26 November 2023

Last Sunday of the Church Year

Ringing of the Bell

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


Welcome and Announcements

Lutheran Service Book Divine Service Setting Three


549 All Hail the Power of JesusName LSB 549 sts. 1–2, 5–7

1 All hail the powr of Jesusname!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all.

2 Crown Him, ye martyrs of our God,
Who from His altar call;
Extol the stem of Jesses rod
And crown Him Lord of all.
Extol the stem of Jesses rod
And crown Him Lord of all.

5 Sinners, whose love can neer forget
The wormwood and the gall,
Go, spread your trophies at His feet
And crown Him Lord of all.
Go, spread your trophies at His feet
And crown Him Lord of all.

6 Let evry kindred, evry tribe,
On this terrestrial ball
To Him all majesty ascribe
And crown Him Lord of all.
To Him all majesty ascribe
And crown Him Lord of all.

7 Oh, that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall!
Well join the everlasting song
And crown Him Lord of all.
Well join the everlasting song
And crown Him Lord of all.

Text (sts. 12, 5): Edward Perronet, 1726–92, alt.; (sts. 6–7): A Selection of Hymns, 1787, London, alt.
Text: Public domain


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


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

C Amen.


P Beloved in the Lord! Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God our Father, beseeching Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P Our help is in the name of the Lord,

C who made heaven and earth.

P I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord,

C and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

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

Confession of Sins

P O almighty God, merciful Father,

C I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.


P Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.

C Amen.



C Lord, have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Gloria in Excelsis

P Glory be to God on high:

C and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.

We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee,

we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee, for Thy great glory.

O Lord God, heavnly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;

O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,

that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.

Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.

For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.

Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost,

art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Salutation and Collect of the Day

P The Lord be with you.

C And with thy spirit.

P Let us pray.

Eternal God, merciful Father, You have appointed Your Son as judge of the living and the dead. Enable us to wait for the day of His return with our eyes fixed on the kingdom prepared for Your own from the foundation of the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C Amen.


Psalm Psalm 95:17a; antiphon: v. 7a

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

Old Testament Reading Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24

For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. . . .

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

A This is the Word of the Lord.

C Thanks be to God.

Epistle 1 Corinthians 15:20–28

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.But when it says, all things are put in subjection,it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

A This is the Word of the Lord.

C Thanks be to God.


Alleluia and Verse

C Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Holy Gospel Matthew 25:31–46

P The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, the twenty-fifth chapter.

C Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

[Jesus said:] When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.Then they also will answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?Then he will answer them, saying, Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

P This is the Gospel of the Lord.

C Praise be to Thee, O Christ.


532 The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns LSB 532

1 The Head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor’s brow.

2 The highest place that heavn affords
Is His, is His by right,
The King of kings and Lord of lords,
And heav’n’s eternal Light;

3 The Joy of all who dwell above,
The Joy of all below
To whom He manifests His love
And grants His name to know.

4 To them the cross, with all its shame,
With all its grace, is givn;
Their name an everlasting name,
Their joy the joy of heav’n.

5 They suffer with their Lord below,
They reign with Him above,
Their profit and their joy to know
The mystry of His love.

6 The cross He bore is life and health,
Though shame and death to Him:
His peoples hope, His peoples wealth,
Their everlasting theme.

Text: Thomas Kelly, 1769–1855
Text: Public domain

Sermon - Pastor Eric Ash

Last Sunday of the Church Year A Nov. 26, 2023 Matt. 25:31-46

The Church Year and Today

In the church, every Sunday has a name. Todays name just happens to be Last Sunday of the Church Year. As far as names go, that one might seem a little mundane and uninspiring. It doesnt have the grandeur of The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunday, or the mystery of St. Michael and All Angels. But, as is true with many things, when we know the history and deeper meaning of it, in this case it being the Church Year, we see a poetic beauty and purposes that may not be obvious. The ultimate purpose of all things in the church is to proclaim Christ; and the Church Year, even its Last Sunday, does that.

The Church Year is divided into two halves. The first half tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ. It begins with the season of Advent, which arrives when the nights are longest, the time of year with the least sunlight in our days. Advent, though, despite the darkness, is a joyous, hopeful season in which we prepare for Christmas. Advent begins next Sunday; we could call it the First Sunday of the Church Year. Through Advent, in our scripture readings, we will hear about John the Baptist and the events leading up to Jesusbirth.

Next, of course, comes the 12-day season of Christmas, the Nativity of Our Lord. Christmas comes right about the time of the winter solstice, meaning the days will start to get longer, that is the sunlight is coming back into the world. At Christmas we hear about the Incarnation, God taking on human flesh for our salvation. Next comes the Epiphany season. During the Epiphany season we read about how God has revealed himself in Christ to us through prophecy fulfillment and miracles.

After Epiphany comes Lent, near the beginning of spring. In Lent and Holy Week, we virtually relive Jesusjourney to his death on Mt. Calvary to take away our sins. It is a sober, serious time of preparation for Easter. We see and experience vicariously how Jesus was rejected and suffered.

Lent gives way to Easter, our celebration of The Resurrection of our Lord, the biggest Christian holiday, even bigger than Christmas. In fact, Easter is not just one day but a seven-week season because the joy of Christ rising cannot be limited to just one day. At that time, we remember the Empty Tomb and how the Risen Christ appeared to those who loved him. Every Sunday is really a little Easteras each time we gather for Word and sacrament the Risen Lord is among us.

Easter ends on Pentecost, the day we recall the Holy Spirit descending on the church. This begins the second half of the Church Year. In the season of Sundays after Pentecost, we contemplate how the Holy Spirit is active in the life of the church, in our life, leading us, guiding us, and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So, what is the significance of the Last Sunday of the Church Year? As we said, the first half of the Church Year was about the life of Christ, and the second half was about the work of the Holy Spirit. So, the Last Sunday of the Church Year brings those two halves together, sums them up and points us to the apex, the culmination, the most important event in the Bible and in all of history, the Cross of Jesus Christ. Christ dying for our sins is whats it all about. Jesus doesnt want to be President, he doesnt want to be a CEO, all he wants is to be our Savior and that required a gruesome death. Jesus on the cross isnt just something to think about only in Lent, Holy Week, or Good Friday. It should be foremost in our minds every moment of every day, even a nondescript Sunday morning in late November.

But the story of Jesus doesnt end with his death or even his resurrection. Christ is coming again. Just about everything we need to know about that is found in todays gospel reading, but there are many foundational truths there. Just to point out some the most important points in a cursory way:

  • Jesus came to earth the first time quietly and humbly. When he comes the next time, it will be in power and glory. His angels will be with him. He will be seated on a throne.

  • When Jesus returns to earth it will be to judge the living and the dead, just as our Creed says. It is popular today for people to say when they do something questionable, “Only God can judge me.” That’s true but his judgment is nothing to trifle with. It's no joke. It’s a matter of life and death – eternal life and eternal death.

  • Those who have chosen Christ have nothing to fear. Those who did good works, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, did them because they had received Christ in faith. God saved them and He will reward them.

  • Those who did evil, did evil because they had no faith and God’s condemnation is fair.

Thats the message of the gospel reading for The Last Sunday of the Church Year in brief. Most other liturgical churches dont call today the Last Sunday of the Church Year. They call it Christ the King Sunday. Thats what I did for 23 years and I still think of it that way today. The idea of calling it Christ the King began in the 1930s with the rise of fascism in Europe. Catholic Christians there and then wanted to proclaim the lordship of Christ over Mussolini and Hitler and other pretenders to the Throne of Christ. The notion stuck and grew. Its completely compatible with the todays gospel reading which, is King Jesus judging from His throne.

For many of us here, we may not be thinking of today as neither Christ the King nor the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Were thinking of it as the beginning of a season of preparing for the Christmas holidays. For some it is a reason to rejoice, and for others it is a reason to mourn. As St. Paul says, We will rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

Whatever our personal feelings might be, what is more important is that we act for the good of the others as the sheep in Jesusparable did. When we keep our focus on Christ and think about the sacrifices Christ made for us, we can surely suffer some inconvenience for him and other brothers and sisters in Christ. Lets embrace the opportunity to practice love for others and show how supportive of one another and forgiving we as Gods people can be. Lets make the Last Sunday of the Church Year an end of the old and a beginning of the new and improved. I believe Christ would approve that. Amen.


P The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

C Amen.


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.


Each petitions ends with: P Lord in Your mercy, C hear our prayer

Lord God, You gather Your people from all nations and bring them into Your one, holy Christian and apostolic flock. Strengthen them by Your grace, that they may gladly feast upon Your riches in Your Means of Grace and declare Your praises to all who will hear. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, You have subjected all things under Your Son, who gladly subjects Himself to You. Bless the homes of Your people, that parents may train and catechize their children with wisdom and love, and that children may gladly submit and honor their father and mother. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord of lords, You sustain every rule, authority and power as You see fit, until this world’s powers should pass away. Bless all in civil authority, that they would not provoke Your wrath but maintain order and justice for the peace of Your people. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father in heaven, we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, while now we contend with a multitude of afflictions under the curse of sin. Remember those in need of help and healing [including _____________]. Preserve them, deliver them from their transgressions and hold not Your peace at their tears. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, You have prepared Your kingdom for us from the foundation of the world. Preserve us in faith and love throughout our days, that we may care for Your servants and our neighbors with compassion and joy, looking toward that day when the Son of Man comes in His glory; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Offertory Invitation

In the Bible we read, "All that is in heaven and in the earth is the Lord's." Therefore we now offer back to God that with which He first blessed us.

The Choir sings the Offertory as the offerings are being collected.



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.

Text: John W. Arthur, 1922–80
Text: © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110004199

Offertory Prayer

Lord God, send your Spirit upon us as we offer you these gifts. Enrich us by your grace, strengthen us with your blessing, and keep us always in your love. Grant this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Preface LSB 194

P The Lord be with you.

C And with thy spirit.

P Lift up your hearts.

C We lift them up unto the Lord.

P Let us give thanks unto the Lord, our God.

C It is meet and right so to do.

Proper Preface

P It is truly meet, 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, who, having created all things, took on human flesh and was born of the virgin Mary. For our sake He died on the cross and rose from the dead to put an end to death, thus fulfilling Your will and gaining for You a holy people. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:


C Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth;

heavn and earth are full of Thy glory.

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

The Words of Our Lord

P On the night, in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same also, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood, shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this 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. . .

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.


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

C Amen.

Agnus Dei

C O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us Thy peace. Amen.


The pastor and those who assist him receive the body and blood of Christ first and then distribute them to those who come to receive, saying:

Distribution LSB 199

Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins.


Take, drink; this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins.



In dismissing the communicants, the following is said:

The Dismissal

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

C Amen.

Thank the Lord LSB 164

C Thank the Lord and sing His praise; tell evryone 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.

Thanksgiving LSB 200

A O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good,

C and His mercy endureth forever.

Post-Communion Prayer

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

Post-Communion Collect

P The Lord be with you.

C And with thy spirit.

P Bless we the Lord.

C Thanks be to God.


P The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and Tgive you peace.

C Amen, amen, amen.

832 Jesus Shall Reign LSB 832

1 Jesus shall reign whereer the sun
Does its successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

2 To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And endless praises crown His head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With evry morning sacrifice.

3 People and realms of evry tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

4 Blessings abound whereer He reigns:
The prisners leap, unloose their chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all who suffer want are blest.

5 Let evry creature rise and bring
Honors peculiar to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen.

Text: Isaac Watts, 1674–1748, alt.
Text: Public domain


P Go in Peace! Serve the Lord!

C Praise be to God!


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.

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