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.
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