The 17th Sunday after Pentecost

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, September 27, 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.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2020

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

 

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

R:  A reading from Ezekiel, the 18th Chapter.

Ezekiel challenges those who think they cannot change because of what their parents were and did, or who think they cannot reverse their own previous behavior. God insistently invites people to turn and live.

And now the reading.

1The word of the Lord came to me: 2What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? 3As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.
25Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? 26When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. 27Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. 28Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 29Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?
30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm: Psalm 25:1-9

R: Psalm 25, read responsively by verse.

1To you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.

2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3Let none who look to you be put to shame;
rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths. 
5Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.
7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and up-right, O Lord;
therefore you teach sinners in your way.
9You lead the lowly in justice
and teach the lowly your way. 

Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-13

R: A reading from Philippians, the 2nd chapter.

As part of a call for harmony rather than self-seeking, Paul uses a very early Christian hymn that extols the selflessness of Christ in his obedient death on the cross. Christ’s selfless perspective is to be the essential perspective we share as the foundation for Christian accord.

And now the reading.

1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

*Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32

P: The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 21st chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

After driving the moneychangers out of the temple (21:12), Jesus begins teaching there. His authority is questioned by the religious leaders, who are supposed to be in charge of the temple.

And now the reading.

23When [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”

The gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, O Christ.

 

 

Devotion

Shared Brain Cells

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

Have you ever heard of, “Shared Brain Cells?”  This is a description of how two or more people think very much alike.  So, it is not about literally sharing cells with another person.  The figurative idea of, “Shared Brain Cells,” might be that the pair or group respond to a question the same way.  Sometimes they will come up the same idea for an event, a theme, or a party without consulting the other.  I have heard of this happening with married couples, close friends, twins, siblings, and the like. They would have, in a sense, the same mind about many things.

In today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi he calls on the Christians to have same mind as Jesus Christ.  Paul writes, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…”  Here in chapter 2 Paul is teaching the people to live God’s most excellent way.  He reminds us that we are called to live differently because of what Jesus has done on the cross.  Here is what Paul writes about this:

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

This is clearly about how we are called to conduct ourselves as believers in the community of faith.  God, through the Apostle Paul, invites us to be seeking common ground on issues, working together positively, and ultimately seeking the best for others.

This new mindset is more than just “being nice or good.”  Actually, if you think the Christian faith is about “being nice or good,” you are mistaken.

Our faith in Christ is about being restored to fellowship with God.

Our faith about the forgiveness of sin.

Our faith is about the Holy Spirit creating a new and caring community of believers.

Our Faith is about being a blessing to others.

This is all to the glory of God.  Together, these things will result in good and loving actions, but that is the fruit of our relationship with the Lord.  Paul teaches about this in Galatians 5:22-23, where he writes, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.”

This new mindset about which Paul teaches is founded in the saving work of Jesus Christ.  That is why Paul goes into the longer statement about Jesus’ life and ministry in today’s reading.  Our lives of unity and humility are provided by what Jesus has done for us.  He willingly humbled himself for our sake.

God the Son humbled himself in that God became human.  He humbled himself and became like the least of the world so that he might look out for the best interests of others.  Those others are the people of every race and language, of all generations.  Those others are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness and love.  Those others are you and me.

For the sake of all people, he met us in what comes to all of us:  death.  Jesus met us in death when he died on that cruel cross.  In his great humility he there willingly received our just wages for our sinful ways.  In exchange he gave us his perfection and then led us through death into new and eternal life in him.

In response to his humble love for us, we grow to live with his mindset.  With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we grow to live seeking the best for one another and for our neighbors by humbling ourselves for their sake.

Jesus lived a loving servant life without limit, and he invites us to live following his example. As we look back on the ministry of Jesus, we remember in John chapter 13 how Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet at the Last Supper.  He took on that humble servant’s job to show them and us how to live out love in the community of faith.  In conclusion he points out how they are to live when he says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

As we love one another we grow to have the mindset of Jesus Christ.  We do not really need “Shared Brain Cells” to do it.  We have something much better.  We have the Holy Spirit, the saving work of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, and the example of Jesus to show us how to live.  These together help us to have the mindset of Christ.

Let us pray – Lord God, your grace is sufficient for us.  We give thanks for giving yourself for us through your Son’s death on the cross.  By your Holy Spirit help us grow to have the mindset of Jesus Christ in whose name we pray.  Amen

*Prayers of Intercession

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

A brief silence.

Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:  you are worthy of all honor and glory and praise.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Grant peace and comfort to those who mourn, (especially the family and friends of …) Help us to care for one another in our time of loss.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray that you would bring healing, strength and hope to those who struggle in body, mind or spirit, especially . . .  and those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  May your comforting Spirit strengthen all for whom we pray.   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

Guide and protect all who work in medical and emergency services.  Help them to be ready to serve all in our time of need. Be with all who have suffered due to recent disasters, conflicts, and outbreaks of disease.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer your people around the world. Grant renewed hope to your persecuted people in Syria.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Stir us to renewed commitment to daily reading of your Holy Word.  We pray that your Holy Spirit will guide and enrich our learning and growth as your disciples. 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.

Amen

 

LORD’S PRAYER 

 

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Devotion and Readings for September 27

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Bible Readings and Devotion for September 27, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 9:18-20

2 Corinthians 9:1-15

Psalms 71, 73

Job 34

Devotion for September 27, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

A regular part of our worship services in our Lutheran tradition is the giving of offerings.  These are most often given as monetary gifts of cash and checks. The offering is gathered and presented most typically in the later half of the service, generally after the intercessory prayer and before Holy Communion.

There is an important reason for why we give our offerings during worship.  It is about giving thanks to God.  An important verse which points to this is from 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  Paul notes this in the context of making generous offerings.  There are two core themes to our worship services every week.  These are repentance and thanksgiving.  Repentance is receiving the mercy of God, confession of sin to God and then getting back track with following his ways.  Thanksgiving is our holy response to all which God has done for us in Jesus.  There are three common expressions of thanksgiving in worship.  These are:  songs and words of praise, our offerings, and the Holy Communion.  Together these help us refocus our lives and priorities on what God has first done for us.  These are ways to give of ourselves fully in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.

Some have suggested in the church at large that we should just send a bill yearly, quarterly, or monthly, etc. This bill would be some standard amount needed to cover the expected expenses of the church.  Technically, this would work.  On the other hand, it would very much miss the core value of how and why we give the offerings – this is to openly give thanks to God as the people gathered in worship.

So, when you give your offerings at worship, remember to dedicate these with a quiet prayer of thanksgiving.  Since many are sending in their offerings or using the online giving, I encourage you to find a way to prayerfully approach this task with thanksgiving to God.

Prayer

Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us—ourselves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Readings and Devotion for September 26

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Bible Readings and Devotion for September 26, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 9:10-17

2 Corinthians 8:8-24

Psalms 66, 70, 72

Job 33

Devotion for September 26, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians are some of the most in depth passages of scripture regarding generosity and stewardship in all of the Bible.  Several years ago, I read some articles regarding these chapters.  I adapted that information into this article about giving, generosity and stewardship.  The readings which cover this information are noted.  You will see that the readings are in a section larger than today’s listing from 2 Corinthians.  Feel free to read these passages as would helpful to you.

10 POINTS ON STEWARDSHIP FROM 2ND CORINTHIANS

Adapted by Pastor David Tinker from various resources.

  1. Stewardship means the gift of yourself: It is an attitude. The Macedonians gave to their poorer brethren. St. Paul says, “they gave themselves first to the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 8:5) Nothing – and no amount of money – is pleasing to the Lord until we give ourselves to Him.
  1. Stewardship is proportionate to income. St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that the Macedonians “they voluntarily gave according to their means.” (2 Corinthians 8:3) Stewardship is not giving to budgets or any other external goal designated to elicit contributions. God asks us to look at our income and give proportionately.
  1. Stewardship is the proof of the genuineness of our love. The manner in which we “put our money where our mouth is” is tangible demonstration of what is really in our hearts. St. Paul pointed out to the Corinthians that their participation in the offering was the way they would prove that their love was “genuine” (2 Corinthians 8:8).
  1. Stewardship is self-sacrificing and is based on the self-sacrifice of Christ. Though our Lord Jesus Christ shared the eternal glory of the Godhead with the Father, “yet for our sakes He became poor:” He gave all that up to make us “rich” toward God through His cross and resurrection (2 Corinthians 8:9).
  1. Stewardship takes people who are ready – “Prepared” – for stewardship. The Holy Spirit makes stewards out of people through their faith. Men and Women must be prepared for stewardship through the Word. “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has…” (2 Corinthians 8:12)
  1. Stewardship is a joint venture within the Body of Christ. Our common participation in financial stewardship is the business of the people of God. Stewardship involves me, my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ and Christ himself. We share with one another our mutual commitment to God and Church.  It is sharing within the Body of Christ, as St. Paul pointed out to the Corinthians. (2 Corinthians 8:14)
  1. Stewardship is honest and honorable among Christians and needs no “Gimmicks.” Many people are extremely nervous when it comes to “talking about money” in the church. Stewardship is more than “money”, but it is also “money”. More often than not, there is a direct connection between a person’s wallet and the heart. St. Paul reminded the Corinthians, “We aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of men.” (2 Corinthians 8:21) We do not need all sorts of high-pressure tactics and “gimmicks” to make Christian stewardship work. We do need the Gospel as the motivation.
  1. Stewardship requires commitment. Our God has given us his full commitment, and we are called to make high commitments to God and his Church. St. Paul talked to the Corinthians about their pledges, their commitment, or their “estimate of giving”, when he talked to them about “this gift you have promised.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
  1. Stewardship is a challenge of our faith in the promises of God. That is the answer to the motivation of Christian stewardship. We look to the promises St. Paul held out: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance.” (2 Corinthians 9:8), and “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) “You will be enriched.” (2 Corinthians 8:11)
  1. Stewardship is our way of acknowledging and showing our faith in the Gospel. Living Stewardship is a tangible way to show that we believe the promises that God has given us in Christ. “Under the test of this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the Gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13) Stewardship is the acid test of where our faith and our hearts are.

Prayer

Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for September 24

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Bible Readings and Devotion for September 24, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 8:40-56

2 Corinthians 7:2-12

Psalm 68

Job 31

Devotion for September 24, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Many years ago I read the story of a man who had a bad thing happen.   This bad thing became a new opportunity. It was about a man named John.  He went through life with a disagreeable attitude.  He found the cold of winter disagreeable and headed down to Florida to escape that cold.  One day while swimming along at high tide he was hit by a giant wave which knocked him unconscious for a few moments.  As he came to he was disoriented.  John was close to shore, but face down in the water.  At that point in the shallows near the beach he found himself totally unable to move.  He began thinking to himself, “God, this is it.  This is how life ends for me.  I’m going to drown right here in the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean.”

You may have experienced moments like that, when you are shocked to your senses by a difficulty, but don’t know where to go from there.  Maybe your car slips out of control, or you find out you have cancer, or you have lost you job, or you have lost someone you love.  You might think to yourself, “This is it, this is the end for me.”

For John it was not the end.  A little boy saw him face down in the water.  The boy ran to his parents and said, “There’s a man drowning in the water!”  He grabbed his parents by their hands and dragged them from their cozy beach umbrella and over to the shoreline.  There they found John face down, and they pulled him out of the water.

John was rushed to the hospital, and he was saved.  He saw that event as the wake-up call for his life, and that it was the best thing to ever happen to him.  It changed his life, his priorities, his commitments, and his concerns.  It drew him closer to family.  It reminded him not to be so disagreeable. Most importantly, it brought him face to face with God.  John said of his incident, “I wish I would have been hit by a wave 30 years ago.  Maybe then, in spite of how horrible this experience was, it changed my life.  And my priorities and my commitment to God is totally new.”           

In our reading from 2 Corinthians 7:2-12, St.  Paul teaches us something significant.  We read, “…Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief…”  He is teaching us that when we face a difficult situation, often when so marred by grief, that the Lord can help us find a godly way forward.   That godly way is repentance.  This is sincere recognition of our sinfulness.  This recognition, with God’s help, is our action of stopping an act of sinning.  This is all part of our re-connection with the Lord.  Actually, all of our life in this world and with God is about repentance.  We often associate repentance with the liturgical season of Lent, for it is central to that time.  Even so, repentance is an everyday opportunity for us.  Each new day is another opportunity to see our sins, express our regret to God in prayer and/or confession, to strive to stop that sin, and to live refocus our lives on the Lord.

We may see struggle with sad, painful, mournful, and difficult situations in life.  As we travel this sometimes, perilous journey, God is there for us to lead us back each day to forgiveness, life, joy and eternal life with him, both now and forever.

Prayer

Martin Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers

Morning:

I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all harm and danger. I ask that you would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Evening:

I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have graciously protected me today. I ask you to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong, and graciously to protect me tonight. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for September 23

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Bible Readings and Devotion for September 23, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 8:26-39 

2 Corinthians 6:1 – 7:1

Psalm 61, 62, 65, 67

Job 30

Devotion for September 23, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Evil comes in many forms.  Oppression, sin, hate, distraction, demons and more.  Our lives need God’s help.  In our reading today from Luke we have a case of demonic possession which is exhibited in the man’s life by what seems to be also mental illness.  Part of this difficult situation is noted by Luke who wrote, “For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.”

The restoration and healing brought by God’s power in this man’s life included pushing out the demons.  After his healing, “they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.”

In addition to the demons, mental illness is a physical reality, just as heart disease, neurological issues, cancer, and the common cold are.  God, the Great Physician, provides hope, healing, and endurance for us through all physical struggles.

There is a hymn which we have not sung much in our church, but which is about this spiritual and physical healing of demons and physical concerns, including mental struggles.  It is, “Dear Lord and Father of mankind.”  Lutheran Book of Worship #506.  Here is the complete text of this song:

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

1    Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

forgive our fev’rish ways;

reclothe us in our rightful mind;

in purer lives thy service find,

in deeper rev’rence, praise.

2    In simple trust like theirs who heard,

beside the Syrian sea,

the gracious calling of the Lord,

let us, like them, without a word

rise up and follow thee.

3    Oh, Sabbath rest by Galilee,

oh, calm of hills above;

where Jesus knelt to share with thee

the silence of eternity,

interpreted by love!

4    Drop thy still dews of quietness,

till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of thy peace.

5    Breathe through the heats of our desire

thy coolness and thy balm;

let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still small voice of calm!

Text: John G. Whittier, 1807-1892

Prayer

O God, we thank you for times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life. Grant that we may so use our leisure for the renewal of our bodies and minds that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for September 22

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Bible Readings and Devotion for September 22, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 8:22-25

2 Corinthians 5:9-21

Psalm 59, 63, 64

Job 29

Devotion for September 22, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Here is my favorite song from Sunday School when I was a child.  It is called, “Love, Love, Love”.  We sing it every week during chapel at our Martin Luther Lutheran School.  It was taught to me when I was about 5 years old, and it has stayed with me ever since.

Love, love, love

That’s what it’s all about

God loves us

We love each other

Mother, father, sister, brother

Everybody sing and shout

Cuz that’s what it’s all about

It’s about Love, Love, Love

It’s about Love, Love, Love

This song is about the greatest love of all.  This is the love of God for the whole human race.  We read in Second Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 14: “For the love of Christ urges us on…”

In our reading from 2nd Corinthians we can see at least three specific directions for action.  This is like the “Love, Love, Love” of our song.

Let’s look at each of these three directions of action.

1)  The love of God urges us to accept his loving sacrifice for us.  We are stirred to receive what God promises through his action for us.  We are granted life, forgiveness of sin, and restoration to our eternal relationship with the Lord.

2)  The love of God urges us toward our goal of honoring and pleasing God. We are called to action which honors Christ.  In verse 9 of our reading we hear the following:  “So, whether we are at home or way, we make it our aim to please him.”  The “him” in this verse is God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We worship and praise God because he has done so much for us.  We give of our time and resources in service to others.  We offer kindness and fellowship to the lonely in our community, we volunteer with the fire department, and so much more.

3)  The power of the self-sacrificing love of God urges us to view others, and life itself, differently than ever before.  In response to God’s goodness we are invited to view all of life from a new perspective.  St. Paul tells us in verses 16 and 17:  “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” As we grow in Christ every relationship in our lives gets transformed.  We grow to love and serve others, following the model of Jesus.  We grow to live and die in ways which help others to see how God has redirected our lives.  We grow to give up much, as needed – including life itself, so that others will see how much we love our God.

Prayer

O God, we thank you for times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life. Grant that we may so use our leisure for the renewal of our bodies and minds that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for September 25

Nativity Set Childhood

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 25, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 9:1-9

2 Corinthians 7:13 – 8:7

Psalm 69

Job 32

Devotion for September 25, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

The Psalms often point, eventually, to things about Jesus.  Psalm 69:21b reminds us of something about Jesus.  We read, “… and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Good Friday nails crown thorns

This is very much like the reality of Jesus’ crucifixion.  We read in John 19:28-30, “28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

One of the opportunities we have in our walk of faith is Bible Reading and Study.  Through these foundational tools we can become more and more familiar with God’s Holy Word.  With that familiarity we can get to know the vast and powerful connections in what the Spirit shares with us.  We will begin to see the ways that the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther noted, “The Scriptures are the manger that holds Christ.”  What he means is that the Old and New Testaments together bring Jesus to us.  Just as the manger was the cradle of Jesus in Bethlehem, so the Bible is the where we find Jesus presented to us.  Today is a grand opportunity to reinvest in daily reading of Scripture.  As you do this, pay attention to how these Spirit filled writings point us over and over again to Jesus.

Nativity Sacred Art NatShepherdMurillo

Prayer

Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for September 21

MLLC Church Sketch drawing copy

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 21, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 8:19-21 

2 Corinthians 4:16 – 5:8

Psalms 56-58, 60

Job 28

Devotion for September 21, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

There is an old proverb or axiom I have often heard: “Blood is thicker than water.”  This basically means that family connections are stronger and more important than friendships.  It has been used in English and German for about the past 800 years.

Our reading today from Luke 8 challenges this proverb.  While Jesus is teaching, he is confronted by people who announce that his mother and brother are asking for him.  It seems that they may wish him to stop teaching and leave the people.  His response is not to get up and go to them.  Rather, Jesus says, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

This is part of the challenges of following Jesus.  We are called to a new community which rearranges our priorities.  We are linked to one another in a way which is both eternal and which supersedes the natural commitments of our families.  Through our faith we get to be united around Jesus.  Jesus, through his suffering, death and resurrection, draws us to himself.  He leads us into a new way of living centered in way of life in which we, “hear the word of God and do it.”

The draw of, “blood,” is strong.  It is sometimes stronger from those who do not share our faith in Jesus.  Without neglecting familial care, we are invited to reverse the proverb.  By God’s grace we get to change it to, “Water is thicker than blood.”  By this I mean that by the waters of baptism we are united with Jesus. Our connection with Jesus, and with his followers, gets to be eternal and ever strengthening.

The eternal connection with Jesus and one another in the Body of Christ is something which casts a vision for our lives.  Throughout our days the Spirit reminds us and guides us toward investing in one another in the family of faith.  Our worship, prayer, conversation, service, and care for one another all build up these God given connections.  These connections continue long beyond our lifetimes.  While we live this life in the world we are empowered to, “hear the word of God and do it.”

Prayer

Most high and holy God, pour out upon us your one and unifying Spirit, and awaken in every confession of the whole church a holy hunger and thirst for unity in you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for September 20

Martyrs of Libya Photo

The Martyrs of Libya 2015.

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 20, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

Luke 8:16-18

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Psalms 52-55

Job 27

Devotion for September 20, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

One of the most moving stories of Christian martyrdom in recent years has been the Martyrs of Libya in 2015.  This is the group of 21 Coptic Christians who were lined up and killed on a be the strong faith of each of the others.  The other 20 were Egyptians.  This man was from Ghana.  The Holy Spirit used the faith of those 20 to bring that 1 into the body of Christ.  When confronted by the terrorists about his faith, the man from Ghana, who did not previously express faith in Jesus, said, in some way, “Their God is my God.”

Here is a Coptic Icon of the Martyrs of Libya 2015.

Martyrs of Libya Icon 2

Photo Credit:  By Fadi Mikhail – glowimg.pw, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77078458

Our reading from 2 Corinthians 4 has St. Paul telling about his experience with persecution.  He writes, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.”  He did suffer much in his lifetime for the sake of the Gospel.  Later he was eventually Martyred by the orders of Roman Emperor Nero.  This was on June 29 around AD 64-66.  This was after the story of the book of Acts was completed, so we must look to early Church history to get this information.

Martys of Libya Icon 1

Yes, persecution is horrible and sad.  But it also shows others how serious Christians are about their faith.  In the “Reformation Theology” Blog, the writers note the following.

“The famous observation of Tertullian that, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” has a depth of insight which is all too often lost on believers today. We have no trouble thinking of persecution and martyrdom as a great obstacle to the spread of the gospel which will not, however, be successful in hindering Church growth. We would have no problem affirming that the blood of the martyrs is a hurdle which, by God’s grace, can be overcome. But to say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church is an altogether different concept. If martyrdom is a surmountable obstacle to the growth of the Church, then the Church might Martyrs of Libya Icon 3advance just as well, even better, without it. But if the blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church, then without it, the Church does not grow. Without martyrdom, the Church would never have taken root in the world of Tertullian. Without martyrdom, the Church would not have spread to the Auca Indians in South America, or to China or Burma or the islands of the South Seas.”

Prayer

We thank you, O God, for all your servants and witnesses of times past: for Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Deborah and Gideon, Samuel and Hannah; for Isaiah and the prophets; for Mary, mother of our Lord; for Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul, and for all the apostles, for Stephen and Phoebe, and for all the martyrs and saints in every time and in every land. In your mercy, give us, as you gave them, the hope of salvation and the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

The 16th Sunday after Pentcost

St John Chrysostom Icon
A mosaic of St. John Chrysostom at the Christian Church Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey.  He was the Archbishop of Constantinople around the year AD 400.

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, September 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.

First Reading: Jonah 3:10–4:11

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

After Jonah’s short sermon in 3:4, the Ninevites all repented and God decided to spare the city. Jonah objected to this and became even more angry when God ordered a worm to destroy a plant that was providing shade. The book ends with a question that challenges any who are not ready to forgive: You, Jonah, are all worked up about a bush, but shouldn’t I be concerned about a hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites?

And now the reading.

10When God saw what [the people of Ninevah] did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
4:1But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.
6The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
9But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm: Psalm 145:1-8

R:  Psalm 145, read responsively by verse.

1I will exalt you, my God and king,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2Every day will I bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!
There is no end to your greatness.
4One generation shall praise your works to another
and shall declare your power. 
5I will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
and all your marvelous works.
6They shall tell of the might of your wondrous acts,
and I will recount your greatness.
7They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness;
they shall sing joyfully of your righteousness.
8The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

Second Reading: Philippians 1:21-30

R:  A reading from Philippians, the 1st chapter.

Paul writes to the Philippians from prison. Though he is uncertain about the outcome of his imprisonment, he is committed to the ministry of the gospel and calls on the Philippians to live lives that reflect and enhance the gospel mission.

And now the reading.

21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
27Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

*Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 20th chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus tells a parable about God’s generosity, challenging the common assumption that God rewards people according to what they have earned or deserve.

And now the reading.

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, O Christ.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020

16th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

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

There is an ancient tradition of Christianity, especially in the Easter Orthodox Church.  Every year on the Saturday of Easter Weekend, at the Great Vigil of Easter, a specific sermon is read aloud.  It is the “Pascha Sermon of St. John Chrysostom.”  St. John Chrysostom was known for his great preaching and public speaking.  He was one of the most prominent of the Early Church Fathers.  John served as the Archbishop of Constantinople around the year 400.

Most of us never get to hear this special sermon in its usual context at the Vigil of Easter.  It is notable that one of the major scriptural references he makes is from this day’s readings.  He references today’s Gospel reading from Matthew numerous times.  It is important to remember that this was written to be shared at the end of the Lenten Fast, and at the beginning of the Resurrection Celebration.

Let us hear the words of this great leader of the church, St. John Chrysostom.

The Pascha Homily of St. John Chrysostom

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.  If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.

Amen.

*Prayers of Intercession

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

A brief silence.

Almighty God, Heavenly Father, we praise you for your abundant mercy.  We worship you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  We bow before you in reverent prayer.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We remember those who rest in you, (including…)  Help us to care for one another in our time of loss.  Guide us to give an accounting of the hope which you have placed in us.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer the persecuted Christians throughout the world.  Keep them steadfast in your Word, and protect the thousands of Christians who are in prison due to their faith in you. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

We pray that you would bring healing, strength and hope to those who face difficult health, as well as various struggles and changes of any kind, especially . . .  and those we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  May your comforting Spirit strengthen all for whom we pray.   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who care for fields, orchards, vineyards, and livestock.  Help them to be good stewards of your provision.  Grant them safety and favorable weather as they work on our behalf.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for this congregation and our ministry together.  Turn our hearts toward you and help us to be generous in the sharing of our resources of time, finances and spiritual gifts.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

You are the source of abundant love and mercy.  Guide and enrich the ministries of the Lutheran Disaster Response.  Help us work together to bring relief and recovery to those who have suffered due to natural disasters.  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.

Amen

LORD’S PRAYER 

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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.