Trinity 14 Midweek Devotion

INVOCATION

In the name of the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O Lord, keep Your Church with Your perpetual mercy; and because of our frailty we cannot but fall, keep us ever by Your help from all things hurtful and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READING

Galatians 5:16-24

(Additional Reading Luke 17:11-19)

MEDITATION

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:16

            When I was about ten I went out for a bike ride around my neighborhood.  I was enjoying the nice fall weather when suddenly a large and aggressive dog gave chase.  I rode faster than I ever had before around my block until my dad heard my cries for help.  The dog immediately submitted and we got him back to his owner.

            The dog was nice enough when a strong male presence was there, but he had a penchant for intimidating children.  He escaped again a few weeks later and broke up a group of kids playing basketball, barking and snapping at them.  The dog’s owner apologized and was certain he could get his dog to mind.  Even after months of training the dog had another even more dangerous incident.  To the gratitude of the neighborhood the owner gave the dog up.

            What would have happened if he had not given up on that old dog?  What if he had dug in his heels against the better judgment of the concerned parents?  It would not have ended well.  Someone would eventually have been hurt.  The owner realized it was foolish to think a dog like that could be reformed.

            Most people would have enough common sense like my neighbor to know when it’s time to give up on a stubborn and dangerous animal, but this is not true when it comes to their Old Adam, their sinful nature.  They think they can train and reform their sinful flesh if they just have the right training and positive motivation.  The teachers of Israel in Jesus’ day had tried to do just that when they codified the 10 Commandments into a regiment of 613 rules to obey.

            God’s Word teaches there is only one thing to do with the Old Adam and retraining him is not it.  The one thing to do to with Old Adam is to put him to death.  St. Paul says no less in our lesson, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

            Since we are forgiven by Jesus we are now at war with our flesh.  We are at peace with God. Since we are at peace with God, His enemies are now our enemies: the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh.

            Paul writes, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”  Consider what Paul means here.  According to the flesh we cannot avoid sin, but according to the spirit we are unable to sin.  Our life according to the flesh can do nothing good, nothing holy, nothing right.  Our life according to the Spirit can do nothing wrong and is always good and holy. These two opposing wills are always battling within you because you are a baptized, forgiven, and beloved heir of eternal life in Jesus Christ.  In Christ you have been set free from the enemies of God, but they now fight against you.

            Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”  We already established that we can’t teach old man Adam new tricks, so what does this walking by the Spirit look like?  We can learn from the lepers in our gospel lesson.

            The lepers prayed to Jesus for mercy, they shouted to him like their lives depended on it.  And Jesus shows them mercy.  He doesn’t take their leprosy away on the spot though. He sends them to the priests and as they go they are cleansed.  They believed His Word.  And as they believed, it happened.

            That is what it is to walk according to the Spirit.  You see the flesh working in you.  You feel the temptations to sin each and every day.  Even if you don’t “feel” particularly sinful today you believe it’s true, because you know God’s Word says it’s true.

            Jesus says, “All those who believe and are baptized will be saved.”  Paul says, “All those who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have put on Christ.”  To all of you who struggle and battle with your flesh and are crying for relief Jesus assures you that all who have been baptized into His death and resurrection are new creations.  You are His.  Believe His Word and know that is so.  Listen to it.  Meditate upon it.  Share it with your family.

            To walk by the Spirit is to walk by Christ’s Word.  It’s to receive the things of the Holy Spirit and to believe that you are clean, even while you feel your sinful nature and the temptations to anger, lust, jealousy, and so many other things your flesh desires.

            As you walk by the Spirit the old Adam will be crucified again and again.  He can’t win.  He may whine, bark, and try his hardest, but the Spirit is stronger than the flesh.  The Spirit works in us by leading us to repent of our sins and strengthening us with forgiveness.  Strangely enough, then the fruits of the Spirit come along with that forgiveness.  As Jesus is the vine and we are the branches the Spirit is like the sap that flows from the vine to the branches.  The Spirit gives us health and life so we may bear the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

            The Spirit strengthens us with Christ’s Word and bears His fruit.  We are God’s children forever.  We are freed to give thanks to Him, to walk by His Spirit, seeking to love our neighbor as God has loved us.  This is the glorious freedom God has liberated us for.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

LORD’S PRAYER

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.

CLOSING BLESSING

The grace of our Lord + Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.

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Pentecost 15 Online Worship

Thank you for joining us for online worship. Below you will find Divine Service Setting III from Lutheran Service Book. The lyrics of hymns and the liturgy will appear in the video, however if you desire a bulletin you may download it at the link below.

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Trinity 13 Midweek Devotion

This devotion is taken from the sermon preached at our Divine Service on September 9th, 2020 for Trinity 13. You can join us for midweek in-person worship every Wednesday at 6:30 PM.

Invocation

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope, and charity; and that we may obtain what You have promised, make us love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons

Galatians 3:15–22

15To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Luke 10:23–37

3 Turning to the disciples [Jesus] said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 

24For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

25And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Meditation

The parallels between the Epistle and Gospel lessons for Trinity 13 are extremely helpful to understanding the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel.

The Lawyer asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Paul instructs the Galatians that the inheritance of Abraham was made by promise not by Law. In other words you do not inherit eternal life by doing something, but by the promises of God.

“Believe you me!”, Paul is saying, “If there was a law that could save you then God would have given it to you.” Paul knew firsthand, as do you and I, that God loves all people so much that He would never hold anything back from saving them. Therefore, when God says you are saved by His promise to forgive your transgressions and not by works of the Law, you can and should take His word for it! He is not trying to dupe you!

The Galatians had fallen back on the fatal error of works righteousness. Faith in the act of circumcision rather in the Christ to whom circumcision pointed to in first place. Through Abraham’s seed, not seeds as Paul points out, all nations shall be blessed. That Seed is Christ, and Christ has won the inheritance for all by His death for transgressions.

We’re stubborn though. We can’t quit looking for some kind of credit for what God has done. Jesus faces the Lawyer with the reality of why God had given the Law. The Lawyer asks for the Law’s answer to eternal life, what must I do he asks and our Lord asks him what the Law says. If you ask a Lawyer’s question, why not look for an answer in the law? That answer the Lawyer soon discovers is that if you desire to be justified by the Law then do the Law perfectly.

Don’t miss the point of what Jesus was showing the Lawyer. He was not telling Him that the inheritance He seeks can be attained by the Law. In principle and theory it can. If a man can remain sinless he doesn’t need what God in Christ has to offer for he is not under judgment for he has never transgressed the Law. Yet, Christ knows what this answer will actually do the Lawyer. The Law imprisons the man, as it does to all sinners, just as Paul explains to the Galatians. The Law was never given to save you, rather it corners you and cages you in. You’re without excuse. And to that the Lawyer tries to find a wait out, to jailbreak however he can. Seeking to justify himself, or in other words make himself righteous, he challenges Christ asking who is his neighbor.

And Jesus shows the man how futile are our attempts to be justified by the Law. He gives him the most beautiful story of law keeping the world has ever heard. It’s light is so bright it will never be eclipsed. That’s why even unbelievers have a semblance of knowledge of what makes for a Good Samaritan. It is someone who does what is right regardless of reward, recognition, or the cost. It is someone who wholly loves his neighbor even while others ignore him, despise him, or don’t even realize he is there. He is one who acts in mercy without question of whether the recipient is deserving.

We see it in small ways in ourselves. The doctor and nurses save a wounded man even though he is a drug dealer and killer. The American medic attends to the enemy as well as the ally. The church gives drink, food, and clothing to the needy no matter who they are or what creed they confess.

Yet, we know even these are paltry offerings when compared to the selflessness and sacrificial self-giving of the Samaritan. He has endless resources of time, money, and ability to save a dying man and he doesn’t give two-thoughts about it. You can tell from the narrative He will always give mercy.

And when Jesus closes we learn he wants the Lawyer to stop his vain search for eternal life by means of the Law. Notice he did not ask what the Lawyer was asking which would have been “Who should the Samaritan love and help?”  Everyone is the answer to that question. “Who is your neighbor that you should serve them?” Everyone. Jesus wasn’t asking that. Instead He asks, “Who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?” Not everyone. Certainly not the robbers, nor the priest or Levite. Not the inn-keeper or the donkey. The One who showed mercy.

The Lawyer was dead in his transgressions and sins. Imprisoned under judgment. How does one gain eternal life? By the mercy that endures forever that comes from the only One who has enough love to care and the endless resources necessary to save – the only Son from the Father Jesus Christ. His compassion put on the healing oil of Baptism and wine of Holy Communion at His own expense. He has carried the burden of us to the cross and placed us in the inn of the Church for our convalescence and recovery. He promises to return and bring us to our rightful home, whole and well.

The most beautiful words this Lawyer ever spoke were in his answer to Jesus’ question. The one who had mercy. Mercy saved Abraham. Mercy saved Paul. And mercy saved him. The inheritance is bestowed upon him by promise, there is One who would have mercy on him, the Christ, the Son of God who spoke to him. He doesn’t say “Go try harder Lawyer. Come back when you’ve been better.” Instead, He loves the man and shows him the path He was taking for him and all people, the way of the cross and resurrection, the way of mercy. You don’t so much need to understand who to be a neighbor to, you already know the answer to that question. Everyone. However, not everyone is a neighbor to you. Who will be there for you with endless resources to help and heal you? You need the Neighbor who is always there and always merciful. God in Christ Jesus.

And finally, it’s only the One who has such mercy who can possibly say, “Go and do likewise.” This is a statement of the Law, but it’s not telling you this is how you’ll inherit eternal life. He’s telling you this because He knows you will love Him. He found you half-dead and imprisoned by your sin. He has freed you with forgiveness and assured you that you will live. He loves you so much He fills you with His love and sends you to love your neighbor, to imitate Him, imperfect as our attempts will be in this life. 

So as you serve in all of your callings in this life remember the One who proved to be your neighbor. The One who had mercy, Jesus Christ. Go and do likewise. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

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, the power, and the glory,

forever and ever. 

Amen.

Blessing

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

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Pentecost 14 Online Worship

Thank you for joining us for online worship. Below you will find Divine Service Setting III from Lutheran Service Book. The lyrics of hymns and the liturgy will appear in the video.

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Pentecost 13 Online Worship

Thank you for joining us for online worship. Below you will find Divine Service Setting III from Lutheran Service Book. The lyrics of hymns and the liturgy will appear in the video, however if you desire a bulletin you may download it at the link below.

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Pentecost 12 Online Worship

Thank you for joining us for online worship. Below you will find Divine Service Setting III from Lutheran Service Book. The lyrics of hymns and the liturgy will appear in the video, however if you desire a bulletin you may download it at the link below.

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Pentecost 11 Online Worship

Thank you for joining us for online worship. Below you will find Divine Service Setting III from Lutheran Service Book. The lyrics of hymns and the liturgy will appear in the video, however if you desire a bulletin you may download it at the link below.

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Pentecost 10 Midweek Devotion

PREPARATION

Invocation

In the name of the Father, the + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Collect

Almighty and most merciful God, preserve us from all harm and danger that we, being ready in both body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish what You want done; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

LESSON

Romans 10:14–17

14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

MEDITATION

            Jesus Christ, God the Father’s only begotten Son, came into this world in order to save condemned sinners. That he could save us, he fulfilled all the prophecies of the Law and the Prophets, lived a perfect life in obedience to the 10 Commandments, and was unjustly punished upon the cross where he gave his life, receiving the wrath and judgment our sins deserve. His third day resurrection from the dead is God’s proof that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted, and assures us that we are forgiven and will rise to eternal life. The Holy Spirit has been sent to the church to preach the gospel to the world that all may come to a knowledge of Christ and be saved. By means of his inspired Word and the Sacraments God places faith into people’s hearts, forgives them, transforms them by sanctifying them, and strengthens them in the face of trials and troubles and finally at the hour of death gives them his peace.

            Now if all of that seemed pretty basic to you, good. It is basic stuff. It is the heart and core of what we confess as Christians. It’s the news which the angel shared with the shepherds of Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. You remember the words, don’t you? “Fear not, for I bring you somewhat average news that will be of medium interest to a few people. For unto some of you is born this day in the city of David a very good teacher and all-around nice guy whose name is Jesus.”

            Is that the way children tell the story at their Christmas pageants? I hope not!

            The angel said that Jesus is good news of great joy, not just an indifferent story! He also said this joy is for all people, not just a few. Likewise, Jesus is not just a teacher or nice guy, he’s the Savior.

            Unfortunately, believers who get familiar with this good news can begin to regard it like pretty average news. Worse, we can make it sound average too. That may be too harsh or sound judgmental, but being honest, even I as a pastor can see times when my familiarity with the story lead me to share it with someone in a way that didn’t give it the enthusiasm it deserves. Being saved from sin and death, having the certainty of an eternal life without sickness, sorrow, or evil, should be exciting to talk about every time!

            I recently read a story about a gas station that through a computer malfunction posted gasoline for 1 cent a gallon. I bet you can guess what happened. People started telling others and before long the police had come and disperse the cars while the error was corrected. Good news, like cheap gas, is enough to get people talking. Shouldn’t the gift of a good conscience before God and the hope of eternal life get us talking too?

            Paul said roughly the same thing in our lesson today when he wrote, “How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach if they are not sent?”

            Paul’s thought is like watching dominoes fall, one thought falls on another leading to an important conclusion. God wants all to be saved. But they won’t be saved if they don’t hear the good news. No one is going to share the message of Jesus if it’s not really good news, but indeed Paul asserts that it is. Therefore, the world needs people preaching and people to be sent to reach the world with this news.

Paul has pastors and missionaries in mind of course. That’s why we support missionaries and seminarians. That’s one way we do our part in sharing the good news with others, but there’s more.

            You know there was a time when a household got a new washer and dryer all the other homemakers in the neighborhood would come to watch and see how it worked. There’d be an excited little congregation to watch the spin cycle. I don’t think that happens anymore. Washers and dryers are old news.

It’s easy to get fired up for new news, but old news sometimes becomes too familiar. The gospel, however, is unique, because it is old news that is always new when it is shared. You may have heard it a dozen times in a week, but you need to hear it each time as much as the last. For you need the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. You need to be assured that the bad news you just got at work or at the doctor’s office is not the last word you’ll ever hear. Jesus assures you again and again that you are forgiven and sealed for eternal life with him.

You know people who need that news too. If the familiarity of the old news of the gospel is what is stopping you from introducing others to Jesus think about a few things. First, think where you would be and what your outlook would be if you didn’t have the forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation that Jesus gives you. That helps us appreciate its importance. Secondly, think of others who don’t know Jesus and how they don’t have the peace you enjoy and that in the end they are still under judgment for their sins. They need to hear about Jesus. And finally, a simple thing you can do is invite someone to church. It could be a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, whoever. What’s the worst they can say? No or no thank you. Or maybe you want to start simply by sharing online services or handing them a Portals of Prayer. Either way, let us share the good news of great joy which is for all people.

LORD’S PRAYER

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 forgiven those who trespass against us,

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

BLESSING

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.

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Pentecost 10 Online Worship

Thank you for joining us for online worship. Below you will find Divine Service Setting III from Lutheran Service Book. The lyrics of hymns and the liturgy will appear in the video.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Pentecost 9 Midweek Devotion

PREPARATION

Introit for Pentecost 9

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;

make known his deeds among the peoples!

He spread a cloud for a covering,

and fire to give light by night.

They asked, and he brought quail,

and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.

He opened the rock, and water gushed out;

it flowed through the desert like a river.

For he remembered his holy promise,

and Abraham, his servant.

So he brought his people out with joy,

his chosen ones with singing.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning,

is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;

make known his deeds among the peoples!

Collect

Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

LESSON  Isaiah 55:1–5

1“Come, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and he who has no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

3Incline your ear, and come to me;

hear, that your soul may live;

and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,

my steadfast, sure love for David.

4Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander for the peoples.

5Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,

and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,

because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,

for he has glorified you.

MEDITATION

If anyone ever thinks that the Old Testament is about a judgmental God who will only reward those who have worked for it, show them Isaiah 55. If anyone ever says, “God helps those who help themselves”, show them Isaiah 55. If anyone thinks they are unworthy of God’s gifts and God will never give them anything, (and it’s true we’re all unworthy), let them read Isaiah 55. Isaiah with his imagery of food without price, freely and generously given, is a wonderful picture of God’s grace.

It reminds me of a story I first read by the author Philip Yancey. A missionary he knew described the first home cooked meal he shared with his adopted son.  He, his wife, and their now family of five sat down around a sumptuous dinner in celebration of their new family member.  The young boy ate ravenously and happily enjoying new delicacies and likely had his first taste of apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  When they were done and began cleaning up the little boy began to cry.  His father thought at first, they were tears of joy, but soon he realized it was something else.  He asked his son what was wrong and the boy answered that he was sad because they had eaten all the food.  What were they going to eat next?  He thought this might be their last meal for where he came from no one ate so much and very often you did not know when you would eat again.

Gently the father took his son by the hand and walked him to the pantry.  He showed the boy all the food within.  He opened the refrigerator and showed the meat, cheese, the milk, eggs, and all they needed.  He reassured his son the table would be spread again and a meal prepared so he could eat again.

This missionary and father reflected on this experience and explained that this is like God’s grace.  We often come to him and receive his merciful forgiveness, but there are times when our guilt, our fears, and our sorrows make us wonder if he will receive us again?  Yet, the Lord is not stingy.  He takes us by the hand, opens the pantries and cellars, he breaks bread, he fills our cups with new wine, and feeds us with the spiritual sustenance of Christ again and again.  He reassures us that the table is spread, the meal is prepared, and we can eat again.  We do not have to wonder if we will eat again, all has been prepared beforehand, we are invited to Christ’s feast of salvation. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!”

LORD’S PRAYER

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, the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

BLESSING

The grace of our Lord Jesus + Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit with you all. Amen.

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