Listening for the Promise

Second Sunday in Advent - December 10, 2017

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)

 

I remember when I was in seminary and first heard the term “Ontological shock.” The best way to describe this fancy term is the feeling one gets when we think about a time when we didn’t exist or a time in the future when we will no longer exist, at least the way we do right now. It can be very disconcerting to try and imagine where you were before you were conceived or even thought of by your parents. The concept to me is so fascinating and real that I have often taught about it in Bible studies, asking people to think of a time when they looked at their parent’s wedding pictures and thought to themselves, “Where was I when this picture was taken?”

 

Being aware of the reality of our finitude is something all humans wrestle with at some time or another. It can cause great anxiety as we think of birth, death, eternity, and even judgment. The Scriptures give us cause to relax, however. Our God is eternal and his promises are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). Even as we await the time for Christ’s return, we are reminded that this life is not all there is. Death does not have the last word over us and we need not fear judgment in the face of our Creator because of what Jesus has done for us in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

 

Even though we will all die, because of Christ we know that we will live. The tension of this paradox of faith can get the best of us if we become anxious in our waiting. The amount of time that is involved in waiting is not for us to be concerned with, as Peter proclaimed, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.” Our time and God’s time are completely different. This is hard to grasp because all we know is seconds, minutes, hours, and days; we cannot understand our Sovereign’s timelessness. We can, however, trust in his love for us, a love that knows no boundaries of space or time.

 

Though we await the return of Christ, in the meantime we hold fast to our faith, trusting that the God who became flesh and blood for us will not forsake us, now or in a thousand or more years. This will give us to peace to continue doing what we are called to do for the kingdom and help us put our focus back where it belongs - on Jesus.

 

Gathering

Prelude                                                            Mark Hurley, Organist

 

Call to Worship                                               ELW # 248, vs. 2

Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare, one more seed is planted there. Give up your strength the seed to nourish, that in course the flower may flourish. People look east, and sing today Love, the Rose, is on the way.

 

A prayer during the lighting of the second candle of the Advent wreath - the Bethlehem Candle: Everlasting God, as we light the Bethlehem Candle on the Advent wreath, may we be reminded of your favor for the smallest and weakest of people in this world. Help us to rely on your strength so that we might be truly stronger. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Welcome and Announcements                       Pastor John

 

*Gathering Song                                             ELW # 239

 

*Confession & Forgiveness    (Pastor)                      

Beloved in the Lord! Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins to God our Father, humbly asking him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

 

Our help is in the Name of the Lord. Who made heaven and earth.

 

I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. And you forgive the iniquity of my sin.

 

Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess to you that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed. Therefore we flee for refuge to your infinite mercy, seeking and imploring your grace, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Let us pray…O most merciful God, who gave his only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy on us, and for his sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by the Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of him and of his will, and true obedience to his Word, that by his grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy upon us, and has given his only Son to die for us, and for his sake forgives us all our sins. To them that believe in his Name, he gives power to become a child of God, and bestows upon them his Holy Spirit. He that believes, and is baptized, shall be saved. Grant this, O Lord, unto us all. Amen.

 

*Greeting                    (Pastor)                       ELW pg. 156

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.

 

*Kyrie             (Worship Assistant)                 ELW pg. 156-157

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, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord. Amen.

 

*Prayer of the Day                  (Pastor)

Let us pray…Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of your only-begotten Son, that by his coming we may be enabled to serve you with pure minds; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

 

Word

Anthem Hymn            8:30AM Adult Choir  ELW # 257

 

First Reading:  (Worship Assistant)                Isaiah 40:1-11

The Lord called to the prophet to comfort his people, who were to be exiled far from home. Though they strayed from the Lord’s fold and angered him greatly, God would not forsake them or leave them without a source of comfort and hope.

 

1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. 9Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” 10Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. The word of the Lord, thanks be to God.

 

Psalm: Psalm # 85                  (Worship Assistant)

The psalmist spoke about God’s change of heart in regard to his adulterous and faithless people, saying, “You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.” The psalmist confidently proclaimed that God’s faithfulness would prevail to save the people from their sins as righteousness would come together with peace.

 

You have been gracious to your land, O Lord, you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.

You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their sins.

You have withdrawn all your fury and turned yourself from your wrathful indignation.

Restore us then, O God our Savior; let your anger depart from us.

Will you be displeased with us forever? will you prolong your anger from age to age?

Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed grant prosperity, and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness shall go before him, and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

 

Second Reading:  (Worship Assistant)           2 Peter 3:8-14

Peter reminded believers that the end would certainly come, even though it seemed like forever since Christ was with them. To God, the apostle said, a thousand years is just one day. Human time and God’s time are two completely different things. Because of that, the faithful are not to fear; we will not be forsaken by the One who transcends time and place.

 

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. Word of God, word of life, thanks be to God.

 

*Gospel Acclamation (sung)                          ELW pg. 160

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. 

 

*Holy Gospel: (Pastor) The Holy Gospel according to St. Mark, the 1st Chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.  Mark 1:1-8: As the Gospel of Mark began, John the Baptist was introduced as the voice referred to in Isaiah as the one who was crying out in the wilderness urging people to prepare the way of the Lord and to make his paths straight. Repentance is key to the preparation for Christ to enter our lives. Our hearts must be ready to receive him.

 

1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” The gospel of the Lord, praise to you, O Christ.

 

Sermon                                                            Pastor John

 

*Hymn of the Day                                          ELW # 256

 

*Nicene Creed                                               

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

Prayers of Intercession            (Worship Assistant & Pastor)

(P): Walking in the light of the coming Savior, let us pray for the church, the world, and all who await God’s justice. A brief silence.

(W): God of all comfort, strengthen all those who are weary and suffering that they might be renewed by your Holy Word. Guide your church to speak words of grace, mercy, and hope into a world wracked with pain and angst. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

(W): Holy Father, as winter months bring colder temperatures in many parts of the world, work through your faithful people to care for those who are without adequate shelter. You are our dwelling place in all generations and we trust that you will provide shelter for the homeless, warmth for the cold, and food for the hungry. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

(W): Creator God, all things wither and perish, but you are the source of life even out of death. Remind those who sit in deepest gloom and despair that they are not beyond the reach of your love. Speak your word of hope and reconciliation to those people in your world who abide in dark valleys of division, despair, and tyranny. Bring all people to the light of your joyous peace. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

(W): Faithful God, you called John the prepare the way for Jesus, and you call each of us to do the same. Be with all the baptized, that we would continue to be strengthened through Word and Sacrament, attend to our relationship with you, and be bold in our proclamation of your saving love and desire for all people to know you. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

 (P): Into your hands, gracious God, we commend all for whom we pray; trusting in your steadfast love and faithfulness, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 

*Peace:            (Pastor)                                   ELW pg. 161

The peace of Christ be with you always. And also with you.

 

Meal

Offering                                                          ELW pg. 161

 

Offering Anthem                                            Organist or Adult Choir

 

*Assembly Song         (Come, Thou…)          ELW # 254 vs. 1

Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

 

*Offering Prayer:        (Worship Assistant)     ELW pg. 107

Let us pray…God of all creation, all you have made is good, and your love endures forever. You bring forth bread from the earth and fruit from the vine. Nourish us with these gifts, that we might be for the world signs of your gracious presence in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 

*The Great Thanksgiving: (sung)(Pastor)      ELW pg. 161

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 our thanks and praise.

 

*Preface                                                          Pastor John

 

*Response to Preface: (sung)                          ELW pg. 162

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

 

*Words of Institution:             (Pastor)           ELW pg. 108, #II

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, given for you. Do this for the 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 for the remembrance of me.

 

*The Lord’s Prayer:                                        ELW pg. 163

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.

 

Communion (distribution & song): (sung)     ELW pg. 164

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; grant us peace. Amen.

 

Communion Hymn                                         ELW # 461

 

*Table Blessing          (Pastor)

The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace. Amen.

 

*Post Communion Canticle    (sung)             ELW # 254 vs. 2

Born thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a king; born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all-sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.

 

*Prayer after Communion       (WA)               ELW pg. 114

Let us pray…O God, we give you thanks that you have set before us this feast, the body and blood of your Spirit and strengthen us to serve all in need and to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Sending

*Blessing                     (Pastor)                       ELW pg. 115

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine on you with grace and mercy. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.

 

*Dismissal       (Worship Assistant)                 ELW pg. 115

Go in peace. Christ is with you. Thanks be to God.

 

*Sending Song                                                ELW # 550

 

Postlude                                                          Mark Hurley, Organist

Announcements

Flowers are given in memory of Gloria Holland by her family.

 

Bulletins are given in memory of Calvin and Jean Clavell by the Janowich family.

 

For gals who are desiring to read & learn God’s word together… “Journey Sisters” bible study has resumed. We are meeting on 1st & 3rd Thursdays of every month…See you there!

 

“Meet, Greet & Eat”  Fellowship * Sundays 9:30 -10:45 am * a time to gather, get acquainted, talk about church events & have a bite too!…open to everyone!... your food & beverage donations support this weekly mission, thank you for your generosity… for volunteer training & commitment schedules or donation coordination, please contact Irene (443-465-9087)..Peace!

 

Hurricane Harvey and Irma: We are continuing to collect items for Disaster Relief. Please see both lists posted in the Narthex! Thank you for your continued support of our disaster relief!

 

FROM OUR ORGANIST: The keyboard is back but still under repair. We are in need of donations to meet our additional service calls and adjustments from the repairs. Please give! A special envelope is in the Narthex. Thank you for your donations to our music ministry!

 

WNALC Group is collecting old, unwanted and broken cellphones. Every cellphone that we turn in to be recycled will send 2 calling cards to active service men and women in the field. There is a basket in the Narthex for your donations. Thank you for your support!

 

Birthday Dinner will be held at Jad’s Caddy Shack on Back River Neck Road on Thursday, December 21st at 6:30pm. If you plan to attend in December, please contact Pam Keller at 410-335-7226 by Wednesday, 12/20. Come join the fun! Get to know fellow parishioners on a different level! It does not have to be your birthday to attend.

 

Hershey Bears Annual Hockey Game has been scheduled for Saturday, February 3rd at 7pm. The Bears will play the Charlotte Checkers. It is Faith & Family night and our tickets are in section 110 (yes, we are back to the lower level). The tickets are $20.50 per person and the first 5,000 in attendance will receive a free Bears baseball cap. Please contact Joe Hauer at joehauer68@comcast.net to reserve your tickets or for additional information.

 

Raffle Tickets on sale now for a Luther’s Rose blanket and The Case for Christianity book. Both items are on display in the Fellowship hall. The raffle will be drawn at the Christmas Eve fellowship between the 8:30pm and 11pm services. Tickets are available between services in the fellowship hall. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.

 

Christmas gifts for Hurricane Harvey and Irma victims. This year we are collecting gifts for the victims of the hurricanes that hit our south. Please pick up a star from the tree. There is no spending minimum or maximum. All gifts will go to the families of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma through our Disaster Relief Center. For more details, please see Maria Dobry.

 

Christmas Eve Service Schedule

Morning Traditional services will be held at 8:30am and 11am. Children’s Christmas Eve service will be held at 6:30pm. Christmas Eve Candlelight services will be held at 8:30pm and 11pm. All services will have fellowship in between. All are welcome to attend!

Annual Poinsettias Sale! Please help us decorate our Church Altar for Christmas by ordering one or more beautiful poinsettias. The cost this year is $7 per plant and you have a choice of red, pink, or white in color. All orders must be in by Sunday, December 10th. Envelopes are available in the Narthex until December 10th! Help spread some Christmas spirit! Thank you for your continued support.

 

Donations for the Shut-in Baskets: This year we are collecting cookies and toiletries. Please have your donations in by December 10th with the distribution of the baskets to be on December 17th. We are preparing baskets for over 20 shut-ins. A collection bin is in the Narthex for your convenience. Thank you for your continued support!

 

Donations for Christmas Food Baskets are being collected now for distribution on December 20th. We are in need of 20 food baskets and hams for our community members in need. Please consider filling a basket!! For more information, please see Maria Dobry.

 

Pancake Breakfast with Santa hosted by Girl Scout Troop 10410 will be held here on Saturday, December 16th from 8:30am to 11am. Tickets are $10 for adults $8 for children under 12 and children 2 and under are free. Price includes pancakes, sausage, fruit, assorted pastries, and hot and cold beverages. The event will include photo w/Santa, coloring pages, letter to Santa and a raffle. Bring your family and friends and join us for breakfast with Santa! Please contact Catherine Brooks to reserve your tickets at 443-416-4298 or e-mail her at cwoytekbrooks@hotmail.com.

 

The Middle River Concert Band will perform at the Bowleys Quarters Volunteer Fire Hall on Monday, December 11th at 7pm. Admission is a canned good for the St. Matthew Lutheran Church Food Pantry. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be present so gather the family and friends and join us for an evening of music and fun!

 

Christmas Decorating will be held next Sunday at 4:30pm. The Youth Group will be here to lead in decorating our church for Christmas. Please join them for this holiday celebration and stay for Contemporary Service on Sunday evening at 7pm.