The Third Sunday of the Epiphany Season    January 21, 2024 

Keeping God’s House Clean

            Twice during His public ministry  – near its beginning (reported in our Sermon Text) as well as at the start of Holy Week – Jesus reacted properly to the mercenary abuses of God’s temple in Jerusalem by rebuking and then driving out the moneylenders and merchandisers who had turned that place of worship into a mere, money-making mall.  For us, today there’s value not only in examining the “facts” of this story,  but also in conscientiously applying Jesus’ “house-cleaning” example and exhortation to our own lives of faith.   It’s a temptation for even the strongest of Christians, at times, to become a bit “sterile” and ritualistic in our worship practices.  Also, there always lurks the danger of becoming too loyal and committed to the “institution” or “organization” of the earthly church, while letting our loyalty and commitment to Christ and His Word diminish.   Just as the Jews in that Jerusalem temple 20 centuries ago needed to do some “Spiritual house cleaning,” even so you and I can benefit today from taking a closer, penitential look at the attitudes and actions with which we approach both our worship of the Lord and our work for Him.   

            In today’s Old Testament Lesson we’ll listen to part of the prayer that Solomon offered on the day the first temple was dedicated in Jerusalem.   Please note the penitential character of his prayer.   Solomon here identifies in himself and his people – and us too – the tendency to drift away from faithful worship of the Lord and, in its place, to substitute worldly affections and priorities……though with serious spiritual consequences.    

            Why does God want His people to remain steadfast in their worship and in the truths of His Word?   Our Epistle Lesson gives us that answer, as well as providing us with many other important spiritual considerations.     It simply and clearly declares that a person is justified through faith in Jesus Christ crucified and risen for us – faith established and fostered by God’s Word.  Also, in verse 13 we want to note that the phrase “calls on the name of the Lord” is something of a technical Old Testament term for engaging in public worship (e.g., Gen 12:8; Gen 21:33; Ps 116:4, 13, 17; Lam 3:55; Joel 2:32).  In the closing part of our reading, the Apostle Paul asks four rhetorical questions about preaching and God’s Word (questions where the answer is already – obviously – known).   Those questions lead us to recognize the essential value of the Word of God in our lives – especially as it is preached and believed – for the health and growth of our faith.

            Today’s Gospel Lesson takes place near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.   He had just been baptized by John and then spent 40 days in the wilderness being tested and resisting fully all of Satan’s temptations.   Jesus now begins his public ministry, starting in the territory of Galilee.  It is the Sabbath day, and Jesus attends a synagogue service in His hometown of Nazareth.   Let’s note, first, that the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to record that Jesus’ synagogue visit was a matter of “custom” for Him… other words, even though He is God, He nevertheless regularly participated in public worship (in church).   ……Now, if Jesus made it a priority to be in church regularly, shouldn’t all of us, too?….  Jesus is offered the honor, as a visiting rabbi, to read the Scriptures.   Taking the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah, He reads a prophecy from chapter 61 about the Promised Messiah, Who has been anointed to preach the Good News.   He then declares to His startled hometown friends, that He is that Messiah.   The situation quickly deteriorates, as some of them challenge Jesus’ legitimacy as Messiah.  He, in turn, indicates that – as God had withdrawn His Word from unfaithful Israel in the days of the prophets Elijah and Elisha and given His blessings to the Gentiles instead, even so – the people of Nazareth would be rejected by God for their failure to believe in Him.   An attempt to “punish” Jesus by trying to throw Him off a cliff fails, as Jesus displays a hint of His divine power by easily walking away from the angry mob.

            Our Children’s Lesson for this morning comes from the first verse of our Psalm for today, of Psalm 122, which was written by David.  The verse we’ll consider should be familiar to most of us:   ”I was glad when the said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”    This verse speaks about the privilege we have of physically being a guest – along with our fellow believers – in God’s house (for David, the temple;   for us, Church).   Keep in mind that Old Testament believers, like David, could only stand in the temple’s courtyard…..they could never enter the temple proper.  That was a privilege reserved only for the priests and temple workers.   You and I, on the other hand, can walk into and sit in God’s house – as we are doing right now.   Why the difference?   Because Jesus, our Great High Priest has perfectly fulfilled for us all the requirements of the Old Testament priesthood as well as the rest of the OT Ceremonial (worship) law.  As a result of His righteous life and sinless sacrifice for us on the cross, we are no longer bound to the Old Testament’s “Ceremonial” (worship regulations) Law, nor are we regarded as “unclean” sinners unable to approach God for worship.  Instead, through Jesus we have direct access to God our Father.  Consequently, by His grace, we can actually, physically go INTO God’s house and worship Him.   May all of us truly appreciate and consistently take full advantage of this tremendous privilege!

Jesus Cleansing The Temple

            The painting to the left, by the Spanish artist El Greco, shows Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem.    A money changer is in the left corner, clutching his bag of money.   Jesus utilizes a whip, apparently to scare people who are selling goods and in order to drive these people out of the temple.   A table can also be seen, turned, over in the foreground.                     The other two images that follow are a drawing and a to-scale reconstruction of Herod’s temple in Jerusalem.  It was from here that Jesus drove out the money changers and those selling livestock.  

            In addition to the original “Tabernacle” (tent) constructed by the Israelites during the exodus and used through David’s day, Herod’s temple was the third Jewish temple constructed.  

            The first (Solomon’s great temple, covering 17.5 acres) existed from roughly 966 B.C. to 586 B.C.  It was destroyed by the Babylonians.

            The second temple (Zerubbabel’s, which was a much smaller and more modest temple) was begun in 536 B.C. upon the Jew’s return from disciplinary exile in Babylon.  It was completed in 515 B.C.   

            The temple which stood in Jesus’ day was actually such a thorough reconstruction and enlargement of Zerubbabel’s temple that it was considered a new temple construction.   It was begun by Herod the Great in 19 B.C. and took 83 years to complete.   Covering roughly 36.25 acres it was considerably larger than Solomon’s temple.   Around the temple proper and extending out to the compound’s limits were four “courts:”   that of the priests;   of the men;   of the women;   and of the Gentiles.   (It was in the court of the Gentiles that the moneylenders and livestock traders had set up their tables/booths.)   However, the useful time of Herod’s temple was brief;   it was destroyed by the Romans (along with the rest of Jerusalem) in A.D. 70 following a Jewish revolt against Roman rule.    Only a remnant of the temple, the famous “Wailing Wall,” remains to this day.

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

Lord, open now my heart to hear   And through Your Word to me, draw near;

Let me Your Word e’er pure retain,   Let me Your child and heir remain. 

 Your Word does deeply move the heart,  Your Word does perfect health impart,  

Your Word my soul with joy does bless,   Your Word brings peace and happiness.  Amen.



Prayer upon entering the sanctuary

Pre-service Music                                                                                                                                              

We Praise Our God

The Introduction and Invitation To Worship                                                         

following which, the Congregation will rise for the invocation

The Invocation

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

The Psalm for Today                                                                                                                        Psalm 122

P:         I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

C:         Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.

P:         Jerusalem is a well-built city that is firmly joined together,  a city to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as a testimony to Israel, to give praise to the name of the Lord.

C:         That is where the thrones for judgment sit,    +   the thrones of the house of David.

P:         Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

C:         May those who love you prosper.   +   May there be peace within your fortifications,  prosperity within your citadels.

P:         For the sake of my brothers and my friends, now I will say, “Peace be within you.”

C:         For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,   +  I will seek good for you.

After which the Congregation may be seated for

The Opening Hymn                                                                     Hymn 226 “To Your Temple, I Draw Near”

                                                                                                                                              sung antiphonally


Verse 1 – sung by all

Verse 2 – Pulpit Side                            Verse 3 – Lectern Side

Verse 4 – sung by all

Verse 5 – Women and Girls                  Verse 6 – Men and Boys

Verse 7 – sung by all


1 To your temple I draw near;   Lord, I love to worship here.

Here are sacrament and Word; Here believers meet their Lord.

2 I through Christ am reconciled;   I through Christ become your child.

Abba, Father, give me grace   In your courts to seek your face.


3 While your glorious praise is sung,   Touch my lips, unloose my tongue,

That my joyful soul may bless   Christ the Lord, my righteousness.


4 While the prayers of saints ascend,   God of love, to mine attend.

Hear me, for your Spirit pleads;   Hear, for Jesus intercedes.


5 While I listen to your law,   Fill my soul with holy awe

Till your gospel brings to me   Life and immortality.


6 While your ministers proclaim   Peace and pardon in your name,

Through their voice, by faith, may I   Hear you speaking from the sky.


7 From your house, when I return,   May my heart within me burn,

And at evening let me say,   “I have walked with God today.”

After which, the Congregation will rise for

The Confessional Order of Service

Pastor              O LORD, Open my lips.

Congregation           (Sung)   And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

Pastor              Hasten, O God, to deliver me.

Congregation            (sung)    Hasten to help me, O LORD

Pastor              The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.

Congregation           (sung)      A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.


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.

We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God

Pastor                I now ask you before God, who searches your heart, do you confess that you have sinned against God  and deserve His wrath and punishment?  Then declare so by saying, “I do confess.”

Congregation    “I do confess.


Pastor               Truly you should confess, for the Holy Scriptures say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive  ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

                            Second, do you, with all your heart, repent of all your sins, committed in thought, word, and   deed?  Then declare so by saying, “I do repent.”

Congregation   “I do repent.”

Pastor                Truly, you should repent, as other penitent sinners have done:  King David, who prayed for a contrite  heart;  Peter, who wept bitterly;  the sinful woman, the prodigal son, and others.

Third, do you sincerely believe that God, by grace, for Jesus’ sake, will forgive you all your sins?  Then declare so by saying, “I do believe.”

Congregation    “I do believe.”

Pastor                Truly you should so believe, for the Holy Scriptures say, “God so loved the world that He gave His  one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Fourth, do you promise that with the help of the Holy Ghost, you will, from this time forward, reform your sinful life?  Then declare it by saying, “I do promise.”

Congregation   “I do promise.”


Pastor               Truly, you should so promise, for Christ, the Lord says:  “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  

Finally, do you believe that through me, a called servant of God, you will receive from God the  forgiveness of all your sins?   Then declare it by saying, “I do believe.

Congregation   “I do believe.”

Pastor               Upon this, your confession, I, because of my office as a called and ordained servant of God’s Word, announce the  grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place, and by 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 Ghost.  Peace  be with you.  Amen.

after which, the Congregation will be seated as

We Give Our Attention To God’s Word

The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                            I Kings 8:22-30; 46-61

     22 Then Solomon stood in front of the altar in the presence of the whole congregation of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.  23 He said:

     O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like You in the heavens above or on the earth below. You keep the covenant of mercy and faithfulness with Your servants who walk before You with all their heart. 24 You have kept the word which You spoke to Your servant, my father David. What You have said with Your mouth You have fulfilled with Your hand, as it is today.

     25 Now, Lord God of Israel, guard for Your servant, my father David, the promise You made to him when You said, “You will never fail to have a man sitting on the throne of Israel in My presence, if your sons guard their ways by walking in My law just as you have walked before Me.”

     26 Now, O God of Israel, let the words which You spoke to Your servant, my father David, be confirmed.

     27 But will God really dwell on the earth? In truth, the heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this house, which I have built! 28 But turn Your face toward the prayer of Your servant and toward his plea for mercy. O Lord my God, listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant offers before You today.

     29 Let Your eyes be open toward this house night and day, toward this place where You said, “My Name will be there,” to hear the prayer which Your servant offers toward this place.

     30 When You hear the plea for mercy of Your servant and of Your people Israel, which they pray toward this place, then hear in Your dwelling place in heaven—hear and forgive.

………………46 When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin) and You become angry with them, and You give them up to their enemies, and their captors exile them to an enemy land, whether distant or near, 47 when they are in the land where they were exiled and they turn their hearts back, and they repent and pray to You in the land of their exile and say, “We have sinned and become guilty and done evil,” 48 when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies where they were exiled, and they pray in the direction of their land, which You gave to their fathers, toward the city which You chose and toward the house which I have built for Your Name, 49 then hear their prayers and their plea for mercy from heaven, Your dwelling place, and provide justice for them. 50 Pardon Your people who have sinned against You and all their rebellious deeds that they have committed against You. Have compassion by causing their enemies to show them compassion. 51 For they are Your people and Your possession, which You brought out of Egypt, from the midst of the iron-smelting furnace.

     52 Let Your eyes be open to the plea for mercy from Your servant and to the plea for mercy from Your people Israel. Hear them whenever they cry out to You. 53 For You singled them out for Yourself as Your possession from all the peoples of the earth, just as You said through Moses Your servant when You brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.

     54 When Solomon finished offering all these prayers and pleas for mercy to the Lord, he got up from the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 Then he stood and blessed the whole congregation of Israel with a loud voice:

     56 Blessed be the Lord, Who has given rest to His people Israel, just as He said He would. Not one word has failed from all His good words which He spoke through Moses His servant. 57 May the Lord our God be with us, just as He was with our fathers. May He never leave us or abandon us. 58 May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways and to listen to His commands, regulations, and ordinances, which He commanded to our fathers. 59 May these words which I have prayed before the Lord be near the Lord our God day and night so that He provides justice for His servant and for His people Israel forever, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God. There is no other. 61 May your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, in order to walk in His regulations and to keep His commands, just as is the case today.

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                   Romans 10:8-17


8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in

 your heart,”  that is, the word of faith that we are proclaiming. 9 Certainly, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and it is with the mouth that a person confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

     12 So there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, Who gives generously to all who call on Him. 13 Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

     14 So then, how can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One about Whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace,  who preach the gospel of good things!”

     16 But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who believed our message?”  17 So then, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the word of Christ.


After which, the Congregation will rise for

Today’s Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                 Luke 4:14-30

     14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding area. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues and being honored by everyone.

     16 He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As was His custom, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

     18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.   He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, 19 and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

     20 He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him. 21 He began to tell them, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

     22 They all spoke well of Him and were impressed by the words of grace that came from His mouth. And they kept saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

     23 He told them, “Certainly you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal Yourself!’ Do here in Your hometown everything we heard You did in Capernaum.” 24 And He said, “Amen I tell you: No prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 But truly I tell you: There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut for three years and six months, while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in Sidon. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was healed except Naaman the Syrian.”

     28 All those who were in the synagogue were filled with rage when they heard these things. 29 They got up and drove Him out of the town. They led Him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. 30 But He passed through the middle of them and went on His way.


After which the Congregation may be seated to sing

The Apostles’ Creed                                                                                           Sung to the melody of Melita

                                                                                                                     (Almighty Father, Strong to Save)

All glory to our God and Lord,   Who by the power of His Word

Created and sustains each thing,

and all that live.   His praises sing….

Our Father, Who in mercy still,

Guides everything by His sure will.


We worship Jesus Christ, God’s Son,

   by Whom salvation has been won.

For us He lived, and for us died, that we might all be justified,

Raised from the dead, on high to reign.

   We know that He will come again.


We praise the Holy Spirit sent,   active in Word and Sacrament,

He binds the Church, below, above,

 in faith in Christ’s redeeming love.

And ne’er forget this promise true: 

 with Christ we shall arise anew!    Amen

The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                   Psalm 122:1

I rejoiced with those who said to me,  “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

“Are You Glad When You Can Come To Church?”

The Sermon Hymn                                                                                      “God Is Here Among His People”

                                                                                          sung to the melody of“‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”

God is here among His people!   As we join in praise and prayer,

May we find in fuller measure, Jesus’ grace which we all share.

Here, though in the world abiding, as God’s children set apart,

We rejoice to join together, one in faith, in love, in heart.


Here the Means of Grace remind us of our life-long need for grace.

Here are altar, font, and pulpit; 

 here Christ’s cross has central place.

Here in faithful Bible preaching, here in silence and in songs,

Here the Spirit, edifying, heart-felt joy in us prolongs.


Here our children find in Baptism   entry to the Shepherd’s fold;

Here, in Sacramental Union,   Christ sustains us, young and old.

Here the servants of the Servant, seek in worship to explore

What it means in daily living, to believe and to adore.


Lord of all, the Church and Kingdom,

 in an age of change and doubt,

Keep us faithful to all Scripture;   Help us work Your purpose out.

Here, in bringing praise and off’rings, all we have to give, receive;

We who cannot live without You,

We adore You!   We believe!”      Amen.


After which, the Congregation will rise for

The Salutation

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.   May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer!   Amen.

The Sermon Text                                                                                                                           John 2:13-25

     13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.   14 In the temple courts He found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and money changers sitting at tables. 15 He made a whip of cords and drove everyone out of the temple courts, along with the sheep and oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those selling doves he said, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a place of business!”     17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”

     18 So the Jews responded, “What sign are You going to show us to prove You can do these things?”       19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise It up again.”            20 The Jews said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple! And You are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But Jesus was speaking about the Temple of His body. 22 When Jesus was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. Then they believed the Scripture and what Jesus had said.          23 While He was in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, many believed in His name as they observed the miraculous signs He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, because He knew them all. 25 He did not need anyone to testify about man, because He Himself knew what was in man.

It’s Time for Some “Spiritual” House Cleaning….. Jesus shows us how


after which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, now encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.   Amen.



We Bring our Offerings to the 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:

as the offerings are brought forward, the Congregation will rise for


  • The Prayers for this Day

    P:  Lord God, Maker and Preserver of all, we praise and thank You for all that You give us each day:

    C: We are not worthy of the mercies You show us.    May the Word we have heard today take root in our hearts     and bear fruit in our lives,   and may it encourage us to shine     as brilliant lights for Your glory in this sinful world.

    P:  Heavenly Father, protect us from every kind of danger:  sudden catastrophe,  terrors of crime,  the pain of disease,  and the perils of the devil:

    C: Heal those who are sick,     cheer those who are sad,    calm those who are distressed,    give understanding to those who are confused,   and grant comfort to all who are aged and ill.

    P:  Bless our land, our people, and those who hold offices of high trust.   Bless our new President by granting Him the wisdom to govern our nation prudently, and in conformity with Your holy will. 

    C: Keep our government and schools strong and upright     for the advancement of good citizenship and capable workers,    that we may continue to enjoy Your gifts of peace,      prosperity, and well-being in this country     of which You have so graciously made us citizens.

    P:  Grant Your blessing to every nation on earth.     Where there is war, may there be peace.  Where there is hatred, let it be overcome by love.    Where there is poverty, danger, and disaster,    come with Your mighty power to help and restore those who are suffering.

    C: Protect those who travel by land, sea, and air.  We pray that You will keep our loved ones from whatever dangers may threaten them and, in particular, that you would keep safe those in our military who are serving our country in hazardous and life-threatening situations around the world. 

    P:  Bless also all those persons who serve You in this congregation.    Give them a rich measure of strength, patience, wisdom, and love,      that their service before You and for others    might be a joy and blessing for them   and not a burden.    

    C: But above all,   we give ourselves to You, O Lord,   that we may serve You in whatever ways are pleasing in Your sight.  Take what we have,   our bodies and minds,   our time and skills,   our possessions and offerings,  and use them to Your glory.

    P:  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:

    C: 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

    P:              The Lord be with you.

    C:             (Sung)   And also with you.

    P:              Lift up your hearts.

    C:             (Sung) We lift them up unto the Lord.

    P:              Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

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

    The Words of Institution – Spoken by the Pastor

    P:  The peace of the Lord be with you always.

    C:             (sung)  Amen


    The Distribution of the Sacramental Elements

            (Please read the following 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 congregations come forward to receive the Lord’s Supper at this time.                            

         We believe, according to Scripture, that only those who are “one,” that is, in complete doctrinal agreement, united in a common public confession of faith, are to commune together at the same altar (see I Corinthians 10:17 and I Corinthians 1:10).

         To be “in communion” means to share and to hold in common.   By eating and drinking at our Lord’s Table, we are not only sharing in, with, and under the bread and wine, Jesus’ very body and blood…we are also publicly declaring that we hold in common a specific confession of faith.  In other words, as a result of having comprehensively studied the Scriptures together all of our communicants have agreed to accept and proclaim the same Biblical doctrines and practices.

         Through membership in a particular church body (for us, that church body is the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod), each person makes a public statement that he/she is in full agreement with the teachings and practices of that body.  Because not every church body or Lutheran Synod teaches and practices the same things, we in the WELS want to be honest in our recognition of the doctrinal differences that, here on earth, separate us from other church bodies.   Please bear in mind that we are not, in any way, judging the legitimacy of your Christian faith.  Still, we ask that  if you have not (upon study of the Word with us) declared yourself to be in full doctrinal agreement with us, you would respectfully not join us in the Lord’s Supper this morning.  

         It is our prayer that our Scripture-based practice of “Close Communion” will encourage anyone among us today who is not presently in full fellowship with us to seriously examine the teachings and practices of his/her church in order to determine if those teachings and practices are really in full agreement with God’s Word. 

         And if you are guest among us today, we want you to know that it is our earnest desire that you might become familiar with the Biblical doctrines our congregation confesses, in order 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 understanding and respect of our Communion practice.  



    Distribution Hymn                                                       Hymn 312   “Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Prepared”

    verses 1-4;   verses 5-8


    1 Lord Jesus Christ, you have prepared   This feast for our salvation;

    It is your body and your blood,   And at your invitation

    As weary souls, with sin oppressed,   We come to you for needed rest,   For comfort, and for pardon.


    2 Although you did to heav’n ascend,    Where angel hosts are dwelling,

    And in your presence they behold    Your glory, all excelling,

    And though your people shall not see   Your glory and your majesty    Till dawns the judgment morning,


    3 Yet, Savior, you are not confined   To any habitation,

    But you are present ev’rywhere   And with your congregation.

    Firm as a rock this truth shall stand,   Unmoved by any daring hand    Or subtle craft and cunning.


    4 We eat this bread and drink this cup,   Your precious Word believing

    That your true body and your blood   Our lips are here receiving.

    This Word remains forever true,   And there is naught you cannot do,   For you, Lord, are almighty.


    5 Though reason cannot understand,    Yet faith this truth embraces:

    Your body, Lord, is ev’rywhere   At once in many places.

    I leave to you how this can be;   Your Word alone suffices me;    I trust its truth unfailing.


    6 Lord, I believe what you have said;    Help me when doubts assail me.

    Remember that I am but dust,   And let my faith not fail me.

    Your supper in this vale of tears   Refreshes me and stills my fears   And is my priceless treasure. 


      7 Grant that we worthily receive    Your supper, Lord, our Savior,

    And, truly grieving for our sins,   May prove by our behavior

    That we are thankful for your grace   And day by day may run our race,   In holiness increasing.  


    8 For your consoling supper, Lord,    Be praised throughout all ages!

    Preserve it, for in ev’ry place    The world against it rages.

    Grant that this sacrament may be   A blessed comfort unto me

    When living and when dying.   following the distribution of the Lord’s Supper   



    at the Pastor’s invitation the Congregation will rise


    We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing

    The Closing Prayer

    Hear the prayer of Your people, O Lord, that the lips which have praised You here may glorify You in the world, that the eyes which have seen the coming of Your Son may long for His coming again, and that all who have received in His true body and blood the pledge of Your forgiveness may be restored to live a new and holy life, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.    Amen.                         

    The Closing Salutation

    Pastor             May the Lord be with you.

    Congregation             And also with you.


    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 upon you with favor,  and give you His peace.   Amen.

    The Closing Hymn                                                                                                           “Search Me, O God”

                                                                                     (sung to the tune, “Savior Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise”


    Search me, O God, and know my heart today,

    Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray

    See if there be some wicked way in me

    Cleanse me from every  sin and set me free.


    Lord, take my heart and make it wholly Thine

    Fill my poor soul  with Thy great love divine

    Take all I have, my passion, self and pride

    Now and forever,   Lord with me abide.         Amen.


    prayer, announcements, post-service music






    A Divine Dozen Reasons

    For Being In Church Each Sunday

    You and I are not saved by going to church.   We’re saved by God’s grace, and through Spirit-given faith alone in Jesus Christ Who lived, died and rose for our salvation.   But once brought to faith, we are to be “new creatures” — with new, God-pleasing desires and behaviors.

    Among other ways of manifesting our faith, every believer in Christ should desire to be an active – worshiping and serving – partner in a faithful Church.   It is God’s will that each of us should be committed to being involved in regular fellowship with other believers.   Being part of a church is essential for our walk of faith and helps us grow into the kind of Christians God has called us to be.  On Sunday mornings, then, we can either participate in the bad practice of being spiritually lazy and in doing things that have nothing to do with hearing God’s Word or publicly worshiping Him…..or you and I can maintain the good and Godly habit of consistently being an active part of this Christian fellowship that we call Grace Lutheran Church. 

    As Christians, we don’t obey Scripture or go to church because we think it will save us.  We obey God’s Word because we are grateful to our God for His love and salvation, already freely given to us in Christ our Savior.  We want to show that gratitude to God by publicly as well as privately worshiping Him – as He directs us to do.  (And, by the way, you can never hear and study the Word of God or worship Him too much!)   We know what God wants us to do in this regard, don’t we?   So let’s do it!  And let’s not go to church for the wrong reasons….but for the right, Scriptural  ones,  like the following “Divine Dozen” Reasons:

    1. Jesus Christ died for the church.

    Ephesians 5:25    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

    II Corinthians 5:14-15      For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died

     for all, therefore all have died;  and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him Who for their sake died and was raised.


    1. We have been called to be imitators of Christ and His apostles …..who regularly spent time in public worship.

     Luke 4:16      He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. He stood up to read.

    Mark 1:21      Jesus and His companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, He went into the synagogue and began to teach.

    Luke 6:6   And it came to pass also on another Sabbath, that He entered into the synagogue and taught.

    Acts 11:26      and when he [Barnabas] found him [Saul], he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

    1. You learn and better understand Scripture. It increases your growth on your journey of faith.

    Colossians 3:16   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    2 Timothy 2:15    Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

    Proverbs 1:5       Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

    2 Timothy 3:16    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

    1. To enjoy fellowship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    1 John 1:3       We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Matthew 18:20     For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.

    1. It is also important for us to have fellowship with other believers, so that we can all share, encourage, support, teach, love, help, etc.

    Hebrews 10:24-25      And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up  meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

     Galatians 6:2      Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

    Acts 2:42-47         They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


    1. To worship the One, True and Only God

    John 4:23-24         But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and  truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

    Psalms 150:6       Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

    Romans 12:1-2     Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy  and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

    1. Christians make up the body of Christ. We belong to each other and we are to selflessly employ what God has equipped us with for the common good.

    Romans 12:4-5     For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the

     same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

    Romans 12:6-8     We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then

     prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

    Ephesians 4:11-12     So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip  His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 12:26-27    If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.    Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.


    1. To be a good example to fellow believers and before the unbelieving world.

    Matthew 5:16       In the same way let your light shine before others that

    they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.

    1 Timothy 4:12    Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

     Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ  loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant Offering and Sacrifice to God.

    1. It is important for each Christian’s Spiritual growth and Spiritual strength.

    Colossians 1:9-10      And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be

     filled with the knowledge of His will in all Spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk

     in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

    1 Peter 2:2-5   Like newborn babies, crave pure Spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have  tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a Spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering Spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    Ephesians 6:10-18     Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you  can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.


    1. Being in church consistently is an obvious way of showing we put God first in our lives….instead of making other things on Sunday – whatever they might be – more important.

    Matthew 6:33      But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    1 Corinthians 10:31   So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

    Psalm 122:1   I was glad when they said to me,  “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

    1. It is never good to isolate yourself from other believers. In your time of need (and we all have them…) how can someone pray for you, encourage you,  or help you?   How can you help others in the same way?  By being isolated, Your (and their) spiritual growth will be hindered.

    Proverbs 18:1       Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;   he breaks out against all sound judgment.

    1. And finally, we should go to church every Sunday because God commands        it!

    Exodus 20:8-11   Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,  but the seventh  day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    Deuteronomy 5:12-14     Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.

     Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.