Lutherhill at Sunday School Upcoming Dates

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Lutherhill Staff to Lead Sunday School for Special Programming

One of the most popular parts of the Sunday School ministry at MLLC is the visits from Lutherhill staff.  Several times a year we have a special Sunday when the young adults from Lutherhill offer a fun and Christ centered event filled with learning, games, music, and fun.  We invite you and your family to attend Sunday School on the Sundays coming up which provide this program.  Here are the two upcoming Sundays when Lutherhill will be at MLLC for Sunday School:

May 2

June 6

Sunday School at MLLC is held each week at 9:00 a.m.  The program begins in the fellowship hall (the older, white building on the north side of the church campus).  Students from about age 3 and older are invited to participate.  Parents are encouraged to participate, especially for the younger ages.

As always, worship on Sunday is at 10:00 a.m., and on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

 

The Resurrection of our Lord Celebrations 2021

Empty Tomb

The Great Vigil of Easter – Saturday, April 3

Worship at MLLC at 7:00 p.m. – a joint event with Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

Service of Light, Services of Readings, Remembrance of Baptism, Holy Communion in celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is the first of our three worship services celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Here is a reflection on this special night written by MLLC member, Jennifer Clark Tinker.  Click this link to see the article.

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The Resurrection of Our Lord – Easter Sunday, April 4

6:45 a.m. – Sunrise Service at Carmine Cemetery – a joint event with Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Bring a lawn or folding chair for seating at the cemetery. If weather is not favorable, we will gather in the covered pavilion at the cemetery.

9:00 a.m. – Sunday School in Fellowship Hall

9:30 a.m. – Easter Reception/Breakfast in ?

10:00 a.m. – Festival Worship Service with Holy Communion

After worship – Easter Egg Hunt for the children

For those who are interested:

Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church Easter Sunday Schedule:

8:00 a.m. – Festival Service with Holy Communion.  This will be outside in the covered pavilion, as weather permits, or inside as needed.

Egg Hunt to follow.

First Holy Communion Class

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An Invitation to the Lord’s Table for Youth

First Holy Communion Class begins this month

By Pastor David Tinker

pastordjt@gmail.com    979-278-3388

The First Holy Communion class will be offered February 21, 28, March 7 and 28 Sunday mornings, starting at about 11:00-11:15 a.m. in the Mission & Ministry Building.

First Holy Communion at MLLC is most often offered to elementary age students, typically in 5th grade and younger.  Our goal is to make sure youth who are part of MLLC have begun communing by the end of 5th grade.  The 5th grade tradition does not prevent younger students from attending the class and receiving Holy Communion.  Each year for the past several years we have had youth in younger grades participating in the class.  It is most likely that a majority of the youth participating in the class will be younger than 5th grade.

Students are encouraged to bring a Bible for use in class, as well as paper/pen for any notes they might want to write.  If students don’t have access to a Bible, we have one for their use.  Note that each student will be presented with a Bible on First Communion Thursday – April 1/Maundy Thursday – for his or her personal study and for use in Sunday School, Confirmation and Worship.  Parents/Grandparents/Guardians are welcome and encouraged to be present at this class time.  We will meet in the Mission & Ministry Building, but will also move to other places in the building for parts of the lessons. The class will include instruction, discussion, videos, mini-field trips in the church building, etc.

We encourage students in class to observe social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitizer, and using masks to cover mouth and nose.

The class schedule avoids the Spring Break for most, if not all, students who would be part of this group.  The Sundays of March 14 and 21 may end up being make-up classes for students who were not able to attend earlier classes. Also, one of the classes will include bread baking by the students.

Here is the schedule:

Sundays, February 21, 28, March 7 and 28

We are aware that not everyone received sufficient word about when class was beginning.  Even if you student was not present at the class on February 21, he or she is fully invited to participate.  Even if your student is not able to be at the class on February 28, he or she is encouraged to participate.  I am very willing to work out review sessions or alternative class times to help your student.  It is better to ask for help than to remove oneself from the class.  We will make something work for your student.

Class will from from about 11:00/11:15 a.m. until about 12:15 p.m.

If one or more of these dates is/are not workable for your family, I am very glad to work out make up lessons for your student. That way he or she will not miss out of the learning and special service this year.

Important Date:  Thursday, April 1        7:30 p.m.

Maundy Thursday Service, First Holy Communion Day

Presentation of Bible to students during worship – Church gives to Parent/Grandparent/sponsor then the parent/grandparent/sponsor presents Bible to student. We will go over this before that Thursday, so all are ready.

Students: please arrive by 7:00 p.m. to make sure all our plans are in order for what we will be doing at worship.  Also, families may wish to take photos before worship, for this is the best time to do this.  The altar area will be bare of all decorations, candles, banners, etc. after worship due to the “Stripping of the Altar” during the service.

I look forward to exploring this wonderful sacrament with your child.  This is a very exciting time of growth for these young people and for their families.  If you have any questions or special needs, please feel free to contact me.

First Holy Communion Prep 2

Below is a discernment tool for those who are unsure about their students participating in the the program. 

With all this,  you are encouraged to consult with the pastor regarding this wonderful opportunity for the young person in your life.

How do I know my child is ready to attend First Communion Class?

The most important question is about God’s gift of Grace for your child: 

***** Has your child been baptized?

If your child is not yet baptized, please speak with a pastor to set a date for your child to receive this Sacrament. It is understood that Holy Communion is for the baptized children of God.

Only the first question (Has your child been baptized?) requires a “Yes” before your child can be considered ready to receive his or her first communion, and to participate in the class. Use the other questions below to generate discussion and to plan, in consultation with Pastor David Tinker, for your child’s preparation to begin receiving the sacrament and the gifts it brings.

Contact Pastor David Tinker if you have any questions about Holy Communion. He would be happy to help answer your questions.

He/She may. . .

*have expressed interest in participating in Holy Communion during worship, perhaps copying your movements at the altar

*have begun to ask questions about why we take Holy Communion

*have begun to reach for the Holy Communion elements which are offered to you

*have a foundation in Christ through attendance in Christian education or worship, or through family conversations, devotions or prayer

*be able to speak about God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as loving and trustworthy

*pray the Lord’s Prayer and be able to say other simple prayers (such as at bedtime and meals)

The following questions can help you determine the readiness of your child to receive her or his first Holy Communion.

These are not meant to create a reason to prevent your child’s participation.  These simply lift up common ways in which youth express interest in Holy Communion

*Is your child comfortable in various locations around the church, like the altar?

*Does your child have a basic, age-appropriate awareness that God loves him or her?

*Does your child understand the idea of “right” and “wrong”, and can grasp the basic notion of “forgiveness”?

*Will your child extend his or her hands when asked to do so?

*Will your child be able to understand the basic concept that Holy Communion is a gift from God to each person?

*Does your child seem to have a basic trust that they are a child of God?

*Does your child seem interested in what goes on in church during Communion?

*Does your child interact enough with others to receive the bread and wine?

*Is your child aware enough of others in the congregation and their needs to show respect for the communion experience?

*Are you prepared to help make the process positive?

*Are you prepared to continue to fulfill the promises you made at your child’s baptism to bring him or her regularly to the Lord’s Table?

Inclement Weather Update – February 13 and 14

Snow MLLC
Snow at MLLC around Christmastime several years ago.

 

Inclement Weather Update – February 13 and 14

Due to expected winter weather issues this weekend we offer this update.  Please share this information with others, especially those who might not have regular access to the internet. 

 

Saturday,  February 13 – we will have our normally scheduled, Saturday evening worship service in-person at 6:00 p.m.  The bad weather is expected to arrive late evening on Saturday, hours after the service is over.  Even so, use your best judgment regarding travel.

 

Sunday, February 14 – no in-person worship service and no Sunday School.  We will offer an abbreviated service on Facebook Live starting at 10 a.m.   Click this link to go to the MLLC Facebook Page.

 

 

Putting Away Christmas Decorations

Christmas Tree 2014 set up branches

Christmas Decorations to be Taken Down and Stored

We invite volunteers to gather in the MLLC Sanctuary on Tuesday, January 12, to help with this annual project.  The crew will work on removing the Chrismon ornaments and the Christmas lights from the tree.  They will also disassemble the tree.  All items will be put in the storage room for use in Advent and Christmas 2021.

The crew leaders for this project will be present and working from 10 a.m. until approximately 12 noon on Tuesday, January 12.  Additional volunteers to work on this project are greatly appreciated.

Thank you to all who worked to set up the tree and other decorations for this Advent and Christmas 2020-2021.

Carol Service – December 20

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Annual Carol Service

We will be celebrating a long standing tradition at MLLC on Sunday, December 20.   This will take place during our regular 10:00 a.m. worship service. 

We invite singers, instrumentalist, and groups to share various Advent and Christmas special music pieces at this service.  To share your music, please sign up at the church on the sign-up sheet in the narthex or call the church office by December 13.  The office phone number is 979-278-3388.

In addition to the wonderful music we will offer two other celebrations.

1 – our thank you celebration for our recently retired secretaries.  We will have a special presentation for Nancy Rosenbaum, Carol Carmean, and Nancy Eilers.  They all served at MLLC in our office for 10+ years each. 

2 – our Children’s Christmas Program.  This was moved from December 13.  Our younger youth will present the Good News that Jesus Christ is born.

All are welcome to attend this special Sunday at MLLC.

childrens-christmas-2016-group

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 

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