Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crandall Installation

Pentecost 13
August 30, 2009

The Lord be with you

This evening we held the installation service for Rev. Ted Crandall at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS). Rev. Crandall is now officially our called Associate Pastor and officially our missionary to Beaufort, SC. Pastors from around South Carolina and Western North Carolina participated in the service. The singing was great (which is always the case when you get a bunch of pastors together). Pastor Crandall and his family finally got to meet the members of Lamb of God, and vice-versa. What follows are a couple of pictures from the evening.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hymn Stories Wanted

Friday after Pentecost 12
August 28, 2009

The Lord be with you

In 1989 I took a call to Our Redeemer Lutheran (LCMS) in Wilson, NC. One of the parishioners in my new church was in a comma. She could not talk, make eye contact, etc. What was I to do when I visited her? I settled on a simple approach.

I would greet here in the name of the Lord. Then I’d recite portions of the liturgy, the confession of sins and the absolution, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Aaronic Blessing. Then I would sing hymns. I picked older hymns. Hymns I knew she had heard all her life. I didn’t know if anything was “getting through.”

A few months later she died. I’d been to see here a dozen times or so. In speaking with the family they told me something I didn’t expect. It seems when anyone visited “mom” she was always agitated after they left. It didn’t matter if it was a brother or sister, a son or daughter, and grandchild or long time friend, and of course any medical professional. There was one exception. Whenever I visited, a total stranger to her, she was more at peace when I left.

There is only one reason for the peace I was able to bring to that departed saint. It came through the words and tunes of old and trusted hymns, and the familiar words of the liturgy. When nothing else could get through, the grace of God in Christ Jesus penetrated her dark world and brought her peace.

I am now trying to collect stories about how hymns have made a positive impact in the lives of the saints. I do have a few rules.

  1. The stories must be true.
  2. You have to let me share the stories for free.
  3. I want stories about hymns that are in the Lutheran Service Book or its predecessors (Lutheran Worship; The Lutheran Hymnal; Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book; Worship Supplement; hymnal supplement 98)
  4. If an alias is used, please indicate that.
  5. Leave your name and a way to contact you so the story can be checked out. (If you register as a follower, that will give me a way to contact you via e-mail and will work fine.)

So, share with me your hymn stories. Just leave them in a comment on this post.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the News Again

Thursday after Pentecost 12
August 27, 2009

The Lord be with you

This past Sunday a number of our members at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS) urged me to write a letter to the editor of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal so that the people in Spartanburg would know we are not part of the ELCA and do not subscribe to their position of ordaining people who engage in same-gender sexual relations. I did so and it was published today. It is the second letter on the Opinion page. Click here to read the letter.

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

Rev Crandall Installation Worship Notes

Thursday after Pentecost 12
August 27, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS), Spartanburg, SC, we will have two worship services. At the evening service Rev. Ted Crandall will be installed as our Associate Pastor and Missionary to the Beaufort area. This post is concerning the evening service.

Everything the congregation needs for this service, except the hymns, is printed in the worship bulletin. The service through the sermon follows setting three of the Divine Service (page 184) and is quite familiar. I will be handling this part of the service, except some of our visiting ministers will read the Old Testament and Epistle lessons. After the sermon Pastor Clifford Gade, our Circuit Counselor, will take over. This is the installation part of the service. The liturgy has been taken from the Lutheran Service Book Agenda. There are a number of scripture lessons that will be read by the visiting pastors. After Pastor Crandall is installed he will take over the service, ending with our prayers.

As is our custom at Lamb of God, portions of the service will be chanted, including the Introit which is printed in the bulletin. The choir will be singing “The Gift of Love” by Hal Hobson. The congregation will be singing “Lift High the Cross” (LSB 837), “Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling” (LSB 827), “God of the Prophets” (LSB 682), and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (LSB 657). The lessons are: Isaiah 52:7-10, Acts 20:17-18, 28-32, and John 20:19-23. The sermon is titled “An Exalted Office?” and the text is Acts 20:31.

As you know, there are two common arrangements of “A Mighty Fortress,” one by Martin Luther (who wrote the hymn) and one by J.S. Bach. We are using the arrangement by J.S. Bach. I found videos form Lift High the Cross and A Mighty Fortress and they can be found at the end of these notes. Better Noise has Audio for “Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling,” and “God of the Prophets.” So, between the videos and Better Noise you can hear each of the hymns before Sunday evening.

Preview of the Lessons
Isaiah 52:7-10: This lesson is common choices for installation and ordination services (like the other two lessons). The prophet proclaims “how beautiful … are the feet of him who brings good news.” The image is that of a messenger who is bringing news of victory after a battle back to those who are not at the battle front. Here the messenger is those who proclaim God’s word of grace, a word of peace. This message causes great joy, and those who receive it burst forth in song.

Acts 20:17-18, 28-32: Paul is meeting with the leaders of Ephesus, giving them his farewell address. He urges the pastors to be ever vigilant, for false teachers were sure to come. Paul also uses his own actions in their midst as an example for the pastors. For three years Paul admonished the congregations “with tears.” Paul also commends them to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build them up and give them the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (in heaven). By singling “the word of his grace” Paul accents the Gospel, and exults it over the Law.

John 20:19-23: This is the account of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection. Christ commissions them to go and proclaim the Gospel, giving to them and the Church the Office of the Keys.

Sunday’s Collect
O Lord, the God of all grace, You have called Your Church to minister in the name of Your Son, our great High Priest. By Your Word and Spirit inspire men to offer their lives for the sacred ministry that, ministering in the name of Christ, they may draw many to Your kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Introit (Psalm 40:3-4, 7-11, 16, Antiphon verse 9a)
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessèd is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me;
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congergation.
As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation

Gradual
The choir will sing “The Gift of Live” instead of a Gradual.


Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert



Worship Notes for Pentecost 12

Thursday after Pentecost 12
August 27, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS), Spartanburg, SC, we will have two worship services. This post is concerning the morning service.

Because this Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of the month we will be using Morning Prayer (page 235) for our liturgy. Our Bible readings will be Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9, Ephesians 6:10-20and Mark 7:14-23. We will chant Psalm 119:129-136. The antiphon will be verse 132. Our opening hymn will be “Thy Strong Word” (LSB 578). The sermon hymn will be “God Has Spoken by His Prophets” (LSB 583). Our closing hymn will be “I Know My Faith Is Founded” (LSB 587). The text for the sermon is Deuteronomy 4:1 and the sermon is titled “Scruples or Scripture.”

Better Noise has the music for “Thy Strong Word” but not the other hymns. I also found a rather high-powered rendition of the music of "Thy Strong Word" which can be found in a video at the end of these notes.

Preview of the Lessons
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9: The word “Deuteronomy” means the “Second giving of the Law.” The book is basically a collection of sermons given by Moses at the close of his life. He recounts many of the experiences of Israel that brought them to the boarders of the Promised Land. His special concern through all of this is that the people remain faithful to the Word of God and not be seduced by the false religions and ideas they will find among the people they are displacing. In this reading Moses indeed is urging the people to remain faithful to the Word of God for in them life is found. That “life” is, of course, eternal life. Also faithfulness to the Word of God results in a powerful witness to those who have not come to faith in Christ (verses 6-8).

Ephesians 6:10-20: Paul is wrapping up this letter. He urges the people to be “strong in the Lord.” This is done by putting on the “whole armor of God.” This armor enables us to stand up against all attacks. Such standing means that we will not lose our faith, not that we will experience economic or other temporal blessings. You would hardly say that Stephen was not standing strong when he was stoned to death for his faith (Acts 6-7). In short “truth” equals the Word of God, “righteousness” is the imputed righteousness of Christ (justification), “shoes “of the “gospel of peace” is sharing your faith that in Christ God is reconciled to us, “ the shield of faith” is trusting that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, the “helmet of salvation” is growing in our knowledge of God’s grace towards us, the “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God used to protect the faithful and expand the kingdom. We are also to pray, pray, pray. The “mystery of the gospel” spoken of in verse 19 is that salvation is offered to all, regardless of background.

Mark 7:14--23: In this reading Jesus tells us that the source of sin is not so much what is outside of us but what is inside of us. It is from our fallen human nature that comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. Regulations, as important as they may be, have no power of such inward sin, which burst forth in our lives in sinful actions. Therefore we need to make the Word of God our guide, as Moses urges in our first lesson, not our conscience, common sense, reason, inner-light, etc. Such guides-from-within will lead us astray.

Sunday’s Collect
O God, the source of all that is just and good, nourish in us every virtue and bring to completion every good intent that we may grow in grace and bring forth the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual
The Gradual for the season is not used in the Service of Morning Prayer.

Introit
The appointed Introit is not used in the Service of Morning Prayer.


Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday after Pentecost 112
August 27, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS), Spartanburg, SC, we will have two worship services. This post is concerning the morning service.

Because this Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of the month we will be using Morning Prayer (page 235) for our liturgy. Our Bible readings will be Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9, Ephesians 6:10-20and Mark 7:14-23. We will chant Psalm 119:129-136. The antiphon will be verse 132. Our opening hymn will be “Thy Strong Word” (LSB 578). The sermon hymn will be “God Has Spoken by His Prophets” (LSB 583). Our closing hymn will be “I Know My Faith Is Founded” (LSB 587). The text for the sermon is Deuteronomy 4:1 and the sermon is titled “Scruples or Scripture.” Better Noise has the music for “Thy Strong Word” but not the other hymns. I also found a rather high-powered rendition of the music can be found in a video at the end of these notes.


Preview of the Lessons

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9: The word “Deuteronomy” means the “Second giving of the Law.” The book is basically a collection of sermons given by Moses at the close of his life. He recounts many of the experiences of Israel that brought them to the boarders of the Promised Land. His special concern through all of this is that the people remain faithful to the Word of God and not be seduced by the false religions and ideas they will find among the people they are displacing. In this reading Moses indeed is urging the people to remain faithful to the Word of God for in them life is found. That “life” is, of course, eternal life. Also faithfulness to the Word of God results in a powerful witness to those who have not come to faith in Christ (verses 6-8).

Ephesians 6:10-20: Paul is wrapping up this letter. He urges the people to be “strong in the Lord.” This is done by putting on the “whole armor of God.” This armor enables us to stand up against all attacks. Such standing means that we will not lose our faith, not that we will experience economic or other temporal blessings. You would hardly say that Stephen was not standing strong when he was stoned to death for his faith (Acts 6-7). In short “truth” equals the Word of God, “righteousness” is the imputed righteousness of Christ (justification), “shoes “of the “gospel of peace” is sharing your faith that in Christ God is reconciled to us, “ the shield of faith” is trusting that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, the “helmet of salvation” is growing in our knowledge of God’s grace towards us, the “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God used to protect the faithful and expand the kingdom. We are also to pray, pray, pray. The “mystery of the gospel” spoken of in verse 19 is that salvation is offered to all, regardless of background.

Mark 7:14--23: In this reading Jesus tells us that the source of sin is not so much what is outside of us but what is inside of us. It is from our fallen human nature that comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. Regulations, as important as they may be, have no power of such inward sin, which burst forth in our lives in sinful actions. Therefore we need to make the Word of God our guide, as Moses urges in our first lesson, not our conscience, common sense, reason, inner-light, etc. Such guides-from-within will lead us astray.


Sunday’s Collect

O God, the source of all that is just and good, nourish in us every virtue and bring to completion every good intent that we may grow in grace and bring forth the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Gradual

The Gradual for the season is not used in the Service of Morning Prayer.


Introit

The appointed Introit is not used in the Service of Morning Prayer.


Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM-T_oSksjo

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kieschnick Comments on ELCA Homosexual Decision

Wednesday after Pentecost 12
August 26, 2009

The Lord be with you

I received the following e-mail today from our District Office. It is a letter from our Synod's President, Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick. I thought the readers of this blog would like to know what the president of the LC-MS has to say about the recent decision of the ELCA to receive active homosexuals into their "rostered" ministry.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

August 24, 2009

Statement of the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in response to certain actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The two largest Lutheran church bodies in the United States are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with 4.8 million members and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) with 2.4 million members.

On Friday, Aug. 21, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to open the ministry of the ELCA to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in “committed relationships.” In an earlier action, the assembly approved a resolution that commits the ELCA “to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has repeatedly affirmed as its own position the historical understanding of the Christian church that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as “intrinsically sinful.” It is therefore contrary to the will of the Creator and constitutes sin against the commandments of God (Lev. 18:22, 24,20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-20; 1 Tim 1:9-10; and Rom. 1:26, 27).

Addressing the ELCA assembly on Saturday, Aug. 22, I responded to their aforementioned actions, stating: “The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2,000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we [our two church bodies] understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God’s revealed and infallible Word.”

Doctrinal decisions adopted already in 2001 led the LCMS, in sincere humility and love, to declare that we could no longer consider the ELCA “to be an orthodox Lutheran church body” (2001 Res 3-21A). Sadly, the decisions of this past week to ignore biblical teaching on human sexuality have reinforced that conclusion. We respect the desire to follow conscience in moral decision making, but conscience may not overrule the Word of God.

We recognize that many brothers and sisters within the ELCA, both clergy and lay, are committed to remaining faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, are committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, and strongly oppose these actions. To them we offer our assurance of loving encouragement together with our willingness to provide appropriate support in their efforts to remain faithful to the Word of God and the historic teachings of the Lutheran church and all other Christian churches for the past 2,000 years.

Balaam's Booboo

Wednesday after Pentecost 12
August 26, 2009

The Lord be with you

The adult Bible study at Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS), Spartanburg, SC, this coming Sunday (Pentecost 13, August 30) is titled “Following A Dangerous God”. (I ripped the title idea off of C.S. Lewis). It deals with the story of Balaam found in Numbers 22 – 24, and the epilogue in Numbers 25:1-9. The question submitted is:

    What’s the story on Balaam? In Numbers 22:11-12, Balaam asks God to curse a people on behalf of Balak, King of Moab but God says no. So, Balaam tells Balak he won’t do it. Than, in Numbers 22:18-20, Balaam is asked by Balak again to come with him and curse the same people. Balaam says he can’t do anything against the Lord, but when God speaks to him once more, He tells Balaam to go with the men after all. THEN, in Numbers 22:22, God sends his angel to stop Balaam from going, and later tells him he would have killed him (Num. 22:33). Why would God say to do something, and then send an angel to stop the same act?
We will examine all the Balaam passages in the Bible as we explore this question.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saint Augustine, Christ and the Poor

Monday after Pentecost 12
August 24, 2009

On Mondays I teach a New Testament Greek class at Lamb of God Lutheran (LC-MS), and much of my day it absorbed in either teaching the class or preparing to teach it. I have also been responding to some comments and questions that have been posed by a reader of this blog on the post about the ELCA receiving in their ministry people who are actively engaged in a homosexual relationship. As you might expect, some of those comments and questions relate to the same-sex-sexual-relationship issue. The other line of comments and questions relate to Holy Baptism. Because of this I’m going to “cheat” on this post and offer you another quote from Saint Augustine

In the sermons of Saint Augustine that I’ve read, I’ve discovered that he loved contrast. I thought that I’d share one of those passages with you. In it Augustine is encouraging his congregation to be charitable to the poor.
    Consider his (Christ’s) wealth; what could be wealthier than the one through whom all things were made? And yet he, though being rich, took flesh in the virgin’s womb. He was born as a baby, wrapped up in baby clothes, laid in a manger; patiently he awaited the successive ages of life; patiently he endured the succession of times, the one through whom all times were made. He sucked the breast, he cried, he was manifestly a baby. But he lay there, and reigned; he was in the manger, and held the universe together; he was nursed by his mother, and worshiped by the nations; nursed by his mother, and announced by angels; nursed by his mother, and proclaimed by a shining star. Such his wealth, such his poverty; wealth, to get you created; poverty, to get you restored. So that poor man’s being hospitably welcomed as a poor man, was doing the benefactor a favor, not relieving an unfortunate person’s needs. (The Works of Saint Augustine, A Translation for the 21st Century, Sermons III/7, page 62)
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ELCA Ordain Active Homosexuals


Pentecost 12
August 23, 2009

The Lord be with you

In the Herald-Journal newspaper (the main newspaper in Spartanburg, SC), an article appeared yesterday reporting on the decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to allow active homosexual individuals in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships” to become fully ordained members of their clergy (the vote was about 55% for and 45% against). In the mid-west “heartland” of Lutheranism, everyone would know that the ELCA is not the only American denomination calling itself “Lutheran.” In the “salt-water” districts we are not so blessed with informed non-Lutherans in our communities, so confusion can exist as to what we believe, teach and confess.

I am a pastor in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LC-MS), the second largest American denomination bearing the name “Lutheran.” The church I serve, Lamb of God, is an LC-MS congregation. We do not ordain individuals commonly identified as homosexual. We believe the Bible teaches that such activity is outside the will of God, and therefore sinful.

Now we are all sinners (1 John 1:8). To deny this would be to call God a liar (1 John 1:10). But it is one thing to recognize yourself as a sinner and battle against that sin by the grace of God, and quite another thing to embrace one’s sin. The former sinner receives God’s grace and forgiveness, the later receives neither for they deem themselves not in need of forgiveness and grace (at least in reference to the embraced sin). For them, it is like asking for forgiveness for praying, singing a hymn, loving their spouse, etc. Such activities are not sinful; why would you ask for forgiveness? Those who voted for this resolution are like the hardened criminal who can’t see that what he did was wrong and therefore doesn’t see a need to repent.

My heart goes out to the many in the ELCA who do not support this resolution (my guess is somewhere around 2 million!). They are in my prayers in this troubling time. My heart goes out to the hundreds and hundreds of committed, caring pastors in the ELCA who do not support this resolution. They have difficult decisions ahead of them. They will be in my prayers. My heart also goes out to the many people who support this resolution. They will also be in my prayers, that they may repent (I know they don’t think they have anything of which to repent), and move back towards the 2,000-year-old consensus view of the Church Universal. My heart also goes out to the many people who have been deceived by current American culture into thinking that engaging in homosexual activity is a God-pleasing option. They too are in my prayers. May the Lord open their eyes to His Culture, a Culture that will last for all eternity!

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9

P.S. If you would like to read the message Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick, President of the LC-MS, gave at the ELCA convention after their vote, click here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bible Study for Pentecost 12, 2009

Saturday after Pentecost 11
August 22, 2009

The Lord be with you

The adult Bible study at Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS) in SC, continues its series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible” in which we examine questions submitted by members of our church. The upcoming study is titled “How Free from Sin are We?” It is based on a series of questions from 1 John. The questions are:

    In 1 John 1:10 it says, “If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (past tense, sinned). Now contrast that with sin in 1 John 5:18, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin, but He … the wicked one does not touch him.” (-touches others and things around us?) (present tense those walking in God do not sin). Contrast this with verse that says “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against …” and 1 John 5:19 – “… under the sway of the wicked one”
    To what degree are we to be alert to the evil one and to [what] degree are we “touched” or is that only if we are “not in sin?”
This will require some examination of the Greek that underlies our English translations. This is because the Greek verb system is quite different from the English verb system. For example the word identified as “past tense” in the question, and is past tense in the English translation cited, is not past tense in Greek. Intrigued? Join us if you can Sunday morning at 9:00.

This study will be the last one out of 1 John (at least until some other questions are submitted from that book). After we finish this we are going to jump to the Old Testament and consider some questions about Balaam.


(Icon of St. John the Evangelist)

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, August 21, 2009

RSS Feed Available

Friday after Pentecost 11
August 21, 2009

The Lord be with you

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. If you subscribe to a blog’s RSS feed you receive the text of any new posts within minutes of it being posted. You can also subscribe to receive comments that are posted by readers of the blog. To receive this feed you will also need a “Browser newsreader.” Many of these are free. If you already have a Google account (gmail, google, hotmail) then go to www.google.com/reader and use the program for free. Other readers you may want to check-out that are free might include www.bloglines.com and www.newsgator.com.

If you follow more than one blog, this is an easy way to keep up with all of them without having to check each one to see if they have any new posts.

Rev. Rickert – A Lutheran in SC now has this capability. (I didn’t know how to do it before today.) To subscribe go to the bottom of this page. The area is titled “Subscribe To”. Then click on “Posts.” Depending on your Reader, you might just be able to click on “Subscribe” and you are done. If that isn’t the case for you then copy the URL address, in my case hhtp://www.Lutheran-in-SC.blogspot.com, and paste it in the space provided. Click “Add.” You are done.

Now, if this doesn’t work, let me know by posting a comment on this post. Like I said, I just learned how to do this, and I may not have understood the directions correctly.

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

P.S. RSS feeds are also known by other names on other blogs like “web feed,” and “news feed.”

Welcome Fernando

Friday after Pentecost 11
August 21, 2009

The Lord be with you

I would like to welcome Fernando Adrian Perez TaƱo as the newest follower of Rev. Rickert – A Lutheran in SC. What makes Fernando different? He is the first follower that I have never met. To be honest, I was kind of excited by this pleasant surprise. So, thank you Fernando for becoming a follower.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why were Mark and Luke so Lucky?

Thursday after Pentecost 11
August 20, 2009

The Lord be with you

I like the sermons of Saint Augustine. They tend to be short and always seem to have intriguing insights you don’t find in modern commentaries or sermons. For example, we all know that there are four canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You probably also know that, while Matthew and John were two of the twelve Apostles, Mark and Luke were not. In fact Luke probably never even met Jesus in the flesh. Question: Why does the Holy Spirit give such a great honor to two men who were not Apostles? Augustine answers:
    The reason, you see, why the Holy Spirit wished also to choose two men who were not among the twelve to write down a gospel, was to prevent people imagining that the grace of evangelizing got as far as the apostles, and that the fountain of grace then dried up with them. The Lord, after all, says about his Spirit and about his word, that if anybody receives and keeps it worthily, it will become in him a fountain of water leaping up to eternal life (Jn 4:14) …
In other words, the Spirit used Mark and Luke so we would all know that we all are blessed with the joy of sharing the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

This quote is from The Works of Saint Augustine, A Translation for the 21st Century, Sermons III/7, New City Press, New Rochelle, New York, page 59. This is a very readable translation of Augustine.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Worship for Pentecost 12

Wednesday in the week of Pentecost 10
August 19, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS) we will be using the third setting of the Morning Service (page 184). The assigned lessons are: Isaiah 29:11-19; Ephesians 5:22-33 and Mark 7:1-13. The text for the sermon is Ephesians 5:26. The sermon is titled “Baptism – Clear and Plain” This is a Communion Service. The opening hymn is “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy,” LSB 590. The sermon hymn is “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” LSB 594. The distribution hymns are “All Who Believe and Are Baptized” LSB 601, “I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table,” LSB 618, and “Rejoice, My Heart, Be Glad and Sing” LSB 737. The closing hymn is “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” LSB 655.

In spite of the fact that the sermon hymn, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” is over 250 years old, it was only translated into English by Robert Voelker in the 1990’s. Mr. Voelker owns the copyright and the words cannot be reproduced without paying a royalty to him. (The going rate is $10,000 I believe.) Now I don’t begrudge Mr. Voelker his due, but I don’t have that kind of money. I can say, though, that the words are great, and this is a hymn well worth memorizing. Back in the days the LC-MS spoke German a verse or two from this hymn often appeared on Baptismal Certificates. The tune, equally as old, is in the public domain and you can hear it at Better Noise. For us this is a new hymn, as you might guess from the copyright date of the translation. The rest of the hymns have tunes that are well known by Lamb of God Lutheran (LC-MS). The closing hymn was written by Martin Luther himself.

Better Noise has the melody for each of these hymns except “Rejoice, My Heart, Be Glad and Sing.” YouTube only had a video of “I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table,” which is at the end of these notes. YouTube also had “Baptized into Your Name Most Holy,” but the rhythm was different from the rhythm in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB). If reading these notes each week has made you want your own copy of the Lutheran Service Book, you can buy one from Concordia Publishing House. A link can be found in my links on this page of the blog.

Preview of the Lessons

Isaiah 29:11-19: This reading is referred to a number of times in the New Testament (Matt 15:8-9; 1 Cor 1:19; Rom 9:20; Matt 4:16; Jn 9:39) and is applied to the time of Christ and the New Testament age. Verses 11-13 reveal the hardness of heart of the Jews, especially their leaders, in Christ’s time. Because of that they cannot understand God’s Word. They substitute their traditions and claim for them the status of God’s Word. In response God promises to do “wonderful things” (v. 14), no doubt calling to mind the wonderful things done in the Exodus. But these wonderful things put to shame the wisdom of the wise and the decrement of the discerning. This calls to mind passages like Rom 1:22 and 1 Cor 1:18-31, as well as the many confrontations Jesus has with the Scribes and Pharisees. As is always true, verses 15-16 depict the wicked believing they can act with impunity. In verses 17-19 what is called by some the “Great Reversal” comes into play. Lebanon was renowned for its forests, by becoming a “fruitful field we have a downgrading. The great are being taken down a notch. On the other hand the “fruitful field” is upgraded to a forest. In other words, the mighty reject the Gospel which leads to their fall while the weak receive the Gospel which leads to their exaltation to the status of sons of God. In verses 18-19 the Great Reversal continues with the deaf gaining their hearing, the blind gaining their sight and the meek obtaining joy in the LORD, etc. This depicts the coming of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. Before we receive God’s grace in Christ we are spiritually blind, deaf, etc. After we become Christians we receive God’s riches in Christ Jesus and “exult in the Holy One of Israel.

Ephesians 5:22-33: This is a common reading to use when preaching a sermon on marriage. Something well worth noting and taking to heart is that the instruction concerning a wife’s responsibilities are addressed to wives, not husbands. The instruction concerning a husband’s responsibilities are addressed to husbands, not wives. A wife’s job is to be a good wife, not to make her husband into a good husband. A husband’s job is to be a good husband, not to make his wife a good wife. If you do your job, your wife/husband will find their job much easier. Another point to observe is that the instruction for husbands is over twice as long as the instruction for wives. There may be a number of reasons for this but I believe one reason is the key position of husbands. A husband’s self-sacrificing love for his wife is more important for the success of a marriage than the wife submitting to her husband. Doesn’t history teach us that submitting to an unloving tyrant always breeds trouble and a rebellion? Beating your chest and saying “I’m the husband” or “I’m the king” doesn’t fix things. This is the surface meaning of the text. Paul also uses the marriage relationship as an illustration of the relationship between Christ and His Church. (For husbands that means we should be willing to suffer all, even death, for our wives. This suffering includes abuse and disrespect from our wives, for look at how the Church at times treats her Lord, yet he continues to love us.) In this image of marriage as depicting Christ’s relationship to the Church Paul introduces Baptism (v. 26). To understand how Baptism applies in this metaphor you need to have an understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning this Sacrament, so this Sunday’s sermon will be about Baptism.

Mark 7:1-13: This is an account of a confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders over the place of tradition. This text is a fulfillment of part of our Old Testament lesson. The Jewish leaders had exalted their traditions above Scripture, “thus making void the word of God” (v. 13). Of interest in relation to Baptism are verses 3 and 4. The English translation has “… wash their hands … they wash … washing of cups …” Only the first word translated “wash” is “wash.” The second two are really “baptize.” This clearly is referring to a ceremonial washing, not a simple sanitary washing up before dinner. Of course this fits the context of Jewish traditions. The interesting point is that the Jewish traditions included the regular baptizing of “dinning couches” (v. 4). This certainly is not speaking of immersion, so the word “baptize” does not necessarily mean to immerse. In the end Jesus does not condemn traditions, per se, but the elevation of tradition to the level of Scripture. Making this distinction is often difficult, especially when your tradition incorporates the Word of God. So, for example, St. Augustine’s church traditionally chanted the Scripture lessons. But you shouldn’t say you must chant the lessons. At Lamb of God Lutheran (LC-MS) we traditionally have at least three readings from the Scriptures each Sunday (Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel), but we must not say that fewer readings are wrong. Throughout the New Testament documents this battle for the proper place of tradition is evidenced. It continues to this very day. We must never let our traditions become so important that they challenge God’s Word, for then they challenge salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Sunday’s Collect

Almighty and merciful God, defend Your Church from all false teaching and error that Your faithful people may confess You to be the only true God and rejoice in Your good gifts of life and salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual– Psalm 34:9, 19

Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing!
Many are the affliction of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Introit (Psalm 26:1-2, 6-7; antiphon: Psalm 26:8)

O LORD, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without weavering.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
O LORD, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

I Come O Savior

Monday, August 17, 2009

Assistant Circuit Counselor

Monday after Pentecost 11
August 17, 2009

The Lord be with you

As many of you know, I’ve been appointed as the Assistant Circuit Counselor for Circuit 18. This appointment has been approved by our SED President, Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler.

The position of Assistant Circuit Counselor is something of an oddity in the LCMS. All circuits have a Circuit Counselor, but precious few have an assistant. That is because in most circuits you can travel between the various congregations an hour or less. In our circuit this is not the case. We stretch from Myrtle Beach in the Northeastern corner of South Carolina and Hilton Head Island in the Southeastern corner of South Carolina up to Greenville in the Northwestern part of our state. From one corner to the other is roughly 260 miles and over four hours of driving! Plus our Circuit Counselor, Rev. Clifford Gade, has very real health problems. So, an assistant seems well warranted.

My responsibilities will probably extend to the “inland” churches: Greenville, Aiken, Columbia, and Irmo. Rev. Gade will remain our Circuit Counselor at Lamb of God (we all need one). My duties include making “regular” visits to my congregations, seeking to ensure that all is well. After visits with congregation and pastor I’ll file a report for Dr. Diefenthaler giving the congregation and pastor a passing grade (I am an incurable optimist). However if some problems do crop up in one of these congregations I’d be on the front line seeking to help them resolve whatever issues they may have.

One problem all congregations face sooner or later is the need to call a new pastor. When that need arises I’d be the one shepherding the congregation through the process.

Perhaps the largest responsibility is to be a faithful representative of our District President to the congregations and pastors in my charge, and a faithful representative of those congregations and pastors to our District President. However this roll will be somewhat mediated. There are regular Circuit Counselor meetings at the District Offices, and Rev. Gade attends these meetings. I am not expected to attend. Any messages from the District President to the churches in the Inland Division of our circuit will come to me through Rev. Gade. Any information that I might want to present at such gatherings will be carried by Rev. Gade to the meeting. The only possible exception to this would be if Rev. Gade’s health prevented him from attending.

Rev. Gade’s term of office extends to the District Convention in 2012, (and therefore mine as well). He has made it clear that he will not be available to serve again. I can’t fault him considering his health. He has served our congregations and pastors faithfully and well. God willing one of our other retired pastors will accept the charge and serve. There is the possibility none will, in which case I might be elected. Not that I expect it, but there is the chance that Rev. Gade will go home to be with the Lord before his term is up. None of us know how long the Lord has given us on this earth. If that should be the case, I’d become the Circuit Counselor, at least until President Diefenthaler selects someone else.

Finally, this position will take me away from the pulpit several times throughout the year. When this happens either one of our leaders will read a sermon I’ve prepared, or we will have a pastor fill the pulpit (like when I’m on vacation). At any rate, Word and Sacrament ministry will continue.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Arrested for Christ

Monday after Pentecost 11
August 17, 2009

The Lord be with you

I don’t know how many of you glance at the “blog roll” in my side bar but one of them repots on a disturbing event in India. A group of 80 ministry partners training for a year long children’s Bible club, were attacked by Hindu extremists. When the police arrived eight of the Christians were arrested. Thus Satan is seeking to crush the Gospel in India. Please click here for a fuller account, and to aid you in prayers for these fellow believers.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert



Kamataka, India

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Adopt-A-Backpack Makes News

Sunday, Pentecost 11
August 16, 2009

The Lord be with you

As the readers of this blog know, Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS) recently delivered 21 backpacks full of school supplies to Jesse Boyd Elementary School. I sent a press release to the Herald-Journal newspaper here in Spartanburg, SC. Kim Kimzey, inspired by that press release, investigated and found out that a number of area churches are also providing school supplies to children in need. In today's paper there appeared a large article by her on the topic. Lamb of God is the first church referred to in the article. If you would like to read it, click here.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Lamb of God in the News

Sunday, Pentecost 11
August 16, 2009

The Lord be with you

The installation of Rev. Ted Crandall as the new Associate Pastor of Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS) was in the Herald-Journal newspaper yesterday. The Herald-Journal is the main newspaper in Spartanburg, SC. To read the article click here.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, August 14, 2009

Good Cobblers

Friday after Pentecost 10
August 14, 2009

The Lord be with you

"Good Christian cobblers make good shoes, not poor shoes with little crosses on them." Martin Luther, as quoted in Reasonable Ethics by Robert Benne, the book LitWits will be discussing Sunday (8/16/09) at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS)

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In The Museum

Thursday after Pentecost 10
August 13, 2009

The Lord be with you

Something special happened this past July for the LC-MS which went completely unnoticed down here in the Deep South. The LCMS opened a museum in Kirkwood, MO. If you are ever in that area you might want to drop by for a visit. Click here to go to a news story about it in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, or click here for a different and fuller story.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Worship for Pentecost 11

Thursday in the week of Pentecost 10
August 13, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS or LCMS) we will be using Matins for our liturgy (page 219). The assigned lessons are: Proverbs 9:1-10; Ephesians 5:6-21 and John 6:51-69. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 34:12-22, the antiphon is verse 11. The text for the sermon is John 6:69. The sermon is titled “Where is Christ?” The opening hymn is “O God, My Faithful God,” LSB 696. The sermon hymn is “You Are the Way; through You Alone,” LSB 526. The closing hymn is “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word” LSB 904. I could not find any YouTube videos for the hymns, but Better Noises has the sermon and closing hymns. As usual we will chant the Psalm.

Preview of the Lessons

Proverbs 9:1-10: The word translated “wisdom” is hokmah, which is the normal word translated “wisdom” in the OT. Standard Hebrew lexicons list five or six different meanings for hokmah with the first being “technical skill, aptitude.” According to Exodus 31:1-6 Bezalel, Oholiab, and other workers were filled with the “skill” (hokmah) to make everything that the LORD needed for the Tabernacle. A second, closely related meaning is “experience, good sense, shrewdness” (2 Samuel 20:22). Other meanings include “wisdom, as in administration” or “worldly wisdom” (1 Kings 4:30-32). Hokmah is also associated with the righteous people. In Proverbs it is intimately tied to the ethical and religious wisdom which comes from God and shows up in the lives of His people (9:10-12). Hokmah is never merely an abstract, philosophical idea. It is always practical since it supplies a spiritual “know-how” that springs from a reverent “fear of the LORD” (1:7; 9:10). Contrast that with being deceived with “empty words” in our Epistle lesson. Hokmah is one of God’s attributes (2:10-19; 3:13-18). This accents, not only that God knows what to do, but how to accomplish His will and actually engaging activity to accomplish His will. In Proverbs 8 Wisdom actually is the pre-incarnate Christ. He is the “Master Craftsman” through whom and by whom the Father creates the world. There are eight synonyms for wisdom in the OT, seven of which appear in 1:2-4. In Sunday's reading Wisdom is treated as a person inviting all to a banquet. Contrast this to Folly (9:13-18). This banquet idea can also be found in places like Isaiah 55:1-2 and Sunday’s Gospel lesson; see specially verses 51 & 55. In light of this we might well see Communion overtones in this reading.

Ephesians 5:6-21: This is from the practical section of Paul’s letter. He encourages the Ephesians to not be deceived by all that glitters in the world. I love verses 18-21 where Paul not only encourages us to be filled with the Spirit, but gives practical advice on how. We are to speak to each other in “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all [our] hearts, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Notice how important the spoken and sung word is in being filled with the Holy Spirit. This ties in so well with what I’ve said before about the value of our hymns and liturgy. Not only are they great in sharing our faith, but they are great in helping to form our faith in God-pleasing ways, in ways that fill us with the Holy Spirit. Hymns and the Liturgy are not just intended as abstract concepts, but for practical guidance in our lives. This, then, accents the Lutheran teaching of God working through the Means of Grace, for the Word of God is the foundation and primary Means of Grace.

John 6:51-69: This reading takes us to the end of John 6 and Jesus’ Bread of Life sermon. It includes the reaction of those who heard him. Jesus introduces a new element in his sermon on faith. So far Jesus has called himself the “bread of Life” and bid his hearers to eat this bread (believe in him). Now he introduces the word “flesh,” saying we should eat his flesh, and the word “blood” saying we need to drink his blood. This really throws most of those hearing our Lord’s sermon, and still bothers many today. What does Jesus mean? Find out Sunday.

Sunday’s Collect

Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us to know Your Son, Jesus, to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow His steps in the way that leads to life eternal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual– Psalm 34:9, 19

Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing!
Many are the affliction of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Introit

The Introit is not used in Matins. Instead we use the appointed Psalm. .

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reasonable Ethics

Wednesday after Pentecost 10
August 12, 2009

The Lord be with you

The great Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther, wrote in his Small Catechism,

    The Eight Commandment
    You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

    What does this mean?
    We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

What Luther has done is applied the Eight commandment in a practical way to the daily lives of Christians. That is the task of Christian Ethics. It takes theological truths and asks, "How can this work out in our daily lives?" What difference does "Love your neighbor as yourself" make in how we live? How does believing every human has a soul impact our life in society? Does our Christian Faith make a difference in politics, in how we handle our finances, what we are willing to do for entertainment, and so on?

These are just the sort of issues Dr. Robert Benne tackles in his book Reasonable Ethics, A Christian Approach to Social, Economic, and Political Concerns. LitWits, the book club of Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS or LC-MS) will be discussing Benne's book this coming Sunday, Pentecost 11 (August 16, 2009), 6:30 PM. Everyone is welcome to come and grapple with questions about how Sunday relates to Monday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pentecost 11 Adult Bible Study

Tuesday after Pentecost 10
August 11, 2009

We continue at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS or LC-MS) our Sunday morning Bible study series titled “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” This coming Sunday (the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 16, 2009) we will be looking at 1 John 5:4-8. If you compare the King James on verses 7 and 8 with other modern translations like the English Standard or the New American Standard, you will notice some marked differences. The King James is longer. The questions submitted are based on the King James translation. This will give us an excellent opportunity to understand why there are such differences. Those of you in our NT Greek Language class will get a foretaste of the first topic we will cover after we finish the Voelz text book. The subject is called “Textual Criticism.”

You do find Christians who feel the only “real” Bible is the King James translation. For them passages like this one becomes very important in their rejection of other translations because the other translations have eliminated words from the Bible (in their thinking). Therefore this study might be quite helpful in understanding that we stand on God’s Word as originally written by the prophets and evangelists, not just a translation of it. This will also help you to understand why our pastors all take Greek and Hebrew.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, August 10, 2009

Human Trafficking Resolution

Monday after Pentecost 10
August 10, 2009

The Lord be with you

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) will be holding its Synodical Convention July 10-17, 2010 in Houston, TX. A BIG topic at this convention will be the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG). Emotions concerning these recommendations will run high. Some will see them in near Messianic tones while others will see them in near demonic tones. If you are one of the representatives, I pray that the Spirit, through the Means of Grace, will guide your considerations. However it is not about the recommendations of the BRTFSSG that I wish to draw your attention.

At the 2009 convention of the Southeastern District (SED) of the LC-MS a resolution was passed titled “Resolution on Human Trafficking/Slavery.” Part of this resolution was to send a resolution on Human Trafficking/Slavery to the Synodical Convention. I pray that this resolution does not get overlooked because of all the smoke in the air from the proposals of the BRTFSSG.

The heart of the resolution is to commit all our churches to regularly pray for the end of this sinful practice of trading in human life (Revelation 18:13; 1 Timothy 1:8-11); a business that is bigger now then ever in the history of the world! Christians have historically been on the forefront of this issue, and we should not let up now.

Please, if you are a member of the LCMS, ask the Lay and Pastoral Delegates from your circuit to vote for this Resolution.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sunday Morning Bible Study

Friday after Pentecost 9
August 7, 2009

The Lord be with you

The Sunday morning adult Bible study at Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS) is engaged in a series titled “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” The idea is simple. People submit questions about the Bible and I develop a study that addresses the question. Most studies take one class, but some may take two. There has been over 100 different questions submitted so far, and more are still coming. Right now we are looking at questions that have all come out of 1 John. This coming Sunday (Pentecost 10, August 9, 2009) we will look at 1 John 3:9, specifically the phrased “whoever abides in Him does not sin.” As no specific question was submitted with the Biblical reference we will simply do some careful exegesis.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Worship for Pentecost 10

Thursday in the week of Pentecost 9
August 6, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LC-MS) we will be using the first setting of the Sunday morning service for our liturgy (page 151 of the Lutheran Service Book [LSB]). The assigned lessons are: 1 Kings 19:1-8; Ephesians 4:17-5:2 and John 6:35-51. The text for the sermon is John 6:35. The sermon is titled “Bread of Life.” The opening hymn is Lord Jesus Christ, Life Giving Bread,” LSB 625. The sermon hymn is “O Living Bread from Heaven,” LSB 642. The distribution hymns are: “Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Prepared” LSB 622; At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing,” LSB 633; “Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness” LSB 636. The closing hymn is “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” LSB 525. You can hear each of the hymns by clicking "Better Noises." Just enter the hymn number and away you go. If you want more check the videos from YouTube at the end of these notes. I found four of the hymns. We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper Sunday.

Preview of the Lessons

1 Kings 19:1-8: This account takes place right after Elijah’s confrontation between him and the prophets of Baal. That ended with all the prophets of Baal being executed. Queen Jezebel heard about it from her husband Ahab, and she threatened Elijah with death. Frightened, Elijah fled the land. He was so depressed he wanted to die. Sleeping under a broom tree the “Angel of the LORD” wakes Elijah and tells him to eat. The angel had provided some bread and water. Falling asleep again the Angel of the LORD wakes him again with the same instruction, telling Elijah he needed the food to sustain him in the journey ahead. Then, in the strength of that food, Elijah traveled to “the mount of God.” Many of the best, from the Early Church Fathers to this day, have seen in this account a foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper. I would agree. The text in the ESV does not capitalize the word “angel.” In some cases the word “angel” is capitalized in the phrase “angel of YHWH (LORD)” in our English translations, and sometimes it isn’t. If it is capitalized the translators think of this “Angel” as a “Theophany,” (a physical appearance of God like the burning bush). The Angel of the LORD is actually a “Christophany,” that is a pre-incarnation physical appearance of the Christ. If the word “angel” isn’t capitalized then the translator thinks it is simply a created angel. The Hebrew text doesn’t help here. All they had were capital letters. For my money, I think the word “Angel” should be capitalized here, and this is Jesus helping Elijah with a foreshadowing of Communion.

Ephesians 4:17-5:2: Paul’s letters divide into two major sections. Part 1 deals with the theological truths of the letter. Part 2 deals with the applications of those truths in the lives of the readers. This reading is definitely out of part 2. Sometimes Christians become a little confused and think of part 2 as defining what it means to be a Christian, thus making our works in integral part of how we become Christians. We must not forget what Paul says in places like Ephesians 2:8-9. To be a Christian is to have faith in Jesus. Good works are a result, not a cause. Furthermore we should not expect everyone to be at the same place in their spiritual maturity as reflected in their “works.” Hence Paul encourages these Christians to exhibit certain characteristics, but he does not imply that those who need this encouragement are not real Christians because their lives have not yet conformed in all these ways. As Martin Luther once wrote, “Works do not make a person a Christian, but a Christian should perform good works” (LW 23, page 67).

John 6:35-51: This is the second of our three consecutive readings from John 6. Jesus continues with his “Bread of Life” sermon. This past Sunday we heard how the Jewish people were looking for Jesus to grant them abundance of temporal blessings, like many today, but gave no thought to spiritual blessings. Jesus picked up on their constant harping on receiving “bread” and created a metaphor. Eating physical bread grants physical life. So eating spiritual bread grants spiritual life. As we acquire Jesus by grace through faith, “eating” means “believing” in our Lord’s metaphor. What we are to “eat” (believe in) is the spiritual bread, which is Jesus. Jesus continues to expand on this theme in Sunday’s lesson.

Sunday’s Collect
Gracious Father, Your blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life to the world. Grant that Christ, the bread of life, may live in us and we in Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual– Psalm 34:9, 19
Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing!
Many are the affliction of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Introit (Psalm 34:8-10; antiphon Psalm 145:16)
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert











Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Repeating Words

Wednesday after Pentecost 9
August 5, 2009

The Lord be with you

I am still learning (Lutheran) about blogging (Christian). Today I learned that (LCMS) if you want your blog to come to the attention of people (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod) looking for a specific topic (SC), you need to repeat that topic (South Carolina) often in your blogs (Church). Sadly I have not written Lutheran, Christian, LCMS, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, SC, South Carolina, and Church very often. Silly me, I thought that readers could remember words like Lutheran, Christian, LCMS, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, SC, South Carolina, and Church without me repeating them over and over again in every blog. However, I just checked Google Blog Search (http://blogsearch.google.com) using the labels Lutheran, Christian, LCMS, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, SC, South Carolina, and Church only to find that this blog didn't show up. Please accept my apology for both this post and for the subsequent more frequent use of words like Lutheran, Christian, LCMS, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, SC, South Carolina, and Church.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Adopt-a-Backpack

Tuesday in the week of Pentecost 9
August 4, 2009

The Lord be with you

Lamb of God's Adopt-a-Backpack effort has concluded for this year with the delivery of 21 backpacks, fully loaded with school supplies, to Jesse Boyd Elementary School. Each year some families have difficulty purchasing all the supplies their child needs. Often these are families with more than one child in school. Dawn, a member of Lamb of God, came up with the idea that we could provide these supplies. I contacted Jesse Boyd last school year and spoke with school counselor, Trisha Pressley. From Trisha I acquired the list of school supplies each child would need for each grade this school year (2009-2010). Our Lutheran Women's Missionary League purchased the backpacks (three per grade), and then members of Lamb of God "adopted" the backpacks. These members filled their adopted backpacks with the needed supplies and returned them to church. Along with the requested supplies we also placed in each backpack a letter to the parents, a bookmark for each child, and a refrigerator magnet. Jesse Boyd will ensure that the supplies go to children who need them. This seems like a wonderful way to reach out and touch people with the love of Jesus Christ. We hope to do this again next year.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


Members of Lamb of God with the Adopted Backpacks

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Christ in the Old Testament

Saturday after Pentecost 8
August 1, 2009

The Lord be with you

Back in the last century, when I was at Concordia Theological Seminary, I had Dr. Dean Wenthe for a couple of OT classes. I truly enjoyed those classes because he opened my eyes to a whole new way of reading the OT. He took seriously such passages like John 5:46-47 (If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?) and Luke 24:44 (These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled). He could find Jesus and the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in him everywhere. Those people who give you some number for how many times Jesus is referred to in the OT simply don't get it. He is everywhere from Genesis 1 (where God speaks, for Jesus is the Word [John 1]) through Malachi 4 (where Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness). Paul could even find the Gospel in the story of Sarah and Hagar (Galatians 4).

I was blessed a number of years ago to attend a continuing education class in North Carolina by Dr. Charles Gieschen. He has published a book titled Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence of which he shared some with us. I was so pleased to see the practice of finding Christ in the OT has flourished in the professors at my old sem.

I am writing about this because I've just finished an article in the recent Concordia Theological Quarterly by Richard Lammert titled "the Word of YHWH as Theophany." I've thought this about the "Word of the LORD" passages in the OT for many years now. When we read something like, "the word of the LORD came and said," it sure seems like "the word of the LORD" is a person who is talking. As the message is from God this person would be God. When you consider passages like 1 Timothy 2:5 (For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus) then we can be even more specific, the OT "Word of the LORD" person is Christ Jesus. Professor Lammert's gave a great, though somewhat technical, defense of this position. What a blessing to again see that my old sem is keeping Christ central.

In my opinion, if you aren't finding Christ when you read the OT, you are reading it like a non-Christian. I think many Christians would be greatly blessed if they could just have the blinders taken off. They would find the OT filled with a spirit of grace they never knew.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert