Devotion and Readings for September 23

Demoniac Luke 8

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.

Christmas Boxes for Seafarer for 2020

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Christmas Boxes for Port of Houston Seafarers – Loving Our Neighbors

By Pastor David Tinker

We have heard that the Seafarers Christmas Boxes are needed more now than ever.  The men on the ships are more isolated than usual due to the COVID19 pandemic.  Our love for these neighbors will help them know the love of God and make life less difficult.  We will be collecting items and preparing the Christmas Boxes for the Port of Houston Seafarers.  The goal for this year is 100+ boxes.  Items may be placed in the room across from the main church office. The Packing Day for the Boxes for Seafarers is Monday, November 23, at 6:00 p.m.  The work will take place in the Parlor.  All are invited to participate.

For this year (2020), please gather items such as these for the men on the ships – you can buy things throughout the year and drop these off at any time.  There is a large blue storage bin for this purpose in the room directly across from the church office.  Our goal in 2020 is to pack and deliver 100+ boxes.

The Men in Mission Group does not need boxes this year.  These were provided by Home Depot in Brenham.  See the rest of this list for requested items.

On personal care items, consider giving a regular size rather than the small, travel size.  Most importantly, consider what you would enjoy receiving.  This is a ministry of love.

Remember to love your neighbor as yourself.

Address books
Band-aids (fabric)
Baseball caps – new condition only, not used please.
2021 Calendars
Comb
Dental Floss
Antiperspirant/deodorant
Disposable razors
Flashlight and batteries
Kleenex – small packs
Lip balm
Lotion
Nail clippers
Gold Bond cream
Gold Bond powder
Hot Chocolate (individual serving size)
Needles and thread
Q-tips
Shaving cream
Soap
Shampoo
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Gum and hard candy
Key chains
Pocket-sized notebooks
Mechanical pencils
Pens
Playing cards
Microwave popcorn (individual packages)
Socks
Sudoku books
Texas souvenirs
T-shirts
USB flash drives
Word search books

Christmas Boxes 2014 working 2

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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 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 

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 19

King_David_icon

An icon of King David

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 19, 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 9:28-36

2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:6

Psalms 50-51

Job 26

Devotion for September 19, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Today we look at one of the most powerful chapters in the Bible.  We look at Psalm 51, which is the great confessional psalm of the Judeo-Christian Tradition.  It cuts to the deep center of our sin and shows us the truth of our broken relationship with God.   It shows us both sides of the coin:  one side is our sin; the other side is the grace of God.

It has been said that the sentence basic to all penitential prayer in the Old Testament is the simple confession, “I have sinned.”  In verse 4 of our Psalm we pray, “Against you only have I sinned…”, which is another form of “I have sinned.”  Luther said of Psalm 51, “Here the doctrine of true repentance is set forth before us.”  This is a “no excuse” confession of sin.  There is no blaming of anyone else, and one is taking full responsibility for his or her actions, attitudes and thoughts.

The psalm opens with a powerful first line.  It is similar to “I have sinned”. King David, who wrote this psalm, wrote: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offenses.”  In other words, “Be gracious to me, O God, for I am a sinner.”

Verses 3 and 4 of the Psalm show that the life of a confessing person is a life which faces the judgment of God.  King David wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight…”

King David faced up to God’s judgment rather than avoid it.  We get to face God’s judgment, and therefore also his renewal of our life and faith.

As we realize this, we reenter our relationship with the Lord, which includes prayer.  Verse 11 of Psalm 51 offers a prayer.  This prayer is likely very familiar to many of us.  It reads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  This is a prayer of growth for all of us.  This is a prayer which asks God to work with what is already there in our lives, and then to transform it.

We pray, in a sense, “Change me, for I am the problem.”  What does it mean for there to be a “clean heart” and “renewed spirit” in who we are?  Well, a clean heart would be a mind and a will open to God, and ultimately oriented toward God.  A right spirit would be one’s whole self and will fixed and steady toward God. A right spirit is ready to Praise the Lord, ready to be true to God’s covenant with us, and ready to be trusting in the Lord during evil times.  All other life-orientations which don’t focus on God are in need of cleaning and being set right.

The love of God enables us to face our need for confession and repentance of sin in our lives. By His grace, we are opened to God’s loving power and forgiveness.  God’s goodness enters our lives and breaks down our pride and selfish ways.  When that happens, the great power and way of God begins to work great wonders in our lives.

Prayer

By your word, eternal God, your creation sprang forth, and we were given the breath of life. By your word, eternal God, death is overcome, Christ is raised from the tomb, and we are given new life in the power of your Spirit. May we boldly proclaim this good news in our words and our deeds, rejoicing always in your powerful presence; through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 18

martin-luther painting

A portrait of Martin Luther

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 18, 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 8:11-15

2 Corinthians 3:1-11

Psalms 47-49

Job 25

Devotion for September 18, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Luther’s last words are central to our understanding of how the Good News of Jesus for our lives.  Luther died of heart disease on February 18, 1546.  These words were written down on a scrap of paper that Luther had in his pocket on his deathbed: “We are beggars; this is true.”  These words summarize the truth that we are fully dependent upon the Lord for life and hope and salvation and all of our daily needs.

In light of this, remember, one of the great realizations of our faith lives is that God is God and we are not.  Another realization which helps us is that our lives, our gifts and talents and abilities, are all from God.  From this we move into the understanding that our callings in life are a beautiful and powerful work of God for us.

In our reading from 2 Corinthians 3 we hear from St. Paul about his ministry to and for the people of the church in Corinth.  We read, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant…” Paul understood and taught that our gifts and abilities and calling for ministry and service are from the Lord himself.

As we realize all this, and join with Paul in pointing to the Lord, the source of all good things in our lives.  A further realization is that is necessary is that we have the calling and the resources to make the best we can of what God has provided.

Prayer

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we humbly thank you for your goodness to us and to all that you have made. We praise you for your creation, for keeping us and all things in your care, and for all the blessings of life. Above all we bless you for your immeasurable love in redeeming the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with thankful hearts we praise you, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving ourselves to your service and by living in your gifts of holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all worship and praise, now and forever. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 17

Mary Magdalene and Jesus Icon

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 17, 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 8:1-10

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Psalm 45-46

Job 24

Devotion for September 17, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

We most often hear about the 12 Disciples of Jesus.  They were the core group of followers and they were the primary ones given the Great Commission to go into all the world with the Good News of Jesus. They are called the 12 Apostles as well, for they were sent out with the mission of Jesus for the world.  There was also a special connection between the 12 Disciples and the 12 Tribes of Israel, as well as the 12 Sons of Jacob/Israel.

The Holy Spirit also stirred the Gospel writers to make note of numerous, prominent women who were early followers of Jesus.  Our readings today from Luke 8 highlights several of these.  Luke notes that several had been cured of illness or demon possession.  They responded to the work of God by becoming faithful followers of Jesus.

Another aspect of their faithful response was to help in a significant way.  We read in Luke 8:3b, about these women, “who provided for them out of their resources.”  They financed the work of Jesus and the Apostles.

It was common in Middle Eastern culture to understate the involvement of women in accounts of history and events.  Sometimes they were only mentioned in the context of shame brought on their family.  That Luke makes note of these women doing good things is also a way that God and the Church were breaking down barriers to the involvement of women in the full life of the church.

One of the most famous women of the New Testament is noted in our reading.  We hear of Mary Magdalene.  Her most prominent role in Church history is that she was the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We read about this in John 20:11-18.  She was given the role to tell the 11 remaining Apostles that Jesus was truly alive, for she had seen him and talked with him.  For this calling of Jesus for her, she has been given the title, “Apostle to the Apostles.”

In the church today we strive to continue the spirit of what God was doing among the first followers.  In the Spirit of what is shown in the ministry of Jesus in God’s Holy Word, we invite and welcome the ministry of all men and women, boys and girls, in the life of the church.  In this we also give thanks for the ministry of these early followers of Jesus, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others.

The church has chosen July 22 each year to give thanks for the ministry of Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles.

Prayer

Almighty God, your Son first entrusted the apostle Mary Magdalene with the joyful news of his resurrection. Following the example of her witness, may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day see him in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 16

Mission Movie Poster

One of the posters created to promote the 1986 film, The Mission. This show the character Mendoza, portrayed by Robert De Niro

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 16, 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 7:36-50 

2 Corinthians 2:3-11

Psalms 42-44

Job 23

Devotion for September 16, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

There is a scene in the 1986 film, the Mission, which is quite powerful.  The context of this is that a former slave trader, Mendoza, has left his old line of work and has heeded the call to missionary work for he church.  Two problems he faces:

1 – he feels immense guilt for his cruel slave trading work, plus other sins

2 – the mission field to which he is called is to bring the Gospel to the people group from which he had taken people to force them into slavery.

As a way of working out this struggle with sin, Mendoza chooses to carry on his back a large quantity of metal armor.  He will carry this up the mountains as he travels with the other missionaries to the place where the people live.  This is a difficult and painful journey.  This video linked below shows his arrival at the top of the mountain where Mendoza and the other missionaries arrive to greet the people of the village.

Click this link to view video on YouTube

When the people see Mendoza arrive with this burden the chief sends another man from the village with a knife.  That man runs to the side of Mendoza.  He first holds the knife to the neck of Mendoza as if to kill him, for Mendoza was an enemy of the people.  He had enslaved or killed their family and friends.

The man with the knife looks to the chief for guidance.  The chief thinks, and then instructs the man to cut the rope rather than Mendoza’s neck.  Vengeance could have ruled the day, but forgiveness was the final word.  This final word brought reconciliation.  This final word of forgiveness built a new community in that place.

In our readings from both 2 Corinthians and Luke are about forgiveness of sin, joy and community.  Sin is a powerful and painful burden in our lives.  In Luke we have a scene where a woman has been forgiven much by God through Jesus.  Our Lord notes the following about her actions of thanksgiving, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

In the scene from the Mission we see that Mendoza has great joy in being shown mercy and forgiveness.  He celebrates with the people that they are friends rather than enemies.

We get to rejoice at the forgiveness of our sins.  We get to reconcile with one another.  Because we have been shown great love by God and by others, we can show great love for God and for one another.

Prayer

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself. We praise and bless you for those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen

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