The Third Sunday in Advent      December 17, 2023


Just Who Are You?


      The poet Emily Dickinson, who went through life for the most part unnoticed, once wrote a poem about not being very important.  She began it with the following words:   “I’m nobody! Who are you?  Are you nobody, too?    Dickinson was, generally speaking, a “nobody” during a lonely lifetime spent writing poetry.   Her fame as a poet did come eventually, but only after her death.  

      Many of us also live in relative anonymity too.  Generally speaking, most of us are known by our family, neighbors, some friends from the present and past, and perhaps a few associates and acquaintances.   We aren’t the newsmakers, the shakers and movers of our time.   We see ourselves as ordinary people and — we’d like to think –  just good, plain, unnoticed  folk.   But there’s something more we can, and ought to be:    as believers in the true God, we can and are called to be 21st century witnesses about Christ our Savior.    

      In our Sermon Text we’ll see that John the Baptist was anything but ordinary, and that he was hardly anonymous – once he began his public  ministry in the wilderness.    John’s calling from the Lord was to go into the desert and there to prepare the hearts of His people for the Savior’s first coming.  He did this by calling people to repentance, and urging them to faithfully anticipate the arrival of the Messiah, Who would take away the world’s sin.   

      Amazingly enough, people embraced his  message about the Promised Messiah, but – at the same time – they were confused about whom John actually was.   Some people actually thought he was the Messiah, while others (familiar with a prophecy from Malachi 3) had the feeling that John might be the prophet Elijah, returned from heaven.  Still others were convinced that John was the great prophet prophesied by Moses in Dt 18 (Our Old Testament Lesson – and actually Moses is prophesying here about Jesus functioning in His prophetic office or role.)   

      Because of all the popular confusion taking place about him, John had to declare that He was neither the Promised Messiah, nor any of the other great Old Testament prophets returned from the dead. (Besides, the only “return” from the dead will take place on Judgment Day when Jesus raises all those who have died).   

      In fact, John humbly proclaimed that he was nothing but an unworthy sinner who needed the Savior just as much as anyone else.   (It’s interesting that Jesus, in our Gospel Lesson calls John the greatest man ever born……even as our LORD also says that what truly makes a person great is membership in the Kingdom of God – which you and I also enjoy as gracious God’s gift to us, through faith in Christ).   

      In this morning’s Children’s Lesson we’ll talk about what our future would be like if Jesus were just an “imitation” Savior, and then we’ll compare that with the blessings we already have and promises God has given us for the future because, through faith in Jesus, we know with certainty that have a Savior Who is the “authentic” Real Thing!

      As we contemplate God’s Word this morning, may the Lord move us “21st century nobodies” to be used as He used John, and as He also used the Apostle Paul (in today’s Epistle Lesson)……to faithfully serve as workers and witnesses for Him, pointing  those around us in this year of 2023 to repent of their sins and to believe in the Greatest Somebody of all – our, and the world’s, one and only LORD and Savior, Jesus.  


The Importance of “Christology” for our  faith –  the study of

what the Bible teaches about Who and What Jesus Christ really Is

      The field of “Christology” is that part of Christian theology (what the Bible teaches about God) which studies all that the Scriptures have to say about Jesus Christ.     Christology recognizes that Jesus is, inseparably, both fully human and fully divine at one and the same time, and that He had to be both God and Man in order to be the Savior from sin that the world needed.  In fact, one full year of the dogmatics (Biblical doctrine) training which future pastors of our Synod receive during their four year’s worth of ministerial instruction through Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary is devoted to the study of Christology.   And that time is well spent, because a proper understanding (whether comprehensive or not) of the two natures of Christ is critical not only for every pastor’s and any church body’s orthodoxy (faithful teaching), but also for the salvation every individual Christian.  

      Whether or not you’ve ever studied “Christology” in great detail, you and I confess the “fundamentals” of orthodox Christian Christology every time we join in offering any of the three chief Christian Creeds (the Apostles’, Nicene, or Athanasian) during our worship services, when we publicly confess that we believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary….  

      Down through 20 centuries, the Christian Church has dealt with a number of heresies (gross false teachings) revolving around “Christology.”   Arianism, Monarchianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Eutychianism, and Apollinariamism are just a few (talk with Pastor after worship today if you’d like more information on these heresies…..).  Essentially all of them (some did it blatantly; others subtly) either denied the true deity of Christ (the first three), or they denied the true humanity of Christ (the latter three).  Even today, not only in religious groups like Christian Science, Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but even in many “liberal” so-called Christian organizations and within the “interdenominational church movement”), the Bible’s clear teaching (doctrine) regarding the two “natures” of Christ – that He is truly God and truly human, in One person – continues to be challenged, doubted, and rejected to the harm of many souls! 

      By the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, you and I believe the truth about Christ.  We accept by faith what our human reason cannot comprehend.   We believe what God’s Word teaches about the person and the work of Christ.   And because of that faith in these truths from God, we are absolutely certain of our salvation, confidently depending for our forgiveness completely on everything that Jesus accomplished for us as the God-man and the Savior of sinners. 




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 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 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.   The colors then change to green.




Pre-Service Prayer    Lord God, merciful Father, I  thank You that You have safely brought me to this hour of worship.   Through Your Holy Spirit open my heart to the wondrous truths of Your salvation which I will hear this morning.   Through the same Spirit grant new strength to my faith and greater confidence in You to my soul.    Bless the preaching and teaching of Your Word both in our congregation and throughout Your Church on earth.   Give power and conviction to Your ministers here and everywhere, that their testimony to Your holiness, sovereignty, and grace may be clear and true to Your revealed Word.  Grant me the grace to bring all my sin-burdens before Your altar and leave them there at Your feet.   Keep me from mere formalism in my worship, from praying with my lips while my heart is far from You, and from failing to personalize Your words of rebuke, instruction and comfort that I will soon be hearing.   Receive my offerings — humble though they are — for the extension of Your kingdom.  And, after this service closes, enable me to live according to Your Word and for Your glory throughout this week.   All this I ask, in the name and for the sake of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.




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 Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831



Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                Pre-worship music


We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Introduction to Worship


after the Pastor’s greeting, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation


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


The Psalm for this Morning                                                                                 selected verses of Psalm 111


P:   Praise the LORD.    

C:  I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart   +   in the company of the upright in the congregation.

P    Great are the works of the LORD;   studied by all who delight in them.

C:  Full of splendor and majesty is His work,  +   and His righteousness endures forever.  


P:   He has caused His wondrous works be remembered;   the LORD is gracious and merciful.

C:  The works of His hands are faithful and just;   +   all His precepts are trustworthy. 

P:   They are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

C:  He sent redemption for His people;   +   He has commanded His covenant forever —   Holy and Awesome is His name.  


P:   The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;   all those who practice it have a good understanding.

C:  His praise endures forever.


after which the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                                       Hymn 23  “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”


1 Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,  And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here   Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


2 Oh, come, O Root of Jesse, free   Your own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell your people save,    And bring them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel    Shall come to you, O Israel!


3 Oh, come, O Dayspring from on high,   And cheer us by your drawing nigh;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,   And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


4 Oh, come, O Key of David, come,   And open wide our heav’nly home.

Make safe the way that leads on high,   And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


after which the Congregation will rise


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 remission of all our sins;  and by Your 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 sons 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


Pastor    Rejoice in the LORD always;   I will say it again, rejoice!    Let your gentleness be evident to all;   the LORD is near!


Congregation     Restore us, O Lord God Almighty;    make Your face shine upon us that we may be saved!


Pastor    You are forgiving and good, O LORD, abounding in love to all who call on You.


Congregation   Sing for joy to God our Strength;     Shout aloud to the God of our salvation


ALL:                                                                                                                                                         (CW 4)

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 Third Sunday in Advent                                                                                                 


O Almighty God, Father in heaven  +  mercifully hear the prayers of Your people,   +   that as we rejoice in the celebration  +   of Your only-begotten Son’s first advent   +    to dwell among us and to give His life for us,  +   so may we also   +   joyfully receive Your Son without fear   +   when He comes in all His glory   +   to redeem His Church and to judge our world.   +  All this we ask   +   in the name of Jesus Christ,   +  Your Son our Lord   +   Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit   +   One God,  forever and ever.   +   Amen.  



We Hear God’s Word


The First Lesson                                                                                                           Deuteronomy 18:15-19


15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brother Israelites. Listen to him.


16 That is exactly what you asked from the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly. You said, “Do not let me hear the voice of the Lord my God anymore, and do not let me see this great fire again, or I will die.”


17 Then the Lord said to me, “They have done well by saying what they said. 18 I will raise up a prophet for them from among their brothers, like you, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he will speak to them everything that I command him. 19 Anyone who will not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.



The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                               I Timothy 1:12-17


12 I give thanks to the one who empowered me, namely, Christ Jesus our Lord, that he treated me as trustworthy, appointing me into his ministry. 13 He did this even though formerly I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. But I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord overflowed on me along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is trustworthy and worthy of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” of whom I am the worst. 16 But I was shown mercy for this reason: that in me, the worst sinner, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his unlimited patience as an example for those who are going to believe in him, resulting in eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, to the immortal, invisible, only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.


after which the Congregation will rise for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                 Matthew 11:1-19


After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.


2 While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?”


4 Jesus answered them, “Go, report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the one who does not take offense at me.”


7 As these two were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the crowds about John. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? No, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 So what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you! And he is much more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’  11 Amen I tell you: Among those born of women there has not appeared anyone greater than John the Baptist. Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been advancing forcefully and forceful people are seizing it. 13 In fact, all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 If you are willing to receive it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears to hear,  let him hear.


16 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces who call to others, 17 ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not mourn.’ 18 John did not come eating or drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 But the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘See, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her actions.”



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                                                                                                                      Matthew 11:6


Jesus said, “Blessed is the man who does not  fall away on account of Me.”


You can’t have a real Christmas without the real Savior



Sermon Hym/Special Vocal Selection                                          “Make Straight in the Desert a Highway”


Make straight in the desert a highway, prepare the way of the Lord.

Let mountains and hills bow down humbly, and valleys rise up for their King.


In Joy shall the wilderness blossom, and streams through the desert be poured:

the eyes of the blind shall b e opened, and tongues that were silent shall sing.


Break forth into singing, O Zion,   your King is coming to you.

Jerusalem, shout with rejoicing,   He comes to redeem you from fear.


For God shall bring peace and abundance, your praise and renown to renew:

prepare to receive your salvation:    the promised Redeemer is near.


The reign of the Lord will be gracious, its blessings ever will last:

for then will God bring to fulfillment   the promise of peace from above.


All creatures will prosper together, to plowshares all swords will be cast:

earth’s people will find their true freedom    In God’s perfect kingdom of love.


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                                                                                                                                   John 1:19-34


19 This is the testimony John gave when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?”   20 He confessed and did not deny. He confessed, “I am not the Christ.”   21 And they asked him, “Who are you then? Are you Elijah?”   He said, “I am not.”   “Are you the Prophet?”    “No,” he answered.   22 Then they asked him, “Who are you? Tell us so we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”   23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’   just as Isaiah the prophet said.”


24 They had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 So they asked John, “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, or Elijah, or the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John answered. “Among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”    28 These things happened in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


29 The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me outranks me because he existed before me.’ 31 I myself did not know who he was, but I came baptizing with water so that he would be revealed to Israel.”


32 John also testified, “I saw the Spirit descend like a dove from heaven and remain on him. 33 I myself did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this myself and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

Just Who Are You?


following the Sermon, the Congregation will rise 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!



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:


  • We Offer Our Prayers to the Lord


    P  Almighty and merciful God, as we contend with life’s troubles, and the sinfulness that plagues our thinking and actions, always keep us  mindful that the day of our eternal rescue is approaching.   Through Your Spirit, empower us so that we will not be anxious about anything, but instead – that in everything, by our prayers and petitions, with thanksgiving – we might continue to confidently present all our requests to You, O Lord.


    C Lord Jesus Christ, +   we pray for Your Church throughout the world,   + for our Synod, and for this congregation,   +    that encouraged by Your first coming   +    and longing for Your glorious return on the Last Day,   +    we will faithfully preserve Your Word in its truth and purity, +    persevere in our faith, +     and boldly proclaim the Good News  of new life,   +   peace,   +    and salvation through faith in You alone.


    P   We also pray for our President, +   our Governor,   +   and all who make, administer, and judge our laws for the common good,   +     that they may reward those who do well,   +    punish those who do evil,   +    protect the unborn and the weak,   +    command the armed forces of our nation with wisdom,   +     and guide our nation successfully and safely into the future.


    C In addition, we seek Your comfort and blessing   +  for those in our church family and extended families, + for those in our community and everywhere else   +   who are hungry, hurting, and without hope…… +    Fill them with a special confidence in Your power and love,   +   they might – in Your own appointed, good time –    +    receive all that they need to support body and life,   +     as well as that they might find joy and purpose    +    in the earthly circumstances into which You,   +     in Your wisdom and mercy, have placed them.


    P   Lord God, heavenly Father, above all else we thank You for sending Your Son into this world to fulfill Your promises of old to deliver our human race from the damnable effects of our sins.  Through Your Spirit working in the Means of Grace, grow us in our faith and fill us with a zeal for Your Word, along with the eagerness to serve You wherever You place us.   Keep us and all others in Your Church ever faithful to You, that we might remain heirs of Your eternal kingdom.   Also hear us, dear Father, as we take a few moments to silently offer our personal petitions to You.

    A Moment for Silent Prayer  


    P:  And finally, with all our prayers being offered in Jesus’ name, we also join in that special prayer which has been given to us by our Savior:


    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


    Our Examination Before the Lord’s Supper


    Pastor      Let us next examine ourselves in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of our Lord’s Supper, as the inspired Apostle Paul so  instructs us in I Corinthians 11,  where he  writes:   “…whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgement upon himself.”


    Pastor      Accordingly, are you sincerely sorry for your sins and determined, with God’s help, to change your sinful ways?


    Congregation       Yes, I am sorry for my sins and desire to serve Jesus and not a sinful lifestyle.


    Pastor      Do you believe that here in the Lord’s Supper you will receive, along with the bread and wine, the true body and blood of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?            


    Congregation       Yes, I believe that I will be receiving the true body and blood of my Lord and Savior, which was given into death for my sins.


    Pastor      Are you coming to the Lord’s table as one in the faith with this Christian congregation, as the Scriptures teach?


    Congregation       Yes I have studied the teachings of this congregation concerning God’s Word;  I agree with them;  And am one in faith with them, as the Scriptures command me to be before I come to the Lord’s table with anyone.


    Pastor      Finally, do you recognize your need for forgiveness and do you believe that you will receive through the Lord’s Supper the full and free forgiveness of all your sins?


    Congregation       Yes, I have examined my life, see the need for God’s forgiveness and believe that I will receive complete forgiveness for all my sins, as my Savior has promised.


    Pastor      Having examined yourselves and confessed your sins, come now with confidence and joy to your Lord’s table and receive here, through His body and blood, the guarantee that your sins are all forgiven, and that eternal life and salvation are surely yours.


    The Words of Institution                       Spoken by the Pastor



    Pastor                          The peace of the Lord be with you always.   Amen.



    The Distribution of the Sacramental Elements




    We offer the Lord’s Supper this morning only to those individuals who are confirmed, communicant members of Grace Lutheran congregation, or of a member congregation of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.    To our Guests this evening,  we appreciate your presence among us and celebrate the faith in Christ which we share with you.   However, we ask that you will please respect our communion practice (see above).   A brochure further explaining the Biblical basis for our Communion practice is available on the entryway tract/brochure rack.   We encourage you both to examine it – especially the Biblical references within it, and also to speak with our Pastor after the service (at your convenience) so that you might better understand and appreciate our Biblically-based “Close Communion” practice.   Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and for your presence here among us this evening.




    Distribution Hymn                                                                  Hymn 310  “I Come, O Savior, To Your Table”


    1. I come, O Savior, to Your table, For weak and weary is my soul;

    O Jesus You alone are able To satisfy and make me whole:

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. Oh, grant that I in manner worthy May now trust solely in Your Word

    And, conscious of the sins before me,  Look only unto You, O Lord!

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. Unworthy though I am, O Savior, Because I have a sinful heart,

    Yet You Your lamb will banish never, Nor will Your faithfulness depart.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. Oh, let me loathe all sin forever As death and poison to my soul

    That I through willful sinning never May see Your judgment take its toll!

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. Your heart is filled with fervent yearning That sinners may salvation see

    Who, Lord, to You in faith are turning; So let me too come trustingly.

     Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. Weary am I and heavy laden, With sin my soul is sore oppressed;

    Receive me graciously and gladden My heart, for I am now Your guest.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. You here will find a heart most lowly That feels unworthy in Your sight,

    That duly weeps o’er sin, yet solely Your merit pleads, as it is right.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. By faith I call Your holy table The testament of Your deep love;

    For by Your gift I now am able   To know the heart of God above.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. What higher gift can we inherit? It is faith’s bond and solid base;

    It is the strength of heart and spirit, The covenant of hope and grace.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    10.This feast is manna, wealth abounding Unto the poor, to weak ones power,

    To angels joy, to hell confounding, And life for me in death’s dark hour.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    11.Your body, giv’n for me, O Savior, Your blood which You for me did shed,

    These are my life and strength forever, By them my hungry soul is fed.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    12.With You, Lord, I am now united; I live in You and You in me.

    No sorrow fills my soul, delighted   It finds its peace on Calvary.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    13.Who can condemn me now? For surely    The Lord is near, who justifies.

    No hell I fear, and thus securely With Jesus I to Heaven rise.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    1. Though death may threaten with disaster, It cannot rob me of my cheer;

    For He Who is of death the Master, With help and strength is always near.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!


    15.My heart has now become Your dwelling, O blessèd, holy Trinity.

    With angels I, Your praises telling, Shall live in joy eternally.

    Lord, may Your body and Your blood Be for my soul the highest good!



    following the distribution of the Lord’s Supper the Congregation will rise for


    The Closing Prayer


    Almighty God, to Whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the power of Your Holy Spirit, that we may love You more completely, praise You more joyously, and serve You more faithfully.  These requests we make in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, both now and forever.   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                                                                                    “If My Heart With Faith Is Filled”

                                                                                                                    sung to the tune “Vienna”   (CW 426)


    If my heart with faith is filled     How then could my voice be stilled?

    Would I not desire to shout      How salvation came about?


    Would I not seek out a way      To reach someone day by day

    And to those I cannot reach      Send on forth to go and preach?


    It should grieve my heart to see     One friend lost who could be free

    If from me he could have heard    God’s almighty saving Word.


    For me then to hide my light     ‘Neath a bushel is not right.

    If the blind would lead the blind     What an ending they will find!


    Lord, Your death was not to be     Kept a secret just for me.

    May I spread that news so dear     To a persons, far and near!    Amen.


    Silent Prayer,