+ SECOND SUNDAY of CHRISTMASS +
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
660 Frances Lane
Ashland, Oregon 97520
The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor
3 January 2021
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 By the Grace of God
Within the Gospel reading’s profound words lies the simple message that God is revealed as a human person. Though we may try to understand how the Word existed with God from the beginning of time, the wonder we celebrate at Christmas is that the Word continues to dwell among us. Christ come among us
in the gathered fellowship of the Body of Christ, the Scriptures,
the waters new birth in Baptism, and the bread and wine of The Sacrament. Through these ordinary gifts we receive the fullness of God’s grace and truth revealed in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
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 Hear the angels
A story for all people
THEME of THE DAY
As the Twelve Days of ChristMass come to an end, we continue to sing and be joyful over the goodness of God. We celebrate the light that the darkness has not overcome, Jesus Christ our Lord. That Light is made known to us in the incarnation, God sharing our humanity in the Word made flesh. In communion, the Word is made flesh in us as well, that we may go forth from worship to share the light of Christ in our daily lives.
PRELUDE Infant Holy, Infant Lowly—Anthony Giamanco Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano
INVOCATION & CONFESSION
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“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.
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.
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 have filled us with the new light of the Word who became flesh and lived among us. Let the light of our faith shine in all that we do; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Jeremiah 31:7-14
[Like the prophets who announce homecoming and salvation in the book of Isaiah, Jeremiah announces the wondrous homecoming of God’s people from exile. Once again the Lord enters in human history to fulfill the covenantal promise made during the exodus from Egypt so long ago: “I will be your God, and you shall be
This is what the LORD says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor, a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. Here the word of the LORD, O
nations, proclaim it in distant coastlands; ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ For the LORD will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the land of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the LORD.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
SECOND LESSON Ephesians 1:3-14
[In Jesus, all of God’s plans and purposes have been made known as heaven and earth are united in Christ. Though Jesus, we have been chosen as God’s children and have been promised eternal life.’]
Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sigh. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to put into effect when the time will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SOLO I Will Rejoice—arr. Bruce Greer Gracie Ewert, Soloist; Josh Ewert, Piano
HOLY GOSPEL John 1: [1-9] 10-18
[John begins his gospel with this prologue: a hymn to the Word through whom all things were created. This Word became flesh and brought grace and truth to the world.]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light, he came only as witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man and woman was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—born not of natural descent, not of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One
and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cried out saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” From the fulness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given to Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has even seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
SPECIAL MUSIC Let All Things Now Living—Traditional Welch Melody, arr. C. Berry
HOMILY Grace, Truth, and Glory Text: The Gospel Lesson
Grace, Truth, and Glory
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14, NRSV (variant)
It's astonishing how many sermons are lurking inside this one fairly short sentence. There's time this morning for only one of them … of course … a briefer one than that. So let me focus on the glory the writer is talking about.
We have beheld his glory, says the writer of the Gospel. Translation: "We looked, we saw, and we all said 'Wow!' In the great Christmas account we heard from the Gospel of Luke on Christmas Eve, there were at least four "Wows.” There was the "Wow!" of angels singing their joy when one of them broke the news that Christ was born. Then shepherds said "Wow" as they hurried off to find this Savior Christ that was born to them. Once they got there and told their story … "all they that heard it marveled" … that is, they all said "Wow." Then came a final "Wow," this one again from shepherds as they headed back to their fields "glorifying and praising God for all that they heard and had seen."
St. Matthew tells of another "Wow!", this one uttered by strange men from a land far, far away, now kneeling before a little Jewish baby and presenting him with gifts for a king.
St. John says his "Wow!" about the man the baby grew into. He was, says John, like no one else. What set him apart was the way he dealt with us, the way we watched him operate with other people too.
It was a gracious way, perfectly gracious. It was a truthful way too, and perfectly truthful.
Never before, says John, had we seen those two things come together in one and the same person. Overflowing grace … overflowing truth … the two encountered simultaneously, in every moment we spent with him. Had we not seen; we could not have believed it. It changed the way we think about God.
In John 1:17, Christ is contrasted with Moses and the law. The law and God’s dealings with Israel did involve grace and truth, but the emphasis was more on obedience and punishment. In the New Testament, law is often contrasted with grace. The law emphasized God’s divine standards and fallen man unable to meet these standards, while grace rescues man from deserved punishment. The law pinpoints the problem, and grace fixes the problem.
Romans 5:20–21 says the same thing in a slightly different way: “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased even more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, grace would reign through eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
After all, grace is one thing. Truth is another. As a rule … in our experience … grace and truth don't walk hand in hand. They don't coexist. They simply can't.
As a rule … in our experience … grace will stop where truth begins. As a rule, truth cancels grace. It makes it impossible.
*** What stuns us, John, says, is how it didn't work that way with Christ. Nor does it now.
Instead he saw us, he knew us. The truth of who we are was ever before his eyes. The whole truth. Nothing less than the truth. Even so he called us friends. Even so he treated us as brothers. Even so he invited us, outrageously, to think of each other as sons and daughters of the Most High God.
In the person of this Jesus, grace and truth were always side by side, never one on center stage while the other lurked in the wings. Instead, says John, we can't recall a moment with him that was less then truthful … nor any moment that was less than graceful. While we were still sinners, he loved us to
death … on the Tree of the Cross.
Enter the glory … as in glory like no other … unmatched and everlasting. On the third day the Father said, "Wow." We saw that too, says John.
Even though we're still sinners … in this day of his life, Christ loves us still with a love that wraps
… the Father's "Wow" around us all.
My turn says John. "Wow!" And in saying that today, he invites us all to say it with him.
And he invites us to say it all the louder, the more it sinks in that, in this Jesus we see the very heart of God and the person of God's Son … the one and only. Who but God, after all, can be so truthful about who we are … yet so gracious that he'll stick with us in life … and in death?
Who but God … through whom all things were made … who but true God from true God can bear with us as he finds us to be … doing that in the utter certainty that we'll one day be the glorious creatures he turns us into?
Who but God can give a wrinkled, decaying person … like myself the power to look in a mirror today and to see in it the honest and truthful reflection of nothing less than a child of God, dear beyond all understanding to the Father's gracious heart?
Who but God can make us strong to name and treat each other as brothers and sisters of the
Most High God, and to do this both in truth and in spite of the truth? Who but God can authorize you to call me a saint when you know me to be sinner? Who but God can let me name the sinner in you though the Spirit of Jesus has stamped you as a saint?
"Wow!" says John. On this Second Sunday of Christ, it's our turn to say it too.
"Wow!" What wondrous things our God has done for us in Jesus Christ. What impossible things he'll do in us and through us as his Spirit shapes our hearts and teaches us to trust him. What’s abundantly clear is that, when we come to Christ, He dishes out grace in heaping, huge servings.
What a gift our God has given us in the marvel of his Son, the Word made flesh, who dwells with us today against that other day when at last, he'll bring us home.
Isn't that, after all, why grace and truth in wondrous combination spilled into the world when Christ was born … for your sake and for mine? He is indeed our Emmanuel … God with us and for us … so that by grace … through him and in him … we may live with him forever.
Merry Christmas indeed!
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.
Redeeming God, you gather together your people from the farthest parts of the earth. Protect your Church from stumbling. Let it not be overcome by sorrow, division, or despair. Make us radiant with goodness, that we might live always to the praise
and glory of your Name. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
All creation is holy to you, O God. You bring together heaven and earth. All creation testifies to your splendor. Hold the ecosystems of this earth in delicate balance, from coastland to farmlands, forests to wetlands, deserts to rainforests. Show us new ways to live in harmony with the world around us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
The nations are upheld by your hand, O God. Expand the imaginations of those who serve in positions of authority. Open their hearts to the needs of their nations and communities. Protect all those in harm’s way and those risking danger for the sake of others. Send your spirit of discernment upon legislators grappling with complex decisions that affect our common good as a nation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Send the spirit of your Son into our hearts, O God. 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. Refresh those who labor under the weight of pain or sickness. 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.
You turn our mourning into joy, O God. 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. With all the saints, give us our inheritance in Christ. And in the fullness of time, gather us all together in your eternal presence. 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.
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.
Now in the words of our Lord, we are bold to pray:
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
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: I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light LSB 411
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.
POST-SERVICE MUSIC Go out with joy