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First Sunday In Advent - "Signs of the Times" by Pr. Jim


28 November 2021


Welcome to worship! Christ’s love draws all of us together around his throne of grace.

May this morning’s worship assure you of his mercy and all that he has accomplished

for your eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Guests and visitors, please honor us

by signing our Guest Book at the entrance as you leave or use the visitor slip included

in this morning’s worship folder and place it in the offering plate. If you have no church

home of your own, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran Church the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. After this morning’s worship, join us for a cup

of coffee and let us become better acquainted with you as you get to know us better.

Come to worship with us again and often!

AS WE GATHER Watch & Pray     

With the first Sunday in Advent, The Church begins an exciting new Year of Grace. While our attention may be drawn to Christmas preparations this time of the year, Advent is a rehearsal time. We need it to practice Christian expecting and rehearse godly hoping. None less than our

God and His Redeemer are drawing near. Today listen to his warnings and promises. He alone is worship waiting for.


O God, you see how busy we are with many things. In this hour of worship and prayer,

give us rest from all that would cause us to be anxious and worried. Turn us to listen to

you as you come to us in Word and Sacrament, assuring us of that peace which passes

all understanding; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.





Advent is about the “coming days.” God’s people have always lived in great expectation, but expectation finds specific, repeated enunciation in the texts appointed for the four weeks of Advent. The ancients anticipated a “righteous branch to spring up for David.” The Thessa-lonians awaited “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all the saints.” Our Lord’s contemporaries hoped for the time “to stand before the Son of Man.” With them we eagerly await the coming days, another Christmas celebration, a Second Coming, and the advent of our Lord in Word

and Sacrament.

PRELUDE At Peace—John Turner

HYMN             The Advent of Our King       LSB 331                     

ORDER OF CONFESSION                                                                                                                        

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

Look! He is coming with the clouds.

Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.

All the nations will be gathered before him.

                 and he will separate people from one another as a shepherd

separates the sheep from the goats.

Lest that day surprise us unprepared, let us make confession of our sins,

imploring our heavenly Father to have mercy on us for the sake of Jesus


+ A Brief Silence for Reflection & Self-examination +

Most merciful God, we confess that we are unprepared for the coming of

our Lord. With our minds, our lips, and our whole lives we have disobey-

ed your will. We have ignored the signs of Christ’s return. We beg your forgiveness for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, and seek the power of

your Holy Spirit to restore our faith. Amen.

The One who is coming has come, born among us to live our life and die our

death, and guarantee our salvation. The Lord is your righteousness. For his

sake your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of

the Holy Spirit. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.


Forgiven and reconciled by God, let us be reconciled with one another and share the peace

of the Lord.

[The congregation is encouraged to share the peace of Christ and greet one another with

the words: “The Lord’s peace be with you.” The response: “And also with you.”]


We praise you, O God, for this evergreen crown that marks our days of prepara-

tion for Christ’s advent. As we light the first candle of this wreath, rouse us from

sleep, that we may be ready to greet our Lord when he comes with all the saints

and angels. Enlighten us with your grace and prepare our hearts to welcome him

with joy. Grant this through Christ our Lord, whose coming is certain and whose

day draws near. Amen.

One candle glows as we prepare for your coming.

               Draw near to us now, O Light of the world.

Just as new leaves on the trees remind us that summer is near,

               This candle’s light reminds us that your season of grace is at hand.

May the glow of this little light illuminate this house of worship this Advent.

               And may your life illuminate our lives forever! Amen!


Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save

us from the threatening dangers of sin, for you live and reign with the Father

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON Jeremiah 33:14-16                                                                           

[In the Old Testament, “righteousness” often has to do with being faithful in relationship. God acts righteously both in punishing Israel and in having mercy. In today’s reading, Jerusalem’s future name—“The Lord is our righteousness”—proclaims that the Lord is even now working salvation for Israel.]

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love. To you,

O LORD, I lift up my soul; let me not be humiliated, nor let

my enemies triumph over me.

               Let none who look to you be put to shame; let the

treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love.

Show me your ways, O LORD, and teach me your paths.

               Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the

God of my salvation; in you I have trusted all the day long.

Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.

               Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; remember

me according to your love and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love.

Gracious and upright is the LORD; therefore he teaches sinners his way.

               He guides the humble in doing right and teaches his way to the lowly.

All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness to those who keep his covenant

and his testimonies.

               Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love.

SECOND LESSON 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13                                           

[Upon Timothy’s report from the congregation at Thessalonica, Paul is exuberant with gratitude for them. In this passage from his letter, Paul voices overflowing thanks, joy, and blessing for the people of this growing church.]

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day, we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 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. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all the saints.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

SPECIAL MUSIC The God of Abraham Praise—Lloyd Larson           

HOLY GOSPEL Luke 21:25-36

The gospel according to Luke, the 21st chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.

[God will fulfill his purposes and, already, hidden signs of that fulfillment abound. On that great day there will be dismay, perplexity, confusion, and terror, but God’s people shall be given strength to stand boldly and receive God’s promised redemption.]

Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among the nations confused by the roaring of the seas and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees, as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Lord.

HYMN OF THE DAY The King Shall Come LSB 348  

SERMON        Signs of The Times      Text: The Gospel Pr. Jim Kabel


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

Welcome on this First Sunday of Advent … the first of four weeks of Advent preparation where we wait and watch for the coming of our Lord, knowing that He who came the first time as a newborn baby, comes to us now in Word and Sacrament, and will come again as victorious Lord of all at the end of time.

There’s a long history of reading apocalyptic passages as if they were intended for the ones reading them. So, let’s jump right in. There is … is there not … right at this moment, “distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves”? Sea levels are rising … and storms and flooding worsening. The existence of entire countries is threatened by human-induced global warming. And while there is too much water in some places, there is too little in others. Only two weeks ago, nations of the world met in Edinburgh to try to take action to reverse these distressing trends, or at the very least to slow them down.

In the midst of it all, we find that are too weighted down by our own lifestyles to take meaningful action. My dictionary defines dissipation as “squandering of money, energy, or resources.” At the turn of the millennium, 16 percent of the world’s population was using 80 percent of the available resources. That’s us “first-worlders.” We can’t imagine living more simply or consuming less. So in spite of some progress, we aren’t at this moment ready to make the necessary sacrifices for the sake of our global neighbors or future generations.

As we begin Advent this year there’s plenty of reason to be distracted or numbed by what’s going on in the world around us … plenty of reason to keep our eyes and spirits downcast and focused on just what’s in front of us … focused on our own anxieties and just surviving the craziness of one more December. But each week this Advent our prayer is for something bigger … something more powerful … something along the lines of the Prayer of the Day: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins.” Stir yourself up, Lord, and come … come and save us from the threatening dangers of what we have done and left undone … the threatening danger of not loving you with our whole heart and our neighbors as ourselves. Stir yourself up, Lord, and save us from the threatening dangers of our being weighed down with self-indulgence, crushed by the unending worries of our lives. Stir yourself up, Lord, and save us from the threatening dangers of a world unraveling … of our cosmos out of control, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused-- people will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Whether it’s the summer sun being darkened by Oregon and California wildfire smoke, volcanic activity in the Middle East, earthquakes, or acts of terror in schools, congregations and shopping malls. Whether it’s our good earth groaning under our unsustainable heavy burden, or the senseless wars and cruel famines unceasing every day in the news, Jesus sees our situation perfectly: signs in the sun, moon, and stars; confusion and fainting from fear; wars and rumors of wars; all these things are signs of the end, Jesus says, but not the end. Instead, they are all signs that point to the whole creation’s need for the Prince of Peace, the Son of Righteousness … our desperate need for the green branch to spring up this Advent and to execute justice and righteousness in the land, so that we will be saved … so that we will all live in safety. But here’s the amazing thing—right when things get really bad … right when the heavens are shaken … right when we should ‘duck and cover’ … right when the awe-full Son of Man himself appears with his saints in power and glory, Jesus says, “Look up!” “Stand up and raise your heads, your redemption is drawing near.” When things are at their worst, when you can’t see any more future—stand up and look up in faithlook up in hope … look up and away from yourself … look up from your own failings and inabilities, and look to me, Jesus says. Look up to my nail-pierced hands outstretched for you. When the going gets tough, look up!

Several years ago, a movie called The 33 told the story of the thirty-three Peruvian miners who were buried alive in a mining accident—trapped twenty stories under a collapsed mountain in the desert. What do you do in that situation, except faint from fear and foreboding … except for despair and lying down to die … except resigning yourself to your bitter fate? There’s a scene where after weeks of being trapped, the miners gather together for their ‘last supper’ … to finish their last survival supplies … a tiny piece of bread, a tiny sip of water. “If that’s my last meal from this job then I quit!” says one of the trapped miners. But it’s also the story of a rescue effort, of 10 huge drills simultaneously burrowing deep down into the mountain, of the love of the miners’ families, “I’m not leaving without you,” each family above pledges. What would you do, when into your silence twenty stories underground you hear that sound … that burrowing … that shaking—the sound of rescue coming from above? What could you do, except to look up … cry out … and focus for all you’re worth on the rescuers coming for you from up above?

That’s where we find ourselves this Advent: we who are broken and buried under the rubble of sin and death. God is on a rescue mission this season. God is seeking out what is his own. God is relentlessly … incessantly … on his way to reach us … to free us … to make us new, so that we may be with him and live with him forever. “Now when these things begin to take place,” Jesus says, “stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In the midst of it all … stand up … raise your heads … look up, your redemption is near.

And what will it be like on that great Day when He comes again, to see that drill of his power break through into our darkness … to see the true Light stream through … to feel the fresh air of his Spirit rush in? What will it be like to finally be with the Lord who waits and longs for us, who is coming for us, and who has promised, “I am not going anywhere without you! I am with you always even to the ends of the earth.”

As I talked about worship here with someone recently, she told me, “When I receive Communion I hear the promise, “This is my body, broken for you,” and I receive the body and blood of Jesus who loves me and forgives me. Then I look up and see the empty Cross, and I know that no matter what, it’s OK, that God is with me forever.”

That’s the promise of this Advent, heaven and earth will pass away, but God has promised to rescue us … to come again for us … to make everything right and new … to be with us forever. So, when these things take place: Stand up … raise your heads … look up! Your redemption is drawing near. Our Lord is not going anywhere without us.

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


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  


As we await the coming of Christ, we pray in hope for The Church, the world, and all of creation.

+ A Brief Silence +

Equip your Church, merciful God. Secure our roots in the soil of

your eternal Word. Ease our worries and anxieties and remove

our shame. Grow our faithfulness and let your steadfast love blossom among us.” Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Sustain your creation, holy God. Water the parched soil with rain and blankets of snow. Restore depleted fields. Send farmers, forest rangers, and gardeners to care for fruit trees and wheat fields, gardens and arboretums. Increase our love for the land. Write in our hearts a new sense of stewardship and compassion for creation so that generations yet to come may enjoy the wonder and blessings of your creation. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grow peace within us, abundant God. Raise up leaders in every nation and community who are grounded in your justice and mercy. Direct the leaders and members of international alliances in choosing nonviolent paths toward the future. Give them the humility and wisdom to make just decisions to benefit all. Calm the border tensions between Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, and create safe places for all who are fleeing violence, persecution, or death. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Grow loving care and concern within us, living God. Make us into your own people, set to serve you. We pray for all who serve the well-being of others and bring wholeness to all who need your touch this day. We pray especially for Cindy who is recuperating; Lois who is in rehab following hip replacement surgery; together with those who are suffering with cancer, dementia, COVID-19 and its variants who we name in our hearts. Bless those who are home-bound and unable to worship with us especially Sharon, Bonnie, Vernia, Elma, and Marguerite, together with those we name before you in our hearts (A brief pause). Join their prayers with ours and unite them with us in the body of Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Increase our joy, wondrous God. Plant thanksgiving into our hearts and multiply the good fruit of our ministries and care programs. Continue to inspire generosity in all of us so that we may carry out the work of serving others in your Name. Bless Pr. Josh, Rebecca, and John as they relocate from to Logan, Utah, to join us in Ashland in the new days of ministry that are ahead of us. Guide our brothers and sisters in Christ at Holy Trinity with your Spirit as they seek a pastor in the call process. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of life, you sent your Son Jesus to be our beginning and our ending. We give you thanks and praise for all the saints whose lives have given us a glimpse of Jesus’ reign of justice and peace. Empower us to join their witness. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God our hope and strength, we bring to you these prayers and those unspoken, in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Remain with us always, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The Offerings Are Brought Forward


Merciful Father, we offer you these gifts as signs of our time and labor. Receive the

offering of our lives, and feed us with your grace, that, even in the midst of death, all

creation might feast on your unending life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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.

Holy God, the Beginning and the End,

our Salvation and our Hope,

we praise you for creating a world of order and beauty.

When we brought on chaos, cruelty, and despair,

you sent the prophets to proclaim your justice and mercy.

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.

Remembering, therefore, his life, death, and resurrection,

we await his coming again in righteousness and peace.

Come, Lord Jesus, live in us that we may live in you.

Send your Holy Spirit on us and on this bread and wine

we share; strengthen our faith, increase our hope, and

bring to birth the justice and joy of your Son.

Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.

Through him all glory and honor are yours, Almighty Father,

with the Holy Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and

forever. Amen.


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.


Please Be Seated

SONG Jesus, Remember Me LSB 767 [Sing 3 x’s]


Distribution Music What Feast of Love    



By Your word and Sacrament, O God, You give us a foretaste of the

new heaven and new earth that will be ours forever. Strengthen us

in this vision that we might draw others to believe in the hope that is

ours; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


SONG Thanks Be to You (Join in singing)

  1. Praise to you, O God of mercy: Thanks be to you forever!

Raising high the weak and lowly: Thanks be to you forever!

  1. From of old you loved and sought us: Thanks be to you forever!

Truth and justice you have taught us: Thanks be to you forever!

Strong is your faithfulness, strong is your love,

Rememb’ring your covenant of love with us.

  1. Praise to you, O God of mercy: Thanks be to you forever!

Raising high the weak and lowly: Thanks be to you forever!

Thanks be to you forever!




Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

               Thanks be to God!

+ The Worship Is Over … Let the Service Begin! +


The Advent wreath or crown is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize God's infinite love. It is usually made of a variety of evergreen leaves, which "represent the hope of eternal life brought by Jesus Christ." Within the Advent wreath are candles that represent the four weeks of the Advent Season as well as "the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ” to dispel the darkness of sin and evil. Each of the candles (3 blue and 1 pink/rose) has its own significance as well; individually, the candles symbolize the Christian concepts of Hope (blue), Peace (blue), Joy (pink/rose) and Love (blue). The center candle (known as the “Christ Candle”) symbolizes the arrival of ChristMass The Christ candle is white—the festal color of the churches in the Western Catholic/Christian tradition. It is lit on ChristMass Eve or ChristMass Day.

The Advent color of blue (the altar paraments, vestments, and banners) symbolize hope and waiting.


COFFEE CONNECTION … a time for fellowship and catching up with one another … follows this morning’s worship.

We encourage everyone to participate in this very welcome hospitality ministry by signing up

to either host, assist with serving or provide treats. For further details, please speak with

either Pearl, Nan, or Mary.

A VOTERS’ ASSEMBLY will be held next Sunday following Coffee Connection to approve the 2022 Ministry Plan. Be sure to set the time aside now to attend this important meeting.


TODAY: Coffee Connection 11:00 am

TUESDAY: Women’s Study 10:00 am

NEXT SUNDAY: Worship – 2nd Sunday in Advent 10:00 am

Coffee Connection 11:00 am

Voters’ Meeting 11:15 am

LOOKING Tatsiana Student Recital Sat. Dec. 11 3:00 pm

AHEAD Service of Installation for Dec. 12

Pr. Josh Heimbuck 3:00 pm

STUDY OPPORTUNITIES at Grace: Women’s Study on Tuesday mornings, beginning at 10:00 am in the Fireside Room. Join us as we continue our study of the Book of Acts. Ashland/Phoenix Small Group study meets bi-monthly at 2:00 pm on the first and third Wednesdays. Next NewMen’s Coffee Study is scheduled for Saturday morning, December 11th, beginning at 8:30 am. Set

these times aside now for a good discussion and fellowship.


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If you’re the last to leave … PLEASE REMEMBER to check that lights are off, and doors are locked before leaving.

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