December 3, 2009
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday will be celebrated as the Second Sunday in Advent at Lamb of God Lutheran (LCMS), and we will use the assigned Propers (Scripture lessons, Collect, Gradual, etc.) for that day. However it is also the Commemoration of Nicholas of Myrna, Pastor. Yes, this is the same Saint Nicholas who, over the centuries, has morphed into Santa Claus. I will add a post about Nicholas to this blog later, but he will be the topic of the Children’s Message Sunday morning.
For our liturgy Sunday we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260). The assigned lessons are: Malachi 3:1-7b, Philippians 1:2-11, Luke 3:1-14, and Psalm 66 (antiphon verse 12). The sermon is titled “If John Came Today.” The text will either be Malachi 3:5 or Luke 3:3 (maybe I’ll just use both). The opening hymn will be “Hark! A thrilling Voice Is Sounding” (LSB 345). The sermon hymn be “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” (LSB 344). The closing hymn will be “Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord” (LSB 352). The choir will be singing “Advent Gift.”
Better Noise (see the link on the right-hand side of this page) has every hymn for Sunday. A video of a congregation singing “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding” is at the end of these notes. It is with a full orchestra.
Malachi 3:1-7b: This is the well know passage, quoted in the New Testament, about John the Baptist coming as a forerunner to Jesus. John’s message is depicted in Law/Gospel terms. That is to say, he condemns sin (Law) and promises grace and every blessing by God’s grace in Jesus (Gospel). Verse 6 jumps out where God says, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” “Jacob” identifies the spiritual descendants of Jacob, those who trust in the God of Jacob. Jacob was nowhere near perfect, but he received forgiveness by grace through faith in the coming Messiah. Our unchanging Lord operates the same today. Those who refuse his grace receive judgment. Those who receive his grace receive forgiveness. Sadly, fare too many reject, preferring the fleeting rewards of this corrupt world to the eternal treasures of heaven.
Philippians 1:2-11: Philippians is one of the letters Paul wrote while he was in prison. The note of joy throughout the letter is remarkable. Though Paul is in prison in a different city, he still describes the Philippians as partners in the gospel. This is true because they share the same Christina Faith, but also and especially because they support Paul with their prayers and physical support. When we support missionaries, we are partners in the Gospel, sharing the Christian Faith wherever the missionary is. Paul is sure that God will bring to completion the good work that has begun in the Philippians. He designates when that will happen, on the Last Day. This “good work” is their faith. The 19th century hymn puts it, “we feebly struggle, they in glory shine.” Though today we are still sinners and saints, there we will be just saints. I also like the confidence of Paul. So often we become focused on temporal obstacles, forgetting that the work of the Church is really directed and supported by the Lord. Paul also encourages his readers to abound more and more with “knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent.” The Christian Faith is not just a warm and fuzzy thing, where anything goes. Also, growing in our knowledge and discernment is not simply a head trip. We grow in our faith so that we may grow in how we live our Faith.
Luke 3:1-14: This is Luke’s account of the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry. There was nothing soft and cuddly about him. John stepped on toes. He preached, to quote James, “faith without works is dead.” Now that is not the same thing as ‘works save,’ or ‘works contribute to your salvation,’ or something like that. What he means is that the Christian Faith makes a difference in how we live. Notice how the believers asked him how they should live, and John gave directions that were vocation specific. How we live our faith in our lives depends a lot on what our vocation is. A police man, school teacher, pastor, street cleaner, business executive, and so on, will apply their Christian Faith in quite different ways, but they will apply it in their lives. Someone once said, “Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone.” So it is to this day, for the Lord does not change.
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Gradual (Zechariah 9:9; Psalm 118:26)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem.
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
Verse (Luke 3:4b, 6)
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight; all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia.
We will be using the appointed Psalm this coming Sunday instead of the appointed Introit.
NOTE: The Lutheran Women's Missionary League will be having a Christmas Party after the worship service Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert