Listening for the Promise

 December 3, 2017 - First Sunday in Advent

“And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)


Ever wish you were different than what you are? Or at least different in some areas? Yeah, me too. I wish I was a strong, influential leader...but I’m a helper, more of a come-along-side person. I wish I was more out-going…but I’m shy and fearful and find it difficult to meet new people and try new things. I wish I could multi-task better (without anxiety) and get more accomplished during the day, but I have to admit, that’s just not me. I feel like my weak areas outweigh my stronger ones. I wonder sometimes if God can still use me in his plan.


Isaiah 64:8 stands out to me as I think about my weaknesses, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” Thinking about this verse, I picture a potter working with clay on a spinning pottery wheel. The potter uses his hands to form and shape the clay into a vessel he wants to make. The vessel is then put through quite a process before it is finished and usable. Sometimes, though, the results of the finishing process don’t always turn out as expected and there are qualities left on the vessel that are unwanted. Many times the vessel can be “touched up” well enough so that the vessel can still be acceptable and useful. It is still beautiful and unique.


It’s difficult to work at a task the Lord has asked us to do when it is in one of our weaker areas. You may be thinking, “I can’t do this, Lord! You know I can’t do this! Please, please don’t ask me to do this!” The Lord then gently reminds you that he knows you well because he formed you, and he knows what he is asking you to do. The fact that the task is not in one of your stronger areas means that his power will be displayed big time! “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9) Think about that! The Lord can work through you and me to display his power and be glorified. That is awesome and humbling.


God made us and knows us; all of our strengths and all of our weaknesses. He calls us to labor with him. We can accept what the Lord has given us and how he has made us. We can use our gifts and talents for him. And when he calls us to do a task which involves one of our weaker areas, let us allow his power and glory to be seen through us.



Prelude                                                            Mark Hurley, Organist


Call to Worship                                               ELW # 248, vs. 1

People, look east. The time is near of the crowning of the year. Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table. People look east, and sing today Love, the Guest, is on the way.


A prayer when the acolyte lights the first candle on the Advent wreath — the Prophet’s Candle: Holy and Mighty Lord, as we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, the Prophet’s Candle, we recall how you spoke through the prophets of old. So now, speak to us through your Son, and empower us to proclaim your promise of salvation to all the earth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Welcome and Announcements                       Pastor John


*Gathering Song                                             ELW # 244


*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.


*Confession & Forgiveness – Continued:

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 your power, O Lord, and come, that by your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by your mighty deliverance; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.



Anthem Hymn            11AM Adult Choir     ELW # 257


First Reading:  (Worship Assistant)                Isaiah 64:1-9

Israel was cut off from the Lord because of their iniquity. Their sin had separated them from God, but a cry went out for God not to forget them even though they were unclean. “Shall we be saved?” they wondered. The people who were like a polluted garment, who had failed to call on the Lord, would now become clay in the potter’s hand.


1Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence; 2as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil, to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. 5You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? 6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. 8But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. The word of the Lord, thanks be to God.


Psalm: Psalm # 80                  (Worship Assistant)

The psalmist lamented to the Lord that he had left them to drown in their tears and made them a laughingstock to all their neighbors. “Let your face shine upon us,” he cried, begging the Lord to save his people from their misery.


Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock; shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up your strength and come to help us.

Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angered despite the prayers of your people?

You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have given them bowls of tears to drink.

You have made us the derision of our neighbors, and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.


Second Reading  (Worship Assistant)            1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, giving thanks for them and the fact that they have been enriched by the Spirit, possessing all good gifts for the sake of the ministry of the Gospel. Paul assured the believers that Christ would sustain them.


3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge; 6even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, 7so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 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 13th Chapter. Glory to you, O Lord.  Mark 13:24-37: Jesus explained to his followers that a time of distress would come, but they would see the signs in the sun, stars and heavens that would clue them in to the time when the Son of Man would return to earth in great power and glory. Angels would be sent from the ends of the earth to gather God’s elect. Jesus assured his friends that even though heaven and earth would pass away, his Word is forever.


24Jesus said, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35Therefore stay awake; for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning, 36lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” The gospel of the Lord, praise to you, O Christ.


Sermon                                                            Pastor John


*Hymn of the Day                                          ELW # 436


*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 new beginnings, in these days of Advent prepare our hearts and minds to receive your Word in ever powerful ways. By the power of your Holy Spirit, stir us to wait with joyful expectation for the coming of your Son. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

         (W): God of light and life, shine the light of your presence into our lives during these weeks of waning daylight. Fill the darkness of this world with your love, that all people would see your glory and know that you are the source of all good things. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

(W): Holy God, you give us signs of Jesus’ return. Help us to see and discern those signs that we would be prepared for his coming and be ready for his arrival. Let us not be complacent in showing love to others. Let us not be slow to act when we see a neighbor in need. Let us not fall asleep spiritually, but continue to listen and watch for Jesus each day of our lives, serving him in faithfulness and devotion. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.  

(W): God of comfort, your healing touch transcends time and space.  Strengthen and console those who are anxious, grieving, lonely, ill, or discouraged in any way. Shine the light of your presence into their lives through the compassion which your people share with them.  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.



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 # 494


*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.



*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 # 542


Postlude                                                          Mark Hurley, Organist


Flowers are given in celebration of Dot Coppell’s Birthday.


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!


WNALC Group will meet on Tuesday, November 21st at 7PM in the fellowship hall. All women are invite and encouraged to attend!


“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 to reserve your tickets or for additional information.


Raffle Tickets on sale now! We will raffle off a Luther’s Rose blanket and The Case for Christianity book at our Christmas Concert. Tickets are available between services in the fellowship hall. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.


Christmas Organ Concert & Pot Luck Dinner will be held on Sunday, December 3rd at 3pm. Mark Hurley will showcase our favorite Christmas music is a “Pops and classic” program. A pot luck dinner will be served immediately following the concert. A free will offering will be collected. Everyone is invited!!


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!