A New Beginning – We Are No Longer What We Were

by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on December 6, 2020 in

The Second Sunday in Advent December 6, 2020
Text: Mark 1:1 CW 3 Year Series-B 20:2228
Theme: A New Beginning – We Are No Longer What We Were

He was a big man, but he cried the day he found out what was wrong. Leprosy! It was a fatal disease that no doctor could cure. He was forced to live outside the city, ostracized from everyone else, except fellow lepers. He had to beg for food, money, and other necessities. He built himself a little hut from mud and sticks. There he waited, waited, and waited some more – for death.
One day he was told, “Jesus can heal lepers and does many other wonderful things. People say He is the Christ, the Son of God. Maybe He is the Savior God promised to send us.”
The leper wondered if Jesus could help him. He hoped that Jesus would soon come to his city. Maybe Jesus would have pity and heal him. Maybe he could have a new beginning to life. Maybe. If not, he could never hope to be made whole again.
One day the leper heard that Jesus was coming. He stood as near to the city gate as he dared and waited. At last Jesus came. A crowd gathered around Him. The leper ran to Him, nearer than the law said that he could. He threw himself right in front of Jesus and said, “Lord, if You want, You can make me clean.”
Jesus’ heart went out to him. Jesus even touched him. No one had touched the leprous man in a long time, fearful lest they might catch the disease. But Jesus touched him and said, “I want to help you. Be clean” (Mk.1:40f).
The sores vanished immediately. His skin became smooth and whole. He was healthy and strong again. A new lease on life, a new beginning! He was no longer what he had been, all because Christ Jesus, God’s Son, stepped into his life.
We too have a type of leprosy. It’s a disease of a different kind, more deadly. It’s called sin. No one can cure it; no one can give us a fresh start on life – except God. Thank God He did. He stepped into our lives and did something, and now we, too, are no longer what we were. We have a new beginning

I. We were dead in our sin.
Mark implies that with his opening words when he writes: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” “The beginning,” he says. Where have you heard those words before?
They take you back to the first book of the Bible, the first chapter, the first verse that says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” After that we get to hear about the good Paradise that God made. He then populated it with a man and a woman who were created in His holy image. It was all perfect. Happily those first two people tilled the Garden of Eden and took care of everything in the perfect harmony that existed – no disease, no leprosy, no pain, no sadness or upset, no cross words, no anxious moments. Why not? There was no sin in the beginning.
But it’s no longer that way, and mankind is no longer what it used to be, for a horrible change soon took place. It was a change for which we have great reason to cry. Surely, you would agree! From that beginning we haven’t gone forward but backward.
No longer do we happily till the Garden of Eden as our first parents did. No longer do we have intimate communion with God and walk with Him each night in the cool of the garden like they did. No longer does there exist perfect harmony between any man or woman as it first existed when God made Eve from Adam’s rib and brought her to him. Why doesn’t it exist anymore?
I think that I do not need to tell you what the cause of this backward spiral is. It is the fall into sin, mankind’s disobedience to God. It started with Eve, then Adam gazing with longing upon the fruit of the tree from which God commanded they should not eat. But of their own, contrary to His command, they disobeyed. Sadly, their disobedience continues in us when we, tainted by their fall, likewise permit the words of God to drop by the wayside and fail to live in them, through them, and according to them.
It’s the abuse and misuse of God and His Word – that is the reason we are no longer what they once were. Even though the Word is continually preached and heard, we fail to live it. If something is not changed within us to take us back to where mankind once was in the very beginning, we all will go to ruin.
We are no longer what they once were – alive before God. Instead, we are dead in our transgressions and sins. Along with Adam and Eve we have sinned. Whoever sins cannot stand before
God on their own for He is a strong and jealous God, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Him.” The Bible makes it clear – “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”(1Jn.1:8). In sin we have died to Him. We need to repent.
This is a part of what the season of Advent is about. We must first recall that we are no longer what we were. So, we have lessons in which we hear an Isaiah and a John the Baptist cry out: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” “Turn away from your sin. Turn to the Lord.” “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” They make that cry because something must change for us if we ever hope to see, know, and be like God again. We are like that leper, miserable in appearance before a holy God, unclean, destitute, alone. We need a fresh start, a new beginning. It must come from outside of us, for no leper can heal himself.

II. We are made alive in Christ.
And here it comes in our text. In a few short words Mark speaks of the eternal cure that has such great significance for us: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
We could so easily pass over those words in our reading. They are only a few syllables long, a simple introduction, just 7 words in the Greek. It is not even a sentence, one that would impress any English composition teacher. But its content is no small thing.
This is it, dear friends. This is God’s announcement of the account of our new beginning, without which we all would be lost in eternity. It is no small or insignificant matter. No word of Scripture is small or insignificant.
Think of its different parts: “The Gospel…of Jesus…Christ, the Son of God.”
Where would we be without this Jesus, the human name given to our God from above who came in the flesh to be the “one to save His people.” That’s what the name Jesus means.
He is the Christ, the one, the only one who was anointed by God for this task. Carrying out His work from God, He makes us again what we once were before our Fall – holy in God’s sight. Where would we be without this holy Son of God entering our world, going to the cross, and rising from the tomb? All of that was way beyond our abilities to do. It wasn’t beyond Him.
This was the Gospel promise and the beginning of its fulfillment. This is the “Good News” the greatest news that John and the ones before and after him proclaimed. News is something that is told. But not all news is good. Just listen once to our news these days. So much is sad and depressing.
But not this news. It’s the Good News of a Savior who turns around for people everything that is bad and condemning eternally. If only people would listen. If only they would prepare a way in their hearts for Him to come to them. He will lift them up, forgive, and send them on their way cleansed and healed from the leprosy of sin. He makes us alive again towards God. And now it’s told to us so that we can believe. You can’t believe or know of things that you have never heard about (Rom.10:14f). But that’s not the case here for we have “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” It’s not just the beginning of His account that is being told, but most importantly it is the account of our new beginning.
We Are No Longer What We Were. We were dead in our sin but we are made alive in Christ. God grant us the faith to believe. Then we will be prepared this Advent Season to receive our Lord in joy at His coming; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield

(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)

4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)

Church phone: 417.887.0886                                            Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244

www.zionluthchurch.com                                                 You can also find us on Facebook

email: revelehmann@gmail.com

The Second Sunday in Advent        December 6, 2020   

 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is how it is written

in the prophet Isaiah: ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you.’”   Mark 1:1-2

 F o r   O u r     V i s i t o r s

The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.

U p o n   E n t e r i n g   G o d’ s   H o u s e

“You showed favor to Your land, O LORD. You removed the guilt of Your people and covered all their sin. Show us Your mercy and give us Your salvation. (You) indeed speak peace to (Your) people” (Psalm 85).

W h a t   T h i s   S u n d a y   i s     A b o u t

Prepare the Way of the Lord.  First Isaiah, then John prepared the people for Christ’s first coming as He entered our world. Both called people to repentance. In the Epistle Lesson Peter joins their voices that we might be prepared at Christ’s second coming when time will end.

To repent means to have a change of heart and mind about my actions that oppose God’s will. It means to think differently, to act differently, and believe differently from the way my sinful flesh leads me. To help us in this, God sends His messengers in every age to preach repentance. Then Christ can come to us and comfort us in His redemptive work. But without acknowledging the need, the remedy has no benefit for us. May we prepare the way of the Lord to come to us .

To that end we pray: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way for Your Son through repentance. By His coming give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world; for Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen.

– T h e   W o r d   o f   G o d   f o r   T o d a y –

The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-11        

Israel would be captive in a foreign land because of their disobedience. But God would send them hope, comforting them with the gospel of deliverance and calling on them to prepare for His coming to restore them to their place as His people of the Promise.

The Epistle Lesson: 2 Peter 3:8-14  

Peter describes 3 things about God that are important for us to know: 1) His patience with sinners; 2) His desire for all people to repent; 3) His imminent return. Those who are prepared in faith for His return will not fear His coming but will look forward to that day.

The Gospel Lesson: Mark 1:1-8    

The beginning of Christ’s redemptive work starts with man’s repentance. So it was that God sent a messenger, John the Baptist, ahead of Christ to prepare people’s hearts for His coming.

O u r   P r a c t i c e   o f   H o l y   C o m m u n i o n

Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation.   This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says.   Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.

The Organist: Jane Rips                The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Point to Ponder: “Beware of placing confidence in your contrition or of ascribing the forgiveness of sins to your own sorrow. For God does not favorably regard you because of contrition or sorrow but because of the faith with which you have believed His threatening and promises and which worked such sorrow in you. Therefore we owe whatever good there may be in our penitence not to the conscientious numbering of sins but to the truth of God and to our faith….For when God said: “He that believes shall be saved’, He did not offer His grace to repentance, nor to any sort of work, but to faith.”

— Martin Luther on What God Looks at in Repentance

Outline of Our Worship

The Preparation

Candle-lighting Narration

Opening Hymn: #16

Order of Worship:

The Common Service: page 15-16

Prayer of the Day

The Ministry of the Word

Isaiah 40:1-11

2 Peter 3:8-14

Seasonal Response

Mark 1:1-8

The Nicene Creed pg.18

Hymn: #11

Sermon: Mark 1:1  A New Beginning:  We Are No Longer What We Were

Our Response to the Word

Hymn: #307    (In place of the Offertory)

Prayers & The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord Blesses Us

Order of Holy Communion     Hymnal pages 21-23

(Visitors: Please read the box on  page 2 regarding Holy Communion)

Thanksgiving Prayer & Blessing     Hymnal pages 24-25

Closing Hymn: #19 st.1-3

Silent Prayer


        C a l e n d a r     &     A n n o u n c e m e n t s     f o r     Z i o n     L u t h e r a n     C h u r c h

 

Today

Dec. 6

Mon

Dec. 7

Tues.

Dec. 8

Wed.

Dec. 9

Thurs.

Dec.10

Fri.

Dec. 11

Sat.

Dec. 12

Next Sun.

Dec. 13

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

with Holy Communion

on line – Facebook

 

 

10:15 am

Fellowship & Brief Bible Study

Afterwards Church Decorating for Christmas

Advent 2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 am

Midweek Bible Class

 

 

5 pm

Confirmation Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgan Nichols & Geremy Peel Wedding

 

 

 

 

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

on line – Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Brief Bible Study

 Advent 3

 

A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

God doesn’t leave us to flounder on our own in this world but prepares us for the final great event—Jesus’ return at the end. He sends His messengers to point out the reality of sin and its consequences so we don’t drift into complacency. He sends His good news of salvation in Christ and connects us with Him in baptism. These are the means by which He works repentance in our hearts. What a change that should create in our focus for living!

 The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-11 (answers are found on the back side)

  1. How will the people receive “double” for all their sins?
  2. Who is the “voice of one calling in the desert to prepare a way for the Lord?”

Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; Dave Ballou; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Felicia Nichols’ family; Bill Buchanan; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Jodi Milam; Jodi’s brother and sister-in-law sick for 2 months with COVID 19; Judy Bertoldie and the Richard & Jennifer Tag family at Peace, Marshfield diagnosed with COVID 19; Lois Wiese; Pastor James Witt, St. Louis, following infection and back surgery.

Copies of the Daily Devotions written by pastor will be found in the narthex.

Special Devotions for the Advent Season have been written by our pastors and professors who teach young people preparing for the public ministry at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. The devotions began with December 1 and end with Christmas Day. This year’s theme is The Jesse Tree. Look for the specially printed booklets in the narthex.

 Health Ordinance With Springfield and the Greene County Health Dept. extending the mask requirements until January, we will continue wearing masks in the worship service. You will find masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. Please, continue to watch your physical distancing, side to side and front to back. We are not passing the offering plate during the service at this time, but it will be found at the door upon leaving the sanctuary.

The Week in Review

 Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 18; Sunday Bible Class: 12; Midweek Bible Class: 5; Sunday Offering: $766; Thanksgiving Offering: $340 (to be sent to Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN, for the Christian Witness campaign helping students preparing for the public ministry).

                                                                     Next Sunday’s Lessons:                                             

3rd Sunday in Advent (Series B): Isaiah 61:1-3,10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8,19-28

 Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:

  1. God was not going to punish them twice as hard as they deserve. Instead they would receive “double” grace—much more blessing than anyone could expect. In the O.T. the inheritance of the first-born was known as “the double portion.” This is not something that can be earned, but what we inherit by his free grace—a full forgiveness we don’t deserve.
  2. The Lord makes it clear (Mt 3:3, Mk 1:3 and Lk 3:4) that this is pointing ahead to the person of John the Baptist. He was the voice who preached stern and pointed law to the people to prepare their hearts with repentance. And he was the one who preached the sweet gospel as he pointed out the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is the good news we are also to shout out to people—a word that will outlast worldly “experts.”

This week I am praying for……


The Second Sunday in Advent – Series B

Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-11 – God Will Comfort His People

1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call out to her. Her warfare really is over. Her guilt is fully paid for. Yes, she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3A voice is calling out: In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord. In the wasteland make a level highway for our God. 4Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be made low. The rugged ground will become level, and the rough places will become a plain. 5Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh together will see it. Yes, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

6A voice was saying, “Cry out!” I said, “What shall I cry out?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like a wildflower in the countryside. 7Grass withers, flowers fade, when the breath of the Lord blows on them. Yes, the people are grass. 8Grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of our God endures forever. 9Get up on a high mountain, O Zion, you herald of good news. Lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, you herald of good news. Lift it up! Do not be afraid! Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

10Look, God the Lord will come with strength, and his arm is ruling for him. Look, his reward is with him. The result of his work is in front of him. 11Like a shepherd he will care for his flock. With his arm he will gather the lambs. He will lift them up on his lap. He will gently lead the nursing mothers.

Epistle Lesson: 2 Peter 3:8-14 – The Day of the Lord Will Come

8Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: For the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow to do what he promised, as some consider slowness. Instead, he is patient for your sakes, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be dissolved as they burn with great heat, and the earth and what was done on it will be burned up. 11Therefore, since all these things will be destroyed, what kind of people ought you to be, living in holiness and godliness, 12as you look forward to and hasten the coming of the day of God?

That day will cause the heavens to be set on fire and destroyed, and the elements to melt as they burn with great heat. 13But according to his promise we look forward to new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14Therefore, dear friends, as you look forward to these things, make every effort to be found in peace, spotless and blameless in his sight.

Gospel Lesson: Mark 1:1-8 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2This is how it is written in the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare the way for you. 3A voice of one calling out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” 4John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 6John was clothed in camel’s hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7He preached, “One more powerful than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals! 8I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2017 The Wartburg Project.


Lighting Candles at Advent

What is the meaning of the Advent wreath, and what do the candles signify?

The evergreen in the wreath represents life. It represents our Savior and the life that we have in Him, for His coming brings the hope of salvation and eternal life to all who believe.

The four colored candles in the wreath represent the four Sundays in Advent. Three of them are violet, symbolizing repentance and preparation, since our sin made it necessary for Christ to enter our world. The candle for the third Sunday is rose to remind us that in the midst of our time of repentance there is cause for joy because the Savior has come for us.   At the celebration of Jesus’ birth, a white candle is placed in the middle.

Except for the third candle, which is sometimes called Gaudete (Latin – Rejoice), no specific names have been assigned to each candle in the wreath. But over the years several designations arose.   Some name them the candles Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherd, and Angel. Others refer to them as the candles of Love, Peace, Joy, and Hope.

On this Second Sunday in Advent we add the lighting of the second candle to the first lit last week. They signify:

  1. Candle of Prophecy (violet)

As the first candle on the wreath, my light is the first to pierce the darkness.   I represent the light of the holy prophets who spoke in times past with news of a coming Savior. Theirs was the first ray of hope to all men lost in the darkness of their sins.

  1. Bethlehem Candle (also called Redeemer Candle – violet)

As the second candle on the wreath, my light symbolizes the coming on earth of Jesus, the Son of God, born of the
Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. He is “the Light of the world” who will come again soon to take all who believe in Him to heaven.


 

Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann