Reformation Sunday Devotion, Readings and Prayers

martin-luther painting

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for Reformation Sunday, October 25, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We continue to offer in-person and Facebook Live services following the normal Sunday 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.  The Saturday 6:00 p.m. service at MLLC is in-person only.

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.

Reformation Sunday

October 24 & 25, 2020

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

R:  A reading from Jeremiah, the 31st chapter.

The renewed covenant will not be breakable, but like the old covenant it will expect the people to live upright lives. To know the LORD means that one will defend the cause of the poor and needy (Jer. 22:16). The renewed covenant is possible only because the LORD will forgive iniquity and not remember sin. Our hope lies in a God who forgets.  And now the reading.

31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Here ends the reading.

PSALM: Psalm 46

R: Psalm 46, read responsively by verse.

1God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved,

  and though the mountains shake in the depths of the sea;

3though its waters rage and foam,

and though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

  the holy habitation of the Most High.

5God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be shaken;

God shall help it at the break of day.

 6The nations rage, and the kingdoms shake;

  God speaks, and the earth melts away.

7The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

 8Come now, regard the works of the Lord,

  what desolations God has brought upon the earth;

9behold the one who makes war to cease in all the world;

who breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire.

 10“Be still, then, and know that I am God;

  I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.”

11The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

 

SECOND READING: Romans 3:19-28

R: A reading from Romans, the 3rd chapter.

Paul’s words stand at the heart of the preaching of Martin Luther and other Reformation leaders. No human beings make themselves right with God through works of the law. We are brought into a right relationship with God through the divine activity centered in Christ’s death. This act is a gift of grace that liberates us from sin and empowers our faith in Jesus Christ. And now the reading.                                                                                          

19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

Here ends the reading.

 

*GOSPEL: John 8:31-36

P:  The holy gospel reading is from the 8th chapter of John.

Jesus speaks of truth and freedom as spiritual realities known through his word. He reveals the truth that sets people free from sin. And now the reading.

31Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Here ends the reading.

Devotion: “Free”

By Pastor David Tinker

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

Author Ruth Walton tells a story about a beggar who lived near a king’s palace.  One day the king announced a great banquet, and the beggar thought about how much he would like to go.  Unfortunately, he wore only rags and could not dress in royal garments like the other guests.  So, the beggar went to the palace and asked to borrow some clothes for the royal banquet.  Amazingly the king summoned him to his royal throne and heard the request.  The king smiled and called his son, the prince, and told him to give the beggar some clothes.  The prince did as he was told, and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothed in garments he never dreamed he might some day wear.  The prince told him, “You may now attend the banquet.  Furthermore, you will never need another set of clothes.  These garments will last forever.”

The beggar dropped to his knees in profound gratitude.  But as he started to leave the room, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor.  He hesitated.  What if the prince were wrong?  What if some day he might need his old clothes again?  Quickly he gathered them up and tucked them under his arm.

The banquet was a fabulous event.  But the beggar had trouble enjoying it as he should.  His small bundle of rags kept falling off his lap as he sat at the table.  Some of the finest delicacies passed by him, and he missed out on them, because he was continually struggling with his bundle of rags.

As the years passed, time proved that the prince was right.  The clothes lasted forever, staying just as fresh and beautiful as they were in the beginning.  But people seemed not to notice the royal robes the beggar wore, but only the little bund of filthy rags he clung to wherever he went.  Whenever they spoke of him, they always referred to him as the old man with the bundle of rags.

At the last when the beggar lay dying, the king came to visit him.  The beggar noticed the sad look on the king’s face when he saw the small bundle of rags by the bed.  Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince’s words, and he realized that clinging to his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty.  He wept bitterly at his foolishness.  And the king wept with him.

This day we give thanks that our God has granted us freedom.  He has granted us abundant forgiveness of our sinfulness. He has invited us to live in freedom the final powers of sin, death and evil.  God has opened the way for each of us to know God and to love God.  By this we receive the call to live in joyful service to God and to neighbor.  This goodness of God which leads to true freedom is the centerpiece of our Lutheran Christian understanding of the faith.  On this Reformation weekend we look back at what God has done, and we delight in our new life in Jesus Christ.

On this weekend we give thanks to God for the gift of the Reformation.  We observe this day in remembrance of the ministry of Martin Luther and the Reformers, and to remember the events of October 31, 1517.  That is when Martin Luther, a monk, priest, and university professor, took the risk of challenging the misguided teachings of his day.  On that great day Dr. Luther posted his 95 Theses, or points of argument, on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  In that document, and in the years to come, he challenged the premise that we must pay, through cash and/or good deeds, for God’s forgiveness.  In turn Luther reminded the Church of the great teachings of the Bible which proclaim that God generously offers forgiveness through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  He renewed the teaching that through that gift we can receive freedom from sin, death and evil, and that we can receive the wonderful new life of knowing God now and forever.  He helped the world know the truth that humanity struggles with sin.  Our race is under the destructive power of being away from God’s will.  This power enslaves us to living away from God and his ways.  The great news is that God has overcome all this power through Jesus.  Jesus willingly succumbed to this power in his death on the cross.  He also overpowered sin by his rising from the tomb on that first Easter Sunday morning.  Death and sin no longer had power over him.  Through the gift of faith and baptism, humanity gets to be freed from this power as well.  We get to live the new life promised by Jesus.  Luther and the Reformers were ecstatic with joy when they rediscovered the freedom God grants through faith in Jesus.

We read in today’s Gospel lesson the following words of Jesus: “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  This freedom is a wonderful gift.  It brings life to our dead spirits.  When we come to faith in Jesus, we get to live as God’s children now. As God’s children, we get to find true freedom.

Even with all this wonderful grace of God, we sometimes struggle.  Our struggle is that we often try to hold on to our old human frailty.  Like the beggar in the story I shared with you, we often make choices which prevent us from living the freedom we have been granted.  We all too often try to hold on to our sin, our memories of sin, or our way of living under the bondage to sin. Thankfully, God reminds us that he has granted us freedom from the bondage to sin and the junky rags which hold us back.

Through God’s mercy we are given the ability to put these rags of our bondage to sin on the cross with Jesus.  We get to throw these away, and God gives us what we need so that we can receive, utilize and share his love, mercy, and more excellent way.  When we discover new struggles, new rags of sorts, we get to toss these away.

We don’t need those rags of our old life of sin anymore.  God has clothed us with the new garments of forgiveness and mercy.  This is all founded in the truth of his love which leads us to freedom in Christ.

When we have faith in Jesus and are joined with him in baptism, we get to be God’s royal children, his royal priesthood.  We get to be free indeed.  A symbol of this freedom and of God’s grace is a baptismal robe or garment.

Prince Louis Baptism 2018Baptismal Garment are common in families – In the British Royal Family they use the same baptismal robe for the baptism of royal children for many years.  There was one which was used 62 times between 1841 and 2008. A new one, a replica of the previous one, was made in 2008.  It was used for the baptisms of Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince Archie. Other families today often still wear such garments for baptism.  It reminds us of the new spiritual garments which replace the rags of our sin.

One of the many places we read about this is in Ephesians 4:22-24, where Paul writes:  “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Another place is in Galatians 3:27, where Paul connects this new clothing with Baptism: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  With new clothes we get rid of the old.  The old is sin, the new is the forgiveness and love of Jesus for each of us.

As we gather at the Lord’s Table this day or any time we have the sacrament, you are invited to release those rags of sin. Lay these rags of our old sin on the cross.   Let Jesus take those old rags, and don’t hold on to them any longer.  Then let him continue to give you the assurance of his love in the bread and wine, the body and blood.  Be assured of what God has done for you in Jesus which brings true freedom now and for eternity.

Let us pray – Gracious God, you have granted us far more than we ask or deserve.  Help us to receive your forgiveness and to rejoice in all that provide.  Enable each of us to live in the freedom we get to have as your followers.  We pray this in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

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

A brief silence.

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, your mercy endures forever.  We pray that you would stir us to faith, worship and action.  Receive our offerings for the praise of your glory and for the spread of the Gospel. Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for your Holy Scriptures which guide us in this life.  Grant that we may hear, read, respect, learn, and make them our own in such a way that the enduring benefit and comfort of the Word will help us grasp and hold the blessed hope of everlasting life, given us through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for leaders in the Church who are stirred to lead your people back to God’s Word.  We give thanks for your servant Martin Luther and for all who have been faithful leaders of the Reformation of your Church throughout the centuries.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

We pray for all who suffer in mind, body or spirit.  We lift up in prayer…  and also those whom we now name aloud or in quiet prayer… Bring renewed hope, strength and healing in the lives of all for whom we pray.  Lord, in your mercy,         Hear our prayer.

Your compassion for humanity leads us to care for one another, especially those who mourn.  We pray for all who are bereaved (especially the family and friends of …).  By your Holy Spirit stir us to faithfulness in care for all who mourn the death of a relative or friend.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Help us to be ambassadors for Christ in this community.  Guide us back to your Word, so that we will understand the hope we share.  We pray that your Holy Spirit will renew our faith and send us out for the sake of the world which you love.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

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

 

*Lord’s Prayer

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