The 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus Hagia Sophia

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, August 30, 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.

AUGUST 30, 2020

13th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

 

First Reading: Jeremiah 15:15-21

R:  A reading from Jeremiah, the 15th chapter.

Jeremiah’s delight in the word of the Lord is contradicted by the heaviness of God’s hand upon him and God’s seeming unfaithfulness. God’s tough love to Jeremiah says that if he repents, he will be allowed to continue in his strenuous ministry. Jeremiah is strengthened by the simple words, “I am with you.”

And now the reading.

15O Lord, you know;
remember me and visit me,
and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
know that on your account I suffer insult.
16Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.
17I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,
nor did I rejoice;
under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
for you had filled me with indignation.
18Why is my pain unceasing,
my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail.
19Therefore thus says the Lord:
If you turn back, I will take you back,
and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
you shall serve as my mouth.
It is they who will turn to you,
not you who will turn to them.
20And I will make you to this people
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you
to save you and deliver you,
says the Lord.
21I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

The word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

 

Psalm: Psalm 26:1-8

R:  Psalm 26, read responsively by verse.

1Give judgment for me, O Lord, for I have lived with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
2Test me, O Lord, and try me;
examine my heart and my mind.
3For your steadfast love is before my eyes;
I have walked faithfully with you.
4I have not sat with the worthless,
nor do I consort with the deceitful. 
5I have hated the company of evildoers;
I will not sit down with the wicked.
6I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord,
that I may go in procession round your altar,
7singing aloud a song of thanksgiving
and recounting all your wonderful deeds.
8Lord, I love the house in which you dwell
and the place where your glory abides. 

Second Reading: Romans 12:9-21

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

Paul presents benchmarks for faithful relationships with Christians and non-Christians. Love is the unflagging standard of our behavior. When we encounter evil, we do not resort to its tactics but seek to overcome it with good. While Christians cannot control the actions and attitudes of others, we seek to live at peace with all people.

And now the reading.

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

*Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28

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

Glory to you, O Lord.

After Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16), Jesus reveals the ultimate purpose of his ministry. These words prove hard to accept, even for a disciple whom Jesus has called a “rock.”

And now the reading.

21From that time on, [after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah,] Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

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

 

Devotion

“A Major Shift”

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

We have begun a new school year this past week in our local schools.  This is a unique situation for everybody involved, students, families, school staff and school leadership.  The struggles of this pandemic have required various changes.  Some students are at home using the internet for connection to the classroom.  Some students are on campus, but they have significant restrictions to their actions.  Teachers are having to make notable changes in how they manage the teaching and administration.  Staff and leaders are having to create new ways and to adjust how school is done.  This is all a major shift for all involved.

In our Gospel reading for today we see a major shift in Jesus’ relationship with his disciples.  The first part of the book of Matthew is dominated by teachings about the Kingdom of God.  Although very interesting and informative, these are often less demanding of the disciple.  Now, in Matthew chapter 16, Jesus announces a major shift for the life of his followers.  Jesus tells them, in no uncertain terms, that he is going to suffer, die and then be raised from the tomb.  The new way for the disciples was the way of the cross.  For Peter, who had been growing so well under the simpler school of theology, was now having a much more difficult time with this announcement.  Following Jesus was going to be much more difficult for them.  In response to Jesus’ announcement about his own death, Peter did the unthinkable:  he rebuked God.  He spoke to Jesus, God the Son and said, “God forbid it Lord!  This must never happen to you.”  Jesus responds by telling Peter to get out of the way of his mission.  He uses strong language to do this, comparing Peter to Satan, the one who impedes or gets in the way.

Jesus goes on to explain that to be one of his followers is to move into this new way of living.  He says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  This way of the cross is one of self denial and possible death for the sake of following Jesus Christ.  To follow Christ is to put all things in submission to Jesus, and this includes life itself.

Judy Anderson grew up as a missionary kid in Zaire.  Zaire is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As a little girl, Judy went to a day-long rally celebrating the 100th anniversary of Christian missionaries coming to that part of the country. After a full day of messages and music, an old man came before the crowd and insisted that he be allowed to speak. He said he soon would die, and that he had some important information to share.

The old man explained that when Christian missionaries had first come a hundred years before, his people thought the missionaries were strange and their message unusual. The tribal leaders decided to test the missionaries in a cruel and harsh way: They slowly poisoned them to death. Over a period of months and years, missionary children died one by one.

Then the old man said, “It was as we watched how they died that we decided we wanted to live as Christians.”

Think of it – those missionaries never knew what was happening.  They didn’t know they were being poisoned and they didn’t know why they were dying.  They didn’t know they were martyrs.  Those Christian missionaries stayed and died because they trusted in Jesus and his call to bring the Gospel.  They loved the people.  In reflection, it was the way they died, staying faithful to their calling, that taught others how to live as followers of Jesus.

That is how it is with the way of the cross.  Following Jesus comes before everything.  Following Jesus is the greatest calling in life, yet it is far from the easiest calling for the human race.  Jesus, our leader, took this approach.  He put all else aside to fulfill the mission which his Heavenly Father gave to him.  Jesus came into this world and taught about how to live and how to die.  Through this he taught us how to follow him through life, death and into eternal life with him.  His ultimate gift to us was that he went to the cross to die our death for the forgiveness of our sin.  All of our lack of trusting God died at that cross.  All our disregard of God’s will died at the cross.  All our hate for life and goodness died at the cross.  From that death Jesus moved beyond death and into the resurrected life.  All sin was left for dead in the tomb, and he now leads us beyond death and into his most excellent way, which always includes the cross.

Most of us will not end of being missionaries to some far off land.  Even so, we are called to following Jesus and his way of the cross.  Our reading from Romans chapter 12 this week offers a vision for God’s better way, the way of the cross, as it matters to our relationships within the body of Christ, and with our neighbors in life.  Paul here presents a vision, or guided plan, for God’s most excellent way.  Sure, we don’t always live it out fully, and it is not easy.  Even so, consider this section of Romans 12:

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

This is part of living in the new path of following Jesus.  No, it is not easy, but it is still God’s will for us.  I invite all of you to prayerfully strive toward living according to God’s vision for our lives as shown in this section of Romans chapter 12.

Life following the most excellent way of Jesus is difficult, joyful, challenging, yet easy.  It is the way that we are called to follow if we are to believe and receive the gracious forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  As you respond to God’s goodness and the call of Jesus Christ, you will be a positive witness to what God is doing in your life right now.  People will watch how we live, and how we die.  I pray that God will be able to use our witness to help other know how serious we are about our faith in what Jesus has first done for us.

Let us pray – Gracious and Loving God, it is by your Son’s passion and death that our sins are forgiven.  Help us to understand that in his death on the cross comes the beginning of life for us.  We pray this in his most 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.

O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:  You created all things, and you rule them with wisdom, power,` and mercy. According to your mercy hear us now as we come before you in prayer, prayer and thanksgiving.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give thanks for your provision of wisdom and knowledge for your people in this world.  Enliven the teachers of this congregation as they work to bring your Word to all generations.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grant all teachers, parents and school staff members what they need to teach the children in their care.  Enable students to learn and use the knowledge they receive. Help all involved continue to make the proper adjustments in the challenging times.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Be with all who have suffered due to recent fires and storms.  Help us work with Lutheran Disaster Response for relief to our neighbors in need.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Other intercessions may be added here.

Grant the comfort and peace of Christ to those who mourn (including the family and friends of…). Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Be the strong arm that strengthens those who are weak and in need of healing, including…   and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  Be the hope of those who despair and can imagine no good future. Send us to the side of all of those in need, that we may embody your love and compassion and point them to your unfailing promises. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the Holy Communion you give us a foretaste of the feast to come.  Open our spiritual hearts to receive your gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. By your Word and Spirit unite in true faith all who this day receive your Son’s body and blood, that they may proclaim Christ’s death until he comes. 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

 

LORD’S PRAYER 

 

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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