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Fourth Sunday in Advent -December 20, 2020 - "Faithful Waiting" Homily by Pastor Jim


660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor





PRE-SERVICE MUSIC O come, O come, Emmanuel LSB 357

Savior of the Nations, Come LSB 332


In the Name of our Advent Lord, a warm welcome to all who have gathered for worship this morning. On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we pray that all who have gathered for worship will be comforted and challenged by the Word of God for us today. What a joy to be gathered around The Table of the Lord with the whole company of heaven and each other as we look forward to his coming again.

AS WE GATHER Blessed Are You

God keeps his promise made to David to give him an everlasting throne. The angel tells Mary that God will give David’s throne to her son Jesus. She is perplexed by Gabriel’s greeting and by the news of her coming pregnancy, but she is still able to say, “Count me in.” We who know that Jesus is called king only as he is cruci-fied still find it a mystery hard to fathom, but with Mary today we hear the good news of what God is up to and say, “Count me in.”


Almighty God, you have come and continue to come to all who are open to your will. Hear our prayer and come, bringing light and blessing into the hearts of all families; we ask this in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


THEME of THE DAY Blessed Are You

With Mary, The Church hears these words: Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God. You, the people of God. You, the baptized child of God. In an anxious and uncertain world, you need not be fearful, the Lord is with you. With these words of consolation, we also hear

Mary’s response: I am the servant of the Lord. Baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection, and strengthened by his body and blood in the bread and wine of The Sacrament, we are sent into the world to witness to God’s favor for all creation. We are blessed to be a blessing.

PRELUDE The First Noel—Benjamin Davis Knoedler

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano


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

The time of Christ’s coming is at hand; the day is drawing near.

A voice cries in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

Lest that Day surprise us unprepared, let us confess our sins to God our Father, imploring him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us his promised forgiveness.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection & Self-examination +

Eternal Lord, we come before your presence in humble confession.

We have not let you make your home in our hearts.

We have instead been at home with our sinful flesh and worldly desires.

We have not crowned you King in our lives.

We have sought only to enthrone ourselves.

For this we are sorry and ask for forgiveness.

Establish your grace among us.

Live in us that we may live in you.

May your kingdom come especially among us.

And may you establish us forever in your dwelling.

Forgive us our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ.

May Jesus be Lord among us always.

God’s kingdom of grace has come. Jesus makes his home in our hearts, and he brings forgiveness and life. Your sins are indeed forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!


May the One who was, and who is, and who is to come, be with you in grace

and peace. And also with you.


Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.

As a fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil,

come, down and make your Name known.

We look to the day when all prisoners will be free,

when all who are sick will be healed, and when all the

sad will be joyful.

As four candles burn with Advent radiance, we await with expectant

endurance the coming of your Kingdom.

Come down as King and rule in our hearts.

Let us pray: We praise you, O God for this wheel of time that marks our days of preparation for Christ’s advent. As we light the candles of this wreath, open our

eyes to see your presence in the lowly ones of this earth. Enlighten us with your

grace that we may sing of your advent among us in the Word made flesh. Grant

this through Christ our Lord, whose coming is certain and whose day draws near.


SONG             Light the Candle


Light the candle of LOVE today, the Savior of love is here!

Welcome the love we live and die for, but only Christ can give.

Flicker and flame and glow with love, light up the world around you.

Flicker and flame and glow with love, light up the world around you.


Light the candle of PEACE today, the Giver of peace is here!

Welcome the peace we fight and cry for, but only Christ can give.

Flicker and flame and glow with peace, light up the world around you.

Flicker and flame and glow with peace, light up the world around you.


Light the candle of JOY today, the Giver of joy is here!

Welcome the joy we crave and pray for, but only Christ can give.

Flicker and flame and glow with joy, light up the world around you.

Flicker and flame and glow with joy, light up the world around you.


Light the candle of HOPE today, the Giver of hope will come!

Welcome the hope we long and wait for, but only Christ can give.

Flicker and flame and glow with hope, light up the world around you.

Flicker and flame and glow with hope, light up the world around you.


Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, take away the hindrance of our sin and make us ready for the celebration of your birth, that we may receive you in joy and bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

[Instead of David building a house (temple) for God, God promises to establish David’s house (dynasty) forever. Centuries later, after the Babylonian exile, no king sat on the throne. Even then, however, the people of Israel remembered this promise and continued to hope for a king, the messiah, God’s anointed.

Now when [David] the king had settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.”

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved among the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

SECOND LESSON                Romans 16:25-27

[Paul concludes his letter to the Romans by praising God because, in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God has revealed the promised, divine plan of salvation for all humanity. Paul proclaims this gospel of Christ in order to bring about the obedience of faith among all nations.]

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC Gloria in Excelsis Deo—Mark Hays

GOSPEL         Luke 1:26-38

[In this annunciation, Luke makes clear that God comes with good news for ordinary people from little known places. This king will not be born to royalty in a palace, but to common folk in a stall. Here Luke highlights the role of the Spirit, a special emphasis in the gospel according to Luke.]

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called

Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

GRACE PRAISE TEAM Amen! Tell it on the mountain—Mary McDonald

HOMILY                       Faithful Waiting                   

Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim

II Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Faithful Waiting

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

One of the challenges of writing and preaching a homily is to discover an entry point into the text—an entry point that unlocks the message and its application for the present.

Today’s Gospel Lesson presents its own unique challenge. How do we enter the amazing set of events surrounding The Annunciation? Where can we get into the story?

I puzzled over that this past week as I studied. And I came to the conclusion that the entry point is precisely where the text ends.

“The angel departed from her,” St. Luke writes. Mary is alone. No angel is there any longer to console her … calm her fears … or further explain the mystery of The Incarnation to her. Mary is all alone. She is still “little Mary what’s-her-name” from the boondocks of Nazareth. Nazareth is still Nazareth. Questions remain. Nothing is clear except this … Mary is waiting. Waiting in faith.

It seems to me that’s precisely where we, too, are to enter as those who are called to faithful waiting. To my knowledge, none of us have ever seen an angel at our door … much less Gabriel. Nor has the Holy Spirit overshadowed any woman among us as He did with Mary. But here … in faithful waiting … is where we all meet Mary.

So … what is it that you are waiting for? Making sense out of life in these pandemic days? Waiting for life to return to normal after being sequestered for 9 months? Waiting for your turn to receive the newly approved vaccines? Waiting for happy holidays to come … or for dreaded COVID holidays without family and friends to be over? Waiting for the other shoe to drop? What is it that you’re waiting for?

Whatever your answer, it’s a sure thing that waiting can be difficult. In fact, ever since the Fall into sin, none of us have done very well with waiting. We don’t do well because we’re not in control of the unknown. And too many experiences in life teach us that waiting isn’t worth it. That’s the unbelief side of our journey.

And … Satan likes to exploit our inherent impatience. Instant solutions and gratification often end up as instant egg on our face. Being impatient … refusing to wait … complicates life and relationships—especially our relationship with God. From Adam and Eve on, there’s an impressive list of impatient people who try to improve on God’s plans and schedule by taking control for themselves.

Evelyn Underhill, a Christian author, wrote: “at every level of life … from housework to the heights of prayer … in all judgment and all efforts to get things done … hurry and impatience are the sure marks of the amateur.” Hurry and impatience … the sure marks of the amateur.

There’s an old story about impatience that may help …

Three people arrive at the pearly gates and are greeted by St. Peter, who abruptly

excuses himself for some pressing business. After a considerable amount of time,

he returns and asks the first person if she minded waiting. “Not at all,” she replies,

“I’ve looked forward to being with God through a lifetime of knowing His love.

Waiting a little longer is no chore.” Happy with the response, St. Peter then adds:

“Just one more question: ‘How do you spell God?’” “G-O-D,” she replies. “Fine,”

says Peter, “come right in.”

The second person a man, experiences the same wait, the same question, and gives

the same response, and goes right in.

The third person also must wait and when St. Peter returns, she also is asked if waiting

was a problem. “As a matter of fact, YES!” is the annoyed reply. “I’ve waited all my life

on earth … in traffic ... in the office … in lines at the grocery store … and I don’t like it

one bit that I have to wait to enter heaven.” Patiently Peter replies, “Well … that won’t

be held against you here. All entry is by grace alone. But there is just one more question:

How do you spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?”

On this 4th Sunday in Advent, Mary is an excellent model for patient waiting. Her waiting was on God. What transformed her was that God keeps His words and ways … amazing as they are and as deliberate as they may seem … as they stretch across years, decades, centuries, and millennia.

In 4 short days, we will again celebrate the birth of our Lord. As we celebrate, let it be with a faith that is strong in patience, trusting that God will never let us down. Let us remember … and never forget … that God’s timing is not careless or plodding. He has more in mind for each of us and His Church than we can ever possibly dream of.

In our Advent waiting, let us remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ waits for us. He waits for our maturing into a deeper understanding and appreciation of what is truly worthwhile waiting for. He waited … waited until the time was ripe to come into the world as a baby born in Bethlehem. He waited through the silent years before His public ministry began. He waited through the wilderness temptation … the slow learning of His disciples … the fickleness of the crowds … the betrayal and suffering of Calvary … and the darkness of the tomb. Risen and ascended, His word to The Church is: “Wait for the power from on high.” And Pentecost came. The Church was born. Through it the Gospel has come down through the generations of faithful to us in our time.

Think of the patience of His waiting—ever at heart’s door. His waiting is pure grace. It’s the sign of a compassionate and patient God whose will it is that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

On this 4th Sunday of Advent, let us also remember that faithful waiting is not business as usual … keeping everything status quo. Advent waiting … as in any time of waiting during The Church’s Year of Grace or the calendar year … is not procrastination. Waiting is a time for learning what can only be learned by faithful waiting. Depth of character and faith comes by waiting. A sense of purpose and direction is learned by faithful waiting. Grace-filled and grace-full living are learned by faithful waiting.

As we come to Christmastide 2020, let it be with gratitude to the God who waits for us … who gives all things needful in His beloved Son … who blesses us with those who wait for us … with us … and those upon whom we wait.

Faithful waiting is a lively, holy, waiting. Those who faithfully wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, mounting up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.

On this 4th Sunday of Advent—let us be found among them faithfully waiting.

Let us pray: Here we are, Lord, let it be to us according to Your word.

+ 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.


With longing and hopeful expectation, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all those in need.

Gracious God, all generations call you blessed. In this holy season we pray for our neighbors of other denominations and faith. Inspire the faith of their people as well as our own. Cultivate understanding among us and strengthen us in love and service to our community .Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Creator God, you scatter the proud. Everything we have belongs first to you. Bless and protect the seas, mountains, plains, forests, skies, and soils that surround us. Give us humility as we tend them so that all creation may declare your praise. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Righteous God, you humble the powerful and lift up the lowly. We pray for the leaders of all nations, that they may hear the voices of those in need. Guide all people entrusted with leader-ship to create societies in which everyone can flourish. Where people suffer discrimination, judgment, and injustice, kindle hearts eager to understand our common needs and seek for common good. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Compassionate God, you fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away empty. Nourish those who lack access to adequate food and nutrition. Bless the word of advocates, community organizations, and food pantries. Encourage us all to provide for our neighbors in need. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Healing God, you pour out mercy to all who cry out to you. Surround everyone in need of healing in body, mind, or spirit with your tender presence. 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 all who are sick or struggling with health issues: Marguerite (MaryAnn’s mother), Tim (Bob’s brother), Rusty (under hospice care), and Shari. 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.

Lord of The Church, your Spirit brings hope to those we serve as signs of your grace. 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. 

Eternal God, you are faithful to the promises you made to our forebearers. We give you thanks for all the saints who have prepared your way in the wilderness and taught us to continue their faithful work. Make their generous lives an example for all to live in the joy of your endless light. 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.


Heavenly Father, accept the humble offerings we have brought in honor of the

age-old promise you have kept. Because you came in Jesus Christ to show

your will of love and peace, free us by him to serve all creation in his Name. Through the same Jesus Christ our Savior and 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.

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.


Our Father who art in heaven; and lead us not into temptation,

hallowed be Thy Name, but deliver us from evil.

Thy kingdom come, For Thine is the kingdom

Thy will be done and the power and the glory

on earth as it is in heaven. forever and ever. Amen.

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: Here I Am, Lord


O God, in this meal we have been given a foretaste of the feast that is to come.

Help us always to be alert to your gifts in our midst; through Jesus Christ our

Lord. Amen.


POST-SERVICE MUSIC Canticle of the turning