In the Land of the Living!

Based on Psalm 27:13

Designed to be used flexibly at four different seasonal times of the natural and Christian years, these sermons are not meant to be used entirely as is. Each one incorporates all of the four readings in some way and is meant to be enriched by further textual study, personal reflection, and adaptation. The idea is to give a template for each season within an integrated thematic framework.

Sermons

Advent/Christmas

"¦The land seems to be dead this time of year; that is if you live where the weather has turned cold, deciduous trees are bare of their leaves, and green is gone from the ground. That's why winter can be such a stark and burdensome time for many. But the land isn't dead: it's sleeping "¦ hibernating "¦ waiting. Winter can be a time of barrenness and hardship, yet as anyone who's seen snow and ice stunningly transform the dormant knows it can also be a time of wonder and delight... Winter Waiting and Beholding
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Easter/Rogation

It's the time of the year when the land has awakened and started brimming with green life. Snow has melted and rains have com. Trees have budded forth and blossomed. It's as if all of the Earth is giving the Hebrew toast "L'Chaim!", To Life! And, of course, since it's Easter season, the ongoing celebration of Jesus' exhilarating resumption of life after his harrowing and mournful death, that's the Church's joyous toast as well, "L'Chaim!", To Life! It seems, however, that we Christians wring everything out of Lent (with extra services and maybe a bit of fasting) but get past Easter Day worn out, limp, and simply glad that Lent is over so that we can return to business as usual "¦ as if nothing at all has changed, as if we haven't just been brought into a brand new land of resurrection.To Life!
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Trinity/Pentecost

Not everyone delights in these summer months. While some adore this verdant season of productivity, others lament all of the work mowing, weeding, and picking that goes along with it. But like it or not, this time of growth and harvest is essential for all of life, from the smallest to the largest. So Joel prophesied a joy-filled restoration of Creation for a place decimated by a plague of locusts: Do not be afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice"¦. Do not be afraid, you animals of the field, for the pastures are green"¦. Be glad, O children "¦ for the Lord has given you rain"¦. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. Harvest of Plenty
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All Saints/End Time

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. So the psalmist extols God's eternity before thinking about our mortality: we return to dust, we're here and gone like quickly fading grass, our years come to an end like a sigh. In light of that, we're to know that our days are numbered and apply our hearts to wisdom; to be satisfied with God's steadfast love and to know joy and gladness all our days.  Time and Eternity
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Supplemental Resources

Orders of Worship

While any of the orders of worship provided in Lutheran Service Book can be used to adapt to the tone, type, and time of the service, introducing any of these would provide occasional variety and cohesion for quarterly use:

  • The Vajda Hymn Service (Concordia Publishing House)
  • Now the Feast and Celebration (Marty Haugen, GIA Publications)
  • Unfailing Light: An Evening Setting of Holy Communion (Marty Haugen & Susan Briehl, GIA Publications)
  • Holden Evening Prayer (Marty Haugen, GIA Publications)

Hymnody Considerations

While leaving it to you to mine what complements these materials within the Lutheran Service Book, a few suggestions are made from there along with strong pairings form predominantly outside sources.  

  • "O Sing a Song of Bethlehem" (Louis F. Benson, Public Domain)
    • Consider adding a stanza, where deemed best in the service, for each season. The four stanzas correlate beautifully with four significant places in Christ's life, as well as with the four emphases here.
  • "We Plow the Fields and Scatter" (Matthias Claudius/Johnann A. P. Schulz, Lutheran Book of #362)
    • This hymn would be excellent for repeated use throughout the four seasons.
  • "Gracious God, You Send Great Blessings" (Gregory J. Wismar/Lutheran Service Book #782)
    • This would stand up well for repeated use also.
  • "Full Creation" (Gregory J. Wismar/Richard W. Gieseke, Concordia Publishing House)
    • This hymn would work well for single or repeated use within this series. 
  • "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (Thomas O. Chisholm/William M. Runyan, Lutheran Service Book #809)
    • Stanza two would work well as a gradual for each season. 
  • "You Shall Go Out with Joy" (Stuart Dauermann, Hymns of Glory Songs of Praise #804)
    • This would function nicely as a recessional for the first season, and maybe for all that follow too. 

Winter Waiting and Beholding (Advent/Christmas)

  • "From Shepherding of Stars" (F. Samuel Janzow/Richard Hillert, Lutheran Worship #71)
  • "A Stable Lamp is Lighted" (Richard Wilbur/David Hurd, Hymnal Supplement 98 #810)
  • "All Earth Is Hopeful/Toda la tierra" (Alberto Taulé, With One Voice #629)
  • "As the Sun with Longer Journey" (John Patrick Earls/Carl Schalk, With One Voice #655)
  • "People, Look East" (Eleanor Farjeon, With One Voice #626)
  • "Isaiah the Prophet" (Joy F. Patterson/Sydney Bertram Carter, Hymns of Glory Songs of Praise #241)

To Life! (Easter/Rogation)

  • "Christ Be Our Seed" (Herbert Brokering/Carl Schalk, Moments of Grace [Wheat Ridge Ministries] #5)
  • "As the Grains of Wheat" (Marty Haugen, With One Voice #705)
  • "Lord, Your Hands Have Formed" (Ramon & Sario Aliano, With One Voice #727)
  • "You Are the Seed/Sois la semilla" (Cesáreo Gabaraín, With One Voice #753)
  • "Now the Green Blade Rises" (J.M.C. Crum, Faber Music Ltd.)
  • "God, Whose Farm is All Creation" (Leslie Thomas John Arlott, Hymns of Glory Songs of Praise #226)
  • "God, Who Made the Earth" (arr. John Bell, Hymns of Glory Songs of Praise #228)
  • "Earth, Earth, Awake; Your Praises Sing" (Herman G. Stuempfle Jr./Sally Ann Morris, GIA Publications) 

Harvest of Plenty (Trinity/Pentecost)

  • "Speak Forth Thy Word, O Father" (Charles Jeffries/Theodore A. Beck, Worship Supplement [1969] #760)
  • "Thank the Lord, for He is Good" (Jarolslav Vajda/Paul Bunjes, Worship Supplement [1969] #773)
  • "The Voice of God Is Calling" (John H. Holmes, Worship Supplement [1969] #776)
  • "All Creatures of Our God and King" (Francis of Assisi/William H. Draper, Lutheran Worship #436)
  • "Grains of Wheat/Una espiga" (Cesáreo Gabaraín, With One Voice #708)
  • "The Thirsty Fields Drink In the Rain" (Britt Hallqvist/Mark Sedio), With One Voice #714)
  • "Now We Offer/Te ofrecemos" (tr. Gerald Thorson, With One Voice #761)
  • "Bless and Keep Us, God" (Dieter Trautwein, Strube Verlag/Hope Publishing Company) 

Time and Eternity (All Saints/End Times)

  • "Creator, Keeper, Caring Lord" (Jaroslav Vajda, Moments of Grace [Wheat Ridge Ministries] #9)
  • "My Life Flows On in Endless Song" (Robert Lowry, With One Voice #781)
  • "O Christ the Same" (Timothy Dudley-Smith, With One Voice #778)
  • "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" (Anonymous, arr. Alfred V. Fedak, Selah Publishing Company)

 

 

Prayers of the Church

In addition to using the litany and the prayers of intercession and thanksgiving provided in the LSB Altar Book, these inclusions and alternate forms may be incorporated as well.

Inclusions

  • For proclamation of our Lord as Creator and Giver of life, and for lives that abound with holy gratitude instead of selfish wastefulness, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
  • For renewed humility and service in living out our role as stewards of Creation, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
  • For this season in the cycle of the natural world, for this time in the cycle of the Christian year, and for all we need to learn and be reminded of by both, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

Alternate Forms

"Hear Our Prayer" (Steve Bell & Jamie Howison, Signpost Music), This song can be adapted easily for congregational use.

I

Lord of Creation, you have made the universe by your eternal Word and have blessed humankind by giving us care of the Earth; we pray that we may reverently share and conserve its bounty and live in harmony with our fellow creatures, O Giver and Redeemer of Life: In your mercy, hear us.

Lord of Creation, your Son, O Father, promised that the Spirit would lead us into all truth; we pray for the place and community in which you have set us, for one another and for ourselves, that we may bring forth the harvest of the Spirit in love and joy and peace, O Giver and Redeemer of Life: In your mercy, hear us.

Lord of Creation, though you have given us a rich place of dwelling, a land of streams and springs, grain and fruit, oil and honey, we have made by sin a world of suffering and sorrow; we pray for those who work the waters and pastures, forests and fields in hardship and joy, that all may come to share in your harvest of wholeness and plenty, O Giver and Redeemer of Life: In your mercy, hear us.

Lord of Creation, as we have been given fullness of life through Jesus the firstborn of the dead and the first-fruits of the resurrection; we pray that you would renew us as your servants in this world so that our words and works give witness to your grace, and that all may partake in your feast of salvation in the world to come even as we partake of it now through the bread of Jesus' body and the wine of his blood, O Giver and Redeemer of Life: In your mercy, hear us.

Accept these prayers, we pray, for the sake of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, O Father and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

(Significantly altered "Intercession, Creation" from Enriching the Christian Year, compiled by Michael Perham; Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993, 155-156)

II

With all our hearts and with all our minds, let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace from above, for the loving-kindness of God, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the world, for the good of Christ's Church, and for the unity of all people, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the laity and clergy, and for our common calling as baptized and sent servants, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the people and leaders of this and every nation, that life may be conducted and ordered for the wellbeing of all, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For this city/town, for every community, and for all who live in them, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For seasonable weather and for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the animals you have created and placed in this world, for their protection and wellbeing, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the aged and infirm, the widowed and orphaned, and for the sick and suffering, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the poor and oppressed, the unemployed and destitute, for prisoners and captives, for refugees and all in places of danger and conflict, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For forgiveness of our wrongs and offenses, that we may live our lives in faith, hope, and love, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For all who partake of Christ's Table of Grace, here and throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

With all the saints, we commend ourselves, one another, and all our lives to you, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen

(Significantly altered "Prayers of the People, Form I" from The Book of Common Prayer; New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, 383-385)

III

Let us pray for the Church and for the world.

Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its gifts rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Bless all whose lives are closely joined with ours, as well as those from whom we are estranged, that we may serve Christ in them and love one another as he loves us. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Comfort and heal all who suffer in body, soul, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them the joy of your salvation. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Nourish all of your baptized children, O Lord, so that strengthened by the fruits of Christ's creation, redemption, and resurrection, we might show forth his grace in this world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We commend to your keeping all who have died in the faith, thankful for their lives of witness and service, and pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.(Significantly altered "Prayers of the

People, Form IV" from The Book of Common Prayer;
New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, 388-389.

IV

For the holy Church of God, that it may be filled with truth and love, and be found without fault at the day of your coming, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For all who trust and believe in you, Lord Christ, that our divisions may cease, and that all may be one as you and the Father are one, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the mission of the Church, that in faithful witness it may proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For those who do not believe, and for those who have lost their faith, that they may receive the light of Christ, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the world; that a spirit of respect and patience may grow among all nations and people, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For those in positions of public trust, that they may serve justice and promote the dignity and freedom of all, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For your blessing on all labor, for the right use of the riches of creation, that the world may be freed from poverty, famine, and disaster, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For the poor, the persecuted, the sick, and all who suffer; for refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger, that they may be relieved and protected, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For this congregation, that we may be delivered from hardness of heart and show forth your glory in all that we do, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For our enemies and those who wish us harm, and for all whom we have injured or offended, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For ourselves, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for the grace of the Holy Spirit to amend our lives, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For all who have commended themselves to our prayers; that being freed from anxiety they might live in joy, peace, and health, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For all who are nearing death, that they might know your saving grace in the communion of saints, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, have mercy.

For all who eat and drink of Christ's holy feast, and for all we bring before you, we pray in trust and faith, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God eternal in mercy and love, Amen.

(Significantly altered "Prayers of the People, Form V" from The Book of Common Prayer; New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, 389-391)

Collects

Advent/Christmas ("Winter Waiting and Beholding")

O Lord of Heaven and Earth, as we await with faith and behold with joy the coming of the Savior and Sustainer of all life, remind us that your Word is like snow and rain which sprout forth buried seed so that all my be fed; then lead us forth to live your peace on Earth and goodwill to all, to the praise of your glorious name, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Easter/Rogation ("To Life!")

O Lord of Resurrection, who leads us forth from the barrenness of death to the abundance of life, open our eyes anew so that we see in this Earth's teeming growth your glorious and generous provision and forget not your goodness through careless and faithless living. Raise us up anew as your baptized people, planted in Christ, to live out your worship in lives of service and praise, O God of grace, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Trinity/Pentecost ("Harvest of Plenty")

O God of growth and harvest, you open your hands with food and drink for all of your hungry and thirsty creatures; renew in us deep gratitude and joyous thanksgiving, as sons and daughters emboldened by your Spirit for lives of sacrificial and abundant sharing, so that all in scarcity may know your plenty O gracious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

All Saints/End Times ("Time and Eternity")

O Lord of time and eternity, the lives of all generations are in your keeping. Enable us to see that our days are numbered so that we set our hearts to living wisely in the here and now. Teach us to loosen our grip and let go in trust of what we possess in this life, knowing that in Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, we have all we need, with you, O Father and Spirit, Amen.