The First Sunday in Advent

The Beginning of a New Church Year    December 03, 2023



    Christ could come any day…How Ready are You for Him?


      There was once an absent-minded professor who could get so absorbed in his work that he would forget the simplest details.  One morning his wife said, “Now Henry, remember, we’re moving today. Here, I’m putting this note in your pocket to remind you.  Please don’t forget.”  The day passed, and the man came back to his home.  But when he entered the front door, he found the place empty. Distraught, he walked out to the curb and sat down. A young boy walked up to him, and he asked the child, “Little boy, do you know the people who used to live here?”  The boy replied, “Sure I do, Dad.   Mom told me you’d forget, so she left me here to help you.”  

      How often don’t you and I do something similar?    We can get so absorbed in “the little things of life” that we forget who we are and Whose (the Lord’s children) we are, as well as where we’re going (heaven).  But just how ready are we for Jesus either to come back for us, or to call us home to heaven?

      Speaking of going to heaven…….Near the middle of the 19th century, after 14 years of carefully studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Christ would return in 1843.   He shared his beliefs with others.  Eventually Miller announced that April 3 was going to be the day.   Some of his followers actually put on white sheets and went up onto the tops of mountains, hoping for a head-start to heaven.   Others gathered in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones.  In Philadelphia “society ladies” met together outside town to wait.   (They wanted to avoid entering God’s kingdom in the company of “the common people.”)   Of course, when April 4 dawned, the so-called “Millerites” were confused and disillusioned.   Their leader quickly revised his prediction.   He said that Jesus was certainly coming instead on March 21, 1844, and so the devout prepared once more for Christ’s arrival on that new date.   But, again, they were disappointed.   Jesus didn’t return as predicted.   Miller went so far as to set a third date:  October 22, 1844.   But it also came and went.  And many of his followers gave up hope altogether of Christ returning and – generally ashamed and embarrassed – they gave up preparing for Christ’s return and instead returned to their every day lives.

      Obviously, you and I are living nearly 200 years beyond the events of that story.   If nothing else, that means we’re 200 years closer to Jesus’ return and to Judgment Day than the Millerites were.    The “signs” (from Matthew 24:1-14) that will appear in nature, society and the church, and which will indicate the immanence of Christ’s return, all seem to be fulfilled – or at least to be evident in our day.   That being the case, just how prepared are we for the possibility that Jesus might come today to judge the world?  How ready are you to be called home to heaven today through death?   As God’s children I hope each of us can comfortably answer: “I am ready, and eager, leave this sinful world, to meet my Savior, and to live – by His grace – eternally in heaven.”   

      Of course, it’s also possible that you might not be as confident,  or as prepared as you ought to be.   If that’s the case, then thank God for the opportunity He’s giving you today in this worship service to reflect again, through His Word, on the importance of your being spiritually prepared for your earthly life’s end and for the beginning of eternity in heaven.  

      Getting Christians ready for whenever the Lord calls or comes is one of the key purposes behind the traditional worship/Scripture emphasis for First Sunday in Advent:   namely, the importance of God’s people being Spiritually ready for our Lord’s return and for our entering eternal life.

      We consider that important matter of faith on this first Sunday in December, which is special not only because we’ve been able to come together again in God’s house around His Word, but also because today we’re observing two special “beginnings.”   The first is the beginning of a new “Church Year.”   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

      Our Psalm for this morning (Ps 24) is Messianic – that is, it points to the work of the Messiah/Christ – and, going all the way back to the earliest days of the Christian Church, it customarily has been read for centuries in Christian churches on the first Sunday in Advent to usher in the Advent season.  The reason for its use on this occasion is that Psalm 24 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 beyond Psalm 24.    One of those readings (our Sermon text) will be  the account, from Mark’s Gospel, of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.    This lesson for centuries has been a traditional part of Christian worship on this First Sunday in Advent since it portrays Christ in His “Kingly Office” (Messianic role).   As you, perhaps, will recall this reading deals with Christ’s Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem at the start of Holy Week, to complete His mission as the Redeemer by delivering His people from Satan’s power and eternal damnation by His death and resurrection as our Savior-Substitute. 

      One special feature in this morning’s service 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 customary canticle-hymn “Gloria in Excelsis” (“Glory be to God on High”).  It is printed out in the worship flyer.

      In our Children’s Lesson  James talks about the need for us to be patient with the Lord’s timing of His second coming  (just as a farmer patiently waits for his crop to grow).    We’ll talk about our waiting patiently for the Lord to return – and of the importance of our continuing to serve Him faithfully until He comes back for us. 

      Our Old Testament Lesson doesn’t speak specifically about Judgment Day, but it does refer to the LORD knowing His people, forgiving them, and delivering them from all their enemies….notably the oppressing Egyptians at the time of the Exodus.   He wants us to know that He molds and shapes us in all our circumstances, so that we might grow in grace, in faith, and in the certainty of our salvation.     

      In our Second Lesson Paul speaks to the Corinthian Christians about his gratitude to God for their faith in Christ, and for their eagerness to see Jesus on that Last Day when He reveals Himself to the world as our God.   Until that day comes, though, Paul’s prayer for them (and for us today) is that God the Holy Spirit will keep us all strong and growing in our faith in Christ, so that we might one day enter everlasting life in heaven through Jesus.

      Today’s Gospel Lesson includes Jesus telling His followers that no one knows the exact day and hour of His return for judgement.  Therefore, He stresses the necessity of their (and our) being prepared at all times for His inevitable return in glory.   He goes from there into the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.  In it the virgins represent all those who are members of the visible church.  The Bridegroom symbolizes Jesus.  All the virgins were aware that the Bridegroom was coming, but only half were prepared to meet Him.  As members of Christ’s Church on earth, by the grace of God we are also aware that He is coming.  Exactly when, we do not know.  Therefore, lest we be caught off guard, may all of us always be prepared to meet our Maker, so that, when eternity does begin, we may be found “inside,” rather than “outside” the doors of the Bridegroom’s heaven.    

      And, finally, through this morning’s Sermon (the account of Jesus  on Palm Sunday entering the city of Jerusalem that was eagerly waiting for the Messiah) we will be encouraged to faithfully, patiently, eagerly, attentively, and actively wait for our King of Kings, Lord Jesus to either call us home to heaven, or to come back for us on the Last Day…. whenever that day comes….to take us to heaven by His grace.  


The Christian “Church Year”

      The practice of observing a “Church 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 was at first an unrelated event, Christians living in Gaul (southern France) began to formally celebrate the 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. Consequently our “Church Year” starts 4 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 nearly 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 second half of the year, from June through November.  It is often referred to as the “Non-Festival” portion of the Church Year, owing to the fact that no major church-wide festivals take place during this time (the observances of the Reformation of the Church and Thanksgiving Day notwithstanding).


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 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.”   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 will 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.          



Situated in the front of the church, to the right of the lectern, you’ll 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.    The following brief history and explanation of the Advent Wreath’s symbolism 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 evergreens, 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 either in the color of purple (the traditional color of repentance) or blue (another penitential color) throughout the Advent season.   It’s no wonder, then, that the prevalent color (three out of five) of the Advent wreath candles is purple or blue.  

         The purple candle lit in our wreath 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 center of the wreath 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 when the colors change to green.




A Word Of Welcome To Our Guests . . . Good morning and welcome to Grace Lutheran Church.  Thank you for choosing to be a part of our worshiping assembly  this morning.  Whether you are a guest today or a member of this Christian family, your presence at this service is sincerely appreciated.  We pray that the time you spend here will be enjoyable and spiritually edifying, and so it is our desire to serve you in the best way we can.  If there is anything that we might do to assist you in your worship today, please speak with one of our Elders, Ushers, or our Pastor.  They will be pleased to serve you in any way they can.    Following the worship service this morning, we invite you to join those around you for some coffee, refreshments, and good conversation during our fellowship period.  If you are able, we would also be honored to have you remain after today’s fellowship time in order that you might further hear and study the Scriptures with us in one of our Bible Classes or Sunday School classes.  And, we hope that you will come back soon to again praise the Lord with us.  May God bless you and your worship of Him today.




About our Congregation and Church Body....We are a member-congregation of the WELS, or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  Wisconsin indicates the geographical origin of a group of Christians (organized in Milwaukee, WI in 1850) who believe, teach, and confess that the Bible is the inspired and error-free Word of God, and who are united in their efforts to proclaim Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins.   Evangelical says that we believe and proclaim the Gospel:  that sinners are saved by Grace alone,  through Faith alone,  in Christ Jesus alone,  on the basis of Scripture alone.      Lutherandeclares that we hold to the historic Christian faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, once lost to the Church before God restored it through the Lutheran Reformation.  And Synod states we are part of a group of congregations throughout the United States and in 24 other nations, who all “walk together” in order to serve God and share the Good News about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,    The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission.




Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas

is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, and which also operates a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision:      Extend God’s Kingdom through His Word, serving each Soul.

Our Mission:  Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith,

and Prepare Souls through Worship, Education and Fellowship.



Pre-Service Prayer

      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.


We Praise Our God


The Introduction and Invitation To Worship


following which, the Congregation will rise for the invocation


The Invocation

We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son,  and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.


Our Psalm for Today                                                                                                                          Psalm 24


P:   The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,   the world and those who dwell therein.                  

C:   for He has founded it upon the seas;    and established it upon the rivers.


P:   Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?    And who shall stand in His holy place?

C:   He who has clean hands and a pure heart,      Who does not lift up his soul to what is false     And does not swear deceitfully.

P:   He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

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


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

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


after which the Congregation will be seated for


Opening Hymn                                                                            Hymn 19  “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.

O Jesus, let your word be   A lamp to light my way,

To show me how to please you,   To guide me ev’ry day.


2 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!


3 Rejoice, then, you sad-hearted,    Who sit in deepest gloom,

Who mourn o’er joys departed    And tremble at your doom.

Despair not; he is near you,    He’s standing at the door

Who best can help and cheer you    And bids you weep no more.


4 Sin’s debt, that fearful burden,   Let not your souls distress;

Your guilt the Lord will pardon   And cover by his grace.

He comes, for you procuring    The peace of sin forgiv’n,

His children thus securing    A heritage in heav’n.

5 He comes to judge the nations,   A terror to his foes,

A light of consolations,   And blessed hope to those

Who love the Lord’s appearing.   O glorious Sun, now come,

Send forth your beams most cheering,   And guide us safely home.


Following the hymn, the Congregation will rise


We Confess our Sins to the Lord


Congregation           “O God our Father,   +   since You have set forth the way of life for us in Your Beloved Son,   +    we confess with shame   +   our slowness to learn of Him,  +   our failure to always

 follow Him,   +   our reluctance at times to bear the cross for Him. +    Forgive us the poverty of our worship, our frequent neglect of fellowship   +   and of the Means of Grace,   +   our hesitating and inconsistent witness for Christ,   +  our evasion of our responsibilities in Your service,   +  our imperfect stewardship of Your gifts.   +   Forgive us also,   +   that so little of Your love has reached others through us,  +   and that we have often been thoughtless in our judgments,   +   hasty in our condemnation,  +   grudging in forgiving others the way You have forgiven us,   +   and unwilling to serve our neighbors as we ought.   +    Have mercy on us, O God, according to Your unfailing love;  +  according to Your great compassion blot out our transgressions.   +   Wash away all our iniquity  +   and cleanse us from our sin.   +    Create in us pure hearts,  O God,   +   and renew steadfast spirits within us.   +   Do not cast us from Your presence   +   or take Your Holy Spirit from us.   +   Restore to us the joy of Your salvation,   +   and grant each of us a willing spirit to sustain  us.


Pastor            “Find comfort for your souls, then, in these words of our Lord:   “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just,  and will purify us from all unrighteousness,  because we have One Who speaks to the Father in

 our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.   We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”   And now, upon this, your voluntary confession,  I, because of my office as a called servant of God’s Word,  announce the grace of God to all of you. And, in the place of, and according to the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   May the peace of God be with you.  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.


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 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 Listen to God’s Word


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                           Isaiah 64:1-9

Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and come down.   Mountains then would quake because of your presence.   2 As fire ignites stubble and as fire makes water boil, make your name known to your  adversaries.   Then nations would quake in your presence.  3 You did amazing things that we did not expect.   You came down. Mountains quaked because of your presence.  4 From ancient times no one has heard.   No ear has understood.  No eye has seen any god except you, who goes into action for the one who waits for him.   5 You meet anyone who joyfully practices righteousness, who remembers you by walking in your ways!  But you were angry because we sinned.  We have remained in our sins for a long time.


6 All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a filthy cloth.  All of us have withered like a leaf, and our guilt carries us away like the wind.   7 There is no one who calls on your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you.  So you hid your face from us.   You made us melt by the power of our guilt.  8 But now, Lord, you are our father.  We are the clay, and you are our potter.  All of us are the work of your hand.   9 Do not be angry, Lord, without limit. Do not remember our guilt forever.   Please look closely.   All of us are your




The Second Lesson                                                                                                             I Corinthians 1:3-9


3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!


4 I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus. 5 You were enriched in him in every way, in all your speaking and all your knowledge, 6 because the testimony about Christ was established in you. 7 As a result you do not lack any gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also keep you strong until the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.


After which the Congregation will rise for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                        Matthew 24:36 – 25:13


36 “No one knows when that day and hour will be, not the angels of heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father. 37 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man returns. 38 In fact, in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the very day that Noah entered the ark. 39 And they did not realize what was coming until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man returns.


40 “At that time two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 So be alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: If the master of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 You also need to be ready for this reason: The Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect him.


45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master finds doing this when he returns. 47 Amen I tell you: He will put him in charge of all that he has. 48 But if that servant is wicked and says in his heart, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will return on a day when he does not expect it and at an hour he does not know. 51 The master will cut him in two and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


25:1    “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take any oil with them; 4 but the wise took oil in their containers with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, ‘No, there may not be enough for us and for you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were away buying oil, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. 11 Later, the other virgins also came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, let us in.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Amen I tell you: I do not know you.’ 13 Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.


The Nicene Creed


I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,  and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God,  Light of Light.  Very God of Very God.  Begotten, not made.  Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And he shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come.  Amen.


after which the Congregation will be seated for



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.


Wait Patiently…..the LORD is Coming for You



Sermon Hymn                                                                           Hymn 8  “Come, O Precious Ransom, Come”


1 Come, O precious Ransom, come,   Only Hope for sinful mortals!

Come, O Savior of the world!   Open are to you all portals.

Come, your beauty let us view;   Anxiously we wait for you.


2 Enter now my waiting heart,   Glorious King and Lord most holy.

Dwell in me and ne’er depart,    Though I am but poor and lowly.

Ah, what riches will be mine   When you are my guest divine!


3 My hosannas and my palms   Graciously receive, I pray you.

Evermore, as best I can,   Savior, I will homage pay you,

And in faith I will embrace,   Lord, your merit through your grace.


4 Hail, hosanna, David’s Son!   Help, Lord; hear our supplication!

Let your kingdom, scepter, crown   Bring us blessing and salvation

That forever we may sing   Hail, hosanna! to our King.


After which the Congregation will rise 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.


Today’s Sermon Text                                                                                                                   Mark 11:1-10

            As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and told them, “Go into the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it, and he will send it back here without delay.’”   4 They left and found a colt on the street, tied at a door; and they untied it. 5 Some who were standing there asked them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 The disciples answered them just as Jesus had instructed them, and the men let them go. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their garments on it, and Jesus sat on it. 8 Many people spread their garments on the road. Others spread branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were crying out,   “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!    Hosanna in the highest!
       Are You Disappointed?

following the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


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!



We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  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 also donate on our website:


the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar

  • Today’s Prayers


    Today’s General Prayer


    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 Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


    Pastor: The Lord be with you.


                Congregation:   (Sung)   And also with you.



    Pastor: Lift up your hearts


                Congregation:   (Sung)   We lift them up unto the Lord



    Pastor: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God


                Congregation:    (Sung)   It is good and right so do to.

    Pastor: It is truly good and right that we should at all times and in  all places give You thanks, O Lord, Holy Father, almighty, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose way John the Baptist prepared

    when he called people to repentance and pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. 

                Therefore, with angels and archangel, and all the company of heaven, we praise Your holy name and join their glorious song:


    Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Heavenly hosts   Heaven and earth are full of Your glory

    Hosanna!   Hosanna!    Hosanna in the highest!   Blessed is He.   Blessed is He.

    Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.   Hosanna!   Hosanna!    Hosanna in the highest!


    The Consecration of the Communion Elements


    The Peace


    Pastor: The peace of the Lord be with you always


                Congregation:   (Sung)   Amen.



    The Distribution of the Elements





    (Please read the following [continued on the next page] if you have

    not spoken with our Pastor about taking communion.  Thank you.)




         We ask that only “Confirmed, Communicant” members of this congregation, or of one of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod come forward To receive the Lord’s Supper at this time.

         To us the Lord’s Supper is both an expression of our common faith in Christ (which we share with all our fellow worshipers this morning), and also a public expression of our complete doctrinal agreement as a congregation (as I Corinthians 1:10 and 10:17 requires of us).  

         Accordingly, we are not, in any way, judging your Christian faith by respectfully asking you not to join us in the Lord’s Supper this morning.  Rather, we pray that our Scripture-based practice of “Close Communion” will encourage all those Christians who are not presently in full fellowship with us to seriously examine the teachings and practices of their church in order to determine if those teachings and practices are really in full agreement with God’s Word. It is our earnest desire that you might become familiar with the doctrines of our congregation, so that you might one day join with us at the Lord’s altar in this public expression of full unity of doctrine and practice. Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your participation as a fellow Christian in this worship service, and that we appreciate your patience and understanding of our Communion practice. 





    The Distribution Hymns                                               Hymn 32  “When Sinners See Their Lost Condition”

    1 When sinners see their lost condition   And feel the pressing load of sin

    And Jesus comes on his blest mission   To heal the sin-sick heart within,

    All grief must flee before his grace,   And joy divine will take its place.

    2 When Jesus enters meek and lowly   To fill the home with sweetest peace,

    When hearts have felt his blessing holy   And found from sin complete release,

    Then calm and joy within shall reign,   And hearts divided love again.


    3 When Jesus enters land and nation   And changes people with his love,

    When, yielding to his kind persuasion,   Our hearts his truth and blessing prove,

    Then shall our life on earth be blest;   The peace of God on us shall rest.


    4 When Jesus comes — O blessed story –   He works a change in heart and life;

    God’s kingdom comes with pow’r and glory   To young and old, to man and wife.

    Through sacrament and living Word   Faith, love, and hope are now conferred.


    5 Oh, may he soon to ev’ry nation   Find entrance where he is unknown,

    With life and light and free salvation,   That Satan’s pow’r be overthrown,

    And healing to all hearts may come   In heathen land and Christian home!



                                                                                                                                        “Your Table I Approach”


    1 Your table I approach;   Dear Savior, hear my prayer.

    Let not an unrepentant heart   Prove hurtful to me there.


    2 Lord, I confess my sins   And mourn their wretched bands;

    A contrite heart is sure to find    Forgiveness at Your hands.


    3 Your body and Your blood,    Once slain and shed for me,

    Are taken at Your table, Lord,    In blest reality.


    4 Search not how this takes place,    This wondrous mystery;

    God can accomplish vastly more    Than what we think could be.


    5 O grant, most blessed Lord,   That earth and hell combined

    May not about this Sacrament   Raise doubt within my mind.


    6 Oh, may I never fail   To thank You day and night

    For Your true body and true blood,   O God, my peace and light.



    We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


    The Closing Prayer    Pastor


    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                                                                                             “The Savior Is Approaching“

    to the tune of “Away in a Manger” (CW 68)   cwh 2010


    The Savior is approaching     The promise is true

    From Eden through Abram     To Isaiah too

    Christ comes, God-yet-human    Salvation to bring

    In mercy amazing    His praises we sing.


    The prophets foresaw Him     His work they revealed

    In hundreds of places     Complete and Detailed

    Conceived by the Spirit     True Man, Virgin-born

    The world’s sin – He’ll bear it     To make us His own.


    He’ll come as a Baby     Despised, yet adored,

    And grow into manhood     Our King and our Lord.

    His life He will lay down     On Calvary’s tree

    Then rise on the third day     Our souls to set free.


    From sin, death, and Satan –  Redeemed and restored –

    By His grace forgiven,    We’ll live for our Lord

    Each day here on earth    We His servants will be

    ‘Til we’re called home to heaven     Fo – – r    e-ter-ni-ty.


    silent prayer,  announcements,  post-service music