12th Sunday after Pentecost

Against the Flow shirt image

An artist’s depiction of Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…”  This image has been used on things such as posters and t-shirts.

 

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 23, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We resumed in-person services on the weekend of June 6-7, following the normal schedule for both MLLC and Waldeck.  The Facebook Live services will be offered on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. from Waldeck, and at 10:00 a.m. from MLLC.

Below are the readings, prayers, and Sunday sermon.

 

Remember Your Regular Offerings

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For both of our congregations, Waldeck and MLLC, please remember that our expenses continue even when we are unable to meet as usual.  Please make a point to give your offerings as you would on a typical week.  Here are some ideas of what to do:

For Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ledbetter:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church; 6915 Waldeck Church Lane; Ledbetter, TX 78946

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

For MLLC in Carmine:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – MLLC, P O BOX 362, Carmine, TX 78932-0362

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

– give offerings through the church web site:  mllccarmine.com/online-giving  This page has a link to our secure giving page.  Offerings can be made by bank draft, debit card, or credit card through this special web site.

 

The 12th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Isaiah 51:1-6

R:  A reading from Isaiah, the 51st chapter.

Just as God had called Abraham and Sarah and given them many descendants, so now God offers comfort to Zion. God’s deliverance will come soon and will never end. And now the reading.

1Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,
you that seek the Lord.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
2Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
but I blessed him and made him many.
3For the Lord will comfort Zion;
he will comfort all her waste places,
and will make her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
4Listen to me, my people,
and give heed to me, my nation;
for a teaching will go out from me,
and my justice for a light to the peoples.
5I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,
my salvation has gone out
and my arms will rule the peoples;
the coastlands wait for me,
and for my arm they hope.

6Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and those who live on it will die like gnats;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my deliverance will never be ended.

The word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

 

Psalm: Psalm 138

R:  Psalm 138, read responsively by verse.

1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.
3When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth. 
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
6The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar.
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
8You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands.R

 

Second Reading: Romans 12:1-8

R:  A reading from Romans, the 12th chapter.

In response to God’s merciful activity, we are to worship by living holistic, God-pleasing lives. Our values and viewpoints are not molded by the time in which we live but are transformed by the Spirit’s renewing work. God’s grace empowers different forms of service among Christians, but all forms of ministry function to build up the body of Christ.

And now the reading.

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 

*Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew the 16th chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

At a climactic point in Jesus’ ministry, God reveals to Peter that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus responds with the promise of a church that will overcome the very gates of Hades. And now the reading.

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!   For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

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

 

Devotion August 23, 2020

“A Living Sacrifice”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

After 3rd grade I gave Little League baseball a try.  Throughout that season I confirmed that I was not a baseball player.  I couldn’t field the ball very well.  Even more so, I couldn’t hit.  My batting average was Zero.  That means I made no hits during the entire season.  In regard to baseball, my entire life was conformed to this concept:  I can not hit the ball.  For decades after that I went through life assuming that I could not hit the ball.

Some time ago I was visiting with some relatives over near Cleveland, Ohio. After supper we went outside for some recreation.  We decided to toss a baseball around.  Our cousins picked out 2 baseballs, a bat and 4 ball gloves and we headed out to their large back yard.  One person hit a few balls and we did our best to catch them.  Finally, I decided to give it a try.  Our relatives didn’t know my past record, and I don’t think it really mattered to them anyway.  They certainly did not ask for my previous batting average.  So, I tossed the ball into the air and “Bang!” I hit a grounder.  I tried again and this time I connected perfectly.  I hit a line drive way across their large yard.  Wow!  I could hit the ball.  I had spent decades thinking I couldn’t hit and that I was a failure at baseball.  Now I had a renewed understanding of myself.  I could hit the ball.  With the freedom of this new understanding I was able to put myself more fully into the game.

In Romans chapter 12 we have a similar situation.  In this section we are reminded that we are given grace and freedom to live God’s new way.  St. Paul has spent the first 11 chapters talking about how God gives us the ultimate second chance, the forgiveness of our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.  In these various chapters he has told us that we can do nothing to earn or gain God’s favor.  He says in chapter 3, verse 23, that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”   In this Paul gives us the good news that God came to us in Jesus who gave himself to die on the cross for our sin.  From this we can be raised to a new life through faith and Baptism.  Through his message we discover the truth that we are a mess, but that God loves us so much that he joyfully gives us what is needed to have new life with him.  The past is the past, and we are invited and empowered to live a new life with God in the here and now.

Romans chapter 12 is the beginning of Paul’s description of how we live in response to the forgiveness of our sin.  In my life with baseball I was given a clean slate by my relatives in Cleveland.  You see, they didn’t seem to care about my previous ZERO batting average.  So, that day I put off the ZERO batting average, and put myself into the game.

God, through Paul’s teachings, invites us to put of our sin and to put ourselves fully “into the game” as disciples of Jesus.  He writes in chapter 12, verse 1: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  Here we see that God wants us to put our entire selves into our relationship with him.  We are to present our selves to God, but not as mere sinners.  Rather, we are called to God as forgiven and acceptable to him.  We are transformed in God’s eyes by receiving his mercy and goodness.  In this we are invited to be in his merciful care for eternity.  Our Lord takes us just as we are, with all our bruised lives, our sin, and our corrupted minds.

Once we place ourselves in the arms of God’s mercy, we are called by God to be a “living sacrifice” as our Spiritual Worship of the Lord.  As living sacrifices, we strive to live God’s better way.  We are invited to give up some things and to start doing other things.  We are invited to sacrifice sinful ways and to strive toward God’s better way.  The great Church Father, John Chrysostom, from around the year AD 400, said, in his Homilies on Romans: “How does the body become a sacrifice?  Let the eye look on no evil thing, and it has already become a sacrifice.  Let the tongue say nothing filthy, and it has become an offering.  Let your hand do nothing evil, and it has become a whole burnt offering.  But even this is not enough, for we must have good works also.  The hand must do alms, the mouth must bless those who curse it, and the ears must find time to listen to the reading of Scripture.  Sacrifice allows of no unclean thing.  It is the first fruits of all other actions.”

As living sacrifices our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds.  The Apostle Paul goes on to teach us that when we give ourselves to God, life changes for us.  Our passage tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…”  When we present ourselves to God, we are putting something into our past.  That which is put behind us is our life under the power of this world.  By his grace God wants to transform us and empower us from the inside by renewing our minds.  This is founded in our relationship with him.  He invites us into an eternal and life changing relationship with himself and with his people.  God takes us where we are in life, no matter where that might be, and then works to transform us into his faithful people.  In our relationship with Christ he works to renew our minds.  We look to his better way, we look to his Word, and we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance for action and understanding.  This is what Paul was talking about when he says in verse 2, “…so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  That means God will enable you to understand his calling for your life.

All of these changes are founded in what Jesus has first done for us.  The calling to follow his ways, to be living sacrifices, and be transformed, is always about how we respond to what God has first done for us.  Because of God’s love for us in Jesus, we are granted the guidance of the Holy Spirit to ponder the question, “How now shall I live?”  The Answer: we are called to receive God’s grace which renews our minds and transforms of our lives.  We are called to put ourselves more fully into the game as Disciple of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray – Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we come to you seeking your perfect love and guidance for our lives.  Help us to resist the temptations all around us, and help us to be conformed to your good, excellent and perfect will.  This we pray in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen

 

 

Prayers of Intercession

A:  Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

A brief silence.

Faithful God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: we pray for the church. Lead it always to proclaim its faith in you.  Give your church the gifts of truth and righteousness. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray in thanksgiving for this wonderful world. Renew our sense of wonder at what you have made.  Guide us in our care for your creation. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the leaders of the world. Equip them to serve with justice and to dispel the forces of evil. Inspire the citizens of every country to love wisdom and mercy. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Other intercessions may be added here.

We pray for the brokenhearted, those who are ill or dying, and those whose spirits are crushed. Wrap them in the warm embrace of your love. Restore them to wholeness, especially… and those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…    . Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We celebrate our partnership with Lutherhill Ministries.  Guide their leaders and staff  toward faithfulness in their work.  Enliven the faith of all who participate in their programs. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give thanks for all who have gone before us, (especially…) . Give us wisdom to follow their example of faithful living and to stay true to the path of peace. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

P:  Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

 

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