Friday, November 13, 2020

Evening Prayer (Vespers) for Nov 11, 2020


Evening Prayer (Vespers)

You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.



Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.

Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over.

Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church.

HYMN: May You Run and Not Be Weary, W&P 97

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FIRST READING: Jeremiah 31:31-34

A reading from: Jeremiah

31 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the Lord!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.

Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.

PSALM:  Psalm 78:1-8

78 Listen, my people, to my teaching;
    tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a proverb.
    I’ll declare riddles from days long gone—
        ones that we’ve heard and learned about,
        ones that our ancestors told us.
We won’t hide them from their descendants;
    we’ll tell the next generation
    all about the praise due the Lord and his strength—
    the wondrous works God has done.
He established a law for Jacob
    and set up Instruction for Israel,
        ordering our ancestors
        to teach them to their children.
This is so that the next generation
    and children not yet born will know these things,
        and so they can rise up and tell their children
    to put their hope in God—
        never forgetting God’s deeds,
        but keeping God’s commandments—
    and so that they won’t become like their ancestors:
    a rebellious, stubborn generation,
        a generation whose heart wasn’t set firm
        and whose spirit wasn’t faithful to God.


Gospel:  Matthew 24:29-35

A reading from:  Matthew

29 “Now immediately after the suffering of that time the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Human One will appear in the sky. At that time all the tribes of the earth will be full of sadness, and they will see the Human One] coming in the heavenly clouds with power and great splendor. 31 He will send his angels with the sound of a great trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four corners of the earth, from one end of the sky to the other.

32 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you know that the Human One[d] is near, at the door. 34 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.

Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.


It seems like God has never stopped speaking to us. There was the call to Noah to build an ark; the call to Abraham and Sarah to settle in a particular place; the call to Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and into the land promised long ago to Abraham. The Torah and the writings remind us of the relationship we have with this same God. The prophets sometimes threw up their hands in dismay at how hard it was – and is – to get the people to hear and obey God’s message. But, God never stopped speaking.

Then, Jesus came, and told us over and over again in words he thought we could understood, that God loves us, forgives us, and wants to have a wonderful relationship with us.

Lately, it seems to many people that the end is near. The signs are there – disasters abound in the physical world and in our own lives as we try to avoid getting a fatal illness. The problem is that throughout history, there have been similar times, with volcanoes and earthquakes and hurricanes and plagues. People thought the end was near then, too. But the world just keeps on spinning.

And God keeps on talking to us, with words on the printed page reflecting what Jesus said. And with words written on our hearts, words too powerful to speak out loud. But we can feel them, and maybe ear them whispered by Spirit. “I love you to bits.” “I forgive you your foolish and stubborn ways.” “Please love me back.” Amen



Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,         

but in these last days, God has spoken to us by the Son.



For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the health of creation, for abundant harvests that all may share, for plentiful water, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For essential workers, public servants, the government, and those who protect us; for those who work to bring peace, justice, healing, and protection in this and every place, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For those who travel, for those who are sick and suffering, for those who are in captivity, and for those who are living in isolation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For deliverance in the time of affliction, wrath, danger and need, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

Other prayer petitions may be offered here.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go forth with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only trusting that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory, are yours now and forever. Amen.

HYMN:  Abide with Me, ELW 629

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Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, + keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen



Scripture from Common English Bible © 2012

Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Pay attention to the Main Thing

 The story we have from Joshua today serves as a wrap-up of the history of the Israelite people from Abraham to this moment in their life together as God’s people. They have wandered with Moses for 40 years and are now ready to enter the land that was promised to Abraham hundreds of years before.

Before they enter the land, Joshua wants to be sure they know what they are doing, which deity they will serve and obey. He declares, “You can chose to follow whoever you want to, but I and my household will serve the deity we call The Lord.”

I have seen framed images of this verse in lots of houses, and it’s one of my favorite verses. I choose to follow this God and no other god. I choose to have a relationship with this God, and I try to not let things become my gods in place of the Lord.

 The trouble is that while I claim to worship and obey and follow this God, I don’t always remember to do so. It’s so easy to go about my day and say, “Good morning, God,” and then not remember God for the rest of the day. I don’t always pay attention to the things that matter. I am not always present with God.

Which leads us to the story Jesus tells about a group of bridesmaids. Weddings in the ancient world lasted for days, with parties happening in all the wedding family households. On the night Jesus describes, the groom comes with his family and friends to join the bride for the marriage itself. The tradition is that the groom is welcomed by the bridesmaids holding their lamps to light the way to the house.


Whenever people travel, delays can happen. And the groom doesn’t arrive when they expect him to. The wait is so long, they all fall asleep. Apparently, they left their lamps burning during their nap, and now some of the girls’ lamps are out of oil with no extra oil in their bags. It would be like forgetting to take an extra battery for your flashlight, or a spare power pack for your cell phone. Some of the girls weren’t paying attention to the basics.

I think it’s unfair that the girls with extra oil refused to share what they had so they could all have their lamps lit, if only for a shorter time. However, that isn’t the way Jesus tells the story. Jesus says the bridesmaids went to the oil store, but by the time they returned, the party was on and the doors were locked. The girls were not permitted to enter the house. The warning Jesus issues is that we need to be paying attention to the main things so we don’t miss out on them. The main thing at this party was to be with the bride and groom, even if they didn’t have enough oil to light the way to the party. The main thing was to be present, to be part of the celebration.

All summer long, we have talked about how Abraham and Sarah and their descendants were called by God, blessed by God, to be a blessing to others. This would seem to be the main thing, then. We bless others by noticing them and being present with them.

Here is a story that illustrates this.

Mary was waiting in line to pay for groceries while maintaining a 6ft distance. As she watched, a man cut in line without realizing what he’d done. Mary didn't say anything, just maintained the proper distance. When it was time for the man to pay, he reached in his back pocket and pulled out a small note pad and realized he’d forgotten his wallet. He looked a bit disappointed and embarrassed.

Mary stepped up and told the cashier she’d pay for the man’s groceries, which only consisted of milk and chocolate chip cookies. He was more than grateful, and he kindly thanked Mary and left the store. When Mary reached the register, the cashier asked: "He cut in line ahead of you and you paid for his groceries. Why??"

Mary calmly replied with a smile: “I hope that if one day my Dad forgets his wallet, someone will step up and buy his milk and cookies.”

How will we step in and buy the milk and cookies for someone like this man? How will we choose to serve the Lord? How will we pass on the blessings we have received? We’ll do it by paying attention to the main things around us. Here are some suggestions.

·         We can pay for the meal of the family in the junker car behind us at the drive-through.

·         We can smile first. Smiles are contagious, and don’t cost anything.

·         We can clean out our closets and donate what someone else can use to a helping organization.

·         We can offer to dog- or cat-sit for our neighbors.

·         We can make dinner for a neighbor or family who is going through a rough time.

And this. This last year of election politics and matters related to the virus has been a rough one on all of us. We all are in need of healing and tender loving care. Let’s pay attention to each other’s hearts and reach out to our sisters and brothers as members of the same family, even if they voted and adamantly supported the other candidate.

When we choose to serve this Lord, we also choose to trust in that same Lord to ultimately be in charge. Let’s trust God to see us into the future, blessing us the same way God has blessed God’s people through thousands of years in the past. Amen