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First Sunday after CHRISTMASS "A Saving Light" Homily by Pastor Jim

GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH

660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520

541-482-1661

The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor

+ FIRST SUNDAY after CHRISTMASS +

12.27.2020

WELCOME

As shepherds and wise men found welcome in a stable, find welcome in this place, you who have come to worship The Christ. He is no less here than in a manger, more here than in a stable. There he was a “little Baby-thing”, here he is Lord and King. Tiptoe, if you must, to

see The Baby in your imagination, but remember you stand here in the presence of The Son

of God by faith.

AS WE GATHER Celebrating the Gift of Our Savior

The author of Psalm 148 calls on the natural world, celestial bodies, fire and earth, creatures and humanity to praise God. The voices of Simeon and 84-year-old Anna join the chorus

today recognizing what God is doing in Jesus. Simeon’s song (often sung after communion) reminds us that we too have seen God’s salvation and held Jesus in our hands in the bread of The Sacrament. Then, like the prophet Anna, we tell of Jesus to all who look for the healing of the world.

PRAYER BEFORE WORSHIP

Almighty God, you sent your only Son as the Word of Life for our eyes to see and our ears to hear. Help us to believe with joy what the Scriptures proclaim; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ THE ORDER of CELEBRATING +

PRE-SERVICE MUSIC Let Our Gladness Have No End LSB 381

                                      Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising End LSB 375

THEME of THE DAY

With Simeon and Anna, The Church proclaims that salvation has come to the people of God in Christ Jesus. “The splendor of the Lord is over heaven and earth,” writes the Psalmist (Psalm 148)—Christ is present in the world for all people in all conditions of life. In, with, and through Jesus, the Christian community welcome all people to the Scriptures, the waters of Baptism, and the Holy Supper.

PRELUDE      Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming—John Purifoy          Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano  

INVOCATION & CONFESSION

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“As I live,” says the Lord, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live.”

If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The Lord has come! Prepare to welcome him with open arms of faith.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +

Most merciful God, we confess we are not worthy to receive the gifts you bring,

for we have sinned. 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.

The Lord has come! Jesus Christ was born on earth in answer to our prayers. Son of Mary, Son of God, he lived and died that we might be redeemed. For his sake, your sins are forgiven and named children of God in the Name of the Father and of the + Son of the Holy Spirit.

Through the work of God’s own Spirit, we have seen the glory of the Father’s

only Son, full of grace and truth. Amen.

 

APOSTOLIC GREETING

The grace of the Child born for us, and the joy of the Son given to us be with you all. Amen.

AN ACT of ADORATION

Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us

with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the

face of Jesus Christ.

     We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord

Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes, became

poor; who became obedient unto death, even death

on a cross; who died and is alive forevermore; who

opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, who

is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the

Father; who will come again, as Judge and King.

     You are the King of glory, O Christ.

Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the

Lord and Giver of life, by whom we are born into the

family of God, and made members of the body of Christ,

whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us,

whose power enables us to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.

     All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.    

PRAYER of THE DAY

Almighty God, you wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and yet more wonderfully restored it. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of the One who came to share our humanity, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON Isaiah 61:10-62:3

[To the people who returned to Jerusalem after the exile, the prophet proclaims that God’s salvation will fully come to pass. Jerusalem will become a shining light to the nations and righteousness and praise will spring up as surely as the earth puts forth vegetation.]

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the LORD GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations. For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations will see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your GOD. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

SECOND LESSON Galatians 4:4-7

[Paul seeks to show the Galatians that the purpose of Christ’s birth was to liberate us from the law’s condemnation so that we would be fully adopted into God’s family as beloved children.]

When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

DEUET Sing We Now of Christmas/God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

Josh Ewert, Clarinet & Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano

GOSPEL Luke 2:22-40

[Luke’s narrative continues with stories that emphasize Jesus’ connection to Judaism. His family is devout in its observation of the law, and Jesus himself is recognized as the one who will bring glory to Israel.]

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, [Joseph and Mary] brought [Jesus} up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the

Lord, “Every first-born male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a

sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two

young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then

Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and

rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of

many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of

a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to

the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the

child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee,

to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and

the favor of God was upon him.

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to You, O Christ!

SPECIAL MUSIC There’s a Song in the Air—Karl Harrington

HOMILY A Saving Light Text: The Gospel Lesson

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

The Gospel for the day tells the story of Jesus’ presentation in the temple 40 days after His birth.

Following the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph did what all good Jewish parents did. Eight days after the birth of a male child, circumcision took place. Thirty-three days later, when the mother’s menses cycle returned and the new parents were settling into the routine a new baby brings, they presented the child to the Lord and, according to their means, a sacrificial offering was included.

Behind the ancient ritual of purification lay a deeper meaning. Re-entering family routines was not to happen without recognizing that a child was a gift from God. The sacrificial offering was a visible sign of the inward offering of themselves and their newborn child to God for all the years that lay ahead. By observing the ritual of purification, Mary and Joseph were giving witness of their faith … trust … gratitude … and hope for the future.

Unknown to Joseph and Mary, their arrival in the temple set the stage for something beyond their expectations. There is Simeon, who had hoped and prayed his entire life that he might see The Messiah. Picture him greeting the Holy Family, taking the Christ-child into his arms, and singing a song of praise that must’ve astonished Mary and Joseph … and anyone within earshot. And there’s Anna, in her mid-80’s, speaking similar words of praise … recognizing our Lord as the fulfillment of her lifetime of longing and waiting.

Then the mood shifts. As Simeon blessed the parents, he turned to Mary and said:

This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be

sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—

a sword shall pierce through your own soul too. Luke 2:34-35

With this newborn child in his arms, Simeon prophesized God’s plan of redemption. The Baby will be the Man of Sorrows … the One acquainted with grief … wounded for our transgressions … and bruised for iniquities. His death will complete what God sent His Son into the world to accomplish, and the light of His grace on Calvary will be a saving light to the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel.

That saving Light falls on us and all who confess that Light with humble trust and faith. The light that enlightens the world is Christ Jesus Himself present and working through His Gospel power to transfer us from the realm of darkness to the kingdom of His saving light.

But the problem is … there are plenty of other lights all around us that compete with this Light … the glaring light of TV and cell phone screens … the need for acceptance … the need to be in charge of one’s life … to mention just a few of the lights that compete for our attention. All of which and more make me think of Simeon and Anna who waited with the eyes of faith and longing for the promised Messiah to appear as the Light of the world.

So … how bright is the Light in your home on the 3rd day of Christmas? Does it still shine with joy … excitement … and brightness of Christmas Eve? Or have you begun to slip back into the familiar pattern of your life … returning to the twilight zone of putting up with life and competing lights of the world?

Holidays are a test of light. What we celebrate here as Christmas people can reflect lasting blessing within our homes and in our witness to one another for months and years to come. For what we celebrate is the love of God the Father seen in the Christ-child—the one we call Emmanuel … God with us and for us. It is God’s love … His undeserved mercy and grace … that makes us shine by reflecting Christ the Light of the world in our daily lives.

On this 3rd Day of Christmas, keep the light of God’s love before you and in you. Walk in the path it lights up. In doing so, you keep company with two people … Simeon and Anna … who are not always remembered at Christmas, but whose witness blesses us with the vision of Christ as … a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel.”

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

APOSTOLIC CREED

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen.

PRAYERS of THE CHURCH       

Joining our voices with the song of the angels, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all who are in need.

Night and day, all creation praises you, O God. Strengthen our Church across nations, denominations, and traditions. Fill us with wisdom and unify our proclamation of your

forgiveness and mercy. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

All creation is holy to you, O God. You cause the earth to bring forth its shoots and gardens to spring up. Protect hibernating animals and frozen lands that earnestly wait for longer days of

awakening and growth. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

The nations are upheld by your hand, O God. Cause righteousness and praise to spring forth, inspiring the leaders of the nations to serve with compassion and integrity. Send your spirit of discernment upon legislators grappling with complex decisions for the sake of the common good. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Send the spirit of your Son into our hearts, O God. Come quickly to hearts that race with fear, hearts that break with grief, and hearts that long for wholeness. Give strength to those who care for others in our community and around the world, especially the doctors, nurses, and technicians who care for those suffering from COVID-19. We commend to your care : Kristel (recovering from surgery), Marguerite (MaryAnn’s mother), Rusty (under hospice care), Shari, and The Janssen Family who mourn the death of Tim (Bob’s brother). Raise the spirits of those who are home-bound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Your Spirit brings hope to those who serve as signs of your grace, O God. Guide our Call Committee as they prepare to interview the candidates for pastoral leadership and ministry among us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Let us depart in peace, O God, according to your word. We give you thanks for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and gave faithful witness to your Son in word

and deed. Prepare our salvation in the sight of all your witnesses of every time and place. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Receive our prayers in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior, until that day when you gather all creation around your throne where you will reign forever and ever. Amen.

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Gracious God, you came to us as one unknown, bringing joy and salvation to the earth. Nourish us at your banquet table, that with all who welcome your birth we may proclaim your peace, revealed in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

And gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.

LORD’S PRAYER    

Our Father who art in heaven;

hallowed be Thy Name,

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those

who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power

and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Distribution music: You Satisfy the Hungry Heart LSB 641

PRAYER of THANKSGIVING

We give you thanks, gracious God, that you have once again fed us with the body and blood of Christ. Through this mystery, send us to proclaim your promise to a world in need; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

BLESSING    

POST-SERVICE MUSIC Now Sing We, Now Rejoice LSB 386

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