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Forged in fire

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Malachi 3:1-4 Look! I am sending my messenger! He will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple! The Messenger of the Covenant, in whom you delight, will surely come, says the Lord of Armies. 2But who can endure the day when he comes? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like launderers’ bleach! 3He will be seated like a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and like silver. They will belong to the Lord and bring him an offering in righteousness. 4Judah and Jerusalem’s offerings will be pleasing to the Lord as they were in the days of old, in years long ago. One of my favorite TV shows is “Forged in Fire” on the History Channel. It is a competition series where four bladesmiths compete to create various kinds of knives that will hold up to the brutal tests of the show’s experts. The experts will try to chop deer antlers or bamboo stalks …

Worship Helps for Advent 3

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Artwork: The Preaching of St. John the Baptist Artist: Domenico Ghirlandaio - 
Worship Theme: This Sunday, traditionally called Gaudete, (Rejoice) captures the heightening anticipation of the coming Savior. Each lesson reinforces the “good news” on which the Gospel lesson ends. Those who anticipate the arrival of the Christ rejoice, because the Lord and his deliverance is near. Gaudeamus pariter.
Old Testament:Nehemiah 8:9-18 9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites, who helped the people understand, said to all the people, “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or cry!” because all the people were crying as they heard the words of the Law. 10Nehemiah said to them, “Go, eat rich food and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, because today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11Then the Levites silenced all the people, saying, “Hush! Today is holy. Do not grieve.” 12All…

A Location

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Micah 5:2-5a “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old,from ancient times.” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. Luke 2:4-5 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. “Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is coming,” (Reve…

Worship Helps for Advent 2

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Artwork: St John the Baptist Preaching in the Desert Artist: Massimo Stanzione
Worship Theme: Many people look for easy fixes for their problems. God, though, often puts his people through a long, painful process to prepare us to embrace the Savior he has sent. God always works through his Word to develop in us a life that shows the fruit of the purity he has put around us in Christ.
Old Testament:Malachi 3:1-4 Look! I am sending my messenger! He will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple! The Messenger of the Covenant, in whom you delight, will surely come, says the Lord of Armies. 2But who can endure the day when he comes? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like launderers’ bleach! 3He will be seated like a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and like silver. They will belong to the Lord and bring him an offering in righteousness. …

Worship Helps for Advent 1

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Artwork: The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah Artist: John Martin
Worship Theme: “Advent” comes from the Latin word for “coming” or “arrival.” In today’s Bible readings, Jesus urges us to be ready for his coming. It could be at any time. It will bring far greater destruction than when the Lord leveled Sodom. What a difference that outlook makes in our prayers! How much we long to see our Lord and experience fully the freedom he bought for us with his blood.
First Lesson: Genesis 19:15–17, 23–29    15When the dawn came, the angels urged Lot, “Get going! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, so that you will not be swept away by the guilt of the city.” 16But Lot was taking too much time, so the men grabbed his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, because of the Lord’s compassion for him. They led him out and placed him outside of the city. 17Then when they had taken them out, one of them said, “Run for your life! Don’t look behind you, and don’t stay any…

Are you the king of the Jews?

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John 18:33–37 33Pilate went back into the Praetorium and summoned Jesus. He asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.” 37“You are a king then?” Pilate asked. Jesus answered, “I am, as you say, a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his own blood and made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever.” (Revelation 1:5–7) Pilate was an official of imperial Rome. Jesus stood before him as an ac…