The First Sunday in Advent

also known as the First Sunday of the Church Year

November 29, 2020

Advent’s Essence:   The Savior Is Coming!


      We welcome you to worship with us at Grace Lutheran Church on this last Sunday in November, and invite you to join us in observing two notable “beginnings.”    The first is the beginning of a new “Church Year” (see the notes later in these introductory materials).   The second is the start-up of that pre-Christmas period  known as the season of “Advent.”  

Our Worship on this First Sunday in Advent

      One special feature in this morning’s service – and it will continue throughout the Sundays in Advent – will be our “liturgical use” of one of our Lutheran Church’s traditional Advent hymns “Lift Up Your Heads You Mighty Gates” in place of the liturgical hymn “Gloria in Excelsis” (“Glory be to God on High”).  You’ll find it printed out in the worship flyer.   This hymn  is based on the  Psalm (Ps 24;  we’ll use it today) that has customarily been read in Christian churches to usher in the Advent season, going all the way back to the early Christian Church.   Psalm 24 is Messianic (pointing to the work of the Messiah) insofar as it  emphasizes the importance of our being eager and ready to receive the “King of Glory” as He comes to us.  


      Today’s service will feature a number of Scripture lessons in addition to our responsive reading of Psalm 24.    One of those readings will be our Old Testament Lesson, part of which also serves as our Sermon Text.    We’ll be renewing our acquaintance with a familiar and important story in God’s Word:   the account of Mankind’s fall into sin, from Genesis 3.  In particular, this morning, we’ll be examining God’s promise to Eve and Adam that He would one day use One of the woman’s “Seed” (descendants) to crush the damnable power of the Devil, who had led our first parents into the first sin.    Eve, in faith, waited for that Savior to come.   And when her first “seed,” Cain, was born (Genesis 4:1), Eve thought that he was the one God had promised…..but, of course, Cain turned out to be just another sinner – and not Eve’s or our Savior.     Our Sermon today will be the first of a four-part series during the Sundays of Advent on Old Testament believers who faithfully waited for the Promised Savior. In the weeks ahead, we’ll also consider the faith of Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary.    In our Epistle Reading Paul makes the comparison between the first Adam (whose sin corrupted and condemned humanity) and the “second Adam” (Jesus) Whose substitutionary life and death reconciled sinful humanity to our perfect God, and guarantees us eternal life through faith in Him.   In Children’s Lesson we’ll talk about how important it is for us to wait patiently for the Lord to return – and about the importance of our continuing to serve Him faithfully until that day comes.   Finally, today’s Gospel Lesson is Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, after which he gives us a genealogy of the Savior, tracing Jesus’ family tree from his step-father, Joseph, (though, actually, this is Mary’s family lineage) down to Adam.    Of particular significance for us is Luke’s notation in vers e 23 that Jesus was the “son of Joseph… it was thought.”   It’s Luke’s way of indicating that, while Jesus received his humanity through his mother Mary, he was not actually Joseph’s son, because he didn’t have a human father.   He had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, making Him both God and Man.   And so, He could (and did) serve successfully as the world’s Savior.

The Christian “Church Year”

The practice of observing a “Church Year” (distinct from the secular  “Calendar Year”) goes back to the  earliest days of the Christian Church.  The first Christians (most had been converts from Judaism) chose to continue some of the Jewish customs which had been a part of their religious background.  One of those customs was to start their “calendar year” in the spring (rather than on January 1st, as we do today).   By the 4th century, in what at first was an unrelated event, Christians living in Gaul (southern France) began to formally celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th.  Gradually, the celebration of Christ’s birth and the start of the Christian “worship year” were joined together.  Subsequently, the beginning of the pre-Christmas season of Advent became the starting point for the new church year.  That’s why our “Church Year” starts four Sundays before Christmas, rather than in the spring.    The major divisions/seasons of the Christian Church Year (in order) are as follows: Advent;   Christmas;   Epiphany;   Lent;   Easter;  and the Pentecost/Trinity season.   The first five seasons collectively are also known as the “Festival” portion of the church year since all of the “major” festivals (Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost) take place during them.   The Festival portion covers, roughly, half the year – from December through May.   The sixth portion of the church year (Trinity/Pentecost), accordingly, spans the other half of the year, from approximately June through November.  It is often referred to as the “Non-Festival” portion of the Church Year, since no major, traditional church-wide festivals take place during this time (the observances of the Reformation of the Church and Thanksgiving Day are considered “Lutheran” and “American” observances, rather than festivals of the entire Christian church.)

The Season of Advent – a brief history

      The four week season of “Advent” that we’re also starting today developed out of an early Christian practice having to do with a period of fasting/penitence (which new confirmands were expected to undergo prior to their reception into the Christian fellowship on Epiphany [January 6th]).   With the introduction of Christmas as a church festival, this period of penitence was placed before the celebration of Christ’s birth.  Eventually it developed into a period of fasting and repentance for the entire church (although it was not intended to be as rigorous or as deeply penitential as the repentant behavior associated with the 40 days of Lent).   At first the length of the season of Advent  varied considerably, ranging from three to seven weeks.  Over the years the season of Advent eventually became a firmly established period of four Sundays, concluding with Christmas Eve.   By the 5th century, the first Sunday of Advent was officially recognized as the first day of the Church Year, a designation it holds to this day.


The Significance and Some of the Traditional  Emphases of the Advent Season

      As with the season of Lent, the colors of Advent are violet/blue, symbolizing its penitential character.  The term “Advent” is taken from a Latin word (“Advenio”) which means “to come toward” or “to approach.”    Typically this season is used to focus the Church’s attention on three Biblical truths:  (1) the coming  [past] of Christ into the flesh, commemorated at Christmas;  (2) the coming [present] of Christ to us on a continuing basis through God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper;  and (3) the visible [future] coming of Christ in glory for judgement and deliverance at the end of time.   Another of the “customary” emphases during Advent touches the three “Offices,” or roles, which the coming Christ has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill for His people:   namely, the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.     Old Testament prophecies (especially through Isaiah) pertaining to the coming and work of the Messiah are also routinely incorporated into the worship and study life of the Church during this period of the year.    Additionally, congregations often use the time of Advent to study more carefully those portions of the New Testament Gospels which give us a record of the events immediately leading up to and heralding the Savior’s first coming to earth (notably, Luke 1 and Matthew 1).         




Situated in the front of our worship area today, to the left of the podium, you will find an “Advent

Wreath.”  It’s been our practice at Grace Lutheran to use an Advent Wreath during the Advent and Christmas seasons as a symbolic means for both preparing ourselves for the arrival of the Christ child and then joyously reflecting upon the arrival of that Savior.    Below you’ll  find a brief history and explanation of the Advent Wreath’s symbolism.   It is  intended to help you enjoy and benefit from this traditional Christian expression.


The Advent Wreath


      The Advent wreath is a combination of two very common symbols:  light and the fir tree.   From the early centuries of Christianity it has been the practice to represent Christ by a burning candle.  The fir tree also has a long history of religious use.   One of the most popular themes for the medieval “mystery plays” revolved around the telling of the story of Paradise.  In those plays, the Garden of Eden was typically portrayed by a fir tree hung with apples.   In the Eastern churches (Eastern/Greek Orthodox) December 24th was celebrated as the Feast Day of Adam and Eve.    The custom of putting up a Paradise tree in the home on December 24th,

decorated with apples, came into Europe (and the Americas) by way of the East.  In Germany there was also a custom of placing a lit Christmas candle on top of a wooden pyramid decorated with evergreen twigs.   In time the wooden pyramid was replaced by the Paradise tree, decorated with apples and lighted candles.

      No doubt the Advent wreath was suggested, at least in part, by the Christmas tree.   It seems that the Advent wreath originated a few hundred years ago among the Lutheran Christians of eastern Germany.  A wreath of ever-greens, made of various sizes, was either suspended from the ceiling or placed on a table.   Four candles representing the four Sundays of Advent were fastened to the wreath.  Eventually the use of the Advent wreath became wide-spread and moved also from the home into the church.   The general symbolism of the Advent wreath lies in the growing light of the wreath, increasing each week as we approach the birthday of Jesus the Light of the world.

      The color of the candles in the Advent wreath is dictated by whatever emphasis a particular home or congregation gives to the season.   While the emphasis may change somewhat according to the sermons, the traditional emphases in Advent are those of repentance and anticipation (the Sunday sermons are generally more “up-beat” and “joyous,”  while mid-week sermons tend to be slightly more “sober” and “penitent” in character).  That’s why the altar cloths and furnishings are in the color of purple (the traditional color of repentance) throughout the Advent season.   It’s no wonder, then, that the prevalent color (three out of five) of the Advent wreath candles is purple.  

      The purple candle lit on the first Sunday in Advent is called “the Candle of Prophecy,” and symbolizes the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Savior.   The second Advent candle (also purple) is referred to as the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing the coming to earth of Jesus, the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary.  The Third Advent candle (pink or rose-colored) is the “Shepherd Candle” and represents the coming of the Savior into the hearts and lives of His believers through His Holy Word.  The pink/rose color serves to remind us that a note of joy should also heard in this penitential season.  The final purple candle is the “Angel Candle,” symbolizing the final coming of the Savior in glory with all His holy angels.  The white candle at the wreath’s center is the “Christ Candle,” symbolizing the perfection of Christ, the fulfillment of prophesy, and the centrality of Jesus in our Advent preparations.   This “Christ Candle” remains unlighted during Advent in anticipation of the birth of the Savior, the Light of the world.  Advent’s penitent emphasis focuses our attention on our sins and the need for a Savior, but on Christmas Day we joyfully celebrate the birth of that Savior….and so we then light the white Christ Candle.  

      White candles also replace the purple and pink ones, and the purple altar cloths are replaced by white altar cloths with the arrival of Christmas Day.   The wreath, now with all white candles, continues to be used until the Christmas Season officially ends with the arrival of Epiphany on January 6th.  The white altar cloths continue to be used through the first Sunday of Epiphany.   The colors then change to green.





Prayer in Preparation for Worship:   Heavenly Father, please guide me in wisdom and truth through Your Holy Spirit, as I spend this hour meditating on Your Word and rejoicing in Your limitless love for me.  Assist me in being attentive in heart and mind to Your Word, as well as to the hymns of praise, the various petitions, and the prayers of thanksgiving my voice directs toward You.  Use this worship service, O Lord, to deepen my love for You, to strengthen my trust in You, and to renew my commitment to You.  All this I ask for the sake of and in the name of Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Amen.



The Scripture quotations in this worship flyer, unless otherwise noted, 

are taken from the EVANGELICAL HERITAGE VERSION of the Bible.  Copyright 2019

 by the Warburg Project.   All rights reserved.


Pre-service prayer

Pre-worship music                                                                                                                                             


We Praise Our God


Welcoming and Introduction to Worship


after the Pastor’s greeting, the Congregation will rise


Our Psalm for Today                                                                                                                        Psalm 24


      P:  The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it:         

      C:  for He founded it upon the seas   +   and established it upon the waters.

      P:  Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?   Who may stand in His holy place?

      C:  He who has clean hands and a pure heart,    +   who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.


      P:  He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from God his Savior.

      C:  Such is the generation of those who seek Him,   +   who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.


      P:  Lift up your heads, O you gates;   be lifted up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

      C:  Who is this King of glory?   +   The Lord strong and mighty,   +   the Lord mighty in battle.            

      P:  Lift up your heads, O you gates;   lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

      C:  Who is He, this King of glory?   The Lord Almighty — He is the King of glory!


after which the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                                                 “O Lord How Shall I Meet You?”


1 O Lord, how shall I meet You,   how welcome You aright?

Your people long to greet You,   my hope, my heart’s delight!

Oh, kindle, Lord most holy,   Your lamp within my breast

to do in spirit lowly   all that may please You best.


2 I lay in fetters, groaning;   You came to set me free.

I stood, my shame bemoaning;   You came to honor me.

A glorious crown you give me,   a treasure safe on high

that will not fail or leave me   as earthly riches fly.


3 Love caused Your incarnation;    love brought You down to me.

Your thirst for my salvation   procured my liberty.

Oh, love beyond all telling,   that led You to embrace

in love, all love excelling,  our lost and fallen race.


4 Rejoice, then, you sad-hearted,   who sit in deepest gloom,

who mourn your joys departed   and tremble at your doom.

All hail the Lord’s appearing!   O glorious Sun, now come,

send forth Your beams so cheering   and guide us safely home.    Amen



after which the Congregation will rise for

The Invocation


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



We Make Confession of Our Sins To God


Pastor Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins to God our Father, asking Him, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant us the forgiveness of all our sins.  Our help is in the name of the Lord.


     Congregation    (Sung)   Who made heaven and earth.


Pastor       I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.


     Congregation    (Sung)   And You forgave the iniquity of  my sin.


Pastor       Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto 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.


Congregation O most merciful God, who has given Your only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us, and for His sake, grant us the remission of all our sins;  and by Your Holy Spirit, increase in us true knowledge of You and of Your will, and true obedience to Your word,  to the end, that by Your grace, we may come to everlasting life;  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Pastor Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy upon us, and has given His only Son to die for us, and for Jesus’ sake forgives us all our sins.  To those who believe on His name, He gives the power to become the children of God, and has promised them His Holy Spirit.  And now, having heard your voluntary confession,  and in accordance with the responsibilities entrusted to me through the Ministry of the Keys, I proclaim the grace and mercy of God to all of you, and in the place of and according to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



We Respond To God’s Forgiveness


(Sung)    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.   World without end.   Amen.


Pastor –          “Behold, people of God!  Your King comes to you; 


Congregation –    He is just and brings salvation!


Pastor –          “Rejoice people of God!   Your Lord Jesus Christ has appeared and fulfilled God’s promises of old for your comfort and salvation.”


Congregation –    Let us receive Him in humility and give Him the praise He deserves.


(Sung)    1 Lift up your heads, you mighty gates!     Behold, the King of glory waits.

The King of kings is drawing near; The Savior of the world is here.

Life and salvation He will bring; Therefore rejoice and gladly sing.

To God the Father raise Your joyful songs of praise.


2 The King is born in poverty, His chariot is humility,

His kingly crown is holiness, His scepter, pity in distress.

The end of all our woe He brings; Therefore the earth is glad and sings.

To Christ the Savior raise Your grateful hymns of praise.


Redeemer, come!   I open wide My heart to You;   here, Lord, abide!

Let me Your inner presence feel, Your grace and love in me reveal;

Your Holy Spirit guide us on Until our glorious goal is won.

Eternal praise and fame We offer to Your name.     Amen.


The Traditional Prayer For The First Sunday in Advent                                                                           


Stir up Your Power, Lord Jesus, and come!   +   Protect us from the dangers that threaten us because of our sins.   +   Redeem us from the devil   +   whom You conquered by Your victory on the cross,   +   for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,   +   one God, for ever and ever.   +   Amen.


After which the Congregation will be seated as


We Hear God’s Word


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                     Genesis 3:1-19

Now the serpent was more clever than any wild animal which the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”   2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, 3 but not from the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden. God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it. You shall not touch it, or else you will die.’”


4 The serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die. 5 In fact, God knows that the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”


6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was appealing to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She gave some also to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for their waists.   8 They heard the voice of the Lord God, Who was walking around in the garden during the cooler part of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9 The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  10 The man said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.”  11 God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?”   12 The man said, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”   13 The Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


14 The Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all the livestock, and more than every wild animal.  You shall crawl on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.   15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will crush His heel.” 


16 To the woman he said:   “I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing.  With painful labor you will give birth to children.   Your desire will be for your husband, but he will rule over you.”


17 To Adam he said:   “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat from it,’ the soil is cursed on account of you.  You will eat from it with painful labor all the days of your life.  18 Thorns and thistles will spring up from the ground for you, but you will eat the crops of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the soil, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”



The Second Lesson                                                                                                                Romans 5:12-21


12 So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, so also death spread to all people because all sinned. 13 For even before the law was given, sin was in the world. Now, sin is not charged to one’s account if there is no law, 14 and yet death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those whose sin was not like the transgression of Adam, who is a pattern of the One Who was to come.


15 But the gracious gift is not like Adam’s trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of this one man, it is even more certain that God’s grace, and the gift given by the grace of the one Man Jesus Christ, overflowed to the many!


16 And the gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin, for the judgment that followed the one trespass resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the gracious gift that followed many trespasses resulted in a verdict of justification.


17 Indeed, if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through the one man, it is even more certain that those who receive the overflowing grace of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the one Man Jesus Christ!


18 So then, just as one trespass led to a verdict of condemnation for all people, so also one righteous verdict led to life-giving justification for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of one man the many became sinners, so also through the obedience of one Man the many will become righteous.


20 The law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace overflowed much more, 21 so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace would reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

after which the Congregation will rise for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                     Luke 3:21-38


21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. While He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are My Son, Whom I love. I am well pleased with you.”


23 Jesus himself was about thirty years old when He began His ministry.


Jesus was the son (so it was thought) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Malaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.



The Apostles Creed


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 Ghost;  Born of the virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;  Was crucified, dead, and buried;  He descended into hell;  The third day He rose again from the dead;  He ascended into heaven;  And sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;  The resurrection of the body;  And the life everlasting.  Amen.


After which the Congregation will be seated


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                James 5:7-8


7 Therefore, brothers, be patient until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the valuable harvest from the ground, patiently waiting for it, until it receives the early and late rain. 8 You be patient too. Strengthen your hearts because the coming of the Lord is near.


What Are You Waiting For?



The Sermon Hymn                                                                               “All Mankind Fell In Adam’s Fall”


1 All mankind fell in Adam’s fall;   One common sin infects us all.

From one to all the curse descends, And over all God’s wrath impends.


2 Through all our pow’rs corruption creeps And us in dreadful bondage keeps;

In guilt we draw our infant breath   And reap its fruits of woe and death.


3 From hearts depraved, to evil prone,  Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone;

God’s image lost, the darkened soul   Nor seeks nor finds its heav’nly goal.


4 But Christ, the second Adam, came   To bear our sin and woe and shame,

To be our life, our light, our way,   Our only hope, our only stay.


5 As by one man all mankind fell   And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,

So by one Man, who took our place,   We all were justified by grace.


6 We thank you, Christ; new life is ours,  

New light, new hope, new strength, new pow’rs;

This grace our ev’ry way attend   Until we reach our journey’s end.    Amen.


After which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Greeting


Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  May the God of peace fill you with all joy in believing!   Amen.



Sermon Text                                                                                                                       Genesis 3:15;   4:1


.   15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.

He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.” 


The man was intimate with Eve, his wife. She conceived and gave birth to Cain.

She said, “I have gotten a man with the Lord.”


Eve…….Waiting For The Promised Savior


The Post-Sermon Blessing


Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him to glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.  Amen!


The Offertory –                                                                                                                        Psalm 51:10-12


(Sung)    Create in me a clean heart O God

And renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Your presence,

And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation.

And uphold me with Your free Spirit.    Amen.


We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today during today’s worship service, those in attendance may leave their offerings in the offering plates by the exits at the close of our service.    For those watching today’s service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:      

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go to our website ( and use the giving option.

The Prayers for this Day and The 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.


We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Benediction


            The LORD bless you and keep you.

                  The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

                        The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.   Amen.


The Closing Hymn                “Come, O Long-Expected Jesus”


  1. Come, O long-expected Jesus, Born to set your people free;

From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in you.

Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope to all the earth impart,

Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.


  1. Joy to those who long to see you, Day-spring from on high, appear;

Come, O promised Rod of Jesse, Of your birth we long to hear!

O’er the hills the angels singing news, Glad tidings of a birth,

“Go to Him, your praises bringing; Christ the Lord has come to earth.”


  1. Come to earth to taste our sadness, He whose glories knew no end;

By His life He brings us gladness, Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.

Leaving riches without number, Born within a cattle stall;

This the everlasting wonder, Christ was born the Lord of all.


  1. Born your people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever, Now your gracious kingdom bring.

By your own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone;

By your all-sufficient merit, Raise us to your glorious throne.      Amen





Last Week at Grace Lutheran Church                                                                                                                        Sunday Worship Attendance: 61

Budgetary (plate) Offerings: $1760                      Budgetary (Online) Offerings: $2835.33

Sunday Bible Class: 17                                                     Sunday School: 3               Tuesday Bible Class: 15

Thanksgiving Day Worship:    48          Budgetary Offerings: $3395


Serving Us Next Sunday (12-06)         Elders:   Steve Stone, John Johnson

Ushers – Kent Mayer;   Chris Roberts, Tom Otto

Altar Guild –   Linda Winnat;   Tammy Schwartz


Birthdays This Week     Dec 01 – Erich Diewock;       Dec 02 – Eric Lemmon;


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today                   Morning Worship,  9:30 a.m.                                                 Bible Class / Sunday School – 11:05 a.m.

                        Youth Confirmation Class,   Noon to 1:15 p.m.

Tuesday          Morning Bible Class, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday    Midweek Advent Worship Service  7 p.m.  (including the Lord’s Supper)

Saturday        Outreach Calling/Visitation, 10 a.m.

Sunday           Morning Worship at 9:30 a.m.  with a celebration of the Lord’s Supper

                        Bible Class/Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.        Confirmation Class, noon to 1:15 pm.


Midweek Advent Worship Services Start THIS WEDNESDAY !!!  – As we do each year, in 2020 we’ll hold 3 special, midweek worship services during December.   The Advent season anticipates the coming to earth of Christ as our Savior from sin.   Its purpose is to encourage both repentance and an eager anticipation to celebrate Christ’s birth.  This year’s services will be on the Wednesday evenings (7:00 p.m.) of December 2, 9, and 16….and the first midweek service will include the Lord’s Supper.    Please note that the first service (Dec 2) will be held in our chapel (church building) instead of in the gymnasium (where we have been – and will continue to meet – on Sundays).    As we work together to observe proper/safe distancing and mask wearing, this gives us an opportunity for us to be “back in the church” building again.  We hope that you will join us!


Bible Classes This Week      This morning, we’ll be concluding a study of the story of one of the Bible’s more unwilling servants of the Lord…..yet one who was amazingly successful in his service:   Jonah.   Class starts approximately 15 minutes after our service concludes.   In our Tuesday morning Bible Class (10:30 to 11:30;   in-person and over-the-phone) we’ll continue working through the book of 2 Samuel.   This Tuesday we’ll be studying chapters 19-21….the emotional effects of Absalom’s defeat on David;   the first civil war between Judah and Israel (Sheba’s rebellion);   and the story of a traumatic three year famine that afflicted Israel. 


DEVOTIONAL BOOKS FOR YOU,   In the entry are two devotional books that are available for everyone:  Meditations (our church body’s daily devotional booklet);  and “The Jesse Tree” (a collection of Advent devotions, prepared by our Martin Luther College faculty…..where Kelvin Johannes is attending).   Please take home a copies of each today.


Your Photographs are  needed……….   for a new church “Picture Display” in this building’s entryway.   We’d like to have a CURRENT photo of every one in our congregation.   Some of you have already had your picture taken today.   If not, please give us the opportunity to do so before you leave today, or next week.   Fred Cusanelli was at the rear entryway before worship today.   He’ll be at the main entry after worship to also take your pictures.  

The LORD called a reluctant Jonah to bring His message of repentance to Nineveh

 Jonah was unwilling – even rebellious – but the LORD  would not be refused.   We’ll be reminded in this study that in order to accomplish His eternal saving purposes , the LORD is always willing and able to do…..

Whatever it Takes…..


Scripture   Jonah 1:1 to 3:3




            The author of this book is considered to be Jonah, at least by most conservative scholars anyway.    The Scriptures don’t give us a great deal of information about this prophet.   In fact, other than in this book, Jonah is referred to in only two places in the Bible:   II Kings 14:23-25 and Matthew 12:40.    Jonah lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (793 B.C. to 753 B.C.;   sometimes referred to as “Israel’s Second Golden Age”).   Until his call to Nineveh he had ministered exclusively to the northern kingdom of Israel.   Bible scholars date Jonah’s lifetime from approximately 825 B.C. to 782 B.C.   We know that Jonah was born in Gath-Hepher, a town in Galilee about five miles north of Nazareth, and that the prophet’s name means “dove.”


            The book of Jonah is filled with many miracles (at least 12!.   Among them are:   Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and then preserved for three days within that fish’s belly;   the conversion of a thoroughly wicked city to faith in the LORD;   and the incredibly fast growth of a vine (chapter 4).   Because of the many miracles discussed in it, the book of Jonah has been the subject of considerable debate and criticism.   Many people simply do not regard it as factual/historical.   Instead they regard it as a symbolic or mythological story.   Yet, despite all the attacks on this book, we are always going to rely on our Lord Jesus Christ’s own personal testimony regarding the authenticity book of Jonah (Matthew 12:40).  Through it, He clearly attests to its historicity and factual reliability.


            When many people think of this book, they automatically think of the story of “Jonah and the whale.”   However, that story simply begins the book, and sets the stage for what follows.    The Book of the prophet Jonah is actually a beautiful account of God’s compassionate dealings with the people of Nineveh, as well as His gracious and persistent patience with His reluctant and rebellious servant, Jonah.    Each of us would also do well to take note of and put into practice the “missionary emphasis” which the Book of Jonah presents with crystal clarity.   As Jonah brought God’s Word of sin and grace to the Ninevites, even so we can bring His Word (especially the Law and Gospel) to people we encounter on a daily basis, as well as to others that we know and love.


Getting into God’s Word……..



  • “The word of the Lord came to Jonah” – commonly used in the OT to indicate the Divine source of a prophet’s message (I Kings 17:8; Jer 1:2,4;   Hosea 1:1;   Haggai 1:1,3;   and Zechariah 1:1,7)

1:2       Nineveh – the capital of Assyria on the Tigris river, about 500 miles NE of Jerusalem.   Nimrod built it (Gen 10:11-12).   It was the New York, Tokyo, or Mexico City of its day.   600,000 people lived within its metropolitan area.   The Assyrians were powerful, but also very cruel and wicked people.    The prophet Nahum later indicates that Nineveh’s sins included:   plotting evil against the Lord (1:11);   cruelty and plundering in war (2:12-13);   prostitution and witchcraft (3:4); and commercial exploitation (3:16).

1:3       “Jonah ran away” – He knew in his heart that he couldn’t escape the Lord (Amos 9:2-4; Psalm 139), but disobedience is frequently blind and intellectually impaired, especially in those critical moments when temptation challenges us to disobey God in some form.

            “Tarsish” – a Phoenecian colony, considered the “end of the earth” by the people of Jonah’s day.

1:4       “a great wind” – the second of 12 miracles in the book.   God miraculously intervenes to begin a correction of Jonah’s situation.  (See also Jeremiah 10:12-13)

1:5       “cried to his gods” – Pagans demonstrating their natural knowledge of God – and its inadequacy.

1:6       “Call on your God” – Note the irony that unbelievers have to order Jonah to exercise his faith!

1:7       “cast lots” – commonly done, even by believers (Prov 16:33;   I Sam 14:40-42;   Acts 1)

1:11     “What should we do to you?”  – Here’s an added irony……those unbelieving sailors try to save Jonah’s life, even though the prophet refuses to be God’s tool for the spiritual restoration of Nineveh.

1:17     “The Lord provided a large fish” – Although many refer to it as a whale, the Hebrew it means “great fish” and “sea monster.”    Jesus’ words corroborate the truthfulness of this event…..unique thought it surely was:   a fish swallowed a man who survived three days inside it before he was thrown out.



Applying the Text……



      1    What similarities exist between the situation in Nineveh and our own society?

  1. What is the “Nineveh” in your life?
  2. Many believers today, like Jonah, close their ears to the Lord’s “marching orders” in Matthew 28:19-20. God clearly says “Go” to us.   What’s our problem?   What can be done, in your humble opinion, to improve our collective “performance” in matters of evangelism?
  3. Why do you think Jonah disobeyed the Lord?
  4. Name a cult or Christian denomination that has great enthusiasm for “missions.” Why do you suppose their members are so zealous?
  5. What can a person expect when he/she decides to disobey the Lord?



Back to the Text


2:1       “Jonah prayed”  – please react to this:   “Man’s extreme is God’s opportunity”

2:2       “in my distress I called to the Lord” – see Psalm 50:15.  

            “from the belly of the grave” – See Psalm 18:5 and 30:3.   The word translated as “hell” (KJV),  “depths of the grave” (NIV) or “from the belly of the grave” (EHV) is the Hebrew word “Sheol,” which can be translated either “grave” or “hell.”   The context helps determine the meaning.   Here Sheol simply means “the grave…..the dwelling place of the dead.”

2:3       “You threw me” – Jonah doesn’t blame the sailors for throwing him overboard, but acknowledges the Lord’s hand was clearly involved in his situation.    Regarding Divine intervention in our lives, see Genesis 50:20; Ephesians 1:11; and Romans 8:20, among other notable passages.

2:6       “locked me in” – What’s Jonah saying about his situation?

2:7       “When my life was ebbing away I remembered” – see Psalm 42:4-8……Jonah repented.

2:9       “I will sacrifice…I have vowed” – In the OT, prayers were often accompanied by vows and physical  offerings.

            “Salvation belongs to the LORD” – a statement of praise that serves as the climax of Jonah’s prayer.

3:1       “the word….came to Jonah a second time” – God is gracious in giving us second chances (and often many more than that) to serve Him.

3:3       “Jonah set out…..just as the LORD had commanded” – better late than never…..


For Discussion


  1. What happens if we take the “fish story” of Jonah as merely mythological, as many churches today do? Does it matter to a person’s faith if this story is understood figuratively or literally?


  1. Of what should the time Jonah spent inside the fish and his deliverance from the fish remind us?


  1. What does a person’s attitude toward Scripture reveal about his/her attitude toward God?


  1. When has the Lord given you a “big” second chance?



Jonah 1


So the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up. Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach against it, for its people’s evil way has come up before me.”  


3 But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish.  He paid the fare and boarded the ship to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.    4 But the Lord hurled a great wind onto the sea, and there was such a great storm on the sea that the ship was about to break apart. 5 The sailors were afraid, and each one cried out to his gods. They threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the ship’s load.


Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship. He was lying down and sleeping soundly. 6 The captain approached him and said, “How can you be sleeping so soundly? Get up and call on your god! Maybe your god will treat us with favor so that we will not perish.”    7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come on, let’s cast lots so that we can find out whose fault it is that this disaster has come to us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.


8 So they said to him, “Please tell us whose fault it is that this disaster has come to us! What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? What people are you from?”    9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men were terrified and said to him, “What have you done?” The men already knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.


11 Then, because the storm on the sea kept getting worse, they said to him, “What should we do to you, to quiet the sea that is raging against us?”    12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will calm down for you, for I know that this violent storm striking against you has come about because of me.”

13 Instead, the men rowed hard to return the ship to dry land, but they could not, because the storm on the sea kept getting worse for them. 14 So they cried out to the Lord and said, “Please, Lord, please do not let us perish because of this man’s life, and do not charge innocent blood against us, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. 


17 Then the Lord provided a large fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


Jonah 2


Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish. 2 He said the following:


    In my distress I called to the Lord,

    and he answered me.

    From the belly of the grave I cried out,

    and you heard my voice.

3 You threw me into the depths,

    into the heart of the seas.

    The currents swept around me.

    All your breakers and your waves swept over me.

4 I said, “I have been driven away from your sight.

    Nevertheless, I will once again look toward your holy temple.”

5 Waters engulfed me so that I was near death.

    The deep surrounded me.

    Seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down.

    The earth locked me behind its bars forever.

    But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord, my God.

7 When my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord.

    My prayer came to you, to your holy temple.

8 Those who cling to worthless idols forsake the mercy that is theirs.

9 But I, with a shout of thanksgiving, will indeed sacrifice to you.

    What I have vowed, I will certainly pay in full.

    Salvation belongs to the Lord!


10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.


Jonah 3


Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up. Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”   3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh just as the word of the Lord had commanded. Now Nineveh was a great city to God. It required a three-day walk. 4 Jonah walked through the city for a day, and he called out, “Forty more days and Nineveh is going to be overthrown!”

5 The men of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least.