Wednesday, February 17th, 2021


ELW 606 Our Father, We Have Wandered



The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Friends in Christ, today with the whole church we enter the time of remembering Jesus’ passover from death to life, and our life in Christ is renewed.

We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and for God’s mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation. But our sinful rebellion separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, so that we do not enjoy the life our creator intended.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.


Sackcloth was a dark-colored material made of goat or camel hair. A garment of sackcloth was uncomfortable and so was worn by people in mourning to recognize their discomfort. Wearing it also became a sign of distress and repentance. As we enter this season of Lent, I invite you to don these strips of black burlap during our time of worship as a form of sackcloth. May they represent for us the distress of recognizing our sinful condition as well as a sign of our repentance. May our wearing of them move our hearts to seek God’s grace. I invite you to wear the sackcloth during the worship this evening, and throughout the season of Lent.

PSALM: Psalm 51:1-17

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love. (Ps. 51:1)

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
in your great compassion blot out  my offenses.
2Wash me through and through from my wickedness,
 and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my offenses,
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
 so you are justified when you speak and right in your judgment. R
5Indeed, I was born steeped in wickedness,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.
6Indeed, you delight in truth deep within me,
 and would have me know wisdom deep within.
7Remove my sins with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be purer than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
 that the body you have broken may rejoice. R
9Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my wickedness.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
 and renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
 and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit. R
13Let me teach your ways to offenders,
and sinners shall be restored to you.
14Rescue me from bloodshed, O God of my salvation,
 and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness.
15O Lord, o-pen my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
16For you take no delight in sacrifice, orI would give it.
 You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;
a troubled and broken heart, O God, you will not despise. R


Let us pray.
Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

FIRST READING: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

1Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, 
for the day of the  Lord is coming, it is near—
2a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains 
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old, 
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.

12Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 
 13rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, 
and relents from punishing.
14Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering 
for the  Lord, your God?

15Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly; 
 16gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation; 
assemble the aged;
gather the children, 
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room, 
and the bride her canopy.

17Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the  Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples, 
‘Where is their God?’ ”

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10

20bWe entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.


“Let your steadfast love”

GOSPEL: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The holy gospel according to Matthew.

 [Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.




“Now is the Time of Grace”


Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
The assembly kneels or sits. Silence is kept for reflection and self-examination.
Most holy and merciful God,
we confess to you and to one another,
and before the whole company of heaven,
that we have sinned by our fault,
by our own fault,
by our own most grievous fault,
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, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, O God.
We have shut our ears to your call to serve as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our past unfaithfulness, the pride, envy, hypocrisy, and apathy that have infected our lives, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to share the faith that is in us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our neglect of human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our false judgments, our uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, we confess to you.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Restore us, O God, and let your anger depart from us.
Hear us, O God, for your mercy is great.


Relying on the promises of God, we pray boldly for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.

O God, you call your church to be ministers of reconciliation throughout the world. Inspire your church in its proclamation of the gospel and guide its ministries to build up the body of Christ. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

O God, you created the earth and all its inhabitants and you declared that it is good. Protect mountains and valleys, animals and plants, and direct us to be good stewards of all you have made. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

O God, you desire peace. Direct governments and leaders to work for the well-being of all people and raise up advocates to speak and serve on behalf of the downtrodden. Lord, in your mercy.
hear our prayer.

O God, you are our hope in the midst of despair, our help in the midst of sorrow, and our consolation in the midst of affliction. Grant comfort to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit (especially) and support caregivers who attend to all in need. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

O God, you are love, and you call us to love one another. Accompany with your grace those journeying toward baptism and call us all to repentance as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

 O God, you are our life and our salvation. We give you thanks for the righteous who have died in faith. Inspire us by their example to proclaim your steadfast love. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We entrust ourselves and all our prayers to you, O faithful God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Let us pray.
Merciful God, accompany our journey through these forty days. Renew us in the gift of baptism, that we may provide for those who are poor, pray for those in need, fast from self-indulgence, and above all that we may find our treasure in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

LORD’S PRAYER (Sung) p. 163

Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.


Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever.


Go forth into the world to serve God with gladness;
be of good courage;
hold fast to that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak;
help the afflicted; honor all people;
love and serve God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God.

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