Advent 1 – November 29, 2020

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The chancel of Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church with the new, blue, Advent paraments. 

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the First Sunday in Advent, November 29, 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.

The First Sunday in Advent

November 28 – 29, 2020

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First Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9

The First Reading is from the 64th chapter of Isaiah.

This lament comes from a people who have had their hopes shattered. The visions of a rebuilt Jerusalem and a renewed people of God, spoken of in Isaiah 40–55, have not been realized. Instead, the people experience ruin, conflict, and famine. This lament calls God to account—to be the God who has brought deliverance in the past.

And now the reading.

1O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

Here ends the reading.

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Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Psalm 80, read responsively.

1Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
stir up your strength and come to help us.
3Restore us, O God;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
4O Lord God of hosts,
how long will your anger fume when your people pray?
5You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6You have made us the derision of our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
17Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one you have made so strong for yourself.
18And so will we never turn away from you;
give us life, that we may call upon your name.
19Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.

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Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

The Second Reading is from the first chapter of First Corinthians.

As the Christians in Corinth await the advent of Jesus, Paul reminds them how the Lord has already enriched them through spiritual gifts and will continue to strengthen them until the coming day of the Lord.

And now the reading.

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here ends the reading.

 

*Gospel: Mark 13:24-37                                     

The Gospel Reading is from the 13th chapter of Mark.

In today’s reading, Jesus encourages his followers to look forward to the day when he returns in power and glory to end all suffering. And now the reading.

[Jesus said:] 24“In those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Here ends our readings.

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“The Grand Gift of God”

 By Pastor David Tinker

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

We are gathered here today during the season of Advent. Part of what Advent is about is getting ready for a great celebration of the birth of Jesus the Messiah. During this time of year many people will be kinder, gentler, friendlier, and more generous.  Some even become more faithfully involved in their faith life. They will attend worship more often. They will gather with others for prayer and devotions. Then, on Christmas Day comes, or when the Christmas season ends on January 6, a good number people will drop out of living the Christian Christmas spirit. Thankfully, some will keep it going all year long.

Author Ronald M Patterson tells of a time he visited in the home of a friend during the month of March. He writes, “We were talking, and suddenly I looked up on a corner shelf and noticed a Christmas ornament hanging – almost as though it had been forgotten in the mad rush to put away the holiday season. I quickly looked away, hoping that my glance had not been noticed.  But the woman caught me. Before I could say anything, she smiled and said: “No, I didn’t forget. Every year when I clean up the mess, I choose one ornament to leave up to remind me that Christmas is not just one day or one season, but a lifetime.  That little bulb is my reminder that Jesus Christ walks with me every day.”

Our reading today from First Corinthians shows us that God is always, in a sense, in the Christmas spirit. He is always loving, faithful, and good. He’s always full of grace and forgiveness.  Paul writes in this passage, “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We can know God and be with God forever only through the saving work of Jesus Christ. He is the one who died on the cross for our sin. We celebrate that he was raised to life just a couple days later. All of this was motivated by the strong, steadfast, and eternal love of God. His love permeates every action and gift. God just loves and loves and loves.

There is a story by Author Willa Cather. It is called “The Burglars Christmas”. It portrays a young man, the proverbial Prodigal Son, who has moved away from his family back east and was now living in Chicago. Without food for many days, without friends, and with suicidal thoughts, he decides on Christmas Eve to steal some food from a house. He has never stolen before, but thinks that he is owed some food, at least on Christmas Eve. When he breaks into the house, however, he finds that he has burglarized the house of his parents, who had moved to Chicago. His mother catches him while stealing, and he confesses all to her and to his father.

He prepares to leave, but they say, “Stay. We’ll make things right.”

He looks up at his mother questioningly, “I wonder if you know how much you pardon?”

“Oh, my poor boy,” his mother answered, “much or little, what does it matter? Have you wandered so far and not yet learned that love has nothing to do with pardon or forgiveness, that only loves and loves and loves?”

In other words, pardon and forgiveness don’t lead to love.  Rather, love is powerful, and it also leads to things such as pardon and forgiveness.

We know and serve a faithful God who loves and loves and love.  Our life with God is founded on his great love for us.  We are gathered here this Advent Season to look into the great and powerful love of God shown us in the life of Jesus.  We prepare to celebrate his birth, and we revisit what life is about at this time.  We always start with the love and faithfulness of God.  This leads us to revisit what our lives are about.  We look to what is right, and what is wrong in our lives.  With God’s amazing love we work with God to fix what is messed us, so that we can live according to the way of Jesus.

One thing that we struggle with so often is forgiveness.  This could be our own need for it, but it is also our need to forgive others.  Forgiveness is not easy, but it is in the spirit of Christmas, and most importantly, it is the way of Jesus.

C. S. Lewis said in the book, The Weight of Glory, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

As we work through our faith during this Advent, let us revisit this powerful truth about our lives.  God has forgiven the inexcusable in us.

What can we do to give thanks to God for this?

In what areas of our lives do we need to be turning from sin, and seeking to do things God’s way?

Who are some people that need our forgiveness?

Who have we struggled to forgive?

As we celebrate the Advent and Christmas Spirit this year, let us always remember that God just loves and loves and loves.  He loves us so much that he forgives the inexcusable.  He loves us so much that he calls and empowers us to forgive the inexcusable in others as well.

Let us pray – Heavenly Father, your mercy and forgiveness are powerful expressions of your love for us.  By your Holy Spirit help us to receive and understand these gifts.  We pray this in the holy name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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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.

Most High God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: you guide and form all of creation.  For this, and all things, we worship you.  Help us to live with faithfulness to you and prudence in our actions. Hear us, O God.     Your mercy is great.

We lift in prayer your Church.  We especially pray for our brothers and sisters in the land of Jesus’ birth.  Help them to remain steadfast in the midst of persecution.  Hear us, O God.          Your mercy is great.

We give thanks that you model servant leadership for us.  We pray that all in authority in your church will be guided and inspired by your sacrificial leadership.

Hear us, O God.          Your mercy is great.

You are the source of healing and strength for all who suffer in any way.  We especially lift in prayer… and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…    Hear us, O God.       Your mercy is great.

 

We pray for all who have not yet responded to your offer of forgiveness.  Send your Holy Spirit into their lives so they may come to believe in Jesus.  Help all people in this congregation to grow in their witness to your mercy and grace.  Help us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Hear us, O God.       Your mercy is great.

 

You call us to live as your people now and forever.  We lift in prayer those who mourn during this time  (especially the family and friends of…).  Hear us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Other petitions may be added here.

You inspire your church to give you praise.  We give thanks for the music ministry of this congregation.  Be with all musicians, singers and leaders as they guide us in our worship of the one true God.  Hear us, O God.        Your mercy is great.

 

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

Amen 

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