+ REFORMATION SUNDAY +
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH—Ashland OR
We welcome Pr. Tom Hirsch and his wife Linda. Pr. Hirsch, Northwest District Circuit 1 Counselor/Visitor, will care for our Reformation worship service this morning.
A warm welcome to all who have gathered to worship this morning through our Zoom Service. Today, we gather again around God’s Word through which he equips, directs, and supports his people in the mission and ministry of his Kingdom. All that God has promised in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, comes together by the power of the Spirit as we worship.
AS WE GATHER “Called to Renewal”
Our worship this morning observes the 503rd Anniversary of The Reformation. What sets this day aside is not the observance of an historical event, but the celebration of an ongoing movement in the life of The Church [Ecclesia Semper Reformanda]. In every generation, no less than our own, God calls people to renewal. Our particular Lutheran contribution to the process is the careful distinction between Law and Gospel which helps us understand, preserve, and pass on the “one holy catholic and apostolic faith”
which we received. Today we give thanks for our Reformation heritage, but we also remember that a heritage is no substitute for ongoing reformation and renewal in our own time and in our own lives. We continue in God’s gift of freedom only as we continue to trust his promises by the power of the Spirit.
PRAYER BEFORE WORSHIP
Lord God, your gifts are unique in each one of us. You bless us with many varied ways that we might glorify you. Teach us to use your gifts wisely so that your Church might be built up through us. Gift us with your Spirit who will direct our eyes to see the opportunities which you lay before us. We ask this in your Son’s Name. Amen.
THEME of The Day
Rooted in the past and growing into the future, The Church must always be reformed (Ecclesia semper reformanda) in order to live out the love of Christ in an ever-changing world. We celebrate the good news of God’s grace, that Jesus Christ set us free every day to this life-transforming work. Trusting in the freedom given to us in the waters of Baptism, we pray for The Church, that Christians will unite more fully in worship and mission.
May God bless your worship this morning.
ORDER of CONFESSION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us celebrate The Reformation of The Church, God’s great renewal of his people through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Gathered on this day, let us acknowledge our need for forgiveness, our awareness of what Christ has done for us, and our ongoing fellowship in the Spirit with all Christian believers. Let us confess before God and one another that we are justified by faith and yet always sinners in need of God’s renewing word of forgiveness.
+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +
Most gracious God, we confess we take for granted the treasure of The Gospel. We fail to cherish our freedom to worship when and where we please. We are willing to receive your grace without praise, service, sacrifice, and obedience to you. Lord of The Church, for the sake of Jesus Christ we turn to you for forgiveness.
Our heavenly Father does not forsake his dear children. Jesus Christ was given to die for us, so that the message of the Gospel might come to us in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. By the grace of God, you and I are forgiven in the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In his love, God has called us to be his people.
Lord, by your Spirit, renew your Church beginning with me.
In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace from above and for our salvation
let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of
The Church of God, and for the unity of all let us pray
to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For this holy house and for all who offer here their
worship and praise let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Help, save and defend us, O God. Amen.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews The Church of every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your Word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the Gospel, and bestow on The Church your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Jeremiah 31:31-34
[In contrast to Judah’s sin, which Jeremiah describes as “engraved on the tablet of their hearts” (17:1), the prophet envisions a future day when the law will be written “on their hearts” (31:33). To know God in this way is to have a direct and profound connection to God. Forgiveness of sins, which is so complete as to be forgotten, is the motivating force for keeping the law. Our hope lies in a God who forgets.]
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Romans 3:19-28
[Martin Luther and other leaders of The Reformation believed the heart of the Gospel was found in these words of Paul written to the Romans. All people have sinned, but God offers forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. We
are justified or put right with God through faith in Jesus.]
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
HOLY GOSPEL John 8:31-36
[True freedom is not related to ethnic distinctions or social class. Only Jesus can free us from slavery to sin and he does this through the truth of the Gospel.]
Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free?’” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
HOMILY - Pr. Tom Hirsch, NOW District Circuit 1 Counselor/Visitor
Visit gracelutheranashland.org, click Audio Messages to hear Rev. Hirsch’s homily
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
With confidence in God’s grace and mercy, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all of God’s creation.
A Brief Pause
Renew and inspire The Church in the freedom of the Gospel, O God. Where The Church is in error, reform it. Where The Church speaks your truth, strengthen it. Where The Church is divided, unify it. Ignite in us the working of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of creation, as the earth changes, as mountains shake and the waters roar, may we take care for this planet as a holy habitation for all living things. Sustain all people and lands recovering from natural disasters of any kind. Provide needed rains and weather conditions to bring all wildfires under control. Protect all firefighters and first responders as they seek to gain control and manage further devastation caused by the current wildfires. Bring strength, comfort, and relief to those affected and displaced by Hurricane Delta and the Almeda Fire especially: Pat & Penny, Lyle & Sandra, Richard & Doris, Norm & Marilyn, Pam, Sharon, and Linda (Vernia’s caregiver), together with those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of the nations, guide areas of the world divided or traumatized by conflict, especially in our own land. Grant that world leaders seek your wisdom and guidance for the good and welfare of all people. Lead us along the paths of justice and give us delight in living with honor and loving our neighbor during these days of protests, rioting, political, and civil unrest. Calm our anxiousness and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Bring peace, justice, and calm to Tatsiana’s homeland of Belarus as its citizens seek a more democratic representation and government. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of life, tend to all in need of your compassion and love. Shelter all who are vulnerable in body, mind, or spirit especially your servants: Steve Luce (lymphoma), Marguerite (MaryAnn’s mother) and Shari, together with those we name in our hearts … brief pause … raise the spirits of those who are homebound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Rusty, 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 tender care, look down from heaven with healing upon your servant Kristel who undergoes surgery for an aneurysm this Thursday. Inspire the minds and guide the hands of her surgeon, nurses, and technicians that in all things your saving health may be made manifest and your healing power made known. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord of The Church, we give thanks for the great variety of gifts shared in this community of faith. During these days of COVID-19 protocols and isolation that have disrupted our life together as your people in this place, turn us away from our own anxiousness and interests toward the interests and needs of others. Fill us with your compassion and sympathy. Make us into signs of your mercy and compassion for our neighbors and the communities in which we live. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We thank you, O God, for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and have shown us truth and freedom, especially Martin Luther and the reformers. By their faithful witness and example, teach us to live faithfully until our work is done. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Receive our prayers, merciful God, and dwell in us richly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.
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.
PRAYER of THANKSGIVING
Blessed are you, God of heaven and earth. You satisfy us with good things as an eagle feeds her young. Renew our strength, that we may go with eagerness and joy into the places where you send us to work in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.
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