Evening Prayer (Vespers)
You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.
Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over.
Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church.
FIRST READING: Jeremiah 31:31-34
A reading from: Jeremiah
31 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the Lord!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
PSALM: Psalm 78:1-8
78 Listen, my
people, to my teaching;
tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a proverb.
I’ll declare riddles from days long gone—
3 ones that we’ve heard and learned about,
ones that our ancestors told us.
4 We won’t hide them from their descendants;
we’ll tell the next generation
all about the praise due the Lord and his strength—
the wondrous works God has done.
5 He established a law for Jacob
and set up Instruction for Israel,
ordering our ancestors
to teach them to their children.
6 This is so that the next generation
and children not yet born will know these things,
and so they can rise up and tell their children
7 to put their hope in God—
never forgetting God’s deeds,
but keeping God’s commandments—
8 and so that they won’t become like their ancestors:
a rebellious, stubborn generation,
a generation whose heart wasn’t set firm
and whose spirit wasn’t faithful to God.
Gospel: Matthew 24:29-35
A reading from: Matthew
29 “Now immediately after the suffering of that time the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Human One will appear in the sky. At that time all the tribes of the earth will be full of sadness, and they will see the Human One] coming in the heavenly clouds with power and great splendor. 31 He will send his angels with the sound of a great trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four corners of the earth, from one end of the sky to the other.
32 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you know that the Human One[d] is near, at the door. 34 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
It seems like God has never stopped speaking to us. There was the call to Noah to build an ark; the call to Abraham and Sarah to settle in a particular place; the call to Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and into the land promised long ago to Abraham. The Torah and the writings remind us of the relationship we have with this same God. The prophets sometimes threw up their hands in dismay at how hard it was – and is – to get the people to hear and obey God’s message. But, God never stopped speaking.
Then, Jesus came, and told us over and over again in words he thought we could understood, that God loves us, forgives us, and wants to have a wonderful relationship with us.
Lately, it seems to many people that the end is near. The signs are there – disasters abound in the physical world and in our own lives as we try to avoid getting a fatal illness. The problem is that throughout history, there have been similar times, with volcanoes and earthquakes and hurricanes and plagues. People thought the end was near then, too. But the world just keeps on spinning.
And God keeps on talking to us, with words on the printed page reflecting what Jesus said. And with words written on our hearts, words too powerful to speak out loud. But we can feel them, and maybe ear them whispered by Spirit. “I love you to bits.” “I forgive you your foolish and stubborn ways.” “Please love me back.” Amen
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,
but in these last days, God has spoken to us by the Son.
For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the health of creation, for abundant harvests that all may share, for plentiful water, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For essential workers, public servants, the government, and those who protect us; for those who work to bring peace, justice, healing, and protection in this and every place, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For those who travel, for those who are sick and suffering, for those who are in captivity, and for those who are living in isolation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For deliverance in the time of affliction, wrath, danger and need, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
Other prayer petitions may be offered here.
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go forth with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only trusting that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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.
Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, + keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen
Scripture from Common English Bible © 2012
Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504