Devotion and Readings for December 1

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Bible Readings and Devotion for December 1, 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 21:25-28

Revelation 9:13-21

Psalm 78:41-72, & 80

Isaiah 36

Devotion for December 1, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Psalm 78 is one of several psalms with a similar theme.  These psalms present a summary of the history of Israel up to that point.  These psalms often present both the uplifting and difficult parts of Israel’s history.

The life of the people of Israel was one of sin, judgment, and grace.  The foundation of their life was and is always the goodness of God.  Even so, they sinned and turned from God’s way.  There was often some form of judgment against them to call them back to a relationship with the Lord.  Then God also provided something or someone to restore them to that relationship.  The cycle often repeated over time for the people.

In the book of Judges, we can read how God provided a summary of this situation.  Read Judges 2:11-23 to get that pattern in full.  The people sinned and turned from God.  Something bad happened as a judgment, often from attack by their enemies.  God raised up a judge, a special leader for the people, and this led to restoration and peace. Sometime after the judge died the people would sin and restart the cycle.

In our individual faith lives we have up and down times with the Lord.  We sometime sin and bring harm to ourselves, others, and always to our relationship with God.  God reminds us of his love and mercy and leads us back to fellowship with him. What matters most is that God loves us and is seeking to restore us to fellowship with him. Even when we harm our connection with God, the Lord has plenty of grace to lead us home.  He takes us where we are and calls us to live his most excellent way.

Prayer

O God, full of compassion, we commit and commend ourselves to you, in whom we live and move and have our being. Be the goal of our pilgrimage, and our rest by the way. Give us refuge from the turmoil of worldly distractions beneath the shadow of your wings. Let our hearts, so often a sea of restless waves, find peace in you, O God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for November 29 and 30

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Bible Readings and Devotion for November 29 and 30, 2020

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

November 29

Luke 21:20-24

Revelation 9:1-12

Psalms 75, 76, 79, 82

Isaiah 34

November 30 – St. Andrew Day

John 1:35-42

John 6:1-14

Psalm 78:1-40

Isaiah 35

Devotion for November 29 and 30, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Advent has begun.  This is the four Sunday period prior to Christmas Day.   It is a time of repentance from sin and renewal of faith as we prepare for the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

One of the connections to Advent is the day of remembrance for St. Andrew, Apostle.  That day is November 30.  It is suggested that this date is chosen because it is at the beginning of the church year.  The first Sunday in Advent, which is the beginning of the church year, is always the closest Sunday to St. Andrew Day.  Andrew is known as the First Called disciple or the “Πρωτόκλητος” (protokletos).  The First Called, the first one celebrated each year.

Here is a description of the life and ministry of St. Andrew.  It is from the Sundays and Seasons resources which we use for various worship and teaching materials in the church.

“Andrew was the first of the Twelve. He is known as a fisherman who left his net to follow Jesus. As a part of his calling, he brought other people, including Simon Peter, to meet Jesus. The Byzantine church honors Andrew as its patron and points out that because he was the first of Jesus’ followers, he was, in the words of John Chrysostom, “the Peter before Peter.” Together with Philip, Andrew leads a number of Greeks to speak with Jesus, and it is Andrew who shows Jesus a boy with five barley loaves and two fish. Andrew is said to have died on a cross saltire, an X-shaped cross.”

Prayer

Almighty God, you gave your apostle Andrew the grace to obey the call of your Son and to bring his brother to Jesus. Give us also, who are called by your holy word, grace to follow Jesus without delay and to bring into his presence those who are near to us, 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.

Advent 1 – November 29, 2020

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The chancel of Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church with the new, blue, Advent paraments. 

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the First Sunday in Advent, November 29, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We continue to offer in-person and Facebook Live services following the normal Sunday schedule for both MLLC and Waldeck.  The Facebook Live services will be offered on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. from Waldeck, and at 10:00 a.m. from MLLC.  The Saturday 6:00 p.m. service at MLLC is in-person only.

Below are the readings, prayers, and Sunday sermon.

Remember Your Regular Offerings

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For both of our congregations, Waldeck and MLLC, please remember that our expenses continue even when we are unable to meet as usual.  Please make a point to give your offerings as you would on a typical week.  Here are some ideas of what to do:

For Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ledbetter:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church; 6915 Waldeck Church Lane; Ledbetter, TX 78946

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

For MLLC in Carmine:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – MLLC, P O BOX 362, Carmine, TX 78932-0362

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

– give offerings through the church web site:  mllccarmine.com/online-giving  This page has a link to our secure giving page.  Offerings can be made by bank draft, debit card, or credit card through this special web site.

The First Sunday in Advent

November 28 – 29, 2020

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First Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9

The First Reading is from the 64th chapter of Isaiah.

This lament comes from a people who have had their hopes shattered. The visions of a rebuilt Jerusalem and a renewed people of God, spoken of in Isaiah 40–55, have not been realized. Instead, the people experience ruin, conflict, and famine. This lament calls God to account—to be the God who has brought deliverance in the past.

And now the reading.

1O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
2as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
5You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
6We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

Here ends the reading.

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Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Psalm 80, read responsively.

1Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
stir up your strength and come to help us.
3Restore us, O God;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
4O Lord God of hosts,
how long will your anger fume when your people pray?
5You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6You have made us the derision of our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
17Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one you have made so strong for yourself.
18And so will we never turn away from you;
give us life, that we may call upon your name.
19Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.

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Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

The Second Reading is from the first chapter of First Corinthians.

As the Christians in Corinth await the advent of Jesus, Paul reminds them how the Lord has already enriched them through spiritual gifts and will continue to strengthen them until the coming day of the Lord.

And now the reading.

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here ends the reading.

 

*Gospel: Mark 13:24-37                                     

The Gospel Reading is from the 13th chapter of Mark.

In today’s reading, Jesus encourages his followers to look forward to the day when he returns in power and glory to end all suffering. And now the reading.

[Jesus said:] 24“In those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Here ends our readings.

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“The Grand Gift of God”

 By Pastor David Tinker

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

We are gathered here today during the season of Advent. Part of what Advent is about is getting ready for a great celebration of the birth of Jesus the Messiah. During this time of year many people will be kinder, gentler, friendlier, and more generous.  Some even become more faithfully involved in their faith life. They will attend worship more often. They will gather with others for prayer and devotions. Then, on Christmas Day comes, or when the Christmas season ends on January 6, a good number people will drop out of living the Christian Christmas spirit. Thankfully, some will keep it going all year long.

Author Ronald M Patterson tells of a time he visited in the home of a friend during the month of March. He writes, “We were talking, and suddenly I looked up on a corner shelf and noticed a Christmas ornament hanging – almost as though it had been forgotten in the mad rush to put away the holiday season. I quickly looked away, hoping that my glance had not been noticed.  But the woman caught me. Before I could say anything, she smiled and said: “No, I didn’t forget. Every year when I clean up the mess, I choose one ornament to leave up to remind me that Christmas is not just one day or one season, but a lifetime.  That little bulb is my reminder that Jesus Christ walks with me every day.”

Our reading today from First Corinthians shows us that God is always, in a sense, in the Christmas spirit. He is always loving, faithful, and good. He’s always full of grace and forgiveness.  Paul writes in this passage, “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We can know God and be with God forever only through the saving work of Jesus Christ. He is the one who died on the cross for our sin. We celebrate that he was raised to life just a couple days later. All of this was motivated by the strong, steadfast, and eternal love of God. His love permeates every action and gift. God just loves and loves and loves.

There is a story by Author Willa Cather. It is called “The Burglars Christmas”. It portrays a young man, the proverbial Prodigal Son, who has moved away from his family back east and was now living in Chicago. Without food for many days, without friends, and with suicidal thoughts, he decides on Christmas Eve to steal some food from a house. He has never stolen before, but thinks that he is owed some food, at least on Christmas Eve. When he breaks into the house, however, he finds that he has burglarized the house of his parents, who had moved to Chicago. His mother catches him while stealing, and he confesses all to her and to his father.

He prepares to leave, but they say, “Stay. We’ll make things right.”

He looks up at his mother questioningly, “I wonder if you know how much you pardon?”

“Oh, my poor boy,” his mother answered, “much or little, what does it matter? Have you wandered so far and not yet learned that love has nothing to do with pardon or forgiveness, that only loves and loves and loves?”

In other words, pardon and forgiveness don’t lead to love.  Rather, love is powerful, and it also leads to things such as pardon and forgiveness.

We know and serve a faithful God who loves and loves and love.  Our life with God is founded on his great love for us.  We are gathered here this Advent Season to look into the great and powerful love of God shown us in the life of Jesus.  We prepare to celebrate his birth, and we revisit what life is about at this time.  We always start with the love and faithfulness of God.  This leads us to revisit what our lives are about.  We look to what is right, and what is wrong in our lives.  With God’s amazing love we work with God to fix what is messed us, so that we can live according to the way of Jesus.

One thing that we struggle with so often is forgiveness.  This could be our own need for it, but it is also our need to forgive others.  Forgiveness is not easy, but it is in the spirit of Christmas, and most importantly, it is the way of Jesus.

C. S. Lewis said in the book, The Weight of Glory, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

As we work through our faith during this Advent, let us revisit this powerful truth about our lives.  God has forgiven the inexcusable in us.

What can we do to give thanks to God for this?

In what areas of our lives do we need to be turning from sin, and seeking to do things God’s way?

Who are some people that need our forgiveness?

Who have we struggled to forgive?

As we celebrate the Advent and Christmas Spirit this year, let us always remember that God just loves and loves and loves.  He loves us so much that he forgives the inexcusable.  He loves us so much that he calls and empowers us to forgive the inexcusable in others as well.

Let us pray – Heavenly Father, your mercy and forgiveness are powerful expressions of your love for us.  By your Holy Spirit help us to receive and understand these gifts.  We pray this in the holy name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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Prayers of Intercession

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

A brief silence.

Most High God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: you guide and form all of creation.  For this, and all things, we worship you.  Help us to live with faithfulness to you and prudence in our actions. Hear us, O God.     Your mercy is great.

We lift in prayer your Church.  We especially pray for our brothers and sisters in the land of Jesus’ birth.  Help them to remain steadfast in the midst of persecution.  Hear us, O God.          Your mercy is great.

We give thanks that you model servant leadership for us.  We pray that all in authority in your church will be guided and inspired by your sacrificial leadership.

Hear us, O God.          Your mercy is great.

You are the source of healing and strength for all who suffer in any way.  We especially lift in prayer… and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…    Hear us, O God.       Your mercy is great.

 

We pray for all who have not yet responded to your offer of forgiveness.  Send your Holy Spirit into their lives so they may come to believe in Jesus.  Help all people in this congregation to grow in their witness to your mercy and grace.  Help us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Hear us, O God.       Your mercy is great.

 

You call us to live as your people now and forever.  We lift in prayer those who mourn during this time  (especially the family and friends of…).  Hear us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Other petitions may be added here.

You inspire your church to give you praise.  We give thanks for the music ministry of this congregation.  Be with all musicians, singers and leaders as they guide us in our worship of the one true God.  Hear us, O God.        Your mercy is great.

 

Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen 

Christ the King Sunday – November 22, 2020

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for Christ the King Sunday, November 22, 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.

Christ the King Sunday

November 21-22, 2020

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First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Reader says:  The First Reading is from the 34th chapter of Ezekiel.

Since Israel’s kings proved to be bad shepherds, Ezekiel declares that the Lord will assume the role of shepherd in Israel. The Lord will also set over them a shepherd-messiah, “my servant David,” who will feed and care for the people.

And now the reading.

11Thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. 14I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
20Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, 22I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
23I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

Here ends the reading.

 

Psalm: Psalm 95:1-7a

Psalm 95, read responsively.

1Come, let us sing to the Lord;
  let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
2Let us come before God’s presence with thanksgiving
  and raise a loud shout to the Lord with psalms.
3For you, Lord, are a great God,
  and a great ruler above all gods.
4In your hand are the caverns of the earth;
  the heights of the hills are also yours. 
5The sea is yours, for you made it,
  and your hands have molded the dry land.
6Come, let us worship and bow down,
  let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
7aFor the Lord is our God,
  and we are the people of God’s pasture and the sheep of God’s hand.  Amen

 

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

The Second Reading is from the first chapter of Ephesians.

In this passage, God is praised for revealing ultimate divine power in raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrected, exalted Christ is Lord both of the church and the entire universe, now and in the age to come.

And now the reading.

15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Here ends the reading.

 

Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

The Gospel Reading is from the 25th chapter of Matthew.

Jesus compares himself to a king who moves among his subjects to see how he is treated: what is done for the least of those who belong to his family is truly done for him.

And now the reading.

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me.’ 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Here ends the readings.

 

Devotion:  “Stand Up for Jesus”

By Pastor David Tinker

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

            In the 1970s in the Lutheran Church there were extensive teachings about our way of worshipping the Lord.  This was in preparation for the publication of a new service book.  This was Lutheran Book of Worship, which was published in 1978. 

            One of the teaching documents told about the action of standing for the Gospel Reading.  As part of this it taught about standing, not for the pastor, but for Jesus.  It speaks of this action in this way: “We Rise to Greet Him.”

Standing for the Gospel Reading is a great thing to remember on this Christ the King Sunday.  We stand for the one who loves us and who is truly the greatest of all.  When we stand for the Gospel it is about how Jesus Christ will reign forever and ever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  When we stand up for Jesus we are doing 2 things. 

1: We are showing respect for Jesus.  

2:  We are making a commitment to him.  We are saying that we are ready to receive our marching orders from our great and loving King.

            Our reading from Matthew today shows an important piece of our marching orders from our king.   All of what he does in giving such orders is founded in what he has first done for us.  He has gone ahead of us into life, death and rising from the dead.  He has suffered on our behalf, and he has brought forgiveness and new life to us.  Jesus has acted first for us, and we are guided by his Marching Orders on how to follow as his faithful people. 

Jesus uses a parable – a teaching story – to give us our marching orders.  This parable is about a king who separates out two groups.  One group naturally served humanity without knowing they were serving the king.  It was simply the faithful way of living as God’s people.  The other group kept their energies to themselves.  The first group was praised, and the king told them that “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  They were shown that when they served struggling humanity they were serving the king.

            The second group kept their love and energies to themselves.  The king did not praise them, but said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these you did not do it to me.”  Those who did nothing to care for humanity were sent away into punishment.

            In this congregation we have a long history of showing kindness to others.  We support food pantries.  At both of our congregations we are working on assembling Christmas Boxes for Seafarers at the Port of Houston.  These are shoe boxes filled with various practical items which are distributed by the Chaplain’s office at the Port of Houston.  In various ways we are showing kindness to others around the world who need it most.

            There is that great old hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”.  Here is the first stanza of that great hymn:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,

            as soldiers of the cross,

            lift high his royal banner;

            it must not suffer loss.

            From vict’ry unto vict’ry

            his army he shall lead,

            till ev’ry foe is vanquished

            and Christ is Lord indeed.

This is a powerful call to action.  It is a call to respond to the great things God has done.

In response to Christ the king we get to do two things today. 

One, is that we get to have a fresh start as God’s beloved children.  We get to rejoice in the good news that God’s sacrificial love and forgiveness are also for us.  We hear again that we are set free from the final power of sin, death and evil.  We get a fresh start on how we live now and forever.

The second thing we do is founded on the first.  As loved and forgiven sinners we are invited to Stand Up for the ultimate king of kings, Jesus Christ our Lord.  We can do this because of the first thing we do.  God has done great things for us, and we respond by standing up in commitment to Jesus Christ. 

There are billions of stories about how people have responded to God’s call in life.  One story which always comes to mind for me is about my late mother.  She was active in hunger relief efforts in her neighborhood in Houston.  For many years she would take a few days each month to distribute bread.  On these days she would go to a certain day-old bread store.  The staff would have a few trays full of bread ready for her to take.  At a certain time on those days she would bring the trays full of bread to a park in the neighborhood.  She would place the trays on a particular picnic bench.  Nearby several people were waiting.  These would be mothers, fathers, families, singles, or whoever.  All were hungry and poor people from the neighborhood who came to get some simple bread to eat.  My mother and the bread store gave to the least of these in that community.  In this Christ the King was served, people were fed, and God was given the glory. 

In response to God’s amazing and powerful mercy we get to show honor to Jesus.  Because he has done so much for us, we can stand up in commitment to him.  It really doesn’t matter what you have done or have left undone in the past.  What matters is that God is good and caring and powerful, and is calling for us.  God has met us in the midst of our own struggles and death.  God has been with us when we are hungry or thirsty or hurting or sinful or lonely or lost in any way.  God carries us through these times and into life today and forever.  God’s Holy Spirit is with us today, guiding us into fellowship with the Lord.  Today we get to stand up for Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.  Today we can live by doing the simple acts of service for the least of those in the world.  Let us stand up today for Christ the King.                     

Let us pray – Almighty God, King of Kings, we worship you and serve you.  Help us to give of our time and resources in ways which help our neighbors in need.  We pray this in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Prayers for November 22, 2020        

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

 

A brief silence.

 

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:  You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We ask that you receive our prayers, songs, and words of thanksgiving.  Lord, in your mercy,   Hear our prayer.

 

You have given yourself for the forgiveness of our sin.  We confess that we have turned away from your way.  We have neglected the faith you have granted to us.  We have sinned and have not done what is according to your will.  We pray that, by your mercy, you will forgive us and lead us into the way of Jesus.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

 

Other petitions may be added here.

 

We mourn the death of our friends and loved ones.  Help us to cast our burdens on you, because you care for us.  Help us to join with you in remembering those who have gone before us.  (We especially remember…) Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

 

We pray for those who have suffered due to recent disasters, violence, disease, and wars.  Help us to bring relief to those who suffer across this nation and around the world.  Enable us to see Christ in those who have had to endure so much.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

 

You are the Great Physician.  We lift in prayer all who struggle in mind, body or spirit, especially…  and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

We celebrate your goodness as we prepare for our national day of Thanksgiving.  Help us each day to see all the abundant goodness of your provision.  Enable us to share your resources with our neighbors in need.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Amen

 

Lord’s Prayer

 

Devotion and Readings for November 20, 21, 22, and 23

Christmas_Carol_Scrooge_ghost_3

The Ghost of Christmas Present. 

Illustration from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2020

Special Note from Pastor David Tinker:
Dear Friends,
My family will be away on vacation for several days.  This devotion posting includes the readings for the time we will be away.  There is only one devotion, but it is a little longer.  It is based on the reading from Isaiah 25 for November 20.  I look forward to our continued readings and daily devotions when I return after the weekend. 
Remember that we have the Thanksgiving Eve Service on Wednesday, November 25, at 7:00 p.m. at Waldeck. I look forward to seeing you at that special night together.
Pastor David Tinker

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

November 20

Luke 20:41-47

Revelation 3:7-13

Psalms 52-55 

Isaiah 25

November 21

Luke 21:1-4

Revelation 3:14-22

Psalms 56-58, 60  

Isaiah 26

November 22

Matthew 23:1-12

Revelation 5:1-14

Psalms 59, 63, 64

Isaiah 27

November 23

Matthew 23:13-22

Revelation 6:1-8

Psalm 61, 62, 65, 67  

Isaiah 28

Devotion for November 20, 21, 22, and 23, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In my growing up years my pet dog was a beagle.  Beagles will pretty much eat and eat until there is no more.  Instinctively they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, so they sometimes overeat if extra food is available.  One time when I was a kid our family accidentally gave our dog three suppers. We were in the house at different times and each person saw an empty bowl, so each gave the dog more food. By the time of the third bowl of food our beloved beagle was done with feasting.

Feasts are deep connection points for faith for both Jews and Christians.  The major Jewish holidays are associated with eating a grand meal.  These include:  Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hoshana, Purim and the like. A wonderful supply food was connected with paradise and hope for the Jewish people.

Likewise, a wonderful meal has been associated with Christian festivals in church and our families.  We celebrate well at Christmas, Easter, and our national Day of Thanksgiving.  In the church we celebrate God’s gift of community as we gather for meals together.

God’s word connects the eternal hope of his people with a glorious meal for the people of God. Our reading from Isaiah chapter 25 verse six through nine, we read a prophetic word from the Lord regarding hope and salvation. The profit rights in for six:  “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.”

My view of this generous meal a blessing has been colored by the book, A Christmas Carol, by Charles dickens. In his description of the Ghost of Christmas present, Dickens introduces the characters through a description of the bounteous feast. Dickens writes:

“Scrooge was awakened by a bell, and a strange voice call him by name, and bade him to enter. He obeyed. It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth had never known in Scrooge’s time, or Marley’s, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see:, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.”

That’s the image I have of this wonderful feast spoken of and Isaiah; the feast of God’s abundant generosity offered to his people in eternity. This passage, which is often overlooked in our discussion of heaven and eternity, shows the generous nature of the Lord. Our God is not a cheap and stingy God. He is not trying to get by with the cheapest things. God knows that there is a time for abundance and joyful fellowship.

In addition to this grand feast in the future, the passage from Isaiah speaks of the vision for what life for God’s people will be. The prophecy is given in a context of great destruction and wrath for the people of Israel. They were being overrun by foreign armies and empires. Life for them was not one of plenty, but of hunger and struggle. In the midst of that God offers something altogether different: The end of death, the end of tears, the end of hunger, and division between neighbors.

The hope expressed in the Old Testament prophecy Isaiah is similar to that expressed in Revelation 22.  In Revelation we receive the promise of abundant food as central to what God has in store for us. John writes more in Revelation 22, verses one and two,

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

God’s promise is that he will be provided abundant food for his people and eternity. Will not need to labor for food. We will not go hungry.  The greatest source of our satisfaction in eternity is that we will be in deep fellowship with Jesus Christ for all eternity. But that feast is one for the future. What about today?

We look to two major connections with God.

1 – in the Lord’s Prayer we express our trust in the Lord to provide our daily bread.  This includes food, and all that we need for life.

2 – the Holy Communion – this is a meal with bread and wine which connects us with God and each other.  This is a tiny foretaste of the feast in eternity.  The Holy Communion connects us with the eternal solution for our sin and broken nature.  We are connected with the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.  We connect with God and are united with God as we receive the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ.

We give thanks that we have been invited to this great and eternal feast with God and his people, both now and forever.

Prayer

Almighty God, you provide the true bread from heaven, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant that we who have received the sacrament of his body and blood may abide in him and he in us, that we may be filled with the power of his endless life, now and forever. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for November 18 and 19

King_David_icon

An icon of King David.

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 18 and 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.

November 18

Luke 20:20-26

Revelation 2:18-29

Psalms 47-49

Isaiah 23

November 19

Luke 20:27-40

Revelation 3:1-6

Psalms 50-51

Isaiah 24

Devotion for November 18 and 19, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

The world around us says all sorts of things.  Some are true and good.  Some are false and bad.  Some are half-truths which lead to mixed results, or worse.

One of these things which some in various cultures point to is, “victimless crimes.”  There are people who point to various acts which are listed as criminal which, supposedly, do not hurt anybody.  Some point to crimes which counter moral standards, such as crimes related to sex, drugs, and clothing restrictions.  These are often half-truth situations, even in civil cases alone. When we look closer to these we often see that there are victims, but it is not necessarily obvious at a first look.

As we look at things through the lens of our relationship with God, we see that anything we do which is counter to God’s commands and will does cause harm.  There may be a specific victim of our sin, such as someone we harm by violence, lies, adultery, etc.  Some of our sin is not overtly an action against a fellow human.  Some of our sin is self harm.

In our psalm today, Psalm 51, King David makes it very clear that he understands things differently than the world.  He notes in verse 4, “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.”  Every sinful action is ultimately a harm to our relationship with the Lord.

The psalm invites us to confess our sin to God.  We do this in many and various ways.  Each time we confess to God it is a response to the grace of God.  Confession can happen because God seeks to have us reconciled to himself.  God wants us to be in fellowship with him.  God wants us to address the wrong we have done through confession, and to work out anything that needs to be reconciled or corrected with others.  God desires restoration and life for us, therefore we can confess our sin to God.

We confess through various means.

*Daily Prayers

*The Lord’s Prayer

*Confession and Forgiveness at the beginning of our communion services.

*Receiving Holy Communion

*Individual Confession with one’s pastor – see Luther’s Small Catechism for how to do this.  He notes it in the section about Holy Baptism.

*Confessional conversation with a caring, Christian friend.

Remember, God loves you and desires an eternal and uplifting relationship with you from this day and forever more.

Prayer

From the Confession and Forgiveness in Evangelical Lutheran Worship

Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.  Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.  Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for November 17

Food Pantry shelves

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 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 20:9-19

Revelation 2:8-17

Psalms 45-46

Isaiah 22

Devotion for November 17, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

It is not all about me.  It is not all about you.  It is about how we love and serve others, and how we connect with the Lord.  That is part of the message of today’s reading from Isaiah 22.

One particular note is a quote of sorts by the people who are self-serving in the midst of the impending destruction of Jerusalem.  They are quoted as saying, “Let us eat and drink,

for tomorrow we die.”  In a sense, let’s get all we can of the party and indulgent life before we have to face judgment.  They are a bit like an “epicurean.”  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, that is, “a person devoted to sensual enjoyment, especially that derived from fine food and drink.”

Their sin, their broken and lost reality, was that they were overly self-focused and devoid of hope. The focus of life was self-indulgence until death hit them.  This is a hopeless situation, but it may seem fun to some along the way.

This reminds me of two things from the arts.

One is the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death.  Click link for an online version of this story.

This is about people attempting to avoid the plague which was killing so many, and that these same people would be focused on entertainment and pleasure.  Read the story to see how that ends up for them.

The second is a Rock song from the early 1980s.  The song is, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” by the Irish rock band, U2.  (It is my personal favorite rock song.). It picks up on the line from our reading and pushes it a step further.  The song notes that those who are self-focused actually know that they are avoiding their suffering neighbors, and they continue to eat and party anyway.  It notes how our use of the media and entertainment distract us from loving our neighbors.

U2 Sunday, Bloody Sunday

And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

Here is a video link to play the whole song with lyrics on the screen.

The purpose of the prophetic word in Isaiah is to get people of every time and place to shift away from self-focus toward engaged love for neighbors in need.  Yes, in stressful times it is more common to pull back into self.  The prophet is God’s messenger to guide us back to faithfulness to God and love for our neighbors in need.

Prayer

A prayer of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow human beings throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for November 16

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 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 20:1-8

Revelation 2:1-7

Psalms 42-44

Isaiah 21

Special note from Pastor David Tinker:

Dear Friends,

This past week or so my whole family and I were sick.  This made it difficult to get most things done last week, including the devotions.  These are back this week.  Thank you for your patience and your support.

Pastor David Tinker

Devotion for November 16, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

The last surviving of the original 12 Apostles was St. John, son of Zebedee and brother of St. James.  His ministry of teaching is connected with five New Testament books:  the Gospel of John, the letters of John (1 John, 2 John, and 3 John), and the Revelation.  Central to all of these books is the call to love one another.

Early church history tells of the later days of John’s life.  Even when he was no longer able to move well nor say very much, there was one thing he would do.  He would stand up at worship, often with assistance, and remind them of their first calling.  With great effort he would say one thing, “Love one another.”  That was the centerpiece of his teaching. That was the New Commandment of Jesus which was noted at the Last Supper in John 13:34-35.

This core message is highlighted in today’s reading from Revelation 2.  We read in verse 4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”  Jesus reveals to John that the church in Ephesus has neglected to love as they were shown to do in the beginning.  They had been a loving community.  Now, at the time of the revelation, they have put that aside for other, less faithful pursuits.

One of those pursuits is to follow the Nicolaitans.  Early church history indicates that these were followers of the apostate, deacon Nicolaus (noted first in Acts 6:5).  This same history notes that these Nicolaitans were people who put aside God’s way to pursue sexual immorality and overtly chose to eat meat which had been sacrificed to pagan idols (aligning oneself with the pagan beliefs). Neither of these practices were ways to show love for one another.

In our lives we sometimes neglect or abandon the core expressions of our faith. St. John and Jesus are reminding us even today that we need to get back to the core of our faith life.  An essential response to what Jesus has done for us is to strive to love one another in the community of faith.  This will look different for every relationship in our lives.  What matters is that we give of ourselves sacrificially to encourage, help, and build up each other in godly ways.  By the guidance of the Word and the Holy Spirit, we get to return to our primary love, our love for one another.

Prayer

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, comfort the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for November 6 and 7

Christmas Boxes 2014 nativity

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 6 and 7, 2020

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

November 6

Luke 17:20-37

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Psalm 18

Isaiah 11

November 7

Luke 18:1-8   

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Psalm 19-21

Isaiah 12

Devotion for November 6 and 7, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In the church I served in Ohio, prior to coming to Carmine, they had two art pieces in the sanctuary during Advent which relate to our reading from Isaiah chapter 11 for today.  These two were:

  1. A Bible set up as a manger for the Jesus statue from their large nativity scene.
  2. A Jesse Tree.

jesse-tree

In Isaiah 11:1-3a, the prophet writes, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.”

The shoot out of the stump of Jesse is a connection with the promise of a king in the family line of David for all time.  Jesse was the father of King David.  The use of the term, stump of Jesse, is poetic way to speak of King David.  As Jesus is a descendant of King David, he is also the fulfillment of this prophetic word of God.

  1. The use of the Bible as the manger for Jesus was for this purpose. It symbolized that the Bible is the manger which presents Jesus to the world.  The Old Testament presents the prophetic word which points to the eventual ministry of Jesus.  The New Testament tells us about what he has done.  At the church in Ohio they would have the Bible open to a different Old Testament prophecy each week.  One of these was our passage from Isaiah 11.
  2. The Jesse Tree was used to present various symbols which tell about the prophetic foundation of Jesus as well as about his life and ministry.  They brought a small tree, not a Christmas tree, into the sanctuary and decorated it with various symbolic ornaments depicting things about Jesus. See image above. Here is an extensive description of the symbols recommended for such a teaching decoration: Click This Link.

Prayer

Blessed are you, God of hope, for you promise to bring forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse who will bring justice to the poor, who will deliver the needy and crush the oppressor, who will stand as a signal of hope for all people. Turn our wills to bear the fruit of repentance, transform our hearts to live in justice and harmony with one another, and fix our eyes on the root of Jesse, Jesus Christ, the hope of all nations. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for November 5.

Foot Washing

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 5, 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 17:1-10 

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Psalms 12-14, 17

Isaiah 10

Devotion for November 5, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

People frequently share with me about their struggles with waiting for things.  This may be waiting for life to improve.  It may be waiting for the situation to come to a completion.  It may be waiting for a person to make a change or decision.  These individuals often note that they are praying for patience.

Patience is a good thing.  In our culture we often say, “Patience is a virtue.”  We also know that it is one of the Fruit of the Spirit noted by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23.  It is an outgrowth of our connection with God, the Holy Spirit.

Whenever I hear of this plan to pray for patience, I am reminded of a greater thing.  This is central to who we are in faith as we follow the way of Jesus.  The thing is love. I’m not talking about romance or warm feelings.  What I am noting is the type of love which is self-giving care which benefits someone else.  This is the type of love which is noted by Jesus in the Gospels.  He calls on us to love one another, as we have loved us.  He calls on us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  He calls us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:4a we read, “Love is patient…” When we feel we need to pray for patience, I suggest we go deeper.  I suggest we take the prayer advice of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, where he writes, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.”  He is praying for great love.  So, when we feel a need for patience, pray for more love.

Prayer

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time to make our common prayer to you, and you have promised through your Son that where two or three are gathered together in his name, you will be in the midst of them. Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us, granting us, in this world, knowledge of your truth and, in the age to come, life everlasting. Amen

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