August 7 2022

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2022 Concordia Publishing House.

 

Ringing of the Bell

The bell rings as the call to worship, reminding us to discontinue conversation and reverently prepare for worship.

 

 

Prelude

 

Welcome and Announcements

 

Lutheran Service Book Divine Service Setting One

 

Stand

 

733 O God, Our Help in Ages Past            LSB 733 sts. 1–6

1      O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
    And our eternal home:

 

2      Under the shadow of Thy throne
    Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
    And our defense is sure.

 

3      Before the hills in order stood
    Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
    To endless years the same.

 

4      A thousand ages in Thy sight
    Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
    Before the rising sun.

 

5      Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
    Soon bears us all away;
We fly forgotten as a dream
    Dies at the op’ning day.

 

6      O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last
    And our eternal home!

 

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

 

The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism.

 

Invocation

P      In the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.

C      Amen.

 

Exhortation

P      If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

C      But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Silence for reflection on God's Word and for self-examination.

 

Confession of Sins

P      Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

C      Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

 

Absolution

P      Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.

C      Amen.

 

SERVICE OF THE WORD

 

Gloria in Excelsis

A     Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.

C      Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God and Father:

We worship You, we give You thanks, we praise You for Your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God:

You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.

You are seated at the right hand of the Father; receive our prayer.

For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord,

You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

Salutation and Collect of the Day

P      The Lord be with you.

C      And also with you.

 

P      Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people who offer acceptable service. Grant that we may walk by faith, and not by sight, in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

C      Amen.

 

Sit

 

Psalm                  Psalm 33:12–22

Blessèd is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The Lord looks down from heaven;
    he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
    on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
    and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
    a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
    and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
    because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.

 

First Reading        Genesis 15:1–6

    After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

 

A     This is the Word of the Lord.

C      Thanks be to God.

 

Epistle               Hebrews 11:1–16

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

    By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

 

A     This is the Word of the Lord.

C      Thanks be to God.

 

Stand

 

Common Alleluia and Verse

C      Alleluia.

Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.

Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Holy Gospel          Luke 12:22–34

P      The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, the twelfth chapter.

C      Glory to You, O Lord.

 

    [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

    “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

 

P      This is the Gospel of the Lord.

C      Praise to You, O Christ.

 

Sit

 

750 If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee       LSB 750

1      If thou but trust in God to guide thee
    And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
    And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

 

2      What can these anxious cares avail thee,
    These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
    O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

 

3      Be patient and await His leisure
    In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
    And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

 

4      God knows full well when times of gladness
    Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
    And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

 

5      Nor think amid the fiery trial
    That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
    Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And sets a bound to ev’rything.

 

6      All are alike before the Highest;
    ’Tis easy for our God, we know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
    To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

 

7      Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
    Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word; though undeserving,
    Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.

 

Sermon                 Pastor Eric Ash

 

Stand

 

Apostles’ Creed

C      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 T everlasting. Amen.

 

Prayers

 

(each petition ends with the following response) P Lord, in your mercy,    C Hear our prayer.

 

Sit

 

Offertory Invitation, Christmas

Scripture tells us "God loves a cheerful giver."  Let us with gladness, then, now give our tithes and offerings to the Lord.

 

Choir Anthem

 

OFFERING/OFFERTORY

 

955 Let the Vineyards Be Fruitful                        LSB 955

1      Let the vineyards be fruitful, Lord,
And fill to the brim our cup of blessing.
Gather a harvest from the seeds that were sown,
That we may be fed with the bread of life.
Gather the hopes and the dreams of all;
Unite them with the prayers we offer now.
Grace our table with Your presence, and give us
A foretaste of the feast to come.

 

Offertory Prayer

P:  Merciful Father,

C:  we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us --ourselves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love.  Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

 

SERVICE OF THE SACRAMENT

 

Stand

 

Preface

P      The Lord be with you.

C      And also with you.

 

P      Lift up your hearts.

C      We lift them to the Lord.

 

P      Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

C      It is right to give Him thanks and praise.

 

Proper Preface

P      It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Sanctus

C      Holy, holy, holy Lord God of pow’r and might:

Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

Hosanna. Hosanna.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

 

The Words of Our Lord

P      Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My T body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My T blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

 

 

Lord's Prayer Invitation

Let us pray together the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us. . .

 

Lord's Prayer

C      Our Father who art in heaven,
     hallowed be Thy name,
     Thy kingdom come,
     Thy will be done on earth
          as it is in heaven;
     give us this day our daily bread;
     and forgive us our trespasses
          as we forgive those
          who trespass against us;
     and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
     and the power and the glory
     forever and ever. Amen.

 

Fraction

P:  Come for all things are now ready, the gifts of God for the people of God. 

 

C:  Amen. 

 

Agnus Dei

C      Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; grant us peace.

 

Sit

 

Distribution                      164

Take, eat; the body of Christ, given for you.

Amen.

 

Take, drink; the blood of Christ shed for you.

Amen.

 

The altar assistant dismisses each table of communicants, saying "Depart in Peace".

 

The Dismissal

P      The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart T in peace.

C      Amen.

 

Stand

 

Thank the Lord

C      Thank the Lord and sing His praise; tell ev’ryone what He has done.

Let all who seek the Lord rejoice and proudly bear His name.

He recalls His promises and leads His people forth in joy

with shouts of thanksgiving. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

P      P:  Pour out upon us the spirit of your love, O Lord, and unite the wills of those whom you have fed with one heavenly food; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

C:  Amen

C      Amen.

 

Benediction

P      The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.

The Lord look upon you with favor and Tgive you peace.

C      Amen.

 

643 Sent Forth by God’s Blessing                       LSB 643

1      Sent forth by God’s blessing,
    Our true faith confessing,
The people of God from His dwelling take leave.
    The Supper is ended.
    O now be extended
The fruits of this service in all who believe.
    The seed of His teaching,
    Receptive souls reaching,
Shall blossom in action for God and for all.
    His grace did invite us,
    His love shall unite us
To work for God’s kingdom and answer His call.

 

2      With praise and thanksgiving
    To God ever-living,
The tasks of our ev’ryday life we will face.
    Our faith ever sharing,
    In love ever caring,
Embracing His children of each tribe and race.
    With Your feast You feed us,
    With Your light now lead us;
Unite us as one in this life that we share.
    Then may all the living
    With praise and thanksgiving
Give honor to Christ and His name that we bear.

 

CLOSING RESPONSE

P      Go in Peace! Serve the Lord!

C      Praise be to God!



 

 

Pente 9 C   August 7, 2022   Hebrews 11:1-16   Trinity, Wellsville

Faith

What is faith?  How would you define it?  How would you describe it?  Where does your faith come from?  What does your faith do?  These are important questions.  Faith is basic, essential, foundational to what Christians believe and teach, especially we Lutheran Christians.  After all, the slogan of the Reformation, and the classic Lutheran shibboleth, is Romans 3:28, which reads that “… a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” 

For many of us we sort of know what faith is, but it’s kind of hard to put into words.  I confess I sometimes struggle to describe and define faith.  Maybe that’s precisely because faith is so fundamental to who we are and what we do as Christians.  Someone said, “If you want to know about water, don’t ask a fish.”  Perhaps because faith is the environment in which we exist, we are too busy living out our faith to examine it objectively.  There are a lot of faithful people who could not give you a textbook definition of faith, and that’s okay.  We’re saved by faith, not by our intellectual understanding of faith or how eloquently we can talk about it.

Still, it’s good for us to have, as 1 Peter 3:15 says. “… a ready defense for the hope that is in you.”  When someone asks you about your faith, it’s good to be able to witness sincerely and knowledgably about what you believe. In the assigned readings today are two classic verses about faith.  In the First Lesson, Genesis chapter 15, we heard how God made promises to Abram and, as verse 6 says, “[Abram] believed and it was counted to him as righteous.” In our Epistle reading, Hebrews 11, the chapter begins, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  If you wanted to memorize a couple of verses about faith, these would be good choices. 

 

Before we begin examining what faith is, it might be helpful to say a bit about what faith is not. You are probably familiar with the term faith healing.  Faith Healers usually say that if you have absolute confidence and you really believe you will be healed, then you will be healed.   In that kind of scenario, faith is not a gift or a response to God’s grace.  In that situation, faith becomes a way of manipulating God, compelling God to do our will.  But that’s a fiction.  In reality, we can’t force God to do anything against His will. 

Many times, in my life and ministry, I have prayed so earnestly, so sincerely, so confidentially that someone would be healed.  I am sure you have, too.  Many times, the healing was not to be.  Does that mean that our faith was weak and that is why the prayer wasn’t answered the way we wanted it to be? If only we would have believed harder, would God have had to heal the person? 

That’s not right at all! True faith accepts whatever God’s will is, it doesn’t force our will in God.  God’s will is always right and best, and he answers our prayers in excellent ways that we might not recognize or understand. We do best when we pray along with Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer, and in his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Thy will be done.  Your will, not mine, Father, be done.”  That’s a faithful prayer.

Another way that faith gets misunderstood and misapplied is that we make faith a good work that we do, something we do to earn our spot in heaven.  Surveys regularly find that the majority of people say we get into heaven by being good. It is true that there are good things God wants us to do.  In our gospel reading Jesus tells us to share with the needy.  There are also bad things God forbids us to do.  We find those in the Ten Commandments. 

Christians sometimes seem to think and act as if God will give us a pass for our bad deeds and our lack of good deeds, if only we will do the one supreme good deed: believe in Him. There’s a little more to it than that.  Belief is an element of faith, but faith goes beyond mere belief.  Faith also involves trust, but it goes beyond simple trust.  We’re starting now to get at what faith is. 

I believe in gravity. I trust that when I get up in the morning I’m not going to float up to the ceiling.  I’m certain when I turn on the faucet the water is going to flow downward not upward.  History has taught me that the principle of gravity is true, and I have seen evidence of gravity with my own eyes. But istory has taught me that the theory of gravity ois tureI don’t love gravity.  Gravity doesn’t give my life meaning and purpose.  I don’t trust gravity to save me and give me eternal life. Faith does that.   

Do you know who believes in God.  The demons do.  James 2:19 says that the demons believe in God, and they shudder.  We can believe in God but not love Him.  We can believe in God and rebel against him.  We can give intellectual ascent to the nation that God exists but not believe that He will one day take us to be with Him in joy and blessedness for all eternity.  Only faith trusts in those good things. 

So how do we get faith?  Never has a non-believer, or someone who has never even heard of God, ever been just walking down the street, or sitting at home watching TV, and suddenly thought, “Hey, I think I’ll begin believing and trusting and loving God, for no particular reason.”  It just doesn’t happen.  We call God’s love for us grace and in His grace, God creates the conditions necessary for us to come to saving faith.  The first step is always God moving toward us, He takes the initiative.  We can’t come to Jesus Christ on our own, Luther wrote in the Catechism, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is why we give all the credit, all the glory to God, and none to ourselves.

There are two things God gives us to move us to faith.  We call them Law and Gospel.  The proper division of Law and Gospel is very important to us Lutherans. 

In His grace for us, God gives us His Law.  The Law is what God expects of us, what He commands us to do and not to do.  There’s those Ten Commandments again.  We fail short of meeting what God requires of us.  We call it sin and sin literally means missing a target like an arrow missing the bull’s eye.  Sin has consequences.  Sin separates us from God.  You do not want to be separated from God eternally.  We can debate what Hell is like, but scripture is unequivocal on its existence, regardless of what some people think these days. When I think about what Hell could be, it terrifies me, as it should.

In His grace, God has a solution for the problem of sin.  He has a cure for our sin-sick souls.  It’s called the Gospel. The Gospel is God’s promise of love and forgiveness.  The Law condemns us; the Gospel pardons us.  It puts us right with God.  It mends our relationship with God that was broken by sin.  The Gospel has the power to save us, and our faith clings on to the Gospel with all our might.  Holy Baptism is our initiation into the community of faith.  As 1 Peter 3:21 says, “Baptism…  now saves you.”  When our faith is battered and challenged, we can look back at our Baptism and say, “There God claimed me as His own forever.  He will never let me down or let me go. Whatever my sins and failures might be, I am His and He loves me.”

Just as we said that history and evidence convince us of the power of gravity, so does history and evidence convince us of the power of faith.  Hebrews chapter 11 gives us a long list of people who were blessed with faith.  There we heard about some of the well-known superstars of faith such as Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, as well as some the lesser-known ones, like Abel and Enoch.  Together, they all make up that “great cloud of witnesses” the author of Hebrews will talk about in chapter 12, that serve as examples and inspirations to us.

Of course, in this world, there needs to be a physical means, a practical way, to get God’s message of Law and Gospel to us.  The Bible is God’s Word, containing both Law and Gospel.  In His wisdom and grace, God sends us people to proclaim the gospel to us.  As Paul asks in Romans 10, how can people believe who have never heard the Good News? By your call and generosity, I get to preach as a vocation.  But you proclaim and teach God’s Word too when you teach your children Bible stories and prayers, when you pray with and for one another, and by so many acts of charity and kindness in Jesus’ name.

Implicit in all we have said (but I want to make sure I say this unambiguously) is that faith takes an object.  Faith focuses on something.  I have heard people say that they “have faith in faith.”  I’m not even really sure what that even means. Faith is not just belief in any ridiculous thing.  God could ask us to believe in flying rhinoceroses from the South Pole for our salvation, but he doesn’t.  Alice in Wonderland said she sometimes believes in six impossible things before breakfast. Christian faith is nothing like that.

Jesus Christ is the object, the focus of our faith, specifically His death and resurrection.   He died for our sins and rose again.  Faith in Christ is our path to salvation. We believe in him; we trust in him; we cling to him for dear life.  God gives all good gifts to His creatures, including us.  Some people take what God gives them for granted.  Others respond with praise and thanksgiving and faith.  God gives all of us opportunities to hear the Gospel.  Some people reject it; others receive it in faith.  Why, that is a mystery known only to God.   Let us rejoice in the gift of faith we have received and follow His guidance.  Amen.