The Hills of Lent Wednesday | Online Church at Home Service Bulletin | February 28th, 2024

February 28, 2024 | The Hills of Lent
The Psalms for these services are taken from that portion of the Psalter titled “Songs of Ascent” (Psalms 120 through 134) which were offered by the faithful pilgrims as they made their way up, through the hills of Judea, to Jerusalem for the great festivals. Today’s Psalmody includes Psalms 121, 120, 126, and 134 from that collection.
PINNACLE LUTHERAN CHURCH | “Mount Carmel”

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PINNACLE LUTHERAN CHURCH

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pinnacle Lutheran Church Preaches

Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

The Hills of Lent

A Series of Services for Lent

Mount Carmel

The Psalms for these services are taken from that portion of the Psalter titled “Songs of Ascent” (Psalms 120 through 134) which were offered by the faithful pilgrims as they made their way up, through the hills of Judea, to Jerusalem for the great festivals. Today’s Psalmody includes Psalms 121, 120, 126, and 134 from that collection.

Opening Hymn: #433 Glory Be to Jesus

LITANY

P   I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?

C  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

P   He will not let your foot be moved, and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

C  Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

P   The Lord himself watches over you.

C  The Lord is your shade at your right hand, so that the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

P   The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; it is he who shall keep you safe.

C  The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming· in, from this time forth and forevermore.

P   When I was in trouble, I called to the Lord; I called to the Lord and he answered me.

C  Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips and from the deceitful tongue.

P   What shall be done to you, and what more besides, O you deceitful tongue?

C  The sharpened arrows of a warrior, along with hot glowing coals.

P   Too long have I had to live among the enemies of peace.

C  I am on the side of peace, but when I speak of it, they are for war.

P   When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream.

C  Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.

P   Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

C  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.

P   Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourse of the Negev. Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.

C  Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

P   Behold, now! Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, you that stand by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord.

C  The Lord who made heaven and earth bless you out of Zion.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

HOLY SCRIPTURE

Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6

P   A reading from Malachi, chapters 3 and 4:

Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years …

For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse. The Word of the Lord.

Hymn: #432 In Silent Pain the Eternal Son

Mark 8:34—9:13

P   The Holy Gospel according to St. Mark, chapters 8 and 9:

And Jesus called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father and the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead. So, they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things, and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Sermon

Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes: Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise? From God the Lord doth come my certain aid, From God the Lord, who heav’n and earth hath made.

He will not suffer that thy foot be moved; safe shalt thou be. No careless slumber shall his eyelids close, who keepeth thee. Behold, he sleepeth not, he slumb’reth ne’er, who keepeth lsrael in his holy care.

Jehovah is himself thy keeper true, thy changeless shade; Jehovah thy defense on thy right hand himself hath made. And thee no sun by day shall ever smite; No moon shall harm thee in the silent night. From ev’ry evil shall he keep thy soul, from ev’ry sin; Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in. Above thee watching, he whom we adore Shall keep thee henceforth, yea, forevermore

SERMON: MOUNT CARMEL

Participants for this presentation:

NARRATOR: (probably the pastor), speaking from the pulpit.

All others read from the front of the church:

VOICE, representing the Lord

ELIJAH

WOMAN

OTHER, another voice representing various characters

NARRATOR: Throughout this Lenten season we have been climbing “The Hills of Lent,” joining various of God’s people on the “mountaintop experiences” which he occasionally granted them for the strengthening of their faith, and ours. Today we shall join the great prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel. We might begin by admitting that if anyone ever needed a “mountaintop experience” for the strengthening of faith, it was proba-bly the great prophet Elijah, a man who would be surprised to hear us call him “great,” for during most of his ministry—both before and after that “mountaintop” experi-ence—Elijah felt anything but great! For he lived in difficult times, some of the most difficult times in which a man of God has ever been called to minister.

VOICE: In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for a wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and wor-shiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel who were before him.

NARRATOR: It was to that king, then, under those circumstances, that the Lord sent the prophet Elijah with a dire warning:

ELIJAH: As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.

NARRATOR: A bold prophecy! Or maybe not as bold as it sounds, for the very next thing the Bible tells us is that when Elijah had uttered that dire word of God, he turned and ran, know-ing for a certainty that wicked King Ahab would not accept his ministry kindly. He did not run aimlessly, however, for the word of the Lord which had sent him to Ahab directed him now.

VOICE: Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook there, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.

NARRATOR: An important provision, because Elijah was a hunted man … and besides, the word of God which he had spoken was coming to pass exactly as he had said: rain no longer fell, and the land of Israel suffered withering drought … until at last even Elijah’s secret brook dried up, and he would have to seek elsewhere for sustenance.

VOICE: Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.

NARRATOR: A widow, of all people, afflicted even more sorely than most by the terrible drought.

WOMAN: As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a cruse; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

ELIJAH: Fear not; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord of the God of Israel, “The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.”

NARRATOR: And she went and did as Elijah said; and she, and he, and her household ate for many days.

WOMAN: The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which he spoke by Elijah.

NARRATOR: All of this now serves as background to the great confrontation which lies ahead, Elijah’s challenge on Mount Carmel.

(pause)

NARRATOR: After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the great drought.

VOICE: Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

NARRATOR: The reception Elijah received in the presence of the wicked king was not the most welcome one.

OTHER: Is it you, you troubler of Israel?

ELIJAH: I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now there-fore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, who eat at Jezebel’s table.

NARRATOR: So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people.

ELIJAH: How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.

NARRATOR: The challenge has been thrown down, here on Mount Carmel. And now the specifics.

ELIJAH: I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let two bulls be given up to us; and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood but put no fire to it; and I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, and put no fire to it. And you call on the name of your God and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.

OTHER: It is well spoken.

ELIJAH: You prophets of Baal, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.

NARRATOR: And they took the bull which was given to them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon.

OTHER: O Baal, answer us! Answer us!

ELIJAH: Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.

NARRATOR: And they cried aloud …

OTHER: O Baal, answer us!

NARRATOR: … and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on …

OTHER: O Baal, answer us! Answer us!

NARRATOR: … but there was no voice …

OTHER: Answer us!

NARRATOR: No one answered, no one heeded. Then it was Elijah’s turn.

ELIJAH: Come near to me.

NARRATOR: And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, and he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the altar.

ELIJAH: Fill four jars with water, and put it on the burnt offering, and the wood.

NARRATOR: Water was scarce at this time, please recall; the drought had gone on for three years.

ELIJAH: Do it a second time.

(pause)

ELIJAH: Do it a third time.

NARRATOR: And the water ran round about the altar and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near.

ELIJAH: O Lord, God of Abraham, lsaac and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back.

NARRATOR: Then the fire of the Lord fell … 

VOICE:

OTHER:

WOMAN: (together, in surprise) Aaaah!

NARRATOR: … and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

VOICE:

OTHER:

WOMAN: (together) The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God! (Keep repeating this line under Elijah’s next shout:)

ELIJAH: Seize the prophets of Baal! Let none of them escape!

(Shouting stops)

NARRATOR: And they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.

(pause)

NARRATOR: When people recall the story of the confrontation on Mount Carmel, they often omit the conclusion, but that conclusion is important.

ELIJAH: Ahab, go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.

NARRATOR: There had been NO rain, please remember, for three years, according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken to the king. Then Elijah returned to the top of Mount Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. And he spoke to his servant.

ELIJAH: Go up now, look toward the sea.

OTHER: There is nothing there.

ELIJAH: Go again seven times.

NARRATOR: And at the seventh time …

OTHER: Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.

ELIJAH: Go up, and say to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.”

NARRATOR: And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain!

(pause)

NARRATOR: One would like to hope that Mount Carmel had made a difference, not only for the people of Israel, but also for the Lord’s faithful prophet through whom the word of God had come to pass. But it was not so. When Elijah left Mount Carmel, it was to face more opposition from the wicked king … eventually to flee once more for his life in utter despair.

ELIJAH: It is enough. Now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.

NARRATOR: Perhaps it is good that we see the great prophet Elijah like that, even after his victory on the mountain of the Lord. Good, because we have seen the Lord’s victories in our lives too. We have gone from Carmel to Calvary, to see the fire of the Lord descend in holy wrath and sacred vindication, and by the power of His Spirit we have come to confess that the Lord is God indeed. And yet, times of despair still continue to confront us, as they did the great prophet Elijah. Perhaps the Lenten lesson of Mount Carmel is that the task is never done; the life God calls us to lead as his faithful people is one that continues to summon us from mountaintop victories to further challenges still to be met. None of these mountains is our final resting place … but perhaps the memory of them can help us as we trudge the valleys of our lives. And perhaps we can even take comfort, as Elijah did, in the simple fact of rain, a phenomenon of nature which we often take for granted but which may be for us, each time it falls, what it was for the great prophet Elijah, a sign that God’s sure word for us will come to pass.

VOICE: For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Apostles’ Creed

OFFERING

RESPONSIVE PRAYER

P   Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem.

C  The journey is not easy, Lord. Forgive us our discouragement and keep before our eyes the triumph of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and all that he endured for us.

P   Everything that is written of the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.

C  When our way is difficult, come, strengthen and sustain us by your gracious providence made known to us in Jesus Christ who stood fast in his will to keep your Word.

P   For he will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.

C  Let not difficulty or disappointment led us to despair, and even when we seem to fail, restore us by your grace.

P   They will scourge him and kill him.

C  As Christ endured for us, let us endure for him, until your victory at last is manifest.

P   And on the third day he will rise.

C  Raise us at last, when all our journeying is done, to reign with Christ in everlasting joy. Amen.

LORD’S PRAYER

BENEDICTION

Creative Worship for the Lutheran Parish, Series C, Quarter 3. Copyright © 2022 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Used by permission.