most to feel worshipful.

On fifth Sundays of the month (like today, January 29), we have begun practicing a rite we call a “service of letting go and letting God”; it’s an opportunity to acknowledge the burdens weighing on our hearts and to surrender these things — along with our very selves — into the care of God. Typically, we do this with some kind of visible sign; if you’d like to pray along at home, today’s ritual involves a fun little DIY science with household items that you can learn about on this page.

Sunday, January 29, 2023 • Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Service of Letting Go and Letting God

The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.


All are invited to share joys and concerns for the assembly to lift up in prayer together. Later in the service, Pastor Day will lead us in gathering these things in prayer.

As Christians, our prayers are meant to reflect the wideness of God’s mercy for the world. In addition to your own joys and concerns, consider lifting up prayer for the broader world:

  • for the church universal, its ministry, and the mission of the gospel
  • for the well-being of creation
  • for peace and justice in the world, the nations and those in authority, the community
  • for the poor, oppressed, sick, bereaved, lonely
  • for all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit
  • for the congregation, and for special concerns
  • thanksgiving for the faithful saints who have gone before us – those commemorated by the church as well as those we know, who died recently or the anniversary of whose death is near

Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, the fountain of living water, the rock who gave us birth, our light and our salvation.

Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism, we are clothed with God’s mercy and forgiveness. Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.

We give you thanks, O God, for in the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters and by your Word you created the world, calling forth life in which you took delight. Through the waters of the flood you delivered Noah and his family.

Through the sea you led your people Israel from slavery into freedom. At the river your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit. By water and your Word you claim us as daughters and sons, making us heirs of your promise and servants of all. We praise you for the gift of water that sustains life, and above all we praise you for the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. Shower us with your Spirit, and renew our lives with your forgiveness, grace, and love. To you be given honor and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

GATHERING SONG (ELW 669) Rise Up, O Saints of God!

Rise up, O saints of God! 
From vain ambitions turn;
Christ rose triumphant that your hearts
with nobler zeal might burn.

Speak out, O saints of God!
Despair engulfs earth’s frame;
as heirs of God’s baptismal grace,
the word of hope proclaim.

Rise up, O saints of God!
The kingdom’s task embrace;
redress sin’s cruel consequence;
give justice larger place.

Give heed, O saints of God!
Creation cries in pain;
stretch forth your hand of healing now,
with love the weak sustain.

Commit your hearts to seek
the paths which Christ has trod;
and, quickened by the Spirit’s pow’r,
rise up, O saints of God!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.

KYRIE (pg. 203)
Have mercy on us, Lord, and hear our solemn prayer.
We come to hear your living word; it saves us from despair.

Have mercy on us, Christ, and wash away our sin.
Pour out your grace and make us whole that new life may begin.

Have mercy on us, Lord, make sin and shame depart.
Renew us with your saving pow’r; create in us new hearts!

Come, let us join our cheerful songs with angels round the throne;
ten thousand thousand are their tongues, but all their joys are one.
“Worthy the Lamb that died,” they cry, “to be exalted thus!”
“Worthy the Lamb,” our lips reply, “for he was slain for us!”

Jesus is worthy to receive honor and pow’r divine;
and blessings, more than we can give, be, Lord, forever thine.
Let all creation join in one to bless the sacred name
of God who sits upon the throne, and to adore the Lamb.


The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Let us pray.

Holy God, you confound the world’s wisdom in giving your kingdom to the lowly and the pure in heart. Give us such a hunger and thirst for justice, and perseverance in striving for peace, that in our words and deeds the world may see the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.

FIRST READING: Micah 6:1-8
1Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel.
3“O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! 4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”
6“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of 
my soul?” 8He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Word of God, word of life. / The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

PSALM: Psalm 27:1,4-9
1Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? Who may abide upon your holy hill?
2Those who lead a blameless life and do what is right, who speak the truth from their heart;

3they do not slander with the tongue, they do no evil to their friends; they do not cast discredit upon a neighbor.
4In their sight the wicked are rejected, but they honor those who fear the Lord. They have sworn upon their health and do not take back their word.

5They do not give their money in hope of gain, nor do they take bribes against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be overthrown.

SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Word of God, word of life. / The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Alleluia! Lord and Savior: 
open now your saving word. 
Let it burn like fire within us; 
speak until our hearts are stirred. 
Alleluia! Lord, we sing 
for the good news that you bring.

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL: Matthew 5:1-12
The holy gospel according to Matthew.  
Glory to you, O Lord.

1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

(Some language borrowed from “Liturgy for a Time of Widespread Suffering” in Every Moment Holy Vol II by Douglas McKelvey)

God, our loving Creator, you know too well the ways our lives are sometimes overtaken by unexpected calamities. You know the fears, worries, and insecurities that grasp at our hearts and steal our peace, as we witness suffering, confusion, and hardship multiplying around us. And you know that each time we hear news of violence, disease, climate disaster, dysfunctional government, widening inequality, and the dozens of other challenges our world faces, we get swept up once more in thesesame anxieties and troubles, dismayed by so many uncertainties.
We turn to you, O God, for peace in seasons of distress.

Be merciful to us, O Christ. Bind up the broken hearts that carry the grief and pain of loss into this space. Show your tenderness to all who suffer, to all who worry, to all whose bodies are bowed down with the weight of illness or the challenges of age. Enfold us in your comforting presence when the weariness and anxieties of life overtake us. Let your holy compassions be active in and among this assembly, tending the afflicted, healing the wounded, and nurturing hope in the hearts of any who feel hopeless.
We turn to you, O Christ, for healing and mercy in seasons of pain.

O Holy Spirit of love, kindle in us your life and light. May our days of disquiet and distress move us to renew our conviction and return to you. Let even calamity become a catalyst for the tendering of our affections, for the stirring of our sympathies, for the refining of our love. Break down the walls we build around our hearts that we may be drawn ever nearer to you and to our neighbor in Christlike love. Inspire hope in us for the kingdom you have promised.
We turn to you, O Spirit, for steadfast hope in seasons of uncertainty.

Loving Father, Mother of us all, empower us to live as your children. Receive the hurts and griefs and brokenness that we let go into your care today. Unburden our weary hearts that they be free to love others as we have been so loved.
We lift our wounded hearts to you. You alone can make us whole.

Please use the slips of paper provided to write whatever things are weighing on your heart today. When you are ready to let these burdens go into God’s care, please bring your paper forward to Pastor Day, who will wash God’s ‘grace’ over it. (Note: please be careful handling your paper, as this ‘grace’ does stain. 😉 ) Remember that God’s grace makes you new every day, and God holds you always in unconditional love.

Hear now these words, you children of God, and be greatly encouraged: The Lord’s throne in heaven is yet occupied. God’s rule is eternal, and God’s good purposes on earth will be forever accomplished. So we need never be swayed by the brief and passing panics of this age. All our burdens, all our worries and cares, are held securely in God’s hands.
You are the King of the Ages, O Christ, and all history is held in your Father’s hands.

We, your people, know the good and glorious end of this story. Our eternal hope is secure. Therefore, even in times of turmoil and uncertainty, let us rest secure in the surpassing peace of that vision, that your whole church on earth might find hope and be liberated to love more generously and sacrificially.
Now labor in and through us, O Lord. Kindle again in us the fire of your love. Let us burn brightly as beacons of hope, that all the world may know your grace and tender mercy. Amen.

HYMN OF THE DAY (ELW 715) Christ, Be Our Light

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
signs of your kingdom come.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.


I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s 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 to the deadOn the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Let us pray…
All that the assembly has shared is lifted in prayer, along with the silent prayers we lift in our hearts – God lovingly receives them all.

The peace of Christ be with you always.  
And also with you.

God feeds us with the presence of Jesus Christ.

There are many ways to make your offering:

  • Checks may be mailed or dropped off at the church
  • Ask your bank about setting up automatic giving
  • Make a secure offering online by clicking on the button below (opens up our Tithe.ly giving page in a new window)


Let us pray.

Liberating God, you break the bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Receive these offerings in thanksgiving for all your works of merciful power, and shape us as people of your justice and freedom. You we magnify and adore, through Jesus our Savior,

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts. 
We lift them to the Lord. 

Give thanks to the Lord.  
It is right to give our thanks and praise

It is indeed right… we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heav’n and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest, hosanna in the highest.

Holy, mighty, and merciful Lord,… …with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever.

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.


All are welcome at the Lord’s table, whether Lutheran or not.  Ushers will invite you forward by pew.  Wine and juice are available.  To receive a blessing, please come forward with arms crossed across your chest.





Let us pray.

Holy One, we thank you for the healing that springs forth abundantly from this table. Renew our strength to do justice, love kindness, and journey humbly with you.

God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.

SENDING SONG (ELW 550) On What Has Now Been Sown

On what has now been sown, your blessing, Lord, bestow;
the pow’r is yours alone to make it sprout and grow.
O Lord, in grace, the harvest raise, 
and yours alone shall be the praise!

To you our wants are known, from you are all our pow’rs;
accept what is your own and pardon what is ours.
Our praises, Lord, and prayers receive 
and to your word a blessing give.

Oh, grant that each of us, now met before you here,
may meet together thus when you and yours appear,
and follow you to heav’n our home.
E’en so, Amen! Lord Jesus, come!

The God who faithfully brings forth justice and breaks the oppressor’s rod bless, strengthen, and uphold you, today and always.

Go in peace. Follow the way of Jesus.
Thanks be to God.

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Allison Siburg

Preaching | Coaching | Recommendations

Discover the Spirit Moving

Are you aware of your soul yearning for connection to God? Do you know there is something more to your faith than what you have found? Read these devotions and prayer practices to explore more deeply.


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Timothy Siburg

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Pastor Josh Evans

sermons, theological musings, and other ramblings of a queer lutheran pastor

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