+ THIRD SUNDAY of ADVENT +
12 December 2021
A warm welcome to all who have gathered here for worship this morning. With God as our Father, we gather as a family in Christ to sing his praises and learn of faithfulness and obedience. We worship in the Name of our Lord by whose sacrifice we have been made saints. What a joy to be gathered around The Table of the Lord with the whole company of heaven and each other. Guests and visitors, we are happy that you have joined us in worship. If you have not done so already, please honor us by signing our Guest Book in the entrance hall of the church as you leave. If you have no church home of your own in the area, we invite you to make Grace Lutheran the center of your worship, learning, fellowship, and service. Please join us for a cup of coffee after this morning’s worship 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 Rejoice! The Lord Is In Your Midst!
The presence of the Lord “in your midst” in the wonder of The Lord’s Supper is cause for singing. The nearness of the Lord in prayer, in every circumstance, is cause for rejoicing.
The coming of one “more powerful” than John, even with his winnowing fork in hand, is good news—and cause for exultation—for us who are being saved.
Great joy is the theme and tone for The Third Sunday of Advent—Gaudete Sunday. It is a theme that runs through all three lessons of the day.
PRAYER BEFORE WORSHIP
Lord God, it is through our lives that your love touches others. Stir us by your Spirit to serve all people with willing hearts and bring them the message of your love. We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
+ THE ORDER of CELEBRATING +
With One Voice
The arrival is fast approaching; the light from the Advent wreath is growing. How shall we prepare for God’s coming among us? With joy! With resolute action! With prayer and thanksgiving! The Lord is near.
PRELUDE The First Nowell—David Knoedler
Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano
HYMN Rejoice, Rejoice Believers LSB 515
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.
THE PASSING OF PEACE
Forgiven and reconciled by God, let us be reconciled with one another and share the peace of the Lord as we greet each other.
LIGHTING of THE ADVENT WREATH
We praise you, O God for this wreath of victory that marks our days of preparation for Christ’s advent. As we light the candles of this wreath, strengthen our hearts as we await the Lord’s coming in glory. Enlighten us with your grace, that we may serve our neighbors in need. Grant this through Christ our Lord, whose coming is certain and whose day draws near. Amen.
SONG Light the Candle
Like Adam and Eve, we too are sinners and need salvation.
Reveal to us the Savior.
Like David and the prophets of old, we need your promises of love.
Reveal to us the Savior.
Like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, give us peace and joy.
Reveal to us the Savior.
Like all the saints that have gone before us, grant us the gift of life.
Reveal to us the Savior.
KYRIE (Please join in singing The Kyrie)
Refrain: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison
Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the
peace of God’s Kingdom. Refrain
You come in Word and Sacrament to strengthen us
in holiness. Refrain
You will come in glory with salvation for your people.
PRAYER of THE DAY
Almighty God, you once called John the Baptist to give witness to the coming
of your Son and to prepare his way. Grant us, your people, the wisdom to see
your purpose today and the openness to hear your will, that we may witness to Christ’s coming and so prepare his way; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Zephaniah 3:14-20
[The prophet Zephaniah’s message is mostly one of judgment for sin. This reading, however,
which comes at the conclusion of the book, pictures the new people of God (3:12-13). Judgment
has brought repentance and salvation, and now is the time of celebration.]
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter
of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgements against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
PSALM Isaiah 12:2-6
In your midst is the Holy One of Israel. Surely God is thy salvation; I will trust,
and will not be afraid,
for the LORD God is my strength and my might, he has become my salvation.
In your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
In your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
SECOND LESSON Philippians 4:4-7
[The theme of joy sounded in the first reading continues in Paul’s confident words to the Philippians. Although he writes from prison, Paul finds hope in the assurance that hearts and minds are guarded securely by the peace of God.]
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
SPECIAL MUSIC Carol of the Bells—Matt Hyzer
GOSPEL Luke 3:7-18
[Before he begins his account of Jesus’ ministry, Luke describes the work of John the Baptist, who proclaimed the good news in startling images. Radical generosity and faithfulness in vocation are among the fruits of repentance John identifies.]
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share one with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even the tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusations and be satisfied with your wages.”
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear the threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquench-able fire.”
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
The Gospel of our Lord.
Praise to You, O Christ.
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.
HYMN Hark, The Glad Sound LSB 349
HOMILY Joy in a Grumpy World—Pr. Jim Text: The Second Lesson
Joy In A Grumpy World
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
It can be difficult to be joyful in our world these days. There seems to be more than enough violence on international, national, and local levels. Financial pressures keep many people on edge as they struggle with rising costs and/or retirement realities. COVID and its variants leave little room for maintaining quality relationships or self-care. On top of that, we have Christmas, with difficult decisions of travel … family gatherings … expectations. Let’s face it…there’s a lot we can get anxious about.
But how do we face our realities without becoming overly “grumpy?” “Grumpy” is a negative and critical attitude that includes a tense … overly serious face ...hair trigger reactions … and fits of self-centered complaining. When we’re grumpy nobody really likes being around us. In fact, many times, we don’t like being around us. I suppose being grumpy is a right we all have and is something most of us experience at least once in a while. The problem … I guess … is getting stuck in grumpy.
There’s no easy fix for getting stuck in grumpy, is there. Getting unstuck is kind of a personal thing. And today’s Second Lesson has some suggestions.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness
be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but
in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests
to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard
your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
In everything … with thanksgiving … make your prayers and requests known to God.
In all honesty, is that really possible? Or is it some wishful theological thinking on the part of St. Paul as he languishes in prison, awaiting his sentencing and execution?
Those questions deserve not only some care in answering … but some careful consideration in the midst of a grumpy and often thankless world.
When St. Paul wrote these words to the Philippians, he wasn’t just making polite conversation. Paul’s words are an invitation to grow … not an affirmation that we’ve already arrived or made it as God’s people. Being capable of giving thanks in everything encompasses the ongoing work of the Spirit in our lives.
Yet all of us know that life isn’t one continuous thanksgiving. The grumpy side of each of us encounters resistance to being joyful when we come up against something we resent. I remember a cartoon in which a family is gathered around the dinner table. The father says to the mother: “I don’t want to complain about leftovers, but haven’t we said grace over this meal three times already?” Our instinct is to let complaining and grumpiness take priority over the deeper reason for gratitude. And that instinct is part and parcel of our sinful nature. That’s why God is always calling us to base our gratitude on Him … not on our feelings or the circumstances of the moment.
Today is Gaudete Sunday … one more extra day during this season of Advent repentance to see thanksgiving as a gift of grace in our lives. God gives and gives and gives! He gives beyond anything that we can imagine or want. He provides … protects … guides … and works in all things for our good. For at the heart of everything is the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. Our Lord’s death and resurrection is God’s power to build in us the loveliest fruit of faith … a grateful heart that will hold fast to God’s grace “in everything—with thanksgiving.”
“In all things—with thanksgiving let your prayers and requests be made known to God.” That might seem obvious. But thanksgiving never really goes without saying it or showing it … does it?
The best thing about being thankful is showing it and sharing it. And St. Paul urges the Philippians … and us … never to hold back … but rather to let thanksgiving to God show in our words and deeds for all things wonderful.
But there’s another dimension of giving thanks. It is gratitude for all things … ordinary.
True … not everything always appears wonderful to us. In verse 8 of today’s text, St. Paul writes:
Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious … if there is anything
excellent, anything worthy of praise, think on these things.
That’s the basis and incentive all of us need for being thankful for all things ordinary. Seeing the ordinary in every day … for what it is … is all part of growing in spiritual life. Neglecting or ignoring the everyday means never finding reason to be thankful for the ordinary in life.
In his book of Prayers, Michel Quoist, a French priest, teaches his readers how to offer thanks for things ordinary:
Thank you, Lord, for the water that woke me up this morning, the soap that
smelled good, the toothpaste that refreshes …. Thank You for the clothes that
protect me, for the newspaper so faithfully here … for the roof that shelters me,
for the lamp that lights me …. Thank You for the tranquil night, the stars of silence. Thank You for the time You have given me, for life, for grace, for taking me seriously,
for gathering my gifts into Your hands to offer them to Your Father. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.
Life, you see, is enriched by giving thanks for the ordinary.
But what about things that threaten everything we hold dear and depend upon? When the bad comes and we are anxious, is there any room for thanks?
When it seems totally impossible to know anything remotely resembling a thankful spirit, we need to remind ourselves of the circumstances behind today’s Second Lesson. St. Paul was awaiting execution when he wrote these words to the Philippians.
Paul wasn’t urging the Philippians to give thanks for the calamities of life. Rather, he reminded them to give thanks in the midst of them. Between those two tiny prepositions … for and in … lies a vast difference. In everything … with thanksgiving. For in everything God has revealed His will to work for our good. Whether it is tribulation, distress, famine, nakedness, persecution, peril, or sword … whether it is life or death itself … nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord, writes Paul. On this Third Sunday of Advent, I hope and pray that you’ll extend this text into your conversation at home today. Talk about things wonderful, ordinary, and devastating, as part of the thanksgiving you offer to God. Share with those you love and with those you know that our Lord is our Emmanuel … our God with us and for us too … in the midst of things wonderful … ordinary … and devastating.
Rejoice in the Lord always. For the joy He brings is not our own creation, it is His gift to us.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH
As we await the coming of Christ, we pray in hope for The Church, the world, and all of creation.
+ A Brief Silence +
For hymn writers, musicians, and off-key singing, we give you thanks, Holy God. Fill us with your songs of joy. Open us to proclaim your glory in our singing, speaking, and silence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of all creation, we pray for the hurting places in creation, for seas and lands ravaged by natural disasters; for communities and creatures displaced by fires, floods, and droughts. Grant peace through your presence and joy in your healing. Move us to care for your creation in all its forms and richness so that the generations yet to come may enjoy the wonder and blessings of your creation in all its richness. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of the nations, we pray for peace to ring out in our hearts and homes; for mercy and forgiveness to reign in every community; for wars and threats of war to cease and hunger to end. Purify the hearts of all people. Remove the hate and prejudice that lives within us and among us. Raise up leaders in every nation and community who are rooted in the ways of justice and mercy. Give them the humility and wisdom to make just decisions to benefit all. Calm the border tensions between Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia. Create safe places for all who are fleeing violence, persecution, or death. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Comfort all who need your touch, life-giving God. Wrap them in your tender care. Remember the forgotten and send us out to share your compassion and care. We pray especially for Cindy (Gary’s wife) recuperating from back issues; Lois (Ted’s wife) who is in rehab following hip replace-ment surgery; together with those who are suffering with cancer, dementia, COVID-19 and its variants who we name in our hearts. (A brief pause) Bless those who are home-bound and unable to worship with us especially Sharon, Dottie, 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.
Bless this congregation, life-giving God. Give strength and joy to worship leaders as they prepare for the celebration of the Christ Child’s coming among us. With joy, we give thanks for bringing Pr. Josh, Rebecca, and John safely to their new home. Bless them and us in the new days of ministry that are ahead of us. Guide our brothers and sisters in Christ at Holy Trinity/Logan with your Spirit as enter the call process. Make known to them the name of the pastor you hold in your heart to serve with them in ministry. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of life, we remember the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith and give us examples of your faithfulness. Empower us by their witness and prepare us for that day when we
will rejoice with them in your presence at the heavenly feast prepared for us. 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. Amen.
The Offerings Are Brought Forward
Lord our God, Maker of all things. Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts. With them we offer ourselves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, 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.
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
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.
SONG Jesus, Remember Me LSB 767 [Sing 3 x’s]
Music during The Distribution Gather Us In
PRAYER of THANKSGIVING
Heavenly Father, we thank you for having fed us with the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, assuring us that we are truly members of his body, The Church. And we ask you to help us by your Holy Spirit that we may continue in this fellowship and do the good works you desire us to do; through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord. Amen.
+ The Worship is Over. Let the Service Begin! +
THE LORD’S TABLE: The presence of Christ is celebrated in The Lord’s Supper this morning. In the bread and wine of The Sacrament, Christ comes in a real and present way to assure us of our forgiveness and strengthen us in faith and service. All who have been baptized and trust in the words “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” are welcome to come and receive the meal prepared for you. Enjoy Christ’s coming to you.
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 providetreats. For further details, please speak with
either Pearl, Nan, or Mary.
Next Sunday Coffee Connection is an Hors d’oeuvres fellowship time. Be sure to bring your favorite hors d’oeuvres to share.
THIS WEEK at GRACE
TODAY: Coffee Connection & Cookie Crawl 11:00 am
Service of Installation 3:00 pm
Pr. Josh Heimbuck
SATURDAY: Michele Alspach Student Recital 2:00 pm
NEXT SUNDAY: Worship – 4th Sunday in Advent 10:00 am
Mite Box Sunday
Coffee Connection & Hors d’oeuvres 11:00 am
CHRISTMASS EVE Candlelight Service of Lessons & Carols 7:00 pm
with Holy Communion
THE INSTALLATION of The Rev. Josh Heimbuck as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church/
Ashland will take place this afternoon beginning at 3:00pm. Bp. Paul Linneman (NOW District – LCMS) will be the guest speaker and conduct the Rite of Installation. A reception will follow in the Fireside Room.
STUDY OPPORTUNITIES at Grace: Tuesday morning Women’s Study is currently on hiatus for the month of December. They will resume their study of the Book of Acts in January. 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