Advent 2 – December 6, 2020

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Second Sunday in Advent, December 6, 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 Second Sunday in Advent

December 5 and 6, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11

The first reading is from the 40th chapter of Isaiah.

In grand, flowing, poetic lines, the prophet announces that the exile of God’s people in Babylon is over. The Lord will deliver Israel and will care for her as a shepherd cares for his sheep. This word can be trusted, because the only enduring reality in life is the word of the Lord.

And now the reading.

1Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

3A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.
9Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.

Here ends the reading.

Psalm: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Psalm 85 read responsively.

1You have been gracious to your land, O Lord;
you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2You have forgiven the iniquity of your people
and blotted out all their sins.
8I will listen to what the Lord God is saying;
for you speak peace to your faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to you.
9Truly, your salvation is very near to those who fear you,
that your glory may dwell  in our land.
10Steadfast love and faithfulness have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Faithfulness shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness shall go before the Lord
and shall prepare for God a pathway.

 

 

Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

The second reading is from the 3rd chapter of 2nd Peter.

This short letter deals with pressing concerns regarding the final advent of Jesus, especially concerns that could arise over its apparent delay. The author of the letter calls on Christians to anticipate the promised coming of the Lord through conduct dedicated to God. And now the reading.

8Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
11Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15aand regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Here ends the reading.

 

 

*Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

The holy gospel according to St. Mark, the 1st chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a story of Jesus’ birth but with the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.

And now the reading.

1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

“One Step at a Time”

By Pastor David Tinker

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

People talk about the Patience of Job.  This Old Testament character was known for his patience as he endured the various trials of his life.  On the other hand, we today don’t seem to have much patience.  We know that time is very important to us.  Businesses know we value time, and that we have little patience.  Internet service providers promote their latest high-speed system.  Grocery stores nearly always have express lines to get us on our way quickly.  Our modern society tries to provide all sorts of means to “save time”.

During Advent we look at time and waiting.  We remember that the children of Israel waited centuries for the promised one, the Messiah or Christ of God, to come into the world.  As Christians we celebrate that, at the fullness of time, the right time for the world, Jesus came to give himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin.  In Advent we also look to his promises of his final appearing or Second Coming.  Jesus’ promise of his final appearing was given nearly 2000 years ago and we are continuing to wait.  In Advent we spent a great amount of time dealing with waiting, and waiting is something which we in our culture do not like to do.

Today we look to the 2nd letter of Peter for some discussion of time.  This reading challenges us to rethink issues of time, including who is being patient with whom.  The Apostle Peter talks about time, waiting and patience when he writes:  “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.”  We learn that Time, for God, seems to pass without consequence.  The Lord is not bound by time as we feel we are.  We see the days pass every 24 hours.  Each day seems to go faster the older we get.  But for God, everything is different, for time passing is of less concern.  God is present in every moment of time all at the same time. Instead, God is more concerned about restoring us to fellowship with him.

Peter’s letter shows us how our loving and patient God gives us time.  Let’s look at verse 9, where Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”  Here God provides an answer as to why we continue to wait for Jesus’ return.  God is delaying because humanity keeps avoiding and resisting his call to turn from sin.  He has blessed us with a second chance at life with him.  This is all founded in the heavenly call of Christ our Lord.  God’s call to us is to turn around, to resist sin, evil and destruction.  God is waiting patiently for us to respond, even if it takes a couple thousand years.  Whatever limits there are to God’s patience are up to the Lord.  What I do know is that the best time for turning back to God is now, for that is the best for us.

The Lord wants the best for us, and he gave us his best through the work of his own Son, Jesus Christ.  Now, during Advent, is the time to receive God’s love, to turn from our evil and sinful ways, and to turn toward living God’s most excellent way.  We are reminded of God’s way, of God’s love and God’s patience in Psalm 103, verses 8-12: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.”

God does all of this forgiving and removing of the power of sin and evil for at least two reasons:

1)      Because he loves us and wants good things for us.  Remember what St. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient.”  God is love.  God loves.  God is patient with us.

2)      Because he knows the benefit of turning from our sin.

This turning, what we talk about as Repentance, is a big part of the Christian life.  Along with waiting and hope, repentance is also always part of Advent.  You see, forgiveness is not about accepting or endorsing bad behavior.  It is not about letting us settle with keeping on living a life of sin.  Sinful behavior and attitudes include both doing wrong and neglecting or avoiding doing the right thing.  Also, remember what Jesus said after forgiving the woman caught in adultery in John, chapter 8: “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Many of you likely remember the classic Christmas special, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”.  That is the stop motion, animated special with Fred Astaire doing the voice of the mailman, and Mickey Rooney doing the voice of Santa Claus.  Well, in this story Santa Claus has been working to soften the hard, frozen heart of the Winter Warlock, a somewhat mean character.  Santa gives the Winter Warlock a Christmas toy, and things start to change for the Winter Warlock.  Then Santa Claus sings a song about taking a step in the right direction to change one’s ways.  For the Winter Warlock, he is invited to stop being mean, to start being good, and to use his magic for good.  Here are some of the lyrics:

If you want to change your direction

If your time of life is at hand

Well don’t be the rule be the exception

A good way to start is to stand

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

.

Here is a video link of the entire song.  Click this link.

Message continues in next paragraph.

Think about it:  God has offered forgiveness to us.  As we receive it in faith, he then invites us to get up, to turn from sin, evil and neglect, and to start taking steps in the right direction.  In this time of Hope, Waiting and Repentance, we are invited to take steps of any form — baby, regular, or giant — toward living God’s better way.  One foot in front of the other.  Through time we will begin to see how being connected to God and his way is the most excellent thing.

Advent is a time to Wait, to Hope, and it is also a time to receive God’s forgiveness and to heed his call to Repent.  God is waiting for us, and calling us to respond to his loving forgiveness.  God has greater patience than Job, but the time is now to receive his loving forgiveness, and take those steps in the right direction toward living God’s most excellent way in our lives today.

Let us pray – Merciful God, it is only through your grace that we can be forgiven.  It is only through your guidance that we might live to your glory.  During this season of waiting, we pray that your Holy Spirit would transform our hearts and wills to conform to the model of your Son.  This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  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.

Most High God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the ruler of all.  Receive our prayers, praise and thanks.  Lord, in your mercy,    Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer your Church.  We especially pray for our brothers and sisters who are refugees because of persecution.  Help them to remain steadfast in the midst of their great difficulty.  Lord, in your mercy,    Hear our prayer.

Grant to us faithful leaders for our congregation.  We pray for faithful discernment for our nominating committee and church council as they prepare for the coming year.

Lord, in your mercy,    Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

We give thanks for recent rains our area. Help us to be good stewards of your generous provision of water resources.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

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…  Lord, in your mercy,       Hear our prayer.

You are the great comforter for your people in the midst of loss.  We lift in prayer those who experience grief at this time (especially the family and friends of…).  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer those who maintain our church facilities.  Grant them joy in their service.  Help us all to be faithful stewards of the buildings and grounds.  Lord, in your mercy,       Hear our prayer.

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

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