Worship on Feb. 21, 2021 — First Sunday in Lent

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Hymn
1 Praise to You and adoration, Blessèd Jesus, Son of God,
Who, to serve Your own creation, Came to share our flesh and blood.
Guide me that I never may From Your fold or pastures stray,
But with zeal and joy exceeding Follow where Your steps are leading.

2 Hold me ever in Your keeping; Comfort me in pain and strife.
In my laughter and my weeping Be with me throughout my life.
Give me greater love for You, And my faith and hope renew
In Your birth, Your life, and passion, In Your death and resurrection.

Thomas Hansen Kingo, 1634–1703; tr. Kristen Kvamme, 1866–1938, st. 1, alt.; tr. Christian Worship, 1993, st. 2 Public domain FREU DICH SEHR

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

Confession and Absolution (1 John 1 and 2)
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We Pray: O Almighty God, we confess to You that we have sinned in our thoughts, desires, words, and deeds; and we pray that You would forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Amen.

God’s Word assures us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

As a called and ordained servant of Christ, I announce to you the grace of God in Christ Jesus and forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Psalm 32 A Psalm of David. A Contemplative Maskil
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord does not count iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was changed into the drought of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not conceal. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6 For this cause everyone who is godly will pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in the floods of great waters they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; You will preserve me from trouble; You will surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye on you. 9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule that are without understanding, that must be restrained with bit and bridle, or they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but lovingkindness will surround the man who trusts in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous one; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart!

Scripture Lesson: Genesis 3
1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed above all livestock, and above every beast of the field; you will go on your belly, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, and in pain you will bring forth children; your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground on account of you; in hard labor you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Thorns and thistles it will bring forth for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, because out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skins for both Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 The Lord God said, “The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. And now, he might reach out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove the man out, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned in every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Did God Really Say?

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 (Read Genesis 3)

The paradise which God created (Genesis 1-2) did not last long, for Genesis 3 tells of the temptation of the devil, a fallen angel, who came to Eve in the form of the serpent.

“Did God really say that that you should not eat from any tree of the garden?” (paraphrase) he asked, creating a question in the woman’s mind.

And when Eve explained that the prohibition and warning concerning disobedience bringing about about death — alienation and separation from God — was only in regard to the tree in the middle of the garden, the devil distorted the truth by saying, “You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4,5). Thus, he caused her to think that perhaps God was somehow holding out on her, keeping from her and her husband something good and desirable.

Of course, this still happens every day. The devil comes to us through friends and coworkers, through the media and entertainment industries, and in our own thoughts and minds, and says, “Does God really expect you to keep all those commandments in the Bible?” And he works hard to convince us that God is trying to keep us from having fun and enjoying life, or that He is placing an impossible burden upon us, that He really doesn’t expect us to keep all of His commandments, or that breaking just a few of the commandments now and then won’t really alienate and separate us from God — after all, everybody does it.

And, like Eve, when we look at the thing we are being tempted to do, it looks good and desirable to us at the moment. We think it will be fun or pleasurable; it will work out for our good; it won’t hurt anything; no one will know.

And so, we rationalize and give in to the temptation and to our own sinful desires, and the result is death! We recognize our nakedness and guilt before God. We may attempt to cover it up or even learn to cope with it, but the guilt remains. We are afraid to stand in His presence. We would rather not hear God’s Word or walk into His house of prayer.

Why? Because our sin and disobedience, though they may have appeared to be good at the time, brought about spiritual death and separation from God. When confronted with the presence of God and His truth, we hide and seek to conceal our sin and guilt. When questioned about our sin, we make excuses and blame others.

As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, we are all born into this world sinners — our very thoughts and desires are turned away from God and His holy commandments. What David wrote is true for each of us as a result of that first sin: “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5; Cf. Rom. 5:12). Instead of loving God, trusting Him, and desiring to honor and glorify His name, we think only of ourselves, we doubt and disbelieve God’s Word, and we seek our own honor and glory. We are born in spiritual death and are alienated from God.

That is why we so desperately need God’s pardon and forgiveness. We need Him to find us, forgive us and give us life again. And God has come to us and reached out to us in love and forgiveness. He desires to free us from our guilt and shame and give us life everlasting with Him.

He did this by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to overcome temptation and sin for us (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:15) and then go to the cross to be condemned, forsaken of God and die in our stead that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness and not be afraid of God or troubled by guilt and shame any longer. In Christ Jesus, atonement has been made and the sin of the world taken away (cf. 1 John 2:1-2); and through faith in Christ Jesus, your sin and mine are pardoned (Rom. 3:21-26; 5:1-2).

O dearest Jesus, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy upon me, find me, and wash away the guilt of my sin in Your shed blood. And, dear Jesus, grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

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 Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

General Prayer
Almighty and Everlasting God, You are worthy to be held in reverence by all the children of men, we give You most humble and hearty thanks for the innumerable blessings, both temporal and spiritual, which, without any merit or worthiness on our part, You have bestowed upon us.
We praise You, especially, that You hast preserved unto us, in their purity, Your saving Word and Your holy Sacraments. And we beseech You, O Lord, to grant and preserve unto Your holy Church, throughout the world, purity of doctrine, and faithful pastors who shall preach Your Word with power; and help all who hear, rightly to understand, and truly to believe Your Word. To that end, we pray Your blessing on Bishop Heiser, on our pastors, and on all the pastors of our diocese.
Be the Protector and Defender of Your people in all time of tribulation and danger and may we, in communion with Your Church, and in brotherly unity with all our fellow-Christians, fight the good fight of faith, and in the end receive the salvation of our souls.
Bestow Your grace upon all the nations of the earth. Especially do we entreat You to bless our land, and all its inhabitants, and all who are in authority. Cause Your glory to dwell among us, and let mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, everywhere prevail. To this end, we commend to Your care all our schools and pray You to make them nurseries of useful knowledge and of Christian virtues, that they may bring forth the wholesome fruits of life.
Graciously defend us from all calamities by fire and water, from war and pestilence, from scarcity and famine. Protect and prosper everyone in his appropriate calling, and cause all useful arts to flourish among us. Be the God and Father of the widow and the fatherless children, the Helper of the sick and the needy and the Comforter of the forsaken and distressed.
We pray for all those ill from the coronavirus, from other diseases or afflictions, or suffering from the effects of isolation. Grant health and healing to those ill and comfort all with the Gospel promises of forgiveness of sins and the everlasting joys of heaven through faith in Christ Jesus, Your Son and our Savior.
And as we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, help us by true faith and godly life to prepare for the world to come; doing the work which You have given us to do while it is day, before the night comes when no man can work. And when our last hour shall come, support us by Your power, and receive us into Your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26)
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the LORD lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen.

Closing Hymn
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host: Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Thomas Ken, 1637–1711 Public domain OLD HUNDREDTH

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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