Advent 3 – December 13, 2020

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Third Sunday in Advent, December 13, 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 Third Sunday in Advent

December 13, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The first reading is from the 61st chapter of Isaiah.

Though the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they continued to face hardship and oppression. In the language of the jubilee year described in Leviticus 25, the prophet, moved by the spirit of the Lord, announces deliverance for those who are oppressed and comfort for those who mourn.

And now the reading.

1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

8For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Here ends the reading.

Psalm: Psalm 126

Psalm 126 prayed responsively.

1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negeb.
5Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The second reading is from the 5th chapter of First Thessalonians.

Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians by encouraging them to live lives of continual joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. The closing blessing is grounded in the hope of Christ’s coming.

And now the reading.

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Here ends the reading.

Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

P:  The Holy Gospel reading is from the 1st chapter of John.

John’s gospel describes Jesus as the “light of the world.” John the Baptist is presented as a witness to Jesus, one who directs attention away from himself to Christ, the true light.

And now the reading.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Here ends the readings.

“Post Script for Life”

By Pastor David Tinker

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

There is something I don’t see as much anymore.  It is a, “P.S.” at the end of a note or letter.  P.S. is the abbreviation for, “Post Script.”  This is something you remember to write at the end of the main body of a message or letter.  It started long before computers and typewriters.  When all letters were handwritten it was a way to add that late thought or message without altering what was already there.

With the various new forms of communication, do we us the Post Script – P S – much any more?  There are so few letters written by hand these days.  I see it occasionally in emails.  In text messages it is less frequent. I found about 4-5 text messages which used a P.S. among my hundreds of saved messages.

At the end of St. Paul’s letters, we get the impression that they’re all kinds of little things he wants to say.  It seems he did not find place or occasion to note these in the main body of the letter. To get these short messages across, Paul uses postscripts. They’re almost like the mother giving instruction to her young daughter before going to camp: brush your teeth, wash her hair, use your manners, and so forth. For Paul, it is little notes inserted at the end in PS fashion: “Rejoice, pray, give thanks.’

In our reading today we have the PS from Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Paul spent the letter assuring the people that Christ promised to return.  Now he gives the people a final note on life in the meantime. He gives a short list of God’s will for his people while they wait for his return.

Verses 16 through 18 offer the core of this message: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is the core message of Paul’s final instructions to this church before the letter ends. Each of these give instructions which would give the people strengthen times of struggle.

The first is rejoice always. This is a call to Christian joy throughout life. Joy springs from the assurance of God’s action in our lives.  Joy springs from knowing that God has great love for us. It is knowing that God sent his son Jesus into the world to teach us, to love us, and eventually to die for us. Joy springs for the fact that God offers us the forgiveness of our sins which we have done against God and others. Jesus came to receive the eternal consequences of our offenses.  He destroyed the same consequences through his being raised from the dead just a few days after his death on the cross. Death was ended, and joy springs from God’s victory.

Our joy is founded in the hope we have in Jesus.  As followers of Jesus, we can have joy in the midst of death.  It does not mean that we take the death of loved ones lightly.  Rather, we can rejoice in the midst of hard things because we look back in thanksgiving for what God has done, and we look forward to the fulfillment of promises.

Earlier in the 4th chapter of 1st Thessalonians, Paul notes, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”

So, when we face grief regarding the death of a fellow child of God, we have a mix of loss and joy.  Loss, because we had a strong connection with the person.  Joy, because we know what the Lord has done and will be doing for that fellow believer.

Paul’s second instruction is to pray without ceasing. This is hyperbole and that we are not instructed to shut down our lives to pray. Rather we are to have our lives filled with prayer. Our prayer lives get to move beyond a mealtime or bedtime prayers. Throughout our days we get to come to God with our celebrations, concerns, and prayers for the well-being of others.

Paul’s third instruction is to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  It is easy to get thanks when everything is wonderful, our children our whole, our food shelves are full, our bodies are healthy, and our jobs are secure. But does Paul really mean for us to give thanks in all circumstances?  I believe the answer is yes.

Matthew Henry, the old Bible scholar, was mugged one day. His wallet was stolen. That night in his journal, he wrote these words: “Lord, I am thankful first because I was never robbed before. Second, I’m thankful that although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, I am thankful it was I who is robbed, not I who was robbing. “

What a beautiful example of Paul’s call for thankfulness in all circumstances.

I believe that Paul gave the church instruction on these matters because the people needed to have a deeper relationship with God in order to be strong with all that they would face in their lives. We all need a deeper relationship with the Lord to face all which comes our way in our lives, our church, and our society. God provides us with instruction so that we can be strong until Christ returns, whether it be in our lifetimes or beyond. Our blessed help is from the Lord.  He is the one who carries us through the struggles of life. For this we can rejoice.

As a Post Script, a P. S.:  remember the teaching of Paul:  Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks.

Let us pray – Loving God, help us to seek you first in all we say and do.  Guide us to lives which are a fulfillment of your teaching to rejoice, give thanks, and pray.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Prayers for December 13, 2020

A      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 grant us all we need for life and faith.  During this Advent Season prepare us to receive Jesus more fully in our lives.          Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

By your Spirit direct our lives toward following your most excellent way. Help us to strive to rejoice, give thanks, and pray.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Enliven us as we care for others.  We pray for all who face difficulty, illness, or troubles of any kind, including… and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…     Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

Guide us into lives of mercy for our neighbors.  As we encounter others throughout our days, enliven our care and compassion for people in need.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for the music and worship leadership ministry of this congregation.  Guide all who lead us in prayer and song.  By your Holy Spirit draw us closer to you.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

We lift in prayer those who struggle with grief at this time (especially the family and friends of…).  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.

C      Amen

Lord’s Prayer

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