The First Sunday in Advent

The Beginning of a New Church Year


November 27, 2022

   Christ could come any day…

How Ready are You for Him?


      While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, “It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!” They replied, “We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, ‘He may come today.'”           

      Jesus also might come today to judge the world.   Or He might call you home to heaven today through death.   If He does either, how ready will you be – spiritually – to stand before Him in judgment?   As God’s children may each of us be able to comfortably answer: “Yes, I am ready – even eager – to leave this sinful world, to meet my Savior, and to live – by His grace – eternally in heaven.”   

      It’s possible, of course, 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 us today in our worship service for all of us to reflect again, through His Word, on the importance of our being spiritually prepared for life’s end on this earth and 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, stressing the need for God’s people to be spiritually ready for our Lord’s return and for our entering eternal life.

      On that Last Day – whenever it does come (and only the LORD knows for sure) – all the dead will be bodily resurrected, the absolute incarceration of Satan and all unbelievers in hell will occur, the destruction of this wicked world will take place, and Jesus will provide eternal deliverance to His Church when He gathers the living elect (along those souls previously in heaven) into the Church Triumphant in its ultimate, glorious, final, heavenly form.  

      We’ll be considering all that, and more, 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 this morning at Grace Lutheran 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.

      Today’s Children’s Lesson will remind us that just as we pack a suitcase when we’re getting ready to take a trip somewhere, so paying close attention to and believing in God’s Word helps us get ready to meet Jesus, prepared either for Jesus’ return (Judgment Day) or to die and go to heaven….whichever comes first for us.

      Our First Lesson encourages us to be spiritually ready for the Redeemer’s return, first by urging us to be continually aware of the “nearness” of Christ’s return – due to the increase in wickedness in our world – and also by recognizing our need for regular repentance of our sins, and finally by daily depending on the merits and mercies of Christ for our eternal deliverance.  

      In our Second Lesson Jesus uses the illustration of a master going on a journey and leaving his servants to tend to his business at home.   Those servants are always supposed to be faithful in their service to the master, and part of that faithfulness is that they are constantly prepared for his homecoming.   In the same way, we – Christ’s 21st century disciples – are to be faithful in our efforts to serve Him and ever expectant of His return in glory as part of His Second Coming.

      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.   

      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 that day comes. 

      And, finally, through this morning’s Sermon we will be encouraged to faithfully, patiently, eagerly, attentively, and actively wait for our King of Kings, Lord Jesus to come to us.  First as we celebrate His birth. Also as He comes to us through His Word.  And when He comes to us on the Last Day to deliver His Church and take us into heaven.


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.      Lutheran declares 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.




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


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


The Opening Hymn                                                                                 Hymn 1  “The Advent of Our King”


1 The advent of our King    Our prayers must now employ,

And we must hymns of welcome sing     In strains of holy joy.


2 The everlasting Son    Incarnate deigns to be,

Himself a servant’s form puts on   To set his servants free.


3 O Zion’s Daughter, rise    To meet your lowly King,

Nor let a faithless heart despise    The peace he comes to bring.


4 As judge, on clouds of light,    He soon will come again

And his true members all unite   With him in heav’n to reign.


5 Before the dawning Day    Let sin’s dark deeds be gone,

The sinful self be put away,    The new self now put on.


6 All glory to the Son,    Who comes to set us free,

With Father, Spirit, ever one   Through all eternity.


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 First Lesson                                                                                                                     Romans 13:11-14

11 And do this since you understand the present time. It is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is drawing near. So let us put away the deeds of darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13 Let us walk decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual sin and wild living, not in strife and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not give any thought to satisfying the desires of your sinful flesh.



The Second Lesson                                                                                                                     Luke 12:35-48


35 “Be dressed, ready for service, and keep your lamps burning. 36 Be like people waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 Blessed are those servants, whom the master will find watching when he comes. Amen I tell you: He will dress himself and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them. 38 Even if he comes in the second or third watch,[c] they will be blessed if he finds them alert. 39 But know this: If the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you are not expecting him.”


41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us or to everybody?”


42 The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master will put in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find doing so when he comes. 44 Truly I tell you: He will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is staying away for a long time.’ And he begins to beat the male and female servants, to eat and drink and become drunk, 46 then the master of that servant will arrive on a day when he was not expected and at an hour that his servant does not know. The master will cut him in two and assign him a place with the unbelievers.  47 That servant who knew his master’s will and did not prepare or act according to what his master wanted, will be punished severely. 48 But the one who did not know, and did something worthy of punishment, will be punished lightly. From everyone to whom much was given, much will be expected. From the one who was entrusted with much, much more will be asked.



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 Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;  Born of the virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;  Was crucified, dead, and buried;  He descended into hell;  The third day He rose again from the dead;  He ascended into heaven;  And sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;  The resurrection of the body;  And the life everlasting.  Amen.


after which the Congregation will be seated for


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                               Mark 13:32-33

32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Watch! Be alert and pray, because you do not know when the time will come.

Are You “Packed” and Ready to Go?


Sermon Hymn                                                                                   Hymn 2  “Savior of the Nations, Come”


1 Savior of the nations, come;   Virgin’s Son, make here your home.

Marvel now, O heav’n and earth,    That the Lord chose such a birth.


2 Not by human flesh and blood,    By the Spirit of our God

Was the Word of God made flesh,    Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.


3 Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child    Of the virgin undefiled,

Though by all the world disowned,    Yet to be in heav’n enthroned!


4 From the Father’s throne he came    And ascended to the same,

Captive leading death and hell –    High the song of triumph swell!


5 Praise to God the Father sing,    Praise to God the Son, our King,

Praise to God the Spirit be   Ever and eternally.


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!

       Your God and King Is Coming


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 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                                                                                             “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     For e-ter-ni-ty.

silent prayer, announcements, post-service music





Last Week at Grace     Sunday worship attendance: 53     Bible Class: 22   Tuesday Bible Study:   10     

 Thanksgiving Attendance: 47          Budgetary: $ 2224         Online: $563.33       Online Audio/Video: $101.31

This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today              Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m,                             Fellowship, 1045 am     Bible Class/Sunday School 11:05am                                                   

                        Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

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

Wednesday     Soup and Sandwich fellowship meal, 6-6:45 p.m.      

                                    Midweek Advent worship service, with Communion 7 p.m.

Saturday  Outreach Calls, 10 a.m.

Sunday    Morning Worship, with the Lord’s Supper 9:30 a.m.    Fellowship Time, 10:40 a.m.                      

                        Bible Class/Sun School, 11:05 a.m.                 Youth Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

Birthdays This Week  11/27 – Wilma Jean Carr;    11/28 Nancy Larson 12/01 Erich Diewock;    12/02 Eric Lemmon


Do You Know Anyone….  who is not currently attending a church?   Have you prayerfully invited him/her/them to worship with you (and us) some Sunday morning?   Would you be willing to share that person’s/their name and address with us, so that we might send periodic invitations to them to visit us for worship?    If so, please speak with Pastor, as we are always looking for more souls to which we can reach out with our Savior’s Gospel of love, forgiveness, and everlasting life.   Thank you for helping us do that important work for the Lord.

Midweek Advent Worship Services Start THIS WEDNESDAY !!!  – As we do each year, in 2022 we’ll hold 3 special, midweek worship services during December.   The Advent season anticipates the coming to earth of Christ as our Savior from sin.   Its purpose is to encourage both repentance and an eager anticipation to celebrate Christ’s birth.  This year’s services will be on the Wednesday evenings (7:00 p.m.) of November 30, December 7 and December 14.   The Theme of this year’s services is “Waiting for the Lord.”   Incidentally, the first midweek service will include a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.   

            In addition, preceding each service we will hold a soup and sandwich dinner.   Meals will run from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.   

            So, please join us Wednesday evening for food for your body and your soul.   …..  And don’t forget to invite (and, if needed, to bring) a fellow Grace member and some friends to worship with you and us.

Today’s and Tuesday’s  Bible Classes ……..In our Sunday Bible Class we’re  studying Second Corinthians.  Today we’ll work through chapter twelve, which focuses on Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” physical impediment, and his attitude toward it.   Tuesday morning, from 10:30-11:30,  we’re studying the book of Esther.   This week we’ll be working in chapters seven and eight.  If you can’t join us in person, please join us over the phone  (call 1-701-802-5405, then dial 7519304#).

The LATEST EDITION of “Meditations”, our WELS’ daily devotional booklet is available through our congregation to everyone who worships here.  The November 27-February 25, 2023 edition can be found on the tables in the front entry.  It starts today and covers three months’ worth of devotions for time well-spent in God’s Word.

Women’s Advent Tea   Ladies, we hope that you will choose to participate in this year’s Women’s Advent Tea, that will be held on Saturday, December 17th.   It will be held from noon to 2 p.m.   Please be a part of this special, spiritual/fellowship opportunity. 

Food Pantry Appeal and Angel Tree Reminders   In the weeks ahead, please consider expressing your generosity in two ways:    1) by helping to restock our food pantry (please refer to the bulletin flyer which indicates items we especially need);   and 2) through our “Angel Tree,” which will be placed in our lobby next Sunday and throughout Advent.   Through it you can provide Christmas gifts that will support our benevolence efforts, remember fellow members who are spending Christmas alone, and help families and individuals in need.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Worship Services     Please join us for worship on Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24th) at 7:00 p.m. as we close our out Advent preparations through a special Christmas Eve service.   The next morning, (Sunday, December 25th), we’ll return at 9:30 a.m. for the festival celebration of Christ’s nativity.  This service will include the singing of some very traditional and meaning-filled Christmas hymns.   We’re looking forward to joining with you in these special observances of Jesus’ birth. – And please don’t forget to invite those of your family and friends who don’t have a church home of their own to come and celebrate our Savior’s birth with us!

Paul’s Closing Argument and Appeal

II Corinthians 12:11-18

Any good “Perry Mason” fan knows how things work in the courtroom – at least we think so.  Just before the jury goes out to deliberate a case, the defense attorney and prosecutor have an opportunity to make their closing arguments. At that time, each lawyer tries to press home the particular point of view for which they’ve laid the groundwork throughout the trial.  Of course, only one side will win the case.   And that’s what the jury is supposed to determine.

In one sense, that is what Paul is doing in the verses before us.   Going back to the start of 1 Corinthians and proceeding to the message of 2 Corinthians, Paul has been addressing certain problems that have arisen within the Corinthian church.   Hard feelings and divisions exist within the congregation.  Some members are living in sexual immorality, while others are taking their fellow-believers to court.  Some are struggling with how to apply their new-found faith to God’s institution of marriage.   Still others are participating in pagan idol-worship feasts, thinking that it’s no big deal.   Their approach to celebrating the Lord’s Supper left a lot to be desired.   Spiritual gifts were being either neglected or abused.  The roles of men and women in worship were confused.   False teachers had infiltrated the church who wanted to be recognized as having apostolic status.   At the same time they were attacking Paul’s authenticity, message and ministry as an apostle.   Far worse, their gospel was not the true gospel. 

Throughout his first and second letters, Paul evangelically, yet firmly, addressed these problems.  By the time we get to 2 Corinthians 10, Paul finally has reached the point where he feels compelled to respond to the accusations of his adversaries by “boasting” about how God had used and blessed him in his ministry.  As he closes out 2 Corinthians, Paul presents his closing argument.   And it’s much shorter than one might expect.    After sort-of defending himself and the ministry God has given him, Paul takes the offensive.  He points out the sins which must be corrected before he can come joyfully to Corinth.   So, in these closing verses of 2 Corinthians, Paul puts his adversaries on something like a “hot seat.”  Of course, the words God gave him were not just for people living 2000 years ago.  They are also meant for us today.

“I wasn’t a burden to you”   (verses 11-18)

12:11  “I have become a fool”   – The verb “become” in the Greek is emphatic and indicates that something that was expected or predicted has finally occurred.  It also suggests that this foolishness had occurred in the past and continued into the present.   Paul saw himself as being foolish because of his previous boasting about the ministry and message God had entrusted to him….in the face of both the “super apostles” lies and attacks against him, and also because of the Corinthians’ willingness to listen to and agree with those false teachers.

“You forced me” – Paul had no choice, given their wrong treatment of him.  They should have defended him so that he wouldn’t have had to say a word in his own defense.   But few, if any, members of the congregation spoke up for Paul.

“I ought to be commended by you” – The congregation had a moral obligation to appreciate Paul, but

            that expectation was unfulfilled by them.   In fact, as God instructs us all in Proverbs 31:8, the

 Corinthians should have spoke up for Paul because he wasn’t there to speak up for himself.   Using similar words, Luther in his explanation to the 8th commandment, says regarding others that instead of bearing false witness against them, when they are being maligned we are to “defend them, speak well of them, and take their words and actions in the kindest possible way.”   How often do YOU do that?

“I am not inferior” – Paul didn’t lack anything compared to the false apostles in any way.   He excelled beyond them in faithfulness, in doctrine, in sufferings for the Gospel, in his calling directly from God, and in his love for the souls of the Corinthians.

“even if I am nothing” – While compared to those false apostles, Paul was God’s faithful servant and the Corinthians’ friend and brother in Christ, in reality (and because of his current and past sins), Paul – in genuine humility – regarded himself as “nothing” special compared to anyone else.  He was simply God’s called servant, a worthless, disposable jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4), whose strength (and all other abilities and any success) came from God alone.

12:12  “The signs of an apostle” –   During His public ministry, Jesus gave His disciples the power and authority to drive out demons and perform miracles (Luke 9:1,2).   After His resurrection, he repeated this, assuring them that they would be able to do miraculous signs that would help gather people and authenticate their message (Mark 16:14-20).

            “signs” – these confirmed, or authenticated, the doer as someone whom God had sent.

“wonders” – this refers to the awe or amazement that the miracles would bring forth in those who witnessed them.

“miracles” – literally “powers”…..pointing to the supernatural power that was behind an act that went beyond the ordinary laws of nature.

“with all perseverance” – Paul had kept at his assigned work diligently, in spite of hardship and opposition.

12:13  “how were you treated worse than other churches”     Paul didn’t do anything to the Corinthians that could lead them to justifiably say they were treated in a way that was inferior to the other congregations he had served.  He didn’t in any way take advantage of them financially (or in any other way), nor did he regard them with less love and commitment that the other churches he had served.  And they certainly weren’t worse off because of Paul’s ministry to them.   It was shameful that the “super apostles” had maligned Paul by suggesting that he was mistreating the Corinthians.   And it was equally shameful that many of the Corinthians apparently agreed with this false accusation.

“I myself was not a burden to you” – the Greek noun for burden is derived from a verb used for the shock of an electric eel, which numbed its victim to a fatal insensitivity.

“forgive me this wrong” – Paul, sarcastically, begs their forgiveness (or grace) for this “sin” of which he’s accused….and which, of course, was no sin at all.

12:14  “this is the third time I am ready to come to you” – In Acts 18:1-8 we have the report of Paul coming to Corinth during his second missionary journey and remaining there about a year and a half in order to establish that congregation.   His second visit isn’t recorded in the book of Acts, but Paul does refer to it in 2 Corinthians 2:1.   The visit was a “painful” one, and most likely occurred during his third missionary journey, probably while he was spending much of his time in Ephesus.   Following his second visit, Paul wrote two  letters to the Corinthians, one of which (I Corinthians) we have in Scripture.   (see 2 Corinthians 2:1-4)

“I do not seek your possessions, but you”  – the Greek verb implies Paul has continuing and habitual concern – not for their possessions, but – for their souls.  In I Corinthians 10:24 Paul had instructed the Corinthians not to seek their own good, but the welfare of others.  Here, Paul’s practicing what he preached.   Paul wants the Corinthians to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, confident of their salvation by His grace, and not committed to an impossible course of salvation by human works and worthiness.

“the children should not have to save up for their parents” – the verb form used here for “save up” is used to express an action that was customary, and so this was a general truth of that day.    Young children didn’t support their parents.     In his refusal to receive material support from the Corinthians, Paul was doing what any “father” was expected to do….to not take materially from his children.

“but the parents for their children”  – Then, as now, parents have the responsibility to care for, instruct, discipline, and provide for their children.   Paul was committed to serving the congregation as a father serves his family, and as a shepherd cares for his sheep…..with no intention of “shearing” them for any “wool.”

12:15  “I will gladly spend and be completely spent on behalf of your souls” – Paul was enthusiastic to spend generously and utterly (to the point of exhaustion) whatever he had in the way of money, energies, even himself, for the benefit of the souls of the Corinthian Christians.    He was a good human shepherd, serving in the mold of our Good Shepherd.   Both were willing to – and did – lay down their lives for the sake of their sheep (John 10:15).   Would that all pastors….and parents….so thoroughly and lovingly expend themselves and their resources with such dedication for the Spiritual benefit of their charges!

“If I love you all the more, am I to be loved that much less?” – Paul’s love was an on-going and abundant love. Regrettably, the Corinthians didn’t reciprocate Paul’s love to anywhere near the same degree of devotion and exhaustion.   Those “super apostles” apparently slandered Paul by suggesting that he didn’t love the Corinthians as much as, for example, the Macedonians (from which he received some financial support while in Corinth).   They maligned him by suggesting that Paul wouldn’t let the Corinthians compensate him because he didn’t think as highly of them as he did the Macedonians.   The “super apostles,” on the other hand,  made sure they received financial support in great abundance from the Corinthians.    Of course, Paul wasn’t playing favorites.   What he did in Corinth was what he believed was best for the ministry there, and so best for the Corinthians.   A parent should never determine his/her behavior based on “will me children like me better if I do this?”   The parent’s duty is to give the children whatever they need – even if, in the process, the children are not pleased with the parent.   Faithful ministers also do not minister by “putting their finger in the air of public opinion” and first seeing what way the wind is blowing before serving their flocks.   Their concern should ever and always be “what will Spiritually benefit these souls that God has placed in my care?”   It doesn’t mean that Pastors should be insensitive to the needs of the people they serve, but that they should remember that they serve the Lord first and foremost, and that they are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and not to say whatever peoples’ “itching ears want to hear” (2Timothy 4:1-5).

12:16  “I did not burden you” – the verb in Greek used here is different from the one used back in verse 13.   The one used here means “to put a heavy weight on someone.”

“I was just being crafty and using deceit” – literally, unscrupulous.   Again, Paul is using sarcasm, “agreeing” about the accusations that others had made against him that he was being deceitful and manipulating the Corinthians….when, in fact, his accusers were doing the very things of which they were slandering Paul.

“to exploit you” – literally “to trap.”  The Greek word was used in connection with hunting and fishing.  Paul was “admitting” that he was trying to trap them.

12:17  “Did I ever take advantage of you through any one of the men I sent you?” – The first word of this sentence in Greek isn’t actually translated into English, but in connection with the question Paul asks, it indicates that the answer is supposed to be “no.”   Another way of translating it would be “I didn’t take advantage of you, did I?”

Quite possibly Paul is referring to the emissaries that he sent to Corinth to help prepare for the special offering for the church in Jerusalem.    If that’s the case, it seems that Paul and his associates were being accused of making plans to skim off, or pocket, some of the funds for themselves.  To counter such accusations, Paul points to the impeccable conduct of the men he sent to Corinth on his behalf.  He does this by asking them some rhetorical questions, which demand answers affirming the good character of his associates.

            “take advantage”  – the verb carries with it the idea of being motivated by greed or selfishness.

12:18  “I urged Titus to go” – Paul often sent either Titus or Timothy as his authoritative representative and “trouble-shooter” to certain congregations, some of which needed encouragement and additional instruction, with others requiring discipline and correction.

“and sent our brother with him”  – the word used for “sent” indicates that this was something that Paul regularly did as situations warranted it.  This might be a reference to the “brother” mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:22, whom Paul sent accompanying Titus to help gather the Jerusalem offering.

“Surely Titus did not take advantage of you, did he?”   – the Greek used here indicates that the forth-coming answer should be “certainly not.”

“Did we not walk in the same spirit” – the “not” in this question implies that the answer should be “yes.”

“in the very same footprints?” – If the Corinthians would only look at the evidence before them, based on their experience with Paul and his co-workers, they would have to conclude that none of them – in any way – took advantage of the Corinthians or had anything but the Corinthians’ best Spiritual interests at heart.   As a result, the Corinthians had no reason whatsoever to doubt the honorable intentions of Paul and his fellow workers.