December 10, 2009
The Lord be with you
This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday in Advent. Back in the days we used Latin names for the Sundays in the LCMS, this Sunday was know as Gaudete Sunday. The Latin names for the Sundays were always taken from the first word or two from the Introit for the day. In this case that first word is “Rejoice!” So we could call this “Rejoice Sunday.” Each of the appointed Propers have a rejoicing theme.
Many churches, like Lamb of God Lutheran, use Advent Wreaths during the Advent Season. These have four candles arranged in a circle, one candle for each Sunday. The candles are either blue or purple. However the candle lit on “Rejoice Sunday” is lighter in color, usually pink or rose. This reflects the contrast in the appointed lessons for this Sunday with the other Sundays in Advent. The other Sundays emphasize penitential preparation for the coming King. The shift to the pink candle points to a lessening of the penitential emphasis and more of a celebration in anticipation of the coming King who will return again.
The appointed lessons for Gaudete Sunday are Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7, and Luke 7:18-28. The sermon, based on the Epistle lesson, is titled “Rejoice! The Lord is at Hand!” We will be using the first setting of the morning service with communion (page 151). Our opening hymn will be again the hymn we are currently learning, “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding” (LSB 345). The sermon hymn will be “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (LSB 338). The distribution hymns will be “Rejoice, My Heart, Be Glad and Sing” (LSB 737), “Your Table I Approach” (LSB 628), and “Arise, O Christian People” (LSB 354). Our closing hymn will be “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers” (LSB 515).
Better Noise (see the link on the right-hand side of this page) has every hymn for Sunday. A video of a Presbyterian choir and congregation singing “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is at the end of these notes.
Zephaniah 3:14-20: Zephaniah 1:1-3:8 is basically God’s judgment (all have sinned) and a call to repentance. Starting with verse 9 we find God’s all encompassing grace for all humanity. Starting in verse 14 we are called to rejoice because God has taken away all the judgments against us. He did that through the ministry of Jesus. Therefore, in spite of all the thundering in the first two chapters, we have no reason to fear. Not only that, but all our oppressors are judged, we need to tremble on that account either, but rejoice. People sometimes get confused with passages like this, thinking that God is speaking of some future restoration of Old Testament Israel. They are misinformed. Concerning verse 14 Dr. Theodore Laetsch wrote, “Three honorable names are given to the Church of God: Daughter of Zion (Ps 2:6; 48:2; Is. 1:8), Israel (Gen. 32:28), Daughter of Jerusalem (Ps 135:21; 137:5 f.). The daughter of Zion is to sing as did the women who came out to meet the returning victor (1 Sam. 18:6 f.). Israel, the conqueror of God and man (Gen. 32:28), shall shout as victors rejoice over their defeated enemies (1 Sam. 17:52). Jerusalem is to be glad and rejoice “with all the heart,” with joy flowing from the very seat of life, true, sincere, living joy.” If you want to get the true sense of such titles (Daughter of Zion, etc.), then think of them as meaning “believers in the Triune God.”
Philippians 4:4-7: This will serve as the test for Sunday so I’m not going to say much here. Instead I’ll quote RCH Lenski’s comment concerning the entire book of Philippians. “Joy is the music that runs through this epistle, the sunshine that spreads over all of it. The whole epistle radiates joy and happiness.” What makes this even more remarkable is that Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter, thus demonstrating that circumstances should not be allowed to determine our joy in the Lord.
Luke 7:18-28: At the time of this lesson John the Baptist is in prison. He hears about Jesus and sends his disciples to invistagte. The question to be answered is wheterornot Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus answers by pointing to how he is fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, culminating with the preaching of the Gospel. After John’s messengers leave, Jesus confirms John’s ministry as his forerunner. Verse 28 has perplexed some. Jesus says, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the koingdom of God is greater than he.” John is the last of the Old Testament prophets, that is, the prophets that prepared the way for Jesus. He will not live to see the ushering in of the New Age by the death and resurrection of Christ. So, while is is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, for he saw the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he still is part of the anticipation ministry of the Old Testament prophets. The most humble Christian today is still part of the fulfillment of the ministry of Christ. The most humble of Chirstian still knows that Christ died and rose for our forgiveness. We have what John looked forward to. You might say John lived in the days leading up to Christmas, when we can look at the presents under the tree and anticipate opening them. We live in the days after Christmas, the presents are opened and we rejoice in having them.
Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father 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.
Introit (Psalm 71:14-18; antiphon: Philippians 4:4)
Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, Rejoice.
I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, form my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.
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.
Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, Rejoice.
December 13 is also the Commemoration of Lucia, Martyr. You may know about her from the song Santa Lucia. You can expect a post concerning her closer to her special day.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert