Thursday, September 17, 2009

Worship Notes for Pentecost 16

Thursday after Pentecost 15
September 17, 2009

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday will be Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church (LCMS) we will be using Matins (page 219) for our liturgy. The appointed lessons are Jeremiah 11:18-20, James 3:13-4:10, and Mark 9:30-37. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 54, the antiphon is verse 4. A strong theme that runs through all three lessons is humility. The sermon is based on the Gospel lesson. The text will be Mark 9:34. The sermon is titled “Keeping Up With The Jones.” Our opening hymn is “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” (LSB 597). The sermon hymn is “Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way” (LSB 857). Our closing hymn is “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” (LSB 917).

When our hymnal review committee was examining the Lutheran Service Book, before Lamb of God decided to purchase them, the committee sang through every hymn. Each hymn was put into a category. “Well Known” meant everyone on the committee knew the hymn. “Known” meant that some, but not all of us knew the hymn. “Unknown” meant none of us knew the hymn. We had a fourth category, which was “Learn.” Hymns put in this category were unknown hymns that the committee all agreed would be well worth learning. One of those hymns is the first hymn we will be singing this coming Sunday, “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying.” I was reminded of this last category a couple of weeks ago while I was speaking with a member of one of our sister congregations. This lady told me that “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” was now one of her favorite hymns, though they had only recently learned it. So in honoring the work of the Hymnal Review Committee, and inspired by the lady I spoke with, we will begin a concerted effort to learn at least some of the hymns the committee selected. The first will be “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying.” We will sing this hymn each Sunday over the next month.

Better Noise has a recording of “Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way” (LSB 857), and “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” (LSB 917). I found a video of “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” which is well done. It is posted at the end of these notes.

Preview of the Lessons

Jeremiah 11:18-20: Jeremiah was called to be a prophet (628 BC) about 100 years after the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria (722 BC) and subsequently vanished from history, as the deported people were simply assimilated into Assyrian culture. When Jeremiah became a prophet the good King Josiah ruled in Judah. He restored the worship life of Judah. However he died in battle with the Egyptians, who were heading north to fight the Babylonians. While the Egyptians did defeat Judah, the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish in one of the seminal battles of Ancient history (605 BC). Babylon, who earlier had taken out Assyria (around 610 BC), now was the Super Power of the Ancient World. After Egypt defeated Judah they put a puppet king on the Judean throne. After Babylon defeated Egypt the Babylonians put their own puppet kings on the Judean throne. None of these puppet kings were godly and the nation went from bad to worse in reference to their religion. After a rebellion or two, which the Judeans constantly lost, the population of Judea was deported. These were dark days for the Jews, but they recognized that Jeremiah had been right. Their problems stemmed from a long history of abandoning God and his promises. In exile they developed a much stronger spiritual identity and returned to the Lord. After 70 years in exile the Persians, who conquered the Babylonians becoming the new Super Power, allowed the Jews to return home and rebuild the Temple, even providing finical support. This is what Jeremiah had prophesied would happen. Jeremiah 11:18-20 is a poem or song, as is much of what the prophets wrote. Jeremiah has learned that the people of his hometown of Anathoth are plotting to kill him. It is not surprising that rebels conspiring to dethrone God should also seek to silence his messenger. Jeremiah is depicted in humble terms, “a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.” He puts his case in the hands of the Lord “who judges righteously.” In verses 21-23, not part of our reading, we learn that the people of Anathoth will pay the price for rejecting God and his word. As all the prophets are types of Jesus, we can easily see Christological overtones in this reading. Jesus too was like a lamb lead to the slaughter. He too trusted in the Father. And, on the Last Day, those who have rejected Christ will pay the price for their rejection.

James 3:13-4:10: Our reading through the book of James continues. The problem among the pastors he is addressing here is pride. This pride is causing all kinds of quarrels and fights. There is jealously and selfish ambition. Apparently some at least were seeking to exalt themselves instead of the Lord, though I’m sure they dressed up their ambitions with proper “church” language. In the end this kind of pride is “earthly, unspiritual” even “demonic.” This doesn’t build the Kingdom of God, even if it builds the numbers in a local church organization. James tells us that “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” This wisdom produces a “harvest of righteousness” and is “sown in peace by those who make peace.” In general, as fallen people, we are too quick to see ourselves as completely right and others as completely wrong. We hate asking how we ourselves have contributed to problems. How difficult it is to say “I’m sorry, I did you wrong,” without putting in some sort of explaining “but” to justify our actions. How difficult it is to not feel wounded if our apology is not followed by an apology from the other person. Pastors can fall prey to this kind of sinful pride just as easily as the people in the pew, only we are better at making it look like “righteous indignation.” James lifts up humility for us all. We leave it to the Lord to decide who shall be exalted, and when, and how. When we consider how we have offended the Lord, and what grace has been bestowed on us in Christ Jesus, how can any attitude be appropriate except humility?

Mark 9:30-37: Jesus and his disciples are headed to Jerusalem where he will suffer and die for the sins of humanity, so time wise this is in the last year of his life. The Transfiguration had happened earlier in this chapter. In verses 30-32 Jesus tells the disciples plainly about his impending death and resurrection, but they didn’t understand what he meant and didn’t ask Jesus what he meant. I think they probably though Jesus was speaking in parables again and they were afraid of appearing stupid by asking what this “parable” meant. The pride of the disciples continues to manifest itself as they argue among themselves about who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Jesus lifts up humble service as the path to “greatness” in the Kingdom.

Sunday’s Collect

O God, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, grant us humility and childlike faith that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever Amen.

Gradual for the Season

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


In the service of Matins, instead of the Introit we use the appointed Psalm for the day. For this coming Sunday it is Psalm 54, The antiphon is verse 4.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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